On August 23rd, 2013 I married my best friend. It was a beautiful day and would have been beautiful even if a hurricane had decided to blow through on that very day. Our wedding party was amazing, as were our families and all of our guests. We couldn’t have asked for a better party to celebrate such a momentous occasion.
But of course, despite the fact that the day would have been perfect without the flowers, the DJ and food, we did put a ton of planning into creating our version of “the perfect day”. I decided I would share it all with you, just in case you want to use some of our ideas and vendors (if you live in the same vicinity) for your own special day.
To sum up our day, Red Letter Day put together an amazing trailer for us to share with everyone! Scott from Red Letter Day was phenomenal in so many ways. We admired his professionalism throughout the day and I was also very appreciative of how easily he made himself invisible – a relief to someone who is camera shy!
How I asked my Bridesmaids
I could have simply asked my girlfriends (and brother) to be in our wedding, but I decided to jazz things up a bit. I decided to print a picture of each friend and I together and frame it. I then tied a white bow around the frame and wrote “Will you be my bridesmaid/Maid of Honour/Man of Honour” on each frame. I wrapped it up and went on my way to “pop the question” to each of my friends. The reaction was priceless and of course, they all have a nice frame of us in their homes now to keep.
The Bridesmaid Dresses
I found the idea on pinterest first (boy, I love that site!). I decided to let my bridesmaids pick their own dress (within reason) so that they would be happy and comfortable in their dress. The idea also lends itself well to the fact that everyone has a different budget so I didn’t feel right asking my friends to pay X amount of dollars for a dress they likely will never wear again. The compromise of course was that I chose the colour palette.
I visited a hardware store to collect a bunch of paint swatches with the colours I liked and then gave each of them the swatches to use while they were shopping. The result was perfection. Each girl chose a beautiful dress that they also loved and felt great in.
The Bridesmaids Gifts
Months before the wedding, I visited an antique store in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Inside, I lucked out and found eight gorgeous, vintage, beaded clutches that I knew would look beautiful with my bridesmaids’ dresses. It would also provide them something practical to store the things they needed for the day in. To help them, I packed each clutch with tissues, mints, a Lara Bar and the earrings I wanted them to wear with their dresses.
The Groom & Groomsmen
Our dashing groomsmen all wore Vera Wang grey pants and vests with black ties which they rented from Moore’s. Graeme had lucked out while he was in Hong Kong and bought a custom made three-piece suit which he waited six months to wear to our wedding for the first time.
The Make-up Artist
My make-up, my mum’s and a few of my bridesmaids’ make-up was done by Jacqueline Parker Make-up. Jacqueline is an unbelievable make-up artist who studied in BC and has worked in many films at Capilano University, organized fashion shows, done make-up for Miss World Canada, worked on the set of YTV’s “Mr. Young” and in New York city on photoshoots galore! She is professional, fun and extremely talented. She made sure I was happy with my make-up with a trial run first and then perfected everything on the day of. If you are looking for a make-up artist, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her.
I absolutely loved our flowers, but they came with a lot of work. To save money (since flowers can be outrageously expensive), I worked with a lady that does flowers out of her home. For the fiddly things like my bouquet and the corsages, she does the work herself, but she also offers workshops so that friends and family can help put together the centerpieces and such which in turn saves a bundle!
We were very fortunate and had a group of family and friends that donated their time and hands to put together gorgeous arrangements, bridesmaid bouquets and pew flowers. With left over baby’s breath, they also surprised me by making a stunning wreath which I didn’t know existed until I walked up to the church moments before I walked down the aisle and saw it hanging on the church door. It was later transported to the reception to hang in the centre of the head table.
If you would like her contact, please contact me here and I will send you her contact details. For the boutonnieres we had The Watering Can as they do an awesome job, are great to work with and offer outstanding prices.
Our photographer was an angel and so, so much fun to work with. Morgan Falk did both our engagement shoot and wedding photos and in both cases she made us feel so at ease. She’s the type that takes control if needed by giving you direction and suggestion but also rolls with the punches so that nothing feels too posed or unnatural. In short, she let us enjoy our day at our own pace and captured each moment beautifully. Since the wedding, we’ve framed a ton of our pictures and it’s so great to be able to look back at the day now and see it all unfold in stunning pictures.
The Reception Venue
Graeme and I spent two months searching out the perfect reception venue. Since the reception is the bulk of the wedding budget, it was important to us that we got the biggest bang for our buck. We checked out 15 venues in total spanning from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Burlington until we found Geraldo’s at La Salle Park, located on the waterfront in Burlington. The Geraldo’s staff were phenomenal and unlike other venues we checked out, it never felt like we were part of a wedding factory. Our wedding was unique to them and they made sure our wishes were granted from the right linens, candles, appetizers, champagne, wine choices and service. Our wedding coordinator was Lauren and she was fabulous to work with.
The venue itself has a beautiful terrace on the main floor, underneath the main room. We had our cocktail hour on the terrace while we were busy getting our wedding photos done near the marina and in the surrounding park. Afterwards, we headed upstairs to the beautiful ballroom with wood floors, gorgeous windows and wood pillars surrounding the dance floor. The food at dinner was delicious which was the icing on the cake!
The charity organization, Movember holds a very special place in our hearts as I have mentioned in my blog before here. My dad has dealt with prostate cancer for a number of years and so Graeme and I, being strong advocates and supporters of Movember, decided we would like nothing better than to donate money to Movember in support of men’s health in lieu of giving our guests actual favours. I did however reach out to Movember to see if they had any left over trinkets from past campaigns that they would like to supply for our wedding to help us spread the word. Graciously, they provided awesome cookie cutters which we gave to each of the women at our wedding. For the men, we ordered tiny adhesive mustaches. Movember also gave us “save the date” cards and so we left one at each place setting with their favour and a little note to explain our mustache madness.
The Wedding Party Introductions
Wedding party intros really set the tone of the party and our wedding party did an AWESOME job of starting the party with a bang! From “making it rain” with monopoly money, to strutting around in boas and massive sunglasses and getting down with a hoedown, our party did not disappoint! It may seem like a small detail that you could overlook in the planning process, but if I were you, I would put a bit of effort into picking the right songs, the right timing and giving your wedding party a heads up so that they can prepare a little show for their grand entrance.
Despite both of our intense loves for sugar and desserts, Graeme and I weren’t too keen on allocating very much money in the budget to our wedding cake. Our main focus (or really, MY main focus) was to cut the cake together and to have a layer to save for our one year anniversary. Other than that, we weren’t too fussy with the cake.
In the end, we asked Graeme’s cousin to make our cake for us. We borrowed some pans from friends and I bought four boxes of Graeme’s favourite cake -the sprinkle cake mix by Betty Crocker. Who knew it could be so easy!? The cake turned out beautifully with vanilla buttercream swirled icing and soft pink roses. I can’t wait to eat the top layer in a year!
The Cookie Bar
At around 10PM, a late-night buffet was laid out for our guests. This included tiny french sweets and a poutine bar complete with potato, zucchini, and sweet potato fries with gravy and cheese toppings. People loved it! We also had a cookie bar because I have always loved baking, especially cookies! We asked a few family members and friends to bake their favourite cookies and then placed them in glass cookie jars with tiny labels. My mother-in-law also spent hours baking and decorating gorgeous bridal gown cookies. She somehow managed to rope in her sons (including Graeme) and her mum to help her with the decorating. Each of the cookies was bagged with tiny ribbons and a “B&G” sticker on the back for our guests to take home.
Hands down, we had an awesome party! In fact, the night started with every single guest on the dance floor. I have to give credit to both the DJ for his excellent choice in music that night and also our guests, who kept the party pumping well into the night. Graeme and I have received so many compliments about how much fun our wedding was, so I strongly recommend Tom Violo and his team at Sound Obsession if you want to have the party of a lifetime!
I hope that you find some tips and ideas from our own day! All the best with your planning, and for your future married life with your one and only!