Events

A perfect cottage wedding

I had the pleasure of photographing possibly the most perfect couple ever at the most perfect cottage wedding. I’ve always thought that I wanted a huge wedding but after experiencing their intimate wedding, I may have a change in heart. I hope you enjoy the photos!

xo, ngoc

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Nashville: The pedal tavern

Bachelorette party on the pedal tavernSo a few of my high school friends hopped in a car and made our way down to Nashville for some bachelorette fun. If you find yourself in music city, you 100% ABSOLUTELY need to book a tour on the pedal tavern! It’s a 16 person bike that you can drink on. For $30/person, you bring your own drinks and do a little bike/bar crawl through broadway, or midtown. I’d recommend this even if you’re not drinking. It’s just a super fun way to see the city.Bachelorette party on the pedal tavern

 

Here are some tips that will help make the most of your pedal tavern tour.

  • Wear shoes that stay on your feet! I opted to wear flats which fell off 5 minutes into my intense pedalling. My shoe got run over by a car, but one of other girls jumped off het bike to retrieve it for me. To avoid that happening again, I biked the rest of the tour with just bare socks. Pedals with no shoes = not good times. pedal tavern in socks
  • Premix your drinks or bring cans. You leave your drinks in a cooler and only the people sitting in the back seat can really access them. Having them pass down a can or a bottle is easy. Having them pass down liquor, ice, and mix is much more difficult. *Remember though that you can’t bring glass on the bike. We bought a case of water so we could fill the bottles with our drinks.
  • Book early for weekends! We booked 2 weeks in advance and could only get the 5:15pm spot on the Friday. Saturday was completely sold out. Although 5:15 gave us a lot of time to go out afterwards, all the bars we stop at on the way were a little empty. I’d recommend starting your tour between 7:30 and 8:15 so that you can go for dinner before hand, get a solid pre-drink happening on the bike, and still have time to hit up the popular bars afterwards.
  • We stopped at the Swinging Doors and Bootleggers inn on our tour. We were given wrist bands and coupons for 2 for 1 drinks and other specials. Pace yourself. We went real hard and were a little burnt out by midnight.
  • Bachelorette party at the swinging doors in Nashville Shots at the swinging doors in Nashville
  • Only some of the seats were adjustable. I’m a little shorty so I got one of the adjustable seats but even my 5’5ish friends were commenting that they had to extend their legs the whole way to pedal which was exhausting.
  • The bike is SERIOUSLY hard to pedal. 16 girls, with drinks, up hills… we were probably moving at negative 5 km/hour. But the slow speed gave us time to really take in the view as we rode up and down broadway.view of Broadway from the pedal tavern
  • Bring something that plays music. They have an AV plug that you can stick your mp3 or phone into. We didn’t bring music but luckily our driver/guide had a bachelorette playlist already made.
  • There is no motor. For real. You have to pedal up that hill.
  • There’s not much space on the counter except a little cup holder. Everything else will need to be tucked in the overhead compartment that isn’t easily accessible or in your purse. As cute as our little props were. Carrying them the whole time is a real pain in the butt. Bachelorette party on the pedal tavern

All in all, it was a super fun night. Even our pregnant friend loved it! If you’re interested in seeing more, you can check out this horrible video that I took while on the bike.

Friday Night at the ROM

Friday Night Live at the ROM FNLDrinks. Dancing. Dinosaurs. That’s what you can expect at Friday Night Live at the ROM. A few of my friends decided to go last summer and we LOVED LOVED LOVED it! If you’re looking for a fun, unique place to go in Toronto on a Friday night, I’d highly recommend it. They are holding these events every Friday until Dec 6. Tickets are $12 dollars, or $10 if you have a student card. Here are a few tips that we learned from last year. 

Tips for Friday Night Live at the ROM

  • Although you can drink on the different floors, you can’t carry your drink from one floor to the next due to restrictions in their alcohol permit. I learned this the hard way when I bought 2 beers at the bar on the main floor and wanted to go up to meet my friends on the second. I was left with the decision to abandon my drinks… or quickly in a very non-classy way, quickly double fist/chug my drinks at the bottom of the stairs… **EDIT** apparently you can bring your drinks on the stairs now! 
  • You have to buy drink tickets, and then use those tickets to buy drinks. So don’t waste your time waiting at the bar if you don’t already have tickets, only to get to the front to find out that they will not take your money.
  • It might be different this year, but last year the last call was pretty early. I think it was at 11pm, and then the event ends at midnight. You’ll want to get in line before 11 though since people will be frantically lining up, trying to use up the last of their drink tickets.
  • The main floor bar is really busy! If you’re planning on going to the other floors anyways, I’d recommend just ordering your drinks up there where it’s not as crazy.
  • Get their early! Doors open at 7. The lines are LONG. REALLY LONG! I think we went around 9:30 and had to wait in line for 45 mins.

Overall it was a really fun experience so grab a couple of your friends for a fun night dancing with the dinosaurs.

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Science North wedding

posterNgoc Nguyen SoundsLikeKnock at a wedding

This past weekend, I made the trek up to Sudbury, Ontario to celebrate yet another wedding. URG SUDBURY… why must you be sooo cold?!

Anyways, I think this might have been one of my favourite venues for a wedding, to date. It was held at Science North, and my inner science dork LOVED it. I mean, when else can you have cocktails while petting flying squirrels and making friends with Drifter the beaver and Quillan the porcupine?!  SoundsLikeKnock Ngoc Nguyen petting a flying squirrelbeaver

The dinner was held in the Cavern which gave a nice earthy, intimate yet fantasy kind of feel to the evening. The space holds up to 200 guests and can be rented out for only $1000! Compare this to around $5000 for the Science Centre in Toronto. Yikes!

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I mean, where else can you celebrate a marriage surrounded by rocks, and airplanes!

Unfortunately, I was too busy enjoying the wedding that I didn’t think to take a lot of photos to show you guys just how fantastic this venue was.

If you’re considering Science North as a venue for your wedding, here are a few pros and cons that I noticed as a guest

Pros

  • really cool atmosphere that guests will remember
  • even with very little decorations, the space would still look really nice
  • cocktails with animals = awesome
  • hotels within walking distance for guests
  • cars can be left in the parking lot over night
  • giant screen that you can use for videos
  • the service was great

Cons

  • the only option for caterering is Curious Thymes (their salads and dessert were quite nice but the main entrees were hit and miss so pick your items carefully)
  • depending on the time of year, it does get a little chilly in the venue. I’d imagine it would be hard to keep the cavern heated

If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Kathryn Condotta.

Science North
100 Ramsey Lake Rd., Ontario, Canada, P3E 5S9

705.522.3701 ext.: 343

www.sciencenorth.ca

Super hero scavenger hunt

Super hero themed party ideas Ngoc NguyenSome of you may remember the super hero party I threw last year for the bf’s birthday. It was a huge success so I had a few friends request that I throw another one. The best thing about already setting a precedence is that no one complained this year about my strict costumes mandatory rule. Instead, they all realized that the more outrageous the costume, the cooler everyone else thought you were. I was so pumped that people went all out on their costumes this year!

To spice things up a little bit, I kicked off the party with a photo scavenger hunt. I made a fun list of things to do, and gave everyone 1 hour to complete as many of the listed items as possible. Although some people were unsure about running around the city in their costumes, by the end of it, everyone had a blast, and now they have all these great photos to show for it. Feel free to download my list for your own party!

Super hero themed photo scavenger hunt ideas

Benefits of a photo scavenger hunt

  1. Great way for people to get to know each other. I made teams at random which forced people to work together with others that they might not normally talk to
  2. Everyone has a competitive edge. And a hunt is a great way to bring that out in people.
  3. Great photos! I’m all for photos and giving people a list to do gives them a reason to be silly in pictures.
  4. It’s fun being a kid. We don’t give enough credit to just doing fun, silly, PG13 kind of activities.

Tips tricks and lessons learned from the scavenger hunt:

  • Give a wide range of tasks in varying difficulties
  • Teams of 4 worked really well – the teams are small enough to easily coordinate and work together, while being big enough that people know that you’re part of a group you’re not a random crazy person walking around the streets in a costume.
  • I gave everyone an hour to complete the list and 2 teams finished all 26 tasks. Next time I’d add probably put at least 30 things on the list with some really hard ones
  • Remember to print off the list beforehand. I was rushed the day of and couldn’t get to a printer in time. Luckily, everyone has smart phones now a days so I just posted it online and had everything download the list to their phones.
  • Picking a hashtag lets everyone post to the same social media channels so they can see how their competition is doing. We used #HeroHunt for ours.
  • If you plan ahead and are tech savy, you can collect everyone’s photos and play a slideshow of all the pictures during the party

Some pictures from the hunt!

Super heroes themed scavenger hunt

scavenger hunt - fireman carry a stranger

Super Heroes doing a scavenger hunt

Super heroes jumping

Super heroes themed photo scavenger hunt

earth worm jim costume

super hero battle in toronto

he man and wonder woman

It’s not every day that you get to party with Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman!

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Or how about Super Dave and Asbestos lady?Super dave costume

And of course the whole crew from Kick-ass decided to join! Kick-ass in toronto costume ideas

Did I mention that I live in Gothum City? 

dark knight and bane costumes

Thanks to Heather from Shameless Vanilla for making these awesome cupcakes!

super hero cupcakes

Science Everywhere : Air Pressure

science everywhere be a science ninja experimentI’ve been helping out a wonderful friend of mine, Ernest Morgan with a project called Science Everywhere. The idea is to show how science is all around us by using everyday materials to demonstrate different science principles.

The first video that will soon be up on Youtube demonstrates how air pressure is all around us . Using every day items like duct tape, garbage bags, a shop vac, we showed how you can use air pressure to suction yourself up against a flat surface.

preparing for a science everywhere experiment #beascienceninjaThanks to Goorin Bros Hat shop who graciously let us use their store front window for this experiment. Here are a few teaser shots of the day. Check out Science Everywhere’s facebook page and Youtube for the videos and full explanations.
preparing for a science everywhere experiment #beascienceninja science everywhere air pressure experiment #beascienceninjaGoorin Brother's Hat shop

Tips and tricks

  • lay the garbage bags down and the ground and tape them together first
  • you will need a perfect seal all around the plastic bag in order for this to work. Pay close attention to the legs and neck area. 
  • never cover your face with the plastic bag! This is very important because if your face is covered when you suction out the air, YOU COULD DIE!
  • hold one hand over the vacuum hose to help control the suction. If you don’t do this, it will suck up the plastic bag
  • always have a buddy with you
  • if you are going to suction yourself to a window, make sure it will hold your weight!
  • it will get very hot under the plastic bags

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We’ll be doing fun experiements across the city all summer. Follow us on twitter to find out when the next one happens so you can join in! @soundslikeknock @science__ninja

Sporting life 10K

werunI feel confident that I was the world’s worst runner (ok , maybe my aunt might be worse). I could barely run a block without turning into a whiny baby who was certain that her heart was exploding and that she couldn’t possibly take another step. Year after year, I put it on my new years resolution to be able to run 5k.. and year after year.. I’d just “forget” about that one goal.

Well last year February, I got pressured into signing up for the Sporting Life 10K, and my pride refused to let back out so I started running.. for a week.. until I sprained my ankle. And then I conveniently went to Europe for a month in February.. which only gave me one month to train before the Sporting Life 10K. Now I’m still a terrible runner, but if you’re going to do a race, than the Sporting Life is the perfect one. Convinced that I wasn’t going to cross the finished line, I was justs beside myself when I saw the 1oK mark in the distance. Well I LOVED the whole experience. There’s just something about running in a crowd with people cheering you on that makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I wanted my parents to join me the following year.

Growing up, I have never seen my parents do anything active. Well except for that one time I walked into the house and saw them both dancing to one of those step by step video lessons.. awkward. I knew that if i signed them up, that they would start being active and being healthier. 

mom running the sporting life 10K

My mom is just so happy that she’s almost at the finish line!

It was the perfect way to kick off mother’s day and I couldn’t have been more proud of my parents! My mom’s already excited to keep training for her next race. My dad… lol I’m not so sure he loved it as much as my mom did..
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I still am not the biggest fan of running… But I’m a total advocate of signing up for these races. Not only do you get to benefit a charity, you it also motivates you to get off your bum and start being active. Win-win.

A night in Bollywood

There ain’t no party like a Bollywood party!

There’s nothing I love more than a good old fashioned theme party!  So I was ecstatic when Yashy from BabyandLife.com asked me photograph her baby girl’s birthday party. The party was beautifully decorated and amazingly executed. I picked up a few tips that might help you set the mood if you’re ever interested in throwing your very own Bollywood party.

 

1. Decorating. Find as much fabric as you can. Think bed sheets, pashmina scarves, curtains, throws, etc. Then start draping EVERYTHING! Yashy had everything from the tables, benches, chairs, pillers, and cushions draped in colourful fabrics which set a very cozy and festive atmosphere that suited the theme to perfection. You can also collect a bunch of cushions and lay them down in a corner or area to create a make shift “lounge”.

decorate room at a bollywood party

2. Saris. Lehenga. Dupattas. I learned a lot of new words in my quest to find the perfect outfit. Encouraging guests to borrow or find pieces in their wardrobes that suit the theme really helped pull everything together. For those who live in Toronto, little India on east Gerrard and Coxwell had an abundance of clothing shops. I walked into one and mentioned that I was going to a party and wanted to spend as little as possible. I was advised that a sari, although beautiful and elegant, would be very difficult to pin properly, and would restrict my ability to walk/run. Since I had to be ready and mobile to snap photos, I opted for this forest green 4 piece outfit for $29 (which also included minor alterations!). If you stay minimal on the embellishments, and opt for non-silk fabrics, there are many options for under $50.

3. Party favours/accessories – Head to the dollar store, or any Indian clothing/fabric/accessory store and pick up some bangles  bindis, and stickers. Bangles can be found fairly inexpensively and having a stack of them around your wrist really makes you want to dance and make those bangles jingle.

4. Music. Every party can benefit from a great playlist. I’m not knowledgeable on what songs are popular but I’m sure a quick Google search can help you put together a great medley of songs to help get your guests dancing. Who knows… maybe Songza will put together a “it’s saturday afternoon and I want my guests to shake like they are in bollywood” playlist soon.

 

5. FOOD FOOD FOOD. Often my parties will just have a few appetizers but since many of the children had early bedtimes, Yashy generously provided dinner. The food was  from Famous Indian Cuisine on Gerrard St in Toronto and it was AMAZING. Their lamb rogan josh may be one of the best pieces of meat I’ve ever put into my mouth.

7. And lastly. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy your party! I know a lot of times, I’m so worried about all the guests and making sure everyone is having a good time that I forget to just enjoy it myself.

 

Super heroes party

ngoc nguyen dressed as Thor for Avenger's premiereFor some reason, people assume I’m really into comic books and that fan expo and comic cons are right up my alley. Maybe it’s because I had been looking forward to the Avengers for half a year. Or maybe it’s because I dressed up like Thor to go see it. (I unfortunately couldn’t get tickets to opening night, so had to wear my costume to the Sunday, 3pm showing… someone high five’d me.. which means I was cool… right?). Whatever their reasons are, I always thought the bf knew me better than that. Until I opened up my birthday present to find a Thor hammer and Captain America Shield. At least he was trying to be creative.

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Well that’s when the idea of a super hero theme party came about. I mean, I had to find a use for my newly acquired treasures, right?

 

I love love love theme parties but since I’ve never thrown one for this particular group of friends, I was met with much skepticism. Because of this, I wanted to make sure I set the mood so that the next time I had a theme party, everyone would be pumped instead of weary.

 

A few tips:

1. I made it a costumes mandatory party. No costumes, no entry. If you are going to enforce this though, be concious of the fact that some people may opt not to come because they are too shy or feel like it’s silly to dress up. I requested at a minimum, people wear a mask or a cape. Give some suggestions of easy costume ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.

 

2. Advance notice. Let people know well a head of time so that they can go buy or make their costumes. This also prevented people from telling me that they didn’t have “time” to get a costume. I also offered to assist those less creative folk and I had made a few extra masks and capes for those who really struggled.

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3. Movie posters. As a photographer, I firmly believe that people love photographs. I googled popular super hero movies and super imposed the faces of the guest list onto the photos (facebook has made it super easy to get photos of your friends). I put up a photo collage right near the entrance so people could have a little chuckle as they entered the party. I must admit, putting my male friend’s faces on beautiful 6 packs was maybe a little bit more enjoyable than it should have been.

 

4. Photo back drop. I taped craft paper together to form a giant back drop and bought acrylic paint to paint a fun and colourful backdrop. If you are going to do this, make sure you start well in advance as it took a surprisingly long time to paint and to wait for the paint to dry so I could outline all the letters. I also made a mug shot back drop and bought a small white board so people could write down their super hero name to make it look more legit. Guests had a lot of fun posing and acting out fight scenes all night.

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5. Since it was a birthday party, I had to have some themed cupcakes and cakes. This is actually an older cake from a previous birthday but it would have suited this party perfectly. I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the cupcakes from this party.

Transformer cake

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The guests all had a great time and I’m confident that they’ll be less weary of dressing up for my next theme party.