Tuesday, October 26

Finding the Dress: The Hunt is On

**D! You might not want to read this one because it has some serious hints about my dress!!**

So now that I knew what I was looking for, it was time to go dress shopping. In the time leading up to my first appointment, I found one more inspiration picture to add to my collection: the D1032 by Essense of Australia.

I basically picked where to go based on which bridal salon had that dress. Luckily, there was one not too far from my house, so I rounded up my posse and off we went!

Since this was my first true wedding dress shopping experience, I really didn't know what to expect. I pretty much assumed it would be like an episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress.' It wasn't really, but it was still fun!

The first shop I went to was called Bridals by Al-Mor. I brought my mom, future mother-in-law, sister, future sister-in-law, another girlfriend, and my grandma, so it was quite a large crowd! Once we arrived, the saleswoman pulled the Essense dress and we started looking for styles off the racks. Since I had an idea but wasn't really sure exactly what I wanted, I told everyone just to pull what they wanted to see me in, and we would go from there. Once we had a bunch of dresses, I started trying them on. (And I can't find the pictures, so unfortch you'll have to imagin what they all look like!)

The Essense dress was definitely nice and an early favourite, but the flowers weren't as nice in person and the material was a little stiff. My mom was concerned about how the fabric would hang in the July humidity and if it would wrinkle really easily. So although the dress was nice, it wasn't THE dress.

The saleswoman had pulled a style similar to the Essense that she thought I would like, so we put that on next. This dress, friends, is what I thought was going to be the one:

Ohhhh goodness... this dress was gorgeous! I had definitely narrowed down my style and figured out what I wanted. I loved the fitted bodice, the empire waist, and the full ballgown, which was a HUGE shock. I really thought I would want something a little more fitted and sexy, but there was something so fun and cute about the ballgown style. Also unexpectedly, I loved the sparkly belt! I didn't think I wanted any bling at all, but this added something so fun to the dress, and I really loved it. I didn't, however, love the price tag. At almost $1500 CDN, it was quite a leap over my original budget. So we took lots of pictures, and I definitely came away from the experience having really narrowed down what I was looking for. Now, to find a similar style that wouldn't break the bank!

Did your dream wedding dress fall within your budget?

Sunday, October 24

The Hunt for a Perfect Venue

I have fairly strong opinions when it comes to wedding related things. Things that are typical or the norm usually aren't my style. That's not to say that our wedding will have a lot of things that all weddings typically have, but there are some things that will be different and fit more to our style.

Confession: I hate hotel ballrooms. And I hate conference centre ballrooms. I pretty just hate rooms that have ugly carpets and beige walls, and everything gets draped in white and tulle. Actually, let me rephrase that... hate is a pretty strong word. I dislike all of those things, and they are totally not my style, so I knew for our wedding that I wanted to avoid a venue like that.

When we first started putting our guest list together, it looked like we were going to have about 100 people. One of my first thoughts for a reception venue was to have it in a restaurant. If we could find place that was big enough to hold 100 people, and would have nice enough decor and style to fit our wedding, it would work perfectly. So the search began. I used google to look up restaurants in the city and try and find some that fit our criteria. We made a list, narrowed down our choices, and emailed the prospects to set up meetings. Then we planned our visits!

#1 - The Courtyard Restaurant

This place is gorgeous! It is a historical building right in downtown Ottawa, and the whole second floor is dedicated to events. The prices are really reasonable and the decor was definitely unique (hello, stone walls and exposed beam ceilings - love!). They even have a max capacity of 120 which would work. But, the thing that didn't work for us was the floorplan for the room. We would get the whole second floor, but we didn't realize until we got there, that the floor was divided into 3 rooms, and we wouldn't get to seat our guests all in the same space. It basically broke down that we could seat 40 people in one room, 80 in the other, and they were separated by a smaller middle room where the bar was located. No bueno. We really tried to think of ways to make it work, but when it cam down to the logistics of who to separate, where we would sit, and how things like speeches and the first dance would work, we realized it just wouldn't work. Le sad...

Here are some pictures of the gorgeous venue. I still think it would have been such a beautiful location for the wedding!

Room 1 - The 80-person room

The bar area in the middle room

Room 2 - The 40 person room
All photos from here

#2 - Crowne Plaza Hotel


Yes, shock of all shocks, the second place we went to see was a (gasp!) hotel ballroom. The thing that set it apart for me was that the ballroom was in the penthouse of the hotel and had a stellar view of the city. Well, pretty stellar. There are taller buildings around it, but since it is right downtown, it was pretty nice anyways. But that was pretty much the best thing about the room. The hotel itself is a bit older, so the ballroom was kind of shabby and run down. They only had round tables which I did not want, and there was an overall dinginess to the whole room. So that was a no.

#3 - The Empire Grill

Continuing with the restaurant trend, we booked an appointment to see the Empire Grill. From the moment we walked in, I knew this was IT. It was trendy yet elegant, NYC-themed (which I love!), and the walls were purple. Purple! And they had cow-print chairs. There were so many small details in the restaurant decor, it was so easy to envision exactly what our wedding would look like if we had it there.

The event space is at the back of the restaurant, and is completely partitioned off from the rest of the patrons, but we wouldn't have the whole restaurant to ourselves. The back room is equipped with it's own bar, and the seating ranges from booths to small and large tables.


This place is absolutely perfect. It has everything we were looking for, and is such an amazing venue for a wedding. We actually have been for dinner as well, and the food is great. That's one of the reasons I was so keen on having the reception at a restaurant - you're guaranteed good food! The menu pricing is a bit more than we were looking to spend, but I think it will definitely be worth it in the end!

So, after time spent researching what was out there are narrowing down our choices, and finally making a decision, we finally have our venue. What do you think?

Did you have a very specific idea in mind when it came to your reception venue?

Friday, October 22

Finding the Dress...

This is probably one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding and the one that most brides look forward to the most. I was definitely excited to start the search, and started it in a pretty common place - wedding magazines! Since our engagement will be about 35 months (woah!) before it's all said and done, I didn't want to invest myself too much too soon. However, once I started looking, it was hard to stop! I did limit my self to actually trying on dresses until we were about a year and a half from the wedding though.

Dress shopping is something that I thought would be so easy, but so far has proven to be a lot more difficult than I thought! From the beginning of our engagement, from the first time I picked up a bridal magazine and flipped through it, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted and what I didn't want.

The types of dresses that caught my eye from the beginning were simple and elegant, with not a lot of bling or embellishments. That in itself was a bit of a problem. So many dresses that are popular now are full of sparkles, embroidery, pick-ups, and are generally cupcake-y in nature. I preferred dresses with nothing on them, and I knew I didn't want any lace or sparkle or add-ons of any kind. Boring, as my sister so emphatically told me, but that's just what I liked!

All gorgeous, but keep in mind this was very early in the planning process, and before I had tried on any dresses. Once I actually went dress shopping, well, that is another story!

First Comes Love...

and then comes our wedding!

Welcome to First Comes Love. Since our engagement is bordering on 2 and a half years, and it is FINALLY planning time, I thought it might be time to find a place to keep my thoughts and plans organized.

I am a mid-twenties bride-to-be marrying my high school sweetheart, and after 10 years together, it's about time to seal the deal! We are planning a fun, family-oriented wedding that keeps getting bigger and bigger, and in an effort to remember the craziness that is planning a wedding, I'm going to blog about what happens along the way.



Follow me while I stumble through planning this wedding - it's the first one in both of our families so there is definitely a lot to learn.