What made you two choose as barn as your wedding venue?
We both don’t drive and take public transit everywhere, and while considering a restaurant or event space downtown was tempting, I really didn’t want to see a TTC vehicle anywhere on my wedding day. Though we are both Italian, a hall-style wedding wasn’t for us. I guess I just decided on a barn because I thought it would be a good way to get people out of the city for an afternoon, and have them witness a wedding and party in a location that wasn’t traditionally associated with Italian weddings.
We looked at a couple of barns in near Guelph and Niagara, but really fell in love with the private barn venue in Puslinch. We were greeted on side by a pack of puppies, two adorable donkeys (which they no longer gave), and a sheep wearing a tweed coat. Immediately I was in love with the animals, the property, and how wonderfully the barn was restored. We actually found it through a posting on Kijiji – bizzare, I know, but it definitely surprised us with its charm and affordability.
And the best part? We could bring in 100 per cent of our own vendors. This is not common, especially with Toronto venues and wedding venues in general, because they make you choose from a list of preferred vendors instead. Allowing us to have total control over the catering, décor, music, florals, and cake, helped us save money in the long run. We booked on the spot for a June 2017 date, a couple of weeks after we got engaged, leaving me lots of time for wedding planning. We decided to do both the ceremony and reception all on site, so guests wouldn’t have to worry about commuting from one place to another.
Your reception décor was awesome. How did it come together?
I basically started doing a little bit each month before the wedding. I also have to give credit to Ben for allowing me to go with such a unique colour palette – we did magenta and cherry red, with accents of baby blue. Definitely not conventional, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many of my friends and family weren’t sure what I was doing design-wise. I kept telling them to trust my creative vision (hah!), however, I don’t think they fully were able to understand everything until the day of the wedding.
I spent countless hours surfing Etsy for the right accents, ordering our ceremony carpet from the U.S., paper lanterns (which we then covered in polka dots) from Canada, and laser-cut table numbers (which I hand-painted and glittered) from the U.K. I also spent about a year collecting vintage tea-cups, dishes, and little kitschy 1950s statues to put our florals in. I made our head table ribbon curtain and sparkle garland, spray painted mason jars for other flowers, bought giant tissue puffballs our bridal party diligently fluffed and strung up the day before the wedding (please forgive me), and designed all my own invites/menus/placecards using both Minted and my basic Photoshop skills from work.
My mom also helped A LOT. She was basically my assistant wedding planner. We didn’t order enough blue fabric for our table runners, and managed to get a rush ship of an extra order delivered the day before our wedding to her office. Her colleagues were contacting Canadian customs to see if they could get it released faster – and when it finally arrived – someone drove it to her house. The amount of care they all had for a roll of burlap was pretty incredible. My mom then sewed these table runners the afternoon before the wedding, while we were doing other errands. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for more gold on planing tips and fun facts from Noelle).
How did you and Ben meet?
We both went to the same high school, but I was dating someone else at the time and Ben really wasn’t on my radar. He definitely wouldn’t have been my type back then, and I wouldn’t have been his either. We were complete opposites. We reconnected during university while both single, through a mutual friend. We shared an evening of pizza and whiskey, and then eventually figured out we really liked each other and had a lot in common. We began dating long-distance, commuting between Kitchener and the GTA, so there were times it wasn’t easy. We also both had a lot of growing up to do. When Ben finished his degree, he moved back to Toronto and we decided to get more serious about our relationship, moving in together. The rest is history.
How did he propose?
Fun fact. It is possible to ruin your own proposal.
It was a Friday night and I was in the middle of cooking a big dinner for Ben and a few of his friends. It was going to be his birthday party, and I had been running around in the kitchen trying to get everything done. Ben accidentally left his phone at home that day, and it kept buzzing as I was prepping the food. I figured it was probably one of his friends wanting to know what to bring, or updating us of their plans. We have an open-phone policy, so I went ahead to check the messages. On the screen I saw a message from his bff: “So you’re going to do it tonight? You have the ring?” I literally threw the phone away from me, into a pile of clothes, and pretended I didn’t see what I just saw. We had talked about getting married for a while, he knew the ring details, and he had asked my parents for their permission at their recent anniversary dinner. Again, we’re that kind of family where everything is out in the open, I just didn’t expect to blow my own surprise engagement.
When Ben walked in the door after work, I was in bed resting before the guests came over. He was holding a huge LCBO bag and I immediately, jokingly, asked him how much money he had just spent on wine – he likes the expensive stuff! He replied “I decided to go ahead and get myself a gift for my birthday,”…and then he popped out the little ring box, from the LCBO bag, and said something along the lines of, “If you would marry me, that would be the best gift ever!” Of course, I said yes! Little did I know he told all our dinner party guests ahead of time that he would be proposing, so the night turned into an impromptu engagement party with flowers and bubbly and our closest friends. PS – I didn’t tell him I found out about the proposal from the phone, until about a week later. He now has a passcode in place.
What role did your wedding planner play?
Laura from Marvelle Events, and her team, did a phenomenal job doing month-before planning. She handled all the invoices, payments, organization, and taking care of all the things we didn’t think about – like ordering a disposal bin for on-site waste.
We also had a second event planner through our caterer, P&L Catering, who handled all our rentals for the day. The barn was literally just a barn, so we had to bring in everything – including the kitchen – and have it built on site. The level of organization to manage how complex that was, was pretty astounding. The majority of our larger décor rentals, such as tables, accent sofas and chairs, came from both Marvelle and a few other vendors in the Guelph area. They helped add some glamour to the rustic farm vibe we were going for.
Tell us about your flowers!
The flower aspect was pretty simple. I am not a florist. I work in digital marketing. I can’t even keep a house plant alive. That being the case, I wanted someone to take total control of our florals. Once I found the most amazing, talented and just sooooo-lovely Robyn from Guelph’s Blooms and Flora, I had met my match. She was so excited about our project, fit our budget, and was close to the venue. Our consulting session was pretty open ended. I gave her our colour scheme, details about volume of flowers we would require, dropped off 100+ vintage vases, teacups and other holders, and basically told her to do what she wanted. The result was that the flowers turned out to be one of the parts people remember the most about the day. Everyone kept commenting how bright and vibrant they were, and I think this had to do with the fact that Robyn and her team were able to showcase their love of flowers whichever way they saw fit.
Our biggest floral pieces were on either side of us at the ceremony – two large sprays resting on top our respective families’ trunks from when they both crossed over the ocean, from Italy to Canada, as new immigrants. Having those pieces anchor the place where we said our vows, was incredibly meaningful for the both of us, and was a way to pay tribute to the history of our family.
Your food also wasn’t traditional – what made you choose the dishes?
We both love fried chicken, and wanted to re-create our favourite ‘Fried Chicken Tuesday’ dinner from Parts & Labour restaurant in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. Again – not traditional for an Italian wedding. The good news was that P&L were totally on board to whip up a fried chicken and BBQ brisket feast. Guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers right after the ceremony, outside the barn. We also had a shucker from Oyster Boy, since so many of our friends and family love oysters. Dinner was served family style, with a trio of salads (including a modern Caprese and Caesar as a nod to our Italian roots), and then the fried chicken and brisket, with gravy, mashed potatoes, collard greens and slaw. Vegetarians got an eggplant stew served over corn grits.
For dessert we had an all-you-can-eat pie bar, featuring pies from the Pie Plate in the Niagara-region, as well as pies that were hand-made by my mom and her friends. There was ice-cream, whipped cream, and other candy toppings to satisfy people’s sweet tooth. Our cake was very simple and something we’ve eaten a lot of in the past; a vanilla sprinkle party cake from Bobette and Belle – a bakery near our old apartment. We cut it secretly and didn’t really tell anyone so we could just enjoy the moment to ourselves.
Do you have any planning tips and tricks?
Do as much as possible ahead of time, in monthly increments, so that way you are not stuck the month before your wedding dealing with everything all at once. Plan it out like you would a work project. Stick to your deadlines, beliefs, and budget …and don’t let any vendors push you around. Only work with companies that treat you fairly, and who have good people behind them. The wedding industry is crazy and there are a lot of people who prey on the emotions attached to the ‘big day’ for their own financial gain. We heard horror stories from friends, and truly avoided this, again because we were able to control all our own vendors.
Other planning tip: don’t rope your bridesmaids into doing an excessive amount of stupid sh–. They have lives too, jobs too, kids too, and need to deal with all of that. Sure, they helped out with a few crafts, and helped throw me a bachelorette party, but overall you need to expect to be ready to do all the planning work yourself.
Oh and yes – things will go wrong the day of your wedding. My dress ripped during the first look (there was a lot of tulle so it wasn’t a big deal), my veil attacked my dad during a windstorm as we were walking down the aisle (and it totally made everyone laugh), our bulk ice order got delivered to the venue the day before and almost melted (shout out to a local hotel for keeping it cool in their walk-in freezer), and our caterer forgot to order shot glasses. Everyone did shots out of coffee mugs, and it was not a big deal. In fact, maybe we’re going to start a new wedding trend…. #mugshots?
What was your favourite part of the wedding?
Obviously getting married to the love of my life was the highlight. Up there saying our vows, the world just stopped. It was such an intimate moment, even though were both on display. That feeling of total connection to the one you love, as you pledge your I-Dos, caught both of us off-guard in a good way. We waited so long to share that, I am forever grateful Ben and I found each other.
Beyond that, it was awesome seeing all of our family and friends enjoying the evening, and especially the food. And of course, as someone who planned the majority of her wedding herself, it was a dream to see it all come together. Months after the wedding we still have people telling us what a phenomenal event it was, and both Ben and I are so grateful for everyone’s support and love in helping us make that big day possible.
Looking back at all of the wonderful photos from Gee and Ieva continue to fill our hearts with joy, and they are such an important part of helping us remember how special our day was.
Music : – Bon Iver – 29 #Strafford APTS ( iTunes )