February 2019

Is Your Engagement Ring Worth More Debt?
Engagements rings are a long-held matrimonial tradition. However, it’s worth considering a few key factors before you drop any cash on an engagement ring.

Engagements rings are a long-held matrimonial tradition. However, it’s worth considering a few key factors before you drop any cash on an engagement ring.

How much do Canadian couples spend on engagement rings? According to a March 2016 Global News article, the average cost for each one is around $4,700. After including the typical event and honeymoon costs, the total price tag for a wedding can reach almost $40,000. Cutting expenses can be challenging for couples who want to tie the knot. That’s why it’s worth considering a few key factors before you drop any cash on an engagement ring.

Behind the Engagement Ring “Rules”

You may have heard of the supposed “rules” for buying engagement rings. Depending on who you ask, the ring should cost either two or three times one’s monthly salary. Statistics Canada’s 2017 figures revealed that the average weekly salary is around $986. That means the typical Canadian earns almost $4,000 per month before deductions. With these figures, following the oft-repeated rule on rings results in a price tag between $8,000 and $12,000.

How did these modern engagement ring purchasing practices develop? Money Under 30’s David Weliver divulges that they originated with a shrewd marketing campaign launched by the London-based diamond company De Beers. He also contends that they aren’t practical for younger couples because of typical debt burdens and lower salaries. To lower costs, he suggests a few alternatives:

  • Pay for the ring with cash.
  • Select a family heirloom piece.
  • Choose gemstones that are less expensive than diamonds.

Pros and Cons of Financing Your Ring

If there’s no room in your budget to purchase an engagement ring in full, you may be tempted to finance it. Your credit history will determine the types of offers you receive along with spending limits and interest rates. Individuals with favorable credit can choose from many options:

  • Personal loans
  • Vendor’s credit cards or revolving credit lines
  • Major credit cards issued by financial institutions

At the same time, you’ll need to think about how this new debt will impact your upcoming marriage. NerdWallet’s Erin El Issa points out that each spouse is liable for individually incurred debts. This is true regardless of whether they originated before or after the wedding. Yet those debts still affect the couple’s overall financial health. A significant debt load can make it difficult to purchase a home together, contribute to a savings account, or plan for retirement.

In another Money Under 30 article, David Weliver offers suggestions for people desiring to purchase engagement rings on credit. While he still warns readers not to buy rings that they cannot afford, he discusses some favorable financing options. Some jewelry retailers may offer 0 percent financing or no interest and payments for a predetermined time period. Weliver strongly suggests reviewing each offer’s terms. With some, you’ll pay a much higher interest rate after the promotional period expires.

Depending on your credit score, you may qualify for cards that come with 0 percent interest on new purchases for up to one year. Be sure you know what your new APR will be. Also, you should assess whether you can pay off the ring before the promotion ends. Purchase your ring from a reliable online jeweler. Buying online could save you a significant amount of money, letting you spend as little as 50 percent of the brick-and-mortar retailer price. Make sure you request a shipment method with tracking and a signature requirement as well as insurance to cover the ring itself.

Choose Your Credit Options Carefully

In the past, society judged a man’s ability to provide for his future wife by the type of engagement ring he gave her. It’s true that some still take notice at an elaborate ring with a decent-sized diamond. Ultimately, you must consider the effects of purchasing one either with cash or credit. After all, part of your goal should be making smart decisions for your joint financial future.


Don’t Let Allergies Ruin Your Wedding Day
Whether you suffer from seasonal or food allergies, there are ways to make sure your wedding day is not ruined by sneezes and watery eyes or worse.

Whether you suffer from seasonal or food allergies, there are ways to make sure your wedding day is not ruined by sneezes and watery eyes or worse.

For those who suffer from allergies, each and every day can be concerning. Depending on the type of allergies you have, you could be extremely careful about what you eat or you might pay attention to the seasonal pollen count as if it were your bank account. This means you most likely will also have a number of concerns about your wedding day and how your allergies might negatively impact all of your carefully laid plans. Though allergies are annoying, they can be bested for a day with a bit of preparation.

Whether you suffer from seasonal or food allergies, there are ways to make sure your wedding day is not ruined by sneezes and watery eyes or worse. Take a look at these tips and plan in advance for your own needs.

The Seasonal Experience

First, it can be a good idea to examine seasonal allergies. Unlike food allergies, which can be somewhat easy to contain, seasonal sneezes and discomfort are totally based on the weather and environment. Though you will not have total control over these factors on your wedding day, you can definitely change the outcome for the best by remembering a few simple points. For one, high pollen count and an outdoor wedding can spell disaster. Encourage guests to take allergy meds in advance or try and book a venue near water, as the wind off bodies of water can lower pollen.

It is also important to realize that flowers are not as significant as you might imagine when it comes to allergies at a wedding. The main reason for this comes down to the most common types of flowers at these events. Lilies and roses are ubiquitous at weddings, and these flowers produce pollen that is more difficult for people with allergies to react to. On the other hand, any flower arrangements featuring floral options that produce smaller pollen grains could be problematic for anyone who is sensitive to such allergens.

Food and Drink Concerns

Knowing what you can and cannot serve at your wedding can be tricky when allergies are involved. Some people have very common allergies, like tree nuts or shellfish. Still, people have allergies to everything from apples to prunes to gluten. This means you should take a few simple precautions before you finalize the menu for your big day. The easiest solution? Be sure to ask guests very early about any and all allergies or dietary restrictions that they might have. The invitation is the perfect place to bring this topic up.

When your guests inform you of their allergies and intolerances early enough, you can make adjustments. If you forget to ask, you could end up in a situation where several guests at your wedding cannot eat their meals because they are severely allergic to one or more ingredients. As long as you bring up the question very early and ask all guests to provide information about allergies, you should be able to avoid a situation where someone has a bad reaction to something they ate at your wedding.

Tiny Surprises

Communicating with your guests about potential allergies is only one step of the process when it comes to food and drink. You also need to make sure your kitchen staff and caterers are informed of these restrictions. There are situations where caterers introduce appetizers that feature ingredients guests might not notice. All it takes is one loose peanut in a pastry puff to send a guest into a problematic situation. As long as you speak with your caterers about all concerns, you should be able to avoid any major issues.

Don’t let allergies ruin your big day! Take the right precautions with food, seasonal, and environmental allergies, and you should be able to enjoy a day without a chorus of sneezes ringing through the air every few minutes.


Should You Invite Coworkers to Your Wedding?
Deciding whether to invite coworkers to your wedding can be tricky, so follow these suggestions to make sure you craft an appropriate guest list.

Deciding whether to invite coworkers to your wedding can be tricky, so follow these suggestions to make sure you craft an appropriate guest list.

You’re about to tie the knot, and you’re excited about taking such a huge step. You’re awash in planning details or in awe from the fact that your special someone wants to build a life and future with you. Understandably, you may feel like sharing the happy news and details with everyone. However, prudence is essential when it comes to crafting the guest list. Deciding whether to invite coworkers could become a bit tricky. Fortunately, you and your partner can better navigate this challenge by following some wise advice.

Preliminary Steps To Build Your Guest List

Nearly every wedding planning guide suggests setting your guest count as early as possible. Your budget will impact how many you can comfortably afford to host. Also, your guest count will determine the venue size, amount of food and drink, and supplies you’ll need. The Knot offers advice for trimming a bloated guest list:

  • Don’t include non-relatives to whom you’ve not spoken in three years or more.
  • Leave out people whose names aren’t familiar to you.
  • Do not invite anyone out of obligation or guilt.

Wedding Wire Canada’s Alice Prendergast mentions more categories of people whom you can safely leave off your guest list:

  • People with a tendency to cause drama
  • Those who can’t curb their alcohol intake
  • Individuals who only seem to make negative comments
  • People whom you’ve dated in the past

What Do Etiquette Guidelines Say?

Some modern etiquette guidelines are pretty clear on who should definitely receive invitations. According to Alice Prendergast at Wedding Wire Canada, you must invite people who also attend your showers, pre-wedding bashes, and the engagement party. The only exceptions are destination weddings and showers thrown for you at the office.

Meanwhile, Martha Stewart Weddings provides more etiquette-based wisdom. Citing two etiquette and wedding planning experts, contributor Ellie Finn insists that couples shouldn’t allow a sense of obligation to dictate who makes the guest list. With that said, Finn also mentions three key questions to ask yourself when mulling over whether to include coworkers: Do you often see this individual outside of work? Have you met this person’s significant other or spouse? Would this coworker add happiness to your event that you’d otherwise miss?

Still Can’t Decide About Coworkers? Other Details To Consider

In a 2016 Brides article, Jaimie Mackey mentions that it may be standard practice to invite bosses, CEOs, or presidents in more traditional office environments or conservative-leaning industries such as law or banking. Even in nontraditional workplaces, it may be an unwritten rule to send wedding invites to coworkers. Mackey advises asking employers if there’s an expected custom at your firm.

Next, Mackey suggests that engaged couples consider the size of their workplaces before making a decision. In larger offices, it is easier to invite only a few colleagues who happen to be close friends. The issue becomes trickier in smaller offices, where news of your impending nuptials may quickly spread. If you’re able to tactfully and subtly extend invitations to closest friends, then do so. Otherwise, Mackey recommends either inviting the entire office if there’s enough room to accommodate them or leaving everyone off the guest list.

A Wise Approach Yields Optimal Results

Solving the puzzle of coworkers on your wedding guest list requires a respectful and careful approach. Depending on your relationships with your colleagues and the general workplace environment, determining if or who you should invite from your job can be difficult. Even so, you must consider personal ties, available space, and your own enjoyment before finalizing your count and sending out invitations. With a smart plan and circumspect choices, you’ll find solutions that benefit both you and your guests.



The Bald Eagle: An American Symbol Before America Existed
Before it was a US national emblem, the Bald Eagle held special significance within the religious beliefs and legends of several Indigenous cultures.

Before it was a US national emblem, the Bald Eagle held special significance within the religious beliefs and legends of several Indigenous cultures.

Eagles are commonly regarded as majestic and powerful creatures. As birds of prey, they’re members of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other types of raptors such as hawks, kites, and ospreys. They have captured humankind’s imagination for millennia, as proven by myths from around the world as well as the bald eagle’s place as a recognizable symbol for the United States. Yet before this bird was chosen as a US national emblem, it held special significance within the religious beliefs and legends of several Indigenous American cultures.

The Eagle’s Significance in Pre-Colonial America 

Eagles can be found in the stories of many civilizations all over Turtle Island. Most bestowed honored tasks and roles upon these birds, crediting them as divine messengers or chiefs among the birds. In an article discussing the bald eagle’s recovery from near extinction, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service offered a short list of these legends:

  • One Navajo story depicts a warrior changing one of a slain monster’s offspring into an eagle to prevent it from growing up and adopting evil ways.
  • Among the Dene peoples of Alaska and northwestern Canada, the eagle embodies gratitude in its offerings of food during lean times to a prince who’d fed it salmon when sustenance was plentiful.
  • The Pawnee regard the eagle as a fertility symbol thanks to its tendency to nest high above the ground and its attentive watch over its young.

An archived 2003 piece from Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center details even more evidence. Various artifacts have been discovered showing how Indigenous cultures venerated eagles, including their features in headdresses and other clothing items.

An Endangered Species Returns to Greatness

Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring” called attention to the devastating effects of careless pesticide use on our ecosystems. Writing for American Bird Conservancy, Rebecca Heisman discusses how Carson’s emphasis on DDT’s impacts on bird populations helped launch environmental activity and new government policies. The bald eagle was one species that benefitted from these activities, as it was granted legal protections in 1978. Thanks to the growth of its populations, it was removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Modern Use of Eagle Feathers

Eagle feathers are still considered sacred today by many Indigenous people. As one Mohawk man explained to independent historian Glenn Welker, wearing or holding these feathers is thought to honor, and gains attention from, the Divine. Feathers are also included in ceremonial regalia and used in the Sun Dance rites of Great Plains cultures to carry prayers of the sick to the Creator. The Pawnee Nation’s website explains the significance of eagle feathers in how its flag is displayed. This banner is customarily attached to an old Pawnee lance with a spearhead at its tip. Affixed to it are four eagle feathers, representing the four bands that comprise the entire nation.

Currently, U.S. federal laws govern the possession and use of eagle feathers. However, they restrict ownership to individuals who can prove that they’re members of federally recognized tribes. Continued controversy surrounds these statutes, especially because those unable to document their Native ancestry are shut out of the process. A June 2015 Arizona Public Media piece also divulges that the waiting list for eagle feathers is lengthy, with potential recipients getting their requested feathers after several months.

A Magnificent Bird With Timeless Symbolism

The American bald eagle holds a distinctive place in many Indigenous American cultures. Once threatened with possible extinction, this species has made a major comeback over the last several decades. Contemporary legal realities pose challenges for Native people wishing to use their feathers for ceremonial and religious purposes. Nevertheless, reverence for the creatures continues into the 21st century.


Changing Trends and Competition Spell Trouble for Big Bridal Stores
With shifts in wedding trends and customers seeking new options, many ask if big-box bridal stores will be able to stand these and future challenges.

With shifts in wedding trends and customers seeking new options, many ask if big-box bridal stores will be able to stand these and future challenges.

In November 2018, CNN reported that David’s Bridal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Documents filed in a U.S. bankruptcy court show that the corporation owes between $500 million and $1 billion to creditors. Some possible factors leading to the American company’s troubles include a decline in marriages, more casual weddings, and strong competition from online and brick-and-mortar retailers. With the same developments occurring in Canada, it’s worth an examination of how they have impacted big-box bridal stores.

Marriage Rates Are Declining

The Canadian Encyclopedia mentions that the marriage rate in Canada is dropping. Statistics Canada recently revealed that married couples head around 65 percent of households. That’s a slight decline from 2001’s findings, which indicated that married pairs headed 70 percent of households. Changing attitudes about marriage and financial worries may have caused this decline.

More Couples Choose Casual Weddings

Nearly every wedding magazine or website offers suggestions for hosting casual affairs. Wedding Wire’s trends report from 2018 mentions some recent notable trends:

  • Grooms are selecting more laidback attire.
  • More couples write their own vows.
  • Wedding parties are walking down the aisle to non-classical music.

A March 2018 piece in Canadian Living supports these observations. Writer Jessica Alcock comments that modern bridal fashions tend to be simple and elegant. Another key trend focuses on gowns designed with runway-inspired details.

Competition From Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

Discount outlets and department stores have made inroads in the industry. As a result, their competition presents challenges for big-box bridal stores. A July 2018 Glamour article showed several gorgeous and inexpensive department-store gowns. Some of these businesses, such as Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, have store locations in Canada. Hudson’s Bay also partnered with New York City bridal boutique Kleinfeld, offering a wide range of gowns at its Toronto Queen Street location.

Local independent bridal shops provide personalized service and unique formalwear options. Wedding Wire Canada maintains a directory of Canadian boutiques. Several of these stock vintage, consignment, and pre-owned gowns. Brides who want a vintage look or who wish to save some cash can discover fabulous finds at these and other locally owned stores.

Better Deals and More Options Online

Online shops also offer a huge range of options. Many American premier boutiques, some major department stores, and specialty shops ship to Canada. A few examples include Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Revolve, and Forward by Elyse Walker. Anomalie, an online bridal-wear startup, produces custom gowns crafted to meet each bride’s specifications. Their creation occurs during a collaborative process between the bride and a company stylist. The result is a made-to-measure dress that’s shipped directly to the bride. Often, these distinctive gowns cost much less than a comparative dress found in a big-box bridal store.

Can Big-Box Bridal Stores Change With the Times?

All these developments have affected the bottom lines of large retailers like David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo. David’s Bridal currently has 12 locations throughout Canada. As for Alfred Angelo, the corporation had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in United States federal court in July 2017. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported in July 2018 that all its retail stores have permanently closed. Moreover, the company still owed brides more than $20 million in claims for gowns that were never delivered.

David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo relied on classic industry business models. With shifts in wedding trends and customers seeking new options, both companies saw their profits plummet. Will big-box bridal stores like them be able to weather these and other future challenges? That remains to be seen, but the bottom line is that couples will turn to vendors who can provide the products, prices, and services they need.


Naked Cakes Enjoy Popularity at Canadian Weddings
Naked cakes continue to enjoy popularity at Canadian weddings, and may be just the right dessert option for your nuptials.

Naked cakes continue to enjoy popularity at Canadian weddings, and may be just the right dessert option for your nuptials.

How do you feel about naked cakes? Ask engaged couples, food fanatics, and wedding industry insiders, and you’ll likely find folks who either love or loathe them. While some south of the border decry the trend as overdone and trite, others suggest that naked cakes will remain a top choice among Canadian couples. If you’re curious about these unusual treats and are thinking of one for your reception, read on.

A Brief History of Naked Cakes

Jennifer Bain reported in a January 2015 Toronto Star piece that naked cakes (cakes in which the sides are bare) became a top choice for weddings in the Queen City that same summer. Bain traces the genesis of the naked cake trend back to 2008, where the treat debuted in New York City at Milk Bar’s grand opening. After chef Christina Tosi invented the confection, it was embraced by foodie culture and eventually crossed the border into Canada.

Brides writer Gabriella Rello adds that naked cakes first hit mainstream American bakeries in 2013. As more establishments added them to their menus, demand for these low-fi desserts slowly increased. American actress Angelina Jolie boosted their popularity when she opted for a naked cake at her August 2014 wedding to Brad Pitt. These treats quickly made the top trends and ideas lists of several major wedding publications between 2014 and 2016. They became a frequent sight at weddings, especially those with rustic, bohemian, or casual themes.

Perhaps due to the common tendency for trends to become trite, 2016 saw a hatred for naked cakes that was just as spirited as the initial fervor for them. In a September 2016 Country Living article, Lyndsey Matthews cited several reasons for this backlash. She opined that the trend had run its course, then pointed to both sloppy execution and their tendency to dry out as her rationale for agreeing with the haters. Even the U.S. version of Wedding Wire said “See ya” to naked cakes, rolling out new cake trends south of the border for 2019.

To Bare or Not To Bare? Key Factors To Consider

Despite the detractors, Wedding Wire Canada’s Alice Prendergast speculates that naked cakes may still be popular choices at Canadian nuptials in 2019. She suggests that they could take on new dimensions in looks and taste, elevated by elements that infuse new aesthetics and flavors. Prendergast mentions a few ideas for kicking your cake up a few notches:

  • Dripped glaze over the top and sides
  • Out-of-the-ordinary decorations
  • Incorporating multiple cake flavors
  • Playing with complementary or contrasting colors

As both Country Living’s Lyndsey Matthews and Brides writer Gabriella Rello point out, naked cakes are at a higher risk of drying out due to the lack of exterior frosting. However, the “nearly-nude” versions avert some of this risk with a very thin layer of frosting on their surfaces. Meanwhile, Lucie Loves to Bake discusses a few other factors that will impact your planning if you select a naked wedding cake. First, your confection will need to be assembled and decorated at the venue, since it can’t be transported in its finished state. Secondly, delivery and assembly should occur as close to your meal as possible. Finally, naked cakes melt more easily in hot weather and have a greater tendency to attract unwanted insects.

Are Naked Cakes Here To Stay?

Depending on who you ask, naked cakes are either the best wedding trend du jour or a tired and overrated fad that’s run its course. Nevertheless, adventurous new takes on this delectably bare dessert may help continue their popularity at Canadian weddings. If you decide a naked cake’s right for your event, plan accordingly and shop for a trustworthy baker who can deliciously and flawlessly execute your vision.



Anti-Semitism: A Centuries-Old Problem Resurfaces in Canada
Amid warnings about fascist philosophies becoming a global trend, concerns exist about the growing threat of Anti-Semitism taking root.

Amid warnings about fascist philosophies becoming a global trend, concerns exist about the growing threat of Anti-Semitism taking root.

Read any current news headlines and you’ll encounter one troubling trend: hateful actions motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, immigrant status, gender, or sexuality. Some hit close to home, such as the January 2017 attack on a Quebec City mosque. Amid warnings about fascist philosophies becoming a global trend, concerns exist about the targeting of religious minorities. In Canada, some warn about a marked increase in anti-Semitism.

A Brief History of Anti-Semitism

While the term “anti-Semitism” dates to 1879, the Encyclopedia Britannica discloses that its ideological roots are much older. Before the advent of Christianity, imperial rulers often expressed ire at Jewish communities’ refusals to assimilate and adopt the dominant culture’s religious beliefs. Later, Christians around the Middle East and the Mediterranean distanced themselves from their Jewish neighbors. Once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, Jewish people were further marginalized as anti-Semitic thought found its way into public opinion and theological teachings.

During medieval times and in modern Europe, Jewish communities grew, thanks in part to success in trade and banking. At the same time, members of these communities made significant contributions to a wide range of scientific, philosophical, and artistic disciplines. Yet during less tolerant regimes, Jewish people became targets of ugly stereotypes. Hateful rhetoric included passion plays that reenacted Jesus’s persecution and cast Jewish people as villains as well as blood libel accusations that they murdered and sacrificed Christian children. Anti-Semitic ideas picked up more steam prior to World War I, leading to horrific action by Nazis through the Holocaust.

Canada and Anti-Jewish Prejudice

As many Jewish refugees fled for their lives during the 1930s, Canada’s response was less than welcoming. An archived CBC News clip from 1982 discussed the closed-door policies of former Prime Minister Mackenzie King. Out of an estimated 800,000 total who attempted to flee Europe, Canadian authorities only allowed 5,000 to enter. Especially egregious was the Canadian government’s refusal to allow the landing of the MS St. Louis, a ship that left Europe in May 1939 carrying 900 Jewish refugees. A November 2018 Reuters piece detailed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology for this incident.

Worrying Trends in the 21st Century

While anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism, and hate crimes have increased in the United States, they’ve also been on the rise in Canada. A November 2018 Haaretz article cited Statistics Canada’s findings, revealing 360 anti-Jewish incidents reported to police departments across the nation. An April 2018 CTV News piece referred to B’nai Brith Canada’s report, which included several instances of anti-Jewish graffiti in Toronto, hateful messages targeting a family in Winnipeg, and several synagogues across the country receiving threatening photos.

Experts are trying to determine the causes behind the apparent increase in anti-Jewish hatred. Some point to our southern neighbors as the problem, citing examples such as the October 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017. Yet an April 2018 Globe and Mail article divulges a disturbing trend all over the West, with anti-Semitic ideologies gaining more noticeable and brazen expression throughout Europe and North America. Journalist John Ibbitson tries to unpack the problem, suggesting a few factors that may contribute to the rebranding of anti-Jewish conspiracy myths:

  • A disdain for globalization
  • Conflating criticisms of Zionism with anti-Jewish sentiments
  • The rise of nativism and populism

Fighting Hatred on Canadian Soil

In December 2018, B’nai Brith Canada released an action plan focusing on additional training for law enforcement, improved legislation, and measures for handling hate speech both online and at public universities. Others call upon the Canadian government to go beyond apologies with honest assessments of Canadian history, more education, and combating Holocaust denial and similar ideologies. In the meantime, Jewish Canadians seek answers and watch for the safety of their friends, families, and communities.

Food Stations Boost the Fun Factor at Your Wedding
Food stations are a fun and flexible option for any type of wedding, and you should consider them when planning your wedding reception meal options.

Food stations are a fun and flexible option for any type of wedding, and you should consider them when planning your wedding reception meal options.

As you try to figure out your reception meal options, you’re probably inundated with tons of possibilities. Maybe a typical sit-down dinner isn’t suitable for your casual wedding, or you’re not thrilled about the idea of long buffet lines. On the other hand, you may want to encourage guests to mingle more during the celebration. Maybe it’s time to consider food stations, an appropriate option for formal, semiformal, and casual affairs.

The Low-Down on Food Stations 

Brides writer Heather Lee explains how food stations work in an April 2018 article. For your food station setup, you’ll break down your menu into individual categories and then assign each one to a freestanding table. Your guests can then choose from available options and either serve themselves or request made-to-order items.

How should you divide up your reception menu dishes into individual stations? Your caterer can offer some guidance, but some typical arrangements include the following:

  • Assigned stations for entrées, salads, side dishes, breads, and desserts
  • Foods grouped by their countries of origin
  • Heavy appetizer stations

Of course, these are just a few possibilities. You can conceivably divvy up your offerings according to any scheme you wish, as long as you have the room and the budget.

Consider These Key Advantages

In her Brides article, Lee points out several advantages that food stations have over traditional plated multicourse or buffet meals. Your invitees can mingle and eat as they wish, allowing for more opportunities to interact with each other. Made-to-order items are prepped to their specifications, reducing the chance that they’ll be unhappy with their meals. You can also designate some stations to offer alternatives for guests with dietary restrictions. Finally, spreading the stations throughout your venue cuts down on long lines and waiting times.

Planning Tips for Your Food Stations

At the same time, you must also plan properly to ensure that your food station reception is successful. Southern Living, a United States-based lifestyle magazine, mentions that placing your stations too close together can lead to reduced floor traffic flow, longer lines, and congestion. For that reason, you’ll need a reception venue with plentiful room in order to properly space your stations. Be sure to budget appropriately, as Brides writer Heather Lee clarifies that you’ll need additional chefs for interactive stations and more staff to bus tables and assist with cleanup.

Not only that, guests with food allergies and dietary restrictions will require additional assistance in navigating your stations. Wedding Wire Canada’s Alice Prendergast stresses the importance of labeling stations to indicate whether they have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or nut-free dishes. She also recommends allowing guests with food restrictions to serve themselves first. You’ll ensure that they won’t have to contend with cross-contamination from serving spoons accidentally placed in the wrong dishes.

Stumped for Ideas? Try These Recommendations

Want to incorporate food stations but you’re stumped for cuisine or theme ideas? No worries. You’ll find loads of suggestions at many wedding websites. The Knot mentions several unique food station setups to surprise and delight your guests, with standouts such as a late-night snack bar or mashed potato bar. For brunch receptions, Wedding Wire Canada offers great recommendations such as pancake and waffle, salad, and cereal stations. Lunch and dinner receptions may benefit from Wedding Wire Canada’s savory food station suggestions to please your guests’ palates.

Food stations are becoming more popular at weddings for several reasons. They allow people to select their food when they wish while giving them more opportunities to move around and socialize. For hosts, they provide the chance to offer fun food while accommodating invitees with food restrictions. With wise planning and smart menu selections, your food stations will be a big hit with your guests.


The Serpent That Eats Itself? Understanding the Ouroboros
The ouroboros, and ancient symbol, has endured until modern times while powerfully embodying many physical and esoteric concepts.

The ouroboros, and ancient symbol, has endured until modern times while powerfully embodying many physical and esoteric concepts.

As purveyors of wisdom, representations of fertility, or masters of deception, serpents have evoked both fear and awe from human beings for thousands of years. Unsurprisingly, they’ve also gained an association with hidden knowledge, transformation, and renewal. One ancient symbol, the ouroboros, has endured until modern times while powerfully embodying these and other esoteric concepts.

What Is the Ouroboros?

The Encyclopedia Britannica offers a short explanation of the ouroboros’s history and meanings. With roots in ancient Egypt and Greece, this emblem depicts a serpent coiled in a circle with its tail inside its own mouth. A Greek-English lexicon hosted by the Perseus Digital Library reveals that our modern version of the word comes from an ancient Greek term that translates to “devouring its tail.”

Ironically, this symbol with a Greek name didn’t originate in any ancient Hellenistic cultures. BBC Culture writer Joobin Bekhrad clarifies that the oldest representation of an ouroboros appeared on a golden shrine located inside Tutankhamen’s tomb. Its contents, including the shrine, have been dated to the 13th century B.C.E. German Egyptologist Jan Assmann added that the ouroboros stood for the “mystery of cyclical time.” Ancient Egyptians would have seen these tendencies reflected in the Nile’s flooding cycles and the movements of the sun.

Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey Stuff

Egyptian views on the nature of time aren’t surprising, given that many other older civilizations believed that it operated in cycles rather than a strictly linear path. The “wheel of life” and “wheel of time” concepts arose within Indian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and both the Mayan and Aztec cultures regarded time as cyclical.

Curiosity writer Reuben Westmass discloses that modern thinkers refer to this concept as “eternal return.” Supporters of the idea include German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and proponents of the “Big Bounce” theory who insist that the universe blows up, expands, and contracts in continually repeating cycles.

Not only that, discourse on these ideas is common in pop culture. One example comes from a 2007 “Doctor Who” episode in which the protagonist exclaims, “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.”

Time, Space, and Alchemy

Bekhrad also explains that the ouroboros symbol was adopted by Greek alchemists during the Alexandrian era of Egyptian history. Within alchemic practice, it retained its original connotations of endless cycles and eternity. This emblem also possesses connotations of rebirth and renewal, considering how snakes regularly must shed their skins.

The Symbol Dictionary’s visual glossary discloses that it became associated with the spirit of Mercury, which is thought to be the essence that infuses all matter. A double ouroboros, or two snakes swallowing each other, stands for volatility as well as a balance between the higher and carnal selves of each human being.

Modern esoteric believers borrowed from and expanded upon these and other older alchemic traditions when using the ouroboros in their practices. Thelemapedia illuminates some of these additional meanings, referring to it as both a paradox and a “purifying sigil.” For some, it can stand for the unification of one’s primary presenting personality and the shadow self. Others may see it as an endless process of destroying and regenerating aspects of the self. In turn, it can become a representation of immortality.

An Existence That Never Ends?

Symbols can take on many different meanings, depending on who’s using or interpreting them. Contemporary worries about climate change, political turmoil, and economic instabilities lead some to wonder whether humanity will survive past the end of the 21st century. If nothing else, the ouroboros may be a sign of hope. Perhaps by prompting us to seek renewal and change, it can inspire us to face these challenges.


Simple Ways To Cleanse Yourself of Bad Spirits
There are certain steps you can take to cleanse yourself and your space of bad spirits, thereby creating a more pleasant environment for the new year.

There are certain steps you can take to cleanse yourself and your space of bad spirits, thereby creating a more pleasant environment for the new year.

Living in the wrong conditions can easily take a toll on your spirits. There are going to come times when you feel like something is off and you don’t know why. It is easy to be surrounded by bad energy without ever realizing it. The people around you put off certain vibes when you interact with them. If you happen to have a lot of interactions with people who are complaining, being hostile, acting rude, or just generally unpleasant, you may find yourself taking on some of this negativity.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to try to cleanse yourself and your space of bad spirits. Whether you view this energy as actual malevolent spirits or merely as emotional residue left over by those you’ve encountered, there are certain steps you can take to feel better. Consider these ideas and find the right way to detox your surroundings from bad energy.

Clear Your Living Space 

The best way to start cleansing negative energy from your life is by focusing your attention on the place where you live. The longer you’ve been in bad spirits, the more likely it is that your home has taken on some of the energy. When you want to give yourself a spiritual cleanse, starting with your home helps to give you a fresh start. Some people find it easy to do this by burning specific herbs. Bound cedar bundles are very popular for this activity, though lavender and pine are also suitable.

While burning herbs or incense in your home, you want to keep a window open. For one, you definitely should ventilate your space when you’re burning anything that produces smoke. Beyond this, opening the window helps to usher the bad energy out of your home and off into the ether, where it can dissipate. The amount you burn should be based on how much you feel your home has been impacted by your recent experiences with negative energy.

A Cleansing Bath 

The spiritual and the physical are quite often intertwined. When you feel like bad spirits are surrounding you or lingering in your soul, it can be a good idea to take a relaxing bath. Adding the right ingredients to your soak can help to cleanse yourself of bad energy while also soothing any physical discomfort you might have. One simple way to do this is by adding a few handfuls of unprocessed sea salt to your bath and soaking in it for about 30 minutes. A few drops of essential oils can also add a nice aromatherapy component to the experience.

Some people suggest a bath with added apple cider vinegar. By adding one cup to your bath, you may be able to cleanse yourself of bad energy and also boost your immune system a bit. Since this vinegar can have a very potent scent, you might want to add essential oils to the water as well. Opt for an oil with a stronger scent like peppermint or eucalyptus so you can hide the vinegar smell and feel the benefits of the soak.

Carry a Crystal

Many believe there is power to be found in crystals and rocks. Certain stones are said to generate specific energy fields, helping to ward off negativity. If you want to try this, consider stones like black obsidian, amber, smoky quartz, and amethyst. All of these stones have been said to help protect from bad spirits; all you need to do is carry one around with you.

Cleansing yourself of bad spirits can take time. Still, by putting forth the effort to refresh your spirits and clear away negative energy, you’re giving yourself the chance to feel renewed.