Category Archives: Wedding

Our Toronto Wedding: Ceremony and Reception

(plus I have a couple videos from our wedding videographer in Cuba at the very end of this!)

All photos in this post are again by Nicole Kirk Photography.

So I left off right before the ceremony. After our first look at Brickworks, Nicole, our photographer, drove us over to the venue, only a five minute drive so it was very convenient. We got married at the Globe Bistro, a restaurant in Toronto at Danforth and Broadview, and it was just perfect.

We wanted to be officially married before our destination wedding in Cuba, so our initial plan was to go to City Hall and then take our family out for dinner, however the logistics of that ended up being a bit more complicated than we anticipated. So, we started looking around at small wedding venues in the city and in the end the Globe Bistro won. Okay honestly we didn’t look at very many places, we just really liked this one. We went for brunch there a few times, loved the food and service, and decided that was the place for us.

They had a perfect room upstairs for the reception, and the restaurant was big enough that the ceremony could take place there as well (SO convenient, this way no one had to move to a different location). And since it was a restaurant it was already a nice space, we barely had to decorate, and they handled all the food and drinks (and servers, and plates and cutlery, and table linens and all that stuff that you might have to rent elsewhere). It was easy peasy planning-wise. I’m so, so glad we got married there.

Okay, onto the ceremony. I felt very calm all morning. In the week leading up to the wedding, I just wanted to get the show on the road already! I think seeing the venue with just Evan the day before also helped to calm my nerves. I was just excited and happy and ready to marry Evan.

My handsome dad walked me down the aisle to, once again, the instrumental version of Jack Johnson’s Better Together (I used it at both weddings, I just love it so much).

And my most wonderful groom was onstage waiting for me.

Literally we had a stage, the restaurant used to be a theatre, so that was nice. I felt very important.

We may have been low key with the decor and the details, but the ceremony was something that was very important to us. I still can’t get over how amazing it was, and a lot of that had to do with our officiant Heather. She has been a longtime blog reader of mine who also happens to be a United Church minister, and actually reached out to me through my blog and offered her services to us when I wrote that we were getting married. We met up with her for lunch a couple of times in our planning days and she could not be a nicer or more genuine person. She was so helpful when we were planning out our ceremony and worked with us to make sure that it was thoughtful and meaningful to us. I loved working with her. She did such a great job during the ceremony. Her voice was loud enough for everyone to hear and full of joy and charisma. I feel so lucky to have had her.

Aside from our families, I only had two friends in attendance — my good friend Beth from high school and another friend of mine since elementary school, Allison, who was Beth’s date (which worked out so well, my mom was so excited to see both her and Beth!). Beth and Michael (Evan’s brother, aka Brotherman aka the Best Man) stood up there as witnesses for us.

And Evan’s cousin kicked off our ceremony with a really great reading that Evan and I chose. Here it is.

From The Beginning to End by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way.

All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, ” You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed — well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another —  acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this; is my husband, this- is my wife.

We both had a hard time holding it together during that. We found that reading while we were internet searching it really resonated with both of us. I love that it is practical and less about the romantic, two people becoming one, soulmate bullshit. We both said that we knew very early on that we would get married, and we had all of those conversations. We’ve been all in for a while and our wedding was just the next step in the process, so it felt very fitting. Also, it said “lover” in it and I like that.

Heather said some other nice things, and then before our vows we did our question of intention, which was:

Do you Evan promise to love Lindsey and respect her, to share your life and your dreams, to build with her a home that is a place of love, happiness, commitment and growth?

I do.

Do you promise to be a companion to her in all of her successes and failures, her happiness and sadness, to always give to her your unwavering support and above all else, the freedom to be Lindsey?

I do.

Do you Lindsey promise to love Evan and respect him, to share your life and your dreams, to build with him a home that is a place of love, happiness, commitment and growth?

I do.

Do you promise to be a companion to him in all of his successes and failures, his happiness and sadness, to always give to him your unwavering support and above all else, the freedom to be Evan?

I do. I really do!

My favourite part of our question of intention was the part about the freedom to be ourselves — that is something I think is so important in a relationship and not something that I’ve always felt, until Evan came along.

And our vows, which I loved. We had talked about writing our own, but in the end we found some that again resonated with us and felt fitting to us. Here they are.

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p class=”p1″>Evan/Lindsey, I promise to be your lover, companion and friend,
Your partner in parenthood,
Your ally in conflict,
Your greatest fan and your toughest adversary.
Your comrade in adventure,
Your student and your teacher,
Your consolation in disappointment,
Your accomplice in mischief.
This is my sacred vow to you, my equal in all things.

I particularly liked the mention of lover, again, and the ending with “my equal in all things.” Also comrade in adventure and accomplish in mischief — this felt very true to us.

Then we had Heather read the Blessing of the Hands, which we also found somewhere online and just loved. Here it is:

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children (and all your cats).

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled with age, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

That sure started the ol’ waterworks. I think that is such a beautiful blessing.

After this we lit a candle for our loved ones who are no longer with us, specifically my D-Dad and Nana, and Evan’s Bubby and Nana, and said a little prayer for them.

<

p class=”p1″>Although we cannot see you
We know that you are here
Smiling down, watching over us
As we say “I DO”
Forever in our hearts
Forever in our lives
And so we say our vows
In loving memory of you
This light shines
as a symbol of life
and love remembered.

And finally, we have the exchange of the rings.

Evan/Lindsey, as you place the ring on Lindsey‚Äôs/Evan’s finger, please repeat after me:

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p class=”p1″>With this ring, I marry you and bind my life to yours.
It is a symbol of my eternal love,
My everlasting friendship,
And the promise of all my tomorrows.

And we sealed our vows with a kiss.

And I got my lipstick all over Evan’s face and he looked like Howdy Doody for all our family photos.

We signed all the legal things…

And then we were officially husband and wife!!!!!!! YEAHHHHHHH.

And then it was party time!

Our guests mingled in the reception room and ate h’ors doeuvres and drank mimosas while we took family photos — this was originally going to happen outside but it was raining quite heavily so we just did it right there on the stage and it turned out well (they say it’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day!). Because we only had 35 people in attendance we were able to get pictures with absolutely everyone, which was great. Tracey, our wedding planner was a HUGE help in wrangling people for pictures. We had a list of photos we wanted (highly recommend doing this) but I still don’t know what we would have done without her.

For the reception room we kept it simple with the decor and just did tulips with a local florist as centrepieces (Tracey also arranged this for us — and the florist brought them over and then came and picked them up afterwards, which was fantastic).

We also put framed pictures of Evan and I on the tables in mismatched frames, and our guests could take them home if they wanted to, you know, adorn their homes with our faces.

The mimosas were a’flowin!

Evan’s uncle kicked things off with the most perfect toast.

And then it was food time. We had a brunch buffet which included a veggie frittata, baked French toast, bacon, sausage, a fruit plate with yogurt and granola, greens with field mushrooms and roasted tomatoes, potato salad, and an assortment of pastries and sour dough toast.

Ahhh I love brunch food so much and it was all really delicious. A lot of people say that have trouble eating on their wedding day but I had ZERO issue with that at all. I cleaned that plate and went back for more.

Evan and I sat at the head table with our moms, Brotherman and family. Throughout brunch we did speeches, and Brotherman’s was so great. It was thoughtful, funny without being embarrassing for Evan (not that he would have cared) and with just a littttttle bit of sap.

And my friend Beth’s speech about our longtime friendship was touching as well. She may have shed a tear, or several million ūüėČ

It was cute. When I had my heart shattered into pieces when I was 17 she was the one who came straight to my house with a pint of ice cream. She also talked about how bad of a driver I was in HIGH SCHOOL. (I’m much better now, but you may remember the Captain Hook story…whoops).

And then my dad got up there and was so genuinely touching because he got choked up and left in the middle of what he was saying and sort of left us all hanging. I was like “Dad are you going to close this out with a toast or what?” so he had to come back up and finish that off.

It made us laugh harder than I have laughed in a long, long while.

We didn’t do dancing or anything, just mingling. I loved that it was low key and I had time to go around and sit and chat with everyone. Perfect!

My cousin Allie and her daughter Nora came all the way from BC! (remember Allie’s wedding? One of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to) I was so happy they were there.

And then Evan and I got up there to do our thank you speech together as husband and wife!

Evan started with mentioning that he had planned and written down everything he wanted to say and my plan was just to wing it, and he pointed out that was very representative of our relationship.

Which got a good laugh. And he is not wrong.

I just had a big love burst for him while I was typing this.

After a few hours of eating and drinking and chatting with our guests, we cut the cake. The cake! It was made by a former coworker of mine at Girl Guides, Cathy, and gurrrrrlllll, she slayed.

Evan had one request and that was NO. FONDANT. So we had all the buttercream and it was fabulous. I love that she matched my bouquet with the flowers.

The top layer was coconut with coconut buttercream, and the bottom layer was vanilla lemon. SO FREAKIN DELICIOUS. If you’re in the Toronto area and need a cake check out CakesByNaCJ, I highly recommend!

All in all, it was a wonderful day and I could not have been happier with the way everything turned out.

And then we went off and did it all again in Cuba, as you may know.

So if you made it to the bitter end and you don’t feel wedding’d out yet, here’s a video of our Varadero ceremony, I haven’t shared it here yet!

I still don’t really know what our officiant is saying (well I caught “thank you for choosing our hotel”), but I like it anyway. And a bonus video of us frolicking around with our bridal party, which is one of my favourite things.

I have no regrets about having two small weddings instead of one larger one. I feel so lucky that we were able to have an intimate celebration with so many people who mean so much to us. I’m just going to say, we also saved a lot of money doing it this way, so I definitely recommend.

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Our Toronto Wedding – Part One

Our six month anniversary is coming up in about a week so I figure it’s about time I recap our Toronto wedding!¬†I did talk a little bit about it the day before¬†we went off to Cuba and got married all over again, but I didn’t give very many details. It’s time.

All photos in this post are by¬†Nicole Kirk Photography¬†— and she just killed it. I love them so much. Highly recommend Nicole if you’re looking for a very reasonably priced wedding photographer in Toronto! I feel so, so lucky to have all the pictures we do, from both weddings.

On the freezing, rainy morning of Sunday, April 30, I got up at 4:30, got myself and my mom out the door, picked up Evan’s mom, and drove¬†to Evan’s cousin’s to get ready for the big day.

Just a tip — if you feel like maybe you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to start getting ready on your wedding day,¬†don’t have your heart set on a morning ceremony. I did not fully consider this when we decided we wanted a brunch wedding, but the entire ordeal was over by 4pm and I was home in my pajamas, legally married, drinking wine on the couch with my new husband and my mom (romantic!) by dinner time so…I have no regrets.

The ladies all got ready at Evan’s family’s house¬†which worked out perfectly as it was close to our venue and they were the best hosts. Breakfast was served and the mimosas were¬†flowing when we arrived at 6am!

Evan and I chose to have a very small family-only ceremony followed by a brunch reception so¬†we unfortunately could not have the bridal party in attendance (that would have added 12 people and that alone would have increased our wedding size by 33%), so I didn’t do the whole “get ready with your girls” thing on my wedding day. I saved that¬†for my Cuba wedding day, which included all of (well, most of) our friends. But I had our moms and Barb, and¬†Tracey¬†(my amazing wedding planner — more about Tracey later),¬†Natalie¬†(my amazing hair and makeup artist), and¬†Nicole¬†(my amazing photographer) so I had a good support team!

I loooved my dress. I was originally undecided on what I wanted to wear for this wedding but when we were shopping for my Cuba wedding dress my good pal Emily found a long bridesmaid’s dress that would work perfectly in cream! So my “wedding” dress was actually a bridesmaid dress. It’s pretty much the same thing, just no train. Honestly if you’re wedding dress shopping consider trying a bridesmaid dress — this one was about $250, so MUCH less expensive than a traditional wedding dress.

I had mostly the same accessories that I used in Cuba, right down to the flowers, which are faux from Ashley at¬†From The Stem Up. I still have¬†my bouquet,¬†I’ll probably have it forever, and I still swear¬†those flowers look and feel real.

And my Wifey purse which I JUST realized actually says “help me” upside down, haha.¬†And I had the amazing mermaid spoon bracelet from Lisa, my very bestest. She sent this to me in advance to wear since she couldn’t be there¬†for the Toronto wedding¬†(she lives in Calgary and I know she felt really weird about missing this, but she was my MOH and was at the Cuba wedding — her parents were at this one!)

After Natalie and her assistant slayed our hair and makeup (I’ve never looked better and doubt I will ever look better), my mom helped me into my dress.

It was a really nice moment. I’m so glad we could have our moms at both our weddings. My mom was SO happy and beautiful.

Love that picture and I’m so glad I have it.

Evan’s cousin and Tracey also helped me out with the dress situation (I wore the same belt that I wore on my dress in Cuba).

You know you have an amazing wedding planner when she helps you get your dress sorted out!

And you know you have an amazing photographer when she makes you look like this.

We had such a great relaxing morning. It was the perfect spot to get ready and I’m so thankful to Evan’s family for letting us take over their beautiful house!

Evan and I had decided to do a first look, mainly because we wanted to get some pictures of just the two of us and the best time to get that done was before the ceremony. At around 9:30 Tracey drove me over to Evergreen Brickworks, a former industrial site turned park, to meet my husband to-be.¬†Evan was already there with our photographer, he got a ride from his best friend in our condo building — an 88-year-old man who Evan helps with computer stuff.¬†After Tracey dropped me off she drove over to the venue and helped them finish setting everything up and make sure my music was ready to go. Talk about wedding planner extraordinaire. She was the best and I’m so glad we had her. I worried about NOTHING all day.

Check out this fine slice of prime rib waiting for me.

I’ve¬†talked about Brickworks before on here¬†— it used to be within walking distance of my old Toronto apartment if you took the trails through the Don Valley. Evan and I hiked here back in¬†the days when we were first dating¬†so it seemed fitting to do a¬†first look and photos here. The weather was not as nice this time though. It was absolutely FREEZING and so windy. I am so cold in all of these photos and I¬†thought for sure you would be able to tell, but I’m so glad you can’t.

Oh heyyyyy, surprise! Look at my dress! LOOK AT IT!

He liked.

So after that sort of anti-climactic first look thing (well it is, we were excited to see each other but we spend every day together, the only difference this time is that we looked really good) we just canoodled around with each other and tried not to look cold while Nicole snapped photos.

But I was genuinely so happy and excited.

It’s a good spot for photos, ’cause they have it all! The¬†hipster¬†backgrounds, the nature, the little lake! It felt fitting for us. And it rained the rest of the day but it held off for this, so I was grateful for that.

You can’t even tell we’re in the city. Almost.

I love that we did that. Getting up early and standing around in the cold for an hour was worth it.

Ceremony and reception stuff to come because this is getting quite lengthy.

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La Habana

Our amazing Cuban wedding photographers, AV Smile, had several add-ons to the packages they offered, one of them was a photo¬†session in Havana for an extra $200. We figured why not. We’re here, and we’re already spending all this money (although our photographers¬†were very reasonable and so beyond amazing for the price we paid), and¬†we’re never going to have the chance again to traipse around Havana obnoxiously in our wedding attire. It is an amazing city. We did a private tour last year that I never ended up blogging about, because we saw SO MUCH in one day that I was just overwhelmed. I wanted to do it justice and I didn’t know where to start.

Anyway, we decided to do it. I woke up at 6am on Tuesday after the catamaran day, had my bestie curl my hair and help me get into my wedding dress (THANK YOU AGAIN LISA!!!), and then we waited for Alex (the main photographer) in the lobby. All our Toronto friends and our moms were leaving that morning so it was cute that I got to hang out with them for a bit in my wedding dress before they left.

Alex brought a driver and an assistant lighting guy with him. They picked us up in a classic car, and we were off!

Havana is about a two hour drive from Varadero, but the entire way is beautiful and interesting — there is so much to see! The time flew by. I should probably tell you to get ready for a ton of pictures, though considering my posts over the last couple of weeks you should be prepared by now. We had over 200 pictures from Havana and I’ve cut it down to only about 50 for this, which was so hard. Our pictures are all so amazing, it’s hard to pick favourites! Again, they’re all by Alex at AV Smile.

We started in Old Havana in the Plaza 13 de Marzo, and our first photos were in front of the Museum of the Revolution, which is a former presidential palace. We canoodled around in that area for a bit.

And it was INSANELY. BEAUTIFUL.

What a scene to stumble upon.¬†Our photographer Alex is so ridiculously talented. I still can’t believe it’s us in these pictures.

So many people clapped and cheered or waved at us, or yelled congratulations, we felt like celebrities! I remember a man yelling to us “I am so happy to see you today!” The people of Cuba are so nice!

It was really nice to just chat and, well, kiss and whatever, even though we had an audience. We were in such a beautiful place and it felt really romantic. We also didn’t get to spend a lot of time alone in Cuba, since there were people around us all the time, so this¬†was something we got to do just the two of us. I’m so glad we did it.

We walked over to the edge of the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta (a fortress in the Bay of Havana), right beside Playa Malecon (a local beach), and resumed the photo fest there.

We were taking pictures right across from the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro or just Morro Castle, which is a popular symbol Havana (we actually toured it last year). It first saw action in 1762 in the Battle of Havana, and the lighthouse that was added in 1846 totally photobombed our picture.

We did not know what was happening and Alex and his assistant were looking at the picture after and just dying laughing. Alex showed me and said “Show this to your girls, they’ll like it.” Yes, yes they would. He only spent a day with them but he knows them well. But I feel like everyone can appreciate it.

The lighthouse got Photoshopped out of the next one.

So we have one we can send to family ūüėČ

Skyline of new Havana!

After that we walked over to Paseo del Prado, a street designed in 1772 and the dividing line between old and new Havana.

I do not know what building this is, but it’s a beauty.

Rawr.

The street itself is quite an attraction, and is considered to be the most beautiful street in Havana.

I’m gonna have to agree with that.

The building in the below photos is a schoolhouse! Alex asked the teachers if we could walk through to go up onto the balcony, and that was quite the interesting experience. It was currently recess so the kids were all playing in a courtyard and no one was in the classroom we walked through to get onto the balcony, but there was some pretty difficult-looking math on the chalkboard. I did not envy those kids.

I love, love, love that Alex got the school kids playing in the doorway below us. That is one of my favourites.

After Paseo del Pravo we got back in the car to go to the National Ballet of Cuba (or Ballet Nacional de Cuba), which looks like this from the outside and is just incredible. The inside, too.

I felt like Cinderella in there!

Ugh, so beautiful.

We almost blend right into the background in this one.

This one was taken outside of the old Bacardi Building.

And this one inside.

It is also magnificent, as seriously every single building in Havana seems to be.

You can see El Capitolio, the¬†National Capital Building of Havana (currently under renovations and they’re moving the government offices back into it), behind us in the below picture.

And the Great Theatre of Havana (or Gran Teatro de la Habana).

Alex actually went inside the theatre and up onto a balcony for these next shots.

I love them!

The pictures below were taken where this old building had its side ripped off and the inside was now exposed. Alex was like “This is a beautiful spot but¬†there are piles of caca in there and it’s a bit stinky, do you feel comfortable?” The bottom of my dress was already destroyed by that point so why not. Alex told me to lift my dress up, and in we went (I dropped my dress back down in a clean-ish spot for the pictures).

There were literally a few piles of crap behind us and¬†Evan asked me “do you think this is human or animal?” We got our answer a few seconds later when some random dude dropped his pants, squatted behind a pillar beside us and took a big caca. I did not know what was happening until after the pictures were taken or I think I would have looked a bit more horrified.

I should probably burn my dress now, but the pictures are so beautiful I’m gonna say it was worth it.

Back to the Capitol building.

After that the driver picked us all back up and took us into more of the interesting alleyways of Old Havana, the area surrounding Plaza Vieja (or the Old Square).

The lighting guy carried my Wifey purse all through the city all morning, which greatly pleased me, mainly so we could get this shot:

I appreciated it.

Just dancing in the street.

I almost didn’t wear my wedding dress for this because I was thinking “how many photos of myself do I really need in a wedding dress?” But I am so, so glad I did. The pictures would not have been the same without it!

Old Havana has four squares, Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral), Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza de Armas (Arms) and Plaza Vieja (Old Square). This is Plaza Vieja — it’s been around since 1559 and has been the site of executions, processions, bullfights and fiestas (source). And now our wedding photos.

The little girl beside Evan in the below photo was smiling and waving at us, it was cute.

After that we were pretty done with pictures. It was¬†HOT and we both felt exhausted. We stopped for the best ice cream of our lives (this could have also been because we were hot and thirsty) at a little cart in the square. It was served in half a coconut and it only had coconut milk, coconut water, and shredded coconut in it. We bought some for Alex and his assistant as well and the four of us sat around eating and chatting for a while. Alex and his wife come to Toronto fairly often so we told them next time we’re having them over for dinner!

Alex has a really great eye for photos and was telling us that he doesn’t like to take the same picture twice, he likes to go to new areas and find cool shots that jump out to him. Right before we got in the car to go home, a spot jumped out to him, and he took this:

I was so done with photos by that point but I’m so glad he got it. He was also so good with posing us and telling us what to do. If it weren’t for him you know I’d just be skinny-arm posing my way around the city.

What a day. And I just want to mention if you’re¬†ever in Cuba and looking for a Havana tour, I HIGHLY recommend Blexie’s Havana Tours. Blexie took us last year (I talk a little bit about him in this post from last year), and he also took Emily and Corey this year, and his colleagues Bill and Roly took Dawn and Mark and Eric, Kenya and Dixon. You get an entire day in Havana with a private tour guide and a driver in an old car (we had a cherry red ’57 Chevy when we went) and it’s almost the same price as the bus tour and SO. MUCH. BETTER. Go there!!

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Our Varadero Wedding: Dinner + Reception

Again all photos by AV Smile – Cuban Wedding Photography and Videography, and you can absolutely tell when their photos stop and mine start in this post.

After the photo fest it was party time!

I loooooooved that we got to have the reception in the Italian restaurant (where we had dinner the second night), which is open to the ocean and beach and has a beautiful view.

After our guests were seated we did the big bridal party entrance, always a popular event. No one had quite as spectacular of a fail as I did back in the day, but it was very¬†entertaining. We had everyone come in to “Let’s Get Married” by Jagged Edge. That song just reminds me of high school. Joel, our emcee, introduced everyone, and Joanna and Jeff were first up.

Hannah and Eric’s big entrance.

Sherrie and Ian.

Dawn and Mark, and they did an ode to my piggyback!!!

Theirs worked out, however.

Corey and Emily, and I did not know they did the Royal wave so I died laughing when the photographers showed us the pictures a couple days later.

They kill me.

And Lisa and Sean, just under the “Continues” sign!

He just started crazy dancing and she wasn’t expecting it. The video of this is even better than the picture.

And Mr. and Mrs. Evan Evanoff!

I accidentally hiked my dress up so high (stairs were tricky) that you almost saw my something blue.

Dinner time!

But first, our emcee Joel welcomed everyone and did a speech and toast. I met Joel on my first day of Grade 9 and he talked about how Emily and I immediately befriended him.

And then he went on about what an irresponsible driver I was in high school (weren’t we all?). And also about the baby squirrel that five-year-old Eric found in our yard that Joel’s dad ended up taking home, and that squirrel lived in their house for three years, in a giant cage that took up an entire wall in their living room, and the squirrel hated Joel and would try to pee on him when he walked by the cage. So, touching things, really. Just heartwarming stories.

As he was speaking they served our first course, shrimp cocktail. Again, I am not sure where they got the food for this because much like our appetizers, it was miles better than what was in the buffet all week. But I’m not complaining! The shrimp cocktail even had a curry sauce in it!

Next up we had French onion soup which was honestly DELICIOUS, and Ian and Jeff’s¬†toast.

Their speech was heartfelt and funny. They talked about how they were all nerds together in high school and how I bring a new energy to Evan that they’ve never seen before. That seemed to be a big theme. Evan said afterwards that yep, I bring him up to where he needs to be, and he brings me down to¬†almost¬†where I need to be. Hahaha.

After our main course was served (chicken and potatoes and rice and vegetables, also really good), it was time for the bridesmaids to do their thing.

They each did a poem about memories with me, and they all connected to each other. Every single one of them killed me. It was hilarious and I loved every second of it.

I felt so loved!

Then there was Sean. Ohhh, Sean. He also talked about how he and Evan¬†were big nerds in high school (Evan fist pumped and yelled “broadcast club!” when he said this) and how they were so well-liked by their teachers that they were actually allowed to have the keys to the school so they could stay late every Thursday night and work on their school’s Friday video announcements.

I don’t know why we look so sombre here, he was funny. I love it. He also closed it with a very serious piece of advice: don’t leave anything to interpretation. That really resonated with me.

And then, Lisa. A speech I’ve been looking forward to for years.

She nailed it. Her MOH speech was perfect. She talked about how she was actually my first love, and how we met skating on the lake. She said I skated confidently over to her in my Mickey Mouse sweatshirt over my stirrup pants and introduced myself. I can’t imagine how tough her speech must have been to write because we have so many inside jokes over the 25 years we’ve known each other. But her speech was funny to everyone (not just us), and she said wonderful things about Evan also (like how he always makes sure that not only am I safe and good, but also that she is, and that all my friends who are with me are). I loved.

I’m going to have to write a MOH speech for her pretty soon so I think I might just take hers and reverse it. Just kidding, I’ve been writing that in my head for 25 years.

She also gave me the notebook she had been writing her speech in with all her renditions and edits in it. I was not expecting that and I was touched!

I just want to pause here and say that I love how our photographers got so many amazing candid shots¬†but they weren’t invasive at all.

Next up we have Eric. He can just stand there and not say anything and I’m already laughing.

Eric winged it and he was such a natural. He talked about how close we are despite the distance (and the 10 year age¬†gap) between us, and about the time I dropped him accidentally and he lost his two front teeth. And he talked about all the things I taught him, like his first jager shot. And all the things he learned from Evan like “fishin’ and boatin’ and…tilin'”(his words).

Certainly boating, I have the proof right here from the first time he and Kenya came to the cottage:

Nothing janky about putting a motor on a paddle boat.

Eric made me cry and then cry with laughter.

Evan’s mom also spoke briefly, about how welcoming our “wacky friends” had been¬†all week. It was cute. They are quite wacky. My mom didn’t do a speech in front of everyone, but I heard that she took each one of my friends aside and personally thanked them for being so wonderful to me over the years. They were all moved¬†by that, and so was I.

Evan and I also did a quick speech, aaand all the photos look like this because this is what I look like when I’m happy and talking.

I talked about how you need to just persevere with the online dating, because you may need to wade through some murky waters in the beginning. Sometimes people don’t exist, and sometimes people don’t eat, but then sometimes people are Evan, and look what happens. I also talked about how thankful we were to have everyone with us in Cuba, and how it was especially meaningful for us because we had gotten engaged in the ocean in front of that restaurant almost exactly one year before at almost exactly the same time of day. Evan echoed my sentiment about how great it was to have everyone there with us and how we loved seeing all our friends having such a good time all week long. And then he got a little choked up and had to stop, which was adorable. CHEERS TO OUR FRIENDS!!!!

We had dessert but I can’t remember what it was or if it was good. I was on a high.

Then we cut the cake.

To the most fitting song, I think, Cake By The Ocean. I am obviously singing in this photo.

We didn’t think to inquire about a knife so we just cut the cake with a butter knife.

There were also no forks around so I just put a piece of cake on the end of the butter knife and fed it to Evan. And then he was going to feed me but I forgot and almost just fed myself, whoops. I get things done.

That cake actually never got served, but Cuban cake is sort of weird anyway. It’s not as sweet as our cakes and it has a bit of a jelly consistency, so no big loss there. Plus we had already eaten dessert.

And then, our first dance. We danced to Lost Together by Blue Rodeo. I love that song so, so much. We also slow danced to it at their concert last summer so it means a lot to us.

I am serenading Evan in most of the photos of our first dance so my mouth is open and I look like a big idiot. This picture that Sarah took is probably my favourite.

Right before my favourite part of the song, when the strings come in, we called everyone onto the dance floor to finish the dance with us.

I loved seeing random dancing partners, like Dixon and Shanondoah, and Brent and Michelle, who definitely all met like the day before. It warmed my heart.

And here I am serenading…

After our first dance we did a mom’s dance to Heart of Gold by Neil Young (one of my all time favourites).

After we each danced with our own mom, we switched it up.

Cookie and I definitely sang to each other the whole time.

And then we again called all our friends onto the dance floor.

And we spent the next hour there.

My song with my mom has always been Fishin’ In The Dark (because we used to go fishing in the dark when I was younger), and I found out years ago that it is also Sherrie’s song with her dad AND they made up a dance to it! She taught it to me, and now we’re both pros at it.

So we taught people on the dance floor. Hannah was digging.

I did a bouquet toss, but I tossed it to EVERYONE for luck, not just the single ladies.

Sherrie, that tall drink of water, totally nabbed it.

And Lisa’s face behind her is my favourite.

She almost had it!

Lisa is another good friend from elementary (and high) school and I am so so glad her and Dennis could make it!!!

Michelle, Casey and Shanondoah, the beautiful bloggers and lagers!

The reception had to end by 9pm as they had limited speakers and they needed them for the nightly entertainment, so for the last song, our last hurrah, we played Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams.

And something happens to me when Summer Of 69 is playing…

If I’m feeling the guitar solo, then I cannot stop myself from pulling out my signature move. The dance floor air guitar.

It’s a spectacle even when not in a wedding dress, but the wedding dress definitely added a little something (padding for my knees, for sure).

Cheryl, my fellow Jambon!

Legs for days, Heather!

…and Brent.

My favourite picture of Kim of all time:

Eric and Kenya…

Kim and Dylan…

Sherrie and Will…

After the official reception I changed into a shorter white dress and we all met in the lobby bar for an after party. I was going to bring the rest of my wedding playlist but they were actually playing really good music in there that night! And of course Randy was there. He’s everywhere!

That Randy just kills me.

I felt a lot less awkward than I look in that photo.

We got a picture of our Cartwright High School crew!

Just missing Crystal, sadly (and Crystal, we really missed you!).

After the lobby bar we went to, where else, the Beatles Bar!

I don’t know who this man is but I like him.

I don’t know whose kimono he’s wearing either. And I did not realize how nunga-tastic that dress is until I saw pictures later.

There was a new singer we hadn’t seen before!

He looked a bit out of place there, compared to everyone else in tight jeans and leather ensembles, but he was decent!

Oh man, it was a time.

We walked home from the bar with Kim and Dylan and we ran into the Stand By Me man. He was in the street with his guitar every night and when you approached him he would just start into “When the NIGHT. HAS COME. And the way is dark…” and sing the entire song to you. It was wonderful. Evan and I danced to it on this night.

And then Kim and Dylan paid for him to serenade us with another song and I am kicking myself because I can’t remember what song it was. I do remember it being a beautiful moment though.

It was just the most perfect day and I never wanted it to end.

I love those two pictures (and all the pictures!!!) so much!

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Our Varadero Wedding: Ceremony + Photos

Once again I have a million photos, and once again they are all from AV Smile unless I specify otherwise (and I’m pretty sure you should get married in Cuba just so they can take photos of you).

I left you yesterday at the start of the ceremony. We had the bridal party walk down in pairs and I’m really glad we did that because it was a bit of a long walk. We had to walk the path above the beach first (but¬†I liked that!), and we figured no one wanted to walk by themselves. The bridal party walked down to Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, but the Piano Guys version¬†(I will do a separate post about wedding music at some point).

Eric was walking me down the aisle so Jeff and Joanna took Hannah along with them.

Mark and Dawn, because obviously. And I love that they held hands the whole way down the path to the beach.

Sherrie and Ian.

The lovers Emily and Corey.

And Lisa and Sean, who sort of took over the role o best man in Brotherman’s absence.

And he took it very seriously.

My dad unfortunately couldn’t make it to Cuba (he walked me down the aisle during our Toronto ceremony), but Eric and I are very close so it felt fitting to have him by my side. Once the bridal party made it to the beach and I heard the first chords of Jack Johnson’s Better Together (because OF COURSE!) ¬†it was time to get down there. (we used this instrumental version of Better Together.)

I was excited.

Because we had to walk along the top of the beach, everyone on the beach all stood and clapped and cheered for us as we walked by them. I felt like a celebrity!

Trying to catch a glimpse of my groom…

I loved how they had the ceremony area set up, I didn’t even know it was going to look like that.

To the left of the ceremony area¬†is the public beach so a lot of locals were hanging out there and they had¬†all crowded around to watch. As soon as we stepped onto the beach they started cheering for us, so I started cheering back at them and that is what’s happening in this picture:

I also saw Randy, Mikey (Sexy Position), a few others who worked at the resort, and also a few other people we had met during the week and it made me so happy that they all wanted to come see the wedding. I felt like Rose on the Titanic at the very end when she goes back to the ship and sees everyone who had an impact on her, and then Jack is waiting at the staircase. I saw everyone who made our stay such a great time and then my groom was there waiting for me!

Eric asked me what he was supposed to do when he handed me over to Evan and I said to shake his hand and then maybe stroke his cheek. I was half joking about the cheek stroke¬†but he totally did it and Evan didn’t really know what was happening which¬†was hilarious.

Kenya was taking pictures with my phone and she got a shot of it in action.

Made me laugh pretty hard.

I liked that they set it up so Evan and I could walk down the rest of the aisle together.

Hiiiii.

Our officiant was the resort’s PR coordinator, Elimay, who we had been working with us that week to plan out the details.

She did a great job, although no one except for Evan and I could hear her speaking.

But it was super short (which was also a good thing since everyone was in the sun and no one had seats) and not overly personal, but that was fine because our Toronto officiant Heather totally knocked that ceremony out of the park and I felt like nothing would ever be able to top it. The Cuba ceremony was still sweet and funny and I couldn’t stop¬†smiling.

When Elimay asked us to say our I Dos she had us yell them so our guests could hear which made everyone cheer and it makes me cry every time I watch the video of it. I really, really loved that we got to do this again with our friends.

I didn’t realize that the photographers mic’d¬†Elimay and were recording her words (possibly with an iPhone or something) so that in the video of the ceremony you can hear everything she says clearly. I’m so glad we have that because otherwise I wouldn’t remember.

And then she pronounced us husband and wife. Yay married!

And then we realized we forgot to exchange rings. So, we took care of that.

What’s so crazy is there were so many people behind us on the beach and in the water watching the ceremony in their bathing suits, some of them were even taking photos and videos! The photographers edited them all out¬†and you can’t ¬†even tell anyone was behind us in any of our pictures (they are still there in the video). That is some serious photoshopping skills.

I want to know who Evan is smiling so cheekily at in that photo.

Although it was a symbolic ceremony we still signed a certificate, which was really funny because it had these hilarious drawings of a bride and groom on it.

And then we got to toast.

I didn’t know this was¬†going to happen, but I liked it.

And that was that! Married! We¬†took our wedding bands off after the Toronto wedding and didn’t put them on again until after the Varadero ceremony, so now it felt official official.

I love that heart of flowers. It stayed there indefinitely after the ceremony and for the rest of the week we saw people on the beach taking pictures in it.

The picture below might be my favourite from the whole day, and Kenya took it on my phone! One thing we did remember to bring was bubbles for our guests to blow during the ceremony — I love that she got the bubbles in this pic!

And she also captured the beach-goers behind us, which adds to the ambience.¬†Doesn’t everyone want to see a handful of¬†shirtless men¬†on their wedding day?

Aw, Dawn and her mom.

When the ceremony ended we immediately took a group photo with everyone.

What a fun bunch of people. Seriously, we could not have asked for a better group with us. Everyone got along so well and I feel like EVERYONE is just friends now, even if they didn’t know each other before. And I love that Lisa and Dennis and Phil and Allison could make it to the wedding, even though they were staying at different resorts. It makes me a little teary when I think of all the people who travelled so far to spend our wedding with us.

After the group photo we got a couple family shots. The moms!

Family pic!

Evan and his mommers.

And more of the bridal party.

And the groomsmen and bridesmaids together.

I wasn’t surprised when they picked Evan up like this because it’s sort of our signature move…

I was surprised when they attempted this though.

It didn’t last long. MAN DOWN!

Immediately after the ceremony we had a cocktail hour with canapés.

It was some of the best food we had all week. Alex, the photographer, told us later that it was a really big deal that the resort put out nuts and dried fruit for this, since both are really hard to get in Cuba and especially rare to find on a resort.

I did not want to ever leave those snacks. We chatted with our guests for a few minutes, I shoved about five little toasts in my mouth, and then we headed out onto the streets of Varadero with our bridal party to get some photos.

This man wanted a knuckle sandwich.

We started at the Beatles Bar, and we got a very fitting photo of Evan scolding me for touching the do-not-touch Beatles statue.

That is a very accurate representation of our relationship.

Right beside the Beatles Bar is Josone Park, so we¬†frolicked around in there for a bit. It’s a really beautiful park and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in Varadero.

Corey’s floating head kills me in this one…

We have some creepers…

We told the guys that they needed to do sexy positions to make Mikey proud.

They did not disappoint.

Do not ask me what Mark and Corey are up to.

Tres romantique!

More canoodling.

I love love love any photos with the old cars!

After the picture fest we¬†walked back to the resort to have dinner and party with our friends! I’ll talk about the reception later but at sunset the photographers brought us down to the water for MORE¬†PICS. It was especially meaningful to Evan and I since it was right where we got engaged almost exactly one year before, and at the same time of day. I love all of the pictures and I’m sure you’re done with them¬†by now but I have no shame. I have about 400, what else am I gonna do with them?

You know we had to do the cheesy sunset heart. Had to.

And we had to get an engagement reenactment.

We were in the water for the actual engagement though.

And we got a couple with our friends!

White people can’t jump.

Except Joanna. She needs to teach everyone her ways.

It was such a wonderful day.

Reception to come.

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Wedding and More Wedding

Yowza, last week really got away from me. I don’t know what happened but it felt like it was about 10 minutes long. I meant to write a post several times and then by the time I got around to it I was like ehhh. Bed. I’m trying to be in bed by 9:30, asleep by 10-10:30 these days since I’m getting up at 6am (5am if I’m going to Orangetheory before work), so by the time I get home, have dinner and do the typical evening errands and then any wedding stuff I need to look at, I don’t have a lot of time for blog stuff. I’d like to say I’m going to be more consistent with posting but I think this is going to be an April theme, unfortunately. It’s busy times. The wedding is really coming up now and things are happening!!!

Speaking of, I said I’d pop in for a wedding update so here we are! The biggest news on the wedding front is we now have a wedding planner for the Toronto wedding! We initially did not hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator because it’s a very small wedding and the entire thing is hosted at a restaurant so we didn’t think it was necessary. Plus it’s a low key brunch and we’re not having a dance so there’s no DJ or anything. So, minimal vendors, minimal details.¬†I figured we’d be okay to do it ourselves (our Cuba wedding package does come with a coordinator, thankfully).

However, my friend Tracey recently left her job as an event planner at the Royal York (a fancy hotel downtown Toronto) to go off¬†on her own as an event planner, which is amazing for her. Tracey and I met when I was planning¬†some events for work at the Royal York and she was my contact for all things event-related. She was so amazingly helpful and I could not have done those events without her. She is incredibly¬†organized, on-the-ball, and just overall fantastic. We totally hit it off and had many “planning” lunches (which also included wine and giant cheese platters — maybe another reason why she was my favourite event planner of all time) when we were working together. When I found out she started her own event planning business¬†I recommended her as a day-of coordinator to two of my friends who are also getting married this year, and they are both now using her (and love her). She reached out to me recently and told me she was so appreciative of that business that she would love to help us out with our wedding, which was so awesome of her! So, short story long, here we are. We got a planner!

I need to watch Father of the Bride again, it’s been too long.

When I first told Evan about Tracey wanting to step in he was all “but we’ve pretty much already done everything, is she going to be bored?” I was concerned about this as well, as I felt like I had done a lot (even had my own day-of rundown complete!), so I mentioned it and her response was basically “you’re funny, there is going to be so much to do!”

Then we had her over one night (the same night as Bonnie’s poop explosion¬†— ¬†luckily she has cats and understands), and by the time she left Evan was all “What would we do without Tracey?! Why were we trying to do all of this ourselves???” I don’t know! She brought up a lot of stuff we hadn’t thought about. She helped us source a photo permit for our first look location (it’s a private park so it’s necessary — I didn’t even think of this!), she is now the point of contact for the restaurant and all our vendors (photographer, hair/makeup, officiant, etc.), and she’s even driving me to the first look location. Her revised day-of runsheet is the most detailed thing I’ve ever seen. She lists absolutely every single detail we’ll need to know on the day of the wedding, it’s wonderful.

Also, she’s a bit pushier than I am (I mean that in the best way possible) so she is better dealing with the venue than I am. If they tell me we can’t do something I’m all “oh okay,” but Tracey’s all “THE BRIDE GETS WHAT THE BRIDE¬†WANTS.” so that’s working out well. Basically she’s already been invaluable and the wedding hasn’t even happened yet. I’m so, so glad we have her. She’s just getting her website up and running so once she does I’ll link to that in case any GTA brides are looking for some help. Everyone needs a Tracey!

In other wedding news, I had my final dress fitting on Wednesday evening and it went swimmingly! I didn’t need a lot of alterations, basically just adding a bustle to my Cuba wedding dress and bringing the length up on both dresses. I also got my seamstress to add cups to the Cuba dress as my nungas were just doing their own thing in there. As they do. They’re like freakin’ liquid, if there’s even a tiny nook or cranny¬†for them to squeeze into, they’re going there. They like to throw a wrench into my plans. I also think it’s because I’ve lost a bit of weight/rearranged some things due to Orangetheory and my chest went first. That’s always how it goes — chest is first to gain, first to lose. Everything fit great though, I wish I could show you a picture! But ya gotta wait.

A few weekends ago I got together with most of my bridesmaids (minus Lisa, my MOH, who lives in Calgary, and Dawn who had the flu) and we had a DIY Cuba hair and makeup night. We’ll be doing our own down there so we figured we should practice to make sure we know what we’re doing. It was also a good excuse to get together and drink and hang out.

It was an all hands on deck sort of situation when it came to hair.

Sherrie did mine and she nailed it.

Look at that updo! That looks profesh! I’m so happy with it!!! (I’ll use brown bobby pins the day of, not black)

The only thing I’m getting her to change is the hairspray she used on the teased part of my hair on the top — my hair is so fine that if I use hairspray that is too stiff you can see every single stringy strand. I need a hairspray that allows a bit more movement up there. Otherwise, I loved.

I also did my own makeup for a trial.

I had a few glasses of wine by that point but I feel like I made myself look pretty decent. I think I’ll go less black eyeliner on the top though, Cuba might require more of a natural look.

We had such a fun night! Emily hosted and she got us all little gift bags filled with fun things and afterwards we played Girl Talk, which was a total blast from the past.¬†I’ve definitely detailed one of my Girl Talk stories on the blog before…

The other update is I found an AMAZING jeweller downtown at Yonge and College — Aram from Strada Jewellery.

I needed to get my ring taken down a size. When I first wore it in Cuba my ring fit perfectly but I think my fingers must have been more sausage-like than usual due to the¬†heat/humidity because it’s been annoyingly loose all winter. It spins around a lot and I feel like it’s going to fall off. I’ve been putting off taking it in to get resized because I thought it would need to be sent away, but Aram¬†did it in about 20 minutes and he let me watch the entire process which was super interesting.

He also cleaned my ring so well it looked better than I can ever remember it looking, even when it was new.

So sparkly. Of course this was a couple weeks ago and it’s dirty again already.

Anyway, if you are ever looking for a jeweller in Toronto go see Aram! It was the best experience.

There are some other things going on but this is getting quite lengthy so, ’til next time!

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