I thought that it would be good to do a little ditty with a rundown of how our wedding rolled out since a lot of people have been asking us questions about it. This is my twelfth year photographing weddings and after having the opportunity of spending time at literally hundreds of weddings, it was pretty fun to plan my own wedding. I took elements from all of those weddings that I loved or that I thought worked really well and then we put our own spin on things. The end result was absolutely perfect. Our wedding was so us and we keep hearing from guests how much they enjoyed themselves. A friend recently told me that our wedding “ruined all other weddings” because it was so fun, laid back and just easy. I took that as a great compliment.
The last couple of months of our lives were pretty wild ones. On top of planning our wedding and three-week-long honeymoon, Josh started a new job in February – one that has pretty much changed our lifestyle. While trying to get through all of that, we were spending a lot of time at home, saving money and crafting things for the wedding, which meant, not spending time with the people who we were planning this whole shindig for. A couple of weeks before the wedding, we were pretty much set with everything and took the opportunity to spend time with our people. The Sunday before our wedding, we booked an afternoon of axe throwing at BATL. The idea was to invite a bunch of random wedding guests so that 1) we could spend time with them and 2) so they could meet one another. We brought Cava and doughnuts and had a lot of fun. The night before our wedding, some family members and friends arrived in Toronto and we wanted to see them all before the big day so we hosted a low-key pizza party at ours. We made that awesome vegan Caesar salad that I love to brag about and ordered some ‘za. It was wonderful.
Getting Ready at Home
It was important to me that I got ready on the wedding day at our home. The night before our wedding after the pizza party, Josh went to sleep at his Best Man, Matt’s, house. My maid of honour, Gillian, stayed at ours so we had a nice night after everyone left and got lots of sleep before the madness began. It was so lovely to wake up at home and to slowly ease into the day. The Moms, sisters and nieces then came over. My sister Emily made me my favourite breakfast (chilaquiles) and I was able to relax and just soak in what was happening. Ivy Lam, my makeup artist soon arrived as did my hair stylist Rachel of Quinn West. They quickly got to work and then Rebecca, our photographer arrived. It was lovely to be in a familiar space with the ladies who are the closest to me. We also had everything on hand should we need something so there was no stress about the possibility of forgetting anything had we chosen to get ready away from home.
The First Look & Portraits
Since we were getting married on a weekday, our wedding reception had to be wrapped up quite early. Because of this, we wanted to maximise our time at the venue and with our friends and family. As a result, we opted to do all bridal couple and wedding party photos prior to the ceremony. The plan was for Rebecca, my MOH and I to meet Josh and the best man at High Park where Rebecca would document our first look of one another before getting into the portraits. I was so excited to walk towards Josh who had his back turned away from me. I felt butterflies and excitement and I just could not get to him soon enough. Once we had that “first look” moment, I knew that we had this. That the day was going to be awesome and that it was actually, finlly, happening. We did some portraits there before then heading to Wychwood Barns to do more. We had asked the family to come an hour before the ceremony to do the family portraits and
surprisingly they were all on time. The family portraits were maybe the most stressful part of the day for me because of all of the configurations of people that I wanted to do. As soon as they were done, I felt myself relax and just get excited again.
The Ceremony & April Fool’s
Since we were getting on April 1st, we knew that we had to pull off a good April Fool’s Day joke for our guests and man, did we ever. I still cannot believe that we managed to pull it off with very few people knowing about it. For our ceremony, I was adamant about the processional. I opted to not walk down the aisle with my parents because I felt like that just did not fit with who I am. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was eighteen which was nearly half my life ago. As well, Josh and I have lived together for a couple of years and we’ve known each other forever. No one was giving me away; we were going to walk together. Getting married was something that we had chosen to do together and to me, this just made sense. On top of that, I am not a fan of being the centre of attention. The idea of me walking down the aisle alone with all eyes one me just made me cringe.
So for our ceremony, we had the MOH and Best Man walk down the aisle (cue Bahamas Already Yours), followed by our two flower girls and the ring bearer. Following them was…. a fake bride and groom. Oh yes! They happily walked down the aisle and our officiant, Jeremy Citron, began the ceremony as though nothing was amiss. He then continued the ceremony for an uncomfortably long amount of time, while our guests watched on looking pretty confused, until he finally yelled “April Fool’s!” The fake bride and groom (named Amanda & Steve, whose wedding I photographed five years ago!), then took their seats, Nick Cave’s Get Ready for Love began and Josh and I walked down the aisle. It was fun and hilarious and I cannot wait to see the whole video from it. For our ceremony, we had chosen all of the bits from Jeremy’s suggestions. We had two readings by friends. We wrote our own vows and had kept them a secret from one another until then. Both of us cried our eyes out and looking at the photos, a lot of other people did as well. While signing the documents, our MC Lana announced how the rest of the day would roll out. We were then announced husband and wife (cue The Darkness I Believe in a Thing Called Love). I remember looking out at everyone sitting there that day and thinking “Wow, this is really happening!”
The Cocktail Reception
After we walked down the aisle, the curtains were opened to reveal the reception area to the Barns. Gelato was the first thing that everyone saw and the idea was that everyone start with some of that since gelato was a big part of our engagement story. From there, the bar and food stations were open and ready to serve people. I have been to and have photographed a lot of cocktail receptions so had a good idea of what I wanted for ours. Since Wychwood Barns is a pretty big space, one thing that was important to us was that we contain the people. We wanted the sitting and dancing areas to be fairly compact so that people would be forced to chat and mingle. We wanted there to be a flow to the evening. We wanted some seating but not enough that people would choose a chair and stay there for the entire night. The area was set up so that there was dancefloor/DJ/Bar, followed by the guest tables and ending with the food stations. We ended up having 130 guests so chose to do 10 round tables of eight. Two of those tables we reserved for immediate family.
All food and drink was available for the entire reception. The idea was that if you were hungry, you ate. If you were thirsty, you drank. And if you wanted to dance, well get up on the dance floor! For the food, we had four stations. The first was a self-serve charcuterie table. Our friend Pat made a beautiful board to fit the table, along with rounds of wood that were randomly placed on it to create some different levels. For this table we then had a ridiculous amount of cheese (thanks Sarah & Kevin!), bread and meat from Bar Isabel and other things like olives and grapes, etc. The second station was run by the awesome Alex Molitz of Geraldine. He had made steak tartare and french onion soup. Next up was the equally awesome Brandon Olsen who made two amazing veggie dishes – one with lentils and the other with cauliflower. We then had oysters from Rodney’s Oyster House and finished up the food with a taco station by Andres of Fonda Lola. Everyone raved about the food so I think that we 1) did a good job at choosing our chefs and 2) had enough food to keep everyone happy. We also had a separate table by the dance floor with another board created by Pat. On this was there were dreamy doughnuts from Glory Hole Doughnuts. We had ordered one large one for us and had my cousin Sean create an awesome topper for it (thanks Sean!). One of our friends admitted to eating four of these so again, I think that we made a great choice in doing doughnuts instead of a cake. For the bar, we had two cocktails specific to our wedding (one with Hendrick’s Gin and one with tequila), along with a keg of Beau’s Lug-tread, some awesome wine and the other usual spirits. Everyone also seemed to enjoy the bar because there was basically nothing left at the end (always a sign of a good party!). Oh, and there was that non-alcoholic drink station because this is something important to have at any cocktail reception. Around 7:30pm, we had our friend Owen run up to Leah’s Bakery to get twenty cups of coffee for those who needed a caffeine kick.
We had minimal speeches at the wedding because we really were not looking to do all of the traditional formalities. They just are not who we are. About an hour after our reception started, our MOH and Best Man spoke and then we did a speech together. We had practised it the night before our wedding and had difficulty getting through it without crying. I thought that for sure on the day of, we could just breeze through it but alas, there was a total meltdown of tears. As my friend Katie told me, just let your emotions pour out and so we did. To look around that room and know that everyone who was there was there because of you. And that because of them, we are the people that we are today, was just incredible. After the speeches we did an awkward first dance (cue Stars My Favourite Book) and then that was the end of any formal wedding-like things.
The After Party
As mentioned earlier, since our wedding was on a weekday, we had to be out of Wychwood by 10pm. To me, this was a great thing. Often with cocktail receptions since you are not tied to a formal dinner setting and waiting to be served each course, etc. there is a lot of time doing the same thing (standing around talking, grabbing a drink, dancing, getting food and repeat). It’s fun and lovely to be free-flowing but after a few hours of it, a change of scenery is nice. Our ceremony was at 4pm so we had a solid five hours of food and drink before we had to make a move. At that point, we had a school bus arrive to take guests to the After Party, should they choose to go. This allowed guests who wanted to continue with the party to do so and for those that had to work early in the morning, they could head home at a reasonable time without feeling weird or rude about it. Taking a school bus with fifty of your friends to one of your most favourite bars is a pretty fun thing. We headed to the Dakota Tavern where the Oldies 990 played and we danced the night away. At midnight, we surprised everyone by having Poutini’s deliver poutine and it may have been one of the top ten moments of my life. #poutineforlife That night Josh and I stayed at the Drake Hotel. The last thing that I wanted to do was to stay at ours. It was a special night so you should do it up right. At least I think so.
The Day-After Brunch
We had a few friends who came from long distances to attend our wedding so it was important for us to spend more time with them. We hosted a brunch for them and our immediate family at the Drake Sky Yard at 11am the next morning. It was so fun to see everyone and to hear what they all thought about the wedding. I was also hoping to hear any juicy gossip of things that may have happened that we didn’t know about. But alas, the verdict was that everyone had a blast. We ate a ridiculous amount of food and had a Caesar or two. From there, we rolled home, feeling elated that we had pulled everything off. The day was perfect. Seriously and absolutely. There was nothing that I would have changed about it.
All wedding photos by Rebecca Wood and Jennifer Rowsom.