Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Day!

Since August 2008 I have been developing my business plan. It started with a name as the foundation and then I built on top of that. Baby steps, a bit of school, a dash of cupcakes and a sprinkling (or endless hours, whatever...) of crafting and today I have an official website. My web developer and I have been tweaking it for weeks. Wow, I sure did not know how much work goes into websites, sure makes me appreciate you techie people out there a lot more!

I know with every bone in my body that this is what I was meant to do, but there is the odd moment of panic, like, what if I don't get any clients? What if disaster strikes? What if I use up all my ideas on other people's weddings and then mine is a flop? And I have already faced the fact that I may miss big days in my child's life - for example her 5th birthday this year I am booked. These are things that come with the territory, I mean, what business DOESN'T come with a few sacrifices.

The past few weeks have been so exciting for me, as I always have big ideas but rarely see them past an idea bubble floating about my head. This one I knew I wanted so badly that there was no way this idea would fizzle. I have registered the business, set up banking, have my legal meeting this week, and the website is up!

My dreams are coming true, and I am so happy to share them with you...whoever you

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"The One"

And no, I am not talking about your future husband or wife - I am talking the dress. The dress for me is something which I have mixed feelings about - which probably will come as a shock to all my friends, as they know my weakness for BCBG dresses, but the inflation of price tag, name brands and overall pretentious feelings I get from the whole dress buying process is one I can't really explain.
Let me clarify, that I think the dress is one of the most gorgeous focal points of the day, and makes for some magical photographic memories, but I don't think this translates into the need to take out a loan, line of credit or re-mortgaging your home to get one!

This is one detail I have no clue about for my own big day. One thing I know, is that I will not buy a dress based on the label nor whether it costs me 6 or 7 pay cheques. What I think clouds some brides judgement when it comes to dress shopping are the visuals in their heads. They see one of their friends, or a bride in a magazine wearing a sweetheart, dropped waist ballroom style dress, and it becomes this vision that they must acquire for their big day. I am a firm believer that if a dress doesn't look good on you, it does not matter anymore, you cannot buy it. Every bride wants to look stunning on their big day, so why choose a dress based on what it looks like on someone else?

Recently, I helped Alison pick out her beautiful dress, and I must say, I had a fleeting moment where I thought to myself "hmm - now THAT is something I would wear on my wedding day", but what do I know? It looks gorgeous on Ali, but could look entirely different on me.

Regarding the silhouette, I have no ideas as to what I would want or look good on me, so come the day, I will probably try on every style out there. One thing I DO know is that I want an element of couture, even if it's not "true" couture (which would mean I would be spending a few dozen pay cheques". I require a few non-classic touches to my dress, feathers or flowers, something unique. I also believe that the dress must match the occassion - flowy, casual for the beach, lace for a classic and elegant wedding and a mermaid silouette with a cage veil for a more retro-chic look. The dress and the venue are usually two elements that need to be decided on to build the foundation of the wedding and then everything else is built on that.

When it comes to name brands on wedding dresses, in New York, or Paris, big fashion capitals this may matter - but I have yet to this day not met a bride who made a huge deal about what designer made her dress, how much it cost and how exclusive she is. This is not to say you cannot tell cheap fabric from silk, but a silk dress found in a local shop and a silk dress purchased from Christian Dior may not stand that far apart from each other - and really, does it matter? As long as it looks amazing and you 100% believe it is "the one", then no one cares if it costs you $500 or $5000.

With the bombarding of wedding shows coming out this year, I must say, the PVR is getting a great workout - one of the ones I love is Say Yes to the Dress. The show is based in New York at a premiere bridal shop by the name of Kleinfeld. By watching numerous episodes, I realize how exclusive a shop it really is - when someone says $2500 for a dress is a tight budget it makes me wonder "well what is average?", but this is what I am saying. We live in Calgary, where $2500 would be on the higher end of the price range for dresses. On one show, a bride came in with a very specific dress in mind - and it came with a price tag of over $25,000. My jaw literally hit the floor - the parents bargained with the sales associate to buy the floor model and the family acted like they had won the lottery when the "scored" the dress for a cool 12 K. Wow.

My role as a wedding planner constantly fluctuates - some day's I can wear the hat of the best friend - being supportive and encouraging, other times I may need to pull out my mom instincts and try to present the practical side of things. At the end of the day - if I have a glowing, radiant and truly joyful bride, I feel like my job is done. I also feel as though I have the best job in the world.
As much I am am very indecisive on what dress I would ever choose, this gorgeous dropped waist number with massive fabric rosette's really caught my eye (, maybe I do know what I am looking for!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ali and Graham

Alison is one of my sister, Meagan's best friends, and I have recently been lucky enough to acquire her and her fiance as new clients. I am so excited as Alison is crafty, imaginative, thoughtful and loves a good glass of wine and some wedding chatter. Her and Graham are getting married June 19th, 2010 at the Calgary Zoo, and I cannot wait to be part of their wonderful day.

First, I have to go back to my family to explain where Ali fits in. Anyone who knows me, knows I have three sisters (and four step-sisters too!) and they are my very best friends. Anyone who is a friend to them is close to my heart as well. My sisters have been away from Calgary for sometime. Krista my puppetering sister who has written numerous plays, has a dream of owning a puppet farm (to normal people, this would be an artists retreat), and whom I appear to be a carbon copy of, lives in Toronto. Meagan has just recently graduated from Bond University, on the Gold Coast of Australia and before that, worked for Club Med and travelled the world, lives in Ottawa, we think maybe she's there to become Prime Minister. And my little sister Caitlin, who graduated from ACAD last year and is an amazing painter who has graced our whole house with her beautiful work, is currently in the Outback of Australia cooking for cowboys and having crazy and wild adventures. I miss my sisters dearly and would do anything for them, but since they are not here to actually visit with, I feel very blessed to have a few of their good friends keep me company, and this is where Ali fits in. She's been kind of part of the family, as some of my best friends have been, for years, and am so happy to be collaborating with her creativity to see to it that her dream wedding comes true!

Before I stepped into their wedding picture, Ali had a full binder of pictures, ideas, magazine cut outs, websites, dress patterns and contacts. This is fantastic, as it gives me some sort of concrete foundation to build upon. I love that Ali is decisive, but only after testing out, or "auditioning" vendors. This is a great thing to do so that you feel 100% comfortable with your choices. This is one of the biggest days of your life and one where you can actually call all the shots. You're the boss and you are hiring these people (thanks for not auditioning other wedding planners Ali!). We have had several lengthy visits about flowers, centerpieces, dresses and the palette. The palette for this wedding took a few tries to get it right. I love that Graham actually puts in his two cents about the wedding and vocalizes whether or not he likes something.

The first palette Ali and I discussed, was ivory, sea foam and chocolate brown. Soothing, calming natural sea colours that they also have integrated into their home, so it only made sense to use these on their big day. This scheme actually posed quite a challenge, every one's thoughts on what "sea foam" was varied greatly and I struggled a bit with finding matching elements. This worried me a bit, as if I had trouble matching the colours just for the palette, then I though we would find it difficult to find decor, dresses, ties, flowers, accessories and centerpieces that all fell in the correct sea foam column.

After this, we discussed maybe doing a celedon or apple green and brown, which Ali loved but Graham was not a big fan of. Then Ali came to me with the idea of a powder blue and chocolate brown with ivory accents. I thought this would be a wonderful choice, as the blue would be more consistent, and was only a bit different than her initial palette. I went to work and gave Josh his job of coming up with the palette below, and I think it turned out beautiful, and best of all, both the bride and groom to be loved it!

Having my sisters far away is so hard, but having their close friends near by is the next best thing. I am so honored to be working with Ali and Graham and am going to attempt to patiently wait for next June to arrive.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Last Night Out

Before my friends started getting married, the last night out, whether it is a stag or a stagette, I had pre-conceived notions what this event was all about. Movies and shows definitely don't do these parties any favors either. My first stagette was a mere 3 months ago and I was ecstatic to be invited to Stacey's Moulin Rouge themed stagette. I love dressing up and any time I have an excuse to do so I go to town on an outfit, my friends can all vouch for this. I loved the idea of this theme, as I love pin up art and the era that this evening would be based on. Feathers, fishnets, glitter, glamour, corsets and pin-curls were everywhere. We began at Stacey's house, which was all a surprise for her, and the group of girls was a mixed bunch, some of which I'd known for years, some newer faces and family members, but we were all in it for the same thing, for Stacey and to make sure this was the best night out! Stacey was totally shocked, and was gorgeous in her black and white Moulin Rouge get-up. The girls and I all had a blast in a stretch SUV limo going from bar to bar, playing games, sipping champagne and indulging in some "live entertainment". I can definitely say it was a bonding experience for all of us which was really nice to have before Stacey and Brian's big day. I finally "got" this big night out and everything it meant, to the bride and to all of us that were there to see her walk down the aisle.

The next stagette was for our dear Danielle, and her stagette was Sex in the City themed. I thought this was perfect for Din, I could totally see her living in New York, maybe in the fashion industry. She loves shoes and had these to-die-for peacock blue Christian Louboutin's she wore on her wedding. Yes, Sex in the City was perfect. Din is adored by everyone who has known her for 15 years or 15 minutes, she's a gem of a human being and one of the best people I know, so the group was massive enough to fit on a bus! Fabulous shoes, make-up and attire accompanied all twenty-some-odd girls around to several bars and pubs after wining and dining at one of the girls houses. My masterpiece for this evening was my first attempt at being a cake master including a frozen butter cream transfer, striped zebra vanilla and chocolate cake, and fondant covering both layers, I think it was a hit. I really think that this idea of trouble making and mischievousness before your wedding day is blown way out of proportion and I now know that these big nights are so important and special, especially when there is a large group of people that have never met each other, it really loosens things up for the actual big day.

Our most recent big night out was actually something my best girlfriends and I came up with, and we named it the Staglerette. This is a hybrid of a stag and a bachelorette party, where it is a mixed sexes night out. Like I have mentioned before, Steve is one of our best friends, so is Brian, but it left us feeling a bit left out that we could not celebrate with them on their joint stag night, so we took the boys out as a surprise to a duelling piano bar, Aussie Rules. There was an even number of girls to guys and I must say, the night was an absolute success, the boys were surprised and we all had an amazing night out. Steve also didn't leave his bed for about 24 hours, sorry Din!

I am the kind of girl that judges things that are unknown to me, one of them being the bachelor and bachelorette parties and all that came with them. I actually thought they were not the best idea after hearing so many horror stories, but now after being to three in the past three months my mind has completely changed, I think they are absolutely necessary to bond friends, old and new and to let loose during a time where the soon to be bride and groom may need to blow off some steam. When the business is up and running I most definitely want to be able to accommodate those who need help putting together their big night out, I'm always down for a good party!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Best Friend's Wedding

Okay, first thing here, I am lucky to have about 20 best friends, but Steve sure is one of them, and he got hitched! Yay! I could not be happier! And the best thing about this? My best friend count just hit 21, because his new beautiful wife Danielle is definitely one more to add to the list.

When Steve popped the question, we all were so elated for him and Din but they chose a date that seemed SO far away, I thought I was going to die of waiting for their big day! One thing I was really grateful for, was Steve keeping his word to me and asking my sweet and feisty daughter Brooklynn to be their flower girl, he had promised this role to her about six months before the engagement but was so happy he remembered, it meant a lot to me. Danielle bought her a custom-made tutu for the big day in their beautiful colours of orange and magenta and she received numerous compliments on the get up.

The happy new fiance's chose their venue which turned out to be a place that I had never even been to, even though it was just a few blocks away from where I work. The Calgary Chamber of Commerce is a hidden gem right downtown. It is one of the oldest buildings in the core and the second you are inside you can tell. It was reminiscent to me of the Banff Springs Hotel, the old charm and feel of history and years gone by were everywhere you looked. Danielle brought me for lunch there about a month before their big day and showed me around. At first glance the ballroom, as she warned seemed a little outdated and, at the time we visited, blah, but I could see so much potential in there, with the grand ceiling and the dance floor in the center of the room. The massive windows and the crown molding just added to the ambiance. I knew with the right lighting and their high impact orchid centerpieces the room would just look magical.

Danielle is the most calm and relaxed bride to be I have ever seen. Even the morning of, she was just all smiles and no jitters, and she worked extremely hard on this wedding, right up until the day before. Steve and Danielle hand made a lot of elements to the wedding, place cards, the large painted "trees" with little lamps all over them, the candy buffet and the custom bags that they made. The theme and colours were used so tactfully throughout every detail and someone like me really appreciates all these tiny pieces that make the whole thing come together.

Along with their reception venue, they stuck with a historic theme and chose Calgary Central United Church for their ceremony, the oldest church in Calgary. Their massive wedding party (seven girls and guys on each side) hardly even fit up at the alter. The ceremony was beautiful and all of us had to hold back our tears as our boy Steve became Danielle's new hubby....maybe partially because we were realizing, if all of us were 16 when we met, and Steve was getting married which means we really are getting old, but mostly from sheer happiness for him and Danielle, they really are a perfect match.

The night was a complete success with all of us dancing and hula hooping and partying until the wee hours of the morning, and seeing of our newlyweds off to their hotel to sleep for a few moments before whisking off to their month long honeymoon in Europe. As I write this they are most likely sitting around, sipping wonderful wine and enjoying their new life together, congratulations you two, we love you!

*Photo Credit:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Danielle's Garden Party Shower

A few years ago, one of my very best friends fell in love. Steve and Danielle met at the Calgary Stampede so already I liked the beginning of their love story!

Growing up with all sisters, I always begged my parents for a brother. I would bring guy friends home that at the time may have been fighting with their parents and would say "um, so can we adopt him?". The answer, to my surprise, would always be no. Years went by and in high school I met a group of rather fun and surprisingly caring guys. I am still good friends with all of them and consider Steve, one of my best friends, the brother my parents never allowed me to have. When you know someone really well, and are so close to them you become protective of them, and only want the best for them, and I can honestly say that Steve found that person (I might even like her more than him, ha ha!).

Danielle and I took Latin aerobics together often at lunch, so we got to know each other without Steve being around with I think is always imperative to get to know the real person. Before I met her the other boys said "she is like Steve, in girl form", that thought scared me a bit, but she really is! She is funny and awesome, and very caring to all her close friends. She puts every piece of her into special events and gatherings for others and doesn't skip a minor detail. I was absolutely ecstatic when Steve told me he had proposed, and so...the crazy wedding planning began.

Danielle has done a wonderful job of planning details of decorations, the outfits of the entire bridal party, the photographer, the hair, the flowers, everything. I think like a lot of brides she would be a little sad after the wedding is done and over...but she'll be too busy gallivanting around Europe on her honeymoon to think of that.

Part of me understood where Danielle got her awesome personality from and that is her mom Val, who is so fun, energetic and sweet. Her and I discussed over several emails about little details for the shower, her backyard being ready for the day, the hundreds of little flowers she planted, the food, the invitations and those paper flower puffballs that I am a big fan of (thanks Martha Stewart, you are my hero!).

I think the day was perfect, sunny and bright, just like the beautiful bride to be. September 19th can not get here soon enough!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brian and Stacey's Beautiful Day

There's not a lot of people I know that could say their friendships are as old or as strong as my circle of friends. I feel completely blessed to have a wonderful group of old friends who've been through thick and thin together since High School. A good sign of a true friend is one that you don't see every day, but when you do see them, it's like you haven't skipped a beat. When they have happy mile stones, your heart cheers for them and when they are going through a life challenge your heart aches alongside with them. This happy occassion is one of the events that made our hearts cheer (although the speeches pulled at our heartstrings, I think I was crying for the majority of the speeches).

Brian and Stacey are a beautiful couple inside and out. They have watched each other grow, learn and change. They have overcome obstacles and been on adventures together. Their love is one that everyone looks at with envy. I believe the Maid Of Honour Andrea said it best "they've always been like one of those couples at the mall that are all over each other and all in love that you just hate", ha ha, we all knew what she was talking about!

Stacey is an extremely talented wedding planner. She has not yet taken the plunge to do it professionally, but one look at this wedding and you'd think she had been doing this for years, I think she's definitely found her calling. This made me really proud to see it all come together and at the end of the night told her, when the business gets up and running, she's hired. From the stationary all hand done and matching, to the beautiful centerpieces, the hand crafted linens, the personalized memorial candles, the seating chart, the lighting, the well laid out candy buffet, and the venue pick, it was simply a perfect day, despite the cold and gloomy August weather.

I can't say I take credit for anything with this wedding but the homemade cupcakes, but I did ask Stacey if I could share their beautiful wedding on my blog and "she said YES!". Congratulations you two, we all love and support you in everything you do and couldn't be happier for your new beginning!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Por Favor?

Back in the day wedding favours had little to no place in a wedding budget. They had no theme and came in three different flavours: fire (matches), raisin (fruit cake wrapped in a doily) or nut (Jordan almonds). Wow, have times changed! I mean, the entire dynamics of weddings have changed, so it comes as no surprise that favors must also evolve. There are countless websites selling silver pears and apple cider packages by the hundreds. My issue with these is that they can be very expensive (sometimes up to about $5 a piece!) and in the end, not very original. A big thing people say all the time about favors is they are a waste of money, no one uses them, takes them home, eats them, etc. I don’t think usefulness is actually the point of a favor. It is to thank your guest with a tiny token of appreciation, and these days, add to your theme and décor. I am a very detail oriented person, and favors are one thing I definitely do not agree on skipping out on.

There are several creative, personalized options out there and I will share a few of my very favourites. For the wedding of Mark and Ashley Dyer last year, they ordered custom Jones soda bottles with their picture on it. I thought it was so whimsical, cute, and for those that need the “usefulness” side of a favour, extreme drinkability. For $29.99 plus shipping you can order cases of several flavours of Jones soda with several different pictures on them, as well as adding a personal message to your guests, I believe Mark and Ashley’s said “thank you for sharing our day with us”.
Another personalized option is m&m’s can print your picture and date on thousands of their delicious candy coated chocolates. This is a neat way to personalize a favour, as you can then order favour boxes or tins suited to your occasion. For one wedding I was considering these damask tins, at a $1.30 a piece - and then filling them with black and white personalized m&m’s which you can order in bulk here:

Now on to a little less expensive, yet a little more labour intensive favors, those of the homemade variety. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart’s apprentice to be able to pull something like this off. When you are planning a wedding do not be afraid to ask some of your more creative friends and family members for help, most of the time they will be more than happy to. The first fairly easy and inexpensive idea is homemade magnets. These are made out of glass a stone, the one’s that people buy for fish tanks, flat on the back, rounded on top. You can buy bags of these at most craft stores for very little money. Then a good craft glue and a coil of magnetic tape, tissue paper in your wedding colour and however many favour tins with clear tops you will need, and that’s it for supplies. The fun thing with these is you can make whatever pictures or words you want. For Alicia and Neal Bateman’s wedding this past spring we typed “live, love laugh” about a million times on her computer and cut them into circles, used the white glue (which dries clear) to attach them onto the back of the glass stone and then attach a square of magnetic tape. To finish the project off, cut a small piece of tissue paper into each tin and place three magnets in each tin with the words or pictures facing out. Voila! Each favour works out to be about $1.40 total, which is quite affordable, and these were a big hit.
Another idea I was so fond of I considered it for my own wedding is little robin’s egg nests. These are so cute and go with quite a few themes, colours and décor. Taste wise, I personally like no bake cookies to be the ones with coconut and oatmeal, but the one’s I found were with Chow Mein noodles. Then you can use either mini eggs or Jordan almonds for the eggs. So cute. You can double these as name cards by placing the names on little sticks and poking them into the nest portion. These work out to less than a dollar a piece. A very affordable and very fun favor idea.

Now, this post could go on and on, but the point of it is to just give you a few ideas to inspire you and then go from there. This last idea is something unconventional, but seems like it may be a growing trend. People that are a bit more practical with their money may appreciate this one. I have decided for our favors we will be doing a “in lieu of favors” donation to the SPCA in Calgary. Now of course I still want to have a creative spin with this. What I am hoping to do, is to visit the SPCA with Josh and visit with a number of dogs (possibly cats and rabbits, but Josh is more of a dogs only guy) and bring numbers along, have a photo shoot with several dogs, as many as there are tables and do portraits of the dog sponsored at each table with a write up about them such as “My friends Brittany and Josh would like to thank you for sharing this wonderful day with them, and in lieu of favors, they have donated money in your honour to help me survive, thrive and hopefully find a forever home. (Dog’s name, breed, age).”. Some people may find this a bit off the wall or odd, but no one that knows me will. I love animals and from a young age I told my parents the SPCA would be the only ones put in my will, ha ha. Every couple has different charities or causes that mean a lot to them, some environmentalists could plant a tree in every guests honor, or give money to the cancer society and do black and white photos of people you are honouring or remembering on each table. The nice thing about this idea is it is a feel good favour and can be very personal.
What ever your budget or theme is, a favor can really tie things together, and as much as many of them get left behind, there are individuals that enjoy and appreciate a favor, and if anything, they make a great conversation starter, just look at me, I wrote for an hour about them!