Grace and Matthew Smith wanted a timeless, romantic, autumn wedding with lots of silly elements that spoke to their “dorky personalities!” Grace explains, “The poem ‘My November Guest’ by Robert Frost was my inspiration for the whole feel and theme of the wedding.”
And with one big health challenge and a savvy photographer who stepped up to save the day, this bride and groom got their beautiful DIY wedding day, one to remember for a lifetime.
WEDDING DATE: October 25th 2014
CEREMONY & RECEPTION VENUE: Windermere Manor (windermeremanor.com)
“I had gone to events at Windermere when I was little and loved the house and the history of the building. When we decided to get married in London my Mom suggested we go take a peek at Windermere and the second Matt walked in, he said “Can we really get married here?!” After that it was set!… The venue had everything we were looking for (intimate, ceremony and reception in one place, hotel accommodations on site, delicious food) and the staff couldn’t have been sweeter or more helpful. It was certainly one of our very best wedding decisions in retrospect.” – Grace
“Heather at HRM had photographed my sister’s wedding a few years ago and after we saw those pictures, there was absolutely no one else we would have even considered. She managed to capture the exact feeling they were going for at their wedding. Even though we knew our wedding was going to be quite different, we were sure Heather would be able to do the same for us. We made sure Heather was free on our chosen wedding date before we even booked the venue because we wanted her as our photographer so badly!
“Oh, Heather’s here, everything’s going to be ok!”
“Heather manages to immediately calm people down. On the morning of our wedding, I was completely freaked out and as soon as I saw Heather I remember thinking “Oh, Heather’s here, everything’s going to be ok!” After the ceremony, my husband was frazzled (weddings are crazy) and Heather took me aside and asked if I thought maybe a change of venue for the photographs with just Matt and I might calm him down. She was so right. As soon as it was just the two of us (and of course HRM) we were happy and relaxed and just so thrilled to be husband and wife. The pictures she took during this time were my favourite of the whole day because I remember how happy we were at that moment just to be husband and wife.
“My favourite part of the photos was how Heather captured what we wanted exactly. I wanted a fall wedding that was jewel toned and rich and dark. Heather not only captured that in the actual wedding pictures, but even found a separate location (a lovely abandoned historic mansion) to whisk my husband and I to after the ceremony where she took some of the most amazing pictures.”
“You show up with all these ideas about what you want your wedding to be and then somehow magically, Heather and her team make it real. They’re like fairy godmother photographers!”
DIY FLOWERS: “Matt and I collected dried thistles and grasses from farm fields and then I worked them into bouquets and centerpieces by adding in some dried and handmade paper flowers, as well as hand-sewn hearts. The bouquets were a little bit prickly but were just as beautiful as I’d hoped!”
DIY DÉCOR: “We did all the décor on our own too. We used one of my grandparent’s old suitcases for a card box. We spray painted pumpkins and mason jars gold for table décor. [Note to future brides: do not spray paint without gloves after you’ve already had you manicure for the wedding…my french tipped nails looks like a Pollock painting.] My Mom put together the tall dried grasses that surrounded our officiant. My aunt and uncle made the signs that led the way up to our venue and now are planted firmly in our garden. It was a wonderful, messy, and a fun group effort!”
FAVOURITE DÉCOR ELEMENT: “…the small pictures I had hanging from my bouquet of my grandparents. My grandpa passed away when I was young and he’d always said he wanted to be at my wedding. When we got our pictures, one had been snapped right before I walked down the aisle of that photo hanging from my bouquet and it was like he was there with me.”
DIY STATIONERY: “Matt and I put these all together on our own but we got the materials and ideas from an awesome little shop in Waterloo called Scribe’s Nook (scribesnookinc.ca). We had a small wedding so we got to do quite a bit of detail work for each invitation. [In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have watched Silence of the Lambs as I put them together because now the two are forever linked in my memory (ha ha ha).] We did the seating chart, table numbers and place cards as well.
WEDDING FAVOURS: “Matt did all the wedding favours. He is an amazing cook and made a wonderful red pepper jelly for each guest to take home. He even designed the labels. A significant part of his wedding speech was warning the guests about how spicy the jelly was.”GROOM & GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: Collins Formal Wear (collinsformalwear.com)
BRIDE & BRIDESMAIDS ATTIRE: Garber’s Bridal (garbersbridal.com)
DJ: “Adam of Vanrock Sound (vanrock.com) was amazing. We had very non-traditional music (Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get it On’ was our recessional and the Rolling Stone’s ‘Beast of Burden’ played while we signed the registry) and Adam was up for all of it.
HAIR & MAKE-UP: Jen at AlyCat Make-Up & Hair Artistry (alycat.ca)
CATERING: Windermere Manor (YUM!)
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My big sister (one of my bridesmaids) got hit by a car two days before the wedding, and even though she’s fine now, she needed surgery and couldn’t fly in for the day. The night it happened, I called Matt bawling and he immediately jumped into action. Working with our photographer, Heather (who went WAY above and beyond), they managed to get a life-sized cardboard Sara made within 24 hours. So when I walked down the aisle, my cardboard big sister was there waiting for me. We took photos with her, danced with her, and even Skyped real sister with her cardboard double… It became one of the most wonderful and hilarious parts of the day.”
FAVOURITE MEMORY: Matt says that his was seeing her come down the aisle in her dress; “For months leading up to the wedding she’d dropped hints that it was short, or had puffy sleeves, or was multi-coloured, and then she comes down the aisle looking like the most traditional beautiful bride!” Grace’s favourite memory was her Dad’s speech. It was hilarious and heartfelt and it made me cry more than anything else that day.
Advice, one couple to another: “The wedding is a whirlwind stress and emotion and some really perfect moments but marriage (at least for us) has been so much more wonderful than that single day. Try to keep everything in perspective.”