Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wedding details - hotel guest welcome bags

I knew that I wanted to do a little something special for our wedding guests who had booked rooms at The Arc for the night.  Just a little "thanks!" for making such an effort to celebrate with us!

A hotel "welcome bag" seemed like the perfect idea, and The Arc was great and agreed to hand out a bag to each guest as they checked in.

I purchased the bags from Pritchard Packaging, the same place we got our coffee bags, and picked up 50 for 49 cents each!  


As for what I included in each bag:

-a couple "Christmas" oranges
-chocolate covered blueberries/cranberries 
-mixed nuts
-chocolate liqeur
-an itinerary for the night and a little thank you note

*other items I considered/wanted to include were: individual packages of Advil/Tylenol, a water bottle, mini bottles of booze and a can of pop to make a cocktail....

My mom found the cute "Happily Ever After" ribbon and couldn't help herself.

This is also one of those projects in which I enlisted the help of my MOH, Ashley (thanks for sharing your Costco card and setting up such a great assembly line!), and my brother and sister who put the finishing touches on the bags by adding tissue and ribbons.

I apologize for the creased bags.  These are photos of our leftover bags which have been crumpled in my closet until only recently.  Thank goodness the Christmas oranges only turned rock hard instead of stinky and moldy.  (which explains why they didn't make the photo)

As for our little thank-you note, it read something like this:

Thank you so much for joining us on our wedding night to celebrate!
Please make yourself at home, enjoy a little snack and prepare yourself for the night ahead!
We can't wait to see you at the wedding,
Love Meaghan & Derek

I also included the itinerary for the evening along with details on the New Year's Day Brunch.

This was a very small detail that didn't require too much prep, organization or money.  I probably spent about $100 on packing 30 bags.  And even though people may not have eaten all the snacks, I would be a happy lady to know that one person devoured the chocolate when they returned to their hotel room that night (early morning), or rolled over and grabbed the orange to quench their thirst on New Year's Day.

I always notice those seemingly little things that people do to make me feel comfortable and welcome when I am a visitor.  And in the end I just wanted to provide one more little thank you to our guests, who really made our wedding night so memorable and fun!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dining (and kitchen and living room) lighting

The title of my post implies that when we add something to the "dining room" it's actually also in the kitchen and living room.

This is one of the major bonuses of decorating a small space, in my opinion!

I may or may not have mentioned that our dining area is equipped with a light socket, and after months of saving up our ZONE gift cards (thank you friends and family for the birthday, house warming and wedding gifts!) we had enough to purchase a ceiling light!  

Originally I was really excited about this guy:

And after receiving approval from friends and colleagues that it was the right choice it was time to introduce Derek to the amethyst pendant.  He really liked it, but also wanted to look around for himself, which is when he stumbled upon this guy:

Even though it was not my first choice, I really liked it (not to mention it's fun when Derek gets involved with decorating).  What I liked even better was the fact that it was 40% off, which meant we would have leftover gift cards that we could potentially put towards these amazing stools.  

Meet Bill:

I love the white leather/wood combo and the chrome base.  The best part is that you can adjust their height, which I think is super convenient for different counter/table heights and personal preference.  

Before making the lighting purchase I wanted to make sure it was the right size.  I knew there was information out there regarding what size your dining light should be based on the size of the room and table and after a little research here I learned that:

  • A dining light should be no wider than the width of the table minus 12 inches (this is a general calculation for all table sizes FYI).
  • Although the dining light is a great focal point, you don't want an overbearing fixture over your table.

The dimensions of our table are 63 X 35.5 inches and the light is 20 X 20 inches.  I am just 3.5 inches away from going over the size limit based on the general calculation rule, and definitely don't think it will be overbearing.  Success!

I was quick to pop into ZONE a couple days later and placed my order for our new light. 

Derek and I have never installed a light before (a reason we're probably still alive) and we would also like to install a dimmer switch.  I think the plan is to invite over some handier friends who have this experience and offer them a nice dinner with wine in exchange for their skills and maybe a tutorial for the next time (read: our bedroom ceiling light).  I will let you know how the lighting installation goes!

As for those stools; they are next on our home purchase list.  But at $165 a pop X 2 we will need to save a few more pennies.   

It felt great to knock off a purchase from the list I put together all about showing our home some love (especially since I got to use gift cards!)  I'm looking forward to moving forward with a few more projects and updates, especially now that the weather is getting warmer and I can move out to the balcony do get stuff done (not to mention set it up for outdoor use which will be a project in itself!)

Even though I spend less time indoors during the summer, this weather is inspiring me for home decorating. Is it just me or is this fresh air energizing?!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wedding wear

Wedding attire was a huge deal for me when planning the wedding.  I loved researching the trends, colour pallets and styles.  Once we decided on our New Year's Eve date and confirmed our venue, I knew that a combination of metallic tones and formal holiday style would be perfect.

With 5 bridesmaids, living in cities near and far, I decided that having the girls choose their own dresses would be best.  I gave them creative reign with a few specifics to work with:

  • cocktail length
  • any metallic tone (gold, silver, bronze...) or a festive holiday colour

I wanted the girls look like they were dressed for a festive, New Year's Eve, cocktail party.  I also wanted a combination of colours, so basically first come, first served with colour/tone selection.  All of my bridesmaids are beautiful women who each have their own unique and personalized style.  They always look gorgeous and I had no doubt they would look their best the day of their wedding.

And what is one of the most important aspects to looking good?  Feeling comfortable in what you are wearing, I say.  It made me happy that everyone wore a dress she loved and felt amazing in.

The end result, and the process of dress buying, went very smoothly.  Lisa decided to wear black dress she already owned and splurge on shoes instead.  Ashley and Jenny scored amazing consignment store deals, and Danielle and Sacha went the classic department store route, finding their dresses at The Bay and Nordstrom.

Check them out in order from left to right: Sacha, Jenny, Lisa, Danielle and Ashley.

It was a perfect combination.  And I love that Ashley's stood out with the brightest colour as Maid of Honour.

Aren't they amazing!?  Eeeek!  It makes me excited just looking at these pictures!  

And here are the girls....such beauties.

A little shoe shot.

All the dresses complimented each other and matched with mine perfectly.

I love how our matching red lips and classic hairstyles pulled all of our looks together.

The boys and Derek looked smashing.  We decided to go with black suits (everyone just wore their own) and as a gift we purchased a tie for each groomsmen to wear at the wedding.  We provided their last names to my dad's kilt maker, and she got back to us with all their family tartans, so they each wore a unique tie which added to to Scottish theme.  I also think combining tartans is so Christmas-y!

We also included a little bit of Derek's personality and his obsession with socks...or maybe it's my obsession since I'm the one buying them....  Each of the groomsmen wore some funky Moxy Maus socks that we purchased from Stroked Ego, a favourite men's store of mine. 

Derek looked great in his three-piece suit from Indochino which we ordered online for a great price.  

And here's everyone together now!

Our families fit right in with their sparkle and tartan.  They all looked fabulous!

Derek and I spent some time downtown and on Parliament Hill for about an hour before the wedding.  It was one of my favourite times of the whole day.  We were giddy with excitement, and I definitely had butterflies knowing that we would be officially married in a couple hours.  

It was busy downtown - a Monday during rush hour - everyone leaving work and the tourists visiting the Parliament Buildings were congratulating us and wishing us well.  It was a really surreal experience and just such a happy moment.  I loved that Derek and I were able to share this time together, just the two of us, during our busy day. This is one of the main reasons I am fully on board with the First Look. 

As for our outdoor outfits, I switched from my Kate Spades into my Sorrels and added a faux-fur stole (rented for $40 from Rag Time, a vintage clothing store in Ottawa) with long leather gloves.  So fun!

I am very happy with how all of the wedding ensembles turned out.  Everyone looked great, and the clothing really fit the party.  I may be biased and still have honeymoon coloured glasses, but I think we all look very classic and timeless.  

Here's hoping I don't cringe in 20 years when showing our children our wedding photos!

*all photos are courtesy of amazing photographers, Steph and Neil from Stem Photography.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Special touches and DIY details

I had so much fun brainstorming and coming up with all the little details for our special day.  I wanted to make sure all the elements were personal; really allowing mine and Derek's personalities to show.  I also wanted to keep things as simple as possible, without breaking the bank.

Here are my top 3 tips regarding wedding details:

Tip #1 Keeping the small details to a minimum creates more of an impact.  You don’t want a million little things everywhere, or else people won’t really take-in anything.

Tip #2 If you would like to add personal details to your wedding day either through signage, decorations, signature cocktails, programs, etc, whatever you do – get a head start on the projects.  There is so much going on during that last month before the wedding and you don't want your projects to lose priority when things get hectic.

Tip #3 Don’t be afraid to enlist friends, family and your bridal party to help!  If you have an A-type personality and are controlling by nature, you may need to let go a little bit, or else things could be very overwhelming.  I understand that this can be difficult if you have a very specific vision in mind.  Either give very detailed instructions or find someone who is an even bigger perfectionist than you are! You will rest assured the job will be done right!

Here are just a few of my favourite elements of our wedding and the DIY projects I included:
  • A welcome sign for guests to see as they walked into the wedding venue.  We decided against programs, but I really wanted to highlight our wedding party and family members names, as well as welcome our guests to our big night!  I found a cheap piece of framed art at a thrift shop and then just painted over the glass with black paint.  I used a chalkboard marker to write my message so that I didn't have to worry about the chalk rubbing off during transportation.  I love how it turned out!

  • Signature drinks which were served during the cocktail hour before the wedding.  Derek and I each worked with a bartender from The ARC to come up with a Bride's drink and a Groom's drink.

  • Cute chalkboard signs around the rooms.  I used the same technique as the welcome sign on faux-silver platters that Ashley and I found in thrift shops around town.  It was just a nice way to provide instructions and information to our guests.
  • We needed to include some details that paid homage to the date of our New Year's Eve wedding.  I displayed a few clocks around the coffee and at 11:30PM hats and noise makers were "served" on trays to our guests.

  • Card Box and Guest Book.  These weren't details I stressed over too much, however I'm super happy with how they both turned out!  I purchased our card box at the Great Glebe Garage Sale last spring (and wrote about it here), and then all I did was create some bunting with red felt, twine and press on letters.  So easy!

    I used our engagement photos to make a guest book through Blacks'.  And I even used our engagement photo props as extra décor which was super cute and brought our photos to life.

  • Coffee Wedding Favours.  Derek and I are both coffee lovers.  Who isn't, really?!  We are lucky that my mom is an devoted supporter of local vendors at the Metcalfe Farmer's Market and she has introduced us to Poppa Bean Coffee.  Poppa Bean is a small business owned and operated a lovely couple, Sarah and Paul.  I knew their coffee would make the perfect favour for event.  We purchased a bulk order and packaged it ourselves using bags from Pritchard Packaging and I purchased the labels from Etsy.

    The label read: The Perfect Blend and included our names and wedding date.  Guests chose from a dark, medium or decaf roast of coffee.

  • Personalized vows.  This was always very important to me and thankfully Derek was on board with the challenge.  It was amazing to share our truest feelings with each other out loud, in front our friends and family.  I believe our vows, and ceremony in general, really personalized our wedding, while adding romance as well as some humour too!

  • A dessert table.  I love the look of styled dessert tables, and since there wouldn't be much décor, I thought it could also work as the centrepiece in the room.  The lovely Melissa from the flour shoppe set-up our sweets the day of the wedding and it looked amazing.  I created tags simply by writing the names of the desserts on white card stock and sticking them in sparkly pine cones which I actually already had as Christmas tree ornaments.

    Melissa even plated some of my mom's homemade butter tarts, which are a family favourite!  I actually posted the recipe here when I made them for a Christmas dessert exchange.

    It was fun to have easy to grab desserts like mini cupcakes, cookies, and pretzels, which gave our guests the energy they needed to dance all night (and they did!)

  • A bag piper.  A must!  Our piper, a high school student who lives in my parents' neighbourhood, was amazing!  The ARC restaurant isn't very large, so the pipes were loud!  It was awesome!

When I start writing all the details down like that it seems a little overwhelming.  Please know that I was not the only person responsible for organizing details - I had so much help from our friends, wedding party and families.  It wouldn't have been possible without their help.

And although I took care of creating the decorations and little details, Derek was in charge of transportation and execution the day of the wedding.  I left everything in his trusty hands (with detailed instructions) and he made sure everything was where it was supposed to be, all the while I was enjoying my wedding morning at my parents' house with the ladies.  It was great not to have to worry about anything the morning of the wedding.

Derek and I are both very happy with the way everything turned out.  And even though there were a few glitches on the way (like a venue change mid-planning phase) and at the last minute being told the bridesmaids couldn't walk down the aisle with sparklers like we had originally planned, it didn't matter in the end.

The end result was an intimate, upbeat and happy celebration.  I think the special touches we added really represented our families, personalities and our relationship, which was my main objective.