As most of you know by now, I was recently married this year to my fantastic hubby who I had been dating for almost 8 years. And so, hopefully most of you can forgive me for being almost completely radio silent on this blog for the past 12 months, due to wedding planning.
Wedding planning was a process that was exhilarating, exciting and exhausting all at the same time. It made me feel giddy, impatient and broke all at the same time too!
Over the course of 12 months I got to know myself, Jake, our bridal party, our families and some amazing vendors! Starting with…
The first “wedding vendor” we met was our photographers, Sage and Sea Co. I use quotations because when we first met them, I didn’t know they would be our photographers. I had won a photoshoot from Sage and Sea Co.’s Facebook page in February 2017 and we had planned to have it in the fall when they were less busy and the colours were prettier. Little did I know, during the summer, Jake contacted Alli and Jared to let them in on his secret plan to propose to me during the photoshoot.
So, on Thanksgiving Monday in 2017, we set out to do our photoshoot at Bruce Peninsula National Park after a wonderful weekend spent in Tobermory and surrounding areas. Half way through the shoot, the photographers gave Jake the signal that they were ready for his grand gesture and he proposed to me on top of the beautiful cliffs overlooking the water.
One of the first things we both said on our drive back to Kitchener was that we needed to have Alli and Jared be part of our wedding day as well. So vendor one – check!
Oddly enough the date was the second thing we decided on after the photographers. But really, this decision was made long ago in my brain. I had always wanted to get married on my parents anniversary – September 29. I am a big fan of tradition and sentimental value of dates and history and couldn’t think of a better way to honour my parent’s beautiful marriage of 28 years than by following in their footsteps.
I joke that I also did it to help my Dad never forget their anniversary again.
The next thing I did was book a dress appointment with All Dressed in White in Corbyville, ON. All Dressed in White is a dress shop run out of the home of Elizabeth Cesareo. Liz and her husband, Frank, were my managers when I worked at Pizza Pizza in Belleville for about 3 years. I always told Liz I would come see her when it was time for a wedding dress, so I did!
I booked the appointment for October 28, just 19 short days after getting engaged. I tried on 4 dresses, tried on the first one again and decided that was it. Most quick and efficient shopping trip I’ve had in my life!
After some detailed spreadsheets and pros and cons lists, Jake and I finally decided on a venue. We were both interested in having the wedding ceremony and reception at the same location, knowing that a lot of our guests would be travelling from out of town to get to Belleville. So the end decision was to go with the Banquet Centre in Belleville, where we could have the ceremony downstairs of the building and the reception upstairs.
The venue supplied a lot of the decorations, all of the food and all of the alcohol. One of mine and Jake’s must-haves for the wedding was an open bar (which is an expensive must-have when you’re paying for the wedding yourselves, but very worth it!) and they did not disappoint with the bar service.
While I wouldn’t say I found the wedding shows very valuable in my circumstances because I basically had an idea of all the wedding vendors I wanted by week two of being engaged, I think they were a great way to feel pampered and savour the extra attention.
I went to only 2 wedding shows and took my mom to both, one in Kingston and one in Belleville. We got lots of free samples and I saw some neat ideas and entered some draws and just got to spend some great quality time with my mom!
If you are a stressed bride, I totally recommend these shows because you will have all your questions answered in just one room.
One of the next vendors we knew immediately was our DJ and music vendors. Jake has a family friend who has his own DJ’ing business and always said he would be more than happy to provide his services for our big day so right after the engagement we secured him for the big day.
For the ceremony music, though, I wanted something very personal and sentimental to walk down the aisle to. So I asked Jake’s younger sister, Erin, to preform the ceremony music on the piano while her friend Melanie sang. They agreed and practiced so much leading up to the big day! Even though I know they were very nervous, they still preformed and did an incredible job!
Keeping on the theme of having our wedding all about family connections and personal relationships, we wanted to be married by someone who had a personal connection to us as well. We contacted our minister from the Belleville church who would be legally ordaining the wedding by signing the license, and asked if he would allow Safron, another family friend who is heavily involved in the church, to preform the ceremony. He graciously agreed.
It was important for us to have Safron marry us, as she had known Jake growing up individually through her great friendship with his mom, she had known me growing up individually through working with my mom and she had known the both of us as a couple since we started dating when we were 14.
For some of the general decorations that the venue was not supplying such as flowers and chair covers for the ceremony, I turned to wedding buy and sell pages on Facebook. I’ve said this before in a previous post but those sites were an amazing saving grace during this planning process. Because I started looking on the pages right after we got engaged, I was able to catch the people who had just had their fall weddings selling their items, so all of the colours of the items matched my theme. I got several buckets of artificial flowers in our colours plus five bridesmaid bouquets for under $100, plus 197 chair covers for just $100 (the venue was charging $2.50 per chair cover just to rent!)
We definitely saved a lot of money using these sites.
Because I bought my wedding dress at All Dressed in White, Liz offered us a discount on bridesmaid dresses if we ordered them there as well, so we did. Some of the girls and I went to the shop to take a look at the dresses and decided on the Eliza and Ethan multi wrap dress in burgundy.
If I was allowed to wear a bridesmaid dress on my wedding day, I would have. Those dresses were so gorgeous and flattered every body type because you could tie it any way you wanted and the material was so soft and breathable. The girls all loved it and although it was slightly out of our original anticipated price range, they all agreed it was worth it because you could wear it again later for a different occasion.
Suits (Groom and Groomsmen)
The groom and groomsmen suits I tried not to be a part of too much, because men’s suits confuse me. Cumber buns, ties or bow ties, vests or no vests, pocket square designs… All of it was very confusing. But the men ended up purchasing their suits from Moore’s, as they have a great wedding special where when your party rents 5 suits, you get a free custom suit or a $500 shopping spree.
Don’t be fooled though, because Moore’s is a tricky business that likes to hide things in the fine print. What they don’t tell you, is that as a groom, you cannot apply that free custom suit or $500 shopping spree to your wedding suit. While this was an annoying clause, we still took advantage of the deal using the $500 shopping spree, as it comes into effect 2 weeks before your wedding date. So on the 15th of September as soon as the spree came into effect, we went and got Jake’s dress shirt, tie, pocket square, all those small details that are very expensive for free using the spree.
I designed our own centerpieces, using some of the artificial flowers that we had purchased on the buy and sell sites as well as beautiful cedar round pieces of wood that my Dad and I had cut ourselves. We received several compliments on the table rounds and because of the unique shape of the wood, people were curious as to where they could get their own. Many people took the centerpieces home with them at my request, which was a great touch for them to have a keepsake of their own.
I designed and printed all of our invitations, menus and RSVP cards myself. Because my day job is in communications and I am used to designing materials every day, this was a great way to save some money through the process.
I also discovered while doing them that I love designing invitations! So if anyone needs help in the future with their materials, let me know! I am cheap (free) and I like to think I do a good job.
Another family friend we knew from the beginning we would have join us as a vendor was Erin Huyck, our wedding hair stylist. Erin is a hairdresser at Dish salon in Belleville and is amazing at what she does.
She was kind of to offer me a free hair trial as a family friend so it was great to spend lots of time with her and see what the style would look like before the big day.
Pro tip: I scheduled the hair trial for the same day as my first fitting with the wedding dress, so that I could see what the hairstyle would look like with the style of dress I had picked out as well – two birds with one stone!
After some unfortunate circumstances prevented our original choice of makeup artist to join us on the wedding day, I was able to find another makeup artist in the area 2 months out from the wedding (which is last minute in wedding timelines).
This is where the wedding buy and sell groups saved my butt again, because I just posted a “searching for” request in a couple of the groups and was swarmed with notifications of suggestions.
Luckily, Maura-Jo had an opening on our wedding date and agreed to tentatively hold it, let me come for a free make up trial before deciding if I wanted to use her services and let me book in.
This was one of our only vendors who we did not have a previous personal connection with and while Maura-Jo did a great job overall, I can see where having personal connections is better in many cases as there was certain things she did that we didn’t agree with as clients but were too nervous to tell her.
A fun wedding event that I didn’t have to plan was my bridal shower! My incredible sister and Maid of Honour, Marissa, planned this beautiful bridal shower for me and invited all of my close lady friends. It was so great to see so many generations of strong, capable women in one room. And of course it was fun to have all the attention for an afternoon too!
My sister planned lots of fun games like word scrambler games, get to know each other games and more. Although she wasn’t able to attend herself because she got called back to work early, it is so nice to look back on that day and think of what an amazing job she did.
My awesome work family also threw me a cute surprise bridal shower just 10 days before the wedding with lots of generous gifts and fun games and delicious food. So fun!
Jack and Jill
The. Worst. Part. Of. Wedding. Planning.
At least for me. I know lots of people have great experiences, but mine was pure torture. I was more stressed planning this Jack and Jill than I was planning the whole wedding. We had originally confirmed a location for the Jack and Jill right away in March but due to some unforeseen conflicts with involved parties, we had to find a new location. We didn’t find a new location until 3 weeks before the event. And the only reason we found a new location was because of Jake’s incredible mom and step dad who found us a hall on the Trenton Air Base where his step dad works. They also covered the cost for renting the hall which was very generous of them.
Aside from the location difficulties, we also faced the problem of not being able to have games of luck or chance at the event because it was now being held in a hall, so we had to cancel several of the pre-planned events. Luckily, we have some really smart people in our lives who helped us get around that through a silent auction table instead of a raffle table and helping to bulk up our door prize.
But really in the end, it was more about having people together to celebrate our upcoming marriage that we might not have been able to invite to the wedding and spending time with everyone which in the end we did. Jake’s mom put together an amazing trivia game, everyone enjoyed the cash bar and we did end up raising a lot of money for the wedding which was fantastic.
But be warned: if you are planning a jack and jill, get LOTS of help and plan EARLY.
The lovely ladies in my bridal party were of varying ages and knew me so well, knowing that I don’t drink or party often, that they planned an incredible, relaxing bachelorette party for me. In March 2018, my parents had just bought a fishing lodge, Great Spirit Lodge, in Temagami, ON so my bachelorette party was more like a bachelorette-weekend-away-to-relax-and-drink-wine-and-sit-by-the-water-party. PERFECT!
We went on a beautiful boat tour, had long, deep chats with each other and had delicious homemade pizza for dinner with to-die-for chocolate cheesecake as dessert. Did I already say the weekend was perfect?
Jake and I are so blessed to have so many incredible people in our lives as family and friends. One of these family friends being Beth Lake, who we know from our church in Belleville and who I know from doing 4-H when I was younger.
Beth is an incredibly talented seamstress and took care of my dress alterations for me. It was so easy working with Beth, I just went to her house, tried on the dress, she put some pins in the dress and away I went. On the Thursday before the wedding I went to try it on again and she had a few small extra alterations so I left again and came back to get it on Friday.
Beth is so meticulous and dedicated that when I tried it on Friday night back at the hotel room with my bridesmaids and I noticed some of the fabric of the dress was sticking out strange at the sides, I texted her for advice on how to hide the fabric pieces and instead of sending me tips, she sent me what time she would be at the hotel room early on the wedding morning to grab the dress and go do further alterations before the ceremony. And she wouldn’t let me give her a cent more for her generous extra service. I cannot recommend Beth highly enough – she is a super woman.
For our wedding favours, we wanted something personal but not something people would never use again. We decided to do coasters!
My dad brought the birch wood from Temagami and we cut it into about 2” thick coasters.
Jake had an amazing teacher at Centennial Secondary School for his welding course in high school who agreed to help us make a brand to stamp on the coasters. So I designed the brand on Adobe InDesign, sent the file to the teacher, who then recreated it in his special program that (by some sort of magic) ended up making a metal brand that we could heat up and stamp the design onto the coasters.
Now, I make the process sound really easy. It was actually about 3 hours of Jake, my dad and myself (mostly Jake and my dad) sweating over this hot brand and pressing as hard as they could on these coasters in the middle of a hot August day until we made about 200 of them.
But they turned out beautiful and tons of people were asking me if we had extras so they could have a set of 4.
While vows don’t require a vendor, I thought I would throw this in here because it was something Jake and I had spent a great deal of time thinking about. We decided to do personalized vows for our wedding day.
This can be a tricky decision to make, because one person in the relationship may be more comfortable with writing or sharing these personal anecdotes than the other. But Jake and I decided that we’ve had 8 long years of memories and letters written back and forth to each other that we would like to make the ceremony as personal as possible.
For a lot of our guests, this was their favourite part. I had lots of people come up to me after the ceremony saying how beautiful our vows were and how sweet it was that we wrote them for each other. For example, I included some concert references in my vows because that’s Jake’s passion and he included more sentimental and travel references which is my passion.
After the wedding, I framed our vows and will have them hanging in our house one day.
With our framed vows hanging will also be our “guest book” which was a frame that we had made for people to sign. A guy Jake works with, Joe, has his own business of making wood items such as coffee tables, chairs, etc. called Woods Custom Furniture so we enlisted him to make this large, live-edge frame for us.
It was a gorgeous frame and had plenty of room for people to sign and write a sweet message. It will be something we cherish forever!
We didn’t want a guest book that people would sign and we would never pull out and look at again, this way we will see it every time we pass it hanging.
Because all of my bridesmaid’s bouquets were artificial from the buy and sell site, it gave me a little more money in the budget to get real flowers for my bouquet. I will tell you, bouquets are not cheap. My one bouquet cost more than 5 artificial bouquets. Crazy!
It was gorgeous though, it was a cascading bouquet with deep red roses, light pink roses, eucalyptus and other beautiful greens and was from Metro in Belleville.
To make the cost worth it and to preserve the day forever, I dried out my flowers for 4 weeks and then assembled them in a shadow box with an “S” to hang between our vows and beside our picture frame.
Our cake was also an item we received from a vendor that we didn’t personally know and funnily enough, I never even met her! But Cara-Lee from Sweets Bakery did an amazing job taking a photo I emailed her with a hap-hazard description and making my dream become a reality. A delicious reality!
We still have cake in our freezer for that one year anniversary tradition and we can’t wait to pull it out and eat it again.
If you made it to the end of this (my longest post on this blog ever), I congratulate you. It was an incredible day that I could go on talking about forever and ever, but I promise this is my last blog post about the big day. I just wanted to make sure I gave credit where credit was due and have this great recap to look back on in the future when I want to reminisce about the best day ever.
Overall, wedding planning was definitely my cup of tea. I loved making all my critical paths, meeting my deadlines and checking off my to-do items. I’m a big fan of having all the attention so all the mini events and the big day were great for my self-esteem too!
Leading up to the wedding, everyone’s advice to me was “make sure you slow down and take it all in, take a moment with Jake just the two of you to enjoy the day”. This is well meaning advice, but unrealistic. No matter how much you try to slow things down, the day will be done and over in a flash. I feel like the wedding morning took forever, the minutes feeling like hours while we got ready and then all of a sudden we were getting in the Dodge Durango my dad rented to take us to the wedding and it’s like I blinked and Jake and I were back, stumbling to the hotel room after one too many celebratory drinks.
My advice, to anyone getting married in the near future or far future, is to just document the day as best you can. We were so blessed to have Alli and Jared there on the day taking tons of photos and videos that we will be able to look back on for years to come. And to not take anything too seriously! I surprised myself with how calm I was the entire wedding day. I was just in this bubble of bliss, thinking about how much I love Jake (no seriously, I soft cried getting my hair done just thinking about how great he is). Luckily, only one thing went wrong the entire day and in the end it was a tiny slip up that will just be a funny memory to look back on one day.
All in all, I had an amazing wedding and am now officially a part of an amazing family – the Spencer’s – and so, a new blog is born.
Until next time,