{Reality Wedding Story} From Outdoor Backyard Wedding Ceremony to Grand Portuguese Reception

Photo: NovaMarkina Photography

Jonathan and Nicole wanted to create a gorgeous, rustic wedding. From the beginning, they envisioned an outdoor wedding. They achieved their dream and more with lot’s of DIY, help from family and friends and many beautiful rustic touches! So, with the perfect ceremony and reception locations chosen and a fabulous photographer along for the ride to capture every moment of the day, Jonathan and Nicole celebrated their love story with 200 loved ones. Here’s their story…

Full Names: Jonathan & Nicole McDowell

Wedding Date: September 3, 2016

Ceremony Location: An outdoor backyard wedding ceremony in Jonathan & Nicole’s backyard! “We chose our backyard because we originally wanted an outdoor wedding with a tent reception. Once we realized a tent reception was out of our price range, we wanted to stay true to our original dream and decided to keep the ceremony location at our home under our giant maple tree in the backyard.” – J+N

Reception Location: Imperio Banquet Hall (imperiobanquethall.com“We chose the Imperio Banquet hall as our reception location for various reasons. I come from a Portuguese family so being able to serve Portuguese food was a must. We were so impressed with the space, the reasonably priced wedding packages offered, and the owners were extremely pleasant and accommodating. It was a no-brainer.” – N

Wedding theme: “The theme for our day was rustic. We had a lot of wood tones and added some blue and pink as contrast. The inspiration came from the the fact that we live on a rural property outside of London and had dreamed of an outdoor wedding.” – J+N

Best proposal ever: Nicole had planned a surprise 30th birthday party for Jonathan, even though she knew he hated surprises. After he walked in the house and everyone yelled ‘Surprise!!!’ Nicole had started to prep some of the food. “I turned around to see him down on one knee with a ring in one hand and holding our 1 year old daughter in the other. Somehow he had found out about the surprise party and decided he was going to turn the surprise around on me! The gasps were audible around the room, nobody suspected it. Definitely a party to remember.” 

“I turned around to see him down on one knee with a ring in one hand and holding our 1 year old daughter in the other.” – N

No. Guests: 200

Photographer: NovaMarkina Photography (www.novamarkina.com“Someone I know had hired Nova to photograph her wedding, and I was in love with the photos and Nova Markina’s style. I felt they fit exactly with what I had envisioned for our wedding. Nova was absolutely amazing to work with! She made us feel so comfortable and made our engagement session and wedding day a lot of fun. She was open to any ideas we had, and made sure to capture everything on our wishlist, plus more.” – N

Florals: Simply White Weddings (www.simplywhiteweddings.ca“We wanted to keep true to the rustic theme so there was a lot of babies breath used, with pops of pink roses.”

Décor: Simply White Weddings (www.simplywhiteweddings.ca) and and some of Nicole’s DIY skills!

Favourite decor element: “My favourite decor element would have to be our table numbers. These were homemade using lumber, stain, stencils and chalk paint. I am IN LOVE with how they turned out. So was our decorator, she ended up buying them.” – N

DIY projects: “We took on a lot of DIY projects for the wedding to keep costs down. We had a lot of help from family members, and set goals for ourselves to make sure we completed everything on time.” – N

Invitations/stationery: “Our invitations were a combination of Vistaprint (www.vistaprint.ca) and DIY. I used my own template and printed everything through vistaprint. I added a little extra by gluing burlap and lace to the top, and gluing the invitation onto kraft paper to create a border. Our seating chart and ceremony sign were also designed by myself and printed through vistaprint.” – N

Cake: “Our Cake and cupcakes were gifted to us by a family member.” – J+N

Wedding favours: “Our wedding favours were little jars of various flavours of jam purchased from In a Jam (www.inajam.ca) We added burlap and twine to the top with a personalized tag.” – J+N

Groom’s attire: “Jon’s suit was ordered online from Indochino.com (www.indochino.com) He was set on purchasing a plaid suit, he found the blue one on Indochino and ordered it after taking his measurements. This is where the blue inspiration came from for my bouquet. He had the inside of his suit embroidered with our names and wedding date.” – N

Bride’s dress and accessories: “My dress is a Morilee gown purchased from Sophie’s Gown Shoppe (www.sophiesgownshoppe.com) in London. My shoes are Lucky Brand, Rezdah crochet wedges. I had seen the shoes on a Pinterest post and instantly fell in love. The post didn’t include where to find them, so after much online searching, a friend of mine finally found the brand and I was able to purchase them on Amazon.” – N

DJ: Richard Begin

Hair & Make-up: Hair by Michelle at Milo’s Hair Studio (www.miloshairstudio.com“Michelle has been my hairdresser for almost 10 years so there was no question she was doing my hair for my wedding. Makeup was done by Samantha Lynn. I would recommend both of these professionals to anyone!” – N

Catering: Imperio Banquet Hall (www.imperiobanquethall.com“The food and service at the Imperio Banquet Hall was amazing. I can’t wait to visit there again.” – N

Biggest challenge: “The biggest challenge would have to be decision-making. Pinterest was my best friend and my worst enemy. There were so many ideas, which was great and extremely helpful. But then I would have so many different ideas for one thing, and I had a hard time deciding on just one and then envisioning what they would all look like coming together. I ended up putting all the photos of everything I had decided in a Microsoft word document and somewhat seeing what they all looked like together. Some changes were made but in the end I was so happy with the result.” – N

“Pinterest was my best friend and my worst enemy.”

Best memory: “The best memory would have to be seeing my future husband for the first time for our first look photos, and the look on his face when he saw me. A second noteworthy memory would have to be my dance with my dad. He had no idea but I had planned for a video to play on the projector of the two of us dancing when I was a baby. When I pointed it out to him, he got so emotional and couldn’t stop watching it. I knew it meant a lot to him.” – N

Advice from one bride to another: “My advice would be to not let the stress of the day overcome you or cast a shadow on the day. It’s going to be perfect even if you don’t finish all your DIY projects, or if the weather isn’t exactly what you had planned. It’s a celebration of you both as a couple, and in the end it will be perfect for both of you.”

Photo: NovaMarkina Photography
Photo: NovaMarkina Photography