5 things you need to know when hiring a wedding photographer

I thought instead of being narcissistic all the time, I'd post some helpful tips for wedding planning. I've been in the planning process for about a year now. Like most brides-to-be, I spent a lot of time contemplating various details, and also figuring out what questions I need to ask various vendors.

One of the most important vendors you will be working with is your photographer. My way of thinking is that you’re not just paying for some pictures, but you’re buying memories. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. You may look back at your shoes and remember how pretty you felt, but you’d probably also remember how uncomfortable they were.

Here are some things to look for in a photographer:
  1. What style are you going for? My fiance and I are casual people. We aren’t super cheesy people who stop and pose for pictures. When we researched photographers, we looked for portfolios that had candid, more journalistic shots. However, being Chinese, I also needed to satisfy my family with some portraits. So we also had to make sure the photographer we chose was comfortable in taking huge family portraits.
  2. Cost: This is a biggie. Ask your friends who got married recently and find out how much they spent. You can also check wedding forums and get feedback from other brides if you are the first to bite the bullet. Create a budget and stick to it. As much as I believe in buying your memories, you also don’t want to be broke.
  3. Packages: When you request a quote from the photographer, they are going to give you prices on various packages. The packages will include things such as hours of photography, number of photographers, and goodies such as number of retouched photos. When you are comparing prices, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. One package may seem cheaper, but may not include as many deliverables such as albums or printed photos. You need to be sure your overall spend (including prints, and albums) is within your budget.
  4. Interview: If you’re in the same city as your photographer, SET UP A MEETING! You need to be sure your personalities fit. This is a great opportunity to ask questions, and also look at a larger portfolio. Most photographers have part of their portfolio on their website, but those online are only the tip of the iceberg. You may not like a photographer’s website, but you like his prices. It doesn’t hurt to set up a meeting. You may be surprised by what you find.
  5. Sign the Contract!! If you like what you see, chances are, another bride getting married on the same day will like him too. Once you sign the contract, you can move on and plan other aspects of your wedding! (In my case, I’m contemplating my table settings)
After thinking about all these things, I got a few quotes from photographers from Vancouver, and also in the Okanagan area. I quickly eliminated a lot of them based on cost. As much as I believe that you shouldn't skimp on photography, I also couldn't justify spending half my budget on it. I was so happy to find Justin from Three Sixty Photography. I discovered him at Vancity Bride's blog! Justin has a great portfolio, and great pricing. He really listens to what you're looking for, and will do whatever he can to accommodate. What I like about him is that he's done journalistic style shoots, as well as the formal portraits. Him being Chinese is a plus, since he already knows how to handle the demanding aunties! Haha!

We will be doing our engagement shoot soon. I'll be sure to share some of the pictures once they're available!

I hope these quick tips will help you in finding the perfect photographer for your special day!


Vera Wang Trunk Show - Blush Bridal

Blush Bridal is hosting a Vera Wang Trunk Show Feb. 8th - 10th. You will need to call the store and make an appointment to try on the dresses. I loved my experience at Blush. Like I said in a previous post, I was in and out of the store within 40 mins - but not for a lack of dresses. I tried on probably about 10 dresses.

I had the pleasure of getting my portrait done by The Collective You at the Vancouver Club Engage show. The crew will be hosting a complimentary photo session for brides on Feb. 10th at the trunk show. Here's the picture I got from the Engage show. It's almost like a red carpet experience! You walk up, and you get a gazillion shots taken, then the photograph gets touched up, and it's printed for you as a keepsake.

Here's a sneak peak of what you may see at the trunk show!

Source (Kathleen)
Source (Kaye)
Source (Katarina)
Source (Helena)
I love Katarina's skirt! Beautiful!!


Engage Wedding Show at The Vancouver Club

I was lucky enough to get free tickets to go to Engage, The Bridal Show, at The Vancouver Club on Jan. 20th. It was the best wedding show I have ever been to. Upon entry, we were greeted by flowers, particularly orchids, EVERYWHERE! I had never seen so many orchid arrangements!

After browsing the florists in the main lobby, we headed to the fashion show right away. The show was hosted by Blush Bridal in West Vancouver. I didn't get very good pictures with my little camera phone. Here is a picture from Blush's Facebook page.
Sweet Pea Photography has almost 100 pictures of the show on their Facebook page! You have to check it out! It was hard to pick just one that I loved, but I definitely like the sheer, sparkly top of this dress:
I'm still looking for a dress for the reception. I was just going to buy a white dress from wherever, maybe from BCBG or something, but I decided I should go shopping for a short wedding dress after seeing this one.
The dress is just so adorable!! AAAH

Okay, moving on. We went upstairs to the Grand Ballroom where we were greeted by some lovely caviar and champagne. Check out this ice bar. There are orchids IN the ice!

We then moved on to see what the various vendors had prepared. I couldn't get over how elaborate all the flower arrangements were.
Check out these gorgeous cakes by Anna Elizabeth Cakes! The flowers are all made of sugar!

Here's the AMAZING dessert bar! Everything was pink! I love it! There were cakes by Ganache Patisserie, Anna Elizabeth Cakes, Beta 5 Chocolates, cotton candy (clearly), nanaimo bars, pink ombre cake, carrot cake cupcakes, and so many others. It was delicious!
 We followed up desserts with a free mini manicure from Luxe Beauty Lounge. Check out the colour I chose: Don't Give a Rotterdam

Lastly, we got our pictures taken by The Collective You. They're kind of like a photo booth, but with a real photographer, and an editor that will touch up your picture right away. They pictures are then printed, and guests can take them as keepsakes, or the guests can write a message to the wedding couple as a sort of guest book. Super cool idea. We took a bunch of pictures, but only this one was printed. I really would love to see the "outtakes".

All in all, I had a blast at this show. I think we ended up spending 3 hours here. I've never spent 3 hours at a wedding show before. If you get a chance to go next year, DO IT!

A Silpat Baking Dish!! OMG

If you've read some of my baking posts, you'll know that I swear by silpat liners. These are non-stick silicone liners that are easy to clean, and reusable. They are oven-safe (obviously) and microwave safe. These are honestly one of my baking must-have's.
I was scrolling through my geek blogs today, and found a silpat baking dish!!! OMG!
Now I can bake my cookies without having to worry about them falling over the edge!

You can buy them at Amazon for $55.00. It's pretty expensive for a baking pan, but based on my experience with Silpats, I wouldn't hesitate buying this.

What's your favourite baking must-have?


Sample Sale Alert! Bisou Bridal!

Bisou Bridal is having their annual sample sale on Sunday, January 27th! Doors open to the public at noon. You can purchase passes that give give you early access to the store.

Bisou carries brands such as Oscar de la Renta, Lazaro, and Monique Lhullier. This is a great opportunity to get a designer dress at a discounted price.

For more information, check out Bisou's blog!


The Bridal Swap is back!! April 7th, 2013 - Roundhouse Community Centre

DreamGroup Productions' Bridal Swap is back! DreamGroup is more famously known for their Brock House Wedding Show. I went to the show this year, and must say, out of all the bridal shows I've been to, Brock House was the best!

Anyway, the Bridal Swap is for past brides to sell their gently used decor, such as, linens, vases, mirrors, anything you can think of, to future brides. This is a great opportunity to make some money (for past brides), and to save some money (for future brides).

There is also an opportunity to consign your wedding dress! Dresses are all less than $800! This is awesome for budget brides.

Small tables at the booth are $25.00, and large tables are $50.00.

There will also be a small group of professional vendors available to answer any questions you may have.

For more information, check out the website.
Be sure to like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter!

1 Day Sample Sale at Blush Bridal - West Vancouver

Blush Bridal is having a one-day sample sale on Jan. 26th!!! I went to their store when I was shopping for a dress and loved their service. It was so efficient, I was in and out within 40 minutes. This may seem rushed to some, but I'm not the type to stand and stare at myself in the mirror pondering whether the dress is "the one".

For more information, you can check out Vancity Bride's post or like Blush's Facebook page and follow them on Twitter!


Reception Venue - Hillside Winery!

I've been procrastinating on wedding planning, and blogging lately. Every time someone asks me how the planning is going, I just say "all the big stuff is booked, I just need to figure out the details". I've been avoiding planning so much that I just realized I haven't blogged about where we are actually going to have our reception!!

Hillside Winery was originally my first choice. It was where I had my first meal at a winery's restaurant, and Hillside was also one of the places we visited the first time I visited Penticton with Chris. So the venue definitely had some meaning for us. We had a tour of the space in May when we were looking at venues in the area. The view is spectacular, the building is rustic, and cozy. The only problem was the number of guests we were planning on having.

We are planning on inviting 100 guests. Hillside can fit everyone, however, 65 guests will be inside the main dining room, and 25 will be seated outside on the attached patio. This wasn't ideal, I didn't want my guests to have a blocked view of the head table. So we said our goodbyes and headed to Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek, which lead to this debacle.

After the experience at Tinhorn, I was relieved to work with Lindsay. We visited Hillside several times when we were in town. We weren't there for wedding business, but just to top up our wine collection. Lindsay was always gracious, and made us feel special. I told her about my concerns about the seating, and she gave me a copy of another couple's seating chart and reassured me that all my guests will fit. Chris and I went to have dinner one night, and Lindsay surprised us with complimentary wine and dessert.
We started with a Tartine of Warm Qualicum Brie. I had a Pan Roasted Local Steelhead, and Chris had the Field Squash Risotto with Crumbled Blue Cheese. For dessert we had a pumpkin cheesecake with a brûlée crust and Lindsay treated each of us a creme brûlée. Everything was so delicious, we might just use these as our food at the wedding.

I'm still unsure as to how our tables will be laid out, how many people per table, and where everything else like the DJ's, cake table, dessert table is going to go. That just seems way too overwhelming to think about. I do think I know where the head table will go. But who knows. I keep changing my mind on everything. Here are some pictures of the space. Our dinner will be in the restaurant, our cocktail hour and dancing will be on the outdoor deck upstairs.

For the head table, I originally thought about having the whole wedding party there. But now I'm thinking maybe just me and Chris and our MOH and Best Man. What are your thoughts on head table seating?



Slow Cooker Failures :(

I never thought much about slow cookers, but when my co-worker talked about using one to make mulled-wine, I was intrigued!! She happened to have won a Crock Pot at a Christmas party, and brought it in for our mulling purposes. The Crock Pot comes with a little book of instructions and recipes, so I looked through it, and was surprised at how delicious the recipes looked. As you know, I get obsessed with things quite easily, so naturally, I asked for a Crock Pot for Christmas. So I received this beauty from my future MIL. It also came with the Little Dipper (the one on the right).

It hasn't been as great I had made it out to be unfortunately. My first attempt was a turkey breast. I threw in onions, peppers, carrots, garlic, and seasoned the turkey with herbs, salt, and pepper. I set it on low for 9 hours, and went to work. I was so excited when I got home, but alas, that excitement was short lived. The turkey was tender, but I thought it lacked flavour. The broth was delicious, the vegetables were good. I was hoping for a thicker broth though, so I was disappointed with that too. I ended up stir frying the leftover turkey with eggs and tomatoes, and lots of chili paste. That dish was pretty good.

Anyway, I didn't give up. The following week, I bought some stewing beef from Costco. I threw it in the Crock Pot with a can of tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, and set off to work. Again, I was super excited. This HAS to taste better than the turkey. It just HAS TO!!!! But once again, disappointment set in. I found the beef to be flavourless, and chewy. The broth and veggies were good like last time, but it just wasn't stewy at all. After talking about this with a friend who also received a slow cooker for Christmas, it seems my problem is not browning the meat before putting it in the Crock Pot. But I just don't think browning will make that much of a difference. One thing to note too is that these two "recipes" I tried were from Martha Stewart (Stew). Well, I put recipes in quotations because I just read them, and then kind of did my own thing afterwards.

It's my third attempt now. This time it's pork chops. I looked up some recipes on All Recipes, and this time I made an effort to follow the recipe more closely. I decided to go with this one. In addition to the ingredients listed, I also added Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, and a can of tomatoes. 

Here's the finished product!
The sauce was good. This would be the most successful outcome out of my 3 attempts, but I've definitely cooked better pork chops on the stove. I'm starting to think I don't like the texture of slow cooked foods. I think I'll make another dish with barbeque sauce and see how I like it.

Do you use a slow cooker?


*UPDATE *[Venue]Miradoro Restaurant @ Tinhorn Creek in Oliver, BC

Look at these amazing views! Tinhorn Creek is located in Oliver, Part of BC's wine country. Miradoro is the restaurant that is on site. The food at Miradoro is so good, that we still talk about our meal from one year ago. It is for this reason, that we decided to approach Van Doren Chan, the wedding coordinator at Miradoro, when we were looking for a venue.

She was great when giving us the tour, listening to what we were looking for. She gave us the world within our budget. She ensured us that the date we wanted, Aug 10th, 2013 was available, and there was nothing to worry about in terms of getting the date. We had cocktail hour with sparkling wine, and hor d'oeurves. Dinner was to be 2 appetizers, and 3 choices of entreés, followed by a dessert bar, and also late night snack. It was unbelievable that ALL this was within our modest budget. 

She mentioned on multiple occasions that she loved emails, and she will always respond. This was true when I asked her minute details about the day, such as the florist, and menu. She always responded within two days. When I asked if her florist will deliver to our church, she said, don't worry about it, if the florist doesn't deliver, I will personally deliver the flowers. She and her staff would also setup and tear down for us, meaning we would save the cost of hiring a day-off coordinator. This service is AMAZING!

Everything was going great until I asked for the contract, and the procedure for putting down a deposit. When I emailed her asking for the contract, I heard nothing. I didn't think much of it, trusting her to let me know if there were problems with the date. 10 days go by, and I still hadn't heard back from her. It wasn't until I called and left a message at the restaurant that I got a reply to my email.

Van Doren followed up the email with a phone call, and we talked in detail about what the contract would entail. We hung up the phone with the understanding that she will draw up the contract immediately, and I will pay the deposit. I got another call from Van Doren half an hour later telling me that another couple who had been out of touch since last year decided to place a deposit. She did not have a contact number for them so she gave them 24 hours to respond and pay the deposit.

From my perspective, this situation seems rather suspicious. We had discussed our plans in depth at our face-to-face meeting, and she made no mention that there was another couple involved. I had also asked her about the date over email before our meeting. Had she said there was someone else interested in the date, I would have put down our deposit the day we met, without seeing a proposal. That's how much we LOVED the venue. It was strange that for someone who loved emails to suddenly not respond when I wanted to give you business. Based on the information I have, and my knowledge of how most event coordinators are compensated, I feel that this other couple had either contacted Van Doren before us, and she completely forgot about their plans. Or, they contacted her after, but they had a bigger budget, so she tried to stall my deposit.

When Van Doren first called me to let me know about this other couple, she gave me her cell phone in case I had any questions. I called her at noon the next day with no answer, and I called again when the other couple's 24 hours was up. Both times she did not answer my calls. She was clearly screening my calls to avoid a difficult conversation. I did not find out about losing my date until I called and spoke with Justin, Miradoro's restaurant manager. It was only after I spoke with Justin that she sent me a hasty email about losing our date.

Justin was very professional, and I have the greatest respect for him. He has integrity, and is not afraid to have a difficult conversation. He listened to my concerns, and offered his help if I needed help finding other vendors. Unfortunately this cannot be said for Van Doren. I understand her cell phone is for her personal use, so why give out the number when she had no intentions of ever speaking with me? Her professionalism is also lacking on her Linked In profile. Tinhorn has done such a great job through social media, it is unfortunate that Van Doren's profile picture is of her chugging a bottle of champagne.

I completely understand that Miradoro cannot accomodate our wedding in August due to how Van Doren handled the situation. I am saddened by this as we absolutely loved the location, and started making our plans around Miradoro.

I have nothing bad to say about Miradoro, and its amazing food. Justin is a great manager. I have been in touch with the owners, and I have nothing bad to say. They've been in contact with me, and assured that this will be addressed.

That's all I really wanted, to be heard. I'm not looking to "steal" the date from the other couple. It's a special day for them too. I'm just happy that this will never happen to another couple.

If you're ever in the Okanagan, you MUST check out Tinhorn and Miradoro. Like I said before, I still talk about the amazing meal we had last year. The food is so simple, but the flavours are so complex. Honestly, words can't describe how great the food is there.


I had put this debacle past me. It stressed me out tremendously, and I am wary of all wedding vendors as a result. Today, Van Doren emailed me to remove this post. I understand her frustrations, however all this could have been prevented had she done her due diligence. I first inquired about our wedding date on March 15th, 2012. She promptly responded to my email saying the date was available.
The purpose of this post is not to damage Van Doren's reputation, but to tell others what I learned from this situation. Always get a signed contract, or at least put down a deposit before making further plans!

I've been procrastinating on all things wedding that I forgot to update everyone on the final location of our wedding! We booked Hillside Winery for our reception. We're so excited to be working with Lindsay Wong!

I heard back from the management team very quickly. The owners offered to make an exception to their 2 wedding a month policy, and gave us the option to have our wedding on August 9th or the 11th. We were also offered a complimentary sparkling reception for all of our guests. We are ecstatic! It is not an ideal situation, but we still have the venue on the weekend that we need. Now let's hope this new date works with our church.