Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our two favorite colours: Green and Brown!

We've checked out two new venue's since my last post, and both are definitely contenders. There might be an end to this venue search yet!!

*pauses to listen to the collective sigh of relief*

But before I go into great detail about the last two venues, I want to talk a bit about our "theme" and colours. I think it will help to have an idea of the overall feel we're going for when reviewing the last two venue options.

We essentially want to bring the outdoors in! Picture dark wood grains, lush foliage, natural forests, overgrown gardens, and organic textures, all with just a hint of simple modern elegance. Little hard to picture? Thought it might be, so here's an inspiration board that I came up with last night.

Obviously, we can't use every idea on there, but it provides the overall feel that we're aiming for. A "feel" that banquet halls with crazy carpets just won't blend with!

Here are a few more pictures that I came across recently.

Love love love these pomander balls for ceremony decorations. And from what I understand they aren't too difficult as a DIY. Mums are a fairly long lasting flower too, so I could probably make them a few days before the wedding. I'm sure I'll be loving the last minute crafting - heh.

I like the combination of grasses, twigs, flowers and woodgrain in the above centrepiece.

I adore the pods and bamboo arrangement above. Simple, yet striking. Having said that, I'd probably include a bit of greenery :)

Found these lovely invites on the knot's "green and brown" bio list (from mauidjenn's bio). I love the colours, textures, and overall feel they give. Even the pebbles are a nice added touch.

This cake is absolutely gorgeous!! I can only imagine how large the price tag is on it. Probably a wee bit beyond our budget.

This cake has a similar feel but on a smaller scale. Perhaps its a bit more budget friendly!

These bouquets are all gorgeous. I love how they are somewhat different from the norm; a bit more "wild" compared to the perfect posey!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The ring!

I had always thought I wanted a diamond solitaire with a platinum or white gold band for my engagement ring; something similar to the lucida from tiffany:

Nothing quite that big or even close to that expense of course. The thought of owning a ring that costs over $10 000.00 gives me heart palpitations just thinking about it. My mom will confirm that my track record for losing things is quite extraordinary! As a child, the phrase "Amy Ellen, you'd lose your head if it wasn't attached!" was a daily statement at my house. What can I say, I was a bit scatterbrained back then, and I'm still a bit scatterbrained now, much to my fiancee's chagrin!

So prior to our engagment, during the few instances when our discussions turned to engagement rings, I briefly mentioned my style preferences; but what I really made sure to emphasize were my cost preferences; as in don't you dare spend a lot of money on the ring!! Not only was I concerned about losing a 10 000.00 dollar ring, but I could think of a million other, more important things, that we could use the money on.

During these brief discussions, Patrick made it clear to me that he didn't want to buy me a "boring solitaire" and that he wanted to find something more unique. In the end, I knew I'd love anything he picked out, as it would be special for that very reason!

I present, my engagement ring. It's designed for Tiffany & Co. by the famous architect Frank Gehry; best known for his design of the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, The Dancing House in Prague, and - closer to home - the recent renovations of the Art Gallery of Ontario. This ring is from his Torque collection, and is absolutely amazing. It sparkles like nobody's business, so much so, that I've been caught gazing at it under the halogen lighting in odd places like the elevator, or the bathroom! And it's a comforting feeling knowing that my fiancee knows me better than I even know myself. I love my ring, and not just because he picked it out. I love it because it is unique, and it is so me!

And a final pic of the ring on my finger:

And before anyone asks, yes there is a band to match! I actually have three choices, rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold. I think I'll stick with the white ;)

Next stop, Thetis Island: Overbury Farm Resort

In my search for the perfect venue, I came across a lovely lodge resort on one of the lesser known southern gulf islands. With a population of approximately 350 people, Thetis Island can be reached by ferry from Chemainus on Vancouver Island, or by seaplane. Entirely privately owned, with the exception of the public roads and a few miles of public shoreline, Thetis is mainly forested, with some farmlands, meadows and wetlands. Island life is relaxed, rural, peaceful and crime-free.

Overbury Farm Resort is a scenic 10 minute walk, or a quick 2 minute drive from the ferry terminal. A popular family resort in the summer, Overbury only rents the premises for weddings during the "off-season". Depending on the year, this generally means that the last two weekends in July, and the first 3 weekends in August are unavailable. Of course, this still leaves plenty of opportunities for a beautiful outdoor summer wedding.

We enjoyed a quiet night at Overbury Farm resort this past September; while doing so, we took some pictures and spent some time discussing wedding related business with the one of the owners: Arlene.
One of the fabulous things about booking your wedding at Overbury Farm Resort is that everything from the decor to the flowers to the cake to the food is included in the rental of the resort, allowing you to spend less time stressing over the details. Pictured to the right is a view of the back of the main house with all the beautiful gardens.

Rental costs include personal use of the grounds for the entire weekend, use of the glass enclosed pavillion for the reception (tables, chairs, stereo system, dance floor, and bar tender), catering (food, dishes, white linens, cutlery, and glasses), flowers, decor, ceremony set up, tent set up for cocktail hour, and use of the large room in the main house for bridal party preparation. We were quoted an approximate rental price of 6000.00 - a very reasonable price for all that's listed above! Of course, this was only an estimate. If one has grand ideas with regards to the decor or the type of flower, or a specialty menu, the price may alter accordingly.

It was love at first site when we took our first tour of the glass enclosed pavillion. Regardless of whether the doors are open or closed, one always feels close to the outdoors in this gorgeous reception area.

The floors are heated which provides warmth on a chilly night, and the doors can be left open to the cool breezes on a warm summer evening.

As you can see, the venue is quite large and could easily seat 100 people or more. With such a stunning view of the water and the vancouver island shoreline, and the high beamed ceilings of the pavillion, there really isn't much need for further accoutrement!

There were a couple settings for the ceremony, the most obvious being the back lawn with it's white arbour and healthy green grass. The other option was to have the vows on the beach.

There are two main items that are not included in the cost of the rental: alcohol, and accomodations. For most, the knowledge that one can buy and bring their own booze is an added bonus as this is a huge budget saver. Overbury has a "serving it right" certificate, so a bartender is included in the rental costs.

The accomodations range from 165.00 a night for 4 people (extra adult = 35.00 each) for the crescent point cottages, Dad's house, and the Batchelor's Quarters, and 100.00 a night for 4 people (extra adult = 25.00) for the summer cottages. Altogether they can accomdate 60 people overnight. If you plan on inviting more than 60 people, there are a number of B&B's on the island that can help house the rest of your guests.

The crescent point cottages are modern, clean, winterized, and self sufficient. They have a full kitchen with the necessary pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, and cooking items, a bathroom with shower and towels, wrap around deck, and BBQ. All four cottages are situated close together and make for a great gathering area for a rehearsal dinner on the friday night.

Dad's house also has a kitchen, and bathroom with shower. Although it's a bit more rustic in appearance, it's no less lacking in charm.

The summer cottages are definitely the most rustic out of the bunch.

They were very clean, and each had an enclosed porch with a double bed, which would make for a cool evening sleep on a hot summer's night.

No running water, and no electricity mean outhouses and a shared shower house for these four cottages.

Overbury Farm Resort is an outstanding setting for a wedding. The resort is a family owned, family run operation, and it's obvious they take great pride in all they have to offer. Their "all in one" pricing is very reasonable, and provided a stress free option for planning one's wedding. Arlene seemed very open to suggestions and ideas, and was happy to show us pictures of previous weddings, and letters from happy couples that had married at Overbury. Although we very much wanted this venue for our "dream weekend wedding extravaganza", there were a few things that just didn't work for us.

*With over 75% of our guests flying in from out of town, the logistics of getting everyone to the island, and placing everyone in appropriate cottages seemed a bit overwhelming. Making all these arrangements would most definitely add to the stress of wedding planning.

*Finding vendors such as photographers, hairstylists, and make-up artists who will travel to the venue might prove to be costly, or may limit our choices if we went with those nearby

*4 cottages without electriciy and water means 20 sleeping spots without electricity and water. On a normal cottage weekend, this probably wouldn't bother most of my friends and family, but on a wedding weekend, it seems a wee bit lacking.

*Relying on two different ferries to transport ourselves, our cars, our parents, the bridal party, the alcohol, the extra decor, the rehearsal food, the tuxes and gowns, and any other necessary items is not a good idea. Our trip back from Thetis island on sunday afternoon took 8 hours due to crazy line-ups at the departure bay terminal - and that was in September (we're planning our wedding for July)!

*The "all in one" rental price would seriously limit my personal invovlement in the decoration/flowers/party department. For most, this is probably a good thing; for a crafty DIY person like me, not so much!

*The peaceful island life lacks a bit of oomph! Again, with so many of our guests coming from out of town, we want a few more options for site seeing, recreation, and shopping. not that thetis island is devoid of any of these things, just somewhat lacking compared to vancouver or victoria.

And so we keep looking!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Venue one: Rivers Crossing Retreat

We began the search for our venue immediately after almost after becoming engaged. I'd always heard that once the venue is booked, everything else falls magically into place - hah! We'll see about that.

First stop - The Treehouse at Rivers Crossing Retreat

This is a new venue on vancouver island, situated in the Highlands, appoximately 15 minutes north west of downtown Victoria. It's a truly gorgeous area with great potential.

They currently have one main reception area called 'the treehouse' which holds approximately 60-70 guests for a sit down dinner. There is also a room on the second floor that could be used for a kids room, dance floor, cocktail hour, etc. They are also in the midst of building a second, slightly larger, reception venue with multi-tiered decks extending down to the amphitheatre, which is the perfect setting for an outdoor ceremony, and pictures. They were still working on the landscaping at the time of our visit, but again, there was tremendous potential there (photo courtesy of Rivers Crossing Retreat website)

Sandy, the event coordinator, was very pleasant and accommodating; she answered all of our questions, and seemed open to suggestions and requests. We were quoted $1200.00 for rental of the treehouse and amphitheatre for the day, which seemed very reasonable considering the beautiful setting and the future potential of the venue.

The inside of the treehouse is very warm and inviting. The wood floors and beams are made of trees from the property, and the decor has a slight tuscany
feel with rich colours of rust, gold, and sage. You can see the sound system to the left of the picture, and the lovely stone fireplace on the right. (Note: the kid's toys are not part of the decor, they are currently running a daycare out of the building during the week until the daycare centre is built).

You can see the kitchen through the pass through window in the pic on the left. Its also a good pic of the faux paint finish on the walls that gives it that hint of 'tuscany'.

These bench seats run all the way around the room and are a good representation of the colours used throughout the venue. Perfect for a fall wedding!

We didn't take any pictures of the outside (or so it seems after searching endlessly through our picture files) but it was definitely a beautiful setting, you'll just have to take my word on it. And as they complete the buildings and landscaping, it will only become more beautiful.

What worked for us:
*reasonable rental rates
*beautiful setting
*new venue
*friendly event coordinator
*beautiful setting
*caterer of our choice
*bring in our own booze

What didn't work for us:
*a bit far from downtown Victoria
*only one hotel nearby and very expensive
*no view of the mountains (lots of trees)
*venue was a bit too small for our liking
*booking on "potential" is a bit of a risk
*colours of treehouse don't work with our theme
*beast to choose vendors from victoria (which means many more ferry trips for us)

In our situation, the con's outweighed the pros, but I have no doubt that this venue will be the perfect spot for many happy couples out there.

Next venue: Overbury Farm Resort on Thetis Island

The great venue search of 2007.

It's a good thing we're not planning on getting hitched until the summer of 2009, because otherwise, the search for the "perfect" venue would be much less enjoyable and much more stressful.

We've looked at two different options so far, and while both had great potential, neither were quite right. We have very specific criteria, and a somewhat limited budget, which makes things slightly complicated, though not impossible.

Our dream venue is one that incorporates a lodge, cabin, or barn like setting with high wood beams, wood floors, and large open spaces; Rustic, but not too rustic, thus it works well with our outdoorsy, woodsy, organic, casual yet modern green and brown theme. There's an area nearby for an outdoor ceremony which incorporates mountains, lakes, and trees as the backdrop. The venue is easy for our guests to get to (75% are from out of town), and there are inexpensive rooms in the form of cabins or lodges for our guests to stay in. Once our guests have arrived, there is no need for them to go elsewhere as there will be much to see and do in the general vicinity.

Of course, there are dream criteria, and then there are realistic criteria. Realistically speaking...

We must have:
*ceremony and reception in same location
*area for outdoor ceremony
*personal choice of caterer
*option to bring in our own booze
*area for pictures nearby
*rental until 1am at earliest

We would like to have:
*lodge like feel
*view of moutains
*park or woodsy type setting
*colours that work with green and brown theme
*proximity to central vancouver
*venue booked with our party only

We do not want:
*banquet hall with crazy carpet
*old school 80's decor
*to have our ceremony inside
*to share our venue with other weddings

And all of this must fit within our budget (food/booze/venue under $5000)

It doesn't seem like a tall order to fill on paper, but the actual search has been somewhat disheartening. It seems like everything that falls into "dream venue" category is too expensive, or too far away. And many are too far outside the city limits. There are still a few left on our list of possibilities. And so, my plan is to discuss each venue; the pros, the cons, the costs, the pics, the good the bad and the ugly.

Stay tuned for the first venue we visited: Rivers Crossing Retreat on Vancouver Island.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My organization inspiration.

I'd like to think I'm an organized person.

I've created a clippings notebook with sections for each of the various wedding categories: dress, decor, flowers, bridesmaids, stationary, cake etc. This way all of my magazine inspiration is in one place.

I've created an excel spreadsheet for the guest list, and a question list for venue visits.

I've created a budget, and I plan on sticking to it!

I even bought a PDA, just so I could have everything organized and always with me!

So I thought I was doing pretty good, until I saw this post by Miss Canary of weddingbee . All I can say is WOW!! Talk about inspiring. And the best part is, she's provided the templates for each of her organizational creations, which I will definitely be using!

Thank you Miss Canary, for sharing and for being so amazingly organized. I bow down to thee.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The engagement story.

Most couples planning a wedding have an engagement story with which they regale their friends and family. We are no different; and so without further ado, here is our sweet story, which was more than 6 years in the making!

If you'd told me 7 years ago that the extremely young, extremely arrogant, and extremely cute tribe poster, known to me back then as "KiFe", would one day become my fiancée, I probably would have laughed and told you not to quit your day job. I mean, come on! He's the same age as my brother! That's way too weird to even consider...right? So how the heck did we end up engaged and planning a wedding you ask?

After the disintegration of a long term relationship in the fall of 2000, a close friend suggested I keep things light. You know, set my sights on just having fun for a while! Earlier that same year, I'd actually met KiFe, during a trip to playdium with a group of friends. He was much cuter in person, and much less arrogant too! In fact he had a wonderful sense of humour and was very easy to talk to. My intentions were completely innocent at the time as I was an "attached woman", but after the break-up all bets were off!

Recalling my friends sage advice, Patrick and I started hanging out, but not before clearly stating our intentions: we are only having fun; we are NOT getting serious; we are not ready for a relationship. Un huh. Riiiiiiight. And well, you know the rest of the story!

Fast forward 7 years to June 2007. We'd been talking on and off, about getting married, for some time; but there always seemed to be something getting in the way. He wasn't working. We were moving. I wasn't working. We were moving. I was going back to school. We were moving. We had very little money. We were moving; you get the idea. At this point, I'd pretty much resigned myself to idea of "living in sin" for the rest our lives!

Thus, upon arriving at Horseshoe bay, after a weekend of camping on the sunshine coast with my girl guide unit (yes, I'm a girl guide leader and I love it), I really didn't suspect a thing. It had been raining and cold all weekend, and although the girls behaved wonderfully, the leaders were exhausted by the time the ferry arrived at the terminal.

I called Patrick earlier that afternoon, to let him know that we made our ferry and that I would be at the terminal in less than an hour. Looking back now, I recall thinking that he sounded fairly giddy and happy on the phone. He mentioned how much he missed me (as did I) and asked if I was up for doing anything after I got back. He suggested shopping (which really should have tipped me off right there, he NEVER suggests shopping - haha), and being the shopaholic that I am, I jumped at the suggestion. Thus he stealthily discovered my mood and energy level and determined that the proposal was a go. And still, I never suspected a thing.

After Patrick and Huxley (our dog) met me at the ferry terminal, and all the girls were handed off to their happy and relaxed parents, we jumped into our little mazda 3 to head home. On the way, Patrick asked if I would mind stopping at Cypress Mountain to take some pictures. Seeing as this is not unusual request, suspicions were still not aroused. We parked at the second lookout point, and since it was rather deserted, let the dog out for a run. Patrick set up his camera on the tripod and asked me to stand in front of it so he could set the focus. Again, this is not an unusual request, and so I stood in front of the camera completely unaware of his plan.

Now you would think that because the day was extremely cloudy and because there was absolutely nothing to see, I might have thought something was up, but I didn't. I was just happy to be home, happy to be wandering around on a mountain with my pup and boyfriend, and happy at the idea of having a shower and sleeping in my own bed that night! Thus proposals and engagements were the last thing on my mind. That is, of course, until Patrick came to stand with me in front of the camera, and called out: "Huxley, come over here while I ask your mom to marry me!" He said some lovely mushy things, most of which I can not remember due to my shocked but happy state, and of course, I said YES!



"It's beautiful!!"


"I'm engaged!"

Aren't we cute? For the whole sequence click here!

The requisite wedding blog!

Well, since everybody's doing it, it must be a good idea right? RIGHT?!?

I'm sure most will roll their eyes at the thought of yet another rambling blog describing all the minute details of some random couple's "unique" wedding. Believe me, I was one of those "eye rollers" not too long ago!

But after the exhilarating elation of our engagement began to ebb (oh the alliteration; my english teacher would be so proud) and the realization of the daunting task that lay ahead began to overwhelm, I soon discovered just how useful the blogs of my fellow brides-to-be really were!

If you're anything like me, the first thing you do when faced with such a challenge is research, research, research (aka: surfing the web). And so it was during my first few days of "research" that I discovered the wonderful world of wedding blogs. Useful, not just in their ability to update family and friends of the blogger, but to provide information to other couples in the process of planning a wedding. Whether you share the same geographical location, the same budget constraints, the same family stories, or the same love for DIY projects, you really can learn a lot from the millions of other brides that have been in your exact same position not too long ago!

Which leads me here, making my first wedding blog post; hoping, not only to keep my family and friends abreast of our wedding plans, but to help other brides by sharing my own experiences during this exciting and often overwhelming time!