Date and location of wedding:Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada — May 11, 2019
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Mitch and I had talked about having a wedding for years but because we kept being posted to remote places away from family and friends, we kept putting it off. When we were moving to Ottawa, we decided “This is it! It has to happen now!” However, that still meant that ALL of our families and some of our friends had to travel to make it to the wedding (I’m American and my family lives across the US, and Mitch’s family lives in Alberta). We decided on our venue because it was in the perfect location in downtown Ottawa (and overlooking Parliament), so all of our guests could fly in and have access to a huge variety of places without having to drive.
We also love the history of CP hotels, fabulous food, and, it turns, out, everything expensive, so it was easy to go with a general vintage/art deco ballroom theme but difficult to decide where to cut to stay on budget. In lieu of a rehearsal dinner the night before, we invited everyone for a scavenger hunt downtown as a wedding meet/greet and finished with dinner and drinks at an art deco brasserie.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was quite simple. Mitch was not a fan of anything resembling a ceremony and vows, and it was most important to me to celebrate with the people closest to us (most of whom we don’t see often) and that everyone has a good time. Mitch let me get away with a 10-minute long ceremony, which would be concluded with a champagne toast.
Our dogs are a cornerstone in our relationship, so it was important to have Riley and Penelope at the ceremony with us. We were so lucky that close friends wrangled them for us before and after the ceremony. My cousin, who we are both good friends with, officiated the wedding and did a lovely job. It was short, sweet, and hey, champagne!
Tell us about the reception: After the ceremony, we had a receiving line with me and Mitch and our puppers. There were treats set up so everyone could give us hugs and give the good dogs nibbles.
Speaking of nibbles, we had too much food at the reception. There were hors d’oeuvres during cocktails, and then we sat down to a plated four-course meal, followed by a dessert bar in lieu of a wedding cake, and late-night snacks to end. It was all so delicious, but almost nobody had enough room to even hit the dessert table.
Following dinner, we had a band play jazz and blues standards and vintage covers a la Postmodern Jukebox. Our first dance started as “Our Love is Here to Stay” and changed mid-tune to a vintage-style Rickroll.
Looking back by the end of the night, I was thrilled that our wedding felt like such a success. Not because every detail was undeniably “us,” not because we had the most amazing food, gorgeous venue, and flowers, great music, etc., but because our primary mission was fulfilled: everyone close to us had come together, helped out, became friends, and had a fabulous time enough that strangers commented on the fun we had. The smiles and the laughs from our incredible network of people are still our greatest takeaway from that day.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? To stay on budget, and because I am a crafty bitch (and a bit control freak), I DIYed almost everything at the wedding. The theme really should have been “Opulence! I MADE EVERYTHING!!!”
I bought my strapless dress at a sample consignment store but sewed a bodice overlay with an art deco pattern to wear for the ceremony and remove after, and sewed in my own bustle. I made my necklace and earrings. I made the vintage telegram save-the-dates, the invitations, and the programs (filled with fun goodness from Offbeat Bride).
I printed paper with the sheet music of our wedding song and made more than 500 paper flower decorations. I created all of our signs with vinyl lettering on mirrors, made the felt flower collars for the puppers’ ceremony garb, and instead of table numbers, I reprinted vintage concert posters from the ’20s and ’30s and then put in a bio with quirky trivia about each musician on the back of the frame.
The problem: for several reasons, I never decided on whether to hire a day-of coordinator. In the end, I just felt I ran out of time, and I enlisted my sister and cousin to help with setup and running the schedule for the night since they both have backgrounds that lend well to event management. To be honest, it was still a LOT, but I had many friends and family members pitch in to make everything come together, and I’m so grateful. I couldn’t have done it without them, and many of my fondest memories are from that.
Strung lights, exposed brick, and gorgeous floral arrangements are just a few of the details of this perfectly minimalist Toronto distillery district wedding. Yep, you read that right—a distillery wedding!
Stephanie and Andrew wanted to pay homage to one of their favorite places in Toronto by exchanging their I do’s somewhere meaningful. Adina Weddings & Events helped this couple take minimalism to a whole new level by carefully using dark red and blush tones in beautiful florals to keep the focus on the brick buildings. Thankfully, photographer Meghan Huryn captured this beautiful ceremony from start to finish. Keep scrolling to see what the buzz is all about in this distillery district wedding.
Stephanie and Andrew
Archeo, The Distillery District, Toronto, Ontario
Memorable First Looks and Wedding Speeches
The most memorable parts of the day were both my first look with my father and my first look with my husband-to-be. The private pre-ceremony and the ceremony were both perfect moments I’ll remember forever. Finally, one of my favorite memories was my father’s and the best man’s speeches which had me in tears from laughter and joy!
Making Concrete Favors Personal
My husband and I love the look of concrete. Funny enough, my husband is actually in the concrete industry so we used a lot of concrete pieces that we made together, including mini concrete candles we gave as favours for our guests.
DIY Distillery District Wedding
We created everything besides the flowers. We created the concrete centerpieces, table numbers, all the table decor, signage for entry, and seating charts.
Wedding Advice From the Bride
Don’t just go with trends. You should pick options that truly mean something to you and your partner.
Congratulations to Stephanie and Andrew on their beautiful wedding and shout out to Meghan Huryn for both capturing and sharing their day with us. Love all the DIY touches in this wedding? Check out our DIY wedding guide to get started and this DIY wedding roundup for more inspiration!
When picking out a venue, Sarah and Scott knew they wanted to celebrate their love out in nature. When they came across the Whispering Springs wilderness retreat, they immediately knew it was the spot for them. Once you see these pictures, you’ll know why! There’s nothing more magical than being surrounded by tall large trees while you profess your love to one another. We love what their photographer, Shannon Robbins, had to say about the nuptials:
“As a couple, Sarah and Scott love to escape the city and head up north every weekend. So they knew they wanted to incorporate their love of the outdoors/nature into their wedding day. Whispering Springs was the perfect venue to facilitate their dream day, as it was just 90 minutes from Toronto, had an incredibly unique and intimate ceremony space, outdoor fire pits that provided a Northern feel, and could accommodate their friends & family overnight in beautiful glamping tents.
Ultimately, these two wanted to keep things less traditional and instead enjoy a big party with their closest friends and relatives. Their wedding day style was classic and elegant, with the groomsmen in tuxes and the bridesmaids in olive green mix & match dresses. They wanted to contrast formal attire with a very casual atmosphere, which they did perfectly.”
“Don’t lose sight of what the day is really about. Have fun planning with your partner. Scott and I made pretty much every decision together and we wouldn’t change a thing because the day was a true reflection of us. Most importantly, surround yourself with supportive people and amazing vendors. I can honestly say that our day would not have been the same without each of the people we chose to work with.”
“We both grew up with Italian influences and we wanted to incorporate our Italian culture into the day. The figs in our place settings, speducci station during cocktail hour, the gnocchi served as a starter course, late-night pizza station and grappa bar were all small ways we did so.”
“Scott and I bottled our own wine in Toronto. We printed customized labels for the bottles and labeled them ourselves. For those staying on the property with us at Whispering Springs, each tent received a bottle of our homemade wine that we personalized with labels that said ‘Cheers to a lifetime of happiness SARAH+SCOTT 06.07.2019′
Holly and Steve have us swooning over their vintage-inspired wedding at The Chateau Laurier. Holly loves the glitz and glamour of the ’20s and ’50s so the minute she laid eyes on Knox Presbyterian Church, she knew it was the venue of her dreams. Photographers Joel & Justyna perfectly captured the church’s natural light, stained glass, and The Chateau Laurier’s old-world feel. The bridal party added to the magic with the bride’s royally inspired Lee Grebenau gown and the custom bridesmaid dresses designed by the maid of honor, the bride’s sister! With sparkle and glamourous touches, this wedding is definitely one meant for royalty.
I love history and knew I wanted our wedding to have that old nostalgic flair. I took inspiration from vintage style from the ’20s to the ’50s, moody Vanity Fair photography, and The Royal Weddings. I wanted the day to feel swanky, elegant, and romantic. My mom and I would joke about asking ourselves “Would Duchess Kate have this at her wedding?!?”
The Lee Grebenau Gown
I chose a slinky beaded gown from Lee Grebenau. I tried a lot of dresses but when I put this one on there was no comparison, it was perfect. I wanted my dress to be unique to me and it was important that I got my royal moment with the big princess skirt, so we created a custom removable overskirt with a 10-foot train. It was so dreamy. I couldn’t have felt more royal.
The Knox Presbyterian Church as Their Wedding Venue
I love the look of old English churches and wanted to find something that would be similar. The first time I saw Knox church I knew it was perfect. It has the most beautiful natural light, stained glass windows, stone pillars, and the longest center aisle. Its natural beauty needs very little decoration.
Plenty of DIY Went Into this Vintage Ottawa Wedding
I did a lot of DIY. I designed the invitation suite, programs, seating chart, menu’s, and our website. I also created a custom monogram, illustrations of our venues, and hand-lettered our welcome sign. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator so I was excited to be able to take on all the print work and web design myself.
Julianne and Sean’s candlelit Toronto wedding at Airship 37 is impossibly dreamy in every way! Since the couple got married in January, they knew the natural light would be gone by the time of our ceremony. Along with their expert planner, Shannon Bellisle, they got remarkably creative and imagined an intimate ceremony that was simple and made an impact. We think they totally pulled it off—and more! From Julianne, “Filling the space with candles brought a glow to the room that elevated the intimacy. This feeling was carried through with the room flip making our wedding reception feel like one big dinner party with our family and friends.” Babes, let this be your permission to think outside-the-box and do something totally unique for your day! If you’ve been dreaming of a totally romantic day, we can’t wait for you to see everything from the florals Hunt and Gather Floral created to the bride’s lovely BHLDN gown, all captured with beauty by Scarlet O’Neill.
I wanted my look to be natural and simple and I really just wanted to look like me! I chose a dress that was simple and that I would feel comfortable wearing throughout the night. My makeup artist nailed the natural look, and I chose a lipstick that I wear often in real life to complement some of the other colors we used.
Our photographer was amazing. She kept the mood light and kept us laughing all afternoon and evening. She knew all of the best places for photos at the historic hotel we stayed at. My favorite photo is one of the first look photos that our photographer took. There is a picture of me holding my bouquet and looking at Sean laughing – a picture that coincidentally looks exactly like a picture from my parents wedding. My mother passed away when I was young so this is a really special photo for me.
The most memorable part of the day was being able to see the ceremony room together before any guests were allowed into the room. We saw everything we had planned come together perfectly and it felt like our own little secret for those few minutes before everything kicked off.
My biggest piece of advice would be to bring on a coordinator to help pull all of the pieces together for you. I don’t know what I would’ve done without Shannon – from our countless calls before the wedding to our detailed itinerary keeping all of our vendors organized so that we could just spent that time together with our family and friends. She was truly a life saver!
Airship 37 was perfect because we were looking for a venue that had a cozy winter wedding vibe and one that would allow us to have lots of candles to create that romantic atmosphere.