Monday, 8 June 2015

How to Plan your own Wedding (Part 2)

So there is a chance that I have been slacking on the writing part of this wedding planning, but I can assure you I have not been slacking on the planning part.
As I expected, planning a wedding has been the easiest thing that I have ever done in my life. There has never been a reason to stress, every vendor is below budget and readily available for our date—this thing is practically planning itself! NOT.
Welcome back to crazy land!
Step 5

The books lie to you. The next thing you have to do is figure out some sort of guest list. You have to bite the bullet and begin here so that you can figure out what sort of venue you can have based on the amount of people you will be hosting.

 Start with the people you know you HAVE to invite. Then add some people you WANT to invite. Then contact your parents for the list of who they want to invite. (Don’t worry, they won’t be ready to give you a list yet—this is to get them thinking, because, in reality, it will take ages for them to actually decide, and they will change their minds a few times before you just make the decision for them).
THIS IS NOT THE FINAL GUEST LIST. This is the first guest list of many.
Just elope already.
Step 6
Actually book your venue.
So hopefully you’ve sat down with your significant other during this crazy time and discussed what you both want for your wedding day. Take out your paper and pretend to write down his/her ideas—because, hey, it’s their day too!
Then you go on Pinterest and get some inspiration for what you really want, because you are not actually entertaining the idea of a virtual arcade for the reception. End of story.
 Don’t forget to decide on the month you want the shenanigans to take place during (don’t decide on a weekend because the venue will probably not be available on the day you actually want).
Send some emails to the venues in your area that you like so you can get a realistic idea of what they cost, and what sort of catering service they offer (What?! I thought the venue already included the food!?!), where they are located and how many guests they seat.
Go to some venue visits. Don’t get overwhelmed, do not book too many venue visits because it will get confusing. Only go to the ones that are in you budget, and that are in the area you want to get married in.
We only went to one venue visit because it was exactly what we wanted, it was in our price range, and if we didn’t book asap, there would have been no fall dates left.
For us we were looking for a rustic chic venue that would cater to around 200 guests. We booked:

Keep in mind that getting married on a day that isn’t Saturday will save you a few bucks.

Secret information

 You have to figure out if you want to have the ceremony at the same place as the reception—and if the venue offers this service. A lot of people get married in a different location which means that you have to book the ceremony separately, and you have to make sure that the locations for the ceremony and the venue are available for the same date. Start with the venue as ceremonies are shorter and easier to book. Better yet—do everything at the same place and you won’t have this problem.
Step 7
Assuming that you have booked your venue based on what your budget says, find out what they usually do for catering services. Most venues do their own food etc., but some do not. This can be great because you are able to shop around for the best food prices. Realistically, it means one more vendor that you have to book and remember to pay.
The venue will likely send you a list of “preferred vendors”, basically vendors in the area that most people have used. A vendor is the word used for all the different people/services you hire for the wedding (photographer, caterer, DJ etc.).  Go through this list. If you like all of the vendors, book them all and you have planned your wedding… I chose to do things the hard way…sans list.
Book your caterer. Have an idea of menu, but don’t worry about choosing that until a little later. The caterer will tell you the time frame that they usually work in, and when you can have a taste testing. YUM!

Step 8
FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER. Your wedding lasts one day….your photographs will last a lifetime whether you like them or not. These are the photos your future 10-year-old daughter will look at and admire or look at and laugh.
Start looking up photographers that you like and try not to faint at the prices.

Email the photographers you like and ask who their assistants and second shooters are. Then look up these people and see what their prices are like. Often the names that pop up on google first are the more expensive, and yes more popular photographers—however they usually have assistants who are incredibly experienced and way more affordable. This way you might, in fact, stay on budget.
I am so excited to work with Martina Wendland from:
Book quickly because they are reasonably priced, and will get scheduled really fast.

Step 9
Decorations. This is what my mind immediately jumps to when I think “wedding”. Mainly because scrolling through Pinterest gives you the best ideas ever, albeit not always the cheapest.
I will admit to you that I spent last summer thinking that I will have paper flowers made of old book pages. I started making them, and sure they looked great—but they were not real flowers and they never would compare to real flowers.
Really truly think about how much you do want to decorate and how you are going to go about doing this. The vintage chic decorations are really in style and there are a bunch of fun things you can do yourself.
Do you want bouquets/flower decorations at your wedding?
Then you need a florist. Try and think of what you are thinking re flower decorations before you start contacting any florists, because they will need to know what you want, and if you are unclear or uncertain you will start paying through the roof for flowers that you are likely allergic to.
Think of ways you can minimize costs—flowers that can be both decorations for the ceremony and the reception. Things like that will help keep costs down. If you all have bouquets, you won’t need flowers for the head table—just keep some water vases/jars at the head table so you can put the bouquets in.
Now you may start contacting florists. One thing I hated about this part was that all of their websites looked the same and I could get no sense of who they were, or what they would be like to work with…until I found Robyn:

She’s the best. She has great ideas, great prices and is very original. If you can use her, or find someone like her—I would recommend it!

Step 10

Say yes to the dress!

This is it! The moment you have always dreamed about. Finding your dress. Don’t worry you WILL have that magical feeling that apparently everyone gets when they find the perfect dress, you WILL stick in your price range because the T.V show you watch religiously  is absurd with budgets, you WILL NOT find this experience stressful in any way because shopping for something so perfect has ALWAYS been easy.

Unless…you find the perfect dress on one of your first dress shopping experiences and you get stressed because you feel like it’s too soon to commit, and there might be something better. Plus you didn’t exactly feel like you had that magical moment that everyone always has on TV. ,and it’s a lot of money to spend on one outfit that you are only ever going to where once…
Okay so it’s harder than it sounds. But you’ve already committed to the most important thing… now just pick a dress and stop looking.
Other than staying in your budget (and remember that has to include alterations as well!), and making sure you have some fun on you excursions—once you find your dress STOP LOOKING AT DRESSES. You will make yourself crazy if you do. And lets face it, you already are crazy…focus on planning the rest of your wedding…not re-planning something that is already planned.

I leave you with these steps for now. Good Luck!


Friday, 5 September 2014

How to Plan your own Wedding (Part 1)

Planning a wedding is a cinch, trust me. There is very little money can’t buy, including someone to plan your wedding. Just hire a wedding planner and you are done—easy peasy! (Ha!)

Okay, so for those of you who can’t afford a wedding planner, coordinator, or basically anyone to help you other than your mom, listen-up. You are planning what those experts call a “DIY” wedding—in normal people terms, you are a planning a do it yourself wedding. When you tell your colleagues or friends this, don’t be surprised if they make a face at you. Some of them know how much work goes into this ONE day so there natural response is that you are crazy, which you are. But, for those of you crazy enough (or simply on a budget like a usual bride) to venture this journey on your own (well technically with a significant other by your side, but we will get into how to rely on your man/significant other later) welcome to crazy land.

Step 1

Buy a book…or two… and register for one of those websites (I chose as it matched one of my books that I had), and start planning. Even that sounds easy enough.
Okay to break this down, walk into a chapters/Indigo and you will see a zillion binders on how to plan your wedding. Pick a few, and don’t go crazy trying to get the perfect one. The wedding has to be perfect, not the binder.

Some of the binders will have an option to join their website. This is a great idea. There is a place on the website where you can put in your budget, and it will break down what you can spend on every detail. Plus there’s lots of pretty pictures to get lost in when you’re bored at work!
Secret Information that the books don’t tell you:
Seeing as how this is my first time getting married, I had no idea what an “average wedding budget is”. Upon googling this you are likely to find that the average wedding cost is between $20,000- $30,000. So basically way more than your bank account will support. So that’s it. You are changing your mind and will simply go down to city hall and get hitched. Which is a great idea—if that’s what you want.

When we saw this number we decided to set the wedding date in two years…so we could save (which, in reality, wont happen). By doing this we were just avoiding the huge elephant in the room) How do you pay for a wedding?!

Step 2
Okay so there is no way you can pay for your wedding yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning it! First of all, you have to figure out what you kind of want. Is it a small intimate simple gathering, or a big huge feast, or a vintage wedding, or rustic, or boat, or sea-side, or destination….so many decisions (and we are only on the first question!). Okay, so we personally chose to go for the rustic-vintage feel and try to find a barn venue.

Now that you have decided on what you want you can start researching venues that are in the area you want to get married in. Simply google (or use your wedding site that you are registered with), email the venues you like, inquiring about prices, packages and ceremony options (if you want to get married at the same place as the party) as well as mention the time of year you are looking for and ask what they have available.

More Secret Information:

The scariest thing you will find out is that they are booking two years in advance and they may or may not have any dates you are looking for (People plan this so far in advance it’s crazy!). The even scarier thing you will look at are the prices. To give you a heads up—the prices range from about $50/plate, which does not include the rental of anything and does not include alcohol-- $140/plate which includes rentals and open bar. I am talking about the actual “reasonable” venues… Do the math. An estimate of 150 people at your wedding (and it will probably be way bigger because you haven’t actually sat down and written out a guest list yet because we are only on step 2 of a million and one) okay so 150 at $100/plate is $15,000 for the dinner alone! Yikes. So maybe no open bar… or less people… or you get married in 5 years…

Step 3

Tell your families that you are planning to get married but not for another two years because of the costs and venue wait lists. Explain to them the break-down of the costs and forward them a few of the emails that you have received.

While you are doing this, continue doing research on the venues. I found the more I researched the better I got at finding good prices. You’ll also find that you start actually looking at dates, and finding out what weekend/or weekday you actually want and you questions for the venues will start getting more direct.

Once you have explained all of this to the family, they will either be perfectly okay with a long engagement (yeah, right…). Or they will get back to you on how much they are willing to pitch-in. Basically they are “helping-you-out” so you don’t have to prolong the date.
Now you’re talking. Now, if you want to get married next year, you probably can. AND now, you have a more realistic idea for a budget—so you can plug it into your handy-dandy budgeter and, let’s face it, find out how much you can spend on a dress!!

Step 4

Start reading your binder planners and website checklists to find out the next steps. I know, I know, a step for more steps—but it’s crazy how much you have to plan out! Look at the time-lines they give you for each “booking”, and try to get it done before that. Venue’s book up fast, dresses take a long time to come in, and you need the perfect photographer—so get on it!
Helpful tip:

Focus on the venue first. It’s a huge thing to get done, and the one you want is probably going to go fast. Plus, if you are having the ceremony somewhere else, you have to now book two venues for one day—and that can get tricky if you leave it for too long.

So I leave you with this. Four, well directed steps to planning your own wedding without a wedding planner. Start here. Figure out what you want. Do research, email and phone everyone you are interested in.

If you have any questions or need any help, I am here waiting in the comment section below.
Until step number 5,



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden wins Canada Reads 2014


The Orenda by Joseph Boyden is the winner of Canada Reads 2014. This post is very late, as I hadn’t finished the book until this past weekend. This novel was defended by Wab Kinew who is “an award winning journalist, [an] aboriginal activist and [a] hip-hop artist” (

This novel was difficult to read, not because of the language, but rather the truth behind Boyden’s words. (It is important to note, however, that this novel is historical fiction). The Orenda is a very graphic novel that does not shy away from blood and torture (which was Stephen Lewis’ main argument against it). The “Orenda” is described as the soul or entity of an object or person. Everything has an Orenda, and we must always take time to thank or apologize to the Orenda of someone or something that we have used or killed.
 Boyden has written this novel through the voices of three distinct Characters. The firs is Bird—a fearless and respected warrior of the Huron tribe, whose family has been savagely murdered by some combatants of the Haudenosaunee tribe. In return, Bird fights many of the Haudenosaunee tribe and captures and claims our second voice, Snow Falls. Snow Falls begins in this narrative, as an untamed animal that has a hard time accepting the fact that her family has been murdered. Although she is adopted as Bird daughter, she can’t help but find any opportunity to make him angry. One of these opportunities happens to be the befriending of a Jesuit and our third voice, Christopher or Crow, as Bird calls him.   Crow is a priest from New France who has been sent on a mission to convert these “sauvages” to Christianity. Boyden cleverly writes in each of these characters voice, and unravels the story which is their lives.

The theme of Canada Reads 2014 was “What is the novel that could change Canada?”, The Orenda does this by bringing to life a history that is often ignored or hidden. Boyden’s words are both captivating and beautiful, but I must stress that this novel is incredibly violent. With this violence, Boyden does a remarkable job at not placing blame directly on anyone for the tragedy that happens. However, this novel both enrages the reader, and opens a passage to a tragic history that we must attempt to face today.

This novel is a wonderful read that will expand your knowledge of Canada.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The fourth book voted off of Canada Reads 2014 is: Cockroach by Rawi Hage


 Cockroach by Rawi Hage was the fourth book voted off of Canada Reads 2014. This book was defended by Samantha Bee who is an award winning comic, actor and writer. She has been a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart since 2003.

I read this novel a few weeks ago, and it is my pick for Canada Reads. This novel seems to take off from the beginning, grabbing the reader with the way the narrator’s mind scuttles forward. It is written with the speed and dexterity of a cockroach (and I am able to say this easily after
having too many experiences with cockroaches myself). It revolves around a dark disturbed character that is living  in Montreal, surviving day to day. The narrator, who remains nameless, could be any down and out immigrant you meet in Montreal, Quebec, living off of government checks, starving
because he has no money to buy anything, and few true friends because of his life style.

The flawless transition between the narrator speaking of performing natural human activities, then abnormal cockroach activities makes the novel eerily brilliant. Hage has made the words and sentences bounce around and jump from one thought to another; we are in the present, then the past, then a further past, making it difficult to keep up mentally, much like trying to kill a cockroach physically. Isolation is a major theme that occurs in Hage’s story (much like Annabel by Kathleen Winter).  The narrator frequents an artist café where immigrants go to hang out. He is a man who feels as though he is living in society yet remains untouched by it. He could be anyone—and is simply one of  the many immigrants here in Montreal because, like a roach, where there is one there is more.

The theme of Canada Reads 2014 is “What is the novel that could change Canada?”, and I believe that this novel has that potential. This novel left me with chills. It left me feeling both angry at the main character for not having tried hard enough, but it left me feeling angry at Canada for having failed him. If the majority of readers were effected by this book the same way I was, this could change the way our society helps new Canadians. This would be an incredible feat, as we are a nation made up of other nations. However, the debate that took place March 6th, 2014 demonstrated a good show of why not everyone relates to this novel. Mary Gaitskill of the NY Times
says that Hage's "negative characterizations are broad clichés, much too easy and too flattering to the narrator and the reader" ( The debators argue over Hage's main character, and whether or not he is relatable, or whether it is the other characters in this novel that create a more realistic picture of the life of an immigrant. Regardless, this novel was found to be difficult to access for the public, and The Orenda by Joseph Boyden takes home the Canada Reads 2014 title.

If you want to be touched by language that is startling and brilliant (although there was talk that the language is over the top?!), read this novel.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The third book voted off of Canada Reads 2014 is: Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Annabel by Kathleen Winter was the third book to be voted off Canada Reads 2014. The book was defended by Sarah Gadon who "is one of Canada's most promising young actors and a rising star in Hollywood. She has appeared in David Cronenberg's two most recent films, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis, and will be seen in several major films in 2014"(

This book focuses on an intersex child who is assigned as a male named Wayne by his mother. Born and raised in Newfoundland, as Wayne grows and discovers the world, he can't help but identify with his inner feminine side named Annabel. This is a powerful novel that forces the reader to examine the disparate between choosing who to be, and having who you are bequeathed upon you by something greater.

I think, what makes this book Canadian (other than the setting of Newfoundland), is the deep sense of isolation that each of the characters seems to feel. There’s a difference between a character simply being on their own—versus a character who is truly isolated from society through an experience, or in Wayne/Annabel’s case, their own body and identity. This book goes deeper then dealing with a intersex person who feels lost—instead of showing them as the only lost person, Winter does an excellent job at holding this character up to a handful of isolated people allowing the reader to compare and identify with a character that they normally wouldn’t identify with. The debaters of Canada Reads 2014 argue over the impossibility of the pregnancy that Wayne/Annabel experiences, and how it doesn't line up with the reality that the novel initially institutes. Gadon rebuts with the explanation that Winter intended this as a metaphoric pregnancy in order to better stir the reader. It is important to note that this is not the only novel in the top five Canada Reads 2014 list that does this, as Cockroach by Rawi Hage dives into numerous metaphors and analogies to help make its point. This debate seems to be the biggest reason that Annabel was voted off.

The theme of Canada Reads 2014 is “What is the novel that could change Canada?”, and Winter certainly does a wonderful job at bringing a multitude of relevant identity and sexual orientation controversies to the limelight. These are relevant battles that Canadians are dealing with today. Hopefully, this novel will shine a different light onto issues that some readers may have overlooked.

This novel has not won Canada Reads 2014, but it still has the potential to beset change on any reader who chooses to invest in it.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The second book voted off of Canada Reads 2014 is: Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan was the second book voted off of Canada Reads 2014. This novel was defended by Donovan Bailey who is a two time Olympic gold medalist, and still holds a world record for the 50 meter dash. (

I read this novel last year and, in my opinion, this novel is brilliant. This novel needs to be recognized for its beauty, creative voice and unique story. Half Blood Blues takes place in Paris during the Second World War. Edugyan writes as the voice of an aged black man, Sid, who looks back on his life and reflects on the disappearance of his talented friend Hiero. The story revolves around Jazz music and culture, which is reflected in the musicality of Edugyan’s words.  While music is an escape or way of life for these kids, it is not a product of the war but rather of themselves.

 While I often find that World War II novels tend to romanticize the idea of life during war, Edugyan seems to have found a way to capture the terror that war actually brought for many people living in Germany and Paris during this time. You find the Canadian voice in the character Delilah a scary, provocative, intimidating, woman from Montreal, Canada. She happens to be a confidante of Louis Armstrong (who also appears in this novel), and an incredibly intriguing character. This story isn’t all well and good—in fact, there are choices our protagonist makes that seem unforgivable. BUT, the voice that Edugyan has found in both a young and old black man is what makes this novel. It’s the words and grammar and spelling – the ‘off-beat’ way of speaking that actually becomes the jazz music. Brilliant.

The theme of Canada Reads 2014 is “What is the novel that could change Canada?”, and while I think Half Blood Blues is a brilliant take on Jazz musicians living in Nazi Paris, I don’t think it aims to change Canada in an obvious way.  This novel points out the flaws of our past, and a hope for a better future, but it does not specifically inspire a change in Canada. One could argue as Bailey did, that Half Blood Blues focuses on racial profiling, which is incredibly relevant today—but given that all the other novels still fighting for the Canada Reads 2014 title directly relates or take place in Canada, this novel seems “too far removed from social change in Canada” (Samantha Bee, who is defending Cockroach).

While this novel did not win this competition, if you like jazz music, poetry and a brilliant story—read this novel.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The first book voted off of Canada Reads 2014 is: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood


The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood was the first book to be voted off of Canada Reads 2014. This novel was defended by Stephen Lewis, who is a “Canadian philanthropist and a Companion of the Order of Canada. [He is also] the chair of the Stephen Lewis foundation, which provides support to women and children in Africa living with HIV/AIDS” ( .

I had the pleasure of reading this novel prior to the Canada Reads debate which began March 3rd, 2014.  This book takes place in the future after a waterless flood has swept over the land. The Year of the Flood is the second book of a trilogy, the first being Oryx and Crake and third is the newly released MaddAddam. This book takes place in the future after pollution (and other relevant environmental concerns of today) have taken effect on our planet  On its own, The Year of the Flood, is a strong narrative that focuses on two prominent characters, Toby and Ren, who are part of a group, called God’s Gardeners. This story is told primarily through flashbacks of the two characters lives. These flash backs tell the story of how they ended up in their current situation. Throughout this novel we see Atwood’s brilliant reference to the influence of words and the bequest of power they can have over the author or the reader. This serves as a gentle reminder that as the reader of this novel, we can change our fate by letting this book influence our every day decisions. Having not read the other two novels in the trilogy, I can only imagine how prominent and powerful these novels would be as a series.

The theme of Canada Reads 2014 is “What is the novel that could change Canada?”, and while this novel certainly fulfills this topic by addressing the changes we need to ensue in order to save our environment, I would argue that this novel goes a step further and suggests that it is not just Canada, but the world that we have to change.

Although The Year of the Flood did not win Canada Reads 2014, I urge you to read this book!
Didn't get a chance to listen to the debate? Here is the link :