Best Day of My Life

The lead up, the anx, the nervousness, and the stress – all things that can be associated with getting married. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all a walk in the park, but it sure did put my teacher skills into full swing!

Waking up the morning of, out in the sunny, mountainous Canmore, I felt completely at ease. Everything was ready, orderly, and I really had nothing at all to do, besides get ready of course. The day itself was magical in every way. Ways that I didn’t even know it could be. When they say your wedding should be the best day of your life, well I couldn’t agree more. I want to give a BIG shout out to all the amazing vendors who literally made our day better than I ever could have dreamed up:

Cornerstone Weddings : When Daniel and I returned from France after our engagement, the Monday morning he sent me a text with a link to the venue. I fell in love with the photos and the idea of being married in the Rocky Mountains. We quickly booked a meeting to check it out, and the rest is history. Cornerstone literally makes your wedding planning life easy! From the original booking, to food tasting, to the many last minute e-mail questions (on my behalf!), they know 100% what they’re doing. Joanne was our main contact and was a dream to work with. She’s so caring, and not once did I feel uncomfortable or questioned her abilities. She was made for this job. Not only that though, Cornerstone does everything for you! We dropped off our decorations the day before and showed up to the reception with it beautifully decorated. The ceremony was the same way, chairs set-up and taken down all on their part, and everyone was told what to do and when. Joanne even took on the role of dog holder prior to us walking down the aisle. They also have an amazing chef (my guests are still raving about the salmon and beef!), and an incredible in-house DJ. They even allowed for additional touches, like delivering everyone a Coors Light to do a toast to my Dad! Not once did I have to worry about anything, and I cannot thank everyone there enough for making our day perfect, in every single way!

Cole Hofstra (Photographer) : Cole was the first photographer that we met, and right away Daniel and I knew he was the one (cliche, no?). A few things you should probably know about me before I go on, #1 I don’t like being the centre of attention, #2 I’m pretty awkward being the centre of attention and when I get nervous, and #3 having someone take photos of me up close and personal makes me even more awkward! When Daniel and I met Cole for our engagement photos, we had no clue what we were doing. We were not ourselves and just felt silly the entire time. Cole instantly put us ease, telling us pretty lame but awesome jokes, and guiding us throughout the evening. I was hesitant that any photo would turn out okay, but was blown away with his skills to make us awkward folk actually look good. When he showed up into our room on our wedding day, singing and dancing and maybe two coffees too many, he made me feel that much more relaxed. He took us to a stunning picturesque spot in Canmore for photos, guided us, but also just let us be in the moment. You almost forget that he’s your photographer because he just seems like a friend. He fit in with everyone, and is up for anything. Cole is such an easy-going guy, but is so incredible at what he does. He has an eye for the beauty in the small things, and can capture intense emotions and feelings in the photographs that he takes. He continues to amaze me with his photos, and I can’t wait to see the finished ones from our day!

Below are a few of the sneak peak photos Cole shared with us the day after our wedding.

Patrick Smiley (wedding commissioner) – When I’m talking about a dream team, Patrick fits right in there. From the original meeting, to the day of, I felt great to have Patrick on my side! He’s fantastic with guests, but doesn’t have a problem taking charge when he needs to. We didn’t have a rehearsal to practice our vows or the ceremony in general, but I didn’t even think of it until after the wedding. I knew with Patrick, everything would be easy! If you’re looking for someone local, he’s your guy. Thanks for making our ceremony perfect!

Kadie Hummel (videographer) – We questioned whether or not we should have our ceremony videoed and after much debate decided to go ahead with it. We booked Kadie before even meeting her, based off her reviews, prompt replies, and genuine personality that permeates through everything she does, and we could not have made a better choice. Kadie is the sweetest and will make you feel like a movie star. She’s so positive and has a great energy about her. Although we haven’t received our video yet (editing takes time you know!), I don’t doubt for one second that it won’t reflect how magical our day was!

Highland VIP (limo) – This limo service came highly recommended for the Canmore area, and although they were a little pricier than their competition, the reviews raved about how incredible the service was. I figured, I’m only getting married once, so booked them. It was definitely something I did not regret! Cesar was our driver and went above and beyond any expectations you could imagine. He was super friendly, ensured we were comfortable all the time, but the most impressive part was while we were getting our photographs taken he came along with us, carried my train, puffed up my dress, and did all of these things without even being asked. This guy is amazing and his service went way beyond the call of duty. He made our day that much better!

Lilies and Lace (hair and makeup) – Again, from a recommendation, I booked services through Lilies and Lace for myself (hair and makeup), and my two bridemaids (hair). Jordanna was our main contact and right from the start made booking and communication easy. She’s very easy going but is superb at what she does. The morning of, she showed up to my “getting ready room” before I did and was ready to go. She always checked in to ensure everything was exactly as we wanted. Amy did my makeup, and just like Jordanna, consistently checked in to make sure it was up to my standards. Both these girls are amazing, and made me feel and look gorgeous!

I seemed to have forgotten to take a finished photo of the look, but here’s a close up of the makeup (photo by Cole Hofstra). Jordanna did a messy side braid for my hair.

Cole Hofstra Photography

The Bridal Boutique (dress) – After going to a few bridal shops in town, it was a breath of fresh air to walk into the Bridal Boutique. Saying the girls there are amazing would be an understatement. Trying on dresses can be pretty intimidating, especially when you have an idea of what you want (but also not really). Jacqueline was an absolute dream to work with. Not once did she make me feel uncomfortable nor embarrassed, but instead I left with a confidence boost! Purchasing the dress was easy, it arrived earlier than she mentioned it would, and she ordered me a veil after the fact to ensure my outfit looked perfect! I also loved the fact that my dress was a Canadian designer (support local ya’ll). I consistently tell newly engaged ladies to check them out because they will not disappoint.

Ingenuity Couture (dress alterations) – Angelika was recommended by the Bridal Boutique and once you go there you’ll know why. She offers the same wonderful service and is an absolute pro at her job. I didn’t even think my dress needed alterations, but right away she explained to me how a little tuck here and there would make it fit perfect. This became very obvious when I tried it on after the initial fitting. Angelika and her staff know exactly what they’re doing and will always ensure to have everything finished to the best quality, within a reasonable time frame.

My stunning dress!

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Indochino (groom’s suit) – After looking around at a few places and not finding the blue suit he wanted, Daniel decided to check out Indochino to get a custom suit. Thank goodness he did because that suit was a stunner! Just like with my experience, Daniel made an appointment, was measured up, picked out his colour, fabric, and inner pattern, and a few weeks later it arrived on our doorstep. The process was incredibly easy and the suit itself is gorgeous!

Derks Formals (groomsmen suits) – For the guys, we opted to rent suits from Derks. Both our groomsmen were from out of town, and with simple measurements they were able to set aside something for the two of them. When they arrived shortly prior to the wedding, they did a quick fitting and sent them on their way. The best part though was that because we were staying in Canmore for the week, they allowed us to return the suits at a later date.

The guys looking sharp in their suits (photo by Cole Hofstra)

Cole Hofstra Photography

Dee Vine Petals (flowers) – I came in contact with Dana from a facebook wedding group, and didn’t actually meet her until the day I picked up my flowers. Everything was booked, planned, and paid for online. My only request was that I wanted my bouquets to have hydrangeas and succulents, and be in the colour scheme of white and green. She did that, and so much more. She created stunning bouquets, better than I could have imagined, plus she was able to stay within my quite limited flower budget.

I’m discovering that I’m quite bad at taking photos of everything, so here’s one that I cropped out of a photo by Cole.

Cole Hofstra Photography

Windtower Lodge and Suites (accommodations) – Trying to find a place to house all of our guests was a struggle. I received quotes for $300-$500/night, which was incomprehensible to me. How could I ask my guests to pay such exorbitant amounts when they’re already traveling and accumulating wedding costs as is? I’m so lucky that I came across Windtower. They allowed us to block off 35 rooms, at no cost to us, for our guests to simply call and book. They ranged from your simple hotel room to two bedroom suites, all within the price of $99-$279/night. Plus, they’re dog friendly, which was a requirement for my furry bridesmaids! Your booking with Windtower also included a great breakfast (cereals and baked goods, fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, waffles), and they have a pretty decent on-site restaurant for dinner or late night drinks. Although they don’t have a pool, the hot tub was a good substitute. The best part though was when we came in the front doors, they had the banner below displayed to welcome us and all our guests! It’s always the little things!

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I’ve heard horror stories of weddings, and have been to weddings where we’re taking down decorations at 1am: all the things I hoped my wedding wouldn’t be. I don’t know how all these vendors came into my planning or world, but I am forever grateful. Each one of them brought a unique touch that made my day beyond what I ever could have dreamed up. So to all of you, thank you for being you, and thank you for making my day perfect!

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Paddling the Bow

Upon awaking early Canada Day morning, I grabbed my phone in bed and checked to see the latest news on Facebook. A free kayaking ride picture posted by The Paddle Station caught my eye. For those who don’t know me well, I love nothing more than a good deal, and free is the best deal of all! I commented on the post, and low and behold an hour later Daniel and I were heading to Shouldice Park for a kayaking adventure.

Now, the worst part about floating down the Bow is the car situation. Whose car do we leave where? Where will our ride end? The list of organizational questions is vast. Due to our limited time before our ride was beginning, we had to make a decision fast. The Paddle Station’s starting location is at Shouldice Park, and excitingly much to our surprise is in a Car2Go zone! Problem #1 solved!

When we arrived, we were greeted by the enthusiastically friendly owner, Ravi. Meeting business owners can be an interesting experience, to say the least, but Ravi is made for the job. He’s so humble and passionate about his business that it’s refreshing to be around. His team was setting up their station for the day, and went above and beyond our expectations. We were given an adorable waterproof blue tooth speaker, and a much needed (which we found out later!) dry bag. Because our ride was free, we were asked to wear Paddle Station flags as we floated, which we happily did. We signed the waiver, hopped into our double kayak, and began our mini adventure with our river tunes playing.

Around 1.5 hours later, we saw a friendly wave as we arrived at our destination stop in St. Patrick’s Island. We were paddling hard to make the inlet pit stop, and before I knew what happened, we were flipped into the Bow River. I guess that’s what we get for complaining about the heat! Thank goodness for that dry sac! We were offered a towel to dry off, thanked them for the awesome ride, and walked through St. Patrick’s Island on route home.

Often people feel like they need to escape from the city and reconnect with nature to refuel. I’m of course, guilty of this too. But on this day, not only did I do these without leaving the city, but my love and appreciation of Calgary grew even more. Paddling along, listening to the birds chirping and the waves rolling, I felt like I could have been anywhere but a city.

If you’re looking for a way to spend a morning or afternoon, or want to float down the river and don’t want to spend a fortune, I highly recommend checking out The Paddle Station. You’ll have an overwhelmingly amount of fun while supporting a wonderful local business!