Honeymoon: Cuba!

Tips when visiting Havana & Varadero, Cuba for your honeymoon or any vacation

Hola amigos!

We are back from our honeymoon with sun-kissed skin. I now understand what Camila Cabello was talking about... Havana really does have my heart. Although it was only a 3-hour flight away, Havana really felt like another world; a quant Latin-European city right out of the 1950's. I thoroughly enjoyed the architecture, the bright colours and the people with such a strong sense of community. Anyone thinking of where to go on their honeymoon that does not have more than a week away from work but wants a good mix of culture and relaxation, consider a Havana and Varadero get-away. It is also a more cost-effective option but remember, foreigners are always given a different currency so Cuba is actually quite pricey when you're outside of your all-inclusive resort. If visiting Havana, be sure to at least stay overnight for 1 day if not so a couple days.

Here are some of my tips when going to Cuba on your honeymoon or on vacation:

  1. Bring lots of sunscreen and a hat. Of course you want a tan but trust me, it can get scorching especially mid-day! Bring some aloe versa just in case you fall asleep in the sun.
     
  2. Bring lots of anything you need. Cuba is not like other countries where if you forget anything, it's easily purchased. It is most likely not available or super expensive! This includes any personal items like lotion, conditioner, hair spray and tampons/pads.
     
  3. Don't bring American money. There is a 10% surcharge for American currency so bring that Canadian cash. You can exchange it upon arrival (just enough until you can get to to a bank or another place or exchange). There are 2 currencies, one for foreigners and one for locals; the key is that the convertible pesos (foreigner money) is the equivalent of the US dollar and will have monuments on them instead of faces. Be sure when you get back your change it's always the foreigner peso or else you're losing 25x face value (1 CUC = 25 CUP).
     
  4. Make lots of change. You'll need to tip lots and it is about 10% however tip 15% if you liked the service. Many places won't be able to give you change since they may be operating in CUP (local pesos) or they don't want to give you their change so it's on you to have exact change. Banks will give you the best rate (bring your passport to exchange money) but oddly enough, our hotel in Central Park in Old Havana gave us the best rate we could find!
     
  5. Adaptor. Some hotels and resorts can differ but usually they will use a euro adapter so bring a universal one if you have one.
     
  6. A travel guide or download the offline map. I have been to plenty of third world countries but this is the one that has been the hardest to get internet. Even if you get it, it's 99% not free even at your 5-star hotel. This may be the best time to make sure you have space on your phone, an offline map, and all the places and directions you wanted to visit/eat at saved on your phone. Either way, it's a great way to disconnect from the real world and work emails!
     
  7. A good relaxing book. Since you'll be soaking in some sun and disconnecting from the world, bring a good read.
     
  8. A lock for your suitcase. So, it sounds a little terrible to be untrusting but regardless, it's better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you take care of your cash and have photo copies of your ID. Overall, Cuba is a safe country but just to be safe side.
     
  9. A towel. Some casa particulars are known to be missing some items so bring a towel just in case.
     
  10. Umbrella and a windbreaker. It can be very windy along the beach or malecon at night so make sure you have something to  keep you warm and dry.
     
  11. Stomach pills. Your stomach may not be used to their food and as we mentioned, the pharmacy doesn't have much so bring this with you.
     
  12. TP and hand sanitizer. Self-explanatory. There aren't many public washrooms, especially ones that have soap and/or toilet paper.
     
  13. Flash light. As a communist country, there may be be power outages. If there isn't, it is still very dark at night to reserve energy even in highly populated tourist areas so a flash light isn't a crazy idea. We couldn't even see on the beach a few metres ahead of us if the moon wasn't visible and on the sometimes bumpy cobble stone roads in Havana, a flash light would've come in handy.
     
  14. Bug spray. Havana wasn't an issue but I sure did get bitten in Varadero even by the beach.
     
  15. Bring some gifts for the locals. Here are some items they desperately need or would like: Tylenol/Advil, bars of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, nail polish, band-aids, razors, spices, baby toys, clothes, sweets/chocolate, and of course, a little tip here and there where ever you can.

Bon voyage... but in Spanish!

 
Old Havana, Cuba taken by my husband

Old Havana, Cuba taken by my husband

IMG_6207.JPG
IMG_6282.JPG
my hubby & I  

my hubby & I

 

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba

 

New Review: Liz + Ari

From our beautiful bride, Liz:

 

Finding out about Bisous Events was the luckiest discovery I could have possibly made. 

When I began planning my wedding, I saw their work on Instagram one day and bookmarked some photos as inspiration, and kept going back to gawk at them. I had never considered having a wedding planner, but when my wedding was six months away, I had a panic attack. With so many decisions to make, family pressures/(strong) opinions, and budgeting anxieties, I felt I had lost control. I no longer knew what I wanted for my wedding; if I was on time, too late or too early to do things; and lost confidence in my abilities to put it together. 

I went back to the Instagram photos from Bisous Events, and decided to contact them.

I am so grateful that I did. Jessica Auvray helped me every step of the way. Although she was planning other weddings at the same time, I still felt like I had her on my side 100%. She is incredibly organized, very responsive, has great taste in decor - she has the ability to make your wedding exude a feeling, not just make it look pretty - and is bossy in the best possible way. She also seems to know the most stylish vendors in the city in order to pull the whole look together, including the smallest of details. On the day of our wedding, we already knew in advance that we didn't have to worry about logistics. Jessica and her assistant ran the show and ensured everything went as planned. I couldn't have imagined having the wedding we had if it weren't for Jessica. Throughout the six months of working with her, I also got to know her as a person and she is simply lovely. She is thoughtful, encouraging, supportive and patient. These are qualities that I don't think wedding planners necessarily need to have in order to do a good job, however they are qualities that make her stand out. I felt like I had a friend helping me. 

In short: she rocks. If you are in need of a planner, or even if you don't think you need one, I highly recommend Bisous Events.

 

Thank you for being so sweet to work with! I know wedding planning can be very wonderful but also very emotional.

Liz looked absolutely stunning (along with her bridal party) on their big day and I was so happy to be apart of it!

Gros bisous!

Neil Ta Photography

Neil Ta Photography

French Café Shoot - featured on Grey Likes Weddings

Warm neutrals in this Parisienne-inspired photoshoot

Neutrals are so hot right now for weddings during all seasons.

Bisous Events was obviously French-inspired in its name (Bisous meaning kisses) and so when we got the chance to team up with international French photographer, Lénaïc Sanz, we knew we had to do something to nod to the always-inspiring city of Paris, France! 

Lénaïc sent me an image of a Parisian lady sipping coffee and I loved the warm tones in the image for a cafe-inspired shoot. I immediately looked for venues that gave a gritty, historical and warm vibe in Toronto while Lénaïc was in town. The French Café photoshoot was set in nowhere other than above an existing coffee shop, Merchants of Green Coffee, in the Jam Factory venue space. The venue provided lots of natural light on the cloudy day (which lent well to the shoot since Paris is known for its cloudy days), exposed bricks and beams and access to hot espresso downstairs! 

The bride, Tanya, sipped on her espresso as she got ready for her big day in her custom lace robe by Catalfo. Make-up by Ford Beauty and hair by Bridal Hair Collective was effortless glam. This classic wedding deserved beautiful stationery to reflect the mood by Paper Mache Co. Every bride needs 2 gowns (am I right?) for the ceremony and reception, both from Sash and Bustle and rings by Anouk Jewelry. The ceremony space was entirely assembled on-site by the talented designer behind Mums Garden, Erin with fresh latte-coloured florals. The table also was adorned in florals and flowy fabrics and accentuated with the chocolate-coloured cutlery. Le Dolci supplied the lovely cake.

Merci beaucoup to all the vendors that participated in this chic photoshoot!

Featured on Grey Likes Weddings - click here to see the full feature!

Planner, producer & stylist: Jessica Auvray / Bisous Eventsbisousevents.com / IG @bisous_events / FB: bisousevents / twitter bisous_events 

Photo: Lénaïc Sanz sanzlenaic@gmail.com / IG @sanzlena

Venue: Jam Factory IG @jamfactoryto

Model: Tanya / B&M Models @bnmmodels

Hair: Amy Griffiths info@bridalhaircollective.com IG @bridalhaircollective

Make-up: Janet Ford / www.FordBeauty.com / Instagram: Ford_Beauty

Florals: Erin / Mum’s Garden  info@mumsgarden.ca IG @mumsgardenfloral

Dress & Accessories: Sash & Bustle / Andrea Dineen andrea@sashandbustle.com IG @sashandbustle / gowns: Ivy & Aster "Heron" and Truvelle “Sasha”

Robe: Sarah Catalfo / BY CATALFO / www.ByCatalfo.com IG @bycatalfo

Ring: Anouk Jewelry / anoukjewelry.com / FB: anoukjewelry / twitter: ANOUKbyAnat / IG @anoukjewelry

Table top rentals: (Bisous Events) / Chairs: (owned by florist)

Cake: Lisa / Le Dolci / IG, Twitter: @ledolci / www.LeDolci.com

Stationery: Yan / Paper Mache co. @papermacheco

 

Jenn & Paul: Castle Garden Wedding at Casa Loma

Every bride wants to feel like a princess on her big day and what is more royalty-like than a wedding in the garden of a castle?! One of my favourite venues of the city, every chance I get to be back in the venue I love being back. From the gardens of Casa Loma, you get the perfect view overlooking the city while being surrounded by lots of greens and flowers... and a castle! 

Jenn and Paul's wedding was nothing short of spectacular. The bride first came to me with the most detailed excel spread sheets and mood boards any bride has ever sent! It was really so fun to work with her to build and design their special day. She was going back and fourth between New York City and Toronto during the planning process.

On the Big Day, Jenn wore a Anne Barge gown with the most stunning lace corset back with Paul in a handsome navy suit with custom lining. A Chinese wedding has to of course include the intimate tea ceremony in the morning followed by western ceremony inside the gardens of Casa Loma, in front of the fountain. As they kissed to seal their union, the fountains were turned back on in sync as they made their first walk down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs.! We really did luck out with some perfect fall weather. The cocktail hour included a live oyster station from Rodney's as well as 2 signature drinks, one for the bride and one for the groom. Afterwards, guests made their way into the glass tent for dinner and dancing. The tent was decorated with sheer ceiling drapery and beautiful chandeliers while still being able to see the castle but as the sun set, the stars were visible as guests enjoyed their 4-course dinner. 

Being a fall wedding, we incorporated navy, greys, deep reds and lots of greenery. The tables were a combination of round and long tables with the couple sitting at a long table surrounding by their friends and family. Flower 597 framed the couple with a breath-taking arbour and garland down their table with plenty of candles to set the ambiance. Throughout the evening, there was DJ Ahmed Grim and live guitarist, Drew Wright, to entertain the guests. 

The entire day went so smoothly and when the photographer, Scarlet O'Neil, sent back the pictures, I was so thrilled to go through them! Going through each of their photos, it was so great to see that their day was just as beautiful on film as it was in person but more importantly, I could see the love and the happiness in their expressions! 

Congratulations again to this amazing and bubbly couple; wishing you many more beautiful moments!

xo
Jess

Planning: Bisous Events
Photography: Scarlet O'Neil Photography
Florist: Flower 597
Video: One Heart Films
Venue: Casa Loma - Pavilion & Garden
Hair: Puzzle Creations
 

A Wedding Planner's Wedding!

I am officially married!

Some wedding planners get married before getting into the business but I did it the other way around. It definitely helped me in planning my big day and it was everything I could hope for!

There is a lot of pressure when it comes to planning your wedding day when you're in the industry but I knew from day 1 that this wedding wouldn't be about impressing everyone but instead be a reflection of us and we would stay true to the things that were important to us. This is how I see my clients' weddings and it was no difference for myself! I wanted to ensure both our families with the multiple languages were all comfortable and having fun. 

Here are the common questions everyone I know or meet including my current couples and all the wedding vendors ask:

1) How do you feel?

Well I basically feel the same. It's not bad like it sounds! I always felt like Joseph was my husband and I would spend forever with him. We already blended our families, lived together for years, travelled together, purchased our home together and raise our dog. I am so happy to call him my husband, it really feels natural. 

2) Was it crazy planning your wedding day while still planning all your client's weddings?

Yes and no. Yes because it was weird being on the other side of things. No because this is what I do for a living, all the logistics and vendor sourcing is normal. I do have a new found respect for brides! I did not expect to be so emotional on the day but oh did I shed some happy tears!

3) Would you do anything different looking back?

Some things happened like moving venues 1 month prior to but really, I wouldn't change anything! 

4) What was your favourite thing about your wedding? 

There are really too many things to name since I planned it from Day 1 but here are a couple high-lights:

  • My dog, Misu, was our flower pet and walked down the aisle with my sister!
  • The food. We're huge foodies and the food was phenomenal!
  • The weather. This is something you could never control and our wedding was inside but the weather really made everyone in a good mood especially since most of our guests travelled from outside Canada to be with us. This also allowed us to be able to walk around for our wedding day photos.
  • My dress. I don't know when I'll ever be able to feel so beautiful and glamorous again! My hair and make-up looked so lovely too.. and it looked that way even at the end of all the hours of dancing!
  • All our families travelling from far and wide to be with us. I don't know another day I could wrangle all these people from France to Florida to England together again.
  • Marrying my love, Joseph!

It was an amazing day with so much love... but I'm glad its back to normal about being back on the side I'm most comfortable with, behind the scenes!

Thank you to everyone that made our days everything we could wish for!

Planner: Bisous Events
Venue: The Great Hall
Photographer: Ally Ho / Evolylla Photography
Florals: Flower 597
Calligraphy/Stationery: Paula Lee Calligraphy
Dress: Ines Di Santo
Suit: 18 waits
Rentals: Plate Occasions & The Perfect Table
Make-up: Glow by Mimosa
Hair: Puzzle Creations
DJ: Docteur Mephisto
 

Sneak Peeks from Grace & Trevor's Stunning Fall Wedding!

My favourite season for so many reasons... fall! I am always so inspired by the changing colours but for this beautiful fall wedding, I was so inspired by the warm red of the bride's hair! I decided to get further inspiration from the venue, Old Mill, for its vintage feel so we combined ivory, copper, gold and a bunch of teal for Grace & Trevor's Big Day. We mixed and matched the metallics with rose gold cutlery, hammered copper chargers, gold frames and gold votives. The florist personally foraged for the turning leaves to incorporate in to the ultra-romantic floral design. Thank you to everyone that brought this wedding together!

Check out the images by Jacqueline James Photography so all the lovely photos.. definitely a favourite in 2017!