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Wedding Planning Update

A few people have asked for an update on wedding planning and since it’s been about six months since my last wedding planning post, I think I’m due! I can’t believe the big days in in LESS THAN TWO MONTHS!

It seems crazy to me. We’re gonna be married!

I do have some wedding things to talk about, however we’re not having the typical wedding wedding so the planning process has been sort of…I almost don’t want to say it because I don’t want to jinx it…but it’s been fairly simple. I think what is really helpful is we don’t have a lot of vendors or details. Which is exactly how I like it. I have planned several large galas and I know all about the pesky little details that go into a big event like that and I just don’t want to deal with it at our wedding. I don’t care about what’s trendy right now, I want to do what makes sense for us. I do not want a Pinterest explosion. I want to have a fun day with our family and friends and I don’t really care about the little details that no one is going to notice or remember.

I mean, it’s important to remember that is the main point of all of this.

I think it’s also due to the types of weddings we’re having, though. Neither requires a ton of details. We’re essentially having two small, casual weddings with less than 35 guests each — one close family and family friends ceremony and brunch reception here in Toronto (we’re not even having the bridal party at that one), and then a symbolic ceremony and dinner reception with mostly close friends and a few family members in Cuba.

I guess I’ll break this update up into areas so it’s better organized. Sorry if this is long and boring.

Venue

Cuba is easy. We chose the same resort we got engaged at last April, the Starfish Cuatro Palmas, a boutique resort in Varadero, Cuba.

A bunch of us are going for a week and I’m so excited. We love it there. However, it’s not a typical Varadero wedding resort… There are many bigger and fancier resorts on the peninsula that seem to be the wedding hotspots. I actually don’t even think our resort has ever hosted a wedding. To me this means our wedding can go in one of two ways: the staff may not know how to handle an event of that nature or just not care and it could be a total disaster, or the staff might be excited they’re hosting a wedding and treat it like a super special event and go above and beyond to make everything fantastic. I’m hoping for the latter. But if it’s the former, oh well! We’ll still have a week in paradise with some of our favourite people. The best thing is, we don’t have to do much for it but show up. We can’t be lugging a bunch of crap to Cuba so the resort basically takes care of everything. That is wonderful.

We knew we wanted to be officially married before we go off to Cuba (I’m not sure if I trust them with all the paperwork), and a lot of our family members can’t make it to Cuba, so the plan was to have a small family-only wedding here first. Initially we were planning on just going to City Hall and then taking our family out for lunch, which sounded easy-peasy but the logistics ended up being annoying. City Hall can only hold so many people, and then we’d have to worry about how everyone was getting from City Hall to the reception location.

So, we started searching intimate wedding venues in the city and one that kept popping up was Globe Bistro, a restaurant on the Danforth that used to be a theatre. Evan and I went there for brunch to check it out and the food was DELICIOUS (very important) and they have space to accommodate both the ceremony and reception so our guests don’t have to move anywhere. Perfect! We knew right away, that’s our venue! We didn’t even look at any others.

We’re also having a brunch wedding because we love brunch and I just think it’s a really cute, low-key idea. And since it’s a restaurant they take care of a lot of details that we would otherwise need to look at (catering, decor), which is fine with me.

Dress

I actually have two. I tend to be a messy eater in general, usually even more messy when I’m trying really hard not to be messy, so I could see myself spilling something on my dress at our Toronto wedding and then we leave for Cuba two days later. Disaster.

I found a simple Morilee Madeline Gardner dress that is going to look so good on the beach! I feel like a Greek Goddess in it. So that’s the Cuba wedding dress (no I didn’t link to the exact one). I love it so much. I mentioned in my last wedding planning post that it was the second dress I tried on and though I tried on several others afterwards, that one was always the favourite. It happened to be a lot less expensive than I had budgeted for, so then I purchased a second long bridesmaid dress in cream that I will wear to the Toronto wedding. I love that dress too and I scored both for about half of my original dress budget so I feel pretty good about that. I know I really lucked out.

Can’t show ya yet though!

I have my first dress fitting this week, so that’s exciting. The last time I tried them on they both fit me nearly perfectly (not sure how that happened but they were both exactly my size) so I think I only need slight alterations — mainly bringing the length up a bit on both. In Cuba I’m wearing barefoot sandals for the beach ceremony and then probably just simple sandals at the reception. And these are my Toronto wedding shoes:

Evan’s Suit and Groomsmen Attire

Evan ordered his suit for the Toronto wedding from The Bay when they were having a 60% off Calvin Klein suit sale, so that was lucky. Cuba is super casual so he’s just wearing khakis from the Gap, a white button-up, brown belt, brown sandals, possibly a vest/jacket but we haven’t decided on that yet. The groomsmen are wearing basically the same thing in Cuba, minus the vest/jacket. Evan’s brother (the best man) is wearing a suit he already owns to the Toronto wedding.

Bridesmaid Dresses 

The girls got their dresses for the Cuba wedding from RW&Co. They were inexpensive and the style and colour I was looking for and they look great on everyone so, hurrah.

Rings

We just got our wedding bands and I’m so in love with them! We ordered both mine and Evan’s online from James Allen while they were having a Valentine’s Day sale recently.

This is Evan’s:

He loooves the wood detail.

And mine:

(neither are engraved as they appear to be in the pictures, though we may end up getting them engraved…we shall see)

I wanted a simple sparkly band that wouldn’t take away from my lovely engagement ring, and I didn’t want infinity diamonds all the way around (because they get dirty at the back and I don’t think you can ever get them resized), so this was perfect. Here’s how my combo looks together:

I can’t believe how well that band matches my engagement ring (engagement ring is from Diamonds For Less in Toronto, not James Allen). Ah, I can’t wait to wear it for real. We were both so impressed with James Allen!

Photography/Videography

In Varadero we’re going with AV Smile, a Cuban wedding photographer and videographer. A guy I dated back in my early 20s also got married in Varadero last year, he used AV Smile and then posted his fantastic wedding photos on Facebook, so that’s how I found them. We’re also having them do a video (we figure it will probably be the only time we’re in paradise with our family and best friends so we should do it, and I know I’m going to cherish it), as well as bridal shots with just Evan and I in the streets of nearby Matanzas (a Cuban city). Our Cuban wedding photography package is the one thing we’re really splurging on, but I think it’s worth it. Having great photos is really important to me. Also if this happens I think it’s important someone captures it:

Maybe I’ll embarrass myself at my own wedding and get to be on Ellen again!

We couldn’t do a big photography package twice though, so finding a Toronto photographer on a tiny budget was a bit trickier. A friend of mine referred us to a photographer who is building her portfolio and will do our entire day in Toronto for an unheard of SUPER good price. I’ve seen some shots she’s done and think she’s great so I feel very lucky we found her! I met her for lunch at our venue on Friday and I just loved her. I’m so happy she’s our photographer! What’s kind of crazy is she has the same first and last name as our travel agent for our Cuba wedding. I keep mixing their emails up.

Flowers

A friend of mine from high school, Ashley, has her own faux flower arranging business called From The Stem Up and she is doing our flowers. They’re not silk flowers though, they’re almost like a latex material, and they look so real! This is not my bouquet or our colours, but just so you get an idea.

She does beautiful work!

Our resort in Varadero would have provided me with a bouquet for the wedding, but just me, not the bridal party. Ashley is making bouquets for me, my MOH and the bridesmaids, corsages for our moms/stepmoms, and bouttonieres for our dads, best man, emcee and groomsmen. Then we’ll just pack all the flowers in our suitcases to bring to Cuba. The best part is I can use my bouquet for both the Toronto wedding and the Cuba wedding! It does have a slightly tropical theme but that’s alright. You can have a semi-sort-of tropical wedding in the city in the spring, right? See, these are the details I just don’t really care about.

Wedding Cake

A wedding cake is included in our wedding package from the resort in Cuba, so that’s taken care of. I don’t know how great it will be, honestly, because I’ve had cake in Cuba and was not overly impressed. But, no biggie. For the Toronto wedding my friend and former coworker (the one who is a really great baker) is doing our cake. I’m really excited for that one! Evan has one request and that is NO. FONDANT. But all the buttercream. We’re thinking something like this (but with different flowers/colours):

Officiant

Another thing I feel like we really lucked out on is our officiant. She is a blog reader (and a Baptist minister) and she reached out to me a few months ago offering us her officiating services. Evan and I met her for lunch and really, really liked her so we could not be more happy with how that turned out. I love blogging for bringing so many wonderful people into my life! Right now we’re working on the ceremony with her. I think we’ll end up taking bits and pieces from a bunch of different ideas we’ve found online and then add our own personal touches, and we still don’t know if we’re going to write our own vows. If you have any ceremony ideas I’d love to hear them!

Hair and Makeup

We’re doing our own hair and makeup in Cuba. The bridal party and I are having a sleepover this month to have a practice session on each other, so that will be fun. For Toronto I have a professional doing my hair and makeup, as well as my mom’s and Evan’s mom’s. I actually met her through a blogging event last year and she did a fantastic job on my hair. She more does hair/makeup for magazine-type things (she is fancy and has an agent!) but I reached out to her just to ask and she said she’d do it and she brought her price wayyy down to our budget, so, YAY! I’m gonna look so goooood, hopefully people recognize me.

I think that’s it for vendors. I’m making a playlist for both weddings (Toronto we’re not having dancing since it’s mainly family) so we don’t need a DJ. And anything else is going to be DIY (possibly centrepieces for the Toronto wedding). We have our ceremony music and our first dance (in Cuba) song picked out, but I don’t want to give too many details out on that yet…

So I guess that’s pretty much it. My bridal shower and my bachelorette party have already happened…

So the next big event will be THE big event!

I think the biggest challenge will be making our guests at each wedding feel special. I don’t want people attending the Cuba wedding to feel like we don’t care about it, like it’s not a big deal because we’re already married. And I don’t want our guests at the Toronto wedding to feel like it’s not the real wedding. We are so excited for both weddings and I’m so glad we’re doing it this way and not trying to have one giant wedding here (it would be VERY difficult for us to have a small wedding here if we opened it up to more than family). So, I hope everyone has a great time and we don’t have any major disasters.

But in the end we’ll be married and that’s the most important thing.

Ok byeeee.

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Oh, Wedding Planning

So Evan and I are getting married next spring, which is very exciting! However, getting married typically requires some sort of wedding, and weddings require some planning, which is slightly less exciting.

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A wedding is not something that I have ever really thought about. Growing up I didn’t really envision my dream wedding. I do know that I want some sort of wedding, because I really just want to have a party with our family and friends, but I don’t want anything too large or formal.

A few years ago I was thinking my dream would be to rent a summer camp or cottage-y resort on a lake in Ontario, get married on a dock on the water, have our guests stay in cabins and have a big bonfire, etc. But after actually looking into it, that would take a lot of planning, and it would be very expensive.

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I also think that might be overdone in this area these days. I don’t want something overly themed (when I was making my appointment to try on wedding dresses one of the questions was “What’s the theme of the wedding?” Theme? The theme is WEDDING.) or overly Pinterest-y. I am trying to look at Pinterest very minimally because I know how easy it is to make an event look like a Pinterest explosion. The best weddings I’ve been to are the ones that felt personal and true to the couple’s personalities.

I used to think I wasn’t a big fan of destination weddings, but after Dawn and Mark’s wedding in Jamaica a few years ago I totally changed my mind about them. As a guest, I had an absolute BLAST. Best vacation of my life.

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And I have to say that I really like the idea of having an entire week with my favourite people. Since Cuba has been a big part of our relationship – we’ve been three times together and even got engaged there – it seems like the obvious choice for a destination. We fell in love with the resort we stayed at in Varadero AND Cuba is relatively cheap compared to other destinations from Canada, so it’s not like our guests would have to spend a ton of money. So this May we are getting married at the Starfish Cuatro Palmas in Varadero, Cuba! Same resort we got engaged at! It feels very true to US.

The good thing about a destination wedding is that the resort pretty much takes care of all the details for you. I literally could just show up to the party and they would handle everything.

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Sign me up! Because of this I think that a lot of people think a destination wedding is the easy way out, including myself. I totally thought that. Until I started actually planning it. Let me just say that I am a very easygoing person, not a lot gets to me and I don’t really care about a lot of details. So I assumed that any wedding planning that I had to deal with would be easy breezy like my own personality (and Evan’s, too). This was also a false assumption. I have come to learn that the stress of wedding planning does not come from you, it comes from the process. It comes from the little things that come up that you have to deal with even when you really don’t want to.

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For example, we worked with our travel agent to choose a date at the resort that would work for everyone coming. We have people flying in from Toronto, Ontario; Kelowna, BC; Calgary, Alberta; and Edmonton, Alberta. So to find a date that would work for all of us, where we could all fly in on the same day and leave the same day was a bit tricky. But we got it! We booked the resort and mine and Evan’s flights, I sent out our save the dates, people started booking, all was well.

Then I hear from our travel agent that unfortunately Sunwing (the company we are flying with, and our resort is Sunwing-exclusive) has cancelled the flight from Kelowna that week. The flight that my brother is on, who is in the wedding.

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Our travel agent asked if they could fly from Vancouver instead, and it’s a five hour drive but they’re doing it and don’t mind (or so they told me so hopefully!). So okay, that is fine. Then a week or so later we hear that Sunwing has cancelled the flight from Edmonton – can our Edmonton guests fly from Calgary? I talk to Lisa’s sister Heather (flying from Edmonton) and she’s like “Yeah, we have to drop our dog off at Brent’s parents in Calgary, so that works better!” well hooray! All good. But then I hear that Sunwing has decided to move the flight from Calgary ahead two days, so they would be arriving two days after everyone else and leaving two days later. And that…while not a big deal, really bothered me because my bestie Lisa, my MOH, is on that flight and OBVIOUSLY I want her (and her bf and Heather and Brent) there the entire time the group is there. That was super annoying. So Evan and I decided to extend our trip for two days so we can spend time with that group, and we made it work. It’s not ideal but I think we handled it well.

AND THEN I hear that Sunwing has decided to move the flight from Vancouver three days later than the Toronto group, arriving on the SAME DAY AS THE WEDDING. Ugh. RAGE!

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Again, that is my brother’s flight, and I can’t take the chance that something will happen or it will get delayed and he will miss the wedding. But what can you do? We can’t make Sunwing change their flights. We ended up changing the date of the ceremony and moved it back a day, which was a bit of a hassle because we had to coordinate with the resort and then the photographer that we had already booked.

Like, we chose that date because it worked for everyone. You have to book way out because of resort availability, and then they change the flights??? Ugh I was so mad and it was a stressful time. Thankfully that seems to be the biggest problem and it’s all sorted out now. SO FAR. Now I don’t trust that it’s not going to change again.

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A lot of our family can’t make it to Cuba, which we knew would be the case, so before we leave we are going to have a family-only ceremony at City Hall followed by a dinner. In my mind that seems straightforward enough right now, but I haven’t started actually planning that yet so I’m a bit apprehensive. At least we won’t have flight problems to deal with!

Aside from the flight fiasco the planning has gone pretty smoothly. The best thing is I GOT MY DRESS!!!! I had an amazing experience at Bliss Bridal in Whitby with Lisa and Emily. I bought the second dress I tried on – though I tried on about 10 afterwards, but the second one was always the favourite. It’s perfect! Exactly what I wanted. And when I looked at the price tag afterwards it was half of my budget, so even more perfect. I actually bought a second bridesmaid dress in ivory that I’m wearing for the city hall wedding because my wedding dress ended up being so inexpensive (I don’t know how it happened and even my coordinator at the store was in shock at the price).

I can’t believe I got my dress in just one try – I have heard some stories from my friends of it taking six wedding dress shopping trips to find The One. And I was surprised that the dresses were looking good on me ’cause usually my nungas like to rebel and cause problems, but on this day they were behaving. I loved almost all of the dresses I tried. Here’s one I didn’t get (repeat DID NOT get).

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Loved the skirt but the top was a bit too bling-y and the detailing was giving me a rash on my armpits, so no thanks. Comfort is gonna be key, especially ’cause it’s gonna be hot!

We got the bridesmaid dresses too. I was thinking of a simple summer dress in a turquoise and I found exactly what I was envisioning at RW&Co. It looks good on everyone (all my bridesmaids tried it on) and it was on super sale so that was just a fantastic find. My girls are gonna look so gooooood!!!

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Can’t wait to see them all in it.

So, that’s it I guess. I wanted to give a wedding planning update, I’ve been meaning to for a while. Hopefully this post didn’t come across as too bitchy because I am truly so, so excited to marry Evan! Just…planning isn’t my favourite. I want to be married already 😉

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