Monday, March 17, 2014

It's been an AMAZING 5 years

After 5 wonderful years Weddings InStyle would like to announce the close of its venue on Murray Street Effective Sept 30, 2014

This has been a challenging decision for me to make as I love the venue, all our clients and the joy of being in the heart of The Byward Market. However the timing is right for me to say good-bye to the Market after 5 amazing years. We have officially outgrown the space and it is next level time so we will not be renewing our lease.

This journey started over 7 years ago when Balance InStyle our personal concierge company was born out of a personal need. I watched a friend struggle with cancer and realized there was a need in the marketplace that wasn’t being filled. There was no one company you could call for everything from A-Z.
There needed to be a “one call does it all” solution – from Glamour to Janitor where people were licensed, bonded and insured and where you knew the quality you were getting in advance. Afterall what do you really know about the people you hire from the yellow pages or online?

We’ve graced the pages of Flare Magazine, McLean’s, House & Home, Food & Wine. Have partnered with some of the largest automotive companies, home builders and large corporations to offer our services to their clients. We are grateful that we are in a position to expand our brand and are getting ready to take it to the next level with franchising.

After a few years in the Concierge industry it became obvious that there were further needs in the events and wedding market that needed to be met.

A place for the intimate and smaller gatherings. You had City Hall and you had the larger hotels. There was no in-betweens that could handle everything under one roof, a place that did it’s homework on vendors and was willing to share their little black book.

We’ve faced many challenges building the business because our main objective and sole purpose was to serve our guests at the highest level. No wedding was too small, no couple would be discriminated against everyone was treated equally at InStyle. We always tried to work with whatever budgets we were presented with. We believed in love so much that we offered free vow renewals on Valentine’s day for a few years because we understood the commitment of marriage and sometimes the recommitment of it. We offered $199.00 ceremonies because we heard of so many that were living as a married couple but couldn’t afford to make it legal. We believe in love.

We bend over backwards because we were so passionate and committed to the vision we created, and we were proud to offer something that no other venue was offering in Ottawa. A full turnkey stress free experience.

Sadly at times were we told we were too expensive and it was a reflection on us, but what many failed to realize is, we merely acted as a broker for all our wonderful wedding industry friends. We were not caters, florists, bakers, dj’s, rental companies or photographers. We were merely the creative minds behind orchestrating it all and allowing our couples to have one point of contact, one bill and one set of contracts to review.

We bared the risks, we absorbed the credit card fees, we spent our time treating each wedding as if it were our own.

Agreed we work with the best that sometimes are a little more expensive then the others but that is a reflection of our standards and us knowing that you can pay now … or pay later with disappointment.

When we make recommendations we are making them knowing that they are fail proof. The cater’s food is tested, the baker’s treats savored, the floral designers work is art in the making and the photographers work is gushed over. We did our homework so our couple’s didn’t have to.

Did we spend countless hours putting ideas and boards together that we couldn’t recover? Of course – would I change a thing? Of course not.

We’ve been blessed to deal with some of the most talented people in the wedding industry. If you want AMAZING flowers – Call Erin from Full Bloom – she’s amazingly talented, her stuff is like art seriously! She is in demand. So book early if you can get her. We’ve also had the privilege of working with Elizabeth from Flowers Talk. She is a real community gal with a vibrant personality. She makes things happen!
Ottawa Flowers was also a company that we used and Pavel and his family run a wonderful business.

Comes down what kind of statement you want to make with flowers.

I’m an icing girl so I fell in love with Auntie Loo’s treats. Their assortments of cupcakes and icing have left me breathless at times. They are adorable, sweet and lovely ladies and we simply cannot get enough of them. They offer gluten free & vegan options and they are AMAZING! They have a location on Nelson Ave so you can always pop in and sample their goodies.
Julie Cole from Sugar & Spice is a master of cakes. In my opinion she is like Ottawa’s very own Cake Boss. She and her husband are adorable. They care, and pour so much love into their creations. They brighten up our venue everytime we book them.
Kate Green Cakes is another example of sheer talent and amazing cakes! We still remember the 11pound cake that she made for one of our couples that you could smell from 10 feet away. Everytime we walked by we wanted to be like a kid and poke our finger in for a taste. She is a true artist.

We LOVED working with Matt from It’s a Matter of Cake – but he just retired and has joined forced with his love Erin from Full Bloom so booking them you get an awesome duo in one.

Party rentals. We’ve watched our friends at Ottawa Special Events grow from AV and staging company to an EVERYTHING company. You need it – they will get it for you with the most amazing customer service you will experience in town hands down.  “No” just doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. They sleep with their iphones just like us so they get it. You need a heater in a pinch they are on it. AV isn’t working properly cause you pushed a button you weren’t suppose to – they are there to save the day. They’ve grown so much over the years that now they offer everything you could ever want and more so it’s literally a one-stop shop. We LOVE them and highly recommend them.

Master Mind Events. They run a tight ship and they too understand customer service. Scott & Jen are on every order and have created a culture of people who care. You are not just another order and your product does not show up in need of cleaning or mending. Unlike some of the other companies in town. Their pricing is competitive and they too are major community folks giving back at every turn.  Great company. Great people.

Groovy Linen has also been a delight to deal with and they have some beautiful linens to choose from. They’ve recently changed hands in ownership and we understand that there is some amazing new stuff coming in daily.

Photographers. We’ve worked with so many over the years. Joel Bedford, Kathi Robertson, Melanie Rebane, Photography by Voula, Bonnie Findlay Foto, and Mark Cooper have all produced amazing shots that have graced our social media pages. At the end of the end – pictures are all you have left to relive the moments so make sure you leave some room in your budget for a great photographer.

Wedding dresses. Saved the best for last. We LOVE David & Christina from Mc Caffrey’s. They make you feel like a million bucks really go the extra mile to make you feel sooooo special. Their creations are all unique and each one is really it’s own creation. Nothing mass produced. Bonus: you get to sip bubbly while dress shopping.
With Love Bridal is another amazing company that we LOVE sending our brides to. Dana has grown so much over the past 5 years and really has an amazing selection of gowns and the personality to match. You are in great hands with either company.
Trying on dresses is such an intimidating process. Especially with all these ridiculous say yes to the dress reality shows. Trust me when I say both these options will help you say yes to YOUR dress without all the drama.

Lastly, I would like to thank the media. You've been so gracious and kind to us. 

We are going to miss dealing with all of these wonderful vendors and more on Murray Street but feel that “Sharing is Caring”so we hope you find our recommendations to be worthwhile. 

To the other wedding industry professionals I offer you these final words. Be honest. Don’t steal other people’s clients, ideas and marketing. Be imaginative. Treat your clients like they are family. Don’t make promises you can’t keep and if you make a mistake, own it and make it right. Clients come to us for a stress free experience afterall.
Lastly there is a difference between being competitive and copying and passing material off as your own creative thoughts and ideas. A fake is still a fake no matter how you dress it up. Copying is still copying no matter how many words you try to alter. Be an original. Ottawa is a small community and talking bad about others really only ever reflects badly on you.

Finally to all our couples my sincere thanks for allowing us to be a part of the most important day of your life.  Your loyalty as the face of weddings changed only confirmed that creating and designing an all inclusive wedding venue and destination was much needed in Ottawa.  We have loved getting to know each and every one of the over 300 weddings that we have performed over the past 5 years.
Watching your families grow and being given the opportunity to marry your parents, siblings and friends allowed us the opportunity to stay in touch and continue to be a part of your lives. Forever grateful. We have a full season ahead of us and look forward to each and every last wedding we have the privilege to be a part of.

After 5 FABULOUS years we at Weddings InStyle are getting ready to write the final chapter of our wonderful story – The final chapter of this story will conclude with MY VERY OWN wedding. I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams at InStyle 3 years ago when he walked through my doors at 107 Murray in search of an Event Planner. Therefore the last wedding that will be held at Weddings InStyle fittingly will be my own. Meet my future husband and best friend Elia Saikaly

Thank you for all your amazing stories and for allowing us the pleasure to marry you InStyle! 
Fear not. We love creating fabulous events and weddings and have every plan to continue to do so, so stay tuned for what's in store. Same team, same high standards, same passion - different book! :)

Many blessings & much love

Amanda xo