Month of Coordination // Joana and Peter Paul Masigan

Joana and Peter Paul were such a privilege to work with. They were both so sweet, kind hearted and so much fun! In our first meeting, I remember sitting down with Joana and hearing a little bit of their love story; how they met as teenagers, chased their dreams of travelling and the pursuit of their careers (in different countries!), finally getting engaged, moving back to the same country and planning their lives together! It sounded like a romantic movie that came to real life! 

Joana and Peter Paul both had very busy schedules and had a clear vision of what they wanted for their wedding day, but needed some help with vendor recommendations, day-of coordination as well as set-up and take down for the day-of! Their number one priority for their day was that their families did not have to do anything except sit back and celebrate along side of them. Throughout dinner they had a few friends perform songs, and their first dance was more of a dance performance then a traditional slow dance. It was so fun to watch as their personality was shown through all the little details that were planned throughout the night.

The ceremony was held at the UBC Botanical Gardens and their reception was held at The Diamond Ballroom.

We were able to create a package for Joana and Peter Paul that was specific to their needs. Sometimes you need a little bit more than a month-of coordinator, but don't quite need a partial planner! We loved being able to help them with exactly what they needed.

The bride getting zipped into her dress.

All decor was rented from Adorn Event Rentals

Wooden bow tie anybody?

All photos were taken by Shauneille Ross.

Here is a little note from the bride...

My husband and I got married last summer in the beautiful city of Vancouver and it was literally the best day of my life. Yes, I know what you're thinking; "All brides have to say that... " or "that's soo cliche" or " ew. cheeseballs " but the truth is that our wedding day went so smoothly all I can remember was being insanely happy that I finally got to marry the love of my life!
I've been a bridesmaid several times and unfortunately I've experienced countless last minute set up problems, rushed photo shoots, sound system nightmares, and even bridal meltdowns. These are the types of problems that are bound to arise in any wedding. I find it painful to watch a couple attempt to celebrate the "most important" day of their lives while their stress meter has already risen to its max. I knew that this was exactly what I DIDN'T want for our wedding, so that's why I considered hiring The Bright Lights Events.  
I can confidently say that our wedding would not be successful without the help of Joryli and Raelene. Joryli and Raelene helped to create a package just for us.
During our initial consultation, we discussed several topics about the wedding; ie venue, atmosphere, decor, etc. They were very professional and they took the time to understand what I was envisioning for our wedding. One month before our wedding, they made sure to create a timeline for the wedding day, they contacted our vendors to confirm all appointments, they even contacted each person in our bridal party to give instructions for the wedding rehearsal. I personally was an hour late for our wedding rehearsal because I was pampering myself (sorry- not sorry) and to my surprise, everyone was on time, and almost finished running through the ceremony program. I didn't have to deal with trying to organize anything for the rehearsal because the itinerary was already made and everyone just followed their instructions.
The one thing that was most important to me was that my family and friends would not have to set up anything or be involved in any kind of labour (whatsoever) during the wedding day or the night before. Joryli, Raelene, and their team were able to flawlessly set up both the reception and ceremony site so I didn't have to worry about a thing! I'm still not sure how they did it because I had a giant arbor, huge flower stands and over 90 flower filled vases as centre pieces .. somehow they managed to really execute the project. Praise God!
Of course during the reception, Joryli and Raelene made sure to have the program run on a timely manner and when problems arose they were able to creatively think of a plan B. For example, when we walked into the reception site, my poor mother in law came running to me saying that we forgot to add some of her friends in the seating plans! My heart dropped but just for a second because Raelene immediately fixed the problem by rearranging seats. No biggie. 
We had an amazing party during the reception .. and guess what? We didn't have take anything down or worry about the clean up! Joryli and Raelene were adamant that we continue relax while they efficiently put everything away! They even made sure that the kitchen saved a plate of food for us for midnight snack!
Our wedding was stress free and I loved every minute of it! Thank you Joryli and Raelene for making this day so special. 
Joryli, thank you for praying for me and Paul. I can't thank you enough for your love and support. Raelene, thank you for giving me tips on how to be prepared for my wedding day and night  - i still can't believe you were able to help me pee while i was in that huge cloud of a dress! 
You guys rock!

We had the best time celebrating Joana and Peter Paul! Thanks for letting us be a part of your big day!

Month-of Coordination // Shawna and Howard Ma

The first time we met Shawna and Howard, they had met us at Timbertrain Coffee Roasters for our first consultation. They currently live out in Victoria, BC and came out to Vancouver to visit their family. Our first impression of them was how sweet of a couple they were! Shawna was organized and had a good idea of what she wanted for her wedding. They came to us knowing what they wanted, and were happy to complete the planning stages themselves. Shawna and Howard wanted to hire a wedding coordinator so that they could have a coordinator on-site on the day-of to execute what they had planned as well as to create a timeline for their day and communicate with vendors for the month before hand so that they could relax, spend time with family and enjoy their special day together!

Shawna and Howard had a unique day planned as they had an intimate ceremony with 25 guests followed by a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony and concluded their day with a traditional Chinese dinner and a lot of dancing!

Shawna's bridesmaids and MOH helping her change into her traditional dress for the tea ceremony.

Shawna and Howard participating in the tea ceremony. What a beautiful tradition!

One of our favourite moments was when Shawna's Dad's band played during the reception. What a sweet memory to have!

All photos were taken by D'Soleil Photography

Here is a little note from the bride...

I am so glad I hired Joryli and Raelene to be my Day-of-Wedding Coordinators. They made sure my wedding day was stress-free so my husband and I could enjoy our big day and not worry about all the little things. 

Weeks before the wedding, Joryli and Raelene helped me with the wedding timeline. They also visited the ceremony and reception sites with me, they contacted all the vendors, and they helped coordinate the wedding rehearsal. If I had any questions or concerns, I could contact them any time and they would respond quickly. On the day of the wedding, they made sure my flowers and table settings were perfectly displayed and they helped coordinate the timing of the music and speeches and slideshows.

I was so pleased with how my wedding day turned out. It was comforting to know that I had Joryli and Raelene making sure that everything is going as planned and if something didn't work, they would come up with a solution. They are so nice and well-organzied and great to work with. I would recommend The Bright Lights Events to all my friends who are looking for wedding planners or day-of-coordinators.

Thanks for trusting us with your Big Day!

Beauty Feature // Charlene Agnew Make-Up Artistry

We can't believe that it is May 19th already! We're feeling like summer is basically here! (yay).

Today, we are featuring Charlene Agnew from Agnew Make-Up Artistry. We have had the chance to work with her on a couple of styled shoots and her raw talent and personality won of us over instantly! 

She has so much energy and is calm and collected all at the same time. She loves to try out new looks, and can make your vision for your make-up come to be! We hope you enjoy reading about her as much as we enjoy knowing her! 

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Tell us about yourself!

I was born in North Vancouver but mainly grew up in Coquitlam. I was very shy as a child and then puberty hit and I am not sure what happened, a loud person came out. I lived in London for a while, which was great, travelling around is so cheap once you're there. I love dogs like a 12 year old girl. I go a little gaga. My boyfriend and I just got a puppy, so I am in heaven.  I take improv lessons down on Granville Island, I love learning and performing so I am having a blast. Plus it's something I do just for me, which is important, and the older I get, the more I realize this. I sometimes have awful pronunciation, but ironically say pronunciation correctly (since I know many people do not).  I love being on the water, in the water, near the water, and I try to drink a lot of water.

Where did you go school?

I graduated high school from Pacific Academy, and I have a BFA in theatre performance from SFU. Many people ask me what a BFA is, it is a Bachelor of Fine Arts. I took a year off but I did go back and do my PDP, and got my Bachelor of Education. I teach Drama, Social Studies and ELL (ESL) in the Burnaby school district. Through this process I decided I needed a backup, a supplementary career, never to give up on my teaching but something I knew I would enjoy and be able to be creative. After some research I decided to go to Blanche Macdonald Centre. It's a well known school that many come from all over the world to go to. I liked their reputation, and their career connections. 

What is the number one questions brides ask you?

A bride's number one question is usually the cost. I cannot blame them, I know they have a budget and weddings are expensive. I am proud my rates are reasonable, in relation to my product, my education, my talent and other overhead costs.

What advice do you have for a bride looking for a MUA?

The advice I would give to a bride looking for a MUA is to not only like their work but also like them as a person. See if your personalities mesh well. There are so many amazing artists in Vancouver, so finding someone you can chat and have a laugh with, someone who will relax you, give you confidence in their ability to look after you, is the person you should hire. After all, you'll be with them, up close and personal, for an hour or more.

Are you mobile or do you work in studio?

I run a mobile service. I have gotten brides ready in their homes, in hotels, in hair salons. I have been up at 4am to start work at 5am, many times. I come to you, wherever you are :)

Are consults included in your packages? Do I need one?

My rates and packages are on my website www.agnewmakeupartist.com. Some brides love doing the consults. I encourage brides if they do want a consult to book something special that day, perhaps an engagement shoot, or at least a date night. Consults are great if you know you will have a crazy busy wedding day, not tons of time to get ready. Consults are great to work out the kinks before so I can come and get down to work right away. If you decide not to do a consult, I always recommend leaving more time so that we can make changes if we need to.

How do you stay on top of wedding trends?

I go back and forth between following wedding 'trends' and saying 'who cares!' I read InStyle and spend too much time on Instagram and Pinterest. Ultimately I advise and would personally go with anything that makes you feel beautiful and like yourself.

What are you favourite looks to do?

My favourite look...hmm...I'm not sure I have one. I like contouring and doing the smoky eye, but I also love the simple transformation of light and pretty, and what a difference this can make on a woman's face. I love doing under eye concealer, which is my favourite. I get excited actually. It is one of the last things I do, and it blends everything I have done so far, and I literally, on most occasions, jump up and down. (not while I am doing it, after!)

What should I do to prepare for getting my make-up done?

As soon as a bride books with me, I send her an email about a couple things that are common, and some women only do for the first time right before they get married. If you are thinking of getting a facial, do this one month before the wedding. Facials bring impurities up, and if you do this too close to your day, you could have a break-out situation. A month lets everything calm down and go away! Waxing/threading should be done a week before the day, especially if you have never had it done before. I say this because if this is brand new to you, you won't know how your skin reacts and redness can linger. Lastly, if the bride or her bridesmaids suffer from dry skin (as I do) getting your skin hydrated, and well moisturized is really good for makeup. Dry skin makes makeup sit odd upon the face. Added bonus, hydrated skin makes us look younger. A weekly hydration mask and or a daily serum help. 

To see more of Charlene's fantastic work, follow her on instagram @agnewmakeupartistry!

Beauty Features // Eva Terez Beauty

Happy Monday Everybody! This week we are featuring Eva Terez Beauty. She is a make-up artist/hair stylist company who strives to make bride's feel relaxed, calm and beautiful on their special day! 

We have both known Brianne (founder and owner) for many years and she actually did both mine and Joryli's make-up on our weddings day! We can personally say that she is one of the most calm, fun and talented ladies we know! We can't say enough great things about her.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am married with one child.. and by child I mean my little puppy named Kola.  I admit we are major pet parents and she is completely spoiled. I feel very blessed in my life to have such an amazing husband and a wonderful career that is successful. I have been doing makeup for 7 years and last April I decided to make the big decision to go on my own as a freelance artist. It was an extremely hard decision but one of the best ones I have ever made.  I look forward to what the future has in store for my company! 

Where did you go to school?

I went to Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts which is located in the Burbank area of California. I wanted to learn from the best in the industry.

How did Eva Terez Beauty come to be?

I have always wanted to work in the beauty industry.  At my kindergarten career day I dressed up as a hair dresser/makeup artist! Everyone else was in doctor, fire fighter or police costumes and I stood there with a little comb in my pocket saying " I'm a hair dresser and makeup artist ". The name "Eva Terez" is actually my middle name.  I was named after many amazing woman in my family and so I feel honoured to have a company under the same name. For all you brides who call me "Eva" I don't mind at all! 

Why do you love what you do?

I honestly think I have the best job in the world! I get to hang out with fun girls on the happiest day of there life and make them feel beautiful! I love to enhance ones natural beauty and showcase confidence from the inside out!

What is a bride's number one question for you? 

I usually get asked about Airbrush foundation. Airbrush is a silicone based foundation that lasts all day long and looks flawless. Its great for all skin types especially oily and feels super lightweight.

What advice do you have for brides looking for a MUA?

My advice would be to make sure you love their style of makeup as well as find an artist who has a calm nature. The last thing you need on your wedding day is someone who is stressing you out! 

Do you have a studio or are you mobile?

 Trials are most often held at my location but on the day of the event I travel to where ever the bridal party is getting ready.

Are consultations included in the cost for your hair/make-up packages? When do you advice getting the consultation done?

My package rates include a trial session. It is completely up to the bride but I do suggest getting a trial done. You can choose to book your trial whenever you would like. Some ladies prefer to have a trial before they book the wedding day but because dates book up really fast I would recommend doing it right away. Other brides book the date and want to save the trial for closer to the wedding. I always suggest doing it on a day when you are doing something special like engagement photos, bridal showers , stagette etc. 

How do you stay on top of the wedding trends?

I am always looking at images of makeup and hair, watching tutorials and just playing around with different looks to make sure I keep up to all trends and styles.

What is your favourite hair style/make-up look to do?

That is way to hard too pick! I think different styles compliment different people so I can't decide. I think it would be easier to pick looks I don't like. ;)

Do you have any tips for the brides/bridesmaids as they prepare to get their make-up done? 

Moisturize regularly coming up to the date and exfoliate the night before. Always come with a fresh clean face and nothing on it (you can put your own moisturizer on in the morning if you like). Hair is usually best when washed the day before, however, if your hair gets greasy quite quickly then you may want to have it freshly washed.

We highly recommend Brianne for you upcoming event. If you have a wedding, bridal shower, engagement, or just want to get dolled up, she's your gal to call!

To see more of Brianne's fabulous work, follow her @evaterezbeauty on instagram :)

Beauty Features // Hello Lovely Stylists

Sometimes the search for a good stylist whether a make-up artist or a hair stylists can be difficult! There's so many out there, but to find the right one can be so overwhelming. Vancouver is filled with MANY talented stylists, but we thought we'd introduce you to just a few that you may or may not have yet heard of. We love their style, work ethic, and just really enjoy them as people!

We hope that this month we'll get an opportunity to introduce you to some amazing artists in hopes to help you in your future search!

Today we're featuring the ladies of Hello Lovely. They are a hair-stylist-sister-duo team that have a passion for making intentional connections with women and to commit to not just making their hair beautiful, but making them feel loved, encouraged and beautiful from the inside out!

We first heard of this lovely duo through instagram and from our friend Madison from M&Him! We have had the opportunity to work closely with them on a recent styled shoot and we love their style, calm nature and attention to detail. (Fun fact: They're Raelene's personal hair stylist!) 

Let's introduce you to the lovely duo!

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Meet Samantha!

I am married to the man of my dreams and we are raising Noah, a 2 year old prince. I'm a real sports junkie. I take any chance I can to compete; play volleyball, basketball, or anything for that matter. Being a mom has definitely rearranged my priorities and made it a little more difficult to pursue a career, but now I have the motivation to stay at home and raise a God-loving family while still pursuing this hair adventure with my sister. I'm blessed to have my dream shared by Jessica. 

Samantha studied at John Casablancas Institute in Gastown. She absolutely loved it. It was practically a second home to her!

Meet Jessica!

I am a wife to the sweetest husband, and a new mom to my bundle of joy. I am a serious outdoors person, I love spending my weekends with my husband hiking or discovering new places. I plan to continue all these adventures with our son, Ford. I've been doing hair since I was thirteen and I am so glad that my passion has led me here and this company. I am so lucky to be able to follow my dream alongside my family. 

Jessica attended Vancouver Community College in Vancouver. She had a great experience and recommends it to everyone!

What is your favourite part of your career?

Instilling confidence in our brides and our clients. We really connect with the women we work with and it gives us the ability to bring to life exactly what they dreamed of. Being able to do this on their wedding day and making it that much easier for them to focus on what truly matters, makes us feel accomplished. 

What is your advice for brides looking for a hair stylist?

Do your research. Look into all social media aspects of the hair stylist you're thinking of. That way you get a good look into their portfolio and what they have to offer, as well as being able to read all the comments and feedback of previous clients. 

Are you mobile? 

Yes we are, we want to make your day as easy and fun as possible, right from the beginning. One of the ways we do this is by coming to you, that way you don't need to stress about making appointments and getting places. We just show up, set up a station and begin!

Is a consultation included?

Yes! We feel a consultation is a must. Everyone's idea of a curl or a bun is different than the next. This way we make sure we are both on the same page and can deliver exactly what you're dreaming of on the big day. 

How do you stay on top of hair trends?

We are constantly watching, listening, and looking for trends throughout the year. We follow many top stylists via social media and use the internet to our advantage. But being able to keep an eye out on the streets of Vancouver is a huge plus for us. We're living in one of the trendiest cities after all.

What is your favourite hairstyle to do?

We are kind of known for our "natural" looks. So we definitely love doing the refined messy hairstyles. Lately, we've had a small obsession with fishtail updo's. 

Do you have any tips for a bride or bridesmaids as they prepare to get their hair done?

If you don't have a problem with greasy hair in the morning you can wash your hair the night before. Otherwise, take a shower when you wake up, but make sure your hair is completely dry before you start your hairstyle. Any moisture left in your hair will cause your curls to fall. 


A little message from Hello Lovely.

 "Your beauty should come from within you - this beauty will never disappear, and it's worth very much to God." 1 peter 3:4 

We have a love for Jesus, and His passion is for people. We get to work with so many inwardly beautiful women, and we get the chance to reflect outwardly what he sees in them. This is one of the biggest blessings we are given, to see women on their wedding day, loving themselves. Even though we work in the beauty industry, we take this passage to heart, and we hope that this message flows into the lives of the women we touch. 

Make sure to follow @hellolovelystylists on instagram!

Photographer Feature // Gillian Stevens Photography

We’re featuring Gillian Stevens Photography on the blog today! She is a local Vancouver lifestyle photographer who has an amazing eye and catches the sweetest and most magical moments! Anything from weddings to couple shoots, maternity to family photos. She does them all and captures them so beautifully!

We love how Gillian captures a moment. There's a certain authenticity to her photos and you can tell that they're genuine and "in-the-moment". Her photos are always catching our attention; whether it's for a blog post or on instagram - we can easily see her love for photography can be easily noticed through her natural talent!

Tell us about yourself!

I live in a charming old apartment right by the sea with my wonderful husband Mark. We will be celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary this summer but it still sort of feels like were newlyweds! 3 years has sure gone by quickly, and they’ve been some of the best years of my life – we have a lot of fun together.

I began my photography business in 2011. It all came together pretty organically; I have always loved taking pictures and eventually people started asking me to take photos of them. It started with a few engagement sessions; I adored capturing the pure joy that these couples felt for one another and having the ability to share their stories with others.

Aside from photography I have a mild addiction to home décor, clothing, and trying new recipes (evidence of this can be seen on my Pinterest board, followers beware).

What do you love most about photography?

Probably how many amazing people that it connects me with. I love taking photos of people in their natural element, showing them how unique and wonderfully made they are. It truly brings me such joy.

What advice would you give a couple trying to choose a photographer?

Do your research. It doesn’t hurt to get a few quotes from different photographers so you can get an idea of what package options look like. Once you know what your budget is, you can start to think about style and approach between different photographers.

Because you spend more time with your photographer than most of the guests attending your wedding, it’s really important that you get along! Meet for coffee, and see if you feel comfortable with them. The more effortless the relationship – the better, and more natural the photos will be.

Look through photographers’ website galleries and blog posts, and think about whether you’d be happy if the photos you see were your photos. Its important you like your photographers aesthetic, so that you can trust them to do what they do best on your wedding day!

And as much as you can help it, try not to show your photographer too many Pinterest boards. Your day is going to be yours – not someone else’s. And your photographer wants a chance to create something wonderful and unique to you! Be as descriptive as you want with what shots are important to you, but leave the rest to your photographer – that’s why you’re hiring them.

How would you describe your photography style?

I would describe my work as natural, authentic, and warm. I have a very classic style, and have always loved film photography. I think that it comes across in my work. I am a big fan of the “in-between” moments, blurry lines, evening light, movement, and colour within nature.

What did you look for in a photographer for your wedding?

Honestly, I looked for an aesthetic I liked within a budget that we could afford. I wouldn’t say our budget was overly tight – but we wanted to be wise in our spending. At the time, there weren’t many photographers in Vancouver that had the style that I wanted and it took a while for me to decide on who I wanted for our wedding.

We ended up hiring a mutual friend of mine, Kirsten Huculiak, who had recently graduated from art school. She was wonderful to work with, and we were really happy with both our wedding and engagement photos. Finding someone who is just starting out is a great way to get a talented photographer within a very reasonable budget.  

How much do you think a bride should invest into a photographer?

I think that this number could be different for everyone. I feel its important to do research on what an average wedding package is, but also wise in how much money you are spending.

You can find a photographer to fit in almost every budget, so do your best to find someone who meets most of the criteria you want. If your budget is tight, you may need to be flexible on what is important to you. For example, I offer half-day packages for brides who want a professional photographer but have a small budget, and I also offer premium packages for couples that really want to invest in the photos for their day.

When approaching the topic of budget, I find it is best to be as honest as possible with your photographer. Don’t be afraid to say what your budget is – your photographer may be able to work within that, and if not – at least you’ve got an idea of your options.

If you're not already, do yourself a favour and follow Gillian on instagram @gillianstevens! You won't regret it! 

Venue Feature// Vancouver Marriott

Vancouver Marriott is a gorgeous venue that is right in Coal Harbour. We were first introduced to the venue while having lunch with Koreena ( one of their Event Managers) to set up a staycation for our date ideas back in February! The more we talked to Koreena about the venue, the more impressed we were with their flexibility, and desire to help a couple have their dream wedding come to be! We just had to share about this fantastic venue with you guys :) 

1.   How many people can this location accommodate?

Our hotel can do weddings of all sizes. We have multiple different spaces in our hotel that can accommodate anything from an intimate weddings of 20 guests in our beautiful rock-wall private dining room, to weddings of 80-100 guests in our Point Grey Room & Rooftop Terrace, to weddings of 150-450 guests in our Ballroom.

2.   Is there a discount for book an off-season date or Sunday through Friday?

Yes absolutely. Our minimum spend requirements vary based on the day of the week; and the time of the year. Keep in mind though that we are flexible to working within budget so before getting scared of a ‘minimum spend’ requirement; talk to our Catering Sales Manager about what you envision.

3.   What kind of packages do you offer as a wedding venue? 

Our talented team of Chefs are happy to customize a menu that suits what you and your family are looking for, We offer all types of menus including traditional plated, buffet, action stations, west coast Asian, Indian, Italian – and more.

If you have a look through our package here. You will see they range from $70-$130 per person. All of the packages are customizable and you will see what the different options include; anything from dinner, custom wedding cake, décor, dinner wine, cocktail reception, late night snacks, and more. These packages offer a one-stop-shop for the reception planning and make it really easy for brides to navigate and see what type of evening they are looking for. The packages range in price therefore we are able to work with our brides to figure out what ideally she is looking for; and then what is feasible within budget also.

We love getting to know our couples so we can customize packages that suit them as well. Maybe our couple goes for date-night every Sunday for coffee & donuts? Why not have a late night snack bar including coffee and mini donuts? Maybe our couple comes from different cultural backgrounds; and wants to be able to incorporate aspects of both of their cultures and family traditions into the dinner. The more we know the more we are able to make their wedding about them specifically – and really show who they are in their wedding. It is what makes their wedding unique to themselves. 

4.   Are you able to have the ceremony at the venue as well? Is there an additional charge? Would there be a bride’s changing area? Is there an allocated time for rehearsals?

Yes absolutely. We have both indoor and outdoor spaces for ceremony. We have two rooftop terraces (one seats 100, and one up to 200) that are gorgeous for urban-outdoor ceremonies; as well, we have two lovely indoor ceremony spaces that both have floor to ceiling windows which allow for lots of natural light (perfect for photos!).

OUTDOOR

Point Grey Patio (seats up to 100) - $1,000.00 (includes white resin chair rental, set up, tear down, pick up, spa water station, signing table)

5th floor Patio (seats up to 200) - $2,500.00 (includes white resin chair rental, set up, tear down, pick up, spa water station, signing table)

 INDOOR

Ambleside Room (seats up to 100) - $1,000.00 (includes Banquet Chair set up/teardown, staging, spa water station, signing table)

Shaughnessy Salon (seats up to 180) - $1,000.00 (includes Banquet Chair set up/teardown, staging, spa water station, signing table)

An area for the bride can be provided, or she may use the room that is complimentary with their wedding booking :) Of course a rehearsal is included when the couple books their ceremony. We schedule that closer to the wedding date when schedules and availabilities are more clear!

5.     Is there a changeover plan from converting ceremony to reception?

Yes we can ‘flip’ space from Ceremony to Reception however as we have different spaces for both Ceremony & Reception it allows for the Reception space to be fully set up without doing a complete 180 of the space. This allows for certain aspects of décor to be utilized twice (ie: flowers can be brought from Ceremony to Reception) but the majority of the room is set up entirely (staging, dance floor, tables, chairs, cake table, etc etc). It allows for a longer set up time for vendors and a less stressful cocktail hour for the bride. We want guests  and the 'just married couple' to be able to enjoy cocktail hour without any worries! 

Photo by; d’Soleil Photography 

Photo by; d’Soleil Photography 

6.     Are we able to move things around and decorate to suit my purposes? What are the decoration guidelines?

Yes absolutely we can customize a floor plan to suit what the brides vision is (rectangle tables, round tables, placement of dance floor/buffet/cake/etc). We allow any décor to be brought in from outside so long as it is not damaging to the function space, or is a hazard in any way. We love seeing all the unique custom touches that brides bring in to make the room “their own”.

7.     Does the venue provide assistance getting gifts or décor back to a designated car or hotel room?

We can arrange for staff to escort/provide bell cards for gifts to get to a hotel room/car however we do not take care of décor. We do not want to have the responsibility of this as other vendors “own” the vases/draping etc. We usually find that if the bride is working with professionals in the industry they decorator/designer will come at the end of the night to tear down – this shouldn’t be the brides worry. If there are some special “DIY” items or things the bride brought from home for the wedding (ie: Cake knife/server set) then we recommend to assign a family member or friend responsible for collecting these little ‘tid bits’ at the end of the evening just so they aren’t lost/misplaced with all of the teardown. We are happy to arrange for storage in advance of the wedding OR post wedding for a reasonable amount of items.

8.     Is there a separate “socializing” space?

Yes! We have cocktail hour typically in the foyer OR on the patio where the ceremony takes place. Guests typically like the patio so they are able to get a breath of fresh air throughout the evening.

9.     Do you have an in-house caterer or a list of preferred caterers?

All of our food & beverage is served in house. We have an amazing culinary team and we include a wedding menu tasting with all of our bookings so that the couple feels confident about their food service. We also offer a Wedding cake tasting as well as a complimentary consultation with our pastry Chef.

ONE of the best things about this venue, is the photography opportunties  that are available to you! I mean is it just me, or are wedding photos in the heart of Coal Harbour just stunning!

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Make sure to follow Vancouver Marriott @vanmarriott on Instagram AND check them out if you're in the midst of venue hunting. Not only are the packages flexible and well priced, but you'll find the staff so very helpful!

xx TBL Girls

 

Sweet Feature // Archimallows

Happy Thursday! Today we are sharing with you Archimallows! We first met Kyle at a pop up shop back in December. It only took a bite of his eggnog marshmallows to convince us that these were the best marshmallows we have EVER had! We hope you fall as in love with his creations as we did! 

Tell us about yourself!  

My name is Kyle Archibald, I am originally from Winterpeg, Manisnowba. I have always had a sweet tooth and a love for fashion and anything new and exciting. I spent my 20's working in Retail at every level. I was in the stores on the floor, in the buying offices purchasing all things womens wear for national chains. The really great thing about these jobs is that it brought me to Montreal, New York and LA every 6 weeks. I got to see and experience the best of North America which satiated all of my passions including eating and experiencing all things new in the food and design world.

Fast forward to my early 30's and my move to Vancouver. Ready to put some roots down in the most beautiful, liveable city in North America if not the world. I was the General Manager of Aphrodites Organic Cafe and Pie Shop for 4 years and then made my move into marshmallows.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

In my spare time I watch A LOT of daytime TV my PVR is full of The View, Kelly and Michael, Ellen, Kathie Lee and Hoda and Wendy Williams. I also love crossfit, I try to get to the box as often as possible. 

How did it all get started? 

I am a pinterest freak and really got into painting everything with chalkboard paint My kitchen wall, dresser, coffee table, wall in my living room, backsplash. My partner came home one day and said "if you paint anything else with the paint I am going to hide the paint." SO I got a new hobby and started making marshmallows as christmas gifts for people. My partner brought them to work and came home with 24 orders and my old buyer days kicked in. I thought I can move this product through the seasons, make delicious mallows and package them up real cute.

I love it because I get to choose my own adventure. The path that I am on I could not have imagined when I started two years ago!

Do you make everything from scratch?

We do make everything from scratch, all the pieces are cut with scissors, I love the look of a rustic handcut marshmallow. The process is boiling all the sugar, adding it to gelatin and while mixing marshmallow happens. I am a one trick pony i cannot explain the details. If you want to take a look at my youtube channel under thekylearchibald I have made a very lofi video.

What does having your marshallows as a favour look like?

As a favour I think the his and her mallow is the best idea, you each choose a flavour and I pack it up usually with the theme of the wedding. The reality is, each wedding if different and I have not done the same thing twice, there is always a variation. You can also get chopstick wedding favours too! 

You can also bring a smores bar to the venue. Tell us more about that? What does it look like? 

When I do a smores party I come with 4 flavours of marshmallow, regular and gluten free crackers, caramel, chocolate and strawberry sauce. Baileys and Kahlua to dip the toasted marshamallow in and of course the hand torch to toast the mallow. I am usually there after dinner and make smores for about 2 hours straight. I've done weddings from 50 - 350 people! 

 How do you stay creative and on top of the wedding trends?

I stay creative by being inspired by fashion and try not to immerse myself in food trends. I find a lot of repetition within the industry and the only way to stay fresh is to constantly evolve and offer newness. Usually the bride has a strong feeling for the direction of their wedding and I follow suit and try to really work one on one to create something extra special. 

If you're itching for a taste of these delicious marshamallows, Kyle will be at Holt Renfrew this week with Easter mallows for all your loved ones (and you of course!)

Make sure to follow Kyle on instagram @archimallows :)

 

Sweet Feature // Shop The Whisk

We are so excited to be featuring Shop The Whisk on the blog!

We have both known Julie (the lady behind these beautiful and delicious cookies) for many years. She was actually one of my (Raelene) instructors when I attended bible college back in the day!

We guarantee that you will be drooling over these cookies by the time you're done reading :)

Photo by: Studio 86 Creative Design, Inc

Photo by: Studio 86 Creative Design, Inc

Tell us about yourself! What do you do in your spare time?

I am a wife to 1, a mom to 2, and now, an entrepreneur! I’ve been married for 7 years this June, and have two boys. Luke just turned 4 and Wil is 1. My schedule these days doesn’t allow for a whole lot of free time, so when opportunity comes up my first priority is always my husband and my kids. I squeeze it in when I can…a walk around the neighbourhood or a trip to the park as a family is usually just what I need to recharge.  

Photo by: Rad Studio Photography

Photo by: Rad Studio Photography

How did you get started?  

My first attempt at a decorated sugar cookie was for Luke’s first birthday in 2012.  While I do have some experience baking, this was a whole new experience for me.  They weren’t the best and they also weren’t the worst, but most definitely a labour of love.  A year later, a good friend asked if I could make a nautical set for her son’s 2nd birthday.  Reluctantly I said yes, and well, the rest is history.  Word began to spread and soon I had requests coming in weekly.

What is your favourite design to make and why?

Tough question!  I’m a sucker for a good font and when it also works well on a piped cookie – I’m sold. I also have a little love affair for all things geometric, so when there’s opportunity to add something along those lines to the design I’m in a very happy place. 

Photo by: Rad Studio Photography

Photo by: Rad Studio Photography

Do you make everything from scratch? How long does it take you?

Everything I make is from scratch.  Sugar cookie dough needs to be chilled two times before it’s ready to hit the oven.  It’s a lengthy process but it’s one of the keys to ensuring your cookies maintain their original shape. Once they’re cooled they are ready for the first layer of icing, which typically requires at least 12 hours of drying time before the next layer(s) are added. Depending on the amount of detail, I can spend up to 30 minutes on one single cookie. 

What are some of the popular designs that brides have asked you to make?  

A popular design for brides is personalized place cards. Not only does it add to the table décor, it’s functional in helping your guests find their seats AND becomes their favour to take with them at the end of the night (if they haven’t already indulged). It’s a definite wow factor. Other brides are looking for custom cookies to add to their dessert table. In these cases, the cookies are typically a little smaller with minimal design details – perhaps something floral or a simple monogram.

 

Can we have this as a dessert as well as a wedding favour?  

Absolutely!  Our cookies are typically packaged individually – so depending on your needs and your budget, we can package accordingly.  Some brides choose to create a custom sticker or go with individual favour boxes. 

Photo by: Jamie Lauren Photography

Photo by: Jamie Lauren Photography

How do you stay creative and on top of the wedding trends?

This is really important to me, both personally and from a business perspective.  I keep my eyes open and pay attention to what I’m naturally drawn to.  Social media definitely helps me stay current, and I also have a few favourite blogs that I follow for inspiration.  A lot of brides come to me with fairly specific ideas of what they want, and most often those ideas have been influenced by what’s currently trending.

Make sure to follow Julie (shopthewhisk) on instagram. You'll die over her amazing talent. Heck, I'd be surprised if you didn't end up ordering some of her cookies for your next event! They're delicious!

Sweet Feature // La Belle Macaron

Happy Monday everyone! We're so excited to introduce you to La Belle Macaron. The very first time we were introduced to La Belle Macaron was at a the Paris Pop-Up Shop in the Fraser Valley. Raelene (being a macaron fanatic herself) bought some and absolutely raved about them! 

We also had the privilege of working alongside them for our Winter Creative Collaboration. (Click the link for the full photos) 

Photo by Yinger Fotokrafie Design

Photo by Yinger Fotokrafie Design

I (Joryli) have never been a huge fan of macarons, but I tried the macarons after our shoot and absolutely LOVED them. No exaggeration here! After one bite, I was hooked. I've recommended Dawn ever since!


Tell us about yourself and a bit about La Belle Macaron!

I'm Dawn! I wear a few different hats! I am a mother of 3. Boys. Two teenagers and a toddler. Nuff said right??? I work on call in my chosen profession as a nurse. I have been a LPN for 8 years and am lucky enough right now to have the ability to be home with my bigs & littles, start and grow a business and work my schedule around that. I am a military wife and a major League Baseball FANATIC. I consider myself lucky.

Photo by Sarah Holmes

Photo by Sarah Holmes


What do you like to do in your spare time?

 Well there isn't a lot of that to go around with running a household, 3 kids, a business, etc… But I love to refinish old furniture. I love the days of old...I collect old furniture pieces to re-do for our home and I also collect depression glass. In my spare time I should be making that extra yoga class but I often find myself trolling garage sales and Facebook sales for stellar deals!
 

Photo by Michele Philips

Photo by Michele Philips

How did you get started?

 I started La Belle Macaron when I was on maternity leave about 18 months ago.  I forced my husband to try macarons while we were away on vacation and then once we were back...we were both craving them, so I thought, “well geeze, I know how to bake! How hard can they be??? (If you are a macaron or wanna be macaron-maker, this is where you insert your very loud laugh)

So I baked and baked, and I even took a class! I practiced until it was perfect (or what I thought was perfect at the time) and upon a friend's insistence, attended a market to keep her company at her own table. And the rest is history! People were hooked like I had no idea they would be. I love it because it's fun. I cannot even begin to tell you how many awesome people I have met in my short time as a small business owner. The amazing businessmen & women out there, their entrepreneurial spirit, it's amazing. I learn so much from everyone every day and if you need a boost of encouragement, the small business community has your back! 

Do you make everything from scratch?

I did used to blanch and grind my own almonds but it's very time consuming now with the volumes I do, not to mention hard on the food processor. I do make everything else from scratch. I use local eggs, I crack them myself, no eggs in a box over here! I make my own butter creams and I try and use as many local ingredients and suppliers as I can. My batches are 4 days from start to finish. I age my egg whites for a full day, I bake and fill my shells and then they "mature" for 2 days prior to going out. It's a labour of love for sure. A tasty labour. ;)

What are the most popular flavours?

I think our all time best selling flavours are Very Vanilla Bean & Salted Caramel. Earl Grey & Strawberry Cheesecake are close behind. My personal favourite right now is the Coconut-Lime. 

Photo by Sarah Holmes

Photo by Sarah Holmes


Can we have this as both as a dessert as well as a wedding favour? What would that look like? 

You can have them as a dessert on your dessert table, as a favour on your dining tables, as a token gift to your guests upon arrival, as part of your appetizer service between ceremony & dinner. You can have them whenever and however you want!

 A popular, classic and elegant way to have them on your dessert table is the macaron tower. Rows upon rows in your wedding colour, they are sure to wow & impress your guests with their striking presence. A tower makes these readily available for your guests to grab and go. Plan for at least 2 per guest! 

Favours are packaged just they way you like for your event, most popular is the 2 piece box, but many bride & grooms also love the favour bags as well.  

Sarah Holmes of Sugar of Sharai Photography

Sarah Holmes of Sugar of Sharai Photography

How do you stay creative and on top of the wedding trends?

Honestly, I get a lot from Instagram, Pinterest, my favourite bloggers and shop owners.  How lucky are we and how easy is it these days for small businesses to have access to all of this information & creativity? It definitely helps in allowing us to plan for our own success. Brides often already come to me knowing exactly what they want which is great! I find though, that as creative as you can try to be, we think the macaron is a classic and timeless treat that doesn’t really change!

Photo by Yinger Fotokrafie Design

Photo by Yinger Fotokrafie Design

Sweet Feature // Cotton Candy Fun with PetitePuf

You're going to love this month! This month we get to feature some of the most fun, interactive and popular sweet treat vendors in Vancouver, BC! 

All of this months vendors are fantastic options as a dessert, candy option, or wedding favor. If you're looking for some fun detailing to have at your upcoming party, these are the guys to talk to! 

Some of these vendors have great interactive options to have at your reception (or during your pre-reception if you want something sweet before hand) which makes it so much more fun for your guests!

We wish that we had these options out when we were getting married because they each have their own unique X-factor that they bring into play!


Let us introduce you to PetitePuf!

PetitePuf is the original and premier organic cotton candy cart service in Vancouver, B.C. They do more than just make cotton candy, we provide the ultimate cotton candy experience, with our wedding decorations and candy bar services. Their dreamy and delicious, organic and all natural handcrafted cotton candy will be the highlight of your next event or private party. PetitePuf promises an unforgettable full service event experience AND offers options to customize the PetitePuf cart, flavours, cotton candy cones, and select décor to fit the theme of your Wedding, Corporate Event, or Private Party.

Petitepuf has also been featured on Real Weddings Magazine, Style Me Pretty, and Breakfast Television. 

Let's go behind the scenes a bit shall we?

Meet Pippa! She is an entrepreneur, mother, and wife. Pippa launched PetitePuf in 2014 after being inspired to create Cotton Candy event services for her own wedding. 

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What do you like to do in your spare time? 

In my downtime I like to get creative, play house, and be outside. I'm a huge fan of exercise and have a mandate to sneak in an hour or so every day. 

How did you get started? 

Cotton Candy had always held special childhood memories for me and I was eager to start PetitePuf after I went on a search for a special Cotton Candy supplier for my big day but turned up empty. I was looking for a vendor who offered catering, decor, and entertainment and couldn't find anyone who did all three. With a passion for all things sweet, PetitePuf was born and the rest is history!

What are the most popular flavours that you carry?

The Strawberry and French Vanilla are always a hit! My favourite is the Chai and our new Salted Caramel but the mango chill, strawberry lemonade and twinkle twinkle (coconut with tiny silver stars) are so so so yummie and pretty it is hard to decide! 

For the keepsake wedding favours, can you get personal labels, can they order more than one flavour?  

Yes! Depending on the order size we would be happy to offer a choice of up to 4 flavours and are happy to customize ribbon, labels, packaging etc! 

Another option is to have the cotton candy cart at the wedding. What does that look like? How long would you be there? 

Please visit our website for more information on our cart services! The most popular package for our cart services is our Fete package which is two hours of cart service, 4 flavour, decor and options to customize!

How do you stay creative and on top of the wedding trends? 

We love attending wedding shows, pour over wedding magazines, and stay connected with our local wedding planners. We also find inspiration from the amazing images on Instagram and Pinterest. 

If you're looking for some fun and different ideas to have at your party, or your big day make sure to look into PetitePuf! We absolutely love their cotton candy cart option! Or if you're looking for different ideas for a favour, we love that they help provide the cutest packaging. Who could resist receiving a cute little cloud of sweetness anyhow!?

For more information, make sure to head over to PetitePuf's website for more details.

Date Nights // Campout Home Date with M&Him

When The Bright Lights asked if we could document an at home date night, our go to idea was to pull out the fire pit and roast marshmallows in our backyard. Then, on second thought, it is the middle of February and the last thing we wanted to do was freeze our butts off. Also, not everyone has access to a backyard let alone a fire pit. SO, we took it indoors to our living room! 

Pitch a tent - This did require a bit of effort but what tent doesn’t?. Just grab the biggest sheet you can find and hang it from something on your ceiling, or install a hook to suspend it from.

Food - Everyone knows a party isn’t complete without something tasty to munch on. Our “thing" is cheese and crackers. We could probably live off a good wheel of brie cheese on crispy Melba rounds, topped with a mango habanero spread. However, maybe your thing is mac & cheese, pizza or focaccia bread dipped in olive oil with balsamic glaze. Whatever floats your boat! 

Wine tasting - Grab a couple small bottles of wine of different price ranges and variety. We blind folded each other to see which one we each liked best. Dave ended up liking the middle range wine and of course I fell in love with the most expensive one! 

Don’t drink wine? I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to do this with tea, beer, coffee, etc.

Board game - Nothing better then a little healthy competition! We LOVE the game "Mad Gab". 

Although it is a 4-6 player game, we find it just as great, if not better, as 1 on 1. Just watching the other person repeat a phrase over and over again not knowing what they’re saying is hilarious. I have to admit, although Dave completely schooled me I kept my cool pretty well. 

S'mores - A sweet treat, we had no idea stove top burners could work so well for marshmallow roasting! You might want to make sure the fan is on, or your unplug your fire alarm because it can get a little smokey. ;) 

Oh, and make sure you buy fresh graham crackers. We realized too late that ours were stale and that is just not a fun taste in your mouth for the rest of the night… 

It’s amazing how easy it is to connect and enjoy each others company when you turn off all your electronics and have something planned for the night at home. The best part is that you don’t have to put the effort into getting all dressed up! 

Blessings! 
Mads & Dave


Huge thanks to Madison and Dave from M&Him for sharing their date night with us! How cute are they!? They're a Vancouver-based Photographers and Videographers. If you haven't seen their work yet, make sure to check them out at their website!

Date Nights // Ladies' Day

This week, we'll be putting a bit of a twist on our date night ideas! We believe that investing in all of our relationships are so important, especially our friendships. So we went out on a Ladies Day with some of our dear friends and we thought we'd share it with you! 

We gathered our friends Eliza, Jo Ann (Joryli's sis), and Mads (from M&Him). Just some girls we love dearly and have so much fun with! We thought we'd plan something easy, fun and even new for some!

First! We headed down to Vancouver for a day of wandering, eating and fun! 

Our first stop was 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters.

They carry Lucky's Donuts which was the big draw for us. We love our sweets, and this just did the trick for us. I mean who can resist a delicious donut? I know I can't! :) We ordered our coffees, tea and donuts and found ourselves a table. We sat there for a while talking about life, laughing and indulging in our treats! 

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We even grabbed some donuts for the guys that we left behind for the day. I think some of the donuts actually made it back to their men. Mine (Raelene) did not get back to Josiah. I ate... both.

When we were all finished at 49th Parallel, we gathered our things and headed out to go skating at the Robson Square Ice Rink. It was only $4 to rent skates so it makes for a very affordable add-on to a ladies's day! Our friend Mads (from M&Him - check them out) had never skated at Robson Square! She was pretty excited about trying it for the first time!

We put on our skates, and hit the rink.

And yes, that is me helping Joryli with her skates. I guess that's what are friends for! Hah!

It took us a few minutes to get going, but once we did it was so much fun :)

We took some pictures of us all skating together, let's just say we had to count to 3 just so we were able to skate together properly! 

Once we were all finished skating, there were a bunch of food trucks open by the Vancouver Art Gallery for everyone's lunch break. So we thought we would go check it out and stop by Vij's food truck for some chai tea! 

With some chai tea in our hands we walked over to Faubourg to pick up some french macarons!

Although we had tea and deserts we were so hungry at this point, so we stopped by the Bellagio Cafe for their half price appetizer hour to grab a bite!

We ordered 3 different appetizers to share! It was a nice way to start concluding the day. BUT, before we left, we had to make a stop at Sephora to make it a true ladies day! 

With our busy schedules, it was nice to not have anything to rush to. Though we had things planned for the day, we were open to whatever, and allowed time to sweep us away naturally. 

It was such a great opportunity for all of us to re-connect and catch up on each others lives. It was also a great chance for us to get to know each other better. Even if you've known your girlfriend for more then 10+ years (and there were some there in the group), there's always something new to learn and love about that person, it's always a joy when that happens. :)

It was such a fun day to re-connect and relax with our friends. 

Even if you don't live in the lower mainland, there's something about planning a date with your girls and reserving it for them. We hope you get an opportunity to do the same with your girls! Don't forget to let us know what you did and how it went!

xx The TBL Girls


Date Nights // The Dark Table: Blind Dining Experience

Alright! If you want to try something new, a bit adventurous, and just crazy - you have to try The Dark Table!

The Dark Table is located in Vancouver, and it's our first ever Blind Dining Experience in BC!

What is it you ask? It's an opportunity to experience what it might be like to be visually impaired, in a dine-out setting. You get to enjoy a delicious dinner with your significant other in a pitch-black room, only having to use your other senses! We hear that once one of your senses are removed the rest of them enhance, it's a great way to see if it's actually true! 

If you're not from the lower mainland, check to see if you have one in your area!

Photo taken by the Epoch Times

Photo taken by the Epoch Times

My husband Sam and I were given an opportunity to try this unique dine-out experience. We were both excited, but also nervous! The more I thought about how different and how many unknown factors there was going to take place, the more I got nervous.

"How was I going to eat? How are they going to bring us to our table? Is it going to be embarrassing?"

But in the midst of those thoughts, I still got a thrill of excitement. You hear about people's experiences, you see it in the movies. But to experience it for yourself is a whole other dealio! For once, I had no idea what to expect. 

When we arrived at the restaurant, you meet the hostess at the front doors. They were really friendly. They took our names, and handed us a menu. Right by the doors there are seats and a heater to keep you warm as you look through the menu.

They give you three options: to do a full three-course meal, or to do an appetizer and entree, or entree and dessert. It really depended on how hungry you were! Sam and I went for the three-course meal, naturally

Before you go in, you place your order with the hosts. Then, you wait for your server to come out to get you. Our server's name was Dustin, he came out of the door and introduced himself to us. He was very professional. Dustin met us at the door, and explained to us what we will be doing next.

Then we entered through the doors, shoulder to shoulder. 

Of course, the first thing we had to do was use the washrooms first. Hah. So we made a quick detour in the dark.

And it was dark. Really dark

Once I was inside, I found myself trying to look around to see if I could find any light. I definitely couldn't.

Dustin guided us through the restaurant, letting us know if we were making a right or a left. I was very impressed. I couldn't quite comprehend how he knew which tables to avoid and which ones to bring us to. My mind was blown to say the least. 

The first thing I did when I sat down was feel around the table. I needed to know where things were exactly. Fork, knife, plate, napkin, and a glass. Perfect. 

Slowly, our food started to arrive. For our first appetizer, I started using a fork and started poking around. I kept getting vegetables. At this point, I had no idea what we had. I couldn't tell what the vegetables were, it tasted familiar, but I couldn't place a name on it. I seemed to be missing the main dish in the appetizer, so I put my fork down and with my index finger poked at my plate. Yes, I used my fingers. It gave me a better idea of what I was eating, and whatever it was, it was delicious!

Sam on the other hand continued to eat like a gentleman and used his utensils. For the first two dishes, I tried to use them, put them down and used my hands. I was clearly incapable of using a fork and knife in the dark. 

I could definitely tell my hearing and taste sense were more sensitive. I've tasted cheeses, steak, vegetables before but everything seemed to taste just a bit better from what I remembered. 

The food we received was portioned well, and so filling! I'm prone to my eyes driving the amount of food I eat, so not being able to see how much I was eating allowed me to be full when I was actually full. Despite it being pitch black, the atmosphere was great! The music was playing in the background, but it wasn't too loud. It was quiet enough for your server to be able to hear you if you needed their help and service. 

The cool part about the experience is how you can hear people experiencing the same thing as you are. It's a first for most of the people there, and it's quite interesting to be able to experience the same unique thing together. 

Another awesome part is how interactive this dining experience is! You don't know what you're eating, so you're having to trust your senses. You also don't know where or what you're doing, so you're really needing to trust your server more then you would in a regular restaurant. 

Sidenote* because we weren't able to use our phones because of the light, it forced and created room for Sam and I to actually be in conversation with one another instead of being on our phones. This was definitely a plus!

There's an adventurous element to the Blind Dining Experience, but once we were done, Sam and I had experienced something new together and loved it! If you're feeling a bit adventurous, you got to give this a try! Whether it's for Valentines Day or just for a fun date night, I'd highly recommend this!


Huge thanks to The Dark Table for your hospitality, and for providing such a great dining experience for my husband and I. We're definitely coming back!

 

Date Nights // Vancouver Stay-cation at The Vancouver Marriott

Josiah and I (Raelene) love date night! It is especially important to us as Josiah works out of town, so when he is home we try to dedicate as much time to one another as we can. When we were given the opportunity to spend a night at The Vancouver Marriott in Coal Harbour, we were incredibly excited!

Josiah and I are both huge fans of Vancouver. Being in the city makes my heart so happy and my soul feel at home!

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Before our stay-cation in Vancouver, Laura Heywood from The Vancouver Marriott helped us plan an itinerary. All the concierges would be more than happy to give advice and help you plan a trip that fits your style! 

Huge THANK-YOU to Koreena Singh from The Vancouver Marriott for setting up our stay. We had such a fantastic time!


Check in time is 4:00pm so we started our getaway with a walk around Coal Harbour, we took a stroll by the Olympic Torch and wandered through the Vancouver Convention Centre. We stopped to take a photo with this lovely piece of art. I call him Keiko (like the whale from Free Willy). 

When we were ready, Rodney at the front desk helped me check-in. He was very friendly! He gave us directions on where to park, what elevator to take up to our room and even let me know to call down if we needed anything at all! We parked our car on-site for a minimal fee. 

The moment I opened the door, the first thing I did was gawk at the gorgeous view from our room!

Every time I get into a hotel room, one of the first things I do is start snooping around to see what is in all the cupboards and closets. I was happy to see a Keurig and I made a coffee right away! As I opened one of the cupboard doors I found an ice bin on a tray, with wine glasses and a cork screw! It's always the worst when you bring a bottle of wine and have no way to open it! 

One of my favourite things that I found was an umbrella in the closet to borrow in case of rain! It had such a cute note too! "Your stay in Vancouver wouldn't be complete without a chance of showers.."

In the bathroom they had everything from hand lotion to shoe shine! 

As I was getting ready for dinner, there was a knock on the door. Koreena had sent up a tray with sparkling water, brie, grapes, delicious crackers, some nuts and dried fruit. It was delicious! We cuddled up in bed and snacked away. :) 

We had dinner reservations at the restaurant Showcase that is located in The Marriott. They are participating in Dine Out Vancouver, the menu looked delicious! There was no way we could eat such a full meal after the brie so we ordered off the regular menu. We ordered the warm spinach and artichoke dip that is accompanied by their house made tortilla chips. For our entree, Josiah ordered a caesar salad and I ordered tacos (I can never say no to tacos). I had the cajun shrimp and ling cod alongside a house salad. It was delicious! :) We will definitely be going back!

Our Server Angela, was SO friendly. She was chatty, knew all about the menu, recommended her favourite dishes, and consistently checked back on how our food was. It was a fantastic dining experience. 

The Sous Chef Lisa, let us come for a peak into the kitchen. It was getting pretty late at that point so there was no food being plated. It was so great to meet Lisa though, she was very friendly. We had a great chat about my love of tacos and she recommended I try the taco food truck Tacofino. I seriously love tacos. 

After dinner, Laura had recommended going to Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe for an after dinner treat. Josiah and I both ordered a cake and a piece of chocolate. Josiah had a chocolate mousse cake with a piece of maple ganache chocolate. I ordered a lemon pomegranate mousse cake with a piece of ginger ganache chocolate. It was so delicious! All the tables inside were full, but we were able to snag a table on the patio. It was so nice to be able to sit back, eat a treat, and just spend time talking to each other!

Once we got back to the hotel, we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the pool (It's open till 11:00pm!) There is a sauna, whirlpool and a full gym in the health club alongside of the pool. (the gym is open 24 hours!). It was so nice to hop in the pool, splash around and relax in the hot tub! The pool has loungers and chairs around the deck with towels on them. You can also order food to the poolside if you wish! 

When we got back into our room, I placed an order for room service the next morning. Josiah and I always wake up super hungry, which means we always check out early to grab breakfast. We were wiser this time around. Ordering some room service allowed us to enjoy the super comfortable bed and amazing view for a couple more hours. We ordered a continental breakfast, which had your choice of fruit, juice, hot beverage and an assortment of pastries.

It was the perfect start to our morning!

They also do a 'turnover service' where they bring you up some chocolate, a bottle of water and the weather forecast for the next day! 

Laura had suggested that we go to Cafe Medina for breakfast, so after we checked out we walked over. (Your parking pass is good until 6:00pm on your check out day, which means you don't need to worry about paying for parking again!). We only had to wait about 15 minutes to be seated. I ordered a cappuccino and waffles right away. 

I tried the white chocolate pistachio dip and Josiah had dark chocolate.  

Josiah also ordered the Harissa Pain Plat and I ordered their Frittata! 

After Cafe Medina, we went for a stroll around the city for a little bit. Laura had given us some suggestions of places to grab snacks and coffee throughout the day! We were just so full from our brunch at Cafe Medina! BUT SERIOUSLY, the concierges have an ample amount of information from the best places to eat to what to do with your day. They will be able to help you plan a perfect weekend in the city!

Laura also suggested a few things we could do during the day; rent bikes and bike the seawall, head up to Capilano Suspension Bridge or wander around Granville Island. It was pouring rain, so we went with the latter. Off to Granville we went. 

Josiah and I wandered around the Granville Island Market, snapping photos and enjoying the array of little shops. Of course I couldn't leave without some flowers! Oh, and also beware of seagulls!

Thanks again to The Vancouver Marriott for providing us with the room and an itinerary. It was such an excellent stay-cation! 

If you're still looking for a place to stay for Valentine's (or any other night you can get away) just click here to book your room :)   

Date Nights // Whistler Getaway

Happy February! It's "date night" month with The Bright Lights! We're going to highlight some of our favorite dates so far this year, and hopefully inspire some fun ideas for you and your special someone! (If you haven't already, check out our previous blog explaining more about this month's theme and our passion for intentional dates!)


I'm excited to share this date experience with you! I have been wanting to go away for a night for the past couple months! I was just itching to do something remote, quiet and peaceful. Coming into 2015, Sam and I both knew we were in for a busy first couple months. With a combination of school, work, events, meetings and weddings, I knew that I wanted a night away!

For my birthday Sam surprised me and planned a trip to the Scandinavian Spa in Whistler and an overnight stay in Squamish! I was ecstatic!! 

If you're able to get away for a night, this is a great place to feel like you're far away without the hassle of flying! (Unless you're not from the Vancouver area!)

Before we left, we had to make a coffee run. A must before we go on any road trip! It was SO lovely not having to rush anywhere. We were able to sit down for a few minutes, sip on our drinks before we left for our 2 hour drive. 

One of the best things about driving the sea to sky highway is the view along the way. Once you pass North Vancouver, the view is just spectacular. 

It was a pretty foggy day, but the slight fog over the water and the trees just made it that much more mysterious. If you get a chance to drive up that highway on a summer day, take some time to stop at the viewpoints to enjoy the views along the way. It is absolutely breathtaking! 

Sam had booked us a night stay at a Bed & Breakfast in Squamish called The Highlands Bed & Breakfast. This was going to be my first time ever experiencing a Bed & Breakfast! The weekend we had gone up to Whistler was also an American holiday. Instead of being immersed in the big crowds we decided to stay in Squamish which is about a 45 minute drive away to be able to get away from the crowd at the end of the night. It was so nice heading back somewhere quiet and remote.

We arrived at the Highlands Bed & Breakfast first to check in and drop off our bags. We were greeted by the friendliest woman who ran the Bed & Breakfast. She showed us up to our suite. Everything was impressively clean, tidy and felt very welcoming. We had a room with a balcony so we had a spectacular view of the mountains. The room had a nice big bathroom in it with a jacuzzi tub and a separate shower. After seeing the jacuzzi tub I knew I wanted to take advantage of it before we left!

Our view from our suite! (This doesn't do it justice!)

Our view from our suite! (This doesn't do it justice!)

A little selfie on the balcony before we left for Whistler! We hopped back in the car after dropping off our bags at the Bed & Breakfast, 45 minutes later we started seeing more snow and successfully arrived at Whistler Village. 

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We went straight into the village, and had to make one important stop! (Aside from a coffee stop) we walked right away to grab some beavertails!

Sam and I walked around the village for a bit before we went for an early dinner. We stopped by a local restaurant in the area and grabbed a few things to eat! 

Our next stop was what I had been anticipating for! The Scandinavian Spa! I've heard lots of great things about it, but I haven't had a chance to check it out until now. The Scandinavian Spa is located a few minutes outside of Whistler Village. Once you drive up, you walk through the cutest pathway through a forest to get to the Spa. 

Even before you get into the Spa, you have an amazing view of it from the entrance. It's quite beautiful and it made me so much more excited to start! 

For those who are unfamiliar with the Scandinave Spa it's a form of hydrotherapy where it's alternating hot and cold water. This helps improve elimination of toxins, decreases inflammation and stimulates circulation. Hydrotherapy treatments include saunas, steam baths, hot baths, and cold plunges. natural way of de-stressing with a process of entering hot and cold baths with a time of relaxation.

Sam and I arrived at 4pm to experience the baths first and he had booked us RMT massages at 8pm. This worked out perfectly for us, because after our massages we were ready to head back and enjoy the rest of the evening. Saying I was incredibly relaxed is an understatement. 

After experiencing the Scandinave Spa for the first time, I became a huge fan! I absolutely love being able to experience something new with Sam. What was nice was that we were able to also enjoy each other's company throughout. It didn't take away from our time together, but I felt that we were able to invest more into our relationship by not having a specific agenda for the day but purely relaxing. 

At first 4 hours in the baths seemed like a long time for me, but when we were there the time went by fairly quickly. By the time you were wrapping up, you can feel a difference in your muscles and mind - I wanted to keep going! 

Men, if you're trying to think of a good anniversary date, getaway, just because date - this would be a good one! You would definitely have to plan ahead because they do book up quickly, but if you live in the lower mainland you don't have to stay in Whistler or Squamish overnight, you can still make it back home at a reasonable hour and have had a great time away!

I know we're definitely going to come back. :)

All About // Date Nights

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It's officially February! Can you believe it? 2015 has been amazing so far, but it's going by way too quick! With February being highlighted as the month of love we thought we'd do something fun and feature a few fun date night ideas or even some Valentine date ideas for all you men! *hint!*

My husband Sam and I are huge on date nights. It's one of the things that we've made sure we made time for since we were dating. We made it a priority in our schedule to reserve a night in the week that was saved specifically for date night. So when we're making individual plans during the week, Tuesday nights are reserved. Of course, things happen during the week and things need to be adjusted, but we discuss it and re-schedule if needed. There are of course some weeks you do just have to wait until the next week. We've been doing this religiously since we were dating, and we stick to it pretty tightly even now that we're married. It's something we look forward to it every week!

Date nights don't have to be expensive, and you don't have to necessarily go out either. Date nights are meant to be intentional. So whether that means going out, or staying in, it's an intentional night for us to re-connect during a busy week and get to know each other better. We feel that it's allowed us to grow in our relationship deeper just by setting aside time for each other.

Some of you may not be in the same season as us, and life is full and busy. The heart of date night is intentionally seeking each other, even if that's just for an hour. That one intentional hour can make the difference in your relationship. It does in ours!

But for those looking for a few ideas, starting Monday we have a few special date night ideas for you and your man to try yourself! Feel free to let us know what you think and let us know what you guys do for date nights!

Fitness Feature // 5 Booty Building Exercises

Meray Froese from My Reward Fitness is joining us for one more week to show us and future brides how they can best prepare for their wedding. Here are some great exercises she's put together for you! We hope you've enjoyed this month as much as we have! 

Huge thanks to Erin Fraser Photography for taking the photos for this blog! You can also check her out on instagram at @efraserphoto! 


With wedding season coming up, and the busyness of life, it’s not always easy making it to the gym.  That’s why I put together 5 Booty Building Exercise that you can do from your own home! These exercises will help shape your legs and your booty so you can have a toned, conditioned, and strong lower body. 

Feel free to challenge yourself with these workouts by adding heavier weight. 

Try doing this circuit five times! Good luck!

1.  GOBLET SQUATS // This exercise targets your glutes and your quadriceps.  All you need is a dumbbell or kettlebell that you can squat with 20 times.

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold the dumbbell or kettle ball comfortably in front of your chest.

Step 2: Squat down about 90 degrees, making sure that your chest is up, your core is tight, and your knees are not going over your toes. 

Step 3: Bring your body upright, and squeeze your glutes at the top.

Step 4: Repeat Exercise 20 times.


2. EXERCISE BALL HAMSTRING CURLS // This is a great at home exercise that targets your glutes and hamstrings.  If you don’t have an exercise ball at home, you can put your legs up on a bench.

Step 1: Begin on the floor laying on your back with your feet on top of the ball.

Step 2: Position the ball so that when your legs are extended your feet are on top of the ball.

Step 3: Raise your hips off the ground, keeping your weight on your shoulder blades and feet.

Step 4: Flex your knees as you bring the ball as close to you as possible, make sure you contract your hamstrings.

Step 5: Return to starting position.

Step 6: Repeat exercise 20 times.


3. BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS // All you need is any kind of platform (a bench, step, chair), and extra weight if you want a challenge.  This exercise specifically targets your quads and glutes.

Step 1: Place your back foot on a platform and go into a lunge. Make sure your knee does not go over your toes.

Step 2: Drive your body up to starting position and repeat.

Step 3: Repeat exercise 20 times per leg.


4. SINGLE LEG STEP-UPS // This exercise is perfect for targeting your glutes and for working on your balance.

Step 1: Stand in front of a bench or stable platform. 

Step 2: Lift your right leg and, driving your heel into the bench.

Step 3: Fully extend right your leg, and squeeze your glutes. Allow your left leg to float beside the bench, not touching the ground.

Step 4: Stick your glutes out, and lower your left foot allowing just your toes to touch the ground. 

Step 5: Repeat exercise 20 times, then switch legs.


5. CURTSY - SQUAT - CURTSY // This exercise requires no equipment at all! It is a fat burning exercise that will leave your glutes on fire!

Step 1: Start with standing with your feet hip width apart.  Put your weight on your left leg, and cross your right leg behind your left leg (as if you’re doing a curtsy). Bend your knees and lower your body straight down until both knees are 90 degrees.

Step 2: Bring your right leg from behind your left leg, and bring it shoulder width apart.  Go into a squat. 

Step 3: Put your weight on your right leg, and cross your left leg behind your right leg (as if you’re doing a curtsy). Bend your knees and lower your body straight down until both knees are 90 degrees.

Step 4: Repeat exercise 20 times.

Hope you enjoyed this workout! For more exercise and nutrition tips visit my instagram @my.rewardfitness and my website www.myrewardfitness.com

Fitness Feature // 6 Ways To Tone Your Upper Body

Meray Frose from My Reward Fitness is back this lovely Monday morning as promised! She is sharing some great exercises to help us get our upper bodies nice and toned. I know I'll be trying out these exercises in the gym this morning! 

We'd love for you to share how these exercises are working out for you, show us by tagging @my.rewardfitness and @thebrightlightsevent in your posts! 

Check back with us next Monday to see what Meray has to share with us!

Huge thanks to Kelly Swanson owner of Swanybooth for taking the photos for the blog this month! Make sure to head on over to her site for some sleek entertainment for your upcoming event. 


All women want to feel confident wearing a sleeveless top, or a backless dress. The last thing you want to worry about is your arm jiggling everytime you move or your back rolls being revealed when you sit. Secondary to having a clean diet, strength training is the best way for you to have a toned upper body. Putting on muscle will reduce your body fat, speed up your metabolism, and make your upper body look toned and strong.

Here are some of my favourite upper body exercises.

1. SEATED CABLE ROWS // This exercise is a compound exercise that not only strengthens your mid back, but also your biceps, lats and shoulders.

Step 1: Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform. Make sure that your legs are slightly bent and not locked.

Step 2: Lean forward and grab the v-bar handle.  I prefer holding the bar neutral grip, which means your palms are facing each other.

Step 3: Your torso should be at a 90 degree angle with your legs. Make sure your back is straight and your chest is up and exhale as you pull the handles towards your abdominals.

Step 4: Hold the handles at your torso for 2-3 seconds as you contract your back muscles and your biceps.

Step 5: Inhale as you slowly go back to the original position.


2. DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISES // This exercise is one of the best exercises for your shoulders (deltoids).

Step 1: Grab two Dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. You want to make sure your knees are slightly and your chest is up.

Step 2: Make sure your torso is stable (don't swing). With your elbows slightly bend and your arms to your side lift the Dumbbells up to your shoulders as you inhale.

Step 3: Exhale as you lower the Dumbbells to your side. Repeat exercise.


3. ASSISTED PULL-UPS // This exercise is a compound exercise that uses your chest, back and biceps.

Step 1: Place your knees on the step or pad, and grab the bars firmly.

Step 2: Leading with your chest, bring your body up to the bar. With your chin up, hold that position for 2 seconds.

Step 3: Lower your body until your arms are fully extended. 


4. PUSH-UPS // This exercise targets your chest, back, triceps and core.

Step 1: Start in a plank position with your arms fully extended. Make sure that your hips are aligned with the remainder of your body.

Step 2: Lower your body until your chest is a a couple of inches away from the ground.

Step 3: Push your body up to the first position where your arms are full extended.


5. BICEP HAMMER CURLS // This exercise targets your biceps.

Step 1: Grab two Dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder width apart, slightly bend your knees and tighten your core.

Step 2: Slightly bend your elbows with your palms facing inwards.

Step 3: Without swinging your arms, raise the Dumbbells until your arms are fully flexed.

Step 4: Squeeze your biceps and slowly lower the Dumbbells to the starting position.


6. TRICEP DIPS // This exercise targets your triceps and chest.

Step 1: Find a bench or a chair.

Step 2: Sit with your palms on the edge of the chair or bench.

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Step 3: Lift up on your hands, and lift your hips up until your elbows lock.

Hope these exercises help! For more exercise tips make sure to follow Meray on instagram @my.rewardfitness or contact her at My Reward Fitness.

Fitness Feature // 10 Nutrition Tips That Will Help You Look & Feel your best

Meray Froese from My Reward Fitness is taking over our blog every Monday in the month of January! This week she's sharing with us some great nutrition tips that can help us excel in our day-to-day lives.

We thought we'd help by looking up some recipes and blogs for you to quickly link over to (just click on the photo!) The internet is a huge resource, so we thought we'd help by starting you off with some recipes we're going to try! Make sure to let us know how you're doing with these tips by tagging @thebrightlightsevents and @myrewardfitness. We'd love to see how you're doing! 

Make sure you join us next week as Meray shows and guides us through some exercises you can add to your work-out routines! 

1. Always eat a healthy breakfast. Your brain needs glucose for energy. Starving yourself will cause you to be “brain-dead”.  Another theory suggests that eating breakfast can increase satiety (reduce hunger) for the remainder of the day.  A study done in the University of Nottingham found that those who skipped breakfast were more resistant to insulin, which increased their risk of diabetes. You want to make sure that your breakfast has a minimum of 20g of protein and healthy complex carbs.  An example of this is egg whites and oatmeal, or a couple of eggs with mutli-grain toast.

Egg Muffins with Sausage, Spinach and Cheese

Egg Muffins with Sausage, Spinach and Cheese

Three-Minute Egg White Oatmeal 

Three-Minute Egg White Oatmeal 

2. Meal Prep! Cook your meals in advance and always have food on hand.  This will help keep you accountable to staying on track, and will prevent you from binge-eating when you are hungry.  People who don’t meal prep often eat “quick and easy” foods that tend to be unhealthy. I encourage my clients to meal prep 2x a week, and make enough for a few days. This will save you time and money during the rest of the week.

Easy Breakfast Meal Prep: Instant Oatmeal

Easy Breakfast Meal Prep: Instant Oatmeal

3. Drink lots of water.  Did you know that roughly 60% of your body is made of water?! Drinking adequate amounts of water maintains the body’s fluid balance which helps transport nutrients in your body, improve digestion, and regulate body temperature. Another perk to drinking water is it makes you feel full, which helps you consume fewer calories. 

4. Eat lots of lean protein. Consume small portions of lean protein throughout the day. Protein is one of the building blocks for muscle.  If you are trying to have a lean and toned physique, you must put on muscle, and you can’t do this without eating adequate amounts of protein! Secondly, Protein keeps you full longer.  It takes your body a few hours to digest protein (longer than fat or carbs), and therefore gives you energy and helps you consume less calories throughout the day.  Also note, that when carbohydrates are digested with protein it slows digestion to better regulate blood and insulin levels.  So try to consume your carbs with protein!

Bruschetta Chicken

Bruschetta Chicken

5. Cut sugar during the week. Sugar is like a drug, once you start it is very difficult to stop! From one chocolate lover to another, I suggest that you limit sugar to a treat once a week.  Sugar turns into fat, and also causes your body to crash.  If you have fat loss goals, consuming lots of sugar is only going to stunt your progress. This includes sugary drinks!

6. Eat lots of vegetables! Vegetables are full of so many natural vitamins and minerals that benefit your body in so many ways.  Not only do vegetables help with skin/hair health, but also with digestion, and reduces the risk of heart disease. Vegetables are also one of the best foods you can eat to increase satiety.  Two of my favourite vegetables to snack on are grilled zucchini, topped with sea salt and baked cauliflower, sprinkled with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.

8. Nutrient timing.  There is so much to say about nutrient timing.  In summary, the times that you eat different types of food are very important. It’s important to eat protein and carbs for breakfast to give you energy for the day. Also, make sure you have adequate amounts of protein and carbs 1 hour prior to your workout to make sure that your body has energy for training.  After your workout your body has a “window of opportunity”.  Your body uses carbohydrates from your muscles as energy, and therefore, are depleted in glucose.  This is a good time for you to consume some carbs, which will go to your muscle rather than being stored as fat. Make sure to combine your post-workout carbs with protein. My favourite post-workout meal is a protein shake with a banana, or ½ cup of oats with 1 scoop of whey isolate protein powder. 

Candied Balsamic Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad

Candied Balsamic Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad

9. Don’t be scared of fats! There are so many health benefits to eating “good fats”. Good fats are unrefined animal fats, fish fats, some plant-based fats, olive, nuts and tropical oils.  Some healthy fats include avocados, nuts, coconut oil, salmon, and meat. By increasing healthy fats in your diet, you can lose fat by improving your metabolism, balancing your hormones (ie. thyroid), and by decreasing cravings.  Please note that increasing healthy fats in your diet will promote fat loss if you decrease your carbohydrate income.

10. Be creative with your meals! Eating healthy should be your lifestyle, and therefore should not be a burden or considered a “diet”. You can eat healthy, and still enjoy your food.  Try new recipes, and experiment with different herbs and recipes.  There are so many healthy substitutions for cooking, for example: cauliflower can replace flour, almond milk can replace milk, coconut oil can replace butter, and banana or apple sauce can replace sugar. 

Hope you can apply these healthy tips to your daily life. Remember, eating healthy is a lifestyle. It is not just about your body composition or aesthetics, but it benefits your energy levels, sleep and quality of life.  For more health and fitness tips follow me on instagram My Reward Fitness or contact me, Meray :)