Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Narwhal save the date reveal!

Now that we've handed out a majority of our Save the Dates and the rest have been mailed and received, it's time to show them off!

I designed them in Photoshop Elements 12 with one of our favourite engagement photos. After converting the photo to black and white, I played around with the fonts* we are using on our invitations (sneak peak!) and once the final design was secured and triple checked, I held my breath and hit the purchase button.

We're really happy with how they turned out, especially since they were under $27.00. We have also gotten lots of compliments from our guests, which has been really nice to hear :)

So enough talking, more revealing!

All photos personal. Image in Save the Date by isos photography.

The Front
After playing around with some photos that I thought would suit our Save the Dates, we landed on one of my favourites in front of our cabin. I love that the cabin is subtly in the background since that is where we're having our ceremony and the light in this photo is unreal. We kept the front simple. Save the Date. Our names, our brand, the date and location.

The Back
I also wanted to keep the back simple for the postcard. I wanted them to feel fun while pointing our guests to the date, stating the formal invitation is coming and asking them to visit our website. On the right side I kept a few lines for addresses and our return address is in the top left corner. We saved money by keeping the back black and white.

So, what do you think? We're really excited to see how the invitations come together based on our experience ordering from Vistaprint. I'll probably end up ordering them far too early!

Did you DIY your Save the Dates? 

*For the font lovers out there, the fonts used on our Save the Dates are Arsenale White, Supernova and Penelope Anne.

Monday, December 22, 2014

diying and saving money on our save the dates

After we received our engagement photos back, I wanted to play around with some of our favourite pictures to work on creating our save the dates.

Save the Date Inspiration // Wedding Paper Divas Genuine Love

With my inspiration in mind, I was ready to play. I knew I wanted to have a black and white photo postcard with a splash of colour (which would play on the actual invitation suite I had already drafted).

Since the Save the Dates were a stretch in our budget and not a necessity they had to be cheap. Before I get to the reveal (sorry!) I'm going to share  how I went about making ours, and how it ended up saving us a ton of money.

Ditch the envelopes
We decided to do Save the Dates for the practicality of sharing our date with our guests and directing them to check out our website before we send out the actual invitations. Having a postcard design saved us the cost of envelopes. The back gets referenced initially, but most people only care about the front to post on their fridge, so this was an easy thing for me to ditch*.

Handout when possible
To save money we decided to order shortly before Christmas when we knew we would be seeing a lot of our guests. We were able to save quite a bit on postage by hand delivering a majority of our Save the Dates. I liked the idea of getting Save the Dates out pretty close to the new year when people were starting to fill up their new calendars.

Don't think you have to order Save the Dates
Huh? This is a huge money saving tip. Because we were designing our Save the Date in photoshop, we didn't have to order a pre-designed Save the Date. Instead of shopping in the wedding section at Vistaprint, I went to the marketing materials.

How much money did we save? Let me show you!

For the sake of this post, I created the same image for the front and chose a standard back on Vistaprint (which you can do your own custom image for as well). I pretended to order 100 Save the Dates with recycled matte paper and a greyscale back (which is what we did in reality).

Horizontal Flat Invitation in Standard Postcard Size 
This STD was selected under the custom Save the Date under Invitations and Stationary. You do have the option to order in increments of 10 for the invitations.

Standard Postcard
This STD was selected as a Postcard under Marketing Materials. You only have the option of ordering in increments of 50 for Postcards.

As you can see they both look the same (the back would be your own custom design). This is where it gets really interesting.

The Horizontal Flat Invitation has five options in paper: premium glossy, premium matte, linen, matte (included) and recycled matte. The premium papers cost an additional $14.00, while linen and recycled matte are an additional $18.00. A standard white envelope is included.

The Standard Postcard has three options in paper: glossy, recycled matte or premium glossy. The recycled matte and premium glossy are an additional $7.00. Standard white envelopes cost an additional $5.00.

The grand difference? $71.00!

That's a huge difference for the exact same thing. Further proof that putting the word wedding on something drastically inflates the price.

Adding $27.00 (plus postage)** didn't stretch the budget too much for us, which we're really happy about. We had to use those engagement photos for something! For me, it was totally worth it! On my next post, I'll share what we came up with! 

Did you send Save the Dates? Do you have any money saving stationary tips? 

*While the envelopes Vistaprint offers are inexpensive, I personally liked the look of a Postcard over the standard white envelope.
**Because of a promotion we paid just over $26 including shipping and tax, which actually got credited to us because of a scuff mark on the bottom of the first ten Save the Dates. This will take approximately $26 off of the cost of our invitations!

Friday, December 19, 2014

tackling the stationary

One of my favourite parts of wedding details are the invitations suites. I just love how they are the perfect opportunity to showcase your wedding before the big day. Considering one of my favourite places to browse the aisles at is Staples, I think it's safe to say I have a thing for office supplies and stationary. Seriously, a new pack of pens can make my day. Don't even get me started on filling out a fresh calendar.

in love with the Wallaby suite //  Image by Mrs. Wallaby 

When it came to our stationary, prior to becoming engaged I had done a lot of searching and loving on inspiration for when it was our turn. At the time, I wasn't sure how we would execute the plan. I knew that our stationary budget would be low and that while I had a serious love for wedding stationary, I couldn't prioritize it (over other priorities).

I had just purchased Photoshop for my business (just the Photoshop Elements 12 version) when we got engaged. A few weeks after our engagement (when the thrill of planning was still at an all-time high) I started playing around with ideas for our invitations suite for fun. After about 2-3 hours of "playing",  I had a preliminary drafted suite. I hadn't decided until that night that we would make all of our own wedding stationary. I now knew I could pull it off, and that I could save us a lot of money by doing so. 

anyone else still obsessing over Squid's beautiful suite? //  Image by Mrs. Squid

Since our invitation suite is still getting finished up to order, I had to back-up a few steps and start thinking about Save the Dates. At first, I wasn't sure if we would do a Save the Date. Save the Dates aren't a necessary part of planning, but something I have a serious appreciation for. They had to be low in cost to be part of our wedding. If I was making them myself, I knew it was something we could easily squeeze into the budget.

Mad love for the Hen Save the Date // Image by Mrs. Hen

I knew that I wanted to use an engagement photo for the Save the Date, while tying into the invitation suite I had already drafted. I also knew that to keep the cost down, it would have to be a post card (to save on the cost of envelopes). To keep myself busy while waiting for our engagement photos, I did some searching to find the inspiration behind our Save the Date.

Spoiler Alert: This was what inspired our Save the Date // Wedding Paper Divas Genuine Love

Once I had the photos in my hands, it was time to create our first piece of stationary!

Did you decide to make your own wedding stationary? 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

wedding website

The wedding bubble is an interesting world to be in. When you're planning a wedding, you're well aware of the trends and the current practices. Sometimes it's easy to forget what you've actually encountered in your every day life versus read about hundreds of times before on the Internet. 

Wedding websites are one of those things where it seems like everyone has one. It's common practice in the wedding world; however, I personally have never been to a wedding where there was one.

Since I recently started a business, I was just in the throws of website building. As someone who has been blogging for over five years, I know a thing or two about html and putting together a website. Moving over into  was a big leap in skill level and after a few too many moments of frustration, I managed to build a self-hosted website I'm pretty proud of.

Our wedding is fairly atypical, and we really wanted an easy way to communicate with our guests beyond the detail card in our invitation suite (we've already explained everything to the grandparents in person).

The pretty great thing about paying for a self-hosted site (I use bluehost), is that you're allowed unlimited websites. I purchased our wedding domain for $8 and got busy testing out a bunch of free templates for sites. When I was disappointed with how things were looking, I decided to test out the template* I had paid for already for my business site... and I loved the fun wedding version I was able to create!

the front page of our website // screen shot
Having creative control over things has kind of been the best part of wedding planning for me. I have a creative brain, and being able to design our website with our brand was another fun task!

I decided to break the website into six pages (beyond the home page) to cover everything we wanted to share with our guests before the big day.

The Wedding:
This section covers the location of the wedding and a rough timeline for our guests.

The wedding breakdown // screen shots

The People:
This page simply gives a breakdown of the wedding party.

Parking and Transportation:
Since we have limited parking and are encouraging our guests to hitch a ride with our hired bus, this section contains some crucial timeline and pickup information, as well as information on where to park for those that choose to drive.

Currently a placeholder for our room block info (something that has been our official wedding nightmare - more on that soon). It also encourages our out-of-town guests to book early because of the Ironman in town.

This section provides answers to common questions (e.g., what to wear, registry, open bar, etc.). I felt most comfortable keeping our registry information within the FAQ section versus on it's own page.

After our formal invitations go out, we will open this section up for option of RSVPing online.

What did you use your wedding website for?

For some more technical information on building your own Wordpress website, be sure to check out Mrs. Hen's post. I found it very useful!

*For the technically curious, the template is Pangaea from Theme Forest. I was also surprised to see it's significantly cheaper than when I purchased it!

Monday, December 15, 2014

somebody stole our hashtag

Alternative title: My first Bridezilla moment. Also note: This was all written in good fun and is not to be taken seriously. 

I found it kind of hard to imagine myself ever having a Bridezilla moment. I mean, yes, I love details and I can be a bit of a control freak; however, more than those things, I care about the people around me and would never treat someone poorly in the name of my wedding. I also don't get angry very often.

Well, wedding planning can surprise you.

It's all too easy to lose perspective when you're emotionally invested in something.

So, that's why I lost my sh*t when somebody stole our hashtag.

raging // reaction gifs

I love hashtags. I tend to use them in one of two ways. The first, to summarize my post emotionally, usually sentimentally or humourously. The second, to catalogue uniquely.

The cataloguing use of a hashtag is often used for weddings and babies. A lot of parents will pick a unique hashtag to keep all of their photos of their child in one spot and in the wedding world, it allows people to pool all of the captured photos from the wedding.

When we came up with our wedding brand and hashtag #becomingthenarwhals, the first thing I did was make sure it was unique to us. I didn't want it to be lost in a sea of other people using the hashtag.

I started using the hashtag whenever we posted anything wedding related.

So, I'm sure you can imagine my reaction when I posted a new photo and clicked on the hashtag only to find out that sometime in the Fall, somebody had a wedding and stole our hashtag.

total rage // reaction gif

I was mad. I was disappointed. And, I totally overreacted.

I can remember the moment quite distinctly because Mr. Narwhal was outside chopping wood and I stormed outside to tell him what I had discovered.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: I am about to tell you something that I am really upset about, I know I'm being irrational, but please just let me be pissed right now.

Mr. Narwhal: What happened?

Me: Some people stole our hashtag last weekend. 

Joel: That really sucks, but it doesn't really matter.


reaction gif

Then, Mr. Narwhal proceeded to hold my shoulders and tell me that he loved me and that on our wedding day we will be surrounded by our most favourite people in the world, that everything will be perfect and the last thing that matters is a hashtag. Seriously love that boy - that moment just might be worth having your hashtag stolen over.

I pouted my way back inside. I knew he was right and that I was definitely overreacting, but it was just one of those moments where you need to vent out some rage, and then you're over it.

I'm still deciding what to do about the hashtag to be honest. I'm trying to think of a clever way to keep it (and I'm not really a fan of numbered hashtags). The other wedding only had a handful of posts initially, but they keep posting random photos within a day or so of any of my new posts. I really don't want to partake in hashtag wars, so I'm looking for an alternative that still keeps with the brand.

Did you have any silly Bridezilla moments? 

Friday, December 12, 2014

branding our wedding

Like other bees before me (notably Mrs. Phonebooth and Mrs. Hen), I really wanted to brand our wedding to help tie everything together. Obsessive? Yes. How I do things? Absolutely.

Branding our wedding was one thing that I knew could have a huge impact on our wedding details, with virtually no cost. It would take minimal effort for me to pull off and it would put a fun spin on our wedding.

The first step for us, was coming up with a name for a wedding. This name would translate to our website, our hashtag and be added to details (e.g., favours) where possible.

A week or so after we got engaged MOH Cass was visiting and the three of us were discussing the wedding and sharing all of our ideas. Since Cass works in advertising, I enlisted in her help to come up with the phrase that would brand our wedding.

little Narwhal and MOH Cass at Disney! // personal photo

Side note: My maiden name is kind of a mouthful. It's eleven long letters of nobody ever getting it right. In the history of time, I have had one person say it correctly on the first try. I hoped and dreamed the boy I'd marry would have the most simple and easy last name of all time. Then, I met Mr. Narwhal with the most common last name ever. Huge score for me.

Back to the story.

After laughing over some ridiculous ideas we started to think of the all too common phrase that goes along with our soon to be shared all too common last name. I felt like we were on to something, and just when we were about to give up for the day Cass said, "yah, something like becoming the narwhals"

image by isos photography

We were sold and that's when the wedding brand was born. In order to really achieve the level of branding I wanted, I was sure to have it covered in as many elements of our wedding as possible.

Website url? Check. Our website features our brand within our url.

Hashtag? Check. This was the first way we started communicating our brand, and whenever we do post a wedding related photo on Instagram, the hashtag joins it.

Fonts and common look? Check. Since I am DIYing our signage, save the dates and invitation suite, this was an easy and costless way to keep a cohesive look to our branding.

Happy bride? Check. While this is one of my obsessive in nature planning details, it's probably been one of the most fun things to pull off, and knowing that it will tie everything together gives me great satisfaction.

Did you brand your wedding?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

diy wood photo blocks

For our outdoor decor, you may remember I had two camps of inspiration. Lights everywhere and decorating the trees. I was super inspired by a picture, and knew immediately how I would put our own spin on displaying photos. 

With wooden photo blocks. 

a reminder of the inspiration // via green wedding shoes

Last Spring I spent a few days putting together our gallery wall in our dining room and I knew I could pull it off again for the wedding. While this is definitely a massive project and a tedious process, it is super easy! Our gallery wall gets a lot of positive feedback, and I love how the photos look on the wood. 

our gallery wall // personal photo

So, without further ado, my first DIY tutorial!

The pre-steps are just as important as the actual process so pay attention! I say this because I spent an unnecessary $20 on printing photos on actual photo paper that I didn't need to when I made our gallery wall the first time. Whoops. You live and learn.

What you'll need:
mirrored photos
access to a laser printer
gel medium 
paint brush
mod podge 

  • Select and flip your photos - pick your photos that you would like to print on wood and choose your sizes. Save new versions and flip them all horizontally. This is a crucial step, especially if you are doing any quote photos. Your photos will be backwards otherwise. I also chose to put a sepia filter on all of my photos to give them the rustic vintage feel. 
  • Print with a laser printer - This is very important. You cannot print on a inkjet or use regular photos. I now have a laser printer to print all of my wedding photos, but the first time around I took them to Staples on a memory stick. The cost is pretty minimal!
Once you have your photos, you're ready to begin the process!

step one: pick and cut your wood
I had a list of all of my photo sizes and got my dad to cut my wood (with a bit of a border added to the size of the photos). GM Coach (who is actually our neighbour!) has a ton of scrap wood from his business, and has been giving us cut offs for months. This part of the project cost us nothing! Woot! If you don't have access to wood, you can always go to Home Depot or Lowes and get some wood there. I recommend sticking to lighter wood, we have used a range of soft and hard wood. 

step two: sand your wood down
I went through each piece and sanded down the edges and gave a decent sand the top of each piece.

step three: plan it out
This is an important step if you're doing more than one photo in multiple sizes. I cut my photos and planned what photos went with each piece of wood.  

step four: gel medium
This is where the fun begins. Take your gel medium and paint a light layer over your photo. 

step five: smooth it out
Stick your photo on the wood face down and smooth it out with a card (I used an expired license). 

step six: wait
You need to wait about 8-9 hours before the next step. The longer the better. In the case of wedding planning, this step has taken over a month of waiting! Whoops!

step seven: rub it off
Soak a cloth in cold water and lay it on your photo for about a minute, then start rubbing off the paper. You can use the cloth or your fingers. The cloth tends to rub off a bit more of the photo (giving it more of a rustic look) and your fingers are a little more gentle. Be careful around the edges!

step eight: wait some more, and do it again
I found that after the water dried, there was still a white film of paper over the photos, I did the seventh step again (sometimes for a total of three times). Make sure you let the photos dry a few hours before moving on to step nine. You want to be sure you got all of the paper off. 

step nine: mod podge
Once your photos have dried and you've gotten all of the paper off, it's time to seal the deal! Do a thin layer of mod podge over your photo. 

And that's it! Like I said, easy, but tedious! I have been working on this project since November and do small batches at a time to break up the work. We will have a mix of engagement photos, regular photos, childhood photos and quotes to hang on the trees. 

What was your biggest DIY project? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

tying it all together: outside

On the day we decided to get married on our property I was inspired by images of what the forest would look like on our wedding day.

I had two things in mind: lighting up the forest, and decorating the trees.

forest light // via Elizabeth Anne Designs
Lighting up the forest involves a lot of jars, a lot of candles and hitting the clearance racks after Christmas. We have been collecting jars for months from family members, and have many vintage mason jars in our basement (they came with the house!). We are planning to line the paths with candles, to hang candles in the trees and string lights up wherever possible.

I think this might be what I see every time I close my eyes and think of lighting up the forest // via bespoke bride 

I am so excited about the romantic feel the candles and warm lights will give our wedding, I believe the lighting will help us achieve our wedding vibe more than anything.

The second thing I really wanted to do was decorate the trees. This photo (below) totally inspired me and single-handedly created my biggest DIY project.

picture my brain going pop pop pop // via green wedding shoes

In my next post, my first DIY tutorial (!!), I will give you all the details on how this photo inspired our massive DIY undertaking of creating wood block photos to decorate the trees.

What was your biggest wedding DIY?

Friday, December 5, 2014

tying it all together: the boys

Our wedding party is large and a bit different. With seven boys standing up with Mr. Narwhal, and two boys and five ladies standing up with me, there was a lot to figure out.

With the ladies in mind, Mr. Narwhal and I discussed what he wanted for himself and the boys. I wanted things to mesh well together, but again, didn't want to go for the matchy matchy. Mr. Narwhal was set on a slate blue vibe of sorts and the two of us spent a lot of time Googling, Pinteresting and discussing options.

jenny yoo nabi / inspiration for the girls 

Mr. Narwhal didn't want to put his friends out, and we've decided that the boys will all wear the same pants, but have a choice of whether they wanted to wear on top. They could choose a vest, suspenders or jacket with a tie or bowtie. This was our inspiration:

source unknown 

We're still on the quest to find the perfect pant. We're on the fence between a dress pant and a chino. We loved the sharp look of this California wedding party and the perfection of the slate blue.

the perfect blue // 100 layer cake

Figuring out how to pull this look off and finding the perfect pant is a matter of a trip to the city. I have full confidence in Mr. Narwhal, the boy has some serious style and a keen eye for men's fashion. We just need to make the time to hit the stores!

Now, this leads to my boys. I want it to be known that they're standing up with me, so dressing them the same as the groomsmen didn't make sense.  After seeing a picture on Pinterest (that I cannot find!) with two boys standing up on the brides side I decided that the bridesmen will wear the same taupe colour pant as the ladies dresses. Once we figure out the groomsmen pant style, my boys will go for a similar style in taupe.

taupe vibes // via Beswoon
Figuring out what everyone will wear has been a fun, yet tedious task. There are still details to figure out, but I have faith in our wedding party to pull it off!

How did you decide on what the boys would wear? 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

tying it all together: the ladies

While I am having seven people standing up with me, only five of those people are bridesmaids. We'll get to the boys another day, because one decision I spent a lot Google time on was the bridesmaids dresses.

Being in a wedding is expensive. Especially for the ladies. I really didn't feel comfortable asking my bridesmaids to spend a lot of money on dresses.

The problem? Bridesmaid dresses are pretty expensive.

The other problem? I had a vision.

When I have a vision, I'm pretty set on making it happen. I had fallen in love with these dresses on Pinterest.

the jenny yoo nabi dress

I loved the convertible chiffon. I was in love with the almost-taupe colour of the dress.  The problem is that I didn't love the price of Jenny Yoo dresses. I refused to make my bridesmaids spend anything over $200 on a dress. 

So, with that photo as inspiration I started exploring different options. I thought of giving a paint chip to them and telling my girls to have fun shopping. I love the look of mixed dresses. 

mixed beauties // Image from Green Wedding Shoes // Image by Kati Rosado Photography
The problem with mixed dresses was that I didn't want to put the pressure on my bridesmaids to find a dress and then have them end up going to a bridal salon and dropping crazy money on a dress. I also personally know of horror stories of going this route. 

So, somewhere down the Google rabbit hole I found a solution. On Etsy. 

I found a designer on Etsy that was making a range of reasonably priced bridesmaids dresses with incredible reviews. I contacted Aiguo from harsuccthing about my vision of a taupe coloured dress and ordered a swatch sample. She was really prompt in her communication and shipped me (in less than a week from China!!) a huge package of swatches. 

so many colours! // personal photo

After looking at the swatches in a few different light settings, I decided on swatch F, it was perfectly close to the taupe colour I had in mind. 

I told my ladies to pick any long dress from Aiguo's Etsy shop and asked them to order by February. The great thing is that they all picked a range of styles, so it'll be a fun mix between them all. 

Now, you might remember that turquoise is my thing. I mean, it did help me decide on my wedding dress. Long before the day I chose my wedding dress because of a turquoise bracelet, MOH L pretty straight up told me I was crazy not including turquoise in my wedding. I actually hadn't planned on it originally. She told me turquoise was me and it felt wrong that I didn't want to have it. 

The problem was that I didn't want turquoise bridesmaids dresses. They didn't feel like me. So, this is where I came up with the idea that my bridesmaids will all wear their choice of turquoise statement necklaces. I invited them to look at a board of inspiration on Etsy (if you haven't caught on yet, I'm a wee bit obsessed with Etsy), and to choose any turquoise necklace that suits them best. 

turquoise necklace inspiration // personal screen shot

The great thing about the necklaces is that I know they will wear those again, and they really tie together for me what I envisioned for the ladies. I think a true test of whether you're on the right track with your bridal party look is whether you're jealous of what they get to wear! I am so excited to see how their choices come together on our big day. 

How did you decide on bridesmaids dresses? 

Monday, December 1, 2014

tying everything together

In the beginning of our planning adventures the question I kept being asked over and over was "What are you colours?" That question for whatever reason made my nose scrunch up and my response would be that we didn't have any. While I can really appreciate and admire colour-themed matchy weddings, I knew that wasn't us (hence the nose scrunch).

With time and planning though, I started to realize that there was definitely a palette emerging. I also really needed to give clarity to those involved in the planning process, because it was starting to become confusing.

pulling together my vision // personal photo 

The thing about our "colour" palette is that the main themes that were emerging were textures. Wood. Glass. Turquoise stones. Wildflowers. The only reason taupe and slate blue were making their way into the mix as main colours was because of our wedding party (more on that in my upcoming posts).

The thing about having a palette was that I didn't want it to box me into having only one of something. I want things to have a feel to them. I want them to feel warm, romantic, woodsy and like us.

Photo sources left to right
Image from Green Wedding Shoes // Image by Stone Crandall Photography
Image from Green Wedding Shoes // Image by Forged in the North Photography
Image from Ruffled Blog // Image by Cami Takes Photos
Image from Green Wedding Shoes // Image by Logan Cole Wedding Co.

And so, with our look, feel and palette in mind, my upcoming posts will start to unfold how it all ties together.

Did you avoid picking colours for your wedding?