5 tips to protect yourself when using mobile payments

mobile payments

5 tips to protect yourself when using mobile paymentsResearch shows that Canadians are increasingly using their mobile phones and other devices to make retail purchases. But as with every new form of payment, there are risks associated with these methods.

How secure are mobile payment systems? According to the Government of Canada, consumers need to take steps to protect their personal information and financial accounts. Here’s how:

5 tips to protect yourself when using mobile payments

• Make sure to protect the mobile device you use for payments with a password or personal identification number (PIN).

• Download mobile payment apps and updates from a trusted source, such as directly from a financial institution’s website or from an app store that you trust, and make sure you always have the latest version.

• Check the terms and conditions before you use mobile payments. Companies that provide “digital wallets” or mobile payment systems need your personal information, including your identity and credit card or bank account numbers. Some can track your daily purchases, locations visited and other information, and some may use this information to send you advertising. Be sure you are comfortable sharing this personal information.

• Keep your passwords safe and secure. Choose a password that you can remember but that no one else can guess. Use a combination of letter, numbers, special characters and at least one capital letter. And never tell anyone else your password or PIN. Doing so may cancel anti-fraud protection offered by your financial institution or service provider.

• Check monthly statements carefully to ensure that every transaction listed is one that you authorized, and contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately if there are any you do not recognize.

More information on protecting your security online is available at ItPaysToKnow.gc.ca.


Wedding and Late Night Snacks

I now pronounce you…hungry!
courtesy of I Just Said Yes

You may have started the reception with butler passed appetizers and then had guests seated for a lavish meal.  Later in the evening you set up a pastry table, or candy bar with your wedding cake for all to enjoy.  Do you think this is a lot of food and everyone is more than satisfied?  The answer is yes but the late night snack table is more popular than ever.  You want to select very casual type of foods.

Usually around 11 or 11:30PM some type of snack item is brought out for the remaining guests to enjoy.  There are so many different things you can serve but I have found the most popular  this past year in Ontario, Canada has been McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  Did I say McDonald’s?  How many times after a late night wedding or party have you gone through the McDonald’s drive thru.  Well, this too is great for weddings.  In my hometown, the nearby McDonald’s will deliver cheeseburgers to the reception halls.  The guests can smell the burgers when they arrive and devour them within minutes.  Not a very healthy choice but a fun one.  

Pizza is still very popular but we are also seeing some new ideas such as hot dogs, french fries, nacho bar, sliders and extremely long submarine sandwiches.

It’s also a nice touch to display your pastry table and midnight snack on your table menu.  You would be surprised how many guests really do read this and will remember to look for that yummy evening snack. 

When ordering, base it on 50% of your guest list as many start to leave around 11:00PM. It’s best to run out then have to pack it up and take it home.   Remember, it’s not a feast but a little something  fun for the guests to enjoy.

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.

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!

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

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.


The role of the Best Man and Groomsmen at the Wedding

One of the exciting parts of planning a wedding is choosing who will be part of the wedding party. The bride’s attendants are usually comprised of one main attendant (Maid or Matron of Honour) and other attendants are known as bridesmaids. The Groom has the same with the main attendant being known as the “Best Man” and the others as groomsmen.

Traditionally the groomsmen were not only part of the young groom’s circle of friends but were also ever ready to defend the groom or to help keep the intended bride for the groom safe should another suitor try to win over the fair maiden. Also in days of yore it was often assumed that evil forces would try to put the wedding asunder. Therefore if something should happen, the evil forces would be confused as to who was the groom and who was not as the groomsmen as all would dress alike very similar to the groom.

Some folklore stories are based on the bride being snatched away at the wedding ceremony before the wedding vows were officially conferred. The danger the best man was prepared to take on was from either another man trying to steal the bride or the bride’s own family who might try to capture her to prevent her from marrying someone whom the family had withheld their approval of. Actually the original name for the groomsmen was the bride’s knights and sometimes their role was to kidnap the bride from her parents to be sure that the wedding took place.

Another belief about the best man was that should anything untoward befall the groom (i.e. die while young or become extremely incapacitated) the Best Man’s job would be to care for the wife and protect her and look after her. Because this was such an honour it was reserved for the male friend or family member that the groom trusted the most in this world and would therefore take care and respect the bride in his friend’s absence.

Traditionally some of the duties the Best Man and the groomsmen attend to on behalf of the groom include ones that range from obtaining coordinating tuxedos to decorating the wedding car and ensuring that the wedding gifts end up at the Bride and Groom’s address post the wedding reception.

The Best Man and the Groomsmens’ duties can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Planning the Bachelor Party
  • Getting fitted for suits/tuxedos
  • Attending the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Attending to the needs of the groom while he gets ready for the wedding
  • Drive the Groom to the wedding location
  • Distribute the boutonnieres to the male attendants
  • Enter the wedding ceremony with the Groom
  • Hold the groom’s ring (s)
  • Sign the marriage licence
  • Escort the Maid of honour and bridesmaids out of the ceremony
  • Kick off the speeches at the reception with a toast to the Groom
  • Help with escorting key guests to their seats
  • Dance with bridesmaids
  • Decorate the getaway car
  • Deliver the fee envelope to the officiate and others

Article courtesy of the Ottawa Wedding Show

Wedding favours that last

Edible bonbonnières are always a popular wedding favour at receptions. In fact, sometimes that beautifully wrapped bag of candy coated almonds or chocolates are eaten on the spot, depending on what time dinner is served.

Meanwhile, bonbonnières of the non-edible variety sometimes consist of little trinkets and heart-shaped keychains that you never use. Instead, you add it to the collection you've accumulated on a dusty shelf, along with other items you never touch.

This time, it's your turn to get hitched, and you and your spouse-to-be are wondering if wedding favours are really worth the cost.

Instead, as a meaningful gift that will show appreciation to your guests and have a lasting impact, consider making a charitable donation in their honour. For example, Organizations like Christian Children's Fund of Canada have an online gift catalogue where you can purchase fruit trees, clean water wells, insecticide-treated malaria nets, and medical supplies for a clinic in developing countries. As you and your spouse-to-be happily start your lives together, take pride in making life a little easier for others around the world who are in need.



Personalize your wedding centrepieces

Extravagant centrepieces can be nice, but aren't necessary. You may have attended a wedding where the centrepiece impaired guests from talking with each other or from seeing what is happening on stage. Or perhaps it had so many elements that you wondered how the couple could afford them. If you're preparing for your wedding, consider creating centerpieces that reflect who you and your spouse-to-be really are, without breaking the bank.

For the eco-friendly couple: sticks and stones. Forgo the regular bouquet of flowers and arrange sticks, stones, and beeswax candles to create a calm, organic feel at the table.

For the do-gooder couple: promote your cause. In lieu of centrepieces, make a donation to a charity that you and your spouse-to-be support. Place cards at each table that explain why you support the charity and what the money will provide. Organizations like Christian Children's Fund of Canada (www.ccfcanada.ca) can give you some ideas on gift items that help impoverished children around the world.

For the “lovey-dovey” couple: poetry and photos. Showcase your favourite romantic quotes and poems with framed photos from your childhood, teenage years, and adulthood. You can put different photos at every table to get your guests to move around and mingle.

For the contemplative couple: books or DVDs. Select two books, documentaries, or DVDs that you and your spouse-to-be enjoy or that convey a certain message. Wrap the two items in a ribbon and give them away as a prize to guests at each table towards the end of the night.



Will You Take This Man to be Your Step Father? I Do!

by: Chloé Taylor

A touching story in honour of step fathers to be

It is quite common these days for weddings to include the children of either the bride or groom or both. As families have evolved, so have weddings, and including your child in your ceremony can be a very special moment for both the new step-parent and the children. In honour of Father's Day this weekend, I thought I would share a touching story from a friend's recent wedding.

My friend recently married and her betrothed wanted to do something extra special for his step-daughter-to-be. After the bride and groom had exchanged their vows, the groom called up his lovely 7 year old step-daughter and the officient performed an exchange of vows between the two of them. The ceremony included a ring for the little girl and a touching speech from the groom about his commitment to both her and her mother. After promising to care for them both for the rest of his life, he lifted her into his arms and, hand in hand with his bride they were pronounced as husband, wife and daughter. The crowd of onlookers, tears in abundance, cheered and applauded. What a wonderful alternative to having the child as a ring bearer.

Happy Father's Day!



Barnyard Bride?

By Bailey Grose, courtesy of Bailey's Brides

One of the biggest wedding trends right now is "rustic". It most likely stemmed from brides being more frugal about wedding planning. Cutting corners here and there by taking flowers from your garden for a natural looking bouquet, wood from a fallen tree to make stands and table numbers and backyards of family or old barns to escape the costs of venue fees. Its all a great idea.

The wedding industry has caught on though! and the big trend is barn weddings. I love them. Love. Love. Love them. Especially if the couple getting married is from a farm or the area and it has great personal meaning to them..how touching is that? Since industry has caught on though, the "rustic" wedding has exploded. Its everywhere and its gorgeous (but not nearly as inexpensive anymore).

This post is nothing but inspiration for those who are taking the route of having a barn wedding….rustic simply works in no better place then in a rustic barn after all.


Wedding Traditions

By Bailey Grose, courtesy of Bailey's Brides

This past weekend I was part of an amazing wedding. It was between a Filipino bride and a Chinese Groom. I was especially excited about this wedding because I have never attended (nor worked) at a wedding with so much culture in it. I was excited to see the traditions that would take place.

This wedding was huge in that it covered both the Filipino side, such as performing the veil and rope tradition at the ceremony, but also the Chinese side. The couple respected his grandparents by performing the tea ceremony and even wearing the tradition attire.

What plucked at my heart strings (and shall i say tear ducts) the most, was the lion dancers.

They were  A M A Z I N G. I knew they would be great…how could they not be. But I sat there like some fool with my mouth open as they danced for the bride and groom. There were two large lions, one red, one white…their eyes flashed, their eyebrows wiggled (and my favorite part….) THEIR TAIL. The whole thing was spectacular, with drums banging as the lions weaved in and out of the crowd.

I could tell the couple was shocked, a little leery of what to do. I could also see the parents and grandparents literally BEAMING with pride and joy though while they watched their children stand with the lions getting lettuce and shimmering streamers spilled upon them.

One of the photographers and I sheepishly admitted later that we almost cried seeing the lions dance. It was really that amazing! I told my husband if i had seen this pre our wedding those lions would have been at our wedding too! (I know, I know..it doesn't make sense!).

I did not have any traditions at my wedding, nothing cultural at least. I do not even think i did the something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Did you have some traditions at your wedding? anything cultural?