Becoming the Connors

A couple years back my dear friend decided to blog a rundown of her wedding day (see her’s here). I reread everything she wrote, swooned over her pictures and adored reliving her day through her eyes. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t chomping at the bit to write a similar post where I could gush about my special day and all who had a hand in creating what I believe was the best.day.ever. When Matt and I created this blog together on our honeymoon we wanted to use this space as a way to look back on our adventures. In my mind, getting married was the first step towards a lifetime together. This blog post serves not only as a shout out to all our vendors, helpers, and right-hand men/women who made this day happen but also as a reminder in days to come of all it took to bring this vision to life.

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The Venue

If you are engaged or almost there, I would highly suggest looking into the Secret Garden at Woodbridge Ponds as your venue of choice. From the beautiful greenhouse reception area to the blueberry ice cream bar, this venue hit the nail on the head with as the most picturesque patch of Abbotsford. Caroline and her team worked relentlessly to answer all my pesky questions, set up my roaring floral shag and ensure that every vendor knew where to be that day. I know many brides who have had backyard weddings and have had to worry about cornering in on every inch of decor. Thankfully our venue was already to the nines in extravagant plants, fish ponds, greenhouses and cobblestone flooring. We could relax and focus more on the smaller, finer touches. One of my favorite things about this place is how it was built for the guest’s entertainment. While we took off for our pictures our guests had the options of tasting Secret Garden’s own in-house wine, they could pick up some of their homemade blueberry ice cream (a necessity under the roasting sun) or lounge around the fireplace. There was always something to look at or try. Not only is it beautiful as is, the team is constantly looking to upgrade, expand and beautify their area. By the time my wedding rolled around they upgraded to a brand new clear top tent. I happened to notice on Facebook two weeks ago that they now have gorgeous linens lining the inside of the glass roof, talk about romantic!

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The Photographers

Meghan, together with her husband, James, captured our wedding wonderfully. Back in October, Meghan, Matt and I met over coffee to discuss all of our photography needs and wants. We instantly loved Meghan’s ability to ease all our nerves by answering all our questions with precision and accuracy. As a word to future brides, take your engagement photos with the photographer that will be capturing your wedding. Surprise! We’re not models! Having your picture taken professionally can be intimidating and to a degree, awkward. I had no idea where to put my hands, and for someone who shows little PDA, showing PDA for the camera feels very unnatural. Meghan had us feeling more and more comfortable by the end of our engagement shoot, there may have even been a kiss caught on camera! By the time our wedding came to be, the awkwardness had faded and we truly enjoyed having the cameras around. Meghan and James are very reasonable, the quality is fantastic and they were so fun to have around with our friends and family. It speaks volumes as them as a couple when you have been around them for less than eight hours and you already feel like great friends.

I am so hashtag blessed to have trendy friends who like taking pictures. I didn’t have room in my budget to pay our photographer to take makeup/hair pictures of us girls ahead of time so I called on my great friend Paula and she was there without hesitation. Paula joined us for breakfast early that morning and snuck around taking pictures of us girls getting all dolled up. I was worried that I would regret not getting a few good pictures of these moments, so Paula willingly stepped up. It was not only great having those pictures taken, it was also a joy to have her there that morning!

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Meghan Bustard Photography

Floral

Flowers have been sailing strong in the wedding industry for several years now. Little trendy shops have been exploding with business since brides decided that flowers deserve a stronger focus. I jumped on the band wagon fast and met up with the most delightful shop owner, Kari, from Confetti Floral in Abbotsford, B.C. I had received the top recommendation from a friend and appreciated that she was in Abbotsford, making the flower pick up quite simple on the way to the wedding. Kari sat down with my mom and me to discuss all of my floral dreams. She caught my vision quickly and was able to translate everything I smushed together from Pinterest into one clean idea. A combination of open roses and ranunculus complimented the dresses perfectly. Everything was fresh and able to be enjoyed in all their glory.

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My hefty floral shag doubled as our head table centerpiece. I really couldn’t picture how this would work out but to my amazement, it made for a spectacular table arrangement after fulfilling its use at our ceremony. We didn’t need many decor items at the ceremony since this big guy stole the show!

As for the centerpiece flowers, we ordered them from COSTCO. Who knew that Costco would deliver such simply gorgeous bulk flower sets for $160.00. Rather than paying per centerpiece, we arranged the assortment of white blooms and greenery into dollar store vases ourselves the day before the wedding. My mom, aunt and I trimmed up the ends, sorted through our favorite combinations and voila, my centerpiece. They stayed fresh in my in-laws’ wine cellar, making it easy to plop each vase down in the middle of the table the morning of. If you are looking to trim down on costs or wanting to dedicate your budget elsewhere, I recommend scanning the Costco website. They have many bulk flower options to suit your wedding and plenty of colors so you won’t have to look far.

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The Garments

The dress, oh the day every girl dreams of, finding the perfect dress. My hunt for the wedding gown began a little differently than I had imagined: over the toilet. I was much too excited to let a little spit up stop me so off I was with my mom, mother in law and two best friends to seek out the perfect gown. Matt, the sweetheart that he is came by just before we left to drop off some chocolate and flowers. He wanted this day to be special for me, what a guy. I had made two appointments downtown Columbia Street in New Westminster; the street of dreams for any bride to be. Before sorting through each rack at Lisa’s Bridal, I explained to my crew that I, in fact, did not want anything that had a boat cut neckline, anything lace or that was tight-fitting. Well, who would have thought that I would try on and fall in love with a champagne/ivory dress that was exactly that? The smile on my face said it all, that was the one. It may have taken some convincing for me to try it on, but I am sure glad I did because once it was on, I did not want to take it off. The appointment that came next paled in comparison. I knew what I liked, and it could not be found in their store. Much to their disadvantage, my stomach began to kick and scream. With each cinch of a particular corset back dress, I was convinced Bridesmaids 2 was about to happen. Luckily I was so set on that first dress that I didn’t need to spend much time in the second store. Back we went a couple days later and ordered my very own wedding dress. I had little alternations done aside from hemming. We added a bustle (a life saver during dancing) and trimmed up the arms a little. It was important to me that I felt comfortable in my dress and I sure did. It’s not every day that you can be a princess in pounds of delicate fabric. Pick the dress that feels the best on YOU.

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Here is just one of the times where I can brag about how talented my mother is. Not many people can say that their mom hand-made their bridesmaid dresses (and their veil). My mom made my dreams come alive. I had a picture in mind of floor length, whimsy dresses, in an off-shade of blush or cream. After scouring every website I could think of and patiently scanning the racks of David’s bridal I found an offshoot of what I had pictured. The dress was a light chiffon material, with crossed straps in the back and had a slit up the front. What was the problem? It was blue and it was two hundred and sixty dollars. I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask my college bridesmaids to pay that kind of dime, nor did I want navy dresses. I discussed my options with my mom and showed her some ideas. She cheerfully took a breath and said: “I could make them if you want”. Did I mention that I had six bridesmaids? Over the course of six months, my ever so creative mom, along with Matthew’s grandmother crafted up gorgeous silk lined dresses, with crossed straps in the back and a slit up the front. Since each dress was fitted to each individual girl, they flattered every body type wonderfully and only cost a third of the price.

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Rather than renting getups for the boys, we purchased Slim Fit suits from RW&Co. I was hellbent on classy James Bond suits for our men, which of course meant they would need a jacket and pants. We looked into rentals all over the town but we really had a hard time asking our boys to pay a pretty penny for something they couldn’t keep. RW&Co was able to give us forty percent off each suit because we were ordering so many from them. They were helpful with their sizing and sent pieces by mail if they didn’t have them in store. Each guy walked away with a jacket and pants from it all and paid half of a rental. Since our suits were simple, most guys already owned a white shirt and black shoes, making the whole process smooth, inexpensive and without burden.

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Taylor and Nate had the easiest job of them all: show up and look cute; a task they blew out of the water. These little blondies wore their wedding attire with confidence and managed to make every guest smile as they walked down the aisle together. Taylor’s beautiful white teacup length dress was bought off of an Etsy supplier that I noticed is no longer available. Etsy is a great place to find flower girl dresses, however, ensure that you order it early on, as our’s took around three months to come in. When buying for your littles, stop in places like Sears, Winners, H&M etc. You don’t need to spend loads on simple outfits that they will grow out of soon. We snagged some pants and a shirt on sale and paired them with black suspenders from Amazon. With a borrowed tie, TA DA, they were set. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

My wedding had many trinkets that held special meaning to me.  I wore my mom’s hair clip and garter, my late grandmother’s earrings and Nate’s pillow was fabricated (by mum of course) with my great grandmother’s lace, but perhaps one of the most special for me was Taylor’s flower basket. When I was her age, I was the flower girl in my aunt and uncle’s wedding. I truly thought it was the best day of my life. When prepping for this day, I dug into the deep corner shelves of my closet and pulled down my flower girl basket, complete with dried flowers and my uncle’s boutonniere from 2000. My mom glued in some flowers and tied a new gold ribbon on the side. It took no time at all but held all the meaning in the world. For me it was like passing on the princess torch, a special moment indeed.

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The Decor

It is far too easy to become wrapped up in the decor of it all. I became quickly consumed with all the STUFF and needed several reminders to tone it down a notch. The wedding comes second to the marriage, so invest in your love first and foremost. It’s easy to save on decor since the blow up of DIY weddings in the course of the past couple of years. You can make lots with little. Since our venue provided so much natural beauty, we didn’t have to overload on knick knacks. We made our seating chart from a gigantic gold picture frame backed with a black board and all of my signage was done by one of my talented bridesmaids. My mom co-owns a home decor shop called Welcome Home in Maple Ridge so she was able to provide me with many of our frames and easels. Best of all, she sells Cece Caldwell’s chalk paint, a necessity for DIY brides who need to fit an item into their color scheme. Our centerpieces, as mentioned earlier, consisted of Costco bulk flowers in dollar store vases. Each table had three gold speckled votives which were purchased from Michaels. Do not buy them from there unless you have a coupon or see a stellar deal. The bonus with these candle holders was that the venue bought them off of us for their rental company as soon as the clock struck midnight! Keep in mind when setting your budget that many of your items are resellable online when you’re done with them. I bought my wooden table numbers off of eBay and sprayed them gold. Finally, I scavenged every thrift store in Langley with my MOH in search of charger plates. Over the course of a couple months, I collected 140 of them. In my opinion, they added an additional class to the room and tied in my color scheme nicely. It’s amazing what you can do with a can of spray paint, my friends.

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Likely my favorite “decor” element was our guest book table. At the last minute, we decided to go for it and do a Polaroid guest book. Best decision we made (aside from getting married!). It was the first thing I looked at when we arrived home after our honeymoon. It was so neat to not only read everyone’s comments, but it helped us instantly reminisce about the wedding through all of the mini pictures. It is a keepsake we will definitely look back on throughout our married life. If you’re thinking about having a Polaroid guest book at your wedding, do it.  You won’t regret it one bit.

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Up next is our guest-loving candy bar. My husband wanted one thing at the wedding and this was it. Yet another level of guest entertainment and delicious I might add. A month or so before our wedding my mom and I loaded up the trunk full, and I mean FULL, of treats from Bulk Barn in New Westminster. Bulk Barn has plenty of selection and allowed us to purchase the quantities that we needed. The candy bar gave our guests something to snack on during our cocktail hour and doubled as our guest favors. A little keep sake wrapped up in an ivory organza bag from Amazon and completed with a personal note.

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The Cuisine

We loved the tasty buffet dinner provided by Simple Savory Valley Catering in Yarrow. Gabriella answered all of my emails promptly and without delay. What I liked most about my experience with SSV was the tasting we did back in October. When deciding what caterer to hire, we had the opportunity to go to the owner’s home and enjoy a full dinner with them. During this time we tasted many of the appetizers and entrees we chose for this occasion. It eased our minds knowing what the food tasted like before serving it to all our guests. In case you can’t decide which of the many options to choose from, pick the pesto pasta, it was my fave! I heard from many brides that they weren’t able to eat much on their wedding day, I can relate. My excitement and form fitting dress didn’t allow me to eat much the day of so a stop at the greasiest McDonalds on the way to the airport with my best friends was necessary.

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I couldn’t talk about the food without highlighting the incredible art that my dear friend, Alyssa put into designing my wedding cake and cupcakes. This girl can do anything well and I had no doubt when asking her to make my cake that she would make something perfect. I wanted a white, two tiered cake with flowers to match the bouquets. Alyssa not only made a delicious vanilla cake with espresso chocolate filling, she also made an arrangement of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and gold sprinkles. She went above the call of duty and blew my mind with her delicious abilities.

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This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that putting on a wedding is hard work. It’s very consuming and can take a toll on your emotions. That being said, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my village of support. From my team of role models who stepped up to set up the morning of, to friends lending out their decorations, their time and their talents. I felt truly supported by everyone who was in attendance. Above anyone else, my mom was my biggest support through this process. She listened to my every complaint, painted, shopped, sewed and design countless items you see in the pictures and taught me so much about being in a loving marriage. I couldn’t have done it without her, and wouldn’t have wanted to. I am thankful to now have two incredible families to lean on through it all.

Beyond all the decorations, the food, and the dresses, I was surrounded by people who love me on my special day. These people prayed for me and gave me and my husband an abundance of support over the years. As my dad put it in his and my mom’s speech: “It takes a village to raise a child, you, are a part of our village”. 

A word to the brides: you won’t remember, or care about the song you walked into your reception to, nor will it matter in a month whether or not you served spicy or sweet meatballs. For me, I forever want to remember my friends praying for me the night before the wedding, and the emotion strewed across Matt’s face when I walked down the aisle. I hold on dearly to the kind words spoken through speeches and how I felt looking out and seeing the friendliest of smiles. I want to remember what mattered, and I promise you it wasn’t the meatballs. Focus on preparing yourself for a lifetime of marriage, don’t sweat the small stuff and be thankful for everyone who is walking this journey with you.

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10 Days Home

Married for twenty-four sweet days, home for a total of ten. We spent the last few days of our honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand. To say the least, it was not what we expected. As we maneuvered our way down the streets of Phuket towards our hotel our first night there, we passed by many American shops, plenty of street vendors and a few too many bars. Matt could see the pained look on my face when we passed a particular strip with women on tables doing just that… stripping. My cringe worsened when our hotel happened to be just two blocks down the street. We had ourselves to blame for our unfortunate location as we had little research poured into this section of the trip; we really had no idea what to expect out of this city. Though the night life wasn’t for us, it gave us the perfect excuse to relax in the rooftop pool, read our untouched novels and spend some quality time with the sun. We ventured out a little in the afternoons. As we passed by each shop, our Canadian politeness decreased and so did our motivation to go out into the city. We got quite tired of turning down every massage parlor, suit shop and tuk tuk ride every minute we walked. In one way, I was impressed with the Thai people’s hard working lifestyle. We didn’t see any panhandling or homelessness, rather we observed people old and young working long days to make a little income. If it meant more money, then they would ask you for anything but by the fiftieth time… “no, we don’t want a flipping suit”.

 

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I have always wanted to try good old fashion McDonalds somewhere across the globe. Here was my chance, an eighteen dollar Mcdonalds meal later!

We spent one of our four days on a tour to the Phi Phi Islands aka the most beautiful beach ever. We opted for the sunrise tour and headed out on our adventure at five-fifteen that morning. We toured a total of six islands that day, of course, the best was saved for last. The beach was a haven of white pearly sand and the most crystal blue water I have ever laid my eyes on. We snorkeled with exotic fishies, laid eyes on the local monkeys of Monkey Island and snoozed on the beach after lunch. To my misfortune, the boat ride made me rather nauseous. I’m beginning to wonder what modes of transportation don’t make me sick. So this meant Gravol for me, followed by a quest to keep my eyes open until we could catch some shut eye after we ate. Though the meds made me sleepy we still managed to make the most of our boat tour, ending the day with ice cream of course. If you are making travels plans to Thailand, the Phi Phi islands have our highest recommendation. It’s not so often that you can experience something so beautiful like we did that day.

 

It has been ten days of settling into our new “home”. Many of you know that I like to be organized, I worry about things too far in advance and that I overthink most situations in life. No amount of worrying or over thinking prepared me for the first two days of being “home”. I believe it was on the third to last day of our trip that I first experienced a bubbling up of an unsettling feeling. Matt was getting ready for dinner and I was passing the time waiting for him by watching a CSI: Miami rerun. In seconds I broke down in tears, overwhelmed with the thought of “I’m not going home”. In the last few days of our trip, we started to get excited to head home and see some familiar faces again. The realization hit me hard that I was in fact not “going home”, but rather I was heading into a new life, with my new husband, in our new “home”. It was a disquieting burst of emotion. Thoughts such as “I shouldn’t feel this way”, “I should be excited”, “What is Matt going to think of this” flooded my head. I was in no way prepared to feel disappointment about moving in with my husband, something I had dreamed of throughout most of our dating life. I sat and dried my tears in the comfort of Matt’s arms. He was ever-so reassuring that this can’t be abnormal and even more so understanding of how I was feeling. To my dismay, this feeling stretched onwards into the first few days back in Maple Ridge. It was hard passing by my parent’s house on the way back from the airport, and I yearned greatly to see my mom and dad when I got home. A combination of jetlag and missing the familiar had me in tears for the first day of being home. Like I said, nothing had prepared me for this. Though I had imagined our first few days differently, a tad more joyful perhaps, I have been able to truly realize what I value in my life. I value my family, I value a state of consistency, I value my husband who wasn’t angry over my unusual feeling, but instead, helped me up through the sadness.  I am feeling more and more settled each day. I have seen plenty of family, played with my old dog and have embraced my new adventure. It’s given me great pleasure decorating our simple white walls and adding all sorts of “Alex touches” around our new pad. We have yet to get sick of scoping out dinner ideas and are learning new things about each other all the time. I only get to be newly married once, so I am going to celebrate all that it’s worth. I now know that it’s OK to miss your family, the comfort of your old bed and mom’s cooking. I truly do love this next step in my life; like anything new, it naturally takes awhile to wear it in and be comfortable. After all, it has only been ten days.

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Often it takes leaving the familiar, the normal, the comfort of your hometown to appreciate what you have. BC- you are beautiful, with your crisp air, fresh flowing streams, and your variety of everything. It could just be home to me, but I believe that we have a lot of beauty to share with the world. Thailand- we aren’t done with you yet. There is more to experience, new stories to unfold. Each day we are squeezing out every ounce of this jungle city.

A couple days ago we sunscreened up and rode to the other side of the island. We joined the hundreds of tourists from around the globe to see Waterfall 1 and Waterfall 2- the island’s greatest must-see attraction. This town really milked this natural sight for everything that it could be, offering pictures with tigers, elephant rides, and concession stands to all who would pay a pretty penny. Before heading up the mountain we had the opportunity to spend some time with an elephant. We’ve learned to not partake in the animal ridings as it supports an industry of cruelty and abuse, however, when we saw our first elephant, we couldn’t help but reach out our sweaty palms in hopes to feel it’s gray, wrinkled skin. Wide-eyed, we watched the elephant slap itself with palm leaves before stretching out its long rugged trunk for a piece of banana. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any fruit, and the large guy wasn’t letting us pull any fast ones on him. He swiftly turned to the next amused guest trusting them for a tasty treat. The shackles around his legs wouldn’t let him move far, but we were happy to see he wasn’t in his square pad for long. Off in the distance, on a jungle hill, the elephants had room to roam after working their 9-5. This sight was far better than the attraction that awaited us. After paying for an approximate twenty-five-minute hike up to the falls we stopped, looked at one another gypped and confused and proceeded to burst out in laughter. “This is it?”. The natural, picturesque view was far less amazing than even Maple Ridge’s classic Gold Creek. The water trickled down into a small pool and was masked by overgrown greenery. Tourists everywhere were gawking over this underwhelming site and all we could do was keep to ourselves that they have undoubtedly never been to Beautiful British Columbia. Thailand has many beautiful sights to see, foods to taste and culture to revel in, however, they can’t sell us on their watering can-like chute. Despite the disappointment, we managed to max out our day. We had lunch at a Jamaican restaurant on the beach, toured around Chaweng, played with a couple of local kids and capped off the night with some Italien pizza. As Matt puts it: “what else do you need in Thailand aside from Pad Thai and Pizza?”.

Our days and stomachs have been full. Yesterday we made our taste buds come alive at a cooking class in Bo Phut. Before we could cook up a storm, the most “Matthew” event took place at our hotel: The quest of the missing motorbike key. He’s successful, he’s bright but he is, in fact, notorious for losing all sorts of important items time and time again, yesterday, it was our mode of transportation. We spent a good hour and a half rummaging through his suitcase, flipping up every pillow on the couch, and scouring the brick paths in search of the key. We hit the point of counting our losses and felt down because we had built such excitement around the cooking lesson. Matthew had one final idea to ask the hotel beach restaurant to see if someone had graciously turned it in. Success! We were off like lightning, thankful that God answered our prayers and sent us on our way. In the living room of a middle age French woman, we cooked up three authentic Thai dishes. I know what you’re thinking, French woman… authentic Thai food… it doesn’t quite add up. Stephanie (our chef and market tour guide for the day) moved to Koh Samui three years ago from France after visiting a friend here in Thailand. She became jealous of her lifestyle, so she packed up her bags and moved here herself. After working in the catering business, she opened up her own cooking school and now runs the most popular cooking class operation on the island. She has hired a Thai chef that helps her fab up authentic dishes made with local, in season ingredients from the market down the street. They partnered with us to grind spices, cook meat and chop root vegetables. Over the course of a couple of hours, we made red curry with rambutans and marinated chicken, Thai spicy meatballs, and my personal favorite, curry puffs. We learned a lot about the local fruits, vegetables, spices and proteins during our tour of the market. A few days back, we noticed coconut cups tied to each tree along the jungle road. We thought maybe they were to catch insects, or provided some sort of electricity to the unpopulated part of the island. During our market tour, we were taught that they are there to catch sap to make coconut sugar. Apparently, there is a short window of time in which the sugar sap can be retrieved from the trees before it begins to ferment. Once the fermentation process has started, it can no longer be used as sugar but indeed makes a sweet dessert wine. Our French guide hasn’t understood why this local wine phenomenon hasn’t taken off as a successful business yet since it apparently tastes quite nice. Beyond wine, if it is left longer it can be used as a vinegar. We picked up a few bags of the sweet sappy sugar at the market and even after the lengthy harvesting process, it still only cost us a dollar. We returned to the market this afternoon for an inexpensive lunch, of what else but Matt’s favorite Pad Thai, after checking out of our hotel. I anticipate crafting up one of our recipes, made complete with pure Thai coconut sugar when we return home for those days where we want a little taste of Thailand around our kitchen table.

We head onwards to Phuket this evening. We await a busier city and younger crowd, beyond that we have minimal expectations for part two of our getaway. Koh Samui blew us out of the water. Paradise Beach Hotel was an abundance of beauty that we would recommend to anyone who wants to honeymoon it up on this utopian isle. We agree that there is no better way to see the island than on the back of a motorbike, you must indulge yourself in at least one tacky tourist attraction and finally, you must experience it all with someone you love, it makes it all that much better.

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Final exams, followed by the flu. Crazy week at a kids camp, followed by the flu. Wedding, followed by the flu. My body fights so hard to keep me healthy through the stress stricken weeks that when I can finally relax the flu seems to hit me like a tonne of bricks. Not exactly how you want to spend your first week in Thailand. I am ever so thankful for the chaotic storms that pass through in the afternoons, forcing me to slow down and giving me permission to flick on the TV and enjoy a B rated movie on one of the three English channels. At the end of the day, I am on a world class beach with the one that I love. I couldn’t ask for more.

Despite the nasty cold, we’ve managed to sneak out for more bike rides down the rural jungle roads, swim in the warmest ocean water and eat lunch at a local Gastown-like restaurant. We experienced our first Thai storm two days ago and when it rains, it pours. In a matter of minutes, we find ourselves in a scene out of Sharknado. I pack up and book it to the room when the wind begins to rage but my nutjob husband thinks that swimming in the ocean during a monsoon is a fun idea. He came in pretty quick after hearing the lightning cracks, realising that he could very well be belly up in an instant. The winds and rain carried on through the evening so we decided to spend the night inside and ordered room service, I just wasn’t feeling well enough to make the trek into town. I was absolutely horrified when I saw Matthew crack open a Coke from the hotel mini bar. Rule #5 on a Murdoch family vacation- do not set foot within five feet of the mini bar as it likely has an alarm system ready to charge you eighteen dollars for a pack of M&Ms. Such heinous crimes have quite the consequences. We ate our over priced meal over a movie and called it quits at 8:30. We have yet to stay up past nine!

Originally heading into marriage we knew there was going to be conflict on one front. Matt, a night owl, colliding with my morning bird rituals. And yet even I have to admit I am a little over waking up at 5 am every morning thanks to jet lag. We are usually at the breakfast buffet before they have even finished setting up the food. We thoroughly enjoy our first few sips of coffee each morning- the island is quiet and the waves are gentle. For just a few minutes we sit in silence and watch the day break into motion. I wish I could bundle up these moments and take them home with me.

The flu bug still strong, we decided to push through on to one of Matts most anticipated activities; renting a motorcycle. We spent the majority of yesterday riding through the city, dodging all sort of traffic and trying to remember what side of the road we are supposed to be on. The wind flickered through our eyelashes as we rode by every little shop on the coast of Mae Nam. We visited cultural landmarks and strolled the infamous Fisherman’s Night Market in the evening. A friend of ours challenged us to eat one wild element at the street market, and as Barney Stinson would put it: Challenge Accepted. We tried CROCODILE. Just as you would assume, it tasted like chicken. We wandered down the rows of vendors selling everything from Kylie Jenner Lip Kits to Beats by Dre. I was beyond excited to find a Naked Palette for $12 but Matt quickly brought me down off my cloud by explaining that it was indeed a knock off. Who knew? We jumped around from stand to stand, taste testing different sticks of meat, mango sticky rice and of course, another round of Pad Thai for Matt. Hand in hand, we ate our way around the displays. Ask me tomorrow if the chicken liver on a stick was a good idea. When in Thailand…

There are waterfalls beckoning to be chased and romantic novels needing to be read. We have great expectations for the next few days as my cold settles and the sun rises this morning.

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As we come up on a week of our honeymoon here in Koh Samui, Thailand, here are the top five things we’ve learned:

  • Embrace the messy bun. My hair has gone full out Monica Gellar in Barbados so therefore it will not be coming down from its topknot anytime soon.
  • Don’t judge a restaurant by its decor, judge it on its Pad Thai. We’ve tried branching out, but Pad Thai has our hearts. We have been eating it everywhere we go. Surprisingly, the worst one yet (given a 2/5 on Matt’s Pad Thai Rating Scale) was at the quaintest of shops. When you eat the same dish for lunch and dinner every day, you are bound to find a dud here or there.
  • Thai Massage translates to middle-aged women engaging in Pilates on top of your body. I shouldn’t be complaining about an hour-long, twelve dollar massage but things started getting weird when the masseuse folded herself into a downward facing dog on my back. Any takers?
  • They drive like maniacs. We are trying to adjust to the traffic flow on the opposite side of the road, however should that matter if people whirl on whatever side floats their boat? I put a lot of trust in my husband’s riding ability as we took the motorbike out yesterday. I put zero trust in everyone else’s riding “ability”.
  • Bargaining isn’t quite so successful when you are holding a wad of cash in your hand. Note to self: keep cash tucked away in your pocket when you are explaining to the merchant that you only have a couple bucks.

 

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We’ve arrived! 6 months ago myself, and my then fiance, Matthew sat down to plan our honeymoon. We knew we wanted to relax after the busyness that is wedding planning but also decided that we wanted some adventure. We had our hearts set on flying to Cabo, resting up on the beach for a week before flying into Los Angelos to experience everything the busy city had to offer. We sat down with several travel agents and both felt just a little too unsettled with the prices. From the exchange rate to Disney Land passes, we just couldn’t swallow the cost.

This brings me to a December evening in front of a computer screen, scrolling through every travel site out there to find something more affordable than Flight Center could offer us. I’ll never forget Matthew getting a little fed up and spewing out the phrase “I bet you we could go to Thailand for cheaper than this”. Well, the rest is history. We scrolled through Expedia giddier than ever because we knew we were headed to Thailand for our honeymoon.

Matt is a well travelled young adult, myself on the other hand… Costa Rice Missions Trip 2012 is as far as I have flown. I found great comfort in knowing that Matt knew what to pack, the shots we needed and how to manoeuvre around the airport. And did he ever. We left the day after our wedding at 10:40 am. Our first flight was 10 hours and for someone who hates airplanes, especially the landing, I was set on this being my hell. Sometimes my negative attitude surprises me, I went in believing this would be the worst flight of my life and as it turns out, it was so easy. I slept the bulk of it and I feel great pride in saying that I survived a 10-hour flight without watching one movie. We landed in Beijing and thus begun our six-hour layover. We played the card game “war” over some slices of pizza; we managed just fine. Who would have thought that after travelling half way around the world our first meal would be from good ol’ Pizza Hut. A seven-hour flight later, we landed in Phuket, Thailand. What I learned from this experience is that I can do all things with a little help from my dear friend Gravol. My stomach and I can agree that Gravol was our game changer. Getting off the plane like zombies we hoped to head right to our hotel but rather were confronted with hoards of people in immigration lines. We waited hours at customs, exhausted as ever, but we finally made it to Phuket. If only we knew that bribing the security guard worked in such a situation as it did for another Vancouverite couple who breezed through the line hours before us. I wish I could say that we headed right to the Airport Hotel to catch some z’s, instead, we rolled our suitcases around and around the airport asking everyone who was anyone where our hotel may be. Matt was in no way interested in catching an overpriced taxi at three a.m, so we walked, and walked and walked. I believe it was our pastor who said at our wedding that our first test as a married couple would be travelling together. Up until that moment, things were a breeze. But then, the first test came. It took every ounce of energy I had left to follow my husband down every sketchy road in order to find our little hotel for the night. He did it. He managed to get us to our hotel safe and sound without calling a taxi. He was quite proud of his accomplishment and I was just relieved to hit the pillow.20048954_10211115494977637_507744603_o

We woke up the next morning with a new found energy, ready to seize the day. After a delicious cup of coffee and the most hot-dog-looking sausages, I have ever seen, we flew on my first propeller plane to the island of Koh Samui. We passed over the clear blue ocean and the incredible city. We made it to our hotel, once again with the help of Gravol, and boy is it ever amazing. We have spent the last 2 days waking up too early to enjoy coffee by the ocean, eating all the Pad Thai we can find and bike riding through the city. Anyone who knows me well knows that I haven’t jumped on a bike since my epic ditch encounter six years ago while training for a duathlon. Maybe the humidity is fogging up my brain but cruising through the city has been my favourite part so far. It took me a couple minutes to retrain myself to ride, but once I got going I was motoring in and out of traffic and no one could stop me. Over the course of these past two days, we have ridden by water buffalos in the jungle, sailed on handmade swings by the ocean and have watched epic lightning shows each night. We have been sweetly in love and have soaked up every moment of this trip so far. I am excited for each new day and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings here at Mae Nam beach.