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”. http://www.myjones.com/
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 - http://www.candlesandsuch.com/eb1072-damask-tins.html and then filling them with black and white personalized m&m’s which you can order in bulk here: http://www.mymms.com/celebrations/weddings.asp

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!

The Destination Wedding

If you’ve read this blog before, you know, I have dreamt of being a bride since I was 4 years old. My first choice of location was a haunted castle in Ireland. I am not sure if that had to do with all the time I was spending at Ceili’s, two of my best friends being Irish, or my dad’s claim to fame that we are descendants of an Irish king, but I thought it would be so magical being so in love and vowing to stay that way in a far way land.
Years later, I discovered a beautiful wedding location on Vancouver Island by the name of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort ( http://www.tigh-na-mara.com/ ). I checked out the menus, the accommodations and was sold when I saw their amazing spa and grotto pool. I am very driven by the sea and for the short time I lived by the ocean in Vancouver, I felt like I was finally home. I could imagine a whole family and large group of friends really having the time of their life at this place; the photographic opportunities that were there as well as the relaxing atmosphere would be perfect.

Fast forward a few years later and I meet Josh. In exception to my two year stint in Vancouver, we are both born and raised Calgarians. When we started discussing marriage, we were both really into the idea of the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel (http://www.fairmont.com/Banffsprings/). We had spent a very special few days there together and we said those few days were the best vacation we had ever had. I immediately looked into pricing (probably one of the pricier venues in Alberta!), ceremony and reception rooms, menus and photographer’s blogs who had covered Banff Springs weddings. It is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever had the pleasure of staying at, and love to show it off to any visitors coming from out of town. We were fairly convinced this was the place.

The more I thought about the wedding being even and hour away from Calgary, the more I felt uncomfortable with the fact that maybe people could not afford to stay there, possibly guests could not make it if it was out of town, and also, how would we get in our Saddledome pictures, the railroad tracks, Stephen Avenue, the Calgary Tower, all the things that we know and love about Calgary and have grown up around. I didn’t like thinking that we would not be able to fit these into our wedding. So that brought us to the conclusion we were not meant to be a destination wedding type couple, there are too many nostalgic feelings in Calgary, and too many guests that we need to have by our side come the day.

Now, this all being said, I have attended a few destination weddings, one being in Cranbrook (okay, this is a destination for us, because we had to leave the city…) and my dad and his new wife’s wedding in beautiful Maui, Hawaii. From the beginning, they wanted to have a wedding in Hawaii, and make it more about the joining of families than anything. Sue has two daughters, my new sisters, and my dad has four daughters including me. We were so very lucky to stay at a beautiful mansion in the hills in Hawaii, and have perfect weather every day. I instantly fell in love with Hawaii, what a magical place, and what a wonderful atmosphere to commit your love to someone. On the day of the wedding, my dad and his daughters went to the beach and swam and snorkeled with the vibrant tropical fish and a famous sea turtle affectionately known as Volkswagen, what a sign that this day was going to be perfect. We went back to the house, got ready for the big show and drove to the hotel for the ceremony and reception. We had a quick rundown with the wedding coordinator there and then the ceremony got under way. The processional included a Native Hawaiian conch-shell blower and a beautiful fire maiden, we all walked in, representing my dad on his side, and Sue’s daughters by her side. When I saw little Brooklynn with her gorgeous dress tossing flowers, leading my dad in, the tears almost started right there, I am going to be a disaster at her wedding! My sisters and I were all very weepy the whole time, as it meant a lot to us to see our amazing dad so blissful marrying the woman that has done that to him, in such a breathtaking setting. As they were saying their vows, my younger sister Caitlin poked me in the back and said “look!” I turned around and there were whales breaching in the ocean. Wow. Could it be any more magical? My mind was officially changed for destination weddings. My dad and Sue had everyone (ok, there were people missing, but still…) they loved watching them in one of the world’s most gorgeous places commit their lives to each other, and then celebrate that night over a delicious dinner and some crazy dancing (had nothing to do with the Mai Tai’s being served!). The week was great with snorkeling, matching sister tattoos, a wonderful luau, and days of relaxation and celebration.

Leaving my city for my wedding will never be an option for me, but I know different things work for different people, and I now know how absolutely magical and fun a destination wedding can be.

On a side note - I think my dad has possibly breathed a sigh of relief that I have downgraded my wedding plans from a castle in Ireland, to a castle in Alberta…to a hotel in Calgary, what low standards I have, ha ha!