1. Bride’s Name: Aleksandra
2. Groom’s Name: Nathan
3. Venue(s): Estates of Sunnybrook, Coach House, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
4. Wedding Date: December 16th, 2007
5. Bridal Gown Designer: Bride. Constructed by Natasha at Alterations & Tailoring
6. Florist: Milton Greenhouses
7. Photographer: Calla Evans Photography
8. Videographer: Calla Evans Photography
9. Cake: Flour Fancies
10: Bridesmaid Dresses: Witnesses wore black and white.
11. Honeymoon: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
This wedding story is a bit different, as I am not the bride, but the photographer. As a photographer, I believe relationships are an integral part of good photographs. The relationship between those being photographed and the relationship they have with their photographer are all key elements in creating great images. While I try to establish a relationship with every person I find myself putting a camera in front of, be it a couple on their wedding day or a person who is sharing their life story with me, sometimes the relationship develops long before a camera ever comes into play.
I’ve known Aleks for a number of years, and not only is she one of my closest friends, she’s also the other half of my wedding photography business. Anyone who’s seen us working together can attest to the strength of our relationship. I considered myself very lucky to help with the planning and execution of her amazing day.
Coming from a theatre background, Aleks was able to acutely visualize not only how she wanted the day to look but also how she wanted it captured. In addition to the more typical digital images that I shot, we incorporated Super 8 motion film, polaroids, and a variety of plastic toy cameras used by the guests to create unique and quirky keepsakes of the day. Aleks was also able to involve her theatre cohorts in a variety of roles such as pianist, make-up artist and reader during the ceremony.
Aleks wanted to emphasize the winter setting and work with the holiday decorations at the venue without making this an explicitly Christmas-themed wedding. She’d had her heart set on a black and white wedding, but with the venue’s colour scheme of brown and yellow that wasn’t going to work. Inspiration came from a living room photo in Country Living where black and white were blended with off-whites, yellows, and browns, and silvery-teal as an accent. Through knitted elements and shabby-chic bric-a-brac she created a warm, intimate atmosphere.
It was important to the bride and groom that the day felt familiar and small in scale. Finding vendors and a venue that would accommodate their fewer than 30 guests proved something of a challenge. The couple found that The Coach House at Sunnybrook Estates fit their style and budget and comfortably accommodated their small number of guests. Cozy as it was, the The Coach House handily served a dual purpose: the ceremony was held upstairs and the Sunday brunch buffet reception, complete with french toast, bacon and omelette station—all of the bride’s favourite breakfast foods—was on the main floor looking out onto the patio and estate grounds.
The cake was a simple lemon cake with messy icing.
As they were footing the bill themselves, the bride and groom explored cost-saving options every step of the way, which meant planning each element themselves. A tight budget proved helpful as it helped maintain focus on the intimate feel they desired while keeping costs down.
The bride found very affordable invitations that fit her style at Wedding Paper Divas. The outside of the envelopes were designed by the bride with a theme that recurred in other paper elements at the wedding.
The minimalist backdrop for the ceremony was comprised of three large vases filled with tall branches from Ikea. The branches were decorated with inexpensive glass Christmas ornaments and pom poms painstakingly knitted and snipped into shape by the bride (she’s still finding bits of fluff now and then).
Tealights placed in inexpensive antique mason jars provided warm accents for the ceremony. (The mason jars are now storing dry goods in the couple’s kitchen.) The ring pillow was knitted by the bride.
The programs for the ceremony were designed as fancy shipping tags with the recurring motif at the bottom. They were hung from the back of each chair by a loop of yarn.
The guestbook was designed to look like a fancy schoolbook. Guests took Polaroid photos of themselves and pasted them into the book along with their messages.
The centrepieces were fishbowl vases filled with glass and plastic ornaments in non-traditional colours—white, silver, black, gold and chartreuse.
With so few guests, it was possible to personalize the seating chart. Inspired by Martha Stewart, a map of all the tables was printed with the guests names listed at each table in graphic form and placed in a simple black frame. The favours for the guests doubled as seating cards. Eclectic vintage teacups held the Father of the Bride’s own blend of tea in teabags adorned with handmade commemorative tags. The tags were made by printing a pattern on the back of white cardstock and cutting them out with a tag-shaped paper punch. Printing for the tags, programs, and guestbook pages was all done on the couple’s household computer printer.
The favours for the female attendants were lemon poppyseed cookies made by the Mother of the Bride, and the Father of the Bride’s special tea blend in handcrafted tea bags.
The bride always wanted a December wedding, and picked a day just one day away from her parents’ wedding anniversary. When her father learned what day the wedding was to take place he gently tried to persuade her to do it in the summer, reminding her that while she was hoping for snow to make the day picturesque, she had to be realistic—Toronto winters are not white, they’re grey, and mid-December to Christmas hadn’t been white in years.
December 16th brought 40 centimetres (16 inches) of snow, road closures, weather advisories and treacherous driving conditions. There were some last-minute alterations to the master schedule and a slight delay in the arrival of the mother of the groom (and her car full of guests), but on the whole the day ran smoothly, and the snow made for some great pictures. An oft-heard comment was, “Good thing the bride’s not wearing white – she’d be invisible!
The wedding outfit was designed by the bride, and constructed by her fabulous seamstress, Natasha. It was inspired by Dior’s New Look circa 1947, the bride’s favourite fashion period. Since this was one of the more expensive items, it was important to the bride that she could wear the pieces again. She chose quality materials that would wear well. The dress was cocktail length, in a summer-weight grey cashmere-wool blend. A detachable tulle underskirt gave the skirt its classic shape. The top was a corset-type jacket (that incidentally looks great with jeans!). The bride wore two hats: one for the ceremony and one for the reception. The hats were purchased at the One of a Kind Craft Show from Ophelie Hats, Montreal. The shoes were a piece from the bride’s wardrobe (Nine West).
The bouquet was white and off-white with a hint of purple, to complement the grey dress.
The groom wore a medium-grey suit, with an off-white tie with a brocade motif. The yellow and teal accents were picked up in his pocket square. (Tom’s Place, Toronto, Canada)
Overall, the day was comfortable, intimate and low key. Despite the frightful weather outside, everything went smoothly and everyone had a good time. With all their planning having come to fruition, the bride and groom were relieved to leave the next morning for their sunny honeymoon in Mexico.
Recommendations for future brides:
× Take advantage of friends with talents! Music, readings, makeup, and photography were all done by friends. They were as happy to share their talents as the couple was to have them there.
× Be organized and get things done as they come up—it will make for a stress-free lead-up to the big day, and you’ll be surprised to find that most things only require you to take a few minutes to make a decision. There are many (free!) online tools for budgeting and organizing and they help to keep the groom involved!
× Start thinking early on about what you need to have just so, and be willing to compromise on everything else.
× Pick those splurge points carefully. There’s a lot you can do yourself with enough planning, but some things just work better in the hands of a professional. For example, the bride had the opportunity to save some money and get a cake made at a local bakery that did not offer delivery. While the lower cost fit the budgeting scheme, upon further consideration the bride decided it was worth the extra money to have someone there on the day taking responsibility for delivering the cake and arranging it for presentation.
Ed. Note: Thanks to Mrs. Gummi Bear who sent me a link to the pictures from this wedding. They were so awesome I contacted the photographer and asked her to share more details!
Please go here for more information on submitting your Real Wedding for consideration.