This has been a long time coming. A year, in fact. It's been hard to digest and know exactly how to share this. I also didn't really realize I'd feel so precious and protective over our wedding. It came as a complete surprise, but it's been a year and I'm so ready and excited to share this with you now! I'm going to separate this into a couple blog posts, as our wedding was separated into a couple of days.
We chose to split our wedding into two days for a couple reasons.
One: I'm not particularly fond of being the centre of attention, nor am I thrilled with the idea of 100+ people watching me bawl my eyes out, even if I do love them to bits.
Two: Even though we wanted a really small ceremony, we still wanted to party with our all of our friends and family, so we added a day two.
Welcome to Day One.
(this could be long, so feel free to skip to the photos if that's what you're here for. i don't blame you. they're pretty)
We really wanted our wedding day to feel as normal as possible and to incorporate some of the things that we really value. Turns out we're pretty sentimental people and added a lot of small things that meant a lot. I'm pretty sure my niece stole the show, but I wouldn't have it any other way. We didn't expect anything to change. We'd been together 7 years by the time we got married, and owned a house together for a year. What could possibly change? But it felt different the morning after. I'm not sure how to explain it really. It just felt... bigger, more important.
I tried writing this out from the heart, but I just turned into a blubbering mess, so I've broken it down.
Venue: We got married on the shores of Georgian Bay at a conservation area we spend a lot of time at. We weren't able to book it, so we just kinda showed up and got married. I loved that there were people walking their dogs and fishing in the background. Our good friend, Ashley, created a beautiful arbor for us with copper pipes and flowers and all of our friends pulled rocks from the shore to create a circle for us to stand in.
Guest List: We only had 21 people and 3 children including our vendors. Basically, everyone present is family whether by blood or by choice. It was easy and difficult to choose. There were definitely a couple people we would have loved there with us.
Ceremony: Our good friend, Ingrid, officiated and we wrote our own vows. Ingrid did such an incredible job of including personal elements into it. Our ceremony felt electric. I've never seen Joel look so handsome, and I couldn't stop from squeezing his hands. It took me a minute or two to compose myself to say my vows. My sister read Hug of Wars by Shel Silverstein, a childhood favourite, and a nice surprise for us. Joel's brother carried the rings in a leather pouch I made. We also made the decision to do the signing in a very informal way after the ceremony was over. We both liked the idea of keeping things flowing, and although that part needed to be done, it didn't really need an audience.
Vendors: Every single one of our vendors is a good friend which really helped create an even more intimate feel to our big day. We handed over almost all control to each of them, trusting that they knew us well enough to nail it, and they did. Each one of them blew it out of the water!
Dress: I found my dress on my very first outting with one of my best friends to the antique clothing show. The very first dress I saw when I walked in gave me goosebumps. It's an 1800's lace dress with a pink satin sash I found at the Gadabout booth, my very favourite vintage store in Toronto. It's pretty delicate, so they wouldn't let me try it on, but they held it in front of me and I burst into tears. Yep. I'm a crier. It did need a little bit of love though. Luckily, I found Maureen Patricia who altered it beyond my imagination. I wish I had a photo of it before the alterations. It had some pretty interesting sleeves. I love that it had a life before me. Everything became real the moment I put it on. My mom was kind enough to knit me a beautiful blue lace shawl for the evening, which definitely came in handy.
Rings: I'm not sure if you've seen my engagement ring, but it's dainty. Quite dainty. Finding a wedding band that would not overpower it was impossible, so I had a custom ring made. Leslie LaCombe made a stacking gold band to match my engagement ring and then made a twisted stacking ring to go with it to give it a bit of bulk. Two weddings, two rings. Why not? For Joel's ring we took his grandfather's wedding band and Leslie melted it down to recreate it.. It was a bit big, but Joel liked the idea of having something of his grandfather's with him forever. Leslie took some birch bark from one of our trees and pressed it into the band which added a whole new level of significance.
Music: One of our very best friends is a brilliant musician and he very graciously agreed to play us into the ceremony, and to help me surprise Joel with a first dance. Obviously it was to Everything I Do by Bryan Adams (we have a thing for Kevin Costner, remember?) and Alastair did a perfect job. We're not ones to take things too seriously, so much of our first dance was spent laughing.
Flowers: Ashley of Ashley Elaine Florals put together the most stunning bouquet and centre pieces. She also decorated and arranged all of the table settings. The only thing I said about the flowers was that I loved amaranth. Beyond that, I trusted Ashley completely. You can see why. My mom and I spent an afternoon with Ashley leading up to the wedding making cedar crowns for all of the ladies present at the wedding. We didn't have a wedding party, but I wanted to honour them in some way.
Dinner: We headed back to my in-laws for dinner. Ashley arranged all of the tables on their deck using china from my mother-in-laws collection, and handmade table cloths made by Joel's grandmother, as well as flower arrangements she did herself. It was a tight squeeze, but it had a gorgeous view of the sunset and I love cozy. My mother-in-law is Sicilian and offered to make dinner for everyone. How could we say no? Everything she makes is delicious! She started off with a spread of antipasti and then a 5 course meal. I loved that it was a familiar space with familiar food. My father-in-law helped serve, and even Joel got up and poured wine for everyone.
Cake: We weren't planning on having a cake, to be honest the whole cake cutting tradition is lost on me, but my little sister is a crazy talented baker and offered to make us one as a gift. I can turn down cake on any day, unless it's been baked by Danielle. Neither Joel nor I like traditional cakes so we requested she not make it too sweet and maybe use herbs or balsamic or something out of the ordinary. We chose a Blackberry Thyme cake with goat cheese icing. I cannot put into words how gosh darn delicious that thing was. The stuff of dreams. Paired with a cheese plate and port? yum!
Toast: Joel and I spent much of our childhood visiting Nova Scotia and it's a place that means a great deal to us. Conveniently there's a winery in Nova Scotia that makes one of the best sparkling wines in Canada, Benjamin Bridge Nova 7. We ended up having to go to a number of LCBO's to collect enough bottles, but through the help of my mom we made it happen.
Photographers: I know that this one seems like it'd be the hardest, but it wasn't. I chose Jennifer Moher & Hugh Whitaker before we even got engaged. I think my very first conversation with Jen was asking about her services for our wedding despite not being engaged yet. It makes me sound a bit crazy, but I knew I loved her work and wanted to make sure I saved enough. Jen and Hugh have become good friends since that first conversation and it made it that much nicer to have them around. They photographed our day as it happened and really helped make it feel like a normal day rather than a big production. They caught moments I didn't even notice happening and really captured the feeling of the day.
Most memorable moment: Our first dance. For sure. Joel and I had planned to have our first dance on day two, but with Alastair's help I surprised him with something we had joked about for a while. By the end of the song, we were all singing, mostly off-key, and laughing. From the photos I love the image of my mom showing my niece the photo of my grandmother on her wedding day. It's such a special little moment I didn't get to experience in real time, but treasure now.
Any regrets?: Just two. One: I wish we had recorded the speeches. They were so brilliant and thoughtful and even though I have copies of them, I wish I had recorded each person saying them. Two: I wish we had spent even more time with our friends and family. Maybe started the day earlier so we could squeeze every last moment
All photographs were taken by Jennifer Moher & Hugh Whitaker.