Post engagement shoot dinner at MUST

May 06, 2016

Still feeling romantic after our engagement photo shoot with Kim Ing and taking advantage of the fact that we looked pretty spiffy – Michael and I ended the busy day with a dinner date.

We didn’t have a particular place in mind but knew there would be plenty of good dinner options around Byward Market.

A short walk later, we decided on MUST – Kitchen & Wine Bar. Warmly greeted, we were shown to a table upstairs. Given it was Friday evening, we were happy they had room without making reservations! The restaurant atmosphere was quite cosy – dimly lit with cobblestone walls and live music.

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Unfortunately, I can no longer remember our drinks selection but I certainly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc option at the time and Michael was very happy with his tasting flight of reds! Thank you to the waiter for his suggestions!

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Luckily, we are both fans of sharing tapas dishes when the option is available at restaurants – gives us a chance to try multiple different options!

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This was the menu available at the time – the current one can be found HERE

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We had the 3 selections Charcuterie Platter which came with crostinis paired with a selection of terrine, pate and cured meats ($18). All were delicious, especially the terrine which paired very nicely with the house pickles and fruit jelly!

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Pretty happy and excited! Not just about date night, but soon getting married!

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My handsome soon to be husband!

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One of our favourite dishes of the night: Bison tartare with gerkin, anchovy and lime aioli, stilton, crispy capers, and crushed walnuts served with grilled baguette ($18). We love tartare but find it’s often a one dimensional dish in terms of texture – not this one! Loved the contrasting textures – soft tender bison with the added crunch of the other elements of the dish. We would’ve never thought of adding blue cheese but the pungent saltiness really worked beautifully!

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Seared foie gras with sweet confit persimmon, ash rind goats brie, crispy onion, and maple siracha served with baguette ($18). Extremely generous portion for a tapas dish – flavours worked well to create a very rich and indulgent plate! I wouldn’t say it was served with baguette though, especially given the previous dish – they were crostinis – and certainly not enough for the portion size!

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Baked brie and halloumi – phyllo wrapped baked brie, black currant cream, brown butter seared halloumi, honey caramel, and pistachios served with crostinis ($17). We absolutely love halloumi and baked brie… so couldn’t resist ordering this dish. It was rich, sweet and salty, how could you possibly go wrong with a cheese dish like this? Both halloumi and brie are mild in flavour and we found the added flavours of berries and nuts did not over power the cheese – yum!

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The crostinis were appearing across many dishes – we wished there was a little more variety to the vessels upon which many of these delicious elements were being served on! The presentation was lovely though.

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The serving size of MUST’s tapas dishes are definitely more generous than we are used to. I’m glad we only ordered so many dishes as they were not only delicious, but very rich and filling. No room for dessert!

We had a great time. Food was delicious and reasonably priced, nice live music, great service, good location, and lovely atmosphere! Would definitely recommend trying it out and we look forward to the opportunity to go back!

Must Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Engagement Photo Shoot

May 06, 2016

With fresh hair cuts and styles from our wedding hair trial, Michael and I went home to change and get ready for our engagement photo shoot!

We were very lucky that our photographer, Kim Ing (Facebook Page), was so easy to work with. Because honestly, who offers to do engagement photos one week before the actual wedding? We were incredibly thankful for the opportunity not only to have some pre-wedding photos taken, but also the chance to work with and get to know Kim before the big day!

Kim spent a few hours guiding us across various sites downtown. Despite being nervous prior to starting (we’ve never been the sole subject of photography before), both her and her assistant were incredibly easy going and immediately put us at ease.

Her gentle reminders of “bra strap!” “other nose!” “shoulders back!” only helped us be more aware of our surroundings and posture for better photos.

We didn’t know how many pictures to expect from the engagement shoot – but were incredibly pleased at the number and quality of photos we received. Of course, as we are our own biggest critic so not all shots are most “flattering” from our point of view. But even with pruning down to our favourite shots, there were still a ton to enjoy!

Here are some of our favourites, we hope you like them too!

Stairs to the canal under Plaza Bridge

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It didn’t hurt that we both lost a little bit of weight working all those night shifts before coming home for the wedding! 😛

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Ring shot!

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Look, we matched! Although if we were doing this shoot again, I think it would look much nicer if we had both worn lighter colours!

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By the Rideau Canal Locks with the Chateau Laurier in the background

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Looking across the Rideau River at our wedding venue – Canadian Museum of History

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On the Rideau Canal Locks with the Alexandra Bridge in the background

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Major Hill Park – just a week shy of the tulips blooming!

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Play is our favourite restaurant to visit in Ottawa! Highly recommend 😉

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My prince charming!

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For more engagement shots, CLICK HERE TO VIEW!


During wedding planning, Michael and I decided that photography would likely be the biggest chunk of our budget (after food of course). We chose Kim Ing Photography for a number of reasons:

  • We both love and appreciate timeless photography. We were looking for a classic, natural lighting style that Kim captures beautifully. Check out her portfolio!
  • During our first meeting, Kim met with us at her home office, which was stylish, comfortable, and put us at ease. Not to mention she served us cupcakes!
  • We did not have conflicting personalities and felt we could work well with her.
  • Even though we came with a huge list of questions, she took the time and patiently answered them all. She was even happy to show us photos from a wedding she had photographed at our venue a few years back.
  • Her photography training (not just ‘self taught’) and wedding photography experience
  • Many photographers in Ottawa that were charging less than Kim had portfolios that often paled compared to my own amateur photography. We wanted someone who would deliver above and beyond our expectations – which is exactly what Kim did.

For those who are interested, our photography package cost $3949.35, which included the following:

  • 10 hours wedding day photography coverage with an assistant
  • Professionally edited high-resolution images on DVD
  • Private online proofing gallery
  • Complimentary engagement session (including high-resolution edited photos)
  • Rights to privately print all photos
  • Photos provided 6-8 weeks post wedding date

Kim was fantastic to work with and we were very happy to have her capture our wedding day as well. I will save the wedding photography for a separate post – stay tuned!

More wedding meetings

May 06, 2016

Today was another busy wedding prep day! We started our morning meeting with our wedding videographer – KB Production – which I will write a dedicated post to later.

Then a pit stop at our favourite bakery downtown in Byward Market – Moulin de Provence for a morning bite! Always too many options to choose from!

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Have you ever had a black forest danish? Yep, I assure you it is as good as it looks!

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Quick bathroom break before heading to our cake tasting! A perfect message in my toilet stall given our upcoming wedding!

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View of the Byward Market Square from above! Not too busy as it was still quite early.

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CLICK HERE to read about our cake tasting!

After finalising our cake details, we headed to my hair trial! I will also write a dedicated post for my hair and make up. But to give you an idea, she charged $60 for a trial and spent hours on my hair and doing 3 completely different hair styles. We were quite happy with her skill level and Michael even asked if she would be comfortable giving him a wedding haircut – which she did to his absolute liking!

The timing of our hair cut/style was perfect as we were having our engagement photo shoot that evening – couldn’t have planned it better!

Poutine Festival

May 05, 2016

After running around all day meeting with our some of our wedding vendors, we ended the night with a highly anticipated event – World of Poutine – Ottawa PoutineFest!

Michael and I have never had the pleasure in participating in a poutine event, and living in Australia for the last 5 years has certainly deprived us!

Ottawa PoutineFest took place over May 5-8, 2016 and included things like:

  • An incredible selection of poutine fused with flavours from around the world – including lobster, Donair, and Thai!
  • Making the world’s largest poutine while fundraising for charity
  • Craft Beer Garden from Broadhead Brewery
  • Live entertainment
  • Food demos
  • Old fashioned lemonade, churros, blooming onions, and more!

Located by Ottawa City Hall, we were joined by my siblings and our cousins. More people meant more variety, which is perfect because we ate… so much. It was worth it!

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My sister Jenni and cousin Janet – so nice all being in town together!

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Tons of poutine trucks to choose from!

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What happens when you attend a poutine festival with a bunch of people… you get to try so many things!

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And when even more people join!

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The Upper Deck had one of our favourite poutines – the Classic Halifax Donair!

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Getting full!

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What goes perfect as dessert to poutine? Beavertails of course! Another iconic Canadian food! That meant a short walk from City Hall to the Byward Market. View of downtown Ottawa at dusk – gorgeous!

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Mmm, what is better than ending your meal with a soft, chewy, fluffy pastry dipped in cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with lemon juice?! Kilaloe Sunrise is my favourite beavertail option on the menu!

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So much cholesterol was consumed this night 🙂 So happy! Thanks everyone for hanging out with us!

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If you have the chance, don’t miss out! This year’s Ottawa PoutineFest is May 4-7, 2017!

WEDDING DJ & PHOTOBOOTH

May 05, 2016

During the first stages of our wedding planning, Michael had ambitious plans to set up our own DJ system which would allow guests to connect using their mobile devices to play songs. Fortunately, he soon realised that it would be a logistical nightmare!

After a bit of research, we decided to go with Quality Entertainment. They are a bigger company with lots of staff and good reviews online. We weren’t too fussed with our music, as long as we could have some options – which made our decision easy!

We appreciated being paired with a coordinator for consistent communication (mostly over email as we were overseas). We also had to fill out planning forms (30 days prior to ceremony) so that they could get an idea of who we were and what we were expecting. This was also so they could match us with an appropriate style DJ.

Some of the information they ask for include:

  • Names of bridal party and other main vendors
  • Time of set up and tear down
  • Number of guests and their age
  • Preference of music
  • Songs NOT to play (ie. Macarena, YMCA, etc)
  • List of guest song requests
  • Specific song list for ceremony, grand entrance, first dance, etc)
  • Whether we needed extra equipment (projector, photo booth, etc)
  • Whether we wanted our DJ to also act as our MC

On May 5, 2016 – we finally had the opportunity to meet up with the coordinator and finalise all details in person. Nothing was too much trouble and we were offered unexpected discounts which were very much appreciated!


ON THE DAY

We were pretty happy with our DJ services on the day! Jenn was our DJ for the night and here were some points we made note of:

  • Nice instrumental music being played for while guests were being seated for our ceremony (we didn’t specify which songs)
  • We provided all our songs for our outdoor ceremony – which were played in the right order at the correct time – and audible!
  • It was much appreciated that Jenn came up to our table once seated for dinner to introduce herself!
  • During the dinner ceremony, we provided a playlist of Vietnamese songs to play. Unfortunately, the museum sound system was not set up ideally. The dance floor was to one end of the venue and the music was quite loud towards that end and not very audible at the other, particularly because the music was played at a lower volume during dinner service
  • I remember people stayed on the dance floor and had a good time – which is always a good sign right?! 😉 At least until the song “Shots by LMFAO ft. Lil Jon” came on and everyone cleared the dance floor to do tequilla shots at the bar 😛
  • They played our requested closing song “Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond”

We also decided to hire 3 other services through them, all of which were hassle free and the guests definitely enjoyed!

  1. Projector for us to have a photo slideshow played on repeat during the reception
  2. Photo booth with props! Unlimited photos and manned by an attendant to make sure we actually got decent photos! Guests got a physical copy and we got the digital versions after the ceremony.
  3. Kissing game spinning wheel – no more clinking of glasses. Although I’m sure it’s still rigged to make the bride and groom kiss more often than not!

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Total Costs:

  • DJ, equipment (including special effects lights), set up and tear down (6pm – 1am) $749 (with a $100 discount)
  • Photobooth (9:30pm – 12:30am) with props, unlimited photos and attendant $699 (with $100 discount)
  • Projector $100 (with $50 discount)
  • Kissing Wheel – free of charge (normally $75)

We were overall very happy with the prices and services provided by Quality Entertainment. Would happily recommend them to anyone looking for similar services for their event – especially if you are looking for packages, they can definitely work with you!

Wedding Day of Coordinator

May 05, 2016

After our menu tasting with Distinction at the Canadian Museum of History, we ended our visit with our first (and only required) face-to-face meeting with our Day of Coordinator – Philippe Genest.

Phil was easy going from the moment we met him, which was definitely what we preferred. He joined us after our delicious lunch and immediately got down to business.

Some of the important items of discussions included:

  • Floor plan for reception venue (table/seating arrangement, where the gift tables/cocktail tables/DJ/photobooth/bar, etc would be)
  • Seating plan for outdoor ceremony
  • Discussion of bridal procession options
  • Seating plan for indoor ceremony (in case of rain)
  • Confirmation of all vendors including cake, DJ, officiant, etc
  • Ceremony + reception timeline
  • Projector screen set up for any slideshow we’d like to play

Aside from our face-to-face meeting, we were able to keep in contact via phone and email up to the big day.

It called for rain on our actual wedding day. In fact, it was pouring during my ride over to the Museum of History a few hours prior to the ceremony. We held our breath until the last minute when Phil decided the rain was over and the groomsman helped him set up the outdoor seating in less than 5 minutes.

A few glitches to note:

  • Museum posters not covered up in our reception venue. These were meant to be covered but a quick word to Phil and he made it happen before any guests arrived
  • No signs to direct guests to the venue – particularly because the Voyageurs Salon is a separate building from the main museum – eventually everyone made it!
  • The logistics of getting into the parking lot after hours as the museum is closed. We weren’t aware and eventually had to get security to escort us

We were honestly very happy with how the logistics of the ceremony and reception went. The layout was as we discussed and everything seemed to be in order. If there were any mishaps, we were not made aware, which was fine with us!

Overall, Michael and I were incredibly happy with our chosen venue at the Museum of History. The room rental is a little pricey but does include all set up and take down, cleaning, internet, outdoor ceremony set up, parking passes, day of coordinator, and more. For the piece of mind, and the fact that we (and our family/friends) did not have to do the heavy lifting, was worth it.

WEDDING FOOD

May 05, 2016

Today was the exciting day we (finally) did our menu tasting! Being the week before our wedding, we were incredibly lucky that our caterer – Distinction by Sodexo – allowed us to do our menu tasting so last minute (usually done 1-2 months prior).

By this date, we had already confirmed our menu selection and the wine had also been selected ahead of time by the Distinction Sommelier. That meant although our menu was set, we could make recommendations for adjustments if the dishes didn’t suit our taste.

At the time of our booking, we chose the Symphony option. It was the most expensive at $125/person excluding 17% service charge and 14.975% taxes (cheapest option $85/pp). Despite it being pricey, it really had everything we wanted. Our #1 wedding priority was food (the more the better) so that’s where a majority of our budget went.

The Symphony Package included the following:

  • 1 glass of sparkling wine per person during cocktail hour
  • Passed canapés based on 3 pieces per person (choice of 4) during cocktail hour
  • Fresh rolls and butter
  • 5 course meal with a choice of soup, salad, granité, main course and dessert
  • 2 glasses of upgraded wine per person during dinner (selected by Distinction Sommelier)
  • Cake cutting service served after dinner with coffee and tea station
  • Late night snack
  • Colored tablecloth, napkins and choice of white or black chair covers
  • Votive candles, china and glassware, table numbers and stands

Below was the menu available to us at the time, with our selections in bold

Canape Selections:

  • Smoked Salmon on Cucumber Medallion
  • Turkey Tenderloin with Applewood Smoked Bacon Skewer
  • Beetroot Hummus on Crostini topped with Goat Cheese
  • Vegetable Spring roll with Chive Plum Sauce
  • Herb Risotto Lollipop with Pesto Sauce
  • Canadian Coast to Coast mixed Crab Cake topped with Ponzu Aioli
  • Bison Meat Ball Mini Fork with Berry Jelly
  • Watermelon with Aged Balsamic and Mint Leaf

Soup selections:

  • Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Puree, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Coriander and Carrot Soup, Chive Oil
  • Parsnip Root Soup, Apple Infused Sour Cream Crostini Garnish
  • Braised Curry Chicken and Coconut Kaffir Lime Leaf Chowder, Basil Oil

Salad selections:

  • Grilled Cortland Apple and Parmigianino Shavings, Arugula, Trebbiano Grape Acidulated Fig Dressing
  • Mixed Young Greens, Shaved Pickled Red Radish, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil Dressing
    and Powdered Balsamic Vinegar
  • Arugula Greens with Crumbled Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberry and a Raspberry
    Vinaigrette
  • Kale Caesar Salad with Grated Parmesan, Spicy Lemon Garlic Roasted Croutons,
    Crumbled Free Range Egg and Topped with Pickled Crispy Capers

Chef’s selection of granite – which ended up being a refreshing palate cleanser similar to sorbet!

For Mains, we paid an extra $4/pp for guests to have a choice between 2 proteins. A vegan/GF/LF alternative is also offered at no additional costs.

  • Pan Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast, Mushroom Herb Cream Sauce served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Maple and Sichuan Peppercorn Salmon over a Panko Crusted Risotto Cake served with Market Vegetables
  • Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni topped with a Roasted Tomato and Pesto Cream  Sauce
  • Pan Seared 6oz Canadian Beef Tenderloin topped with a Thyme and Roasted Shallot Reduction served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Pheasant Breast Stuffed with Thyme and Niagara Apple topped with a Port Reduction served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Pan Seared Veal Chop and Veal Jus infused with Star Anis served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables
  • Alternate Dish (vegan, gluten free, lactose free): Vegetable, Tofu and Portobello Stacker on a bed of Risotto and Roasted Tomato Coulis

Dessert selections:

  • Cheese Cake with Raspberry Compote and topped with Ginger Sour Cream and Honey Powder
  • Soften Half Baked Double Chocolate Brownie topped with Sichuan Peppercorn
    Raspberry and Whipped Cream
  • Salted Caramel Square with Mini Upside Down Coffee Mousse Cone and Whipped
    Cream
  • Lemon and chives crusted tilapia with a white wine cream sauce

Kid’s Meal included veggies and dip, chicken fingers and fries, chef’s dessert and juices/soft drinks.

The late night snack option was too easy: Poutine with fries, cheese curds, and gravy! (Or Sliced Canadian Deli Meats and Canadian Cheeses, Mustards and Basket of Mini Ciabatta Buns)

For alcohol, we decided to have an Open Bar/Host Bar – luckily for us, our guests didn’t drink nearly as much as we estimated and we ended up getting a partial refund!


The Tasting:

Josee Pilon (josee.pilon@sodexo.com) is the catering representative and met us for our tasting. It was our first time meeting her (used to be someone else when we first signed our contract). She was friendly and easy to get along with, which was great!

The tasting also took place in the Panorama Lounge, which was the upstairs venue we had booked as our backup indoor rainy day option so it gave us the opportunity to scope it out some more 🙂

They also had the table set up so we could appreciate what the settings would look like. Of course, it would look slightly different with our own centrepieces, napkin arrangements, menus and wedding favours!

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Josee stayed with us through out the tasting to make notes of our feedback and finalise reception details. We initially thought it would be weird to have someone watch us eat, but surprisingly, it was pleasant and not awkward at all!

We were also surprised to find out we’d be having full servings! It was explained to us that that way, we could appreciate the presentation and serving size of each dish – definitely not expected but well appreciated!

Bread rolls and butter

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First course was Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Puree, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds which was warming and delicious. We were definitely off to a good start.

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Then came the Grilled Cortland Apple and Parmigianino Shavings, Arugula, Trebbiano Grape Acidulated Fig Dressing.  We wanted to choose a non traditional salad that would still appeal to a majority of guests and were very happy with how nicely the sweetness of apples worked so well with the saltiness of the cheese and the acidity of the dressing!

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We also got to taste the red wine that would be served – Domaine Houchart, Côtes de Provence, France. Unfortunately, the white (Flying Solo, Grenache Blanc – Viognier, France) was not available to taste on the day! We quite enjoyed the red and wish it was sold here in Australia so we could buy some!

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Michael and I shared the 3 mains, thank goodness!

First was the Maple and Sichuan Peppercorn Salmon over a Panko Crusted Risotto Cake served with Market Vegetables. The salmon was seasoned and cooked beautifully and we especially liked the risotto cake which was moist and very flavourful with hints of citrus.

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Pan Seared 6oz Canadian Beef Tenderloin topped with a Thyme and Roasted Shallot Reduction served with Potato Flan and Market Vegetables. Beef was cooked medium rare and was nice and tender. The only comment we had was the reduction was just a little too salty for our tastes – which was noted.

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Last of the mains was our alternate dish Vegetable, Tofu and Portobello Stacker on a bed of Risotto and Roasted Tomato Coulis. Although we definitely preferred the previous 2 dishes, we appreciated that this dish was quite substantial and filling. Not your typical salad/pasta vegetarian option.

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And finally, dessert Cheese Cake with Raspberry Compote and topped with Ginger Sour Cream and Honey Powder. Ginger sour cream is a flavour we’ve never had before and it was definitely a winner!

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If our guests ate the same meal we did (which will also include a granite and canapes we didn’t have the chance to try) – surely they will be happily stuffed! 🙂 We left the tasting incredibly happy with our choices!


On the Day:

Michael and I had to take family photos and did not have the chance to try the canapes! 😦 We hope everyone else enjoyed them on our behalf.

The soup and salad were just as good as we remembered it. I’ve been told that the beef was cooked nicely and wasn’t overly salty. Unfortunately, myself and a few others who had the salmon did find it overcooked and slightly dry. In particular, I was disappointed with the risotto cake which was dry and lacked the punch of flavour that impressed me so much at our tasting. Otherwise we had no complaints with our food!

Everyone loved the poutine bar! Despite it was gauged at 4oz/pp there was heaps for anyone who wanted seconds, even thirds! The best part? Real cheese curds!

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We cut our cake during dinner service, which was later put out for guests to enjoy. Our package was meant to include ‘cake cutting service.’ The tiers of our cake were separated (top tier saved) and set on the table for guests to self serve – which was fine as they could help themselves to whatever they wanted.

None of our guests brought up any concerns at the wedding reception. It seemed like everyone had a good time and were happy with the service and the food.

There were a few stand out/feedback moments for us:

  • Despite providing a seating plan with everyone’s meal option, my husband and I personally witnessed 2 (of 5) vegetarian guests served the wrong dish – one who was a groomsman at the head table! It was eventually sorted out but surely a simple “I’ve got a vegetarian dish for so-and-so?” should’ve been easy?
  • Dry salmon and bland risotto as mentioned previously
  • My mother told me after the wedding that a server had been incredibly rude towards my grandma for using cutlery in the wrong order. Apparently she had used her main knife and fork for her entree and was rudely told she shouldn’t have done that when the table was being cleared.
  • The lack of announcement that poutine and/or cake was being served meant that those too busy on the dance floor/photo booth didn’t realise food was available! Especially since our cake was brought out to our ‘gifts table’ closer to the entrance of the venue, even we didn’t realise it! Our suggestion would be for the staff to ask the DJ/emcee/another guest to make an annoucement when late night food and/or cake is available so everyone has the chance to enjoy!
  • Would have been nice for guests to have a bar menu to know what was available to order. We were told this would be provided but unfortunately it wasn’t to be seen!
  • A minor detail that doesn’t change anything but it was a little disappointing to see our napkin placement was not as we had wanted – for such a simple design too!

This was the photo we had provided, loved the wide and long hanging napkin design that would give us a nice pop of colour as we planned to place a menu and wedding favour on top.

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Our setting on at the wedding reception – the napkin was placed much higher on the table. As a result, less colour seen and less flow of napkin into the tablecloth!

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Overall…

Aside from the few glitches above, we were very happy with our wedding reception and the all encompassing catering service!

We would definitely recommend the Museum of History and Distinction by Sodexo to any of our friends looking for a beautiful wedding/reception venue that includes everything from set up to tear down for your peace of mind 🙂

The wedding packages offered by Distinction by Sodexo at the Museum of History seem to have undergone an overhaul since our booking. You can view their current options HERE. The packages appear more expensive now and do not include the same amount of options that we had.

Their most expensive package is now called Distinctly Unique ($150/pp) and has the following differences: less options to choose from for every course, 3 instead of 4 chosen canapes, 3 and not 5 course meal, no upgraded wine at dinner, no glass of champagne included with canapes, late night snack not included (poutine bar an extra $10/pp).

Man are we glad wedding planning is officially behind us… weddings are expensive!