Monday, July 26, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Hopp

~"May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door."~

Kelly has always been like another big sister to me. I have two older sisters, but I think over the past ten years we've spent more time in different cities than living in the same city, and although my own sister's are my best friends, it was always nice to have someone around supervising our weekend activities back in high school.
Kel is the older sister of two of my very closest friends, Fiona and Sinead and the daughter of someone I consider my second mom, Yvonne. They are a wonderful family and all seem to share the same heart - when one hurts they all hurt and when one is happy, they all have huge smiles on their faces. This was one of those occasions, the girls were gaining an older brother and Yvonne, a son. Kelly was marrying her Prince Charming, as she referred to him in her speech. Brad is just an awesome guy and I can tell that him and our Kelly will have a long, exciting and very happy life with one another.

Brad and Kelly both love adventure and the outdoors and when they were going to choose venues they ventured out to beautiful British Columbia. Initially they were thinking a winery, maybe near Kelowna, but after staying at the Panorama Mountain Village, they knew they had found the spot, and what an amazing location they chose. It is this magical, sunny little village in the middle of the mountains and is totally self contained. They have shops, restaurants, pools, beautiful accommodations and lots to do for those who like outdoor activities. The staff there were so friendly and helpful, many of them from overseas, Australia, New Zealand and England seemed to be common and they were always offering to assist in anything they saw me doing.

The day of the wedding was gorgeous and sunny with blue skies. The ceremony site was stunning, right beside Toby Creek, a rushing crystal blue mountain stream that runs alongside the road leading up to the village. Being Irish, U2 seems to be a favorite in this clan so Kelly and Yvonne walked down the aisle to All I Want is You. Brad was overwhelmed and teary eyed as he saw his beautiful bride to be walk down the aisle. The entire time I was snapping photo's the two were grinning from ear to ear, and looked as though they only saw each other.

The reception was held in the Ski Lodge and was a perfect match for their theme and colours, rustic, natural, greens and blues. Kelly saved various glass jars and bottles for months and decorated them in ribbon and lace and had the florist fill them with a variety of natural looking greens and flowers. Darby, their adorable Cairn Terrier, was represented in frames for the table numbers. The candy buffet was enormous and again, Kelly made sure to have it colour coordinated with blues and greens and included her very favorite treat, Galaxy bars.

The guest mix was wonderful, and included 14 family members all the way from Ireland and one friend of Yvonne's from England, and does that gang ever know how to party. They shut the place down singing and dancing. The speeches were touching and Kelly's words to Yvonne brought everyone to tears, as it is widely known what a spectacular mother she has been to her three beautiful daughters. Slideshow's are always a great way to tie in the earlier lives of the bride and groom and show how they merged their lives together, this one also show cased some rather, um, unique photo's of both of them. Gotta love the 80's and 90's!

My absolute favorite moment of the day came when some of the Irwin School of Dance students performed traditional Irish dancing and dragged Kelly up. Acting coi and surprised I was wondering what she would do, until I spotted her dance shoes on her feet. Kelly surprised everyone, especially her new husband by Irish dancing in her wedding dress. To see Brad's reaction to this was amazing, and me, as the planner, I never get surprised by anything and this was such a treat.

Kelly and I share a lot of personality traits and planning this was so enjoyable as we agreed on everything and I saw her vision perfectly. The venue fit the theme, the party fit the family, and Kelly and Brad fit one another absolutely perfectly. Love you guys!

Mr. and Mrs. Yarwood

Well, the day had finally arrived. After months of planning, numerous coffee, wine, lunch and tea dates, countless emails and phone calls Ali and Graham's big day was here and for the first time in weeks, the Calgary sun was shining.

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

Alison is a an organizational guru and a planner at heart. She had Excel spreadsheets for everything, vendor contact sheets for me and labelled everything. It was nice to have a bride like this, as it made the day run flawlessly. Even when you think there is no room for error, things happen, and the DJ that was guaranteed to the couple did not show, but Ali took a deep breath when I called her and said "meh, what can I do, it's the day of". Perfect attitude. The worst thing for me on a wedding day is seeing a bride fuss over little details that may not be perfect, but the big picture is that it is the wedding day, and nothing should break the smile on your face and ruin your day.

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

It was nice for me as the wedding planner to be able to listen to the vows, as they chose a venue which held both the beautiful outdoor ceremony and twenty feet away, the reception. I must say, Ali and Graham's vows are the best and most heart warming I have ever heard. I know I am not the only one that was bawling their eyes out. I think personal vows can be so beautiful and really let your guests know why you are there, committing your lives to one another.

Graham's words to Ali:
Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

"My Baby Girl,

You have been an inspiration to me since we met, you never shy away from something you believe in and you start and end each day with all that you are. You have shown me that there are things worth fighting for and the goals that you set can be achieved. You wear your heart on your sleeve and love me unconditionally. I cannot see my life without you in it helping me find my way.

I love you with everything that I am. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life exploring the world with you, and growing our family. I look forward to spending every day showing you just how much I love you. "

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

And Ali's words to Graham:
Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

My cousin said to me once…”When you find the right person, it’s easy.” I couldn’t agree more. Who knew that making fun of your peanut-shelling skills would have led us to today?

I want to thank you for convincing me that we would be awesome together.

So how do you put all the love and passion I have for you into words?

· I love you for making me laugh when I‘m sad, when I’m mad, when I’m happy.
· I love you for showing me a baby green pepper you found growing inside the big pepper.
· I love you because you’ll make me breakfast in the morning on the weekends and will put extra cheese in my eggs
· I love you for encouraging me to be brave when we went paragliding off a mountain in Turkey.
· I love you for buying me candy and taking me to the Aquarium in Portugal when we’d been awake for 52 hours and couldn’t quite check into our hotel yet.
· I love you for buying me funny cards for my birthday…or finding them in the kid section
· I love you for all the nicknames you give me and Koda.
· I love you for bringing out all the best things in me, and for cherishing who I am

I love you with a deep, resounding passion, with my heart so full it feels like it might burst.

I wake up excited to spend the next day with you, the next memory we get to create, the next adventure we get to experience together.

You’re my Peanut, my best friend and my favourite human. I promise with all that I have that I will treasure you for the rest of my life and I can’t wait to see what’s next…

See? So sweet!

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

Koda, their beautiful Chocolate Lab also played a role in their wedding as the seating chart and table numbers displayed their only child (for now) proudly.

The Calgary Zoo was a stunning venue. The Enmax Conservatory was absolutely perfect. Being brand new, it was modern and airy and had a great separate cocktail area. The actual conservatory with the plants and flowers set up for some really nice guest pictures and the dining room was spacious and very neutral, so any colour scheme could fit nicely in this space. The Zoo staff were very accommodating and friendly and the food was AMAZING, they served guests Santa Fe chicken in phyllo with portabella risotto, delicious! Actually, it is the best wedding food I have ever had, so a huge kudos to the chef there.

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

The guests and family all seemed to have a wonderful time -the wedding party looked smashing and the DJ (the one that did show up!) got the party started. Alison and Graham looked SO happy and SO in love, which, in my profession is the most important thing. I literally drove away from the zoo with a smile on my face knowing that they enjoyed every minute of the most important day of their lives.

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

Chelsea of Shutterbird Photography ( captured some of the images I have used here. She is an amazing Calgary Photographer, who is fairly new to the scene, but I would trust her with my own wedding, she takes time to get to know the couple, and never does the same shoot twice. They are personal, edgy, original and so beautiful they could be hung in your home as art and not the old-fashioned, posey wedding photo's of years ago.

Image courtesy of Shutterbird Photography

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stationary Smarts

After deciding your guest list (one of the most tedious tasks in the wedding planning process!) invitations must be purchased. This is always a shock to the budget, as this minor detail often slips people's minds. Full wedding invitation suites - including a Save the Date, RSVP card, RSVP envelope with return postage, possible maps, gift registry inserts, and menu option cards can cost upwards of $10.00 a piece, this can work out to be an extraordinary cost to the couple, but there are a few loopholes in the invitation world.

Unless you have your heart on a lavish wedding invitation suite, look at all the other options. Not only are the full sets extremely costly, but they are not so earth friendly as well. Some people are setting up websites where all the wedding information as well as an RSVP section can be found. This website is sent out via email - completely eliminating the paper trail. Websites such as are popular, or, if you or your fiance are technically savvy, you can create your own personalized web page.

A spin off of this is ordering single-sided post card style invitations. The examples below are a few of my couples that have done this. Kelly and Brad used very minimal information in the text and chose to hold signs stating the date and location. For Deborah and Barrett's invitations, we went out to the venue, took some casual engagement shots and set them up in Wedding Paper Diva's and actually used a simple "Save the Date" template. With stamps and envelopes, these cost less that $2.00 a piece, save on a lot of paper and the website can be so much more informative. Items such as bridal party introductions, gift preference, and even the formal dress style for the wedding can be mentioned on the site. Saves money, phone calls and some trees!
Do remember, that the invitation is the first impression of your wedding. If you are having a major black-tie affair where tuxes and ball gowns are expected, then the casual invitation route may not be the way to go, but for many couples, as well as guests - this seems like a very smart and chic solution!