Engagement Photos

It’s fall! And besides pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, and weekend walks through the leaves— fall is an extremely popular time to take engagement photos.

Since Dillon and I aren’t getting married until spring 2017, we won’t be getting ours done this fall, however I know many couples that are getting married in 2016 who have opted to take their engagement photos during this amazing time of year.

Adam Franc PhotographyImage from: Adam Franc Photography

I have heard MANY brides and grooms alike groan at the thought of even doing an engagement photo session; “They are just so ridiculous—we’ll look so awkward gazing into each others eyes” or “Honestly, what is the point, who needs these pictures of us?” or “This is a huge waste of money, we have plenty of photos together”. Well, listen, I get it, but let me give you a few reasons why engagement photos are actually a pretty important part of the wedding planning process:

  • You’re right… it will probably be awkward and feel a little strange. But would you prefer to work the kinks out now or on your wedding day? An engagement session with your chosen wedding photographer is probably one of the greatest services you can take advantage of before the big day. Both you and your photographer will get the feel for how each other operates, you’ll learn to feel comfortable in front of a professional camera, and you’ll get the opportunity to fix any weird smiles or creepy poses you come up with—and your wedding photos won’t suffer.
  • Engagement photos can be used for save-the-dates, wedding invitations, nice photos to display at your wedding/shower/rehearsal dinner, to put in your cubicle to make your work friends jealous of how amazing you and your fiancé look, or to bedazzle your Facebook photos with high class images of you as a couple (because it’s likely the rest of the photos of the two of you include alcohol or couples Halloween costumes)—why not step it up a little?
  • Worrying about the cost? Most wedding photographers see the value in having an engagement session (see point #1) so they include it in their wedding photo packages. If it’s included why not take advantage of it? I bet you’ll be surprised at how good they turn out and you’ll feel a lot less anxious about wedding day paparazzi.

Paul Sanderson PhotographyImage from: Paul Sanderson Photography

Okay—so now that we’ve agreed there is value in doing engagement photos and you have booked your session with an amazing photographer… what now?

  • Choose a location that means something to you as a couple. Maybe the spot where you got engaged, the first place you met, or doing something you both enjoy doing together. If all else fails and you have no clue where to go, your photographer should be able to suggest some awesome and unique locations that you can check out as the backdrop for your photoshoot.
  • What to wear. I recommend that whatever you choose, you should feel comfortable in it. Whether its Loubs and a tutu or jeans and an oversized sweater, be yourselves. Obviously there is pressure to look good and show off the best sides of yourselves, but the best photos are the ones where you look most like you—you’ll feel more confident and your happiness will radiate if you are comfy in your selection.
  • If you want to wear heels, do it. But unless you walk in them everyday, bring some flats to travel around in on the day of the shoot. Its pretty common that you will walk between a few different locations for your photos and you don’t want to have the heels digging into the dirt or grass or being uber uncomfortable to walk in.
  • Be open to ideas. The photographer is the professional, so if they suggest you should stand a certain way or gaze in a particular direction, they are probably right! That being said sending your photographer some images you love from Pinterest to give him/her an idea of what you’re looking for will definitely be helpful before the shoot!
  • Last, but not least, have fun! This is just one of the wedding planning experiences you likely won’t get to do again in your life. So don’t stress too much about every detail and instead just enjoy the process. Flirt, laugh, and kiss when you want to—a good photographer will capture these little moments and those will probably be some of your favourite shots.

Adam Franc PhotographyImage from: Adam Franc Photography

Anyways, I can’t wait to see all of the recent engagement sessions pop up on my Instagram or Facebook feeds in the next few weeks! So enjoy your photo sessions and take it all in—you’ll be sure to gain at least a few tips and tricks to bring to your wedding day photography when you decide to embark on the engagement photo journey!

Until next time…


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Expert Tips: Bridesmaid Dress Trends

I am super excited to have partnered up with the Pastel Dress Party to get some amazing tips for the blog about current bridesmaid dress trends. We encourage everyone to check out this awesome read and if you’re heading to the Ottawa Wedding Show this weekend be sure to stop and chat with the ladies at the Pastel Dress Party Booth! Enjoy!

EXPERT TIPS: 5 bridesmaid dress trends that you need to try!

Bridesmaids are the heart and soul of the bridal party. They’re there every step of the way from the beginning of planning to the very last dance of the big day. The bride will always be the main star of the show, but why not have your girls feel trendy and like the leading ladies of the big day?

We’ve put together a few of our favourite bridesmaid dress trends to give you and your bridal party some ideas to talk about while you’re all helping with the latest wedding reception DIY!

We wanted to share a few of our favourite bridesmaid dress trends to help kick off that conversation with your girls that everyone would love and appreciate!

Trend #1: Mix and Match Styles, but Same Colour/ Colour Palette

Pastel Dress PartyPhoto by Jessilynn Wong Photography via Pastel Dress Party

While the most common look for bridesmaids is to be in the same dress in the same colour, times have changed! Brides are often giving their girls a chance to wear a dress style that flatters their shape, but stays within the colour palette of the wedding. It’s a little less traditional and one that definitely strays away from that “ugly bridesmaid dress” nightmare!

Trend # 2: Mix and Match Colours, but Same style

Pastel Dress PartyPhoto by Jessilynn Wong Photography via Pastel Dress Party

Mixing and matching colours but in the same dress style is a little new. It gives the bridal party the chance to choose a colour that’s better suited for their skintone, but still have the same uniformed look as everyone else. It’s also good because this takes off some of the pressure of the bridal to select just ONE colour for her girls. Having a few preselected colours within the same colourscheme should please even the pickiest of bridesmaids!

Trend # 3: Mix and Match Colours and Styles

Pastel Dress PartyPhoto by Jessilynn Wong Photography via Pastel Dress Party

A trend that we’re seeing popping up a lot more often is having the bridesmaids in a mix and match of different colours and styles. With a preselected colour palette and preselected styles, the bridal party has complete freedom of what they’re wearing for the big day. This ensures that the girls are just as pleased as the bride on the wedding day and increases the chances of them re-wearing it again!

Trend #4: Floral

Pastel Dress PartyPhoto by Paula O’Hara via One Fab Day

This trend isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely a little less traditional than the other trends we’ve shown you! Having a floral patterned bridal party gives it a bit of a whimsical feel, something straight out of a fairy tale. It may not be for everyone, but the pictures always come out gorgeous.

Trend #5: Sparkles

sparklyPhoto by Harwell Photography via Grey Likes Weddings

Go big or go home! Sparkles aren’t limited to just the bride! Add a bit of sequins to the dresses or accessorize them with a belt! It will give that extra shine to an already bright day!

We’d love to know which trend you love the most! What would you have for your bridal party? Let us know!

xo Pastel Dress Party

About Pastel Dress Party

As expert bridesmaids, we understand that it is no longer feasible for global bridal parties with members all over the world to shop together in person – we create an experience where the bridal party can shop for attires painlessly, get virtual styling services, and still be social with the rest of the team. Pastel Dress Party is a one-stop online boutique offering attires for the modern bridal party. Our signature product – bridesmaid dresses are all made-to-measure and can be customized to fit the bridal party’s need. Since 2013, we have served numerous bridal parties from North America to the UK and Australia, let us join your party today!

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The Bro’s Guide to Wedding Planning

Happy belated-Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you all ate too much turkey and enjoyed the gorgeous long weekend weather. Don’t you wish it could stay like this forever? I do. I like long drives, red leaves, and the fall wind blowing through my hair. Anyways…

Awhile back, I asked one of my guy friends, who recently got married, if he would consider writing a guest blog for me. Partly, because I thought it would be useful for any grooms-to-be and partly because he is hilarious and I thought it would make for great content. He happily obliged and wrote the piece below. Enjoy with caution and remember that I’m not the writer… the writer is a true ‘guy’s guy’ and approached this blog with the same candor.

Regardless, I would like to thank my friend “BD” for writing this for me (he decided to go with a pseudonym to make him look more mysterious) and I hope you all enjoy this lighthearted read coming off the long weekend!

Until next time…


Ashley Notley PhotographyImage from: Ashley Notley Photography

“The Bro’s Guide to Wedding Planning” by BD

I love weddings. I recently got married. My wedding was awesome. Best wedding ever.

I used to be (and still am) the guy who loved going to weddings, abusing the open bar and midnight cupcakes/pizza/poutine bar. However, my landscape changed when it was now my turn to plan a wedding with the assistance of my beautiful bride. Our time, our money, etc. Different story altogether.

Follow these steps, and save yourself some time and some much needed cash. Some of these steps may seem crazy at first, but after careful review I ensure you… they work. These steps are applicable for the groom planning a wedding 2 years away or 2 months away.

Remember, every dollar saved adds up and allows you to save it to spend it on the next 80” TV, waterbed, or other essential household items you may want to indulge in.

Trust me. I’m essentially an expert at this point.

Key Tips

  1. Still looking for the engagement ring? Bring her sister, mom or girlfriends. Make them feel a part of the process. Spend what you think is fair and then spend double. It’s just the right thing to do (I’m looking out for you ladies…)
  1. Get a wedding credit card- right after you get engaged, get a loyalty credit card and put all of your wedding expenses on this card. By the time the wedding is over, you should have enough for a honeymoon flight somewhere nice… or at least maybe enough for a trip to Buffalo.
  1. Go to wedding shows- and bring your single buddies. Nothing says digits like single bridesmaids walking around a convention centre geared up and ready to plan a wedding of their own. Also, there are lots of free samples of cake, drinks, food, etc. at these shows. It also provides you with the opportunity to meet the vendors in the flesh and ensure they know what they’re doing and don’t suck. I met my vendors at the wedding show and had a great experience with each of them.
  1. It’s all about the bride- whatever your future wife wants, give it to her. It’s her day not yours. Just show up the day of the wedding somewhat freshly shaven, in a decent suit, preferably showered, and make sure you don’t forget anyone’s name.
  1. Bride’s family- be nice and include them in the decisions as more than likely they are paying for a good chunk of the wedding, and even if they aren’t, it’s the right thing to do.
  1. Dress- let her get whatever she wants. Sell blood, strip on the side, be a stunt double, attack dog trainer, do something. Give her the dress she wants and deserves. You want this to be her first and only wedding, right?
  1. Everything is negotiable- As Heisenberg once told me, everything is negotiable. If you are on a budget, ask what can be done to get your venue or vendor within your budget. No harm in asking. Also, there is nothing wrong with the answer “ok i will get back to you”. Much like buying a car– look around, price shop, compare service and reputability—its well-worth the research and potential money-saved.
  1. Get a videographer. After all, a video of your wedding spliced to the music of John Legend is priceless. But seriously, you can share the video with all of your friends and family, watch the day from everyone else’s point of view, and it also provides a good opportunity for future employers to see how awesome your wedding was. They will hire you.
  1. Men’s rings- you could spend $1000 on your wedding band for yourself, or you could go online and get one that looks just as good. It’s your call. I like money, and wanted to keep some in my pocket and bought my ring online.
  1. Suit Change- if you’re like me and you sweat like Rob Ford, bring a change of suit for after the ceremony. This way you will look fresh for photos and partying and also bring an element of Clark Kent into the evening.
  1. Remember that food and booze is king- people remember two things: How the bride looks, and if the food was any good. Open bar and delicious food is a must.
  1. Cake- Everyone wants a giant cake that looks awesome. My suggestion? Go with a small cake and a large amount of cupcakes. This is the best value as only 20% of people eat the cake anyways. The cake is in 2 photos and then gets forgotten. Plus you can throw cupcakes at people later in the evening if they are getting too rowdy.
  1. Bachelor Party is your wedding- the wedding is nice… but the bachelor party is really your wedding. Go all out, and your boys will make sure it is the best weekend of your life… before your wedding weekend of course. Go to Vegas, Nashville, NYC, Miami, Boston or Montreal.

Final words of wisdom:

Wedding weekend is all about friends, family, and seeing some people you have never met before and pretending like you know them. If you can sandwich a game of golf with your boys into the weekend, make it happen. Otherwise, just do whatever your wife wants and try not to pass out.

— BD

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Boobyball Ottawa

Will you be at Ottawa’s best party of 2015?

Boobyball Ottawa

Who doesn’t love a good party for a good cause? And by good party, I seriously mean one of the most epic and enticing fundraising events for young philanthropists that Ottawa has ever seen.

Although its Ottawa’s first year hosting its own event, Boobyball is now one of the most coveted and high profile fundraising events in Toronto, Calgary, and Winnipeg— and Ottawa is SO lucky to finally have a seat at the Boobyball table!

Over the past 12 years Boobyball has raised over 3.4 million dollars for Rethink Breast Cancer, the young women’s breast cancer movement that brings bold, relevant awareness to the 40s and under crowd.

I am so lucky to be part of the committee that is making this amazing event happen and we cannot wait to host you at this year’s space themed event!

“Prepare to be transported to another dimension, where aliens and space cadets mingle at the bar, while droids and storm troopers join forces on the dance floor. Whether you’re thinking Judy Jetson or Captain Kirk, we encourage you to dress to impress and watch the planets align as sci-fi goes glam for this epic Rethink Breast Cancer fundraiser.”

Boobyball Ottawa is taking place on Friday, November 13th at the hottest new event space in town. With its industrial feel and amazing location at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park, we are excited to take over the Horticultural Building and turn it into a planet of its own!

Sure to be the best party of the year, your ticket will include complimentary bar service, an out of this world gift bag, phenomenal entertainment and so much more!

I highly recommend and encourage you to get all your friends together and join us at the social event of the year. It is going to be such an amazing time and I would hate for you to miss it!

To buy your tickets and to find our more, head to: http://boobyball.rethinkbreastcancer.com/ and remember to tell them Courtney Norris sent you 😉

See you in space earthlings!!!


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You can definitely wear it again!

Many a joke has been made throughout history of the downfalls of being asked to be a bridesmaid. When each of us was a little girl we probably all promised the girls on the schoolyard that they would be in our wedding party, but as we get older and you start to understand the undertaking of being a bridesmaid… some ladies cringe at the thought of the ugly taffeta they may be forced to wear to be a part of their best girls special day.

Let me first start by saying, I am so excited to be a part of two of my best friend’s weddings in the summer of 2016 as a bridesmaid. I cannot wait to share their special day with them and support them in any way they need me. I was over the moon when each of them asked me to be up there with them and look so forward to the process!

But since I have recently gone shopping with my girls (and found amazing gowns that I am obsessed with!) I thought this weeks post could be on how to go bridesmaid dress shopping with your bridesmaids and still have them love you at the end of the process (because my girls have done an amazing job at making us feel heard and I’d love to share some tips!)

I’m sure you have chosen amazing friends who are truly happy for you and this amazing day in your life. But do not forget to put yourself in their shoes when you ask them to go shopping for the dress they’ll be wearing when they stand beside you… ‘Hey girl! Let’s go shopping!? I’ll chose a few dresses, you can try them all on, come out and everyone will judge you in it, then even if it isn’t your favourite, I’ll make you buy it, in a colour that is not great on your skin tone and highlights the one area of your body you hate, and it will cost you a few hundred dollars, then when it comes in you’ll probably have to get it altered for even more money!!! but It will be so fun!!!’

I think probably every bride has said ‘omg I’ll totally pick a dress you can wear again’ and ‘I for sure won’t pick one that’s expensive… Like I just wouldn’t do that to you guys’. Stop lying. Embrace this. You’re the bride– yolo. But just remember your friends in the process!

Weddings are inherently expensive. Being selected as a bridesmaid is not only one of the biggest honours you will receive as a friend, it’s also one of the biggest financial commitments. They have to buy a dress, travel to a bachelorette, help plan and attend your bridal shower (with gifts), travel to your wedding (and bring a gift), buy shoes, get their hair/makeup done, etc.) Again, obviously its super fun to be included in all of these amazing events, but if you aren’t made of money, it can be tough.

Speaking here as a girl who is now a bride to be myself, but also a bridesmaid in two weddings next year– it’s your wedding. The ladies have to wear something, and it has to look good in your pictures that YOU will have forever– choose whatever YOU want. Seriously. Don’t let any one make you feel overly bad. This is part of your process. (I am honestly the biggest bride advocate in the league.) What baby wants baby gets!

But that being said, be mindful that through this super fun process for you, you’re bringing along a bunch of girls to buy something they probably won’t ever wear again— even if you think they can get it shortened, wear it to a gala, or at another wedding… lets be honest it will probably end up in the back of their closet for the rest of time.

Best way to handle this? Be real with them! ‘Ladies I know I am asking you to spend money on a dress you will likely never wear again, but believe me, I am super happy I have you guys by my side for this! I love you for being my besties! Let’s get some champagne and buy you some dresses!!’ *ensue group hug*

This way, they get that you get that this may not be the ultimate shopping experience for them butttt they know that you love them and their friendship, so they are now more primed to be happy for you and excited when they come out in their sexy chiffon!

There are a few different ways to do bridesmaids dresses these days that can also help your girls love you even more after the experience:

  • Have them choose their own dresses. You set the limitations but they are free to choose what they want, where they want to buy it from, and how much it will cost. You could say “I want you all in some shade of pink” or “they have to be long, but you pick the shade of pastel”. Then they can just send pictures before they buy to make sure it fits with your day, but at least you have given them (mostly) complete freedom to buy what they want, what fits their body best, and MAY be something they would wear again.
Brett Heidebrecht Photography
Brett Heidebrecht Photography
Ryan Ray Photography
Ryan Ray Photography


  • Choose mismatched dresses on your own. Whether its some short, some long, different colours or patterns, different styles or fits. You tell the girls the designer or material but then allow them to each pick a style of dress that will fit their body perfectly or at least be a colour that suits them best. It can also look really cool in photos!
Jenelle Kappe Photography
Jenelle Kappe Photography
Gia Canali Photography
Gia Canali Photography
  • Choose one dress for all. Old-school style. But buy your girls a glass of wine after you shop and remind them they all look like smokeshows in the dress they’re going to wear on your big day.
Archetype Studios Inc.
Archetype Studios Inc.
Kate Robinson Photography
Kate Robinson Photography

Bridesmaid dress shopping can be honestly such a fun time for you and your gals to get together to choose the special outfit they will wear to stand by your side on your wedding day.

Enjoy the process and stand your ground, but just remember your besties in the process and try to make it a fun time for them too!

Until next time…


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Love and Sports

So when I started this blog a few months ago I promised I would infuse a little bit of myself into each of the posts I did to help give my readers (and hopefully some potential future clients) a look into who I am as a person and a planner.

This weeks topic came to me while driving home from Buffalo, NY yesterday while I collected my life together in the passengers seat after what was an epic NFL home opener weekend.

For the last 6 years my friends and I have made the trek to hit up at least one Buffalo Bills game per season. If you have never tailgated before, may I suggest you try it—and if you have, I am sure you can understand why I would have been collecting my life together almost 24 hours after the game on Sunday… let’s just say it was a long-weekend for ol’ Courtney.

I’d like to start by clarifying that I am by no means a sports aficionado—I do not watch sports because I understand their intricacies— I simply enjoy the atmosphere of having thousands of people gathered together to support a common effort, I appreciate the ability to buy a new blue and red outfit every year without my fiancé getting mad that I’m spending money, and let’s get serious… the stadium pizza is delicious.

I think you could say that sports are one of the main things that brought Dillon and I together. We met while working together for the Ottawa Senators hockey team in 2010 and I like to think that part of the reason he loves me is because I love watching sports with him (ok… if I am being truthful I mostly just like eating the bad food, playing the 50/50 odds, and hoping the Kiss Cam finds us).


We have been to many a Bills game, Sens game, college hockey game, and even spent last Valentine’s day in Syracuse at a university basketball game. So I thought I would write a little post today about how to tastefully include you or your fiance’s love for sports in your wedding.

I know that ‘tastefully’ including ‘sports’ in your ‘classy’ wedding seems like the ultimate contradiction, but hear me out… adding unique touches to your wedding can help make it the amazing event everybody wishes they were invited to once they see your pictures.

I AM NOT suggesting that you should coordinate your wedding colours to your favourite sports team’s… that would likely be horrid. I’d like to simply suggest small touches here and there that can give your wedding a bit of fun without going over the top… here are a few neat and charming ideas:

1. Stationary. What about a sports-themed save-the-date if you’re planning to have a fun and casual wedding? Or cool escort cards to tell guests which table they are at?


Image: TheInviStation | As seen on: “Etsy: Printable Save the Date Sports Ticket


IMAGE FROM: http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/centerpiece-ideas-and-favors-new-york-yankees-baseball-theme-wedding/#axzz2PGOriIAL

2. Guestbook. Instead of a bunch of signatures in a notebook you will likely never look at again, why not try getting guests to sign a jersey, helmet, stick, or ball?


IMAGE FROM: http://www.onewed.com/photos/show/have-guests-sign-football-or-basketball-at-welcome-table-for-a-cute-wedding-keepsake


IMAGE FROM: https://www.disneyweddings.com/my-wedding-space/dream-boards/inspiration-gallery/categories/decor/


Image: Barnyard Photography | As seen on “Sarah & Steve’s DIY Baseball Themed Wedding on Capitol Romance

3. Garter belt. Why not surprise your fella with a garter of his favourite sports team while he is awkwardly digging under your tulle in front of your entire gathering of family and friends??


Image: sewuniquegarters | As seen on: “Etsy: Ottawa Senators NHL Bridal Garter

4. Gifts for your wedding party. Cufflinks can be an awesome gift for the groomsmen and father’s of the bride and groom—pick their favourite team and this is a gift they’ll actually enjoy forever! Or maybe get jersey’s made up for the morning-of photography?


Image: Melissa Weber Photography | As seen on: “Megan & Zach’s Wedding”


IMAGE FROM: http://www.bridalpartytees.com/design/2b6d5c1f2b530d19934f0fc39d70f9fc_5271311?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=pin&utm_campaign=popular

5. Fun Extras. Maybe get some ‘woo-hoo’ towels or coloured pom-poms to give to your guests to cheer you on as you enter the reception for the first time as husband and wife?


Image: Evin Photography | As seen on: “Bridal Guide: Touchdown! Football-Themed Weddings

6. Photography. Perhaps use your engagement photos to show your unique personalities and represent who you are as a couple, get some sexy sporty boudoir photos done up, or ask your favourite sports team if you can do cool wedding photos in or around the stadium or arena?


Image: Agape House Studio | As seen on: “Kristina & Blake Houston Engagement


Image: Blush Photography | As seen on:  IMAGE FROM: Vancouver Boudoir Photography – For the Hockey Fans!


Image: Erin F Photography | IMAGE FROM: “Photo Session at The Ralph

Having special elements that make your wedding day unique are usually the things people will remember the most! Whatever it is that makes you and your fiancé ‘different’ don’t be afraid to use that to add some oomph to this special day!

Until next time…


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Dress Shopping

This past week I was fortunate enough to be able to go with one of my best friends to check out some wedding dresses for her wedding next summer. This was a pretty random idea of ours… she wasn’t having a great week, I was bored—so we got the bright idea that maybe we go check out some gowns. No parents, no other friends—just us in Lulu’s and sweaters ‘checking out’ a fairly new store in Ottawa that was close to where we live.

There was no real thought behind going, we just wanted something to do. Of special note here is this was my first experience being around a selection of gorgeous wedding gowns in real life. As a wedding professional, some of you might be wondering how this is my very first time even perusing these beauties. Well frankly, I’m fairly superstitious, and although there has been many a sample sale or trunk show I have wanted to hit up over the last few years… I needed to be engaged before I actually set foot in one of these stores with even the idea that I might want to try one on. Let’s just say I put high value on this type of experience, so it’s kind of weird we just went on a whim…

…Anyways, I guess I was able to justify it because I went in with the notion that this was a trip solely for my friend. Although yes, I am engaged now, I still didn’t feel right trying on any gowns. I don’t know if part of it was because I still don’t feel worthy (like its pretty crazy I am a bride-to-be..), or if its because my mom and sister weren’t with me (my planned go-to wedding dress shopping attendees), or if its because I am not getting married until 2017 (slow your roll Courtney… you have two years to find something)… regardless, this was my homegirl’s day, and I wanted her to feel that it was special.

That being said, she was one of those dedicated people that stood in the ridiculous line a few weeks ago to see what the McCaffrey Bankruptcy sale had to offer. I mean who doesn’t like the idea of getting a couture gown for much, much, less than its worth… but unfortunately for her, she did not walk out with a snazzy and bankroll-friendly gown… She did however get a gorgeous veil and an even better sunburn! So it wasn’t a complete loss.

I can say with confidence, that she is a girl who knows what she wants. I guess most ladies have some sort of idea of what they picture themselves in on their wedding day. Whether its big and classic, or skin-tight and sexy… we all have a general plan of what we’re looking for. But as any good Say Yes to the Dress junkie knows, you often don’t walk out with what you originally thought you would.

Anyways, she had been creeping this store and one of its collections for a few months now. So as soon as we got in we were greeted by two very sweet sisters who were eager to help. It was a Tuesday afternoon, so it was quiet and we had the store to ourselves—no appointment required (which is pretty unusual, so if you are a bride-to-be call ahead to make sure the store of your choice is open to you).

My friend immediately showed them the dress she for sure wanted and was pretty set on the fact that this would be the dress she would be walking out with. But obviously, we made her try on numerous other ones ‘just in case’… and also, because I wanted to see her struggle to get in and out of tulle on a hot day… haha.

I’ll start this next thought by stating that I suppose you could call me an emotional person… I mean I cry every time I watch The Notebook and I love love… but I didn’t think her trying on dresses on a random Tuesday would get to me like it did.

The first dress she walked out in blew me away (and this wasn’t even the best one). How is it that my friend, who I have known since I was in the 7th grade is now standing in front of me in a wedding gown.. *cue feelings*. A wave of emotions ran over me—“Wow, she looks beautiful” “Jesus… how did we get to be so old…” “Hm… I wonder how good the next one will look” “Nice… she doesn’t even have to lose weight… lucky her…”

As I thought it would be… trying on wedding dresses was a big deal. Dress after dress seemed to look better than the last. She was able to narrow it down quite quickly that mermaid’s and fit and flare’s looked best on her body type. So we stuck with those (even though I was pushing some aggressive tulle on her… she didn’t bite). One of the last dresses she tried on was the one. It fit her like a glove, it was unique, it was sexy but church-worthy, it was her perfect dress. I am obsessed for her.

At that point, the saleswoman suggested we narrow it down—we got it to three possible contenders– but yet again, the last one won hands down in the battle of the bridal gown, time and time again.

Obviously, she wanted her parents to see it in person before she bought it (fair enough… we did just go shopping on a whim), so she went back this past weekend ANDDDD I am so excited to announce that she found her gown and officially purchased it after her parents agreed it was on point and the absolute perfect gown for her!!!


All in all, I would like to end this blog post with a few take away tips for any brides planning to go shopping for their dress:

  • Have a price in mind. It is one of the first thing a sales person will ask you. Gowns can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Pick an amount you feel comfortable with and remember alterations, veils, and belts cost more—so if your entire dress budget is $4000 and you want a veil and a belt, look for dresses that are $3000-3500. When in doubt, advise the sales person, the more they know, the better they can assist
  • Go with 6-8 months to spare (or more if you know you’ll be picky!!). You don’t want to limit your selection or only be able to choose off the rack gowns because you waited too long. Give yourself some time to choose and peruse! Enjoy the process and don’t dilly dally. That being said… I am not going yet because I am getting married in two years—I am hopeful there will be trunk shows, sample sales, and new trends, so I don’t want to go too early either!
  • Let the consultant choose some dresses for you. Everything looks different on the rack! Give dresses the chance to wow you and don’t eliminate them based on one thing you dislike. Alterations can fix small problems and consultants are professionals—so they will know what will look best on your body type.
  • Bring any accessories you already have. My friend brought the McCaffrey bankruptcy veil she bought with her. Turns out the lace on the veil and the lace on her dress match perfectly!! But this is not always the case. If you have a veil, belt, shoes, or tiara you know you will for sure want to wear, bring it along to make sure they match well with the gown you choose.
  • Buy a size that fits you now. Obviously many brides plan on losing weight or toning up for their impending nuptials, but lets just play devil’s advocate here and say that you may not kick your cupcake habit before the big day and lose the 15 pounds you are dreaming of… better safe than sorry. It’s easier to take a dress in that to let it out.
  • Wear nice underwear. I chirped my friend pretty hard for her underwear choice the day of. Note: the consultants/your friends/family will likely have to help zip you up and get you in… so be prepared that you may show your skivvies a little. Don’t worry they are VERY professional, they wont judge you, but your best friend might… haha

To all those babe brides hitting the town in the next few weeks and months to find their perfect gown… good luck to you all! Enjoy the process and have fun Saying YES to your dress!

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Venue Hunting

Hello all! It has been a busy past few weeks but some of what made me busy was being lucky enough to visit some amazing local venues that we feel could be great candidates for our wedding reception location. Although we are still waiting to hear back from one of our dream locations, we definitely saw a few amazing ones that would fit our needs perfectly, so regardless I am excited at the prospect of finding something unique and special for Dillon and I.

This is one of the first things you should take care of after getting engaged– because once you have figured out the right location and booked yourselves a wedding date, everything else can fall into place.

Here are a few tips for my fellow brides, grooms, and their families when hunting for the perfect wedding reception locale:

  1. Think about your desired look and feel. I visited a lot of wedding venues in the last few weeks and every single one of them was awesome in its own way. However Dillon and I will definitely consider and choose our final venue based on our own desired look and feel. If you are a modern and edgy couple, the Chateau Laurier (with its regal elegance) may not make sense for you, same goes for a barn wedding if you are an elegant and bedazzled type of couple. Think about your end goal and find a space that not only makes logistical sense but also makes sense for the type of look and feel you are going for (it will cost less in the end because you won’t spend money trying to make the space look like something it isn’t)
  1. Don’t be quick to think you can save a buck if you do it at a typically ‘non-wedding’ venue. I have heard this time and time again from so many people; “I think we’ll do it at the family backyard/cottage/barn or maybe the local community centre because it will be so much cheaper than doing it at a wedding hall/hotel/venue.” Although these can be AMAZINGLY unique and very special locations, they usually don’t cost any less, and can very often cost much more. Think about it—typical wedding venues already have tables, chairs, linens, and AV equipment, maybe they even have catering, staff, and dishware. If you are doing at a typically ‘non-wedding’ venue you have to bring all of these elements in and this can also bring with it out-of-town vendor costs. I am by no means telling you not to do a location like this, it can be seriously epic, but just be aware of the associated extra costs before you head down a rabbit hole you weren’t prepared for.
  1. Check out the space with a keen wedding eye and ask important questions. Be sure to check out the location and its areas with your wedding in mind– Of course the hall looks cool, but be sure to think about a potential cocktail reception area (i.e. is there space for this right outside the hall? Is it on another floor completely? do they even have space for a cocktail reception?), also check out the bathrooms, coat check areas, parking, and general space both inside and outside the venue. Everything could look amazing, but the place has dingy bathrooms or is poorly groomed outside, or doesn’t have enough parking for all of your guests. Ask questions to the venue host when you visit about a wide array of items—like: could we have to share the cocktail space with another event or wedding? Is parking included? Do you have AV equipment? Do you allow us to work with any catering company? Do you have linens? What time will we get access to the space to set-up? Etc.
  1. Outdoor venues. Obviously outdoor wedding venues have and will probably always continue to be popular for many obvious reasons. But we also know (especially if you live in Ottawa where the weather is sometimes pretty eccentric) that Mother Nature can be an interesting lady to work with. Be sure to think about rain/weather plans—I know you don’t even want to think about the possibility, but if there isn’t any plan, that’s probably just when everything will go awry—ask about your Plan B options, be conscious that a tent may be ridiculously hot in the summer months, and think about what you would do if your dream area isn’t available on the day of. Better to know ahead of time than be bothered with it on your big day.
  1. Compare and contrast. Once you have visited a few venues, narrow down your list to your top three contenders and sit down to battle them out. Take pen to paper and list all the perks (i.e. free hotel suite for you on your wedding night, complimentary parking, open cocktail reception area that you don’t have to share) as well as any disadvantages (i.e. expensive parking, far away from town, ugly bathrooms). Also take the time to compare the pricing of the three locations—and remember to consider any venue add ins—one location may cost more per person off the bat but perhaps they include linens, chair covers, and wine on the tables where the other venues don’t. Once you rent all these items separately, it could end up costing much more than it would have if you went the venue that had it all included in its original price.
  1. Bring a professional. Hiring a wedding coordinator (even just as a consultant during this phase) can be super beneficial; Wedding professionals can help you and your families see the space(s) in a different light. With untrained eyes you may just see a big, empty, poorly lit ballroom and be quick to write it off—but with the proper inspiration and creative vision of someone who spends a whole lot of their time setting up amazing wedding venues and décor elements, it can be helpful to hear their ideas right from the get go to help you make the best choice! Per usual… I know a great one—so give me a call 😉

Venue hunting is super fun and can get you excited for your impending wedding very quickly… I can’t wait to settle on our venue and move forward with the planning process! So, with that said, have a great rest of your week and enjoy this process!

As always, I will keep you posted on my wedding adventures as they happen—until then, all my best!


p.s. Here are some venues I was able to check out for myself and a few of my clients, and I highly recommend all of them depending on the look and feel you are going for.

**These images are not mine. They come directly from the venue websites themselves**

Photo cred: Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
Photo cred: Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
Photo cred: Shaw Centre
Photo cred: Shaw Centre
Photo cred: Brookstreet Hotel
Photo cred: Brookstreet Hotel
Photo cred: Sala San Marco
Photo cred: Sala San Marco
Photo cred: Westin Ottawa
Photo cred: Westin Ottawa
Photo cred: Château Laurier
Photo cred: Château Laurier

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Our Engagement Party

So exactly one week ago, I was putting the final preparations out for our backyard engagement party. We were so fortunate to have so many of our friends join us for this awesome evening filled with love, laughter, and a lot of food and drink (what could be better?)

Turning our backyard into the chic and colorful party atmosphere I had wanted all along was not that tough and was not overly expensive either!

I especially loved the stationary created for me by Natalie Design Studios, who I discovered on Etsy. This stationary was the basis of all of my decor and styling choices for this event. I love the fun, floral, and very colourful prints and look forward to continuing to use the same look and feel throughout my wedding planning journey. I am hopeful this stationary will continue to tie all of my wedding events together!

Check out some of the signs she made for me:


I had help from some absolutely amazing vendors to add the little touches that made this party special and unique, so I wanted to share some of our amazing photos as ideas for planning your own backyard party—whether it be a birthday, anniversary, bridal shower, or the like!



p.s. keep up with our wedding hashtag #LeedersInLove on Instagram!


Photography: Paul Sanderson Photography// Event and Floral Design: Courtney Elizabeth Events// Rentals: Cody Party Rental// Linens: Moonlight Events//Stationary: Natalie Design Studio// Favour Bag Tags: SALTEDPrintingCo// Diamond Donut topper: paperandpartiesco

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Sharing is Caring!

Hello All! I hope everyone had a fantastic long weekend! I spent mine at Dillon’s family cottage, which as always was relaxing and amazing.

It was especially great to just hang out after last week—which was crazy, as we were putting the final touches on everything and eventually celebrating our engagement party, which happened on Thursday night.

I cannot wait to share a juicy blog post about the in’s and out’s of how it went, but while I am waiting for the amazing Paul Sanderson Photography to edit and bedazzle the shots he took from the night, I thought I would do a quick share of another amazing blog based in Ottawa.

I stumbled upon the In a Nutshell blog after my good friend alerted me to their insight and humour filled posts about almost everything surrounding the wild journey that is young adulthood. A recent blog post that got me especially excited was called “Wedding Withdrawal: It’s a Real Thing”, written by Catherine Kitts.

in a nutshell

I encourage you to check it out and continue to follow their blog for anything from juice cleanses to the best shameless party jams.

Until next time…


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