Thursday, January 26, 2012

The evolution of wedding invitations

Since we have set our wedding date (oh, did I mention we booked our venue?)....ok, I will fill you in on some of the details:

  • Date: New Year's Eve, 2012
  • Location: the fraser café

That’s all you get for now J  Now back to the topic – wedding invitations.  

I have recently received 3 wedding invitations and 1 save-the-date.  The first wedding invite was put together beautifully on card stock with a lovely picture of the glowing couple.  The save-the-date was printed in black and white, styled like a postcard, and the information was also written over top of a picture of the bride and groom.  The last 2 wedding invitations came to my email in-box and both directed me to a customized wedding website put together by the couple.

I really enjoyed receiving all of these announcements, whether they came to my in-box or via snail mail.  I love weddings and am so excited for my friends to be getting married, so for the most part I am just excited I got the invite!  

I must say that it was great to open up the mail box and see envelopes that were clearly not bills or flyers.  There is also something nice about holding the invitation in your hand, and having the option to display it on the bulletin board or fridge.  With paper invitations you have the opportunity to add details such as ribbons or jewels and really provide the first glimpse of your wedding style and them.

This creative invitation package featured on The Knot did a really great job showcasing the wedding's theme and provided loads of details for guests.  I love the hand made admission tickets!

I will admit, however, that I have misplaced invitations in the past, therefore loosing pertinent event information.  And if I don't get the RSVP card in the mail the instant I receive it, this all-important task might be forgotten.  Now these mishaps are definitely not the fault of the invitation, I take full responsibility, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that this has happened to.

Check out the little cloth bag that came along with this pretty invite.  Just lovely.  (also featured on The Knot)

On the same note, it was also a nice treat to receive the 2 wedding invitations by email - I have no shortage of junk mail coming to my inbox!  I immediately checked out the wedding websites which were actually both designed by the same website.  There, I was able to view pictures of the happy couple, read their love story and all about the proposal.  There were no shortage of links to information about the ceremony and reception venues as well as maps, accommodation and attractions for those coming from out of town.  Some other fun aspects of the websites included places for guests to give music suggestions, a whole page dedicated to getting to know the wedding party, a place to sign the guest book as well as RSVP to the wedding and different events.

This cute wedding website is actually designed by Vera Wang.  

I was able to RSVP with the click of a button and immediately saved their sites to my favourites.  Since then, I will admit, I have browsed through their pictures and stories a couple more times and have really enjoyed it!  

This website was created at  I love all of the photos and how they are laid out on the homepage.

Creating my own wedding website was really starting to appeal to me.  I began checking out different designs and templates I could choose from and was really excited about the options.  There are hundreds of themes and styles to go with as well as numerous ways to personalize your own site.  Then I started to realize that this basically meant I could put together a second blog...totally dedicated to our wedding!!!  I WAS SO IN!

I know that email invitations and wedding websites are definitely not everyone's taste.  But the thing about weddings these days is - basically anything goes!  Gone are the expectations that everyone must follow conventional rules and traditions - I couldn't be happier.  One of the best parts of being a bride today is the fact that you can create the wedding of your dreams and feel free to make it as simple, elegant, traditional or as outrageous as you like.  It is really all about the couple and making the event personal to the guests of honour - the bride and groom.  

Check out the Offbeat Bride where some really unique, creative and fun weddings are showcased.  Like this one which took place at the Courtyard in Ottawa!

Here is a little Pro/Con list I've put together for the Email Invitation & Wedding Website

  • You can ensure everyone receives and opens your invitation with the read-receipt function
  • Updates and changes can be made on the wedding website without much fuss, and everyone stays informed
  • Additional details can be included on the website regarding special events, the style of the wedding, information for out of town guests, all of which can't be included on a traditional invitation
  • It is an environmentally friendly alternative
  • A quick and easy RSVP for guests
  • Hello - it's FREE!

  • Some guests may not have access to the internet
  • The email may be filtered to junk mail or lost in an full and unorganized inbox
  • Guests may feel your email and/or website does not do justice to such a formal affair

Clearly I am all for this, but I honestly can't think of any other cons.  Can you?  I wonder if creating a facebook invite will ever be considered appropriate?  I'm not there yet, myself, but I can definitely see it happening.  I bet they're already coming up with ways to personalize the event page and make it fancier.  And if not they should hire me, because I could do that!

Please let me know your thoughts: tacky and too informal or brilliant and environmentally/economically friendly?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy birthday Derek

Derek turned 31 January 17!  Since then it's been a lot of this....

  • cleaning the apartment 
  • buying food
  • preparing food
  • hosting parties
  • eating
  • drinking
  • drinking
  • dancing
  • laughing
  • drinking
  • eating
  • sleeping
  • cleaning the apartment 
  • dinner with mama June 
  • eating
  • drinking
  • dinner with papa Terr and Heather
  • eating 
  • drinking
  • much for my new year's "cleanse"....

It's never ending!  I can't blame Derek - I celebrate my birthday for the whole month of August, so one week of birthday celebrations is nothing.  

Last night we celebrated Derek's birthday with just each other and it was perfect.  We had a lovely evening enjoying some of Ottawa's restaurants and pubs and saw a great movie, The Descendants.  The weather wasn't too cold, so we walked in the softly falling snow - it was romantic.  

Happy Birthday best friend!  xoxoxo

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Condo finishings

Only 6 months until we move into the condo!!!  I love driving by and seeing the building continue to progress, although I do feel sorry for the builders in this freezing cold temperature!

Since I've shared some inspiration photos and details on the furniture we have purchased I thought I should let you know about the finishes we selected for our new home.  I think this will help everyone (including myself) visualize the bigger picture and end result.  

First of all, let me just say HOW FUN this was for me!  I couldn't wait to get into the design centre to see all of my options!  At the last minute Derek was invited to play golf, so I actually attended our first appointment solo.  I think it worked out for the best since I was able to work with the designer and pre-select all of our finishes.  I have a feeling if Derek were there he would have been quite overwhelmed.  Thankfully, since I had a good idea of what I wanted, I was able to sift through and pull the samples I wanted quite quickly.

The designer was certainly helpful, but I would definitely recommend doing your homework before attending one of these appointments.  There are so many options to chose from and working with small samples can be challenging.  Derek and I had taken time together looking through magazines, websites and blogs which really helped.  I brought visuals along to the appointment (magazine cut-outs and photos saved on my phone) which helped me get my point across to the designer as well as keep me focused.

I was able to pre-select most finishes at the first appointment and when Derek and I went back together a couple months later we gave the 100% A-OK on everything.  We made the final decisions together, but I will say I am very happy that Derek lets me take the reins on interior design and decorating our home.  Thank you, honey!

Here are some photos we used for inspiration.

Both of these kitchens were featured here on Everything Fabulous (love that blog).  I lovelovelove a white kitchen, especially one with white counter tops.  They both appealed to me because of their fresh look and clean lines - the look Derek and I were going for.  

The fun and bright wall colour and beautiful hard wood floors drew me to this white kitchen found on the Urban Home Magazine Blog.  Although I knew I wanted white cabinets I was not sure exactly what style we would end up with.  I do love a simple shaker style door front like these ones.

Other than a mostly white kitchen, we were thinking;
  • dark hardwood 
  • gray slate floor tiles
  • light subway tile back splash in the kitchen
  • simple hardware for the kitchen and bathroom

The goal was to ignore the upgrade selections unless we really didn't like any of the standard options.  This meant sticking with pretty basic appliances.  We went with all white since we didn't want the contrast of the black appliances against our white cabinets.  I wasn't too disappointed to have white instead of the stainless upgrade option.  I think it is going to look nice, clean and seamless.  Sort of like this picture found on this kitchen design site.  I like how the appliances blend instead of being on show.

We also planned to carry whatever flooring, cabinets and counter tops we chose in the kitchen into the bathroom.  Since it is a small space and the kitchen and bathroom are basically opposite each other we wanted to continue the finishes/colours to help the flow.  You can remind yourself of our floor plan in this post.

So, without further adieu, here are our final selections!

Hardwood floors run throughout the main living area of the condo except for in the entry, kitchen and bathroom.  We were able to find a beautiful, dark, rich brown hardwood that we loved without having to upgrade (yippee!) and here she is (sorry about the picture quality).  I love the colour and how the wood grain shows through.  I found the upgraded floors showed less grain - I'm not sure why they do that, but I think this softens things up and gives depth to the room.

This is tile we chose for the entry, kitchen and bathroom and it is like nothing I've ever seen before.  The name is Roccoco by San Marco and we went with the large 13X13 square tiles.  It is really tough to describe, but the tile almost feels like textured plastic.  There is a glossy finish that makes it shine depending on the lighting and angle.  It feels great on bare feet (yes, we tested) and I think it's the perfect selection for the kitchen as well as in the bathroom.  I absolutely LOVE it! 

Again, sorry for the quality, however I do find this picture really shows the texture of the tile.

I found more details online, including this picture.

It wasn't an easy decision since we also really loved the look of a gray slate tile found here, but I'm glad we decided to go a little outside the box.  The floor is extremely durable (it can actually be used outdoors) and will be easy to wash and keep clean.  We went with a black grout, so there won't be as much of a distinction of tiles like you see in the picture below.

It was a few thousand dollars to carry the hardwood into the bedroom, and in keeping with our plan of staying away from upgrades we went with the standard (and cheap) carpet.  This is when I died a little bit inside.  I didn't even take a picture of that ugly carpet swatch because I was just trying to hold in the tears.  It looked something like this.  Don't even bother checking out the link - it will only lead you to some tacky wholesale carpet depot.  

I recently came across this carpeted-bedroom-adjacent-to-dark-hardwood-floor photo and I've been feeling much better ever since.  I was worried that with our already small condo, the change in flooring would really break things up.  No doubt extending the hardwood into the bedroom would also extend the eye, helping to visually enlarge the space, but maybe it's not as bad as I originally thought.  And that's $4000 we can put into the furniture/wedding/honeymoon savings fund!

Ok, so that's it for the flooring.  Onto the cabinets, counter tops and back splash!  As mentioned, I knew I wanted white cabinets but wasn't 100% sure on the style.  Well, right off the bat I knew this was going to be an upgrade.  The standard cabinets did not appeal to me at all - their finish looked like plastic and the details were too ornate.  This is when my designer piped in and suggested a high gloss straight front cabinet like these ones:

Ohmygosh I was SO excited and shocked that I hadn't thought of them before!  She took down a sample and I couldn't stop stroking the door and placing it beside my shiny Roccoco tile sample.  They were a match made in heaven!  They both shine and shimmer and are super easy to wipe clean.  I could not be more excited about my cabinets!  The upgrade cost was $570. 

The counter tops were easy.  There were standard granite options which I liked and there were also upgrade options which I LOVED (before I saw the price).  We went with a standard option, Pearl Gray, and although it's not white like my inspiration photos, I still enjoy it and think it will match beautifully with my high gloss cabinets and Roccoco tiles.  

It was an upgrade for granite in the bathroom, so we just chose the closest match in a laminate counter top.

I wanted to do something special for the back splash in the kitchen.  The standard options were pretty boring, and since we have such a small kitchen the upgrade options weren't too expensive.  We were torn between a shiny white subway tile and a white glass mosaic.  In the end we spent a bit more ($573.50) on this beautiful glass mosaic and are so happy we did.

It's tough to imagine the final product, I know, maybe this picture will help?

The small, rectangular tiles will be laid "brick style" and will be varying shades and finishes of white and clear glass.  They are going to be like the jewellery above the dark granite counter and below the high gloss cabinets.  I really think they were the perfect choice.

Some of the final selections included

  • tiles for the bathtub wall - we went with the standard plain white tile (it's all about the shower curtain, right?)
  • grout for in between the floor tiles - we went with black to match, which was actually an upgrade of $160.  Imagine that!  Upgrading your grout!?!?  I couldn't believe it.
  • hardware for the kitchen and bathroom - we went for sleek, chrome finished handles like these guys.  

Claridge is a pretty standard builder and wasn't offering any super fancy upgrades like a built-in surround sound and I'm actually happy about that.  We could have easily gotten carried away and spent too much money, but instead we had fewer temping options and only ended up spending a total of $1330.50 on upgrades.  

Although I believe we made great choices, I am anxious to see everything complete and together.  I think it might be one of the most exciting days of my life, so far (except for your proposal, Derek, that was also very good).

I hope you enjoyed this post.  It was fun going back to my photos and inspiration boards (AKA Pinterest) and remembering how everything came together.  If you have any questions on the process (there are so many details!) feel free to ask!

Good luck to anyone out there who is renovating, redecorating, or moving into a new home.  I hope you enjoy the process!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Real estate porn

How is everyone liking the snowfall today?

Personally, I love it!

Apparently we should have around 10 new centimeters of snow by tonight.


If you are looking for something to keep you busy, as you stay warm and cozy inside, do I have the website for you!  Meet Sotheby's International Realty, a luxury real estate firm specializing in selling exquisite homes in premier locations.  

I've been having a lot of fun checking out properties on Park Avenue in New York City.  Not only is it really interesting to look inside these expensive homes, most of them are nicely decorated and places to find inspirations.  I love the pattern on these blue and white armless chairs for example.

This eclectic dining room lives in a 26 million dollar home in NYC.  

I can only imagine what it would feel like to live in this 28 million dollar penthouse apartment in TriBeCa.  I love all the windows with the black frames. 

I love this den.  I've never seen a wood finish like this indoors.  Very beautiful.

I have yet to venture over to Beverly Hills or Palm Beach, but I have no doubt that I will before the end of the weekend.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A few words about the vignette

Not everyone may know what a vignette is, but surely everyone displays their belongings in some sort of way that makes them happy.  Whether it's your picture frames on a shelf, jewellery on your dresser, toiletries in your bathroom, kitchen utensils on your counter or gardening tools on your patio - most people enjoy seeing their valued belongings displayed in some type of fashion.  Whether or not they are always displayed this way is a whole other story!

Vignettes don't only have to be on table tops - vignettes can be made from groupings of furniture in a room or art on a wall.  The important thing is to stick to a theme, feeling, or style and include pieces that either have meaning to you or that you love to look at.  Not everything in the vignette needs to match, in fact it's more appealing if it isn't matchy-matchy.  Including items with different textures, shapes, sizes, and heights adds interest.  Vignettes don't always have to be for display and visual pleasure - they can also be functional and act as beautiful and artistic ways to organize your belongings.

As I do research for our upcoming wedding as well as browse through decorating magazines and websites I am continuously faced with beautiful vignettes, so I thought I would share some of my favourites.  I find them inspiring as I try and recreate them in our home and as I daydream about my wedding venue décor.

Let's begin with some home décor...

Here is a beautifully styled bar cart from Natasha at Schue Love.  She created a useful and organized vignette while still adding in some personal decorative pieces.  Very stylish.  I love.

The bathroom offers the perfect opportunity to create a luxurious vignette.  Here we have necessities easily accessible and beautifully displayed.  The crisp white framed by the wood crates makes me think of a spa, and really helps the orange flowers pop!

Groupings of kitchenware work perfectly here to organize and separate all these essentials.  I love the fact that everything is placed on one tray so they stay together.  

When I go to bed I have certain necessities that I need close by - a glass of water, my phone, hand cream, a reading lamp and a place to drop my jewellery.  But at the same time, why not treat yourself to some eye candy?  And maybe a fresh bloom or two?  Chantal from Beau Lifestyle shared this shot of her bedside table in her house tour on her blog.  Check it out by the way - she has impeccable taste.

We aren't all blessed with copious amounts of counter space in our kitchen.  So much so that we say to ourselves "What AM I going to fill that corner nook of my kitchen counter space with!?!?!?"  Well over at the Vintage Wren they seem to have this "problem".  So much so that she has the opportunity to display beautiful woven baskets and antique kitchen utensils.  

She can even fit a nice little lamp under her counter to better display her beautifully grouping.  don't you love the flowers in the cheese grater?!

Extra large coffee tables are quite popular these days, especially the Ottoman style which are the perfect surfaces for trays.  The trays in turn are even more perfect for a vignette!  

Creating your vignette on the tray instead of directly on the coffee table keeps your items grouped together nicely while giving them a hard, flat surface to sit on.  It also allows the display to be relocated quickly in case the Ottoman is needed for extra seating.  Linda from the Lennoxx featured this masculine coffee table vignette.  

As for vignettes at weddings.  There are so many opportunities to add them to your décor.  The possibilities are endless, really.

Here are some of my favourites....

There is nothing prettier than a beautifully styled dessert station.  I think this one in particular, from Jenny Cookies, is put together perfectly.  The vintage suitcases, wood crates, antique lace, hanging pompoms and burlap accents work perfectly together!  

And here is a super sweet table which was definitely made with love featured on Sparkle and Hay.  I love the use of back drops with both of these vignettes.  It definitely helps define the space.

As I mentioned, vignettes can be created with furniture groupings also.  This wedding, featured on Style Me Pretty, created an inviting outdoor seating area with antique furniture, a couple side tables with personal touches and some hanging lanterns.  I imagine this was quite cozy once the sun set and the lanterns were lit.  The hanging lace acts as a nice background and definitely adds to the romance. 

And who knew you could create a vignette within a vignette!  Here is a closer look at the stacked trunks, topped with a framed picture and other vintage accents.  Side note - if you don't have any taller pieces to add height, stacking books works beautifully.

The guest favour table will sort of automatically become a vignette.  Many like-items grouped together always look great, but instead of simply lining them up in a row, why not get creative by adding some unexpected elements such as pieces of wood or bricks for height and texture.  A sweet framed message to your guests is a very nice touch also.  

Vignettes aren't for everyone, especially the minimalist who likes everything hidden and tucked away in its place.  That's what I love about design and decorating - there is a different style to suit everyone's unique taste.  However if you have an upcoming wedding and are looking for décor ideas, are a collector or a traveller with many souvenirs, or just like the idea of displaying your favourite items, I hope these images have given you some ideas and inspiration.  

Maybe once I am satisfied with my perfect vignette, and learn how to photograph it correctly (maybe put down my phone and use an actual camera) I will share it here.  Too bad Christmas just passed and my birthday is 8 months away...a new camera would be lovely right about now!  hehehe!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Honeymoon planning

So, what is even more exciting than planning a wedding?  Planning a honeymoon!!!

Traveling is something both Derek and I really love doing as a couple.  So far we have enjoyed some amazing vacations together...

A romantic Valentine's Day long-weekend in Quebec City

Celebrating Carnival all day in our snow suits.

After our incredible Valentine's dinner at Le Patriarche.

A couple Easters in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Derek's dad owns a condo there...yes, lucky us!)

Just another day at at the beach.

Enjoying Caesars on the balcony at the condo is one of our favourite activities.

A beautiful long-weekend in Savannah, Georgia

One of the many fountains in beautiful Forsyth Park, Savannah.

Out front at our B&B, the lovely Park Avenue Manor.

An amazing time at the El Dorado Sea Side Suits in the Mayan Riviera

Oh, the day beds!

Beautiful sun rises every morning.

Our most recent get-away was definitely the most special.  A one-night stay at the Gananoque Inn for my birthday...when Derek proposed!  

SO excited!

Researching and planning for a trip is really half the fun for us.  Especially for Derek - he really loves it.  So for the past week, he has been glued to the computer and his travel books all evening planning our dream honeymoon.  

When it comes to a honeymoon, here's what we are looking for:
  • sunshine and warm weather
  • romance
  • beaches and pools
  • beautiful scenery
  • not too much hustle and bustle 
  • fun outdoor activities (hiking, cycling, kayaking, snorkelling, tennis...)
  • a little bit of pampering and luxury 
  • relaxation 

We are planning on travelling right after our wedding.  So, the first thing we did was look into what the weather is like in January in a few different places.
  • Although we would love to go to Europe (Greece, Spain, Italy,  France....) the weather is not the greatest that time of year
  • We love an all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean and the weather is definitely right (not to mention the price), but we are looking for something a little more off-the-beaten-track.  
  • Australia is a somewhere we would both like to go together.  Derek spent 6 weeks in Australia about 10 years ago and would go back in a heart beat.  The weather would be nice and hot - perfect for lounging on the beach!  It is definitely still in consideration, but right now we are REALLY excited about.....
  • Hawaii!  I think the weather is always a pretty sure-thing in Hawaii, and January is no different.  The temperature should be between 20-28 Celsius in the locations we are interested in and we shouldn't receive too much rain fall

After doing a little bit of research we are really interested in visiting "The Big Island", Hawaii.  More specifically The Kohala Coast, Kona and some central Hawaii (for the volcanoes!).

Hawaii (The Big Island).  Map from 

Where we could go and what we could do....

    • Hapuna Beach - the Big Island's largest white sand beach.  Hapuna Beach is a long stretch of white sand with turquoise blue water.  I could definitely spend a couple days relaxing with a picnic, a good book, and a boogie board....oh and my new husband :)

    Photo from

    • The Hawaii Volcano National Park - home to one the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea volcano, and Maunaloa volcano.  There are over 150 miles of hiking trails which I would love to discover.  I also think seeing an active volcano would be fascinating!
Photo from Hawaii Magazine

    • A trip to the Mauna Kea Summit is definitely on my list of things-to-do.  The summit is 14,000 feet above sea level and is apparently one of the best locations to star gaze in the world - no joke!  Some of the world's largest telescopes are on the summit.  You can choose to drive yourself or participate in a guided tour (my preference).  I think this sounds absolutely amazing.

      Photo from 

    • Farmers Markets.  I am in love with Farmers Markets!  I need to do some more research on where the best ones are located and when they are open.  Since we are hoping to stay in a vacation rental with a full kitchen, being able to pick up fresh, local food would be amazing.

      Photo from

    • Enjoy some pure Hawaiian Kona coffee.  Derek and I are both coffee lovers, so to be able to taste some of the world's best coffee at its freshest would be a dream!

    • And of course attend a traditional luau would be a must!

Photo from the Royal Kona Resort

We would like to chose at least one other island to visit during our stay.  Maybe Maui or Kauai.  Also, we both have family in Vancouver who we would like to introduce each other to, so we will make a stop on the Canadian West Coast as well.

We are still really in the research stage of our trip and no final decisions will be made right away.  I would like to have accommodations booked by summer time though.  From what I have seen the good vacation rentals book up pretty fast!  I will definitely share some information on some of the amazing looking vacation rentals we've found. 

Has anyone been to Hawaii?  Any suggestions on which island(s) to visit or must-see attractions?  Any referrals/suggestions are much appreciated!