the ultimate summer picnic

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. . . I’m certain that if there is one thing you know about me, it’s that I have a very strong affinity for picnics. Nothing says summer like fresh berries, a great bottle of wine, the best company, the smell of green grass, and the warmth of the sunshine. It’s an absolutely romantic experience.

I’ve been chit-chatting with you about one picnic in particular: the #OPENpicnic, which is internet speak for a leisurely picnic hosted by the wonderful people at OPEN Wines. Unfortunately I won’t be present (Las Vegas is calling . . . ), but some of my favourite fellow bloggers will be (Alex of Larkspur Vintage, for one) will be there with bells on. If you’re in Toronto this weekend, I highly recommend marking this one in your Moleskine.

Here’s what you can expect:

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When: Saturday, July 23 from 12-8 p.m.

Where: Harbourfront Centre, Toronto. Look for the South Lawn (behind the concert stage)

To eat: La Loteria, Vesta Lunch, and Mis Amigos Catering will be popping up at the event. Yum!

To sip: OPEN Wine’s Smooth Red and Riesling-Gewurztraminer will be available for sampling

Contest alert: For those at the event, share a photo of you at the picnic (don’t forget the #OPENpicnic hashtag!) for a chance to win a Getaway to the Drake Devonshire . . . a perfect little two-night escape for two.

There will also be plenty of leisure games, good music, and fine company.

What’s not to love?

xx-Ashley-150
* Thank you to OPEN Wines for sponsoring this post.

summer solstice

surf - 1Today is the first day of summer. Pause for appreciation and applause.

May your days be long. The sun: bright and friendly. The air: warm and thick. Your rosé: chilled. Your hair: smell of salt and your skin of Coppertone. Your worries: forgotten. Your calendar: free for play. 

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Happiest summer,

xx-Ashley-150

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wedding wednesday: how to choose a wedding photographer

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We are officially four months away from the big day!

I shared earlier that we are have hired Tara McMullen and her partner Barb Simkova as our wedding photographers and we truly couldn’t be happier. Choosing the right photographer is one of the most important aspects of wedding planning . . . I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to splurge on a photographer if you can and save a bit in other areas like decor and favours. You could have the best venue and the best flowers but if you don’t have a great photographer to capture it properly (not to mention, in the style that suits you), you won’t have that to look back on.

With that said, it’s not always easy to know who to choose . . . there seem to be so many photographers out there and new ones popping up all the time. I’ve put together my top tips for finding the right person/team to hire for this very big, very important job.

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TIP #1: Know your aesthetic 

As with hiring any creative person, you’ll want to select a photographer whose work fits within the style you and your fiance/fiancee are looking to achieve. Andrew and I love the candid, light & bright, natural look so that’s why we hired Tara and Barb. Is your style more moody and romantic? Modern and artistic? Knowing how to describe your aesthetic will ensure you end up with the right talent. Be weary of photographers who are quick to bend to the style you want, especially when their portfolio tells a different story. If you aren’t great with words (and don’t want those words misinterpreted), a great way to communicate your visual style is with a Pinterest board with examples of work you and your partner enjoy.

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TIP #2: Research, research, research

The best place to start is within your own circle of friends. My friend Kelly Lynn and Andrew‘s photos were absolutely perfect to us and so Andrew and I made a mental note to call on Tara and Barb for our own wedding. Even if the style of your friend’s wedding photography doesn’t match your own, there’s a good chance they did a lot of leg work in reaching out to a bunch of contacts . . . and they will be happy to share this with you.*

*This goes for all vendors (florists, caterers, venues, etc.), not just the photographer.

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TIP #3: Look at packages and offerings

Most wedding photographers work within a set of packages, which are quite helpful to know exactly what you’re getting. Review the different packages and decide what is important to you both as a couple. Do you have pre-wedding events like a rehearsal dinner you want captured? How many hours of coverage do you need? (hot tip on coverage: it always takes longer than you think it will, especially when you need to wrangle family and the wedding party!) Will you need a second shooter? (maybe, if it’s a larger wedding) Are you expecting a wedding album? The levels of packages will determine your budget, but make sure those “must-haves” are ticked off so you don’t end up with any surprises.

For us, it’s really important that our full weekend in Cape Cod is captured. From the clambake rehearsal dinner to the seaside vows to dancing in the wee hours of the morning, we want it all documented. We chose Tara and Barb’s “Dream Team Package” which is really the top of the line . . . it sounds like a lot but we really wanted everything taken care of.

In addition to the wedding events we’re also getting in an engagement session. I wasn’t initially sold on this and I tend to associate engagement photos with those cheesy shots you see all over Facebook (I don’t even have Facebook!), but a good friend turned me onto the idea by looking at it more as an opportunity to have beautiful, proper photos of you as a couple to look back on when you’re old and grey (hehe).

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TIP #4: Ask lots of questions

When you’re setting meetings, be sure to go in with a list of questions. Be sure to include everything from their background and photography style to specifics around logistics and deliverables. There’s a good of example questions here. This is less about interrogation and more about getting to know their process and working style . . . you’ll want to ensure their way gels with yours.

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TIP #5: Trust your instincts

This is a big one. After meeting with your potential photographer, how do you feel? Are you excited and trusting or nervous and more stressed? One of the reasons we chose Tara and Barb is because we felt like they actually cared about us and our story . . . they answered all our questions with ease and grace but they also had their own questions. They wanted to know how we met, how our relationship evolved over the years, and what our family is like. They wanted to spend time with me as a bride and get to know us as a couple, they’ve become our friends.

This may sound like a “nice-to-have” but I think that closeness really comes through in the images. It’s the difference between having stiff, posed photos and natural, documentary style shots. And if you’re anything like me, you’re quite nervous in front of the camera. If you’re comfortable around your team, the results will speak for themselves and you won’t need to worry about a thing!

Best of luck, fellow bride(s)-to-be,

xx-Ashley-150

the scout / 37

Photo from quaintrellebyab

The weekend is best greeted with Friday night oysters and bubbly at home . . . wouldn’t you agree? The weather around here has finally reached summer temperatures, Toronto is really funny that way: one minute it’s chilly and the next it is full blown summer (there’s no real in between).

Things I’m looking forward to: wearing my new striped seersucker pinafore and tassel clutch, sipping rosé in the sunshine, and catching up on my giant stack of mags.

In the meantime . . . some lovely links for your perusal:

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I am feeling the lettuce ware come back that I feel is on the verge of happening . . . these banana leaf appetizer plates from Mackenzie’s shop are a nice way to usher in this style.

Heading to Prague this spring? My super talented photographer brother (maybe you know him as @snappedbycam) was hired by Air Canada recently to shoot some travel continent to promote their new route . . . check it out.

As I work on launching my own consulting business (can’t wait to share more with you soon!), the topic of branding is fresh on my mind. This article on the sound of a company’s name is absolutely fascinating.

I’ve bookmarked this list of summer reads. What’s on your list?

The world’s ugliest colour is . . .

Planning a fun summer entertaining shoot with my girl Kelly Lynn . . . let the pinning begin.

Andrew + I are slowly (but surely) working on collecting pieces for our art wall. I love these beach-y prints.

Making this summer-y salad for lunch this weekend.

Enjoy the sunshine, my beautiful friends!

xx-Ashley-150

wedding wednesday: to the cape!

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Andrew proposed to me nearly a year and a half ago, and since then we have already moved to France and back. Now that we are settled at home again, planning is fully underway for our October vows. The whole thing has been exciting and though I’ve shared little snippets on Instagram here and there, I figured it would be nice to properly document the process and share with you. Even as someone who plans events for a living, I’ve learned a few things along the way and so I thought this may also be helpful for you . . . should you also be planning your I do’s.

I don’t want to give away too much ahead of the big day, but do expect more updates from me as we get closer and closer. Here’s where we’re at now . . .

THE LOCATION

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We knew we wanted a small wedding. To us, it’s a very intimate thing to exchange vows and promise your life to each other. I will admit that our families were a little surprised at first – but once we explained our vision they understood and have been supportive ever since. We’re lucky that way, I know it’s not always easy top please everyone. My advice here is to do what truly feels right for you both as a couple, because that’s really what this is all about.

Knowing we had a small group allowed us to expand on our horizon a bit in terms of the setting. Before we made the big move across the pond, we decided on Cape Cod as our location. Why Cape Cod? Neither of us have family there, however it is a place with great meaning. With a shared affinity for the sea, Andrew surprised me with a trip for birthday a few Octobers ago (sneaky guy!) and since then it’s been an integral part of our story.

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THE LOOK + FEEL

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We found a beautiful beach front home where we will be hosting the ceremony, dinner, and party. Think traditional Cape style architecture, designed to the nines in our favourite aesthetic: coastal colonial. I don’t love the idea of a themed wedding, but things will definitely feel beach-y without looking too nautical. Instead of going literal with anchors and lobsters, we are using a colour palette of pale blue, blush, and lots of white to make our statement.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

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Of all the vendors involved in planning a wedding, hiring the right photographer is the most important thing to Andrew and I. Beginning the planning only six months out meant that not having this locked down was the one thing that stressed me out a bit. We quickly realized all the good Cape Cod photographers we could find were booked nearly two years in advance (who are these people?). So I got a little resourceful and put out a call on Instagram . . . to my absolute surprise and delight, our favourite photographer, Tara McMullen, commented on my post letting me know she had October 8 free and was willing to make the trip out east (and travels the world for weddings frequently). I freaked out! I assumed that because the wedding was only six months away that she would already be booked (she and her partner Barb really are that good – hello, dream team). My learning here: you should absolutely try for your pie-in-the-sky vendor because you never know . . . sometimes people have to cancel/switch dates which could mean room for you and your wedding. And just look at the way she captured my friends’ Kelly Lynn + Andrew’s wedding! Pure. Magic.

In my next post I will share more about floral, rehearsal dinner (a clambake!), and bridal/groom party looks. In the meantime, if you or anyone you know has tied the knot in Cape Cod I’d love to hear any recommendations . . . especially in regards to the best locations for wedding photos.

Love,

xx-Ashley-150

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