Wednesday, June 24, 2015

GIY - Grow it Yourself

Let's get one thing clear right away. I'm well aware of how crazy this sounds. This part of our wedding planning is our most insane attempt at DIY, but has also been a lot of fun and a great challenge.

We're growing our own flowers!

I have always dreamed of big luscious gardens on my property, with flowers in bloom from Spring until Fall, and wedding planning was my opportunity to get things rolling on that.

When we purchased our home at the end of 2013, I knew that an engagement was around the corner, and last summer I dabbled in gardening flowers for the first time. I mainly planted dahlias and ranunculus, and a whole slew of wild flowers. The gardens were a success last summer, and when we got engaged, I knew I wanted to attempt to grow a majority of our flowers for the wedding.

Our Spring wildflowers / Personal photo

I know, I know. I'm crazy.

With an army of support, I did a whole heck of a lot of research over the winter, and at the end of winter I put in a ginormous order for spring bulbs. GM Coach also has a gardening business on the side, and started a great deal of our flowers from seed in the winter (he's seriously the best!).

Now, I know that planning and relying on my own gardens is in need of some major back-up plans, and don't worry, we have them.

Gardener friends
A good friend of Mr. Narwhal and I owns a gardening business with her mother, and three summers ago they grew the flowers for a friend's wedding. It was wildly successful, and she has been mentoring me, and also graciously offered for us to pick from their garden beds for our wedding. We also have another friend that owns a farm, and has offered for us to pick if needed, as well as some other friends offering the same.

Mr. Narwhal is the picked flower type / Personal photo

Wild locations
Around the time of our wedding last summer, I did some major wild flower scouting. I have several locations in our area, with great picking spots, that we will visit the week of the wedding to fill the vases for our tables.

An example of a bouquet I recently picked on a walk / Personal photo

Vendors where necessary
I knew that I didn't have the skills to pull off my flower crown on my own, and this would be too much of a source of stress leading up to the wedding. I have a florist making my flower crown. I also ordered some loose flowers to tie my crown and bridal bouquet together.

Image from Green Wedding Shoes // Image by Carl Zoch

If all else fails, go green
If all else fails and we need more fill, there is a plethora of greenery around our property. Mr. Narwhal has a soft spot for ferns, and greenery will do just fine to pull together our floral arrangements.

Image from: South Bound Bride / Image by: Dear Heart Photos

So, yes... this is an insanely daunting task and has been a bit of a stressor leading up to planting/growing, because of the 'unknown' elements. We are definitely leaving a lot up to Mother Nature, but honestly, I'm not that worried about it. Picking flowers and gardening are zen like activities for me, and I'm looking forward to pulling it all together the week of the wedding. I also am not overly concerned and particular about how it all looks. The bouquet I picked last weekend (above) is a perfect example of what an evening adventure with Nelson and Mr. Narwhal can produce. You don't have to be a florist to put together a wildflower bouquet, and I'm fairly confident in what we'll pull together.

Next time, I'll get into the nitty gritty of what we're growing, and how it's been going thus far!

What is your craziest DIY task?

Floral Inspiration

I've been holding out on this topic for awhile now, but it's finally time to talk about flowers. We'll get to what our plan is in my next post, but today let's talk about inspiration. 

I love a big gorgeous bouquet of flowers, but my heart is set on all things wild. I love the look of messy mishmashes of flowers making up a beautiful bouquet.

I mentioned quite awhile ago, that our wedding palette really didn't have a rhyme or reason to it. It was about textures and feelings. I didn't want to stick myself into a corner where one colour wouldn't work, because the thing I love about wildflowers is how they all go together. With a neutral backdrop, we were freeing ourselves up for the wild look that the flowers will bring.

And, since this is an inspiration post, I will let the photos do the talking and get into the details next time.

Image from: Southern Weddings / Image by: Ali Harper Photography
Image from: Elizabeth Anne Designs / Image by: Erin Johnson Photography

Image from: Sweet Violet Bride

Image from: Sweet Violet Bride / Image by: Jensen Sutta Photography

Image from: Green Wedding Shoes / Image by: Jess Petrie

Image from: Springwell Gardens

Image from: The Flower House / Image by: David Lynn Photography

Image from: Green Wedding Shoes / Image by: Cassidy Parker Smith

Image from: Wedding Chicks / Image by: Mandilynn Photography

Image from: Green Wedding Shoes / Image by: Jennifer Emerling

What kind of flowers inspire you?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

planning for marriage - the name changer

Throughout our engagement, I mentioned my desire to share different aspects of how we're preparing ourselves for marriage versus just preparing for the wedding. I really wanted to share my thoughts on the whole name changing business. It's a common topic on the Weddingbee, but I have appreciated reading others tales in the name changing business, that I wanted to chime in with my story as well.

I'm changing my name and really, I could say I've always known it would be something I would do, and call it day... but as it turns out, there is more to the story.  Before I go further, I want to note that this isn't to say I disagree with women doing anything different, this is just what works for me, and our situation.

Image from Snippet and Ink // Image by Lisa Lefkowitz

Growing up with an eleven letter last name nobody can pronounce is so much fun (#sarcasm). Whenever the phone rings for me from any company, there is always a long pause before someone swallows and spits out some awful rendition of my name. Teachers never got it right. New friends always giggle when I tell them how it's really said. While there is certainly more reasoning behind why I will take on my husband's last name, I always joked that I couldn't wait to have a new last name. It will just be so much easier becoming a Jones. You would have to try really hard to mispronounce one of the most common last names in North America.

Image from Etsy shop TRUECONNECTION

The thing is, when you get married at 27, you've had your name for awhile. It's who you are. Your identity. And while I thought I would keep my good riddance mentality of the name change, as I approach the reality, it turns out it's going to be a tad bit more difficult than I thought. My stand out name is about to blend in with many and it's going to take some adjusting. I have an established career with a recognizable name, and I'm about to become somebody else. I certainly have the option to keep my name professionally, but I just don't want to complicate things.

Difficulties aside, there really is only one option for me, and that's taking on Mr. Narwhal's name. Even though it will be an adjustment, the reason behind the name change is to become a unit and a family. I would like to share a last name with my children. I want to be the Joneses. To me, that is more important that keeping a professional name or my own last name. My maiden name will still be part of who I am and my history, but I'm ready for the new chapter of marriage with Mr. Narwhal.

This guy and I will finally have the same last name ;)

After our honeymoon, I'll move onto the process of changing my name, and while it'll take some getting used to, more than anything I'm pretty excited about it!

Do you plan to/did you change your name?

Previous Planning for Marriage Posts:
Pre-marital Talks
Combining Finances

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Trials

Much like engagement photos, I highly recommend getting a hair and makeup trial done. While it's not necessary, and could save some money in the budget, the peace of mind you get out of it is well worth it. Plus, who doesn't love to be pampered?

My cousin lives in the city, and is doing everyone's hair on the wedding day. I had to make a trip to Toronto in May to pick up MOH L for her bridal shower, and decided to take the day off and tie in a visit and hair trial before with my cousin.

You may recall from my hairspiration post that I've been struggling with keeping my hair long for the wedding. I began questioning my choice before my hair trial, heavily considering a chop before the big day. Since I am wearing a flower crown, I wanted to get something to help me visualize the flowers with my trial and purchased a headband from H&M that did the trick.

My biggest concern about my hair is that it never holds a curl. The trial more than anything was test how well my hair would hold the hair look I was going for, and seeing whether or not the chop was in my future.

The Inspiration
Image from Green Wedding Shoes // Image by Carl Zoch
Image from Green Wedding Shoes / Image by Jen Wojcik

Image from Brides / Image by Justin DeMutiis

The Result

She did my hair around noon and I was really impressed with how well the curls held up. The next photo was taken nearly nine hours later. 

I'm still not entirely sold on whether or not I'll keep my hair long for the wedding, but I think that will be a last month, last minute decision if I do. I love how my hair turned out and if the length stays as is, I plan on changing nothing.

As for the makeup trial, it could not have gone better. I planned to meet my makeup artist the morning of my shower. I shared my inspiration photo with her and let her go to town. It was definitely weird having someone do my makeup with no idea what I was going to look like until the very end.

The Inspiration

Inspiration from Ania Milczarczyk. Image from Ania's Instagram account.
The Result

The only difference between my trial makeup and wedding day is that I will have eyelash extensions done again.

Overall, trial success! I definitely can't lie, this level of pampering is something I'm really looking forward to sharing with all of my ladies on our wedding day!

Did you have successful trials before your wedding?

The One with the Shower

Part 1

I arrived at the shower before all of the guests so I could have a chance to greet everyone, and see everything before everyone got there. Even though the shower details were a surprise for me, I cannot recommend doing this enough. My nerves were flying pretty high when I got there and getting there half an hour early allowed me to settle in, get a drink and take a tour around to see all of the amazing and fun details before everything started.

As everyone arrived, I circulated the room visiting, while people ate the delicious food and socialized. After about an hour or so, the bridesladies got everyone to sit down for games and gift opening.

All images personal

BM Click, MOH L, MOH Cass, me, BM Mel, BM Megs

Friends Trivia 
Everyone received a sheet with ten Friends related multiple choice questions for everyone to answer.  A majority of the guests were familiar with Friends, and those who weren't were encouraged to make a guess. The person with the most correct won a gift prize. I personally got 8/10. The winner got 9!

Chandler BING-O
A common shower game, with a spin. Everyone received a Bingo sheet with Friends related words on them. MOH Cass pulled the words, and the first to have a line won a prize.

Three generations - Mamma Narwhal, me and Gramma Narwhal

Newly Wed Game
A couple nights before the shower, BM Mel called Mr. Narwhal to ask him newlywed game type questions. He had to answer questions directed towards both him and me. At the shower, I was put on the spot, having to guess what Mr. Narwhal answered, as well as answering the questions for myself. They kept score between mine and Mr. Narwhal's responses. Every time I got a question wrong, I had to chew a piece of Hubba Bubba gum. At first, I thought that the gum would be no problem, I was pretty confident I would get most questions right (which I definitely did not). This game was so fun, and everyone was laughing pretty hard at our answers. For fun, I thought I would share the questions and our responses.

Mr. Narwhal's Questions

What is your favourite TV show?
My answer: Sports or Walking Dead
His answer: That 70's Show - piece of gum for me

Who is your celebrity crush?
My answer: Patricia Arquette
His answer: Patricia Arquette - correct!

There is a bit of a story to this answer. Mr. Narwhal isn't very celebrity-oriented and it's pretty rare for him to talk about cute celebrities. We went to the movies to see Boyhood in the Fall, and for the first time ever, I heard Mr. Narwhal say, Patricia Arquette was super cute in the movie. I thought this was hilarious, and it has since become a joke between us. Everyone thought this response was pretty funny.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
My answer: I said something like not putting lids on properly (which I have been known to do).
His answer: Messy kitchen/clutter - piece of gum for me

What was the name of your first pet?
My answer: I had no idea.
His answer: Corky and Candy - piece of gum for me

If you could throw out one piece of Amy's wardrobe what would you choose?
My answer: My white sandals from Belgium
His answer: White sandals from Europe trip - correct! Poor sandals :(

What's the one thing (besides Miss Narwhal, Nelson and Vada) that you would save in a fire?
My answer: I thought long about this one because he doesn't really have any cherished possessions and settled on the camera
His answer: Our camera - correct!

What is Miss Narwhal's most annoying habit?
My answer: My messiness
His answer: Hogging the bed - piece of gum for me... I should have known this one!

What is your favourite physical feature on Miss Narwhal?
My answer: My eyes
His answer: Eyes and dimples - correct!

If you won $1 million, what is the first thing you would buy/spend it on?
My answer: The property beside ours
His answer: Give to friend and family in need - piece of gum for me

What colour is Mr. Narwhal's toothbrush?
My answer: Blue
His answer: Blue - correct!

What flavour of ice cream will Mr. Narwhal order?
My answer: Chocolate chip cookie dough
His answer: Chocolate chip cookie dough  - correct!

That's six correct and five pieces of gum for me.

My Questions:
What is Miss Narwhal's biggest fear?
My answer: Snakes
His answer: Snakes - correct!

What super power would Miss Narwhal like to have?
My answer: Teleportation
His answer: Snap fingers and kitchen is clean - incorrect! Although, this would truly be amazing!

What is "your song"?
My answer: We have so many songs, but settled on The Girl - City and Colour
His answer: Good Rain - Trevor Hall. I agreed this was more accurate  and added a piece of gum to the mix.

What is your most prized possession?
My answer: My dimes
His answer: Memories of her brother/family - we gave him the point because the dimes are related to my brother.

What is Mr. Narwhal's most annoying habit?
My answer: Taking forever to get ready
His answer: My teasing - incorrect!

Who would play you in a role of you in the movie of your life?
My answer: Tough question, but I picked Rachel McAdams
His answer: While laughing, Patricia Arquette - incorrect!

What is your pet name for Mr. Narwhal?
My answer: Babe
His answer: Babe - correct!

Mr. Narwhal got three points.

The questions were a bit skewed in my favour, since I had more to answer, but I did win with a mouth full of gum! The prize? The Geller cup of course.

The shower was such a fun day! There were about 25-30 people in attendance and it was so great to see everyone. After we finished opening the gifts, we enjoyed the sunshine on the deck and socializing with friends and family.

As a small thank-you to all of my bridesladies for all of their hard work they put into organizing my shower, I got them each a body scrub from a local soap shop. I'm so grateful to have all of these girls in my life.

What games did you play at your shower?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The One Where I Have the Best Bridesladies Ever

Now that we're past the heavy stuff, and letting go and moving on it's time to talk about how amazing my bridesladies are. I have been looking forward to this past weekend for a very long time. When it came to planning my shower, MOH Cass the queen of surprises asked me what I wanted in terms of knowing. While I know a total surprise shower would have been something she would have loved to have pulled off, I personally don't like surprises. I always somehow find out about them, and I've been to a surprise party or two where the person really would have liked to have known so they could you know, be a little prepared.

I wanted to be able to get my nails done, and schedule my make-up trial. So, the surprise compromise was that I could know the date and time, but nothing else. It was the perfect plan, because I enjoyed knowing absolutely nothing, and was really excited that the girls were all so excited about what they had come up with.

The day finally came, and they truly pulled off the most lovely shower. It was perfect. Words cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am, so I'm not going to even try. I'm just so incredibly blessed by the amazing women in my life.

All photos personal

The theme? The One Where Miss Narwhal Gets Married. You may have noticed by now that I tend to throw a Friends reference into my posts quite frequently. When planning the theme of my shower MOH L suggested Friends, and since MOH Cass is probably the biggest Friends fan in the world (she has literally watched the series more times than anyone I know), it was the perfect shower for her to take the lead on planning.

The details and ideas they came up with were nothing short of incredible.

They transformed my Aunt and Uncle's house into a purple and yellow Friend's filled space. There were tissue flowers everywhere and love quotes from Friends framed all around the room.

The One with the Proposal - Part 2 / The One with the Prom Video

What's a Friends shower without Central Perk? They had a coffee station set up, and another station with Sangria, Lemonade and Water, featuring a love quote from Ross under the influence. :)

Featuring Phoebe's guitar!

The One Where Ross is Fine

The One at the Beach 
The food just blew me away. They thought of everything! Joey's meatball sub, Ross's Myyyyy sandwich (minus the moist maker), Nestlee Toulouse cookies, Rachel's English Trifle and Mama's Little Bakery Cheesecake that Rachel and Chandler ate off of the floor. I loved all of the thought they put into this. It really brought the theme to life! A huge thanks to my bridesladies, Aunts, Momma Narwhal and my Gramma for all of the amazing food.

The One with the Ride-Along

The One with Ross's Sandwich / The One Where Ross is Fine

The One Where Rachel Goes Back to Work

The One with Phoebe's Cookies

The One Where Ross Got High

The Last One / The One with All the Cheesecakes

Mockolate Favours
BM Click and her sister made chocolate favours for everyone to take home. They were wickedly delicious and a huge hit with everyone!

The One with the List

They had Friends playing silently on a large screen, and so many other thoughtful details everywhere. They even had a large Christmas flower on standby just in case anyone had a Phoebe hummus moment (The One Where No One's Ready).

Next up we'll get to the actual shower!

Did you know about the theme of your bridal shower?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


On Good Friday of this year, Mr. Narwhal, MOH Cass, her boyfriend and I had a crazy eventful day. We somehow managed to get ourselves 4 tickets for a 500 ticket secret exclusive Mumford and Sons concert.

The concert had one rule. No cell phones or cameras allowed. As someone who has spent too much time at a concert trying to record a song (that I never watch!), or taking a ton of photos that all look the same, I now try to only take a few pictures and put my phone away to be present at concerts. You never quite enjoy the experience as much looking through a lens. Not being allowed a phone or camera added a whole other level of presence to a concert, and that night was truly one of the best musical experiences of my life. It was my third Mumford concert, and while each has been incredibly special, this one had another layer captured by the experience of real presence.

Our only record of the night

This has really stuck in my mind and taught me a lesson about presence and experiencing the moment versus being so focused on reliving it later through photographs. It's a funny balance we create in the world of social media and the quest for the perfect picture. Our wedding day is the extreme version of this with grandoise photography and videography budgets. So much goes into thinking about what pictures are going to look like when it comes to wedding planning, from our bridal look, and every other little detail of the day. We have a vision and we want it to be executed beautifully in photographs to forever capture the memories of the biggest day of our lives. We put a lot of pressure on it. And no, this post isn't about having an unplugged wedding.

I have a shocker to announce. I'm a female that has body image issues.  Jon Stewart really captured it recently when speaking about Caitlyn Jenner, "Now you're a women, and your looks are really the only thing we care about." He may have been trying to be funny, but his words really highlighted something that women often contend with on a daily basis in Western society.

I've really struggled with the idea of being a bride, and the centre of attention on our wedding day. Everyone commenting on how I look, and really while judging isn't the best word, there will be judgment. We're all so focused on how beautiful the bride looks on her wedding day. I've spent more time than I'd like to admit thinking about and agonizing over what I'll be wearing and how I'll look.

As a bit of a rebel on this topic, I kind of refused to focus on losing weight or "sweating for the wedding" or do anything all for the sake of one day. That's so far from the point in my mind. I care about my health more than the size of my jeans and the positive choices I make every day over the inches I've lost in the last few months. It was an issue before I was engaged, and something I've been working on far longer than before I had a set date, so focusing only on our wedding day just feels wrong to me.

Image from Etsy shop: fitlittlebride

The thing is, I can't lie about it. I do care. How can I not? I really truly wish I knew the answer to that question. How can I not care about what I look like and just be confident in my own skin for who I am as a person? It weighs heavy on my mind. I cannot help but have the wedding in the back of my mind when I'm signing up for classes at the gym, or deciding what to make for dinner. I want to make mindful choices about what I do for my every day life, and really just don't want it to be about our wedding day.

This past weekend was my bridal shower. One of the best days ever. I promise to get to that next (it's a much more fun topic!), but this is just weighing so heavily on my mind right now I need to put this out there before I get to the recap of just one of the most lovely days ever put together by my most favourite women in my life.

With time to kill the morning of my shower I booked my make-up trial and a blowout. I was so excited about my makeup, and went to get my hair done. The salon offered beach waves as a blowout option, and I thought it would be perfect. The girl doing my hair however chose not to listen to me when I told her I didn't feel like myself when my hair was really voluminous, and I received the diva version of beach waves. It looked like I had stuck my finger in a socket (and when I asked her to fix it she added more volume). With no time to spare, I rushed to my parents to water my hair down a bit to lighten the load, and quickly changed into my dress. My confidence was shaken, and I no longer felt good about what I was wearing, and how I looked, but it was too late to fix it.

I was overwhelmed with the love that was put into the shower when I arrived, and the shower was so lovely. Lots of great visits, laughter and just a ton of fun. When I looked at the photos later though, I couldn't help but focus on my hair and my body and how I didn't look the way I wanted to look. I tried desperately to fight that feeling and to focus on how amazing the day had been and all of the amazing people that took their time out of their lives to celebrate our relationship and our upcoming wedding.

Why was how I looked what I was thinking about it? Why did I care? Why did this matter to me?

That night before falling asleep I couldn't shake the feeling. I sort of mumbled out my angst to Mr. Narwhal, as the tears soaked my pillow. I was frustrated with myself that I couldn't let go of something so logically silly, and let the love and gratitude in my heart take over for how I felt about this day. I felt selfish for caring about this over how amazing the day was. He said all of the right things, and that nobody was thinking about that, rather seeing me as the person I am, and not the judgment I am feeling for myself. I never look at a photo of a loved one and think about what they look like, I just see them, and how I feel about that person and care about them. I should be able to do that for myself.

It was a bit of a wakeup call for me, and yet another bold lesson in presence. While having those photographs to capture memories of a special day do matter, and are wonderful to have, it's not what really matters. It's the feelings, the emotions and the real memories you create. Feeling present in a moment. Soaking in the love and support. The laughter. The smiles. The photos from our wedding day shouldn't change or affect how I feel about the day (unless it's for the better).

As sucky as I felt on Saturday evening before I fell asleep, I'm so glad I experienced it. It was a wake-up call of some work to be done on myself over the next 12 weeks. I need to work on letting go of what I look like, and focus more on the love, the support, the moments and memories I want to soak in on our wedding day. No matter what the photos look like after our wedding day, I want to remember what is most important.

I want to feel healthy and beautiful, but not only based on the positive choices I make in the exercise and food department. I want to feel that way because I've also worked on feeling love and support for myself in the inside. I want to see what Mr. Narwhal sees in me, in myself. I want to feel as beautiful as he tells me I look.  I want to be present, feel the love and soak in every moment.

Image by Isos Photography

This topic was a tough one to share and put out there, but if it speaks to any bee out there in need of a little boost and helps someone become just a little less worried about how they look I'll say it was worth it. So, whether you aren't the size you want to be, you are suffering from dress regret, doubting your hair choices, your nails or whatever it maybe that is weighing you down, try to remember that you're the only one worrying and thinking about it. Let go, and truly enjoy your day. Remember the day is about sharing your love and marrying one another. It only happens once, and the last thing you want is to waste any space in your head worrying when you can be soaking in the beauty of the day.

Have you struggled with how you will look on your wedding day?