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The Local Wedding NS

12 Jun

Anyone who has been following our adventures for the past year and a half might know that we are not one local traveler but a couple of local travelers. *  In fact, we are a couple and we recently got married.  Although our wedding isn’t necessarily something random readers would travel to, it was still most definitely an adventure and we were pretty keen to stick with a local theme.  Plus, since it led to some really fantastic local travel adventures for our honeymoon in the Annapolis Valley, we felt like sharing the day here.

Long before the day itself (it was a lengthy engagement), we booked our ceremony and reception at the Atlantica Hotel (@atlanticahfx) at the corner of Quinpool and Robie in Halifax.  Some of you might know it as the old Holiday Inn.  The hotel has been completely overhauled, with beautiful suites, two spacious event spaces (we flip-flopped over which to use for our wedding) and one of the best pool areas among Halifax hotels.

We took to Twitter to find local registries.  @IlovelocalHFX, and many others, promptly recommended Cucina Moderna (@cucinamoderna) on Dresdon Row.  We spent a fun afternoon browsing through their chic kitchenware, and later added a second registry at The Trail Shop (@TrailShop) on Quinpool Road.  We had a blast at the Trail Shop, anticipating all of the camping we want to do this year.

For the rehearsal party and all of the other festivities during the weekend, we stocked up on growlers of Garrison (@GarrisonBrewing) and Propeller (@PropellerBeer), as well as some bottles of Benjamin Bridge (@Benjamin_Bridge) Nova 7.  Being of Scottish descent, my mother brought a bottle of Glen Breton (@GlenBreton) for me and my groomsmen.

The rehearsal party was catered by @Scanway, and Gillian’s second hand Vera Wang dress for the evening (and for all events leading up to the wedding) was from local high end consignment shop Crimson and Clover (@crimson_clover).

Our Saturday morning ritual is to take the bus down to the Seaport Market (@HfxSeaportMrkt) to do our grocery shopping for the week and chat with the vendors and other regulars.  Gillian was a little busy getting her hair done, so I went with some of my groomsmen and my uncle for breakfast.  I went with the chicken curry Cornish pasty (delicious).  The others were afraid this might be too heavy for a wedding day so they got breakfast wraps from Wrap So D.

We washed these down with some Trinity Gold Lemonade, courtesy of our friend, Josh (@joshnordin) and then popped over to Garrison.  Trinity Gold also provided their tasty lemonade for our pre-reception cocktail.  You can now find their lemonade at Saege Bistro (@SaegeBistro).

While we were otherwise occupied, Gillian and the bridesmaids spent the morning getting pretty, with help from fantastic local makeup artist Kristen Scott (@Krisco_).  For jewels, the girls all donned sea urchin necklaces by local company RunFree RunWild, who adapted one of her popular items to custom fit the dress.

The flowers for the bouquets were all selected from a list of Avon Valley‘s ‘Local’ cuts and artfully arranged by Sandra of ‘I Do’ flowers.  The remaining flowers were almost entirely living plants, with all flower design done by Gillian’s Dad, Jay Wesley (@jaywesley4).   Jay has spent years working with the Public Gardens and totally transformed the space.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have so many talented friends.  We knew right away that people would remember our wedding for the music.  Luke Watters (@LukeLWatters) is something of a prodigy and wowed our friends and family with the processionals during the ceremony, featuring a sing-along cover of Justin Rutledge’s Don’t be So Mean Jellybean (Rutledge was the first concert we saw together at the In the Dead of Winter Festival in 2009).  Gillian’s sister, Brittany (@BrittanyWesley) is a very talented vocalist.  She treated us to her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in lieu of grace.  ECMA winner Steven Bowers (@Steven_Bowers) honoured us by performing his 50th wedding anniversary song, It Breaks You So, for our first dance.  It was hard to find a dry eye in the place after that one.  Steve and Luke backed each other for some of their originals and then we let them off the hook to party as Zulca Moon took over.  We discovered these guys at the Seaport Market and fell in love with their infectious grooves.  Seriously, crowds of grinning people form instantly when these guys play at the market and they were in top form for our wedding.  People have been and will be talking about the music for a long time!

Instead of clinking glasses during the dinner to get us to kiss, we asked our guests to make donations to Clean Nova Scotia (@CleanNS).  Also in lieu of favours, we will be making a further donation to Clean NS, specifically to their Adopt a Watershed program.  We live in an area where the Williams Lake watershed is in jeopardy so this program is close to our hearts.

Due to a wheat allergy, we had to avoid regular cake.  Luckily, this meant we could indulge in a variety of cheesecakes from Sweet Hereafter (@Sweet_Hereafter).  Also thanks to @HalifaxSalseros for teaching us to salsa so we could properly groove to Zulca Moon.

Clearly we are pretty big on documenting everything, and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to document the day in photos than Tanya Shields (@TanyaShields).  She, Jimmy and Ebony did an incredible job of capturing all of the important moments and the vibe of our wedding, right down to the shot of us together with a Metro Transit bus passing behind us.  You can check out her online gallery of the day here.

We’d like to thank @BishopsLanding and @Ristoranteamano for letting us do our shoot in the same neighbourhood where we first lived and where I proposed to Gillian on the waterfront.  Also a big “thank you” to @BishopsCellar for lending us the champagne glasses.

If you’re interested in checking out the play by play of the day, look up #DnGWedFest2012 on Twitter.  Thanks to all of our friends for live-tweeting!

I know we’ve said it already, but one more HUGE thanks to Tanya Shields. She not only did a fantastic job on the day, when we told her about this blog post she went to work picking out some perfect shots to go with this article.  All photos in this post are her lovely images.

*We are always looking for guest bloggers to help us cover our fantastic region.  If you’re interested, please email or send us a message on twitter, @gillianwesleyns or @drewmoorens.


Inverary Inn – Baddeck

6 May

We recently spent two nights at the Inverary Inn as part of a conference. It was the off-season (March), a time when Inverary remains open, but with limited food services, and no water activities. The Lakefront restaurant, paddle boat and kayak rentals, and most of the town of Baddeck that we would have loved to explore were closed for business. Continue reading

Muir Murray Winery

31 Jul

Wolfville and Kentville are lovely spots to plan a day-long get-away over the summer. A 45 minute drive from the city and you are surrounded by farmers markets, U-picks aplenty, and most importantly, winery’s.

Last Sunday, my sister, her good friend and I headed to Wolfville to check out Muir Murray Winery. Muir Murray is a relatively new winery to Nova Scotia. It officially opened on July 3, 2009. The owner is a former surgeon who moved to Nova Scotia after retiring at 51. Today, the winery has received awards for both a number of their wines as well as from the Halifax Chamber, taking silver in the Best New Business of the Year category at the Halifax Business awards.

We were delayed getting out of the city (that too-good-to-resist David’s tea deal held me up), so we missed the official tour. Lydia, the representative on site that day, helped us make our way around the extensive list of wines. The wines were organized from dry to sweet in each category. I started with a sweeter wine, thinking I would end up favoring the dry but my first sample ended up taking the cake. The winning white was Riches of Life, made from “Riesling” grapes. The website describes it as being rich with nuances of citrus, tropical fruit, honeydew melon, and a hint of minerality. I found it to be light and clean tasting, lovely to drink on it’s own but I can see it pairing well with some cheese or seafood. I purchased both the Riches of Life, and a 2010 Ice Wine called Solstice Ice.

Since we missed the tour we did a bit of self directed site seeing. The property was beautiful, and we saw a wedding tent set up from a wedding in the vineyard the previous day. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

If you plan to head up for a visit, wine tours start at 11, 1 and 3 from May to September. You can sample without taking the tour. Your first 5 samples are free, excluding their ice wines which are $5 per one ounce sample.

Chocolate Lake Hotel

21 Jul

While I never had the opportunity to stay at the old Chocolate Lake Hotel, I have heard many a story from my parents of its less than hospitable conditions. So, when it was suggested to me that I take a look at it for a wedding, I was skeptical. I have put off viewing it for three months based on old impressions, but after having countless people tell me how wonderful the location, rooms, food, pricing etc etc etc were, we gave in and scheduled a visit.

Weddings are the stereotypical most important day of your life, so it stands to reason that when choosing a venue you need to really love a place. Those first impressions can sometimes get in the way of an otherwise lovely spot. Surprisingly, within a few minutes, our lovely hostess Kaela had whisked the negative thoughts from my mind. She gave us an extensive view of the property, peppering in bits of information and past wedding stories. The tour was a true experience, surpassed only by the viewing of the marital suite.

Chocolate Lake reserves its wedding suite for only the best of occasions, leaving the room looking like it was only just built. The large living area held a long bar complete with sink and fridge. There were two large TV’s (but what good are they on a honeymoon…), a two-person counter top in the bathroom and a large jacuzzi right next to the kingsized bed. Perfection.

This is where the outdoor ceremony takes place

What we liked:

Clean, new facilities

Friendly Staff

Coco the Dog (check him out @TheHotelDog)

Full Floor Rental for the reception

Soon-to-be released decks overlooking the water


The 13 room rental requirement to book the space

Parking (it is free but for a very large wedding I can see it getting tight)

The hotel is worth the rental just for Cocoa the dog, and with the view, the ample space and the great staff, The Chocolate Lake Hotel certainly deserves consideration when planning an NS wedding.

Shining Waters Marina

20 Jul

We were tipped off to Shining Waters from a friend and fellow blogger ( Shining Waters is a Marina that doubles as a Wedding (and other events) venue. Located just off the Peggy’s Cove Road, Shining Waters is located on the beautiful Saint Margaret’s Bay.  It is a perfect spot for a wedding, with a large balcony where your ceremony can take place overlooking the water, and floor to ceiling windows in the main reception area allowing lots of light. That, combined with a decent rental price and your choice of caterers, makes it a top-contender for a Nova Scotian wedding, at least in our books.  

The disadvantages – such as the distance to and from the city (and resulting transportation issues) – were quickly resolved by their event staff, Allie and Ivan.  They are in the process of potentially offering the chair covers and a few other key amenities with your rental, which if you are a bride and groom to be, you will be able to appreciate far more than those who have not yet had the wedding planning experience.