Where to start!? The last year and a half have been so busy. We got engaged on Christmas day of 2011 and scheduled our wedding for June 2013. We looked at quite a few venues, but right from the beginning knew we wanted something more personal than a hall or a restaurant. We wanted something that could include a lot of outdoor space and that would be great for a smaller, intimate wedding of about 50 people. There were a few options that we liked, but eventually we decided on a country wedding at my aunt’s cottage in the Laurentians on Barron Lake. My aunt Anna has been kind enough to share her cottage with us for my whole life, treating it like a family destination that’s open for all of us to use year-round. We simply couldn’t be luckier. I have grown up going there every summer. It’s where I learned to paddle, grew to love the water, and shared many a special moment with my family around delicious meals and campfires. It holds a special place in my heart and I was so pleased when Anna agreed to have us host our wedding there. Michael has grown to love it there too over the last 8 years of our relationship.
Initially, it was all about finding somewhere personal. But as things went on we realized that choosing an outdoor location away from the city means arranging a lot of logistics… and things did become a bit cumbersome. Luckily we had a lot of time to plan, and a lot of people willing to help us. We couldn’t have done it without them.
It all began with looking at the property, the gardens, and the area where we could build a shelter or erect a tent in case of rain. We chose to make something rather than rent, with the idea of re-using the lumber to build a cabin on the property at a later date.
We had a load of earth delivered and began the process of working on some landscaping in the summer of 2012. The gardens were all refreshed with new plants in the fall, low areas were filled in and levelled out, stone steps were levelled, railings were added, and little seating areas were created. Grass seed was scattered, and LOTS and lots of ferns and lilies had to be ripped out or tamed in the area where we intended to build. Lots of time and labour were put in by our best man & maid of honor, as well as my parents who worked tirelessly (whether cooking or cleaning for us while we worked or spending time right from the wee hours of the morning moving wheel barrow loads of earth).
Around that time we chose our photographer, Chelsea Gray from Blushing Bride Studio. I’d always admired her work and chose to book her right away to make sure to hold the date. For all of our other vendors we chose mostly friends. Graham Hood, a chef and teacher with superb talent who has been a good family friend of mine for some time, agreed to cater the event. Our good friend Morris offered to be his sous-chef for the evening and also gifted us all the wine that was served. My friend and talented floral designer Krista Giguère did all of our arrangements, and our friends Melania and Jean-Patrick performed live music. Simon Godin was responsible for our delicious chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream. We asked Jennifer Pah, a childhood friend of my mother’s, if she would officiate the wedding for us. It was so lovely to have someone we know and love do this, to make it that much more personal and meaningful.
Last year we began collecting chairs, cutlery, wine glasses, champagne flutes, dinner plates and cake plates. We found them at garage sales, flea markets, borrowed from friends and picked from the garbage. We had a whole mish-mash of things but we liked the eclectic look and knew it would fit with the relaxed feeling of it all.
A few weeks before the wedding the pavilion was built. Our family friend Alan came from Toronto to help my dad and Michael build it. At the same time a platform was made for us to get married on in the woods, and the four long reception tables were made. In the winter and spring my mom began making tablecloths and napkins from natural cotton she bought by the roll on craigslist. My dad made handmade ceramic cups for everyone to use at the table for water and then take home with them, which were each individually stamped with our initials and wedding date.
Last fall I hosted a crafting night where myself and friends made all of our invitations as well as paper bunting from vintage atlases, and all the place card tags.
June was really busy with all of the construction, and then we had cedar mulch delivered for the floor of the reception tent. We knew it would be the most economic option that wouldn’t get muddy and could be danced on with bare feet. We got enough to be able to mulch all the gardens and create paths that would prevent muddy areas from appearing in case of rain.
Our other logistical issue was where people could park, and whether they might like to stay the night after drinking. It’s only an hour back to the city, but we had lots of interest for staying the night. We were lucky enough to have four neighbours offer up their cottages for free to house our guests for the evening. We couldn’t have managed without them because our cottage became a hubbub of activity leading up to the wedding with quite a few mouths to feed and lots of mess around. Our caterers absolutely needed the kitchen next door to work their magic.
The wedding day turned out beautifully, with almost everything working to perfection. The thunderstorm hit around 10PM, forcing our guests to stay together and dance and party into the wee hours of the night under our pavilion. We didn’t get to do our late night campfire, but my brother still fired off some fireworks in celebration, and a great time was had. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time. Our friend Joanna made a little video the day after the wedding, which we are so thankful for, you can see it here. And here are some shots I took of my bouquet 2 days later…
Many thanks to everyone I love for their endless hours of help and sleepless nights, for putting up with me when I was stressed, and sharing in the joy. I love you all so much!