WEDDING | First year wedding anniversary and photos of our backyard civil ceremony

Sheila + Barrie (15 of 124)

On the first anniversary of our backyard wedding, I wanted to share some photos from our civil ceremony. I had explained in a previous post that our wedding and reception were canceled because of COVID. We didn’t want to wait any more to get married, so we had a simple civil ceremony in our back year. We’re waiting to see how vaccinations go before rescheduling, but we’re hoping that we’ll be able to celebrate with our friends and family soon!

Photos: Jeremy Hannaford at EMP Media Services
Hair and makeup: by me
My jumpsuit: Club Monaco
My shoes: Valentino
My husband’s outfit: lululemon

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Sheila + Barrie (110 of 124)

WEDDING | Review of our Four-Panel Invitations from Minted


I googled to find reviews on the Minted Four-Panel Invitations but I didn’t see anything, so I wanted to make sure I document my thoughts properly such that other brides can find this useful. This review is not sponsored, none of my links are affiliate links, and Minted has nothing to do with this post.

Note: As with most 2020 brides, our original “big” wedding celebration was postponed to next year. We still mailed our invitations out earlier this year, before COVID happened, so we were able to get good use out of them. Sadly, a lot of other couples basically had their invitations go to waste. I heard from other couples that if your wedding was postponed, Minted will give you a discount code to re-order new invitations. That’s something to keep in mind if you decide to order from them.

One of things I cared about least in my wedding planning process, apart from flowers and decor, was our invitations. I always thought that invitations were a bit of a waste of money, since most people will just throw them away once they read the information on them. This is especially true of entire invitation “suites,” where in addition to an invitation card, you also get the reception information card, details card, accommodations card, etc etc. Yes apparently sending your guests a stack of papers with everything on a separate card is a thing. These “suites” can also cost upwards of several hundred to even a THOUSAND dollars. Nope, I wasn’t going to spend that much money on cards when I can put it towards booze or an oyster shucker bar instead.

I had originally planned on getting my invitations from Costco. They have some beautifully pre-designed template cards for very affordable prices, but it wasn’t customizable and if you wanted to add additional information, you needed to add another set of detail cards. While it was still much more affordable than buying it elsewhere, I still didn’t like the idea of sending a bunch of loose cards to my guests. This is when I discovered the Minted “Bride on a Budget” section and the Four-Panel Invitations.

Invitations on a budget

Minted offers two types of invitations on a budget. The All-in-One Invitations are great if you are doing your RSVPs traditionally by mail, and if most of the details of your wedding will be provided elsewhere, like on your wedding website. The other option, which is what we opted for, was the Four-Panel Invitations. These are essentially folded cards that have the main invitation with the primary details on the front of the card, and then the inside folded part is completely customizable. You can include photos of yourself, or fill the inside with details, which is what we did. We wanted to give our guests as much information upfront as possible in the most straightforward way, so we put the schedule of events, venue address, RSVP link (we are collecting RSVPs electronically), wedding website link, and more all inside the card.


Designing our invitations

Designing this card was super simple and straightforward. Minted offers a ton of invitation designs on their website, and most of them come adapted for the Four-Panel style. We were able to narrow down the list to a few designs we liked, and then we played around with putting in our details to see which one looked best with our details in them. The design we ended up with is called Heartbeat – Barrie really liked how simple it looked, but I didn’t like the font styles or the heart in the middle. Thankfully, all of that was customizable – we were able to change the fonts from a wide selection of font styles readily available through minted, and we were also able to request that the heart be removed and replaced with a simple ampersand.

I didn’t particularly enjoy using the online editor; it was a bit tedious to use and the lines didn’t line up straight, which was a bit annoying. That being said, after you input your information and submit your order, Minted has in-house graphic designers who will take your invitation and edit it for any special requests, straighten out the lines and spacing, and adjust it so that it looks good from a professional point of view. We had a few small items we wanted them to edit (including removing that heart), and also straighten out the spacing a bit, which they were able to do perfectly. They also made a few small adjustments that we didn’t request, such as edited the font sizing so everything looked more even and balanced. While it wasn’t something we asked for, we’re super happy that they did that because we’re way happier with the end result (designed by a professional!) than the one we put together.

We reviewed two versions of proofs created by Minted graphic designers, which took a bit under 48 hours to do once our order was placed. Once the final proof was approved, our invitations went into production straight away, and was shipped out shortly after that. The total time between me submitting my order to receiving our invitations in the mail was just a week, which was incredible since they were personalized for us. Keep in mind that we’re in Vancouver and our order shipped from Seattle so it came in under two days via Fedex. If you’re anywhere else in Canada or the US, it might take a bit longer.

This is what the Heartbeat template looked like originally:

Minted four panel invitation review

This is what our final invitation design looks like (with certain details blurred out), after it was edited by the graphic designers:

Minted four panel invitation review

Quality of invitations

I’m super impressed with the quality of these invitations. Despite being the “budget” option, the paper quality was just beautiful and thick. Because my cards were bifold, Minted also included vellum paper to put in between the two folds on the inside of the card so that the ink doesn’t transfer from one side of the page to the other. The quality of the envelopes were also very nice, and I think Minted also included some extra envelopes in case we mess up some of the hand-written addressing. Overall we’re very happy with the quality of the invitations and we’re thrilled that we took the leap and ordered from Minted.

We did order some samples (free!) just to see what the invitations would look like, but for some reason they didn’t make it to me until almost a month after we placed our final order. Overall it was a risk that we were happy we took.


Why Minted

Okay so here’s the important part. Apart from the ease of design and the card-shaped invitations, we picked Minted because they provide free guest addressing. Yes you read that right – instead of spending hours handwriting your guests’ names and addresses on envelopes, resulting in cramped hands, or paying someone to write them for you, resulting in a reduced wallet size, you can use Minted’s address collection form to get everyone’s addresses and then Minted will print them for you FOR FREE. Similar to the invitation designs, you can also choose from a variety of envelope print designs. We picked something really simple with just a nice classic cursive for the guests’ names, and then a clean printed font for the addresses.

The Minted invitations are slightly pricier than the Costco ones, but I think it is totally worth it because you save hours and hours writing out names and addresses.

The other convenient thing is that once the guests’ addresses have been acquired, you can also automatically feed them into your website for RSVP collection purposes.

The cost

We ordered 65 of these Four-Panel Invitations for US$122, but HERE’S A TIP! If you sign up for the Minted FREE wedding website, you automatically get a US$50 credit in your account that you can use towards anything. These credits can’t be stacked with a promo code, but they can be stacked with the refer-a-friend credit of $25. We ended up paying US$72 for 65 invitations, including the envelopes.

We paid $15 for shipping and then another C$16 for tax and duty, which came in a separate Fedex bill afterwards.

Minted wedding website

As a side mini review, I really love the Minted website. My type A-ness basically meant I made 4 wedding websites using different platforms (WithJoy, theKnot, Zola, and Minted), and I finally decided on Minted because it was the cleanest of all of the available designs, the website interface was very easy to use, load times were fast and efficient (the WithJoy website took forever to load), and there were very little reported glitches in the guest list / RSVP process (theKnot was really bad for this). The only downside is there is less flexibility in terms of adding pages or uploading photos (apart from the main one on the front page) unless you upgrade to their premium website, which costs US$20.

The basic website includes pages for the wedding details, RSVP, wedding party information, registry info and travel, but it does not include photo uploads or adding your own custom pages. The premium website includes everything a regular website does, in addition to unlimited photo uploads, a custom URL so you can be, instead of, and adding custom pages (we added a FAQ and “things to do around the city” pages). ANOTHER TIP! If you sign up for Minted, you will often get custom codes in your inbox. I was sent a code for a free upgrade to a premium website so I was able to upgrade without paying the $20.

This post was not sponsored or affiliated in any way by Minted. I paid for our invitations out of pocket.

WEDDING | Engagement photo shoot in False Creek, Downtown Vancouver

Sheila & Barrie

We recently had the absolute pleasure of having my dream photographer (who I also happened to go to university with) take our engagement photos. Cari was an absolute delight to work with, and we are also super happy with how the photos turned out.

If you’re looking for a lifestyle photographer, whether its for your wedding, engagement, or even home photo shoot, I highly recommend Cari. She’s so patient with us, and was great at keeping us on track. We’re naturally super silly people (especially Barrie) and we kept trying to joke around, but Cari was great at steering us back to a more romantic and relaxed vibe. Cari also went out of her way to make sure that we were able to get the shots we were looking for. We are honestly so thrilled with all of the photos.

Photography: Cari Zhu Photo (on Instagram)
Locations: David Lam Park, Yaletown Marinaside, False Creek (north side), all Downtown Vancouver

On me
Hair & makeup: Meagan at Paragon Makeup
Nails: CND Shellac in Cashmere Wrap, courtesy of CND and Onyx Aesthetics Studio
Blouse: Aritzia
Skirt: Club Monaco
Shoes: Valentino
Bag: Chanel
Engagement ring: Luksus Diamond
Right hand ring: Tiffany & Co.
Left hand bracelet: Cartier

On him
Shirt and trousers: lululemon athletica
Shoes: Adidas

Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
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Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie
Sheila & Barrie

We paid out of pocket for the engagement photo shoot. This post is not sponsored. All photo credits go to Cari Zhu.

WEDDING | Paragon Makeup did the hair and makeup for my engagement photos!

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Hello! I am back for a review today. So sorry for being MIA the last few months but it has been absolute insanity with the house move, doing renovations, dealing with contractors, and then still wedding planning. Of course the world loves to throw curveballs at you, and the apartment I still own and am renting out had a pipe burst in the hallway right in front of my unit, which severely damaged the inside of my unit. The condo’s general insurance doesn’t cover things like upgraded flooring inside a unit, so I have to get my own insurance to pay for it, which has been another huge pain, not to mention very costly out of pocket due to the extent of the damage. It’s just been a ton of ups and downs lately.

Anyways, I am back with a wedding-related makeup post! Specifically, I am featuring a local Greater Vancouver-based hair and makeup company who recently did my engagement shoot with me. I really wanted to write this review of Paragon Makeup because I am incredibly thankful to Meagan, the owner. Due to forecasted rain (thanks Vancouver!), our engagement shoot ended up getting rescheduled just a few days before the shoot to a date that was earlier than the original date. With only two days to the new shoot date, my original hair and makeup artist wasn’t available at such short notice, so I reached out to Meagan. Not only was Meagan incredibly responsive and super accommodating despite the short notice, she did an amazing job on my makeup and hair.

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review


I sent Meagan a photo of the hair I wanted (braided side crown with the rest of it down in soft curls), and she gave me exactly what I was looking for. I have dry ends so she used hair oil on it before curling, which made it look super soft and luscious. I’m writing this the next day and the curls and braid are still in-tact. My fiance usually isn’t a fan of super elaborate looks but even he really loved my hair. He said he was watching our photographer take portrait photos of me and said I looked amazing.

What sent her and what i got (she asked if I wanted the braid to start right at my hairline and I said no):

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review


I rarely get my makeup done by professionals but since I’m pretty good at doing my own makeup (and makeup for friends), I can confidently say that Meagan’s technique is incredible. I basically told her that I wanted to look like a polished version of myself, and that’s exactly what she delivered. I’m usually wary about using professional makeup artists because in my past experience, they tend to go a bit overboard with makeup, but I didn’t want that at all for my engagement shoot. Meagan made me skin look smooth and glowy, with my redness and discolouration covered, but my freckles still peeking through so that it still looks like real skin. This was exactly what I got in the end.

I have hooded eyelids, and the makeup artists I’ve encountered in the past have been confused about what to do with them. If you apply too little eye makeup, it disappears under the hood, if you apply too much, then it looks like I got punched in the eye. Meagan did a fantastic job with my hooded eyelids, with just the right amount of eyeshadow, which resulted in my eyes looking bigger and brighter.

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Last but not least… eyebrows! I’m obsessed with a fluffy but natural brow look. I really don’t like that Instagram painted brow. Meagan used a liquid brow pen (if you’ve never tried this, I high recommend you get one, MAC and Stila both sell them) to draw on individual brows to give me that fluffy but still natural brow look. Meagan used the MAC one and I’m obsessed.

In terms of other products, my foundation was FaceATELIER, a Canadian pro makeup brand. Meagan also used Too Faced, MAC, and other pro products on me. The false lashes were by KISS (which you already know I love).

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

The only thing that came up that wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, was that Meagan went a bit over time in terms of what we had budgeted for. We had anticipated spending 1.5 hours on hair and makeup but it ended up taking a little less than 2 hours. I did build in about 30 minutes of buffer time in between the hair and makeup and the time we needed to leave for our photos, so it worked out really well. A tip to future brides is to definitely leave buffer time in between each event (if possible) so that you won’t go over time.

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Why you should hire her

In addition to being such a gifted artist, the reason why you should hire Meagan is because she owns her own beauty truck. Yes, you read that right, a beauty truck! Think food truck but instead of serving food, you get a beautifully decorated space to relax with your friends and get your hair and makeup done at the same time. The interior is super cute, with lots of beauty lights, comfortable seating, and if you’re lucky, you might even encounter her chihuahua Louie.

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Meagan said she came up with this concept because a lot of people now opt to do elopements, or have their wedding closer to nature, and there are a lack of facilities where the bride and her girls can get ready in when you are not in the city. Because of this, Meagan launched this one-of-a-kind beauty truck so that she can take her studio with her to wherever you are, and you are guaranteed to get a gorgeous look that suits all kinds of settings.

In addition to doing wedding or engagement makeup, Meagan also specializes in boudoir shoots and editorial shoots. You can check out her Instagram here.

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

You can book Meagan at Paragon Makeup via this link. She can also visit her studio at:

Paragon Makeup
17 Creekstone Pl
Port Moody, BC Canada
(604) 839-4770

Not only was I super happy with the hair and makeup, I am incredibly thankful that Meagan made the time to come and help me in a crunch. It was super last minute but she made it work. Thank you Meagan for being there for me and helping me in a pinch. At the end of the evening, I didn’t want to wash my face off because I loved that makeup so much. Unfortunately a few months before this, I had already paid a nonrefundable deposit for a hair and makeup artist for my wedding, otherwise I would absolutely hire Meagan to work on my big day.

We just did the shoot very recently but once I get the engagement photos back, I will be sure to share those as well so you can see Meagan’s work shot by a professional photographer!

Paragon Makeup Beauty En Route beauty truck engagement photoshoot in Vancouver hair and makeup review

Thank you to Paragon Makeup for offering the complimentary service, even on such short notice. All opinions are my own, as usual.

WEDDING | My engagement and wedding rings

Luksus Diamond Vancouver custom jewelry review

I never want to be one of those people who are constantly talking about their wedding planning or hashtag #bridetobe or whatever. I don’t define myself based on my relationship status and it’s not something I like to flash around. That being said, I do find certain wedding posts helpful if they are giving technical reviews or some kind of advice, so today I am writing about my engagement ring, as well as the wedding ring we picked up for me.

My engagement ring consists of 1.00 ct brilliant round solitaire on a six-prong Tiffany-style setting. It is GIA-graded D colour, triple excellent cut, with a clarity rating of SI1. I grew up wanting a 1.00 exact carat engagement ring, so even though I toyed around with getting something bigger, it wasn’t really my thing. Despite my love for designer products, I don’t think of myself as a flashy person. I wear minimal makeup and I try to be low key when I can. I considered a 1.25 ct diamond but it was just way too flashy for me that I felt almost embarrassed to wear it out. For reference, my left hand ring finger is a size 3.5.

I am a bit of a perfectionist so it was important for me to get a 1.00 exact diamond, even though it was a little bit more expensive than a 0.99 or 1.01 ct diamond. I wanted D colour, because it’s colourless and is the most brilliant. In practice, you can’t tell the difference between a D, E or F colour diamond with the naked eye. Cut is the most important attribute for a diamond, so of course I did not want to skimp on that. The one thing I chose to overlook was the clarity. In practice, you can’t really see most inclusions with the naked eye, especially if the diamond is “only” 1.00 ct. If you picked a larger diamond, then you will probably need to get a higher clarity as it has more surface area to show inclusions.

I’ve always wanted a white metal look to my engagement ring (and not yellow gold), so I was choosing between white gold and platinum. I ultimately settled on platinum because platinum is stronger than gold, so it will hold the diamond in place more securely. Platinum is also a natural “white” metal, whereas white gold is a blended metal to make it appear white, and will require re-coating every few years to maintain that white metal look.

For my wedding band, I fell in love with the Tiffany Embrace ring when I went to try it on in store. It goes very well with the Tiffany-inspired setting, and is considered the classic Tiffany wedding set. I originally didn’t want a diamond band, and was hoping to get a plain band, but I felt like a plain band didn’t look good with the knife-edge setting. Two knife-edge rings would be too intense, so having a diamond band helped to balance the two settings. The Tiffany Embrace is a whopping $5,300 in Canada, so I had to look for alternatives.

I found this beautiful James Allen ring that was very similar to the Embrace, but set in platinum like my engagement ring. The unique thing about the Tiffany Embrace is that the diamonds don’t actually go halfway down the band, they’re more like set from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock on the ring, instead of from 12-6, if that makes sense. The diamonds on the Embrace have a total carat weight of 0.27 spread across 9 diamonds, so that is 0.03 ct per diamond. The James Allen version has 10 diamonds with a total carat weight of 0.30, so similarly the diamonds were 0.03 ct each. James Allen often does 25% off jewelry sales, which includes wedding rings and other jewelry, just not loose diamonds. The price we paid, tax included, for the wedding band was just under C$1,300.

Overall I’m super happy with my wedding set. If I had gotten the same set from Tiffany, then it would have cost at the very least 3-4x what was actually paid for all of this. If you are into that classic look, there are other alternatives out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Our wedding isn’t until May 2020 but I’m already super excited to wear my ring set together.

Hopefully this was helpful for any brides, or even if you are thinking about buying yourself some bling!