We have a rare treat for you all today, sweethearts. Over the years we’ve seen many a bride share her dream wedding with us, but today we’ve got a wedding put together by the groom and his mother as a surprise for the bride. We’ve got all the deets from the groom himself on how he was able to put it together with the help of Joseph + Jaime Photography and Coriander Girl, so let’s jump in!
From the groom, Mike: I’m a lucky guy. I married the girl next door. My parents moved to the small town of Baltimore, Ontario, about ten years ago. Not long after, the McFarlanes moved in across the street. Their daughter was a pretty blonde girl whom I met at my parents’ neighbourhood Halloween party in 2008. We hit it off and quickly became friends. Friendship grew into something more and I proposed to her at the historic inn at Wakefield, Quebec, in the fall of 2011. We both knew that the perfect place to get married was at my parents’ house — the place we met. Set atop a hill that overlooks Lake Ontario and the rolling hills of Northumberland County, the wedding had to reflect the beautiful natural scenery. We decided that the ceremony would be held in a clearing in the cedar woods adjacent to the house, and the dinner and dancing would take place in the property’s century-old barn — the exact location we met. Wanting to bring the inside outside, and the outside inside, the only way we could think to describe our vision was “woodland whimsy.”
After discovering the perfect wedding invitations, we set about using them as a template for our wedding’s look and style. Together with my mother, we began putting together our dream wedding. Although we always consulted Lauren on major issues, my mother and I decided that we wanted to design the look of the wedding in secret from Lauren. We wanted her to experience the joy and excitement of having the venue revealed to her on the big day, along with all the other guests. The first time she saw the ceremony site, decorated with simple ferns and vintage church windows, was when we both walked down the aisle together, hand in hand. With the expert design sense that she is known for, my mother helped to put together a wedding that existed only in our dreams. The dinner tables were covered in rich aubergine and gold brocade and set with elegant china. The woodland theme was tastefully reflected in all the details — from the table décor, to the handmade place settings, to the heart shaped moss garland on the wall. We also incorporated crystal, gold, pewter and rust-coloured animal figurines, candelabras and other décor elements. The barn was finished we antique furniture and props, including frames and mirrors to fill the walls, creating a warm and elegant setting for dinner and dancing. Lauren and I had our dream wedding. But in the end, the wedding is just a party. The best part is that I get to come home to Lauren every day. There is no one else who would be as a good a match for me as she is. She is a kind and loving person, who also happens to be my best friend. As I said, I’m a lucky guy.
Any advice for couples planning their weddings now? From the bride: Give yourselves lots of time to plan and execute your wedding, especially if you plan on doing a majority of the planning/DIY yourselves. Try to avoid stressing out (it’s hard!) and enjoy the process as much as possible. Ask your family and friends for help! Chances are they’re happy to help, and want to make the whole process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible for you. Decide what’s most important for you, what you’d like your wedding/reception to focus on, and put your efforts (and money) there. For us, we wanted amazing food, so we prioritized our budget to include the best caterers we could find. Whether it’s a live band, great food, or a Ferris Wheel, find a way to make it happen!
Remember to think of your guests. After all, you and your partner are their hosts. Are they warm/cool enough? Are they bored? If you choose to take photos between the ceremony and reception, arrange a cocktail hour for them or an activity (guestbook, mad libs, etc.). No one likes waiting around with nothing to do! Having a wedding at home was one of the best decisions we made: it was neither inexpensive nor easy, but well worth it, knowing we could wake up and get ready at home, and at the end of a crazy, exciting day, walk across the street and go to bed. If a home wedding fits your vibe, I definitely recommend it. The most important thing to remember is that in the end, a wedding is just a party. Take lots of time out of the planning process to just enjoy your relationship, and each other. It will help you refocus when you’re overwhelmed, and remind you why you’re getting married in the first place! :)
Processional: “In Your Arms,” Kina Grannis
Recessional: “Believe Me (If All Those Endearing Young Charms)”, played on the bagpipes by my uncle. This song is one of my Grandpa’s favourites – he used to play it for my Grandma.
First Dance: “Wild is the Wind,” Johnny Mathis
Wedding Location: Baltimore, Ontario, Canada / Photographer: Joseph + Jaime Photography / Flowers: Coriander Girl / Wedding Dress: Tracy Reese via BHLDN / Wedding Shoes: BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Chosen by the bridesmaids (ModCloth & Pink Soda) / Hair and Makeup: Makeup In The City / Groom’s Suit: Dolce & Gabbana / Groom’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds and Batman Converse / Wedding Caterer: Noble Culinary / Wedding Cake: The SweeterE / Wedding Invitations: A Printable Press