Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Wedding: Keeping Organized

Weddings are becoming bigger and less traditional as of late.

The emphasis now seems to be on making the day a one-of-a-kind shindig that the guests (and internet!) will be talking about for months to come.

With so many unique elements floating around the interwebs, there's bound to be some good ol' copying going on. That sounds like it defeats the purpose of making a wedding unique, but I think it's more to do with how the couple puts together all the different elements in unique ways.

Our wedding is no exception. While Im not ready to share what our theme will actually be, you can probably get a little feel from the teaser I posted here.

In order to keep everything organized and as a way to unload my brain every now and then, I have a few places where I keep my inspiration, ideas, notes and lists.

1. The first is my wedding binder. I knew right away that I would need a central place to keep all the contracts and jot notes as we go through this planning process. While attended a wedding planning class this past weekend, the organizer offered binders to the brides for $10 each. I had brought mine with me and I don't think there's much difference. Mine is a white binder that I had used previously while attending university. I added some plastic sleeves to hold business cards, samples and anything else that's not hole punched.

Then I divided the binder into sections like 'save the dates and invitations,' 'attire' and 'ceremony.' Each section has a plastic sleeve or two and paper for all the notes that I've been taking. Really, this is my number one planning tool as I can take it anywhere with me.

2. Obviously for inspiration Pinterest has been invaluable. You can see my wedding pin board here. I love that when Im board I can click on the weddings tab and see what everyone else is finding around the web.

3. The Knot. This website if full of wedding inspiration, checklists and other tools like a guest list manager and a budget calculator. Im not sure Im a big fan of the guest list manager yet as it takes forever to add everyone, but I do really love the budget calculator. It is so easy to overlook some cost when you're planning your budget so this tool is awesome to really get the full picture.

4. The wedding bee blog. I have the wedding bee blog added to my google reader so that I can keep up with all the posts there from the various brides. What I love about this blog is that there are so many brides planning so many different weddings. The budgets are diverse, the locations are diverse and the couples themselves are diverse. It's a great place for tutorials and inspiration as well.

Our Wedding: Ceremony Venue

Jason first proposed (yes there were two proposals) while I was at work. Since I worked at our church at the time, it was only fitting to book our wedding ceremony there.

While working there, I was responsible for much of the wedding related tasks. I would book the ceremonies and rehearsals, keep in contact with the couples, book decorators (and even decorate myself when the couple's arrangements fell through), help fill out the marriage forms, prepare the register and whatever else was needed. Because of this, I have a pretty good idea what to expect from our ceremony. I've seen them happen in different ways and know the behind-the-scenes stuff that most brides have no clue about.

That being said though, we don't have an officiant. Let me explain

I finished my temporary position there this past Christmas. During one of my last days, I let my co-worker in on the engagement and she immediately wanted to tell the rest of the office. I was excited too, so I thought, why not? We hadn't told all of our family yet so we didn't want it blabbed everywhere but the four pastors that I worked with were probably not going to be the people to do so anyway.

So in the process of telling my senior pastor that I was engaged, I also let him know that I had already booked our date in the church's computer system and mentioned that we'd like for him to officiate. A few days later, I received an email confirming that he would be honoured to do so.

But then reality set in and I received another email asking if we were set on our date. As it turns out, there is a huge province wide christian youth convention happening in the city that same weekend. As the former provincial youth director for our denomination, my senior pastor will unfortunately be otherwise engaged. Along with many other pastors in the area.

We really have no idea what direction to go from here. There's one pastor at our church that will probably not be involved in the youth convention, but she only started at the church about 6 weeks before I left so we don't know her well. One of the ladies that I asked to be a bridemaid is also a pastor, but she hasn't confirmed that she will be able to make it yet, either. Im also a little traditional in thinking that I'd prefer a male to officiate. Is that weird? Anyone else have trouble picking an officiant?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our Wedding: Reception Venue

Since the biggest thing on my mind lately is the wedding (222 days to go!), I thought I'd start a series on the various choices as we make them. So first up is the reception venue.

Our initial thoughts were to go with a hotel because everything would be included in the basic price and we wouldn't have to worry about those who imbibe driving home afterwards. Unfortunately another couple booked the space we had chosen the day before we were to meet with the planner there. It kinda sucked.

We didn't want to go with a plain venue either and living in a small city didn't leave us with a ton of options. There are the gorgeous downtown hotels but all were a little too expensive for our tastes. Then there was the popular Battery Hotel with a ballroom that boasted a view of the city:

The battery is located on Signal Hill which is where the first transatlantic signal was received in 1901. It's probably the main tourist attraction in St. John's.

We debated on booking this place because the hotel itself doesn't have the best of reputations. It's also quite ugly to look at from the outside. It turned out well that we debated so long because when we did contact them, the room was booked (and the woman was sooo rude).

We then had the idea to go across the street (so still on Signal Hill) to the Johnson Geo Centre:

You probably can't tell much from the picture, but that is the only part of the building that is above ground. The building is actually built into the ancient rock of signal hill and is now a 33000+ square foot geological interpretation centre. Not the kind of place that would normally scream 'wedding,' but for us, it makes perfect sense.

The reception hall looks like this:

...and can be transformed to disguise most of the 'interpretation centre' vibe while keeping many of the unique elements.

We're really excited to have this place booked and can't wait to incorporate all the elements we've been dreaming about.

Friday, February 3, 2012

a snake cake and jungle party

As part of Life as Mom's Birthday Cake Round up, Im writing a few posts referencing some of the birthday cakes I've created in the past...

For Noah's 6th birthday we had a jungle theme. To go with that, I created a snake cake from pictures I found online (pre-pinterest!). This was my first time using fondant and Im sure more experienced cake makers would do a better job, but the kids were still amazed by my attempt.

Now that I've shown you the most important part, let me share the rest of the day. It started off with some jungle invites....

When the kids arrived I had them create jungle animals using a kit I picked up at Michaels. Afterwards we played a few games and let them run around a little bit. The main event had not yet arrived so I tried everything I could to keep the kids entertained while we waited. I definitely learned my lesson though and in the future will always include more activities for the kids.

We ended up feeding them their pizza and snake cake and then opening presents in the middle of the party because the entertainer still had not arrived. They had lost their car keys that morning and ended up an hour late. It was a good thing I scheduled the party to be 3 hours long!

So finally they arrived and the kids didn't know what to expect...

It was a local reptile company that tours schools and sets up exhibits. They were on the pricey side but it went over so well. In this picture, they are racing the two turtles across my rec room carpet!

Here Noah is getting to pet a reptile. They passed around most of them but some kids were a little scared to touch!

This was the grand finale. They brought out the small snake and let all the kids put it around their necks for a picture. Everyone thought that was the end until the man pulls out a pillow case with the giant snake in it! I still cant believe I let that thing in my house without even knowing it was there!

To close off the party each of the children had a few minutes with this...

How awesome is that? It's like a zoo that comes to your house!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Birthdays: Noah's Candyland

*The following post was written last year but was never published. Im doing so now as part of Life as Mom's Birthday Cake Round up
For Noah's 7th birthday we decided to have a Candyland theme. Most of what you can find online for this theme is geared towards younger kids so I had a bit of trouble coming up with a plan.

I knew I wanted to have a colored path that led through out the house and ended at a castle, just like in the game. So I started with that and filled in activities as stops along the path.

Before I get ahead of myself though, Ill start at the beginning...the invites. I like to put a lot of effort into my invites, especially when having the party at home. Ive thrown birthday parties where no one or only a few kids have shown up. It seems that parents no longer feel comfortable bringing their kids to other people's homes. So I try to make the party sound enticing, or show that Ive planned more than just a basic house party. This year, I wasn't able to go all out like I had wanted, but I think they still ended up cute:

Unfortunately we didn't get many pictures during the party so there's nothing of the path. The first stop however, was guessing how many candies were in the jars. Such a simple activity and the items required to play act as the prizes...simple! Here's Micah showing how it's done.

Next, we decorated crowns. All the materials came from the dollar store so it was a cheap activity that allowed those late arrivals to catch up before the group moved on.

Next, we made candy necklaces. I don't know if Id do this again, just given that the kids were too excited to eat theirs before moving on. Maybe just a different order of activity would help.

Though they were really happy with their creations, as shown by the birthday boy himself below:

Finally, we made it downstairs to our rec room where I had a bouncy castle set up. I looked into the price of renting them, but decided to just buy our own. There was a budget for this party and I had to be careful in all the other areas not to go over, but in the end Im happy with the decision to buy rather than rent. First, renting would have required the use of a hall or community centre. The price of the rental of both would have been around $200. I instead bought this castle for $223, plus warranty. We kept it out for a couple of weeks after the party, and the kids loved being able to bounce at will.

What a mess!

For favors we ordered cotton candy bags from a local amusement business.

The cupcakes were well received though I didn't get a picture of the rainbow I made out of them. They were easier to make than most of the cakes I've attempted and they just looked cool!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reverse lists

Im a list maker. Very much so. I feel more organized when I unload my brain onto paper and I seriously love the feeling of crossing things off a daily to-do list.

The issue I would always run into though is putting too many 'to-dos' on my list each day and then feeling like I've accomplished NOTHING because I only crossed off 25.

Im a little dramatic.

So recently I've discovered a new kind of list. Or rather, a backwards list.

Instead of starting my day with a long list of things I hope to accomplish, I instead write things down AS I accomplish them. When I finish scrubbing the kids' bathroom (...), I write it down. When I get home from picking up groceries, I write that down.

This method may seem a little pointless, but it satisfies my need to feel like Im accomplishing something without feeling like I wasted the day.

I still shoot for 32 items on my sheet by the end of the day, but if I don't reach that (and I rarely do) I can now look at a page full of things I DID accomplish and not feel guilty for those items I had hoped to.

Why 32?

I have exactly 8 hours from the time I get home after the morning school run to the time Jason walks through the door after work. If I allow 15 minutes per item, I should be able to accomplish 32 each day. I understand that grocery shopping is going to take many more minutes, but making all the beds will take less.

I also enjoy the feeling that comes with serving a hot dinner to my family each evening and for Jason to walk into the house during those final moments before I do. I can then relax and enjoy my family. My job is done. No folding laundry all evening or trying to organize my pantry.

Those are the things Ill leave for tomorrow.

Reverse lists work for me!