Wedding Favours

Capture 3.JPG

Wedding favours are gifts that you give back to your guests to thank them for coming to your big day. Many couples underestimate the significance of the gift to the guests so they do not put a great deal of effort or budget towards it, thinking that it will simply end up in the guests’ trash the next day. However, as a guests of 30 plus weddings in the past, I have actually kept 75% of the wedding favours I have received! The remaining 25% was likely chocolate which I would have had to dispose of since it would have gotten bad.

Therefore the take-away from this reading is that wedding favours DO matter! In fact, it is a great opportunity for you to help your guest reminisce about the fun memories from attending your wedding when they see or use your wedding favour! It is also one item that you can highly customize to your own liking, and it can be done without breaking the bank!

The most popular choices of wedding favour I have seen are the salt and pepper shakers, coasters, measuring spoons and handkerchiefs…These items are practical (somewhat!) and inexpensive but I think these are the ones that usually gets put aside because your guests really only need one set of each and they likely would have gotten one from weddings they have attended previously.

Chocolate or other food items are also widely used as a wedding favour similar to the reasons above. However, edible favours are perishable which means your guests will only be able to hang on to the gift for a year. Furthermore, many people have food allergies now so you have to be very careful with the type of ingredients that you select. If you do decide to use chocolate, please do not settle for poor quality chocolate to save on costs. This is bad taste (pun intended)!

Capture.JPG

Some of the best wedding favours I have seen are the ones that have special significance for the couple. For example, my friend donated money to a charitable organization that she feels strongly about on behalf of her guests. Each guest got a bookmark to thank them for their contribution. I think this is a great idea because it is for a good cause and it is a great way to promote awareness of this organization. My friend who is a home economics teacher, gave out mini spatulas, which was really cute and help reminds me that she teaches cooking!

Capture 4

So what have I decided to do for my own wedding favours? I have decided to give out handmade soaps that are made by one of my bridesmaids! My bestie has just started her soap-making business and I want to show her my full support! My wedding will be a great platform for others to find out about her awesome soaps.

Capture.JPG

Nana+Livy Handmade Bath Treats makes handcraft soaps which are only made with natural, food ingredients and are nutritious for your skin! They also come in various, playful and attractive colours which are very appealing. I have tried Nana+Livy Handmade Bath Treats’ soaps before and they are very moisturizing and smells amazing! Also, I know that each one will be handmade with love by my friend!

Capture 2

They are able to customize your soap with the colour, packaging and logo that you want. I have chosen to go with no packaging to keep it green! You can visit their site here to place you custom order: https://www.nanaxlivy.com/custom-order/

Keifer and I also picked soaps as a wedding favour because it is practical so you will remember us every time you use it! 🙂 Keifer and I are both also avid soap users; every time I travel, I always bring home with me a new piece of soap! I can’t wait to see 130 of these little guys all stacked up on my wedding day! It is going to look and smell so pretty! I hope my guests enjoy them as much as we do!

Capture

 

 

 

 

The Wedding Dress

I think every bride has the same struggle with their wedding dress…

I want to find the PERFECT dress for the biggest day of my life but I don’t want to break the bank for a dress that I’m only going to wear for a few hours and only once!!!

This was the story of my life for the last three months until I finally bought my dress! I had set a budget of $1,200 for my wedding dress including alterations. It is a feasible budget but choices are definitely more limited. I was open to either renting or buying a dress because I do not intend to keep the dress afterwards; I do not have space in my condo to store it!

Capture 2.JPG

1.Rental 

There are various studios in town (i.e. Bello, Lovely Wedding, HN, Charlie) that provide rental services which includes dry cleaning and alterations. The prices range from $300 to $1,200 depending on the style. It is much cheaper if you get it with their photography package. If you decide to rent, I would definitely go for a package as on average, their basic package costs $2,100 which includes engagement shoot, wedding dress and evening gown rental, make up and also a photo album. Although their wedding dresses can be altered to fit different sizes, if you are a bigger size, you definitely have very limited options. I did try on some rental dresses but they were not the style I was looking for. Nonetheless, rental option is good for brides who do not intend to keep the dress and wants to save some time on dress shopping.

2. Purchase 

Purchasing a wedding dress does not necessarily mean you will have to pay more than renting. If you are able to find a wedding dress on sale, you could actually pay less than a rental, keep the dress afterwards and wear your dream dress! If you do not want to keep the dress, there is always an option to sell it online. Most people are able to recoup 50% of the cost of the dress. There are many wedding fairs and dress sales held in the Lower Mainland with dresses discounted by 40%-60%. Most of them are advertised on Facebook and are free to attend. Just make sure you arrive early because the line ups can get very long; they only allow approximately 20 brides in at once due to limited space. Also, sizes and styles are limited so the earlier you go, the more choices you have. Make sure you check ahead of time to see whether they accept credit cards and if make up is allowed (make up will stain the dresses).

There are also many bridal stores in Lower Mainland to visit. There are a few in Richmond, an entire block in New Westminster, and a few on Main Street. David’s Bridal in Langley definitely has the largest selection. You may even consider driving down to the David’s Bridal in Washington which is said to have even more selection than their Langley branch. Make sure you make appointments ahead of time as most stores do not accept walk-ins. Appointments are free and are approximately 1.5 hours each. Since they are on the same block, you should make back to back appointments for the ones in New Westminster so you can hit them all on the same day. You will need at least 3-4 hours.

With purchases, they do have leverage with the prices in stores. It never hurts to ask for a discount or something free (i.e. accessories, alterations). They could also give you a further discount for a “cash-carry” (ie. pay by cash). Also, different stores have sample sales at various times through the year. Call ahead of time and find out when they have their sale which will also help you save a few more bucks.

Some people will choose to purchase their dress online. There are many websites now that sell wedding dresses such as Aliexpress or Taobao which are much cheaper than purchasing one at a brick and mortar shop. However, I do caution against this as I have heard of dresses brought which appeared different than the photos online. Also, custom duty may be charged and significant alterations may be required. These may outweigh any cost savings.

3. Custom Made

There is also the third option which is to make your own dress! If you cannot find the perfect dress out there, you can always have it custom made. This option is typically the most expensive but sometimes could actually help you save some money if you had picked a designer dress and had it replicated. Most bridal stores actually offer this service so it does not hurt to ask! Also, if you see any dresses that you like but they did not have your size in the store, they could just order the dress in your size, usually at no additional charge. The down side of making your own dress is also the lead time. You will need to order your dress at least six months in advance. Even though the dress is custom made, further alternations may still be required so there be additional alteration costs. For me, the biggest headache was explaining to the tailor the exact dress that I want. I showed her pictures of different dresses and told her what I wanted to include from each one for my dress. Apparently, it does not work that way! You need to actually provide one picture that has all the elements that you want….but if I COULD find a dress that had all the components that I wanted, why would I need to have it custom made?!? After three attempts, I decided to give up on this option.

Trying on dresses

Capture 3.JPG

You should go to various stores to try on wedding dresses to see what style you look the best in. Don’t dismiss a dress simply because you do not like the style! Be open to trying on different styles until you are able to narrow down a few criteria that are the most important to you. As you try on more dresses, you will also pick up more of the dress lingo (i.e. A line, applique lace, sweet heart, etc.) too!

Make sure you bring no more than two people at a time to accompany you with dress shopping as sometimes too many opinions can cause you headaches. Also, make sure the people you bring will provide you with honest feedback about how you look! You may have a few “THIS IS IT” moment with a number of dresses, but make sure you go home and spend some time to think it through. Bring that friend who discourages impulse buying!

They always ask for your budget before you try on dresses. I think it is okay to try on dresses that are at most $300 over your budget in anticipation that you should get a discount. However, I would not go more than that as you may find a beautiful dress that you simply cannot afford or you will blow your budget! I personally felt it was very condescending when the sales persons roll their eyes at me when I tell them my budget is only $1,200. They will tell you that you will only find dresses in their sale section which usually is always at the back of the store. Talk about the walk of shame! Then I get the second eye roll when I tell them my size. The sales person snobbishly says “Sample wedding dresses are made in size 4-6 only. We don’t carry too much of the larger sizes”. Every time I go dress shopping, it is a big hit to my self-esteem!!  Therefore, it is important to buy your dress at a store where you feel comfortable with the sales person. You should never walk out of the bridal store feeling defeated or discouraged!

Capture

I Said Yes to the Dress!

I was feeling quite burnout from all the dress shopping at this point. After visiting at least 20 shops and trying on 40 dresses, I felt like I just had enough!! Rentals did not seem like a viable option for me and the miscommunication with the custom-made tailor was making me pull my hair out!

I initially had scheduled an appointment at a bridal store in Chilliwack which had a store closing sale. Good thing I asked the store whether they had dresses in the style I liked before I went. They said no so I cancelled the appointment and saved myself three hours of driving. Instead, I decided to visit two bridal shops on Main Street. I decided that if I did not find anything I like that day, I would just go for a custom made dress.

My first appointment was with Tiffany’s Bridal. My consultant was very nice and she made me feel very welcome. I was also glad to see that they had a much larger selection of dresses in my size! Their prices are also very reasonable. They also allow you to take pictures. We tried on a few that looked pretty good on me.

Afterwards, we headed over to our next appointment at Action Liquidator. When we arrived, my bridesmaid and I were a little surprised by the store front. The store looked like a thrift shop more than a bridal store. When we went in, the lady told us that there are only three dresses in my size as they do not normally carry too much inventory in my size. The three dresses had actually just came in from Montreal so she actually did not have the chance yet to check out the dresses. With no expectations, we took the three dresses to try on. Out of the three, two of them looked amazing on me! Both dresses were nice in their own way and had different styles. Not to mention, the price of both dresses were very attractive! Torn between the two, I decided to put a hold on both dresses and went home to think about it further. I could only hold the dresses until the next day so I had very little time to make up my mind.

After  consulting with a few friends and my photographer, I made up my mind. I picked the first dress which gave me the “THIS IS IT” feeling! Next day, I phoned in and paid for it! The dress checked off all the boxes but the style. I wanted a more poof-y dress with a longer train. However, we realized that we could compensate it with a cathedral veil!

Finally, the search for the perfect dress is now complete. Now and then I just take out my wedding dress from my closet and look at it with a big content smile….

 

 

 

The Venue

Over the next few months, I will share my planning and decision making processes for different aspects of the wedding!

I am first going to start with the venue as that is one of the most important elements and is also one that needs to be decided as early as possible because popular venues are often booked one year in advance!

There are a few key questions you have to think about when selecting your venue:

  1. What are some adjectives that describes your dream venue?
  2. Approximately how many people are you inviting?
  3. What is my budget? 

After you have come up with answers for the above, you can now start doing research!

If you are expecting a small wedding party (ie. under 20), I would highly recommend considering a destination wedding! There are potential cost savings if you pick a location where you could have both your wedding and honeymoon. K and I attended a wedding fair hosted by Romantic Planet Vacations which specialize in destination weddings. The fair was very informative and there were many vendors who attended. The admission was free and they also provided free snacks and prizes!

Initially, I was keen on picking Hatley Castle in Victoria as our wedding venue since it checked off all my boxes. I wanted a classic, romantic and vintage venue which was intimate (120 people), provides catering services and was under $20,000. When I visited this castle two years ago on a day tour, I already knew this was my dream venue! The wedding coordinator, Jennifer Smith, was also very friendly and informative during our interactions on the phone and at the site visit. Unfortunately, we decided not to go ahead with this venue because we realized it would cause too much inconvenience for our guests as they would have to figure out transportation and lodging in Victoria.

So….we were back to square one. There are not many venues in Vancouver that meet my criteria so that made my job slightly easier! There are many nice venues downtown but they were way above my budget. Many of them had minimum food spending which was equivalent to the budget for my ENTIRE wedding.

I figured it was impossible to find a single venue that would meet all my criteria so I decided to split the budget between two venues – a classic, romantic and vintage venue for my ceremony and a  reasonably priced venue with great food for the reception!

I knew the UBC Hycroft Manor was the closest thing I could find to Hatley Castle in Vancouver so this was my first choice for the ceremony. Half day rental for Hycroft is $3,500 (9 am to 1 pm on Saturday and Sundays or 3 pm to 7 pm for Sundays only) and $6,950 for full day rental (8 hours for Friday, Saturday and Sunday). I selected the half day rental as a full day exceeded my budget. Furthermore, the venue is a tight fit for the size of my reception. Rebekah, the coordinator at Hycroft, is very responsive and friendly! She took my mom and I for a one hour site visit which was done very thoroughly. Apparently, if you join their membership, you get a discount on the rental. Unfortunately I found out about it too late so make sure you look into it before booking!

Capture 3.JPG

For the reception, I narrowed down my list to the following:

  1. Cecile Green Park House

 Pros: Reasonably priced, spacious, offers UBC alumni discount for rentals and can do lunch or dinner reception

Cons: Caterer was slow to reply with quote, food reviews are mediocre and set up time is limited as there are more than one event per day

Capture

2.  Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse

Pros: Free parking, free full day rental, and pricing is all inclusive ($85/person – even taxess and tips!)

Cons: Venue looks simplistic (much decor needed) and far from home

Capture 1.JPG

 

3.  River Rock Casino

Pros: Close to home, free full day rental, and awesome wedding packages (i.e. free night stay, breakfast buffet, valet parking for bridal party, free glass of house wine per person)

Cons: Venue looks simplistic (much decor needed) and limited scenic photo spots

Capture 2

4. SFU Diamond Alumni Center

Pros: Offers SFU alumni discount, rustic venue, beautiful view, wide variety of food options, and reasonable price

Cons: Paid parking and far from home

Capture 4.JPG

In the end, I picked SFU Diamond Alumni Center because the alumni discount really helped lower the overall cost and the Center has sentimental value to me as it reminds me of my University Days where we would always be there after class for CA recruit! The venue and its view are breathtaking which would help us save some time since we can also do our wedding photos there!

Don’t forget to put a deposit  down as soon as you have decided on the venue as the deposit helps secure your booking!