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Engagement Season – Blue Nile Inc. Interview

I’m so excited and honored to be blogging today about Blue Nile Inc.  They are one of the largest diamond distributors on the planet and traded on the NASDAQ.  When I first decided to launch a blog series about engagement season, I had a gut feeling to get an interview with their company about diamonds.  On a whim I emailed Amanda, their Public Relations Manager for an interview.

Blue Nile is a massive company and I wasn’t 100 % sure if I would receive an email back.  I was over the moon when Amanda emailed back.  This says a lot about their dedication to customer service.

What makes this company so special to me is that I have a personal connection to the brand, as my engagement ring is from their company.

(Image supplied by Blue Nile Inc.)

Here are some things Blue Nile recommends for getting the best diamond ring possible for your future fiancé:

Do Your Homework. You don’t have to be an accomplished gemologist to buy a diamond, but you must take the time to do research. The No. 1 fear diamond buyers have is – will I get ripped off? With a little research on the education sections of sites like BlueNile.com, you can quickly become knowledgeable. In fact, you’ll end up knowing more than any behind-the-counter jeweler.

Of The “Four C’s,” Don’t Sacrifice Cut. A diamond has four major characteristics – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight, known as the Four C’s. Taken together, they determine a diamond’s quality and price. All are important, but cut is the most critical because it determines a diamond’s brilliance (sparkle). Even if a diamond has perfect color and clarity, if it has a poor cut, it will appear dull. And a more sparkly diamond = a bigger-looking diamond.

Buy Shy to Save Big. Diamond prices increase disproportionally at the carat and half-carat marks, so shoppers should try to buy just shy of these levels. For example, instead of a one carat diamond, look for a .95. That will save a significant amount of money, and the slight size difference will never be noticed – especially if it has a high-quality cut.

Find the “Sweet Spot.” As a diamond’s color and clarity grade improves, its price increases. But at a certain point the human eye cannot detect the difference in grades. That makes paying for perfect color and clarity like paying someone to paint the bottom of your house. For the best value choose a near-colorless (graded G-H) instead of a colorless diamond (graded D-F), or an eye-clean VS2 clarity grade as opposed to a Flawless clarity grade diamond.

Make Sure It’s Legit. Guess what? Diamonds are not created equal. Insist that the diamond have an independent grading report from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). The quality of diamonds accompanied by these grading reports is considered guaranteed. Independent grading is important. If the grading report comes from the jeweler itself, it’s a bit like the fox guarding the hen house.

And of course, pay attention to return policies and whatever you do don’t put it in the dessert! No one wants to wear a sticky ring.

 

Engagement Season – Mokada Custom Jewelry Studio Tips and Tricks

Mokada Custom Jewelry Studio is in the house today sharing their top tips and tricks to consider when shopping for an engagement ring.  What makes their store in Downtown Winnipeg so unique is that you receive one-on-one care to ensure your soon-to-be fiance loves their ring.  CLICK HERE to contact Mokada and start “creating tomorrow’s family heirloom today.”   Take a peek below at their top tips and tricks!

 

Shop Together

More and more couples are opting to design their engagement ring together (I read some crazy stat that 80%+ of women would make changes to their wedding set had they been consulted).

But, there is the obvious argument that this detracts from the societal norm of surprising your future spouse so pay attention to images that your partner pins, saves or comments on.  This will be an excellent indicator or his/her style preference!

    

Ring Size

Do your best to ascertain finger size.  Nothing is worse than the separate anxiety that follows an engagement if your rock is being sized!

     

Lifestyle

Perhaps a high set solitaire isn’t conducive to massage therapists, dental hygienists and stylists given their chose professions.

        

The Wedding Band

Although it may feel premature we always counsel our clients to consider the future wedding band.  Reason being, accents and embellishments that are going to be buried underneath the wedding band mate are perhaps better suited for just that.  Don’t throw your money away on a feature that won’t be showcased but rather build it into the wedding band.

       

The Diamond

We are of the opinion that hand selecting your stone (be in diamond or gem) and pairing it with a setting that you create often represents the greatest value (and most often a higher quality finished product).

  

Coloured Gemstones

Coloured bridal is growing in popularity.  If opting for a beautiful gemstone please do your homework!  We are unaware of the amount of abuse we subject our hands to and the hardness of a stone is critical for a ring.

      

Appraisals

Make sure to have your ring appraised and furthermore, confirm that it comes from a trained, preferably third party gemologist (not the assistance manager of a box store with no formal training/education/expertise in determining the replacement cost of an item)

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE A PROPOSAL THAT WILL MELT YOUR HEART! 

 

Engagement Season – Shopping for an Engagement Ring

Shopping for an Engagement Ring

You found the perfect partner, now it’s time to find the perfect ring.  I know shopping for an engagement ring can be daunting, but consider these five points to make the shopping process a breeze.

 

Budget

Rumor has it that you should budget two months salary when purchasing an engagement ring.  This amount can range significantly depending on your career.  Spend what makes you feel comfortable and does not put you in significant debt.  

Colour

On the International Grading Scale diamond colour can range from exceptional white (the best) to tinted in colour (the worst).  

When choosing the colour you need to keep in mind the type of metal band you would like to use, and the cut of diamond.  The lighter the metal you use, the more colourless the diamond should be.  This will really make the diamond pop in contrast to the band.  The cut of diamond also dictates the ideal colour.  A round shape should have less colour than an oval, marquise or pear due to how the light refracts.

Carat

The carat (weight) of the diamond can often be confused with the size.  The majority or rings mined in the world are less than a carat.  Diamonds over a carat a more rare, and it’s even more rare to find a diamond over a carat with excellent clarity.  There is a give/take when looking at diamonds.  You have to think of what is most important to your soon-to-be fiance; quality or size?  The larger the diamond, the larger chance it has imperfections.

Clarity

The clarity of a diamond is judged by its amount of inclusions (imperfections).  On the International Grading Scale it ranges from FL (the best) to I3 (the worst).  Don’t worry guys, it’s not the end of the world if your favorite diamond has an inclusion. Unless the diamond is of poor quality,  inclusions are only visible with a 10x microscope.  

Cut

Want an extra sparkly diamond?  The cut of your diamond will depict how sparkly it will be.  The ideal cut will gather and reflect the most amount of light from the top.  If a diamond is too shallow or too deep it will not reflect light back out the top, causing it to sparkle less and appear dull.

Popular cuts include; round, princess, cushion, marquise, emerald, radiant, pear, oval and asscher.

 

I hope this post has helped educate you on what to consider when purchasing an engagement ring.  Over the next couple of weeks I will be highlighting key engagement ring tips and tricks from both local and international experts.  HAPPY SHOPPING!

 

Click here for proposal inspiration.

Engagement Season – Real Couples, Real Proposals – 2

Welcome to the second installment of real couples, real proposals!  This blog post is for you men and woman out there looking for proposal inspiration,

or a good (happy) cry.  Hope you enjoy these two proposal stories!

If you would like your special proposal featured on my blog, please email me at alex@alweddingswinnipeg.com with a mini write up of your love story, along with a photo.

 

New Years Day Proposal

Savanna Peers (Bride-to-be)

“I was bugging Nick to get engaged for about the last six months, but I didn’t think by any chance we’d actually get engaged until about this coming spring. I was just being annoying.  He always told me that he thought Christmas time engagements were so “obvious” so he didn’t like them. But I love Christmas engagements! So I really really did not have a clue.

My friend Kayla is a photographer, and we’d been saying we’d do just a couples shoot one of these days and we never got around to doing it, so a few weeks  before New Years she casually said maybe we should do it New Years day because everyone’s off work. So we made that plan pretty loosey goosey, sure we’ll do it if it’s nice out and it all works, if not whatever. Little did I know, Nick and Kayla had it all set up from beginning to end and managed to make it seem completely casual. So on New Years day, we left to go meet Kayla at Assinaboine Forrest, argued all the way there about how to get there and by the time we did get there, me and Nick were basically not speaking! So we meet Kayla, and head out to take some pictures, listening to Kayla tell us how to pose “hand here, foot there, etc etc”. All the while Nick has this giant ring box stuffed in his sock and is trying to make sure I don’t see it. If you look in the photo’s you can see a big square sticking out of his ankle!

We took regular “cute couple pictures” for about half hour, then started walking a different direction and Kayla continued telling us how to stand, “face back to back” OK, Nick turn around, OK, Savanna turn around..” and I turned around and he was down on one knee! But of course, being me, I didn’t understand, I thought maybe Kayla had told him to kneel cause we were taking some sort of kneeling down photos…? So I knelt down too and said what the heck kinda photo is this? FINALLY I figured it out, he asked, and eventually after laugh/crying for ten minutes I said yes . I’d truly never been more shocked and surprised, I had NO clue it was happening. We have beautiful pictures of all of it happening (including me, kneeling down in the snow like a moron). It was the best surprise ever.” [Photos provided by couple]

 

Distillery District, Toronto Proposal

Alex Torcolacci (Bride-to-be, owner of Alexandra Lillian Weddings & Events)

In November 2016, my fiancé surprised me with a plane ticket to Toronto to accompany him for a day of sightseeing in advance of a business conference he was to attend. This was my first trip to the city, and little did I know it would be the most memorable trip of my life. After an amazing sleep at the Fairmont Royal York on Friday night, we awoke early Saturday morning to take in the city.

After a full day of exploring downtown Toronto (including Eaton Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum), we got decked out for a nice dinner at Cluny Bistro in the historic Distillery District. My fiancé told me that it was a very fancy restaurant, so I dressed accordingly. However, he decided to wear red denim… a questionable choice for a fancy restaurant, but I didn’t say anything about his decision.

As Cluny Bistro is right along the main road of the Distillery District, we were also treated to the Toronto Christmas Market. This is an annual pop-up market which includes several historical fenced in blocks and numerous vendors selling seasonal products and gifts (as well as kiosks with hot chocolate, a Ferris wheel, carousel, live band and bars). The cobblestone streets and red brick buildings serve as the perfect backdrops for a Christmas market. After dinner, we had the chance to walk around and take in the sites. We eventually came across a large “love” marquee sign. My fiancé covertly asked if I would like to get a photo together. I needed a new Facebook profile picture, so of course, I said yes.

My fiancé suspiciously handed his phone off to someone in the market… This person happened to have two large cameras strapped to himself, this was odd, but I didn’t think much of it. As I started to position myself in front of the marquee sign, my fiancé turned me toward me. He said, “I hope you have had a wonderful trip.” I felt him reaching for his pocket, and get down on one knee. I was overtaken with joy that I could not look away from him. With over a hundred people clapping and cheering, all I could see was him. No words can express the happiness I felt at that moment. The love of my life wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

The man who took our photo came up to us, I initially thought to return my fiance’s phone. As it turned out, my fiancé pulled out all the stops and had hired him, a professional photographer, to capture our proposal and take photos of us for the evening. My fiancé had never met the photographer before, and my fiancé told him to look for the guy matching is description wearing red denim. Now the red denim and two large cameras made sense!

That night we celebrated our engagement with two close friends in Toronto. Wandering around Queen West in the wee hours of the morning, we caught the first snowfall of the year. It was the perfect way to spend our engagement!

Now onto planning the rest of our lives together! 

 

Engagement Season – Real Couples, Real Proposals

Hello, engagement season!  This blog post is for you men and woman out there looking for proposal inspiration, or a good (happy) cry.  Hope you enjoy these two proposal stories!

If you would like your special proposal featured on my blog, please email me at alex@alweddingswinnipeg.com with a mini write up of your love story, along with a photo.

 

First Home Proposal

Olivia Retter (Wifey/Mama/Entrepreneur)

“Brydon proposed to me as we were walking into our house together for the first time.  I had no idea it would happen then.  I loved how it happened!  It really made our house a home from the get go.” [Photo provided by couple]

 

Epic California Proposal

Bretton Meyer (Bride-to-Be, June 2017)

“Mike’s dream was to ride the Pacific Coast Hwy on his Harley.  I was over the moon when he asked if I was interested in doing the trip with him and I said “of course!”  So we loaded up the motorcycle in the bed of our truck, drove to Las Vegas and unloaded the bike.  We jumped on the bike and road to the Pacific Coast.  Our plan was to spend the first evening in Newport Beach then head North to San Francisco.  

Mike had another plan up his sleeve…  Literally hidden in his vest pocket was my engagement ring!  The drive on the motorcycle was breathtaking and so freeing.  We finally reached the ocean as the sun was setting.  We got off the bike and walked towards the ocean to dip our toes in the water.  Hand in hand we walked, little did I know what was going to happen next.  I felt hesitation in the pull of his hand, and turned around to find Mike down on one knee.  He was holding the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen!

He asked “Bretton Meyer, will you marry me?”  Tears filled my eyes instantly, and I said “yes!” [Photos provided by couple]

 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR WEDDING INSPIRATION

Welcome to Engagement Season

Welcome to Engagement Season

 

Welcome to the fifth season of the year, engagement season!  Did you know that 40% of engagements happen between November and February?  That means we are in for a lot of love over the coming months!

Do you or anyone you know hope to get engaged this season?  In November and December I will be curating blog posts to educate and inspire you on purchasing a ring, planning the proposal, and the first steps in planning your wedding.  My goal is to make the engagement process fun and exciting!

Already engaged or married?  Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing real people’s engagement stories.  Psst… One of my favorites includes riding a motorcycle down the Pacific Coast Hwy!  Want to have yours featured?  Send your engagement story to me at alex@alweddingswinnipeg.com.

Happy engagement season!

 

CLICK HERE to see a special love story! 

 

Ashgrove Acres Fall Wedding

 

When I first asked my now-husband about hiring a day of coordinator for our wedding, he was skeptical. But after our first meeting with Alex, both of us were sold! I don’t know how our wedding day would have turned out if we hadn’t had her, but I’m confident it wouldn’t have run so seamlessly! She took everything off our hands so that we were actually able to enjoy our wedding day with family and friends without having to worry about small details. She is an absolute pro at what she does, and was able to anticipate things before I even thought of them! Alex, I will recommend you until my voice goes hoarse, you made our dream wedding day happen!

-Jade

 

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE WEDDINGS

VENDORS

Photography: Sugar and Soul Photography

Planning and Coordination: Alexandra Lillian Weddings and Events

Catering: Red Ember

Florist: Camo Lily

Venue: Ashgrove Acres

Hair / Makeup: BeYouTee Bar

DJ: Classy Nights Entertainment

Linens: Touch of Glass

Jenna + Dan’s Dreamy Lake Wedding

 

It’s not every day that you meet two people with the most contagious smiles!  Jenna and Dan have this love that truly shines when they are together.  It spreads to everyone around them.  Take a peek at their photos, and I’m sure you will feel it too!

 

 

Vendors

Photography: Bree-Anne Merritt Photography

Planning and Coordination: Alexandra Lillian Weddings and Events

Catering: King Cole Catering

Tent: Springfield Tent Rentals

Florist: Timeless Florals

DJ: Aimes Music

Decor: Let’s Celebrate

Makeup: Vow Artistry

Hair: On The Avenue

 

 

Post Wedding – Documents to Change

Hello love birds!

Wedding season is upon us.  I’m so excited to see my couples tie the knot.  Lot’s of couples come to me saying “now that I’m married, what’s the next step to starting married life?”  After the wedding celebrations and honeymoon are done, I suggest for couples to sit down and decide which documents need to change.  This needs to happen if one of you has decided to take the others last name.

Here’s a list to follow when changing your last name.  I hope this takes away some stress, so you can focus on enjoying time with your new hubby!

Social Insurance Number

Passport

Nexus Card

Manitoba Health Card

Drivers License

Car Registration

Bank Accounts

Order new cheques

Canada Revenue Agency

Credit Cards

Employer Payroll

Manitoba Hydro

City of Winnipeg Water and Waste Department

School (University, College)

Insurance (home, car, life, health, income protection)

Doctor

Lawyer (update will and any legal documents)

Electoral Roll

Loans (car, mortgage, lines of credit)

Property Title

Investments (holdings, investment accounts)

Loyalty Programs

Professional Memberships

Sports Clubs

Social Media (Facebook, Instagram)

Voicemail

NEED HELP PLANNING YOUR WEDDING?
CONTACT Alex today to arrange a complimentary initial meeting.

 

Prioritizing My Wedding

PRIORITIZING MY WEDDING

 

Planning weddings for my clients is an incredible feeling, but planning my own wedding has been hard.  Setting aside time for my own wedding planning is not a priority of mine.  Meeting new planning clients and helping them plan their big day is so much more fun!

 

Great wedding vendors book prime dates a year and a half in advance.  My fiancé and I are now working with a fab team for our wedding, but boy oh boy was it hard to pull the trigger and sign contracts.  When we started the planning process we had a year and half until our wedding day, considered by some to be a longer engagement.  With our date, so far away it was hard to wave goodbye to our deposits, but I know it will definitely be worth it in the long run to work with our vendors.

 

Finding vendors that my fiancé and I clicked with was crucial.  I believe that on your wedding day you should be surrounded by people that make you smile and add to the overall experience.  This is a key concept that I tell my clients.  It reminds me of the quote “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.  Make sure you hire vendors for your wedding that will do everything with that special touch of love.

 

I know that without a doubt all our vendors will do a wonderful job!  June will be our next big wedding adventure as we will be shooting our engagement photos.  I can’t wait to share them with you!

 

My hope is to post updates about my wedding every couple of months.  Make sure to “follow” my Instagram and “like” my Facebook pages for updates on new blog posts!
 

 

Happy planning!

-Alex

 

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MY TOP 5 RULES OF WEDDING ETIQUETTE