Our hearts are doing all kinds of pitter-pattering over today’s wedding, coordinated and designed by Matthew Oliver with flowers by White Lilac. Bride Christabel maintains her soul resides in England, so there was only one place that would fit the bill for her wedding day. Complete with a darling farm venue, lush garden roses, and scones for dessert, any Brit would be sure to fall in love with this day captured by Hayley Savage Photography!
From the bride, Christabel: As a highly sensitive person living with anxiety there were many things about a traditional wedding that made me quite nervous. Luckily, my then finance now husband, Loren, and our wonderful wedding planner, Matthew, were hugely supportive in coming up with great solutions that were a beautiful reflection of who Loren and I are as a couple. Since many of our guests had not met before the wedding (for geographical reasons), we arranged a gathering at a quaint pub in Bath the night before so that we could introduce everyone in a casual setting. Instead of a formal sit-down meal we decided on a buffet of local/seasonal goodies and an open bar so that our guests could feel at ease and mingle as they pleased. Everyone agreed that this had been a great way for both families to get to know each other. Our guests were relaxed, they got along well, and it was just a simple, fun night with our closest family and friends.
I may have been born in Canada and currently reside there but my soul lives in England. If we were going to get married there, I wanted our wedding to pay tribute to all of the things that make England feel like home to me. My husband, although of Eastern European decent, absolutely loves British culture and was more than on board with the plan. I wanted to honour the history, architecture, music, food, and landscape of my favourite place on earth. To me, one of the most beautiful things about England in the spring and summer are the abundant wild flowers as well as the exquisitely designed flower gardens. The whole of England seems as magical as the secret garden in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel. For this reason our main focus/greatest expense were the floral arrangements. Although we were not getting married in a church or synagogue, we still wanted there to be a special altar/focal point where we would be married. The incredible ladies at White Lilac designed a magnificent hanging flower wall in front of which we were married and which later served as a backdrop for the dessert table. I feel most at ease when I am in the countryside, surrounded by plants and animals, and White Lilac certainly did an incredible job at bringing the outdoors indoors and creating a serene atmosphere. We have Hayley’s beautiful photos to look back on but we also opted to have Precious Petals preserve flowers from my bouquet in decorative glass paperweights that we will cherish for years to come. The amazing Matthew Oliver personally delivered the rest of the flowers to local retirement homes and hospices the following day. He’s truly a gem.
To make things even more magical we wanted an endless array of candles. Being a Waldorf kid candles just aren’t candles unless they are pure beeswax (nothing beets that smell) so as a little nod to Canada we brought about 100 beeswax candles with us. As another way to include a bit of Canada and also represent something we really enjoy (growing/cooking/eating quality food) we brought homemade rhubarb/maple/mint jam with us to offer as wedding favours and tokens of appreciation for those who helped plan and execute such a perfect day. When it came to the food, we wanted to indulge in all our favourite treats. Something the Brits do very well but it is actually quite hard to find in Canada is a good savoury pie (unless, of course, you bake them yourself). Cornish pasties and pies are one of the things we love to over indulge in when we are in the UK. It made perfect sense to us to serve veggie and meat pies as the entree at our wedding feast. Whenever I am in England it is also a requirement that I have at minimum of two cream teas per week… because you just can’t get proper scones and clotted cream in Canada the same way you can in England. So instead of a traditional wedding cake we had a scone tower with oodles and oodles of summer berries and cream! I am forever grateful to Indigo Rose for making my cream tea wedding “cake” dream come true! That “cake” was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen – I’m still dreaming about it six months later.
Any advice for couples planning their weddings now? If I have any advice for future brides and/or grooms it would be to follow your dreams even if they aren’t exactly what others had wanted for you, to make choices that reflect who you are as a couple, choices that you can live with as you cherish the memories of your wedding for the rest of your life. There are people who will try to make your wedding day about themselves, but remember (because it is easy to forget), the day is about you and your love and the vows you make to one another.
Please read a bit more from the bride, Christabel, about her strategies for planning a wedding with reduced stress and anxiety: I really do not like being the centre of attention (something that is hard to avoid as the bride) and the thought of walking down the isle with everyone looking at just me seemed far too stressful. Loren and I, being high school sweethearts, have also been together so long that the idea of my father “giving me away” seemed a bit odd. So, instead, Loren and I walked each other down the isle. We each had our special person, our rock, by our side and moved forward together into our new life as husband and wife.
In order to accommodate the size of the barn but also to avoid feeling overwhelmed we kept the guest list to about 50 people. We both believe that exchanging vows is something very special and private – almost sacred really – and we only felt comfortable including our absolute nearest and dearest, those whom are truly present in our lives and really accept and love us for who we are as individuals and as a couple. It was also important to us that our loved ones all attend as equals – we had no bridesmaids or groomsmen – we wanted all our guests to feel special and for our wedding to be like one big family gathering where everyone could relax without the pressure of being responsible for certain traditional duties (speeches, dances, etc.). Loren thanked everyone for coming but other than that there were no toasts, instead we spent intimate time with all of our guests, and everyone was free to move about as they pleased. In keeping with this theme of a family dinner there was no head table. We all sat at two long tables where much of the food (which was absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious) was served family style. This enabled everyone to socialize easily, for everyone to be included in conversation, and for no one to stand out above the rest (specifically myself and Loren). On our wedding day we arrived early at Wick Farm to get dressed and we’d arranged to take the majority of our photographs together before guests arrived. This worked out really well. We didn’t feel rushed during the shoot and we were able to enjoy this special alone time and really be present together (my husband cried instantly when we did the first look photo – a moment neither of us will ever forget). Setting things up this way also allowed us to relax and enjoy ourselves after the ceremony and to spend as much time as we liked with our guests (many of whom had travelled a very long way to celebrate with us).
I am so immensely grateful to all the wonderful people who helped make our wedding day such a dream. Not only were they all exceptionally talented but also some of the kindest people I have had the pleasure of working with. And I can’t praise Matthew enough. He truly cares about his clients – not just their wedding dreams but about their lives in general. He’s got a wealth of knowledge and a great eye for detail and doesn’t give up until everything is done right. Matthew really considered our wishes and planned a fairytale wedding that was a beautiful reflection of our relationship, personalities, traditions, and interests. He’s so much fun, very patient, and compassionate; I just can’t imagine there ever being a better wedding planner (and ally). The people he works with (florists, hair and makeup stylists, photographers, officiants, musicians etc.) also brought so much light and love with them on our special day. Thanks to him and his team we have happy memories of a magical day that will keep us smiling for years to come. I also have to thank BHLDN for making so much about our wedding experience stress-free. One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I spent an hour on my phone in bed looking at wedding dresses on their site. There were about five that I thought would work but one that pretty much had my name written all over it. There aren’t any BHLDN stores in Canada but my amazing sister-in-law lives in Chicago so just a few months before the wedding Loren and I flew down for a short visit. She had to work, and Loren did not want to see the dress before the wedding, so I quite happily went to my appointment at the store on my own. The woman who assisted me, Melissa, was an angel. Within two hours I had decided on the dress, lingerie, accessories, and found lots of little decorative items as well (plantable seed paper hearts which we scattered on the tables and around the cake; marriage advice cards for guests to fill out; pretty paper napkin for the canapés; and an embroidered handkerchief for Loren which he made good use of on the day). I know this seems a little unbelievable but I was determined to go to just one bridal boutique and find my dress on the first try and I’m very grateful it worked out that way.
Photography: Hayley Savage Photography
Wedding Planning: Matthew Oliver
Floral Design: White Lilac
Venue: Wick Farm
Hair and Makeup: Natasha Grewcook
Catering: Strawberry Fields
Scone Cake: Indigo Rose Cakes
Beer: Bath Ales
Wedding Music: Head Over Heels
Rentals: Duchess and Butler, Virginia’s Vintage
Linens: Northfields Linen
Officiant: Mark Townsend Ministry
Wedding Stationery: Finer Details