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I was asked to design a Groom’s Lounge for fiancés being dragged to the Ottawa Bridal Party wedding show in Ottawa (highly recommended show, by the way). This would be a place for the grooms to relax, uninterrupted by business cards and fervent vendors, and to simply put up their feet. My theme was “Vintage Olympics” (the show was held during the 2014 Sochi Olympics). We had a series of antique sporting equipment set up around the television that was broadcasting the men’s hockey game that afternoon.

Whiskey barrel cocktail tables, black leather furniture adorned by tartan and cable knit blankets, a classic blues guitarist providing background music for the gentlemen taking advantage of the free classic straight shave station, the smell of fresh ground coffee beans in the air, and a sweets table filled with maple-bacon donuts, chocolate and stout cupcakes, and the most masculine groom’s cake ever…

…it was fantastic.

While I was there, noticed a stylish woman with a camera quietly hanging out in the Groom’s Lounge for quite a while. I was curious why she was spending so much time there, but I didn’t bother her. She seemed to be enjoying herself and observing the atmosphere.

Turns out it was Arlette Orellana of whoisarlette.com, a freelance writer and fellow creative, and she wrote this incredible review/interpretation of the lounge. I LOVED her article and think she did and excellent job describing the aesthetic and experience of the groom. I swear, it feels like I just read an incredible, positive review by the New York Times on my performance! Enjoy!

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H.I.M.  (by Arlette Orellana, Feb. 19, 2014)

This is a story about him: the one you love and the one you’re to be betrothed to. This is not a story about how this day is all about you and you alone, no matter how much society and Bridezilla episodes featuring ill-mannered Barracudas would lead you to believe it. No…it couldn’t possibly be entirely about you alone for if it was, there would have to be complete abnegation of the One who worked diligently at proving why you two belonged together. There would have to be total effacement of the One who worked out every itty bitty detail of the kind of proposal he knew would speak to your life memories. The puzzle of your life, as it stands, would have to be accepted as unfinished without the One who rehearsed, time and again, how he would ask you to become #hisforever. There would have to be utter rejection of the One who pledged his love for you to the depths of the earth because (#atlast!) he understands what he had  been missing all his life. Without this creature of flesh, feelings and fervor, you wouldn’t be in a position to enjoy the exhilarating rush of diamond sparkler-showing/blushing bride dress parading/Pin-my-wedding-dreams planning intricacies of the Big Day you’ve dreamed of since you were a little girl.

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On a Sunday afternoon, you decide to reward his efforts, patience and resilience with a “delightful” afternoon at yet ANOTHER wedding show, his resolve dictating his long-held belief that there would be nothing in it for him other than the pleasure of your company. But then he discovers the Groom Lounge — yes, the Groom Lounge: the first of its kind at a swanky and modern bridal show, which not only delights him, but further proves that his manly cajones can remain firmly in place.

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As he walks into the 2nd level room dedicated to all things, he looks around suspiciously: luckily, no brides come jumping out at him from his 90-degree peripheral to swaddle him in wedding gown frills. Instead, there before him is a buffet of mouthwatering sweets made of (what’s this?) maple-bacon donuts, stout cupcakes and spiced popcorn, which he wastes no time indulging in. On a nearby table topped with hurricane lanterns and tree branches (a lovely rustic detail you mentally check off as your 2,014th wedding idea) sit a dozen jugs of sparkling water, which certainly would appeal to your jet-setting cousin Márkus from Switzerland, but for the donut-eating Homer that is your sweetheart, regular H2o, served in equally charming glass decanters, quench the thirst right out of that icy mouth. You spot the mustached groom’s cake atop the sweets table and look for a possible reaction to the effect of approval: your doubts are later put to rest when you check your Instagram feed and see that he’s taken a picture of the three-tiered masterpiece, posted with this caption: “Wouldn’t mind a groom’s cake like that one!?” You note the omission of a filter and the fatal absence of hashtags. One thing at a time, you reason…

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You sigh a breath of relief and trail behind him slowly, letting him feel his way around. His eyes widen and you follow his gaze: centrally-located are brown leather couches, atop of which are thrown homey Tartan-patterned throws that are an ode to Canadian cottage life. “How cool, huh?” you enthuse and you stop dead in your tracks, realizing your misstep — the giant flat screen TV before you lets you know what commends all his attention and you secretly curse the speaking box’s snake charming, multicolor ways. Just when you think you’ve lost your man to the going-ons of a city whose name you’ve repeatedly mispronounced as SUSHI, his curiosity is piqued by other she-dragged-me-here attendees as they wait patiently to get hot shaves from the gentlemen of House of Barons, the city’s poshest barbershop. He runs his fingers over his growing scruff, the one that drives you absolutely out of your wits with animalistic desire and which you secretly hope will become a permanent fixture that’ll keep you hot and bothered. But as he turns to you with that questioning look on his face, you already know what’s coming: “Is this free?” he asks. You nod. “I’ll get one, then. I mean, if it’s free…” At the rate you’re both going, communication will be the least of your relationships worries. One time for #compromise.

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You decide to make a break for it as he takes his seat into the barber chair, having heard rumors that a complimentary glass of wine was being offered to all attendees. You are on the move and on a mission and quickly fall into your own universe of breathtaking gowns, sparkly jewels, a complimentary braid bar and makeup applications, all to the soothing musical stylings of a piano-playing soloist that gives good Nora Jones. Inside the main exhibition room, you peruse one stunning table presentation after another and rework your wedding budget mentally: this is what your wedding dreams are made of — glorious colors, textures and bubbly wedding vendors! You resolve to eat tuna and bread for six months (or sell a kidney if need be), but you WILL get Ottawa’s best talents, who as a matter-of-fact, are all saddled next to one another in a sequence of dreamy, dreamier and dreamiest.

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Panic, however, soon sets in. You must head back to the Groom’s Lounge before he finds himself crying harder than a child lost in a mall. You are riddled with guilt over having left him all by himself, which you imagine will begin a war of words on neglect. But no sooner do you land among the men that it hits you: he’s not at all distraught! In fact, your now clean-shaven honey is seated on one of the couches, sipping a complimentary steaming cup of coffee while surrounded by a little more than a dozen of his temporary best dawgs. You are startled when in unison, they all cheer loud as Team Canada scores one for the lead. He looks up to realize you were standing there the whole time and gives you his most disarming smile: the kind that makes him look like that boyish wonder you fell in love with a long time ago. You conclude that this is also his time.

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One hour to the end of the party, you try not to appear too hasty as you tap him on his shoulder while he’s in deep talk with a few good men. As you step out and you grab a swag bag, you can’t imagine this day going any better until he says these words: “This was actually fun! Thanks for thinking of me, babe.”

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Maybe this story is about you after all — your love and commitment to him and your willingness to fill your world with beauty and wonder, but never without him. Something tells me he’s known it all along – that’s why he put a ring on it…

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Design and styling: Brittany Frid Weddings + Design / Photography: Photo Credit: W. Orellana and C. Arlette Orellana / Vintage Decor: The Sugar Post / Furniture:Party Time Rentals / Staight Shaves: House of Barons / Sweet Table Rentals: Amy & Jen Decor / Signage:Wishtree Invitations & Stationery Inc. / Coffee Catering: Espresso Uno / Donuts: Suzy Q / Cupcakes: The Flour Shoppe / Venue: Brookstreet Hotel

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