To this day, I often wonder if my best guy friend, Bryan, was under the influence when he asked me to be a "groomslady" in his Winnipeg wedding. I answered his request with, "You know I'm pregnant and due 4 weeks before your wedding, right?" Somehow, he didn't take my response as a "no."
7 months later, I found myself in Winnipeg with a designer groomslady dress and a baby on the hip. My Winnipeg experience as a brand new mom attending many manly events for 4 days taught me some incredibly important life lessons: Winnipeg beer stores are terrifying, Greta Constantine dresses are forgiving and bachelor parties are absolutely amazing.
In between all of the wedding fun, I did have the chance to check out Manitoba's capital. Pam, Bryan's beautiful bride-to-be (now wife!) and Winnipeg native offered me some amazing recommendations on how to make the most of my time in her hometown. Pam is also the owner of Pam and Paper, where she designs prints, stationary, invitations and tote bags (Pictured below) to name a few. You can also see more of her work on Instagram @PamandPaper
I was able to explore Pam's city, with Pam's recommendations while carrying Pam's tote bag! Is it clear that I love Pam? There's more on Pam and Paper's wedding products in Winnipeg, Part 2. For now, enjoy this list, inspired by, you guessed it, Pam.
things to do in winnipeg
1. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights: This museum is located at 85 Asper Way and is open from 10AM-5PM on most days (Adult admission costs $18). My visit was incredibly engaging, inspiring and educational. The museum is "dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. [It's] aim is to build not only a national hub for human rights learning and discovery, but a new era of global human rights leadership."
Each floor of the museum connects the visitor to a human right issue: "Indigenous Perspectives", "Protecting Rights in Canada" and "Examining the Holocaust" are some exhibits I found especially moving. The final floor of the museum showcases the exhibit "Inspiring Change" and it shares the inspiring stories of activists such as Craig and Mark Kielburger and Malala Yousafzai. Although many exhibits bring great injustices to light, visitors leave feeling optimistic, hopeful and inspired to make a positive change in the world.
I also enjoyed how accessible the museum was. I toured it with a stroller and was able to use gradually rising, circular ramps to visit each floor, gallery and exhibit. I did not have to get into an elevator from floors 1-7. The only time I used the elevator was to check out the tower at the very top for a beautiful view of Winnipeg. I highly recommend taking the time to make stop at this museum.
2. The Forks: Located in downtown Winnipeg on 1 Forks Market Road, The Forks is the #1 tourist destination. Pam explains that The Forks "Served as a meeting place for our first Aboriginal peoples, the fur trade, and the landing of European settlers. Today it hosts a range of markets, restaurants, and museums on the banks of Winnipeg's two rivers." It was the first stop I made after landing in Winnipeg and I had a wonderful afternoon taking in the beautiful views while visiting the shops, waterfront and stopping for lunch at the market.
3. Winnipeg Art Gallery: Also located right downtown on 300 Memorial Boulevard, this gallery showcases an extensive collection of Canadian pieces and holds impressive collections in decorative, photography and Inuit art. The museum opens at 11AM (Closed Mondays) and adult admission is $10.
4. The Exchange District: This District is a hip and vibrant area which spans 20 blocks and is packed with shops, restaurants, galleries, theaters and attractions. "The approximate boundaries are Adelaide Street, Ross Avenue, Notre Dame Avenue and Main Street for the west Exchange. The east Exchange area is located between the Disraeli Bridge, Waterfront Drive, William Stephenson Way and Main Street" (Tourism Winnipeg).
If you only have time for a quick bite and shop, Pam recommends Deer + Almond (A restaurant which specializes in homestyle cooking); Tiny Feast (a stationary and gift store); Kit and Ace (Canadian apparel) and Hilary Druxman ( unique, hand crafted jewelry). If you have more time, the area also provides walking tours and attractions such as the Historic Exchange, Old Market Square, the Cube and the waterfront.
5. Thermea Spa: The night before her wedding, Pam and her bridal party visited this Nordic outdoor spa. The spa offers thermal treatments, massages, and body treatments and is located beside the Crescent Drive golf course. If you are interested in some relaxation while surrounded by nature, check out their detailed services and rates here.
6. The Fort Garry Hotel: If you don't stay here, this hotel is worth a visit. It was built in 1913 and designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. The architecture and decor of this Winnipeg landmark is stunning both inside and out. It is also said to be haunted and there is a spooky story about an old guest who stayed in room 202...You'll have to google it, I'm actually too scared to write about it.
I was able to visit this hotel regularly as Bryan, the groom was staying here. This hotel often acted as the meeting place for all of the manly events I previously mentioned attending. Luckily, this venue allowed me ghost hunt when I grew tired of watching the men swear, talk about sports, fight with their tuxedos, boutineers or each other. If you're looking for an excuse to pop in or search for ghosts, The Palm Lounge is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as for live music nightly.
7. Fort Gibraltar is located at 866 St. Joseph Street and offers visitors a history of the Red River valley from 1815-1821. It's purpose is to have visitors not only witness "the importance of the fur trade as an economic development factor in Manitoba’s history, but also the lifestyle of the settlement and the roles played by the Metis, the settlers, the explorers, the Aboriginal peoples, the companies and of course, the Voyageurs" (Fort Gibraltar 2016). In the summer, Fort Gibraltar offers 2 hour tours with actors playing characters from 1815. Adult admission is $8 and parking is free.
This historic landmark is the location Bryan and Pam chose for their beautiful wedding. More on Fort Gibraltar in Winnipeg, Part 2- this post will talk all things wedding and my experience as a groomslady attending all of those manly events.
For 4 days (and 4 days only) I was invited into a secret world: I got to roll with dudes doing dude-like things as a groomslady in my friend Bryan's wedding. Hanging with Bryan's groomsmen (a clique of devilishly attractive men dressed in tuxes) was definitely the best part of this trip... well, except for the part when some preteens in the Fort Garry lobby tried to abduct my husband (One of the previously mentioned attractive groomsmen) because they thought he was Adam Levine. Us groomspeople were waiting in the limo, worried about being late for the wedding, while hubby was busy perfecting Levine's signature in the lobby.
Aside from that group of 14 year old fans heavily delaying their best man, Bryan and Pam's Winnipeg wedding went off without a hitch. Because their guests were flying in from all over the place, their wedding events spanned over 4 days: A Thursday night bachelor party, a welcome party on Friday, the beautiful wedding on Saturday and a goodbye brunch on Sunday. Bryan and Pam's Winnipeg wedding will be featured in June's issue of Wedding Bells; just remember I broke the story first.
Their guests knew they were in for a great time as Pam outlined all of the weekend's details in her wedding invites. In Winnipeg, Part 1, I posted a picture of a tote bag Pam designed. She also designed all of the stationary and graphics for her own wedding (see pictures below). Definitely check out Pam and Paper if you are in need of some graphics for an upcoming event or celebration.
the bachelor party
A bucket list item of mine was checked off the list in Winnipeg: I attended a bachelor party...as an invited guest!! Hanging out with guys for a night was hilarious, eye-opening...and, well, stinky. Due to Bro Code, I can't share any details about what happened that night, but I can offer you a list of some things you can plan for your bachelor party in Winnipeg (It is up to you if you'd actually like to take this advice from a female...a female who was pregnant when she helped plan it and probably had baby puke in her hair and baby wipes in her purse when she attended it):
1. Speedworld This indoor kart track is "approximately 1/4 km of pure adrenaline with 9 turns including a wide generous sweeper, 2 hairpin turns and a number of 'S' curves and 90° bends." Each racer was timed and there was a podium and picture op for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placers in the bachelor party. If you're still not convinced that you should add this to your itinerary, you should know that Bieber went here with his dad.
2. Scotch Tasting: Check out Bailey's Restaurant on 185 Lombard Ave. They offered the group a private room and the guys ordered drinks from a great collection of scotch.
3. Go for a shave: "Adam Levine" took a little break from the day's events and headed over for a hot shave. If you'd also like a shave while surrounded by odd figurines, why not call up Vincent and add this to your group's itinerary?
4. Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse: This restaurant is located at 189 Carlton Street and also happens to be the place where I learned the hard way that men don't cheer after taking a shot. We were seated at a large private table and had our own teppanyaki chefs who put on a great show while cooking us steak, lobster, shrimp and chicken. When they weren't throwing their knives around and playing with fire, they were heavily encouraging us to throw hard boiled eggs at the bachelor. Dinner cost $30 a person.
5. The Shark Club: Located at 223 Hargrave Street, this place was a hit with the lads.
6. Some other Winnipeg ideas the groomspeople looked into:
Adreneline Adventures: A rope course and paintball. Strange combo to me.
Xtreme Tactics: Uban Tactical Simulation I think this place had something to do with working as a team to shoot opponents with air soft guns. Men are weird.
Vertical Adventures: Wall climbing. A 2 hour session costs $100 for 6 people. Each additional person costs $15.
the welcome party
Anna Magazine: Bryan and Pam held their welcome party at ANNA Magazine's Talk of the Town studio, located at 115- 1079 Wellington Ave. The space was modern and the food was out of this world. Pam and Bryan were also able to personalize the space with their own accents on the tables and pictures on the walls.
Before getting ready for the wedding, the groomsmen hit up King + Bannatyne (100 King St. Unit D) for some delicious lunch sandwiches. It made me think about all of the times I'd been a bridesmaid and I realized we'd never made having big honkin' meat sandwiches a priority before having our pictures taken. Us ladies usually just have coffees or mimosas while our hair is being done. Since it was my first time spending time before the wedding with men on the groom's side, I decided I'd make a list of the differences I noticed between the ways males and females get ready for a wedding ceremony:
1. Males don't spend much time getting ready.
2. Of the time they do spend getting ready, most of it just goes towards trying to get their damn boutineers on.
3. During this time, they are quiet: they didn't chat, sing into their hairbrushes, compliment one another, play music or giggle.
4. A wide variety and quantity of delicious snacks and drinks are always readily available, even during picture time.
5. They devote a great deal of attention to ensuring a sporting event is playing on a TV.
After the Adam Levine crisis was averted, we were able to get the groom and his best man to the wedding venue, Fort Gibraltar.
Fort Gibraltar: If you are getting married in Winnipeg, you have to get married at this location. It's historic setting, natural beauty and event space make for such a cozy wedding and countless places for great wedding photos to be taken. The venue had a space for everything: The ceremony was outside in front of the fort's grand entrance, live music was held on the reception venue's deck, a large outdoor fire pit for late night smoores, and they even had a space for axe throwing during the cocktail hour! The food was phenomenal; Fort Gibraltar does weddings right.
Congratulations Pam and Bryan!