Wedded to a Budget

These days, couples are putting more funds into their wedding day than into the down payment on their first home. Surveys indicate that the average wedding bill in Canada runs between $20,000 and $25,000. If you would like to celebrate your big day at a fraction of that cost, don’t despair. There is such a thing as an affordable wedding; you just need to think outside the gift box.

Set your limit
The first thing you need to do when planning any wedding is to decide what you can afford to spend, advises Diane Warner, author of How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget. Yes, it is your big day, but make sure you still have some money leftover for the everyday life that follows. Another limit to consider is the number of guests you will invite and whether family politics will let you keep the guest list within budget.

Must-haves versus maybes
Sit down with your partner and discuss what both of you see as your ideal wedding and then start to compare that vision with your allocated funds. Define what is important to you both. Maybe a large, elaborately decorated wedding cake is not a priority, but hiring the band that played the night you met is an absolute must.

Watch out for this and that
It’s the little things that can add up when planning a wedding, according to Diane. She suggests setting a limit for each item on your musthave list and then writing down the actual expense of each. From the grade of paper for your invitations to the types of flowers you choose, each detail can affect your overall budget, so watch the little things as much as the big.

Have your cake — or not
Consider alternatives to the formal wedding cake. More and more brides are ordering cakes from the grocery store or serving up dessert tables instead. Perhaps a small, elaborately decorated cake will satisfy your photo op cravings and then inexpensive cupcakes can be served afterwards.

Location, location, location
Most post-wedding couples will tell you that location is everything. But a location does not have to be expensive. Ceremonies can be conducted in backyards and parks or a lovely home.

Dress
Whether it is bought on sale or second-hand, the most important thing about a wedding dress is that it makes the bride feel beautiful, notes one former bride. Check out consignment shops, or consider purchasing an off-the-rack dress that can be worn for other occasions.

Flower power
Choose your flowers carefully. Purchasing seasonal flowers and arranging them yourself can result in big savings. Similarly, mixing real and silk flowers can often produce a high-end look without the high-end bill. Or you may decide to focus your funds on a wonderful exotic bouquet for the bride, but simple, seasonal flowers for the rest of the wedding party. Ribbons, beads and other accessories can add glamour to any arrangement. Your table arrangements can include lots of inexpensive greenery with just one truly stunning flower, such as a bird of paradise, or simply go flowerless on the tables and use floating candles in water inside clear glass vases, which can be found at most dollar stores.

Photo shop around
Most people agree that a great photographer can make or break your wedding photos, so this may be one area to allocate your limited funds. To ask a guest to be the unofficial photographer means that you could either have sub-quality photos or a guest who cannot sit back and enjoy himself. The survey is split on the need for a videographer. Some respondents vote for ensuring a high-quality recording of the day; others think a friend or family member could do it just as well for as many times it will be watched!

Wine
Consider bringing or making your own wine for the reception. Some venues allow this but charge a corking fee, so check to make sure the fee and bring-your-own option is still less expensive than the wine provided by the facility. Open bars can be a real drain on the wallet. Consider serving a special punch or cocktail at the beginning of the evening and then open up the cash bar afterwards.

And dine
Wedding receptions don’t always have to serve up a formal dinner. Brunches and luncheons are perfectly acceptable for morning or midday weddings and often cost much less than formal dinners. Later-in-the-day weddings can feature a variety of appetizers followed by dessert and coffee. An evening wedding can be followed up by a few finger foods and a lovely dessert. Quality is key. As one former bride points out, “Lots of superb, tasty morsels will be appreciated and remembered far more than a large, mediocre meal.”

Making beautiful music
Consider forgoing a disc jockey or live band at the reception and create your own musical lineup by pre-recording a mix of music you know your family and friends will enjoy.

Party favour-ites
While you might just want to eliminate the table gifts altogether, there are some affordable options to consider. Set up a candy table with little brown paper bags or mini- Asian food takeout containers for the guests to fill with candy of their choice. Other guest gift options include a tree seedling to be planted after the special occasion or some type of homemade chocolate, which can be prepared, packaged and put in the freezer until the big day.

Keep your perspective
In the end, just be sure to keep in mind that your wedding day is just the first day of the rest of your life together. Whether your event is big or small, expensive or not, there are still many more wonderful memories waiting to be made.

Some cost-saving wedding websites: www.Frugalbride.com; www.cheap-chic-weddings. com; www.wikihow.com/Save-Money-on-Your-Wedding-Ceremony-and-Reception

Wedded to a Budget

These days, couples are putting more funds into their wedding day than into the down payment on their first home. Surveys indicate that the average wedding bill in Canada runs between $20,000 and $25,000. If you would like to celebrate your big day at a fraction of that cost, don’t despair. There is such a thing as an affordable wedding; you just need to think outside the gift box.

Set your limit
The first thing you need to do when planning any wedding is to decide what you can afford to spend, advises Diane Warner, author of How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget. Yes, it is your big day, but make sure you still have some money leftover for the everyday life that follows. Another limit to consider is the number of guests you will invite and whether family politics will let you keep the guest list within budget.

Must-haves versus maybes
Sit down with your partner and discuss what both of you see as your ideal wedding and then start to compare that vision with your allocated funds. Define what is important to you both. Maybe a large, elaborately decorated wedding cake is not a priority, but hiring the band that played the night you met is an absolute must.

Watch out for this and that
It’s the little things that can add up when planning a wedding, according to Diane. She suggests setting a limit for each item on your musthave list and then writing down the actual expense of each. From the grade of paper for your invitations to the types of flowers you choose, each detail can affect your overall budget, so watch the little things as much as the big.
 
Have your cake — or not
Consider alternatives to the formal wedding cake. More and more brides are ordering cakes from the grocery store or serving up dessert tables instead. Perhaps a small, elaborately decorated cake will satisfy your photo op cravings and then inexpensive cupcakes can be served afterwards.

Location, location, location
Most post-wedding couples will tell you that location is everything. But a location does not have to be expensive. Ceremonies can be conducted in backyards and parks or a lovely home.

Dress
Whether it is bought on sale or second-hand, the most important thing about a wedding dress is that it makes the bride feel beautiful, notes one former bride. Check out consignment shops, or consider purchasing an off-the-rack dress that can be worn for other occasions.

Flower power
Choose your flowers carefully. Purchasing seasonal flowers and arranging them yourself can result in big savings. Similarly, mixing real and silk flowers can often produce a high-end look without the high-end bill. Or you may decide to focus your funds on a wonderful exotic bouquet for the bride, but simple, seasonal flowers for the rest of the wedding party. Ribbons, beads and other accessories can add glamour to any arrangement. Your table arrangements can include lots of inexpensive greenery with just one truly stunning flower, such as a bird of paradise, or simply go flowerless on the tables and use floating candles in water inside clear glass vases, which can be found at most dollar stores.

Photo shop around
Most people agree that a great photographer can make or break your wedding photos, so this may be one area to allocate your limited funds. To ask a guest to be the unofficial photographer means that you could either have sub-quality photos or a guest who cannot sit back and enjoy himself. The survey is split on the need for a videographer. Some respondents vote for ensuring a high-quality recording of the day; others think a friend or family member could do it just as well for as many times it will be watched!

Wine
Consider bringing or making your own wine for the reception. Some venues allow this but charge a corking fee, so check to make sure the fee and bring-your-own option is still less expensive than the wine provided by the facility. Open bars can be a real drain on the wallet. Consider serving a special punch or cocktail at the beginning of the evening and then open up the cash bar afterwards.
 
And dine
Wedding receptions don’t always have to serve up a formal dinner. Brunches and luncheons are perfectly acceptable for morning or midday weddings and often cost much less than formal dinners. Later-in-the-day weddings can feature a variety of appetizers followed by dessert and coffee. An evening wedding can be followed up by a few finger foods and a lovely dessert. Quality is key. As one former bride points out, “Lots of superb, tasty morsels will be appreciated and remembered far more than a large, mediocre meal.”

Making beautiful music
Consider forgoing a disc jockey or live band at the reception and create your own musical lineup by pre-recording a mix of music you know your family and friends will enjoy.

Party favour-ites
While you might just want to eliminate the table gifts altogether, there are some affordable options to consider. Set up a candy table with little brown paper bags or mini- Asian food takeout containers for the guests to fill with candy of their choice. Other guest gift options include a tree seedling to be planted after the special occasion or some type of homemade chocolate, which can be prepared, packaged and put in the freezer until the big day.

Keep your perspective
In the end, just be sure to keep in mind that your wedding day is just the first day of the rest of your life together. Whether your event is big or small, expensive or not, there are still many more wonderful memories waiting to be made.
 
Some cost-saving wedding websites: www.Frugalbride.com; www.cheap-chic-weddings. com; www.wikihow.com/Save-Money-on-Your-Wedding-Ceremony-and-Reception

An Oasis of a Wedding Venue – Mahogany Salon & Spa

The perfectly manicured lawns and gardens are equally matched by the exquisitely crafted interior of Mahogany Salon & Spa in Carleton Place. Recently, the company has extended their long list of services, and ability to pamper guests by offering themselves up as a stunning wedding venue.  It is truly an oasis in the country where a bride and groom can go from early morning pampering to late night celebrating.

Several years ago, Catherine Wood was contemplating her next career. “I think you should open up a spa!” her daughter exclaimed. With a shared passion for both personal pampering and top quality customer service, she and her daughter Krystin began researching the possibility of opening a new business together. Their research took them to dozens of spas across North American and resulted in the creation of a vision of the spa they wanted to build. Two years ago, Mahogany Salon & Spa was inaugurated in Carleton Place occupying an abandoned quarry site. A true diamond in the rough that would quickly become a local area gem. What a gorgeous location!

What started as a simple vision of offering superb services has become so much more. The moment you enter the gates of the property you instantly understand that this is special place. Upon stepping through the doors you are greeted by a wonderful array of refreshing sights, smells and sounds – not the least of which is the pleasant, welcoming voice of the receptionist.  I really enjoyed the sea water aquarium in one room and a water wall in another.  Spa services include invigorating body massages and wraps, exciting hair-styling along with manicurespedicures and facials. Everything is here for a bride to get ready for her day. An oasis for the senses indeed.

Today’s spa is not only for the bride. A variety of men’s services are offered as well. Private rooms are available for couples to enjoy manicures & pedicures and massages together. Everything is here for the couple to relax and prepare for the wedding.

It was in chatting with brides that the idea of offering the grounds up for wedding ceremonies and receptions sprung. With such lovely surroundings, hosting the entire wedding simply made sense. As Mahogany Salon & Spa planned their landscape and gardens, they designed flat spaces where party tents can be installed. They even took into account the need for easy access to these spaces for caterers, party suppliers and DJ’s to use. The oasis like grounds with their breathtaking water feature and meticulous gardens are designed not simply to be beautiful, but to be intelligent as well.

From inside and out, Mahogany Salon & Spa is an outstanding experience.

They are ready to welcome your wedding – from pampering to celebrating.

Get the Look – Katrina

Are you in love with Katrina’s wedding style? If you want to get the look then add small touches of sparkle to your outfit with a belt or jewellery. For florals, think beautiful pastels in classic flowers such as roses. Katrina liked to treat her guests, so along with breathtaking fireworks, don’t forget to indulge them and appeal to their sweet tooth with a delicious candy buffet; it’s a must.

Make a plain dress sparkle

Katrina’s dress is accessorized perfectly with a statement sparkling belt. This Vera Wang, a-symmetrical charcoal Swarovski crystal, set on an ivory grosgrain sash from The White Dress, will beautifully dazzle your guests as you make your grand entrance to walk down the aisle. If it’s good enough for TV’s Khloe Kardashian, then it is certainly good enough for the sophisticated Ottawa bride. For more information: thewhitedress.ca or 613 680-9024.

Sweet love

Candy buffets are a huge trend right now and this wedding had one to wow guests. Jelly beans, bons bons, sugared almonds, gummy bears – is your mouth watering yet? Take a look at The Candy Store. They have a huge array of sweet treats and will provide you with a tasty and eye-pleasing bar. What better way to say thank you! For more information: thecandystoreottawa.ca or 613 728-7500.

Say yes with a diamond

Katrina says she loves her Simon G engagement ring. Who wouldn’t? If you are gushing over her style, then head to La Maison D’or. The stunning ring from the Passion Collection is an incredible piece. If you are looking for big and sparkly, or something a little understated, you will be able to find it here. For more information: diamondtv.ca or 613 837-1001.
Vintage floral

You have the beautiful white dress that you have always dreamed of, lots of glistening accessories, the guest list is complete and food is looking good. Now you need to think about the flowers. No outfit would be complete without a gorgeous bouquet. Katrina opted for pale pink just like this one from Trillium Floral Designs. If you are looking for something similar, then try mixing the pink with other pastels, like peach and white, for a fabulous old vintage look. For more information: trilliumfloral.ca or 613 599-6849.

Touch of colour

If you want to step away from the bling, then think traditional, like pearls. Add a touch of colour to your outfit for the fall with these earrings from MaiYa Pearls. They are handmade with blue fresh water pearls and would make the perfect bridesmaid’s gift. MaiYa has so many other amazing ideas and specialize in both saltwater and freshwater pearls with the majority selected directly from pearl farms in Asia. They are the best in pearls! For more information: www.miya.ca or 613 482-1290.

Release of Free eBook “21 Real Weddings, 2012”

I am really excited to announce the release of my third eBook entitled “21 Real Weddings, 2012”. It is available as a free download on my site and the contributors sites as well.

When I read about real weddings in magazines, I often find that the features focus on the décor, reception details and of course the wedding dress.  What I want is the real story of the couples featured.

Weddings are about our human experience with love and how we share it with those close to us. ’21 Real Weddings’ explores love in prose and photo. I chose 10 outstanding weddings that I performed over the years and selected 6 distinctive wedding photographers to highlight love stories to inspire you.

This is my initial attempt and thus the ‘2012’ edition label. I hope to make this a yearly publication with more couples and more photographers. Enjoy.

Competitive Wedding Syndrome

by: Naomi Popple

Your cousin, who recently married, did so with such flourish and ostentation that you have thrust yourself behind the slippery psychological bars of envy, reinforced by the chains of “how can my wedding ever beat hers?” and thrown away the key.

You have subconsciously sentenced yourself to the phenomenon known as Competitive Wedding Syndrome (CWS) which, loosely defined, is the desire to outdo and/or outperform someone else by making your wedding “better” than theirs.

A number of factors can be held responsible for CWS and its increased presence amongst couples. These are unlikely to be mutually exclusive and may originate in familial rivalries, jealousy of friends and colleagues, the ubiquity of documentation on million-dollar celebrity weddings, peacock displays on social media sites, the increase in “bridezilla-esque” reality shows and of course, the age-old sugary Disney/Hollywood dream weddings and the happily-ever-afters we have learnt to expect.

The side-effects are, as most associated with envy and jealousy, emotionally and physically draining. Then, add to those feelings of inadequacy, bitterness and pride, the financial burden of a 21st century wedding  -a whopping $20,000-$30,000 on average in Canada- and you may well be in danger of damaging the relationship that brought you here in the first place. The statistics are especially alarming when one considers that the average length of marriage is decreasing whilst the average price of a wedding increases. It places a quite literal value on the words “ ‘til death do us part”, doesn’t it?

It is therefore important to remember here that labels such as “better” or “worse” are entirely subjective. Your cousin’s 25-tier Parisian cake that was decorated with live birds of paradise and golden butterflies may have elicited an “Ooo!” from onlookers, but did anyone think about the consequences of leaving hungry, un-caged birds around confectionary?

No, they did not.

So before you start to stress over how to bring the dodo back from extinction, spray it pink and trot it around during Elton’s performance, just stop and think about investing in a marriage and making your wedding a day that resonates for you, so you can have your cake, and eat it too.  Your cousin will be lucky just to get on the guest-list.

Competitive Wedding Syndrome

by: Naomi Popple

Your cousin, who recently married, did so with such flourish and ostentation that you have thrust yourself behind the slippery psychological bars of envy, reinforced by the chains of “how can my wedding ever beat hers?” and thrown away the key.

You have subconsciously sentenced yourself to the phenomenon known as Competitive Wedding Syndrome (CWS) which, loosely defined, is the desire to outdo and/or outperform someone else by making your wedding “better” than theirs.

A number of factors can be held responsible for CWS and its increased presence amongst couples. These are unlikely to be mutually exclusive and may originate in familial rivalries, jealousy of friends and colleagues, the ubiquity of documentation on million-dollar celebrity weddings, peacock displays on social media sites, the increase in “bridezilla-esque” reality shows and of course, the age-old sugary Disney/Hollywood dream weddings and the happily-ever-afters we have learnt to expect.

The side-effects are, as most associated with envy and jealousy, emotionally and physically draining. Then, add to those feelings of inadequacy, bitterness and pride, the financial burden of a 21st century wedding  -a whopping $20,000-$30,000 on average in Canada- and you may well be in danger of damaging the relationship that brought you here in the first place. The statistics are especially alarming when one considers that the average length of marriage is decreasing whilst the average price of a wedding increases. It places a quite literal value on the words “ ‘til death do us part”, doesn’t it?

It is therefore important to remember here that labels such as “better” or “worse” are entirely subjective. Your cousin’s 25-tier Parisian cake that was decorated with live birds of paradise and golden butterflies may have elicited an “Ooo!” from onlookers, but did anyone think about the consequences of leaving hungry, un-caged birds around confectionary?

No, they did not.

So before you start to stress over how to bring the dodo back from extinction, spray it pink and trot it around during Elton’s performance, just stop and think about investing in a marriage and making your wedding a day that resonates for you, so you can have your cake, and eat it too.  Your cousin will be lucky just to get on the guest-list.

 

An Elegant Ottawa Bistro for your Wedding Venue

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures has transformed itself into one of Ottawa’s top bistros. It is offering its plush decor in an old logger baron’s mansion as an elegant wedding venue. And the food, drinks and service are superb.

Le Cordon Bleu @ Signatures specialty drink called Champs Elysee made with prosecco, strawberry liqueur and Cointreau garnished with a raspberry.

For many years, Signatures was associated with the Cordon Bleu cooking school that occupies its space. In a recent transformation, it has converted itself as a stand alone bistro – offering fabulous food and drinks prepared and served by professionals – not students of the school. Located in historic Munross mansion, just steps from the Rideau RiverLe Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures features elegantly appointed banquet rooms, winding staircases and crystal chandeliers, an old world venue unique to the city of Ottawa.

Over the years, I’ve performed wedding ceremonies there and enjoyed their fabulous menu. Le Cordon Bleu Bistro is positioning itself as an affordable location for your wedding. A wedding ceremony can be performed in the mansion’s old chapel on the second floor and then you can transition to cocktails and dinner all on the site.

I attended a small wedding for some friends and we used a private dinning room on the second floor that can hold about 12 people.

I was lucky that evening to meet with Chef Yannick Anton for a quick chat in the bar.

Larger weddings can be hosted. The main floor has two rooms that can hold 50 – 70 guests. There is a fabulous patio and lawn adjacent to these two main floor rooms as well. Jen Carter, Sales and Catering Officer for Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, explained to me that they are growing as a wedding venue. This year they are booking one wedding per weekend for the highly popular summer wedding season.

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro is opening a wine cellar soon and will be booking wine tastings. That would be an awesome event for a bachelor(ette) party. It could also be a really neat treat for a wedding.

I really like the new directions; bistro fare that is excellently prepared and served in a beautiful mansion. I am sure that many Ottawa brides and grooms will seek out Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures for their big day.

Joyous Fairmont Chateau Montebello Wedding Ceremony

You couldn’t ask for a more idyllic day for an outdoor wedding. Set in the gazebo on the banks of the Ottawa river, the bride and groom sported huge grins during the whole ceremony. Joyous weddings like this one are so uplifting.

Negotiating winding country roads on the way to the Fairmont Chateau Montebello is always a challenge. You pass through villages where the local police wait to catch visitors speeding. I’ve been caught before and made sure I slowed through them. I felt pressed for time so I called the bride’s dad to let him know where I was. He instructed me to relax as they weren’t ready. I wasn’t surprised to hear that because the bride has a reputation for being tardy.

Walking to the gazebo where the wedding was to occur, the bride’s dad greeted me, stating that they were almost ready. The grounds were lushly green, the water on the Ottawa river was calm because we had little wind, the sun was just warm enough. It was perfect. The groom found me and filled me on details for the ceremony and flew off to coordinate some last second items. I set up my wireless headset with the DJ and was ready to go.

The procession was quite elaborate. It started with a gaggle of kids dancing down the aisle making huge soap bubbles to the tune of “I Think I’m Gonna Marry You” (Glee version). As Jewish tradition would have it, the men enter next led by the me.  I walked to the gazebo and found the rest of the men jiving down to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon“. The bride arrived by golf cart from the main building and looked radiant.

The gazebo served as a symbolic chuppa for the couple. Instead of a reading, there was a very special moment when the groom’s daughter sang a song for them. A proud Dad, all teared up, mouthed the words “I love you” to her as she finished.  We went on to signing all the legal papers and exchange of vows and rings.

The moment everyone was waiting for had arrived. I declared them married as husband and wife! With final gusto, the groom shattered the glass with an enthusiastic Mazel Tov from the guests.

After a quick walk back through the aisle, the bride, groom greeted and hugged guests before taking pictures in the setting sun. I took my leave and retraced my drive through country roads and police hazards, carrying joy in my heart on the way home.