Michelle & James | August 11th | Toronto, Ontario, Canada
From the bride, Michelle:
We knew we wanted to have a wedding with both indoor and outdoor elements, with lots of greenery and fresh air – no hotel ballroom for us!
Photography by Pear Studios Inc.
I wrapped a chain around my bouquet decorated with diamonds from the 25th anniversary ring my grandmother received from my grandfather nearly 50 years ago. She passed away in June at the age of 92, but was married to my grandfather for 72 years!
We chose to present each other with identical wedding bands. Though this turned out to be slightly more difficult than we had anticipated, it was important to us because we truly see ourselves as equals and teammates in our relationship and this marriage, and wanted matching rings that would remind us of that forever. We joked about engraving them with “World Series Champions 2012” or something of the sort to reinforce that we’re on the same team, but decided that the rings themselves would be sufficient!
Our ceremony was held at 11:00am. We had intended to have an outdoor ceremony on the back lawn, but the weather was unfortunately not cooperating, so we had to go to our Plan B indoors which, in hindsight, was a spectacular Plan B!
Our ceremony was so relaxed and joyful, thanks to our fantastic officiant. He put everyone at ease, and even joked around a little. The ceremony was simple and happy which really was the theme of the whole day.
Rather than lighting a unity candle or pouring sand, we chose to display a box my mother decorated, into which we had already placed a carefully selected bottle of wine. Following the ceremony, James and I added letters we had written to each other the night before, in secret, and locked the box. On our anniversary, we will open the wine and drink it together while reading our letters and reminiscing on our wedding day. We will then write new letters and enclose them, along with a new bottle of wine and our previous letters, in the box for our second anniversary.
As we spent a lot of time playing board games with our families growing up, we wanted to use games in some of our wedding details, so we created signs using scrabble tiles to identify various elements (i.e. lemonade, orange juice, etc.) and to invite smiles with cute sayings like “Love Is Intoxicating” and “Eat, Drink, We’re Married!” (at the bar), “Keep Your Cool” (with the parasols), “To Have and to Hold” (with the wedding programs and silk fans) and “Love Notes” (by the guest book). We also used the scrabble tiles to identify each guest’s place on a seating chart. The Scrabble theme also featured heavily in our save-the-date cards.
For our guests, we created a “mimosa bar” with champagne and a variety of juices and sliced fruits for them to mix and match. That was a big hit!
The place cards on our table were Jenga blocks, labeled with each guest’s name. On the blank side, guests were invited to use the Sharpie pens we provided to leave us a message or some advice, and near the end of our meal, my mother collected all of the blocks so that we now have a lovely and useful keepsake from the day!
Our first dance was beautiful. All of our guests gathered outside on the terrace to watch us as my brother played his guitar and sang “In My Life” by the Beatles. It was an amazing feeling to be there with James, surrounded by the smiling faces of all the people that we love!
We kept our guest list small, so that we could fit everyone together at one table, family-style. We wanted our every guest to feel special and appreciated, and like part of the family. We’ve all been to weddings where we feel like seat-fillers, and we made a point of only inviting those people who matter to us, so that we could treat them well, and thank them for their love and support.
It was incredibly beautiful to be that close to everyone we love, sharing a delicious meal and taking it all in.
In lieu of a dance after our reception lunch, everyone boarded a school bus and went bowling! Stepping off our rented school bus at the bowling alley with all of our guests in formal dress was also a pretty memorable moment!
Our advice: First, we both agree that you should make a list of 4-5 words to describe the wedding you want, as well as an amount that you’re comfortable spending on the whole things. Decide what’s important to you (for us, it was the food, and the long table!). This will ensure that you’re both on the same page from the beginning, and should help guide your creative and budgetary decisions. Then, make sure you plan the wedding YOU want. It sounds simple, but part of what we loved so much about our own wedding was that it wasn’t exactly like other weddings we’ve been to. Given that we’d kept our guest list small and intimate, we felt strongly about not having some of the typical formalities that you often see at weddings, like formal speeches, an MC, a slideshow, and a dance. We replaced those things with what WE wanted, and would work with our small numbers, like a two-hour bowling party after lunch! The fact that we went with a morning wedding and lunch reception also helped us to break the mold.
Further, we fully recommend having a day-of coordinator who knows what he/she is doing. I felt so privileged to just be able to enjoy my day without worrying about the schedule, or fixing the decorations, or locating anyone. By having someone behind the scenes taking care of business, you can afford to relax and enjoy the moment, as well as all the personal touches that you worked so hard to put together for your guests.
Photographer: Pear Studios Inc. // Event Planner: Karina Lemke Weddings // Venue: Graydon Hall Manor // Music: Wellington Music // Catering: Couture Cuisine // Wedding Gown: La Sposa from Becker’s Bridal & Formal // Groom’s Attire: IM Label // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: TwoBirds Bridesmaid // Groomsmen Attire: Tom’s Place // Groom and Groomsmen Ties: Le Chateau // Post-Wedding Bowling: Thorncliffe Bowlerama // Bus Transportation: Y&F Transportation