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Ashhtayy's Planning Thread - Azul Fives - June 7, 2016

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I LOVE reading planning threads for many reasons. Here are a few:

  1. They give me ideas I would have never thought of
  2. The provide answers to questions I hadn’t even thought of asking but definitely needed to know
  3. They make me feel like I am apart of someone’s wedding even though I haven’t had to do any of the hard work
  4. The give brides-to-be a rough guideline as to when certain things need to be started/completed
  5. They speak to issues brides-to-be run into and what to expect
  6. They let you know that how you are feeling or the situations or debacles you are running into are completely normal

After being inspired by many other brides-to-be on this site, I have decided to start putting my planning into words. I am hoping by doing this it will motivate me to get the ball rolling again and iron out some of the BIG (and small) items I have been putting off.

 

I hope you enjoy reading a little bit about Michael and I. I’m excited for you all to be reading along as we plan the wedding of our dreams.  

 

xo Ashley

Edited by ashhtayy
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Cool - another planning thread! We love reading them!!

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The Meeting

In July 2012 I switched employers; I left a company I had been with for 8 years. Little did I know this was the best decision I was ever going to make.

 

A month after starting with the new company I travelled to beautiful British Columbia to meet my west coast team members. On day one I attended a store in Richmond, BC. Two hours into my training session, the most handsome man I had ever seen walked into the room. After the session had finished I found myself wandering the streets of downtown Vancouver with a co-worker from Toronto when I heard an email alert go off on my BlackBerry. It was an email from Michael – “It was great to meet you today, Ashley. Here is my BBM pin – add me!” I added him immediately.

 

When I got to work day two after messaging with Michael most of the evening, much to my surprise, he was there again. We were only supposed to spend one day training together…but Michael showed up day two and then again on day three.

 

When it was time for me to leave Vancouver and head to Calgary we had to say goodbye. Our goodbye consisted of non-stop smiles and a professional handshake.

 

My first words when I returned to Ontario to my friends and family went something like this…“I met the cutest guy in the world; too bad he lives in Vancouver”.

 

The Next Year

The BBM messages continued for months; most times all day and late into the evening. Michael was going to Toronto for a week-long conference in October and he told me he would love to come down either the weekend before or the weekend after to spend some non-work time together. Neither weekend worked particularly well as I had my university’s homecoming the first weekend (not something you bring a “new” guy to) and a high school friend’s wedding the second weekend. Instead of saying I couldn’t spend the time with him I told him I would love if he extended his stay and come as a date with me to my friend’s wedding. Michael bravely accepted and the plans ensued.

 

After our weekend together in October, it was clear to us that we had something special and needed to find a way to make the impossible possible. We planned our next visit for November and it is then, after a Toronto Raptors game, we decided to make this relationship official – we were now in a long distance relationship.

 

The Next Step

After countless trips from Toronto to Vancouver and Vancouver to Toronto and high cell phone bills, we knew this relationship would only last if we could live together, in the same province and same home. We both began the daunting task of applying for new jobs; me in Victoria where Michael was living at the time, Michael in Toronto. We both came close to securing new jobs a few times, but neither of us liked the idea of leaving the company we loved.

 

It was late in October 2013 when Michael received a phone call from our company, offering him a transfer to the Toronto market. It seemed like a miracle for me – I was able to keep the job I loved and Michael was able to keep his, just in a new location.

 

The Big Move

January 14th, 2014 Michael made the move from BC to ON. YES! BC to ON, not the other way around – crazy, we know; people tell us every day. With Michael being so close with his family and friends I immediately recognized how big of a step this was for us and our relationship.

 

The Engagement

After living together for 10 months, Michael popped the ‘big question’; and he did so in the sweetest way any man could.

 

I had been in Boston for a few days attending a conference and when I arrived home from the airport Michael told me he had made me something. This in itself was odd to me as I was a frequent crafter, not Michael.

 

I put my luggage down, sat on the couch and waited to see ‘this craft’. Michael handed me a scrapbook that had my favourite photograph of us on the front. Inside I found pages upon pages of handwritten notes we had exchanged, tickets from events we had attended and various different items from all chapters of our lives together.

 

The second last page contained the sweetest, most sincere letter I had ever received. Half way through reading it I found myself upset; upset thinking, “Wow, what a great way to propose – no way he is proposing – not yet, not now!”

 

Much to my surprise, he was! The final words read “With that being said…” As I turned the page I saw the words “Will you marry me?” and attached was a beautiful princess cut diamond ring. MY engagement ring!

 

Although neither of us recall exactly what happened or the exact words that were spoken, the answer was inevitably yes. We were engaged October 29th, 2014.

 

Engagement Ring

 

Edited by ashhtayy
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The First Step in Planning

We knew immediately we wanted a destination wedding. It wasn’t because we dreamed of marrying with our toes in the sand, but because either way our friends and families would have to travel to get to our wedding (BC or ON). With the costs of flights ranging from $600 - $900 round-trip and then factoring in hotel stays, etc. our closest friends and family agreed that traveling to a tropical destination would be amazing and, most importantly, feasible.

 

I contacted many local TA’s and one after the other they fell short. To me, our must-have list was fairly simple:

  • A smaller resort that offered something ‘outside-of-the-box’ for our ceremony,
  • A resort with amazing food (my FI is Italian), and
  • A resort that fell in our guests budgets ($1500 for ON, $1800 for BC)

The local TA’s I contacted in the beginning were not helpful. I felt they were pushing us in a direction we weren’t interested in going and they were not showing us anything that fell in line with what I thought was a simple must-have list.

 

Selecting a resort was one of the most stressful times for me. I started shortly after we were engaged; spending hours researching for a few nights straight and then stopping for weeks because I found myself becoming too overwhelmed. How are you supposed to pick one resort when ALL of the photographs look beautiful?

 

I finally came across a photograph of the Azul Fives Sky Deck; I was amazed. This was the ‘outside-of-the-box’ element I was looking for. I went back to one of our local TA’s and requested prices. They came back astronomical. I wasn’t about to ask my guests to spend between $2200 - $2500 to see us wed. When the TA told me I would have to choose a new resort if I wanted to stay within our “unreasonable” budget I was crushed.

 

Sky Deck 2

 

It was around that time that I came across this website. I began reading about Azul Fives in detail and came across a post about Gourmet Inclusive TA’s. For those of you unaware, Azul Fives by Karisma is a gourmet all-inclusive resort. My booking with a GI TA you receive additional perks. Someone provided a link to GI TA’s in ON and I emailed all of them. One particular GI TA emailed me back almost instantly. She had already sent out a request to get me the quotes for the dates I was looking for and answered every single question I had listed in my email. From that night forward I continued using this GI TA. I couldn’t believe how quick she was to respond and how thorough she was. When she received a quote I had requested and she knew it was out of our price range, she tried another week and another week, and I never had to ask. I felt as if she was a mind reader. She kept amazing me with how great her communication was and how committed she seemed to finding us the best rate at the resort we wanted.

 

Initially we wanted to get married during a school break or have it overlap with a school holiday because my two best friends are teachers and I couldn’t imagine getting married without them there. That is one wish I had to give up on. Rates during March Break were outrageous. Had we of stuck with that plan we would have had no one other than our immediate families attend – it was just too expensive.

 

And that is how we ended up with a June 7th, 2016 wedding date. I hated the idea at first; thinking the weather (at times) is too nice in ON & BC to ask people to travel to Mexico but quickly realized that if this was the resort we wanted, June, September or October were the months we were going to have to settle with. Having been engaged late in October of 2014, we couldn’t imagine pushing the wedding back to September or October 2016.

 

We locked in June 5th – June 12th, 2016 at a rate of $1560 for ON guests and $1735 for BC guests; slightly over budget for ON and slightly under for BC guests.

 

We contacted our first TA at the beginning of January 2015 and had committed to our destination and rate by the end of March 2015.

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@@ashhtayy Great planning thread so far! I love that he made you a scrapbook, that is so sweet and sentimental and something you will always have to look back on.  :)

 

Your reason for choosing a destination wedding was the same as ours. My fiance's family is all from PEI and now we also have family out West as well as in the states. We figured if most people were going to have to pay a lot of money regardless of where it would be in Canada, we might as well all escape and get a great vacation too!

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The Engagement Photo Shoot

Right after we got engaged a very good high school friend and his wife emailed to say they would love if we would let them shoot our engagement photographs…for no cost. I quickly replied to their email to thank them for the offer and said we would get in touch with them when the weather was nicer.

 

The month after receiving their email my life became extremely hectic; in a beautiful want to pull your hair out sort of way. My high school best friend and university best friend were both getting married back-to-back weekends in the summer and the planning for things such as the jack and jills, bridal showers, bachelorettes and weddings were kicking into full steam. It seemed like every moment I wasn’t working I was with them planning, shopping for dresses, working on wedding crafts until 3AM, fielding frantic phone calls about which napkin pattern to pick, etc.

 

Amidst the craziness Michael and I decided to reacknowledge the fact that we too were getting married. We called my high school friend and his wife and booked a date for our engagement shoot.

 

It all happened so fast. We didn’t decide what we were wearing for the photographs until the morning of, we didn’t consider the fact that it was going to be snowing and the temperature was around -20 degrees celsius…we just did it.

 

It was a great pick-me-up for both of us. We knew that the months leading up to my best friends weddings were going to be crazy for me being a bridesmaid in one wedding and the maid of honour in the other and this was the perfect way to stop and celebrate us.

 

I highly recommend engagement photographs for the following reasons:

  • When you aren’t used to posing for pictures you don’t know what to do. This was great practice for both of us. Sure it was awkward, but hopefully we got some of that awkwardness out of the way and our wedding pictures won’t look…like they likely would have had we not done this.
  • Although everyone on your social media may not want to see them (I’m posting them here anyways lol) your immediate family will LOVE them. Especially in our situation because Michael doesn’t get to see his family nearly as much as he’d like to.
  • They are a great keepsake to show your children 20 years down the road.

 

We did our engagement photographs 17 months out of our wedding date. Although I don’t recommend doing them that far out, I do recommend doing them for the reasons stated above. We actually plan on getting a second set of engagement photos done this summer so that we can have some shots displayed at our wedding when we are wearing summer clothing. To some that may seem like overkill, but…not to us! Our wedding, our rules :)

 

M & A

M & A

M & A

M & A

M & A

M & A

M & A

 

@@ashhtayy Great planning thread so far! I love that he made you a scrapbook, that is so sweet and sentimental and something you will always have to look back on.  :)

 

Your reason for choosing a destination wedding was the same as ours. My fiance's family is all from PEI and now we also have family out West as well as in the states. We figured if most people were going to have to pay a lot of money regardless of where it would be in Canada, we might as well all escape and get a great vacation too!

 

@@snswedding2016 thank you! i know i am breaking serious unwritten rules about when the socially acceptable time is to make these things but i really felt like i needed to do this so that i could start holding my self accountable for working on all the planning that is to come.

 

LOVE that he made a scrapbook. so thoughtful and such a surprise. i also love the fact that i had NO idea the engagement was coming. i mean, i knew it would eventually, but i am so thankful i wasn't wondering every time we did something if "today was going to be the day". he's the best.

 

and cute about about how we both ended up planning DWs...at the same resort :) it just seems to make the most sense.

 

 

Cool - another planning thread! We love reading them!!

 

@@acw271011 thanks! as i said, i too love reading them. they can be SO helpful.

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@@ashhtayy haha I'm all about breaking rules that don't feel right for you. Like you said your wedding, your rules! I completely agree! I think a destination wedding in itself to some people is breaking traditional rules - so we're all rebels on here anyway! ha! 

 

I just looked back and I also started my planning thread 10 months out.  ;) I'm really glad I started it so early, it has kept me on track and when things have slowed down reading other threads inspire me to get back at it. I also had a lot planned early on so I needed to get that all down on "paper" to see what was left to do. 

 

Love your engagement photos!!! I love that they are winter engagement photos, I think it definitely makes them more unique. We had the same sort of situation where we had an offer for engagement pics for free, our photographer from Mexico is from Toronto and was here over the holidays so we also did engagement shots in the winter. Another photographer friend has offered to gift us a photography session so we're also going to be doing some summer photos. :)

 

Just looking over your thread so far and I realize we have a lot of similarities - except for the long distance relationship….engaged in Oct 2014, family spread out = dw, picked Azul Fives, winter and summer engagement photos, started planning thread very early --clearly I can't totally relate to your thread so far! ;)

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@@ashhtayy haha I'm all about breaking rules that don't feel right for you. Like you said your wedding, your rules! I completely agree! I think a destination wedding in itself to some people is breaking traditional rules - so we're all rebels on here anyway! ha! 

 

I just looked back and I also started my planning thread 10 months out.  ;) I'm really glad I started it so early, it has kept me on track and when things have slowed down reading other threads inspire me to get back at it. I also had a lot planned early on so I needed to get that all down on "paper" to see what was left to do. 

 

Love your engagement photos!!! I love that they are winter engagement photos, I think it definitely makes them more unique. We had the same sort of situation where we had an offer for engagement pics for free, our photographer from Mexico is from Toronto and was here over the holidays so we also did engagement shots in the winter. Another photographer friend has offered to gift us a photography session so we're also going to be doing some summer photos. :)

 

Just looking over your thread so far and I realize we have a lot of similarities - except for the long distance relationship….engaged in Oct 2014, family spread out = dw, picked Azul Fives, winter and summer engagement photos, started planning thread very early --clearly I can't totally relate to your thread so far! ;)

 

@@snswedding2016 AND we're from the same area :) we were meant to find each other on this site!

 

i remember reading you and your FI are going to the BDR in September and can't wait to hear all about it. i know we will get all the details from @@TinkerSofi when she gets married in august BUT the more information the better.

 

it's looking more and more like we won't be able to attend a BDR. my FI just started a new job and fingers crossed i will be starting a new position with my current comany soon. after our trip to BC in the beginning of august we won't be able to take vacation for awhile and when we do it will be to BC again to visit his family as they likely won't take a trip to ON because of the wedding. i will be piggy backing off your BDR for information :) thanks in advance lol

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@@ashhtayy totally agree!!!

 

I'll definitely report back after the BDR in September! Sean and I are so excited! We just realized that we haven't taken a vacation in a year so we're really looking forward to it. We are going back to PEI in Oct for a family wedding so that will be our last trip before the wedding. I think Sean's family might be disappointed we won't be back for Christmas but our wedding is just two weeks later.

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Congrats again!!!

 

Love your story. It gave me goosebumps. Men can be so romantic sometimes, the scrapbook is a lovely keepsake!!

 

We also have family in ON and BC so everyone would have to travel. Why not go to paradise. Great decision. I am so glad your TA could find something to make it happen for you!

 

Your engagement photos are beautiful. And I agree - they are good practice for the big day. I said that as well. Gave me the confidence for our wedding photos. I love them both.

 

Can't wait for more.

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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