Throwback Thursday: 1 Month From 1 Year

One month from today marks Chris’ and my one year anniversary (married… it’s unfortunate that the four years together pre-marriage get thrown aside for tracking)!

This meant that today’s throwback thursday post was an easy choice. The above photo was taken the moment after Chris and I had officially been declared husband and wife. I had just finished crying after going second in reading our personal vows and Chris had kissed the bride. We walked back up the aisle to a major Chris song (that I also like) called You Make My Heart Beat Faster by The Distillers, you should give it a listen and then take another look at the featured photo above. We had so much fun at our wedding and it was very us – thrifty and quirky!

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Another one of my favourite photos from our wedding!
They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I wonder if that’s changed since people have started living together more commonly as unmarried couples. Chris and I had two years or so in the house before we got married so it’s not like we needed to get used to each other or were learning about each others’ habits. Our wedding was less like a new beginning to an adventure and more like the third chapter in a novel that has already built a foundation to build a story around.

Wherever we are in our unwritten novel, we’re doing really well. We are just as in love as ever, but what’s more important is that we’re still best friends who watch comedy

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Photos were taken by friend/singer/photographer Caitlin Currie.
specials while drinking bourbon or play board games competitively together. We have fun and appreciate our time together – we also know that no ones perfect and that honest communication is key.

We’ve known each other for almost five years now and expect to continue to learn from our shared experiences (especially mistakes). Just because we’ve been married for a year doesn’t make us experts, but who’s to say that we’re not doing it right? We’re doing what’s right for us and that’s all I hope my loved ones do for themselves too! 

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Valentine’s Day: Cheap Dates and Quality Time

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (February 14th is this coming Tuesday), you may still need to come up with an affordable date idea. If we broke the bank to celebrate every holiday throughout the year, we’d be broke ourselves.  

Yes, you can absolutely splurge a little on an expensive dinner out, but if you’re looking to save money this year maybe you can try some of the following five activities:

  1. Instead of spending money on typical Valentine’s products, mutually decide on an at home activity that you could invest in.

16299381_1291067520951162_1872430606541810506_nThis year Chris and I bought a new boardgame that we can play with just two people (up to six) called Pandemic. We had a night recently when we became more familiar with the rules so that we can really enjoy it on Valentine’s Day. Romance can mean different things to different people, and to us in our first year of marriage (third year of living together), our best-friendship is a big part of our love. We embrace our friendship by making sure we will both have fun – we hang out. If you’re on a smaller budget I suggest checking out the games section of Value Village, I’ve found some great games there for under $5.00!

  1. Find a recipe on Pinterest.

the_best_of_dean_martinIf you have the time, cooking together can be a lot of fun. Chris and I often like to put on a playlist that works well with our meal. For example, when we cook pasta I like to put on my Dean Martin album, or sometimes we just put on a 90’s Spotify playlist to sing and dance to. You will either share pride over your delicious meal or laugh at what bad cooks you are which will make for a funny memory – it’s about the quality time you spend together more than it’s about the quality of the food.

  1. Write a love letter.

Chris and I have done this a few times for past Valentine’s Days as well as anniversaries. It costs nothing and makes you feel really good about each other. This is the kind of gift that takes a little thought and effort, but goes a long way. Writing each other letters is also a good practise to keep up healthy communication and remind one another why you’re together. Don’t be afraid to add some humour into it with inside jokes, love letters don’t have to be all serious (they’re meant to make you smile).

  1. Borrow a classic romance movie from the public library.

Sometimes Netflix just doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re like me and have watched basically every romantic comedy on the list. When that happens, you can check out this incredibly useful resource that exists in most cities called the library. You can even put things on hold or find out which branch has which DVD via the good ol’internet – this is better than Blockbuster. My local library carries modern movies as well as many older classics, including a personal favourite: Roman Holiday. Watching a movie on a comfy couch (not necessarily the big one with dust bunnies), having the ability to pause for bathroom breaks, and not paying outrageous prices for snacks are all good reasons to avoid the movie theatre this Valentine’s Day.

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  1. Explore a local art gallery.
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Hand Embroidery I made of the RMG last year.

Want to actually leave the house? Many cities have art galleries with free or donation based admission like The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in my hometown or the Station Gallery one city over. I strongly encourage people who “don’t do art” to try this date idea, I think you’ll be surprised at how much you might enjoy yourself. Galleries are fantastic places to walk (healthy) and talk (healthy for your relationship). You can see how similar you are or just how much your tastes differ. Chris and I also like to make fun of the odd piece, again an art gallery doesn’t have to be a strictly serious environment – have fun!


These five ideas are simple and affordable, some also allow for comfort which is a huge plus in my books. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about extravagant gifts, it should be about celebrating your love for each other by spending time together and creating positive memories.

Let me know what some of your plans are in the comments!

Bad Holiday Movies that You Actually Love: Netflix Canada 2016 Selection

Scroll down for a list of 16 ‘bad’ holiday films on Netflix

Remember those bad ‘made for TV’ movies that your mom used to watch when you were growing up? Somewhere along the line, somehow, my sister and I ended up loving them too and there are a lot more to choose from now compared to when I was a kid. Thanks Netflix Canada!


A Brief Reality Check:

Hallmark Channel (yes that Hallmark) seems to be mass producing low-quality Christmas rom-coms – they actually released 22 holiday TV movies just this year alone. Adrienne hallmark-storeGibbs, of Forbes, wrote it best when she said that the channel is “capitalizing on Christmas,” not a surprise when you think about the card company in context with every other holiday or celebration of the year.

So why do I watch these movies when I also acknowledge how awful they can be? People may think that it’s a ‘guilty pleasure’ of mine, but I don’t feel shame in my enjoyment. I, like everyone else, think that I have incredible taste in quality media productions; however, again like everyone else, I like to watch meaningless bad television and movies from time to time. Hallmark Channel movies are no better or worse than the average reality television show

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Screenshot from Once Upon a Holiday (in the list below).

detailing the latest fad occupation (i.e. Shows about being a baker, a stay-at-home pageant mom, an ice truck driver, etc.). Both genres have productions that are: often poorly scripted; predictable; funny without being intelligent; cringe worthy; good to be on the background while you’re doing something more important; and lastly, they frequently star nostalgic actors and actresses who we haven’t seen since the 90’s or early 2000’s.

I’m not telling you to not expect more out of Hallmark movies though – they should still be held accountable for their white-heteronormative plot lines that consistently push the need for a prince charming and feature an insanely low percentage of racial diversity in their cast. We as an audience need to voice our want for more depth and options as white heterosexual women are not the only viewers. There is likely a very diverse audience that wants to watch low quality holiday love stories. If Hallmark Channel is making as many as 22 films for just one season, why do they all have to feature single white women looking for Mr. White – er I mean Right – as their Christmas wish? They don’t. The demand is out there so supply it to us you capitalistic card company conglomerate!


Back to my ‘So Bad It’s Good’ Holiday Movie list:

holiday-favouritesPhew – got that out of my system, so now let’s list the selection of bad-holiday-rom-coms on Netflix Canada 2016. I’ve already watched a bunch, but you may need some background fluff to put on the TV while you finish the last of your gift wrapping or while you get ready for Christmas with the family.

Here they are (not ranked), feel free to click the links below and watch the trailers ahead of time! You can type the title into your search bar or browse for these in the “Holiday Favourites” category on Netflix.

PS. I’ve watched the first seven
PPS. As an atheist I often just choose to ignore whatever religious undertones come with Christmas movies as it’s the original basis for the holidaymovie-collage

  1. Dear Santa 
  2. Holiday Engagement
  3. A Dog Walker’s Christmas Tale
  4. Merry Kissmas 
  5. Christmas Crush
  6. Once Upon a Holiday
  7. My Santa 
  8. A Christmas Kiss II
  9. Christmas Belle (not an actual trailer)
  10. Naughty & Nice
  11. Back to Christmas 
  12. Christmas in the City 
  13. Small Town Santa 
  14. Santa’s Little Helper
  15. How Sarah Got Her Wings 
  16. Angel of Christmas 

Whether you watch these low-budget productions this holiday season or not, I hope that you enjoy yourself (celebrating or not celebrating Christmas)! Be safe, be smart, be merry.

A Photo Essay: Walking in Oshawa’s Winter Wonderland

collage-1I present you with a brief photo essay:

We love living near the dog park, but we never appreciate it as much as we do after a fresh snowfall. The Oshawa Harmony Valley Dog Park looks surreally beautiful when the trees are dusted with powder and the fields are blanketed in white sheets. I asked Chris to bring his camera for our walk on what was a truly beautiful day.

Summit, our approximately two-year-old Saint Berdoodle, loves running around in the off-leash zones at the park. She’s the first non-black dog that I’ve ever owned and I still haven’t gotten used to having a dog that doesn’t appear to suffer from severe dandruff during snowy days. Her smiles are just as big as my past dog’s though, and I enjoy watching her bounce around in a deer-like manor.

Chris and I put on our big winter boots and almost over dressed as the temperature was surprisingly warm for a snowy day. We trudged along the paths and took a lesser known route by one of the streams. We carefully crossed the ankle-deep water by stepping on dscf9234snow covered rocks (luckily, we didn’t fall in [our mothers would have told us not to do it, but like most adults we make stupid decisions sometimes]). Summit bounded across the newly frozen ice and her back legs broke through a thin patch. She quickly made it to the ‘safety’ of the nearby ground after getting some ice-cold motivation!

Before walking to the open field where Summit likes to play, we stopped to take photos with her by our favourite bridge. The entire walk, including twenty minutes of playtime, lasted for forty minutes and I could feel tiny drops of sweat beneath my scarf. We came home with rosy cheeks, runny noses, and new winter memories.

 

Check out our photos here:

Christmas Tree Trimming: Nostalgic Newlyweds

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favourite traditions and I look forward to it every year. Depending on my husband’s overseas work schedule, I have done it both with and without him over the last few years. I’m really lucky that he’s home for the holidays this year so I only had to wait until December 8th to decorate.

I appreciated that Chris wanted to participate in the tree decorating tradition, he seemed just as excited as I was. He made us Old Fashioned’s (we love bourbon) and I put on a Christmas record. A good friend of mine gave img_9725me A Charlie Brown Christmas: Vince Guaraldi Trio on Vinyl as an early birthday present and I’ve listened to it all the way through approximately five times already! For some reason, the slight crackle of vinyl makes me feel cozy, a similar feeling to having fireplace lit in the winter.

As the needle followed the grooves, I took a sip of my drink, and lit a candle that smelt like a balsam fir. It officially sounded, tasted, and smelt like the holidays – I was blissfully happy. We lugged out our fake tree and box of decorations from under the basement staircase and let Summit have a whiff of Christmases-past.

Approximately three Christmases ago, Chris and I purchased our first tree together. We bought a 6ft tall pencil tree, my dad thinks that it looks funny and weird, but we think that it is perfect for us. The small tree fits into our space and is quirky enough to suit our family. That first tree year, we had a Christmas

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Chris standing beside our nearly finished tree this year.

party where we asked our friends to bring us ornaments to decorate our new tree with. We were so happy with the outcome: an eclectic mixture of homemade, outlandish, store-bought, and traditional decorations that contribute to its unconventional nature. Each guest was also given a homemade ornament from Chris and I – a lot of work when you make 43 of them!

Back to 2016: Chris, Summit, and I enjoyed a quiet night of decorating. This is the first year that Chris and I are officially husband and wife for Christmas so I made us a wedding ornament and also a fun Eric Andre themed ornament (tried my hand at wood burning for the first time and loved it). The best thing about having had an ornament party is that every year we are reminded of the friends and family in our lives. Each ornament has a backstory and is associated with a familiar face. Unwrapping each trinket leads to talking about the loved one from which it came and this process really adds to the nostalgia that comes with the tree tradition.

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Top: Our stockings hung with care (temporary stocking until we print a photo of summit). Bottom left: Daq’s stocking. Bottom right: Daq and I at my mom’s in 2012.

Aside from ornaments, we also pulled out our Christmas stockings. I took a minute or two to cry when I held Daq’s old stocking that would now be handed down to Summit. She was a truly wonderful friend who I still miss very much. The mourning process is long and unforgiving, but I was lucky to be a part of Daq’s long and happy life. Chris and I, however, are excited to spoil our new fur-baby this holiday and have been taking her to the now snowy dog park twice a day. Life is all about change and making the best out of what you have – we do our best!

After turning the room lights down, Chris drank some eggnog with bourbon and I had some baileys in my hot chocolate. As if in a film, we excitedly watched snow start to fall out of our back window. We talked about how much we still love our eccentric tree and about the possible future trees we may purchase if we move into a bigger space someday. Isn’t it beautiful that sharing the tree decorating tradition with my husband not only reminds me of happy memories from the past, but also sparks romantic thoughts about the future? It’s who you’re with that matters most; fake or real, the tree itself shouldn’t affect the experience – a reflection of what Christmas is really all about.

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Summit’s Safe Place: One Month Adopted Home Update

Yesterday, Monday December 5th, marked my one month anniversary with our newly adopted dog Summit (See her Instagram account @Summit.the.sweetheart).

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Summit and I on our 2nd day together.

In a previous blog post, I explained the process of grieving my late dog Daq and finding Summit online. To summarize, Summit is a 2-year-old St. Berdoodle (Saint Bernard/Poodle) who was rescued when she was pregnant with 11 puppies. Her rescuers in the US sent her to foster parents who ran a Portuguese Water Dog breeding business and were familiar with handling the impending puppy situation properly. After finding homes for the puppies, the breeder then set out to find a home for mommy-Summit. When I saw her photo online, I had a weird feeling that told me she was right for us and I expressed this in an email.

Like all rescues, Summit has a colourful past that contributes to present issues, but she is the biggest sweetheart. It is believed that she was abused because of her fear of meeting new people. She loves playing with other dogs and has zero anxiety about her furry friends (even when they are strangers).

Summit has come such a long way in a very short time.

photo-2016-12-05-9-54-27-amWhen I first brought Summit home, I was excited, but it was hard because she didn’t trust me enough to let me hug her and cuddle her the way that you want to when you get a new fur-baby. The sweet girl had never gone up and down stairs before so she was limited to staying on the main floor. I decided that I would sleep on the couch that night so that she wouldn’t be alone – I think this really helped our initial bonding.

She seemed to be picking things up really quickly! On the second or third day, she was learning what her dog bed was and even showed interest in wanting to go upstairs with me. One day when I was about to jump in the shower, I saw her little head poke up from the landing! She had come that far, but then immediately forgot how she had gotten up there and couldn’t figure out the rest of the steps (she had this thing where she didn’t understand that she needed to move her back legs). I paused what I was doing and helped show her how to climb up the stairs on four legs (I had been doing this for days like a little animal). I was an extremely proud mama when she made it all the way up and discovered more of the house.

Summit had not only never used stairs at the age of 2, but she had also never seen a TV, nor did she know basic commands like sit, lay down, stay, etc. She was housebroken, but

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Summit watching an animal documentary.

with moving to a new environment she did leave me a couple stinky presents in the house early on. By the end of the first week she had conquered the stairs, was cool with the weird moving pictures in the living room, and had even officially mastered the art of sitting on command!

Week two included visits from more family and friends (lots of practice at meeting new people), but Summit especially loves playing with her friend/my mom’s dog Agent Deeks. These two are so infatuated, they love playing, cuddling, nuzzling, grooming, humping (we continually break them up) – they just can’t get enough of each other. After a week and a half of bonding time, it was hard to let go of my control, but I let her off leash on a woods-walk with mom and Deeks.

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Summit and Agent Deeks.

With her friend at her side it was more likely that she’d stick with him, she did such a good job and had so much fun! By the end of that week she had learned the lay down command and was growing even closer to me.

Week three was fun because Summit and I went on a road trip to see my sister who lives four hours away. My sister has a Bernese Mountain Dog named Dude (brother to Deeks), a German Sheperd named Sidney Prescott, and two cats named Rafi and Taco. Summit was fast friends with her cousins, especially Sidney who seemed to be ecstatic to have a girlfriend since she was always surrounded by males. The dogs had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to see them reunite for the holiday season.

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Summit and her cousins Dude and Sidney.

This last week has been nice, Summit seems completely at home now.

  • photo-2016-11-21-3-00-10-pmShe loves:
  • Looking through the front window
  • Standing on the backyard deck to guard her kingdom
  • Napping on her bed all day
  • Going for walks to Poke-stops
  • Playing with her dollies
  • My made-up songs and dances in the kitchen
  • Cuddling with me in bed
  • Playing with other doggos

This month of so many firsts has been hard work that has already proven to be well worth it and I can’t wait to share more of these experiences with her fur-daddy. Chris has been away for five weeks and is coming home in a couple days – he will finally get to meet the fur-baby that he has grown to love through the constant receival of unfiltered photos and videos each day. I can’t imagine how excited he must be.

We are so lucky that we found a new dog to share our love with and to spoil this Christmas. She still has a lot to learn and so do we as new puppy-parents. She is two, but has so many firsts that dogs her age would normally have already experienced that we are going through puppy stages and also getting used to such a playful girl compared to our gorgeous old 12-year-old labradoodle (we still think about her every day).

Dogs, like people, aren’t perfect and it is often the imperfections that we grow to love most. Do you have a rescue dog and have some helpful anecdotes to share? Let me know and give them a kiss for me!

More Pictures from this past month:

Snow Time like the Past, Present, and Future: Merry Memories in the Making

People often talk about how they would like to travel south for the winter and escape to a hot paradise, but don’t forget to appreciate your surroundings – especially if snow is involved.

I live in Ontario, Canada and we get a bit of each season around here. I think that getting to experience each weather change is really special, don’t you?

1 hyperdrive edit.jpgThe first snowfall of the season happened on Sunday and it made me so happy. The white flakes fell in a hyperdrive-like fashion as I was driving to visit my mom with Summit, listening to Christmas songs on a few alternating radio stations, and it finally felt like the holidays were close by.

Sometime in the last few years I started thinking about how certain places around the world are always hot or others only ever see snow, but we get both. We get spring, summer, fall, and winter which is really amazing.

I absolutely admit that a complaint or two comes out of my mouth like anyone else when I start to get sick of the heat and humidity or the extreme cold temperatures, but by that time I start to get excited about the next season. I have definitely been without a vehicle in the past, walking in the spring showers, sweaty summers, and windy winter flurries (fall is my favourite and I like to imagine it as close to perfect). The point is that I am lucky enough to be able to appreciate the beauty of the changing weather conditions while having a warm house to come home to and I’m truly grateful for that.

Let’s talk about how amazing snow is.

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Summit exploring the melting snow in our backyard.

Think about people who see it for the first time or how fun it is to watch a puppy playing in a snowy backyard. There is an innocent joy to experiencing the phenomena of snow and I think that we get a little piece of that each year when the first snowfall comes around.

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The late Daq and I a couple of years ago.

The snow also reminds me of my youth, playing hockey, going skating, and laughing while decorating the Christmas tree with my family. I smile as I recall a shaggy looking black labradoodle covered in white flakes, smiling back at me and further enhancing my love for her. It also reminds me of my husband who loves the snow.

If you take a few minutes to think about your own personal positive memories that are surrounded by snow you might not dread it as much this year (until you see your driveway that needs shoveling).

The snow has started melting already, but I look forward to it coming back! I am excited about making new memories this year as a newly married couple with our new fur-baby Summit. The falling snow, like the green buds on the trees in the spring, help measure the time that we spend together. Years from now the snow will continue to trigger happy memories that feature sheets of white and some cute doggy footprints.

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Handmade hat by Black Cabin Salvage Co. and handmade ornaments by Tammy Gay (take the workshop on how to make your own here).

 

Let me know some of your favourite snowy memories!

This coming Thursday I will be writing a pop culture post that is connected to appreciating a good snowfall and I’ll leave you with this quote as a hint as to what it will be about:

“Wait, close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow.”

Rehoming a Rescue: Ready to Love Again

It has been approximately 40 days since Daq was put to sleep and I think about her daily, but it’s getting easier.

People said different things to me after I lost my dog, but the two most common pieces of advice were “never get another dog again” and “how long do you think you’ll wait until you get another dog?”

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Our late dog Daq, Chris, and myself after my university graduation.

Mourning the death of a pet is a unique journey and everyone has different ways of dealing with it. I knew that I wanted another dog again someday, I just didn’t know when that would be. The pain of the loss is hard, but it doesn’t outweigh the amount of love that you get during their short time with you. The question of when I would be ready to love another dog was something that I struggled with answering – it’s a personal choice that is unique to each person.

As Daq was getting older, Chris and I occasionally discussed when we might get another dog in the future. We had thought that we should wait a few years at least to have some ‘freedom’ in terms of travelling and going away for weekends. As the months got closer to Daq’s passing, Chris admitted that he never knew just how much he could love a dog before having Daq and how much he knew he would now miss it – he thought that we should get a dog sooner than we planned. I was shocked, but loved that he had truly become a dog person (the all-time sexiest trait).

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After losing Daq, Chris and I had an important conversation. He told me that he had spoken with someone at work about losing their dog and about how they had gotten another dog within a few months of the passing so that the family felt protected and helped bring the joy back into the house. I cried. His intentions were so sweet and we both have so much love to give to a dog. I agreed that getting one within the year would be great, but that I likely wouldn’t be ready until after Christmas.

Since then, we have started putting adoption application profiles into some dog rescue services. We started doing so because we know that sometimes it can take months or even years for the right dog for a family to come around and when one does, you need to act fast.

We’ve been watching rescue websites on a consistent basis and I just recently felt a special connection when coming across a two-year-old girl. The difficult thing is that we may or may not even get to meet her, we just need to be hopeful and patient.

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Everyone knows that I was obsessed with my best friend Daq and anyone who has had multiple dogs in their life knows that giving love to another dog doesn’t take away the love that you had for your previous fur babies.

Daq was incredibly special to me and I plan on trying my best not to compare whichever new dog we get to her because she’d be a lot to live up to. Each dog is innocent and unique, they don’t replace each other, your love for each dog is found within separate relationships.

I’m happy to say that somehow, I am ready to welcome another dog into our life already. That first night that Chris and I talked about rehoming a dog in the next year, I cried for another happy reason: since we weren’t looking into getting a puppy, that meant that our future little babe was already alive somewhere… being a cute lil’ doggo.


Update already?!

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I wrote this blog this past Sunday November 6th, 2016 and by the end of the day it had officially been arranged that I would meet the two-year-old dog I had aforementioned. Since then, I met this beautiful girl and brought her home! Can you believe it?

 

Chris and I are so elated to have Summit in our family. We had originally thought that we would want to rename any dog that we got, but we ended up liking her name. She is a Saint Berdoodle, a Saint Bernard/Standard Poodle mix, who was rescued from one of the Carolinas in the United States (I can’t remember if her foster mom said it was North or South). Her foster parents shaved her coat due to the negligence/lack of proper maintenance and it is growing back slowly to be nice and curly. She also gave birth to a large litter of eleven puppies this past August 18th (just five days after Chris and I married) and is truly a sweet girl (See a video of her below).

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She is timid when meeting new people due to her past abusive home, but loves meeting new dogs and is learning to build trust with our less hairy species. She just needs a home with a lot of love and some patience too. Even though she is two, her past owners didn’t teach her simple commands like sit, lay down, come, stay, and she even doesn’t know how to use staircases.

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I was grateful that my mom had come to see the dog with me and be my navigation pilot (yikes, right? Haha). We brought her home and she was so good in the back of our car for the two-hour drive. Last night had to be hard for her, but she exceeded my expectations with how well she handled the transition. She ate a full dinner and sniffed almost constantly. I slept on the couch so that she wouldn’t be alone on her first night (she was too nervous to try climbing the stairs to the bedroom) and we really bonded!

I can feel her trusting me more already and I swear I’m in love – I fall fast.

I am a proud fur mommy right now and taking photos of everything that she does, Chris Facetimed with us last night and is so excited to come home to us! I will share many more memories with you in the future, but for now I’m going to go pet my babe.

To Summit Up For You: Fun Furry Facts:

-Summit already has her own Instagram account under the name @summit.the.sweetheart
-She is ¾ Poodle and ¼ Saint Bernard which has resulted in her being non-shedding
-She has the longest doggy eyelashes I’ve ever seen
-We’re not sure if Summit has seen a TV before! She looks at it funny and was kind of scared at first
-She loves her new backyard
-She loves carrying her poop-emoticon-doll around the house
-Summit is already trotting and wagging her tail in happy spirits!
-We are so glad that we found each other and can’t wait to dance in the kitchen with Chris

The Gift to Thrift: $8507 Wedding Budget Breakdown

(Scroll to the end to see screenshot of my Wedding Wire Budget)

I first started this blog by briefly introducing the internet to my August 2016 wedding. As I said then, my fiancé and I are really proud of how much money we saved by doing the whole thing for $8507.00. Today I thought that I’d breakdown the budget for you and give you some helpful tips when planning your own wedding for under $10,000.

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Tip #1: Before you start, buy a ‘coupon holder’ from the dollar store.
I used this to organize all of my receipts and the companies’ business cards – it was extremely helpful.

Our wedding was in Brooklin, Ontario Canada. We looked for venues within the Durham Region that weren’t typical wedding venues so that they wouldn’t come with that dreaded wedding price tag. Since our wedding was to host approximately 75 guests, smaller venues were an option and we actually found quite a few that were less than the one we ended up with. We just fell in love with the community centre’s modern architecture and windows.

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Our venue was the Brooklin Community Centre and Library, multi-purpose room.

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Tip #2: Sign up on Wedding Wire’s website.
I actually accidentally got started on the American version of the website rather than the Canadian one, but it worked out fine. Either site is recommended because of how helpful they are. Wedding Wire hosts multiple online services in one place. I personally used the budget tracker, personal wedding website, RSVP counter, and vendor reviews.


Three Highest Costs

The main chunks of our wedding budget went to catering, venue rental, and alcohol.

  • Catering = $3,393.68      
  • Venue Rental + Insurance = $1,215.57    
  • Alcohol = $890.00 (after returns)

Our catering price was actually approximately $2000.00 above what we had initially planned for. Chris and I are pretty laid back and had actually wanted to hire a local pulled pork place and use fancy looking paper plates. Due to ‘objections’ to our super casual dinner plans from both sides of our families we reluctantly upped the budget to get a caterer with better quality serving ware. This is one of the only things that we budged on to please our parents. What I’m saying is, if you’re up for a really casual dinner, you can get yours for about $2000.00 – just do your homework locally!

Our venue rental went through the city of Whitby’s permit coordinating services which was made more difficult by employees switching positions halfway through planning (the first woman was a joy to deal with and the second was not). They provided the tables and chairs without any added price which was great too, our caterer had linens.

We probably bought close to $2000.00 worth of alcohol for the wedding. Chris wanted to be overprepared and if you get help from an LCBO employee that has worked with a bride and groom in the past, they will help you buy the right amount and right size of bottles to help make returns a lot easier. We were very happy that people drank quite a bit, and we didn’t run out of anything. Our bar tender (from the caterer) worked hard that night, yet we still brought back half of what we bought!

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Tip #3: Feel lucky.
Yes, I won my wedding gown, BUT (and this is a big but) someone was going to win and it could be you. The wedding dress doesn’t have to be a big price listed on your wedding budget. You should go to every boring/tiring bridal show you can to enter their contests. Even if you don’t win your gown, there are a ton of other options to save money here. With accessories and alterations, my ‘free’ gown cost me just under $500.00 which was my dress budget before winning anyway.

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I had planned on wearing a gorgeous gown (colourful or not) from an expensive dress store like Melanie Lynn, Laura, BCBG, or The Bay. Do we really need to wear white on our wedding day? I think not. I would have had just as much fun in a bright emerald green dress.

I had also considered buying a used wedding gown – I’ll be selling my own once I get it dry-cleaned. Women only wear these things for one day! ONE DAY – that’s nothing! I wear vintage clothes from the 1960s that have been worn many more times than these gowns that need new homes. Adopt don’t shop applies to both dogs and dresses!


Biggest Cost Savers

Four of our biggest cost savers were using grocery store flowers, not hiring a DJ, having a friend do the photography, and having nimble fingers for DIY projects.

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Have you heard of the cost of flowers for a wedding? Too much to spend on things that cannot be reused. I pre-ordered the flowers that I wanted for my wedding from Sobeys to be ready to be picked up on the morning of the wedding. Our flowers cost $158.28 – total, for centrepieces, bridesmaid bouquets, and one bridal bouquet. We arranged them ourselves and the guys really didn’t care about having boutonnieres. It’s all about considering what is actually important to you.

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One of my favourite photos from the wedding: Chris and I after the ceremony, walking out to Beat Your Heart Out by The Distillers.

We asked one of our best friends to help us coordinate the music that I had carefully downloaded for the night. We used our iPad to have a dinner music playlist, a dance playlist, and separate areas for important cued songs including those used during the ceremony, first dance, father-daughter/mother-son dances, etc. My only suggestion here is that you use a computer with iTunes instead of the iPad. The tablet device didn’t provide the option to fade into songs which as a perfectionist bothered me. Our closest friends and family enjoyed themselves and danced a bunch! My step-mom was actually impressed enough to ask me to provide the music for her parent’s 50th anniversary this past October.

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This is a personal favourite of mine

When we started looking for photography I wanted to ask people that I knew first. Amazingly, after asking my friend Caitlin Currie how much she would charge, she offered her services to me for free out of kindness and friendship. She did us a massive favour and we love our photos, we wanted to give her at least a little something though so we gave her $200.00. What we love most about our photos is how candid some of them are or the way that they look real compared to how overly Photoshopped some wedding photos are these days. They are us and she did a wonderful job.

Things that I did myself/with the help of friends and family:

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  • Cut and assembled paper decorations (bunting and paper airplanes on yarn)
  • Made our cake topper (Dollar store dinos with crafty clothes)
  • Partially personalized bridesmaid gifts (hangers and embroidered makeup bags)
  • Invitations and Guest Coaster favours (Used an easy editing site called PicMonkey.com and then used my own designs when ordering them off of Vista Print’s website when they were half price)
  • Candy Bar bags (bought brown paper bags from the dollar store and stamped 100 of them with mom)
  • Grey table runners with iron on hems (Thank you Heather Luckhart for holding the scary iron)
  • My makeup

 

Tip #4: Thrift shops, thrift shops, and more thrift shops.
When I say this, I don’t only mean storefronts, but also wonderful resale apps like Kijiji and Varagesale. I bought so many of our decorations used and for half or less of their original price. Varagesale became a personal favourite of mine because of their glorious Holidays-Wedding category in which users consistently posted barely used decorations from their own weddings. Often times, you have a large gap between getting engaged and getting married, the key is to always be on the lookout for deals and to convince your fiancé that a wedding item storage room is necessary (half of our office was dedicated to this).

So with a ton of hard work on not only my part, but the efforts put forth by my friends and family, we were able to keep our wedding under $10,000! We loved our special day without spending the price of a house down payment and are happier for it!

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Last bunch of Tips:
#5: Don’t have one set image of how your wedding should be.

#6: Things don’t have to match to work – we used an assortment of different sized glass vases for flowers.

#7: Pinterest and budget blogs are your best friend for DIY ideas, have confidence in yourself.

#8: What matters is that you enjoy your wedding, stop trying to impress people by going big.

#9: Let parental figures have the occasional win, but this is your wedding, they already had theirs and I bet they wanted it their way too.

#10: Have fun. Things will never be perfect, that doesn’t exist. Your attitude is really important in creating one of the happiest days of your life.

 


Finally, here is a screenshot of my Wedding Wire Budget page:

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Baby-Shower-Talk: What Other Husbands Don’t Do

(Warning: I had a lot of fun with GIFs)

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Friends S8 E20 “The One with the Baby Shower.”

I recently went to a friend’s baby shower. The decorations were beautiful, the food was incredible, one of the games was television oriented so I actually won, the mom-to-be was delightfully spoiled, and the conversations were very informative. Baby and bridal showers are like office water coolers of female friendships; these are the events that women love talking about their spouses at most.

Some of the discussions were eye opening and actually reminded me why I married Chris – he is a great guy.

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Many of the women that I spoke with told me that their male counterparts did not help with the laundry. This shocked me. Not as surprising, the same men who avoided doing laundry, didn’t like to help with cooking or cleaning either.

How could these men not be helping with household chores in 2016?

The women that I spoke to are admirable as they all worked full-time jobs yet they had these added responsibilities at home that their significant others didn’t. Even if you enjoy cleaning, I’m left wondering whether or not you would later resent your partner for not helping.

I’m friends with a lot of men and I know that many of them would help with chores – not all men leave this to be ‘women’s work’ (a terrible term). Chris is living proof that some husbands believe in sharing the unassigned home-work-load.

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What is wrong with these other guys? Do they want wives or moms?

The thing is that I know that the women who I spoke with didn’t love doing all of the housework because they were talking about it at this baby shower. The weird thing is that it was almost less like complaining and more like bragging about whose partner contributed less – it wasn’t funny to me.

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I know that Chris’ overly clean tendencies aren’t exactly typical, but it’s not just keeping a clean house that makes him a quality spouse (accidental rhyme).

 

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We take on jobs equally at home: we take turns going up and down the stairs to switch the laundry loads and both do the folding; we cook and then wash the dishes together; we both work on exterior landscaping; we renovate the house together; and while I scrub, he vacuums – we are a well-balanced team.

Knowing how the other person behaves as a live-in-partner is so important to me which is why I’m a firm believer in living together before marriage. Not only do you learn whether or not you want to kill the other person, but you also learn their habits and beliefs.

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If Chris hadn’t been as great as he was, he wouldn’t have been chosen to be on my team.

Although we have barely been married for 3 months, we are going on living together now for 3 years and I’m very happy with our system.

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If you are happy with your system that’s wonderful, but I’m just trying to let other women know that players get traded from professional teams all the time – sometimes there are better fits, sometimes there are better team-players who want to play for you.

Until we have Rosie-Robots in our lives, finding an equal partner to love and share your home with is an important standard to keep. Wife does not have to mean maid or mother to your husband, it means that you have a best friend (male or female) to help make life a little easier.

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