Happy Weekend, WWW readers! Today we are sharing a completely blissful, joy-filled wedding day with bright bursts of colour to start your Saturday the right way. Aline and Michael said their “I dos” on September 17th 2016 on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada. The ceremony was held outdoors in the woods, bridal party photos were taken at stunning Bridal Veil Falls (could this be any more fitting?!) and then they partied the night away at Kagawong Park Centre.
Every inch of this celebration was decorated with loving care, mostly by the happy couple and their friends and family. There were colourful wild flowers and hand-picked grasses everywhere, pretty long ribbons, fairy lights, hand-painted wooden signs, eucalyptus wreaths and many other personal touches that created a rustic and natural feeling layered with fun and personality. Aline puts it best when she says, “I realised whimsical was the perfect description of my vision”. The bride looked like a princess in her champagne Allure gown and her maids looked fab in grey and gold dresses while holding multicoloured bouquets with long lace ribbons. The groom and groomsmen were every bit as stylish, rocking white shirts, brown leather suspenders, navy pants and bright floral buttonholes. I just adored the outfits of the mini flower girls and page boy too.
Thank you so much to Lauren McCormick Photography for sharing these incredible images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | When we first started dating, I was living on Manitoulin Island and Mike was living in Toronto. We would meet up halfway (about three hours for each of us) to spend the day together in Parry Sound. Fast forward four years later and Mike suggested we go to Parry Sound to go hiking – after a beautiful fall day, we ended up at this bench overlooking the lake, where we had spent many hours early on sitting and talking. Somehow, I was still oblivious to the fact that he was about to propose…but I finally realised and it was a perfect moment.
THE VISION | From pretty early on, I knew I wanted the wedding to be bright, colourful and fun, combined with a rustic, natural setting. After about a month I realised whimsical was the perfect description of my vision. Mike bought into it, reigned it in a bit (as husbands do), and we got to work; when we told people the colour scheme (mint, gold, plum and grey) or the theme (whimsical), there were definitely some raised eyebrows…I think people had a hard time picturing what we were talking about. After some serious Pinterest mood-boarding, the others got on board and the end result was more perfect than I could have imagined. The forest ceremony, bridal party excursion to Bridal Veil Falls, pictures by the pier, lawn games, tons of confetti and amazing décor all came together into what truly felt like a magical day.
For the wedding weekend, we had most of our guests stay at a lodge in their own cabins. Guests spent the weekend hiking, exploring the island and spent the evening sitting around the bonfire by the lake. It was very laid-back and so much fun to have everyone together for an entire weekend.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | From the onset, we knew we wanted to work with people who were going to see our vision and make the planning process as easy and fun as possible. Most of the people involved were actually friends of mine, as I grew up on Manitoulin Island (where we got married) and they were amazing to work with. We have some pretty awesome friends and family who helped throughout the entire thing and made sure our day was perfect. I’m a pretty organised person and had spreadsheets on spreadsheets and a master binder with lists, so it kept us on track and everything got done when it needed to. That’s not to say the entire planning process was perfect (I definitely had a couple of meltdowns), but overall it was a ton of fun and went really smoothly.
BUDGET | We made a budget and stayed pretty close to it – I kept track of what we were spending on almost every purchase, even the little decorations, because if you don’t keep it in check it’s easy to let it get out of control (especially once you dive into the Etsy rabbit hole).
THE VENUE | As I joked during our thank-yous at the wedding, I always knew I wanted to get married on Manitoulin Island and Mike always knew he didn’t want to spend a fortune on a wedding. We live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and wedding venues here are much pricier and are typically booked over a year in advance. We decided on the picturesque town of Kagawong (on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada) as our venue for the wedding – yes, the entire town was basically ours as the tourists were gone and our family and friends moved in. As you drive into town, there is a huge waterfall called Bridal Veil Falls – our ceremony was held at Riverbend Stage, which was built by the Town of Kagawong in a small clearing in the forest, at the base of the falls. This tiny stage is the town’s best-kept secret and is a little oasis – you can hear the river bubbling, the wind in the trees, and birds chirping; we had our fingers crossed for months that the weather would hold out and we would be able to get married there. Thankfully it worked out, and we got our fairytale wedding.
The reception was held at the Kagawong Park Centre, which is the community hall for this tiny town. We had cocktail hour and lawn games on the front lawn between the ceremony and reception, then moved inside for dinner and dancing. The hall is all wood, has vaulted ceilings, and huge windows with a view into the forest.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Dress Designer: Allure
Accessories: The earrings were pearls borrowed from my sister from her wedding, and the pearl bracelet was a gift from my Mum and sister as part of our Tea Ceremony (part of Chinese wedding tradition).
FINDING THE DRESS | I was completely torn between a ball gown with a beaded bodice and strapless sweetheart neckline, or a simple, whimsical sheath dress with a low back; they both would have fit our theme perfectly. A sheath dress would have been much more practical given the fact that we were planning to get married in the middle of the forest, but the practical side of my mind lost out, because…ball gowns.
I went shopping multiple times (which wasn’t easy, since my Mum and most of my bridesmaids live at least five hours away) and had it narrowed down to a few dresses. I still wasn’t in love with any of them, so I scrapped all of those options and went shopping again with my Mum and her friend. I tried on a bunch of new dresses – I went to Ferré Sposa and found a dress that was somehow a mix of everything I had been looking for; even though the back was completely embellished with beading, from the front it seemed almost simple. It had everything I wanted – the flattering neckline, lace, buttons all the way down the back, beading, and a ball gown skirt. It seemed to fit both sides of my personality and it felt perfect. I decided on that dress, in champagne, took out about five layers of crinoline and was SO happy with my decision.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Mike decided the guys should go casual with their outfits, so they bought navy pants from Ted Baker, white shirts from Hudson’s Bay, leather suspenders from the MenEvolution Etsy shop and brown leather shoes. Considering Mike has a better fashion sense than I do, I shouldn’t have doubted him, but since I hadn’t seen the entire outfit together until right before the wedding I wasn’t sure what it would look like. The guys looked amazing, and the colourful boutonnieres made the outfits; their style fit in perfectly with the day. Our ring bearer (Graham), wore leather suspenders and a bow tie from SweetnSwag Etsy Shop and looked completely adorable.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had a family friend, Paul Best, play acoustic guitar for our ceremony – it sounded so lovely with the music floating through the trees! For the bridal party entrance, he played an instrumental version of ‘Best Day of My Life’ (by American Authors) and for the processional, an instrumental version of ‘Marry Me’ (by Train) – it sounded absolutely beautiful on the guitar. For the signing, our DJ played ‘I See Love’ (by Passenger) and for the recessional, we had ‘Home’ (by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) & ‘Top of the World’ (by Imagine Dragons) – they were upbeat and perfect for the confetti toss and celebration after the ceremony!
We had a hard time choosing readings (there are so many good ones out there) but finally decided on three. The first one, read by my aunt, was ‘Union’, by Robert Fulghum because I couldn’t make it through without breaking down in tears – we thought that was a good sign. The second, read by my sister, was ‘He’s Not Perfect’, by Bob Marley because it’s excellent advice and was a bit lighter, since I knew I would be a mess! The third, read by Mike’s cousin in Chiuchow, was ‘One-Hearted’. Mike’s family is Chinese and my family is French Canadian; our officiant, Joel Lock, did a great job of tying the two cultures together in talking about languages and the language of love.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had three bridesmaids; my sister, Emma (my maid of honour), my best friend since childhood, Cassie and a newer friend, Kayla. The girls wore beautiful grey and gold dresses from RenzRags Etsy Shop and looked gorgeous!! Our flower girls (Avalyn, Blair & Charlee) wore homemade tutus and carried fairy wands instead of flowers – they definitely stole the show.
THE FLOWERS | We wanted a true ‘wildflower’ look for the bouquets, boutonnieres and tables…so we figured the best way to do this was by actually collecting wildflowers. We gathered flowers from gardens (Mike’s Mum, my sister’s mother-in-law, etc. and we bought dried flowers from a local shop – Linens & Lavender). On our evening walks leading up to the wedding, we would cut different grasses from fields and greenery from forests around the island. We also bought some flowers online to supplement. With the help of some very artistic friends and the bridesmaids, we made the bouquets, boutonnieres, golden hoops of eucalyptus and table arrangements ourselves.
THE CAKE | We had two cakes, both made by my sister’s mother-in-law Patty: one was a three-tier naked carrot cake with cream cheese icing and flowers from her garden. The ‘groom’s cake’ (which is apparently a thing) was a red velvet cake with grey buttercream, berries, and succulents from Patty’s garden. They were both beautiful and DELICIOUS!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Lauren (Lauren McCormick Photography) and I are friends from our early teen years and I was thrilled to have Lauren come home to Manitoulin Island to shoot my wedding. Lauren’s obvious talent, coupled with her organization and bubbly personality meant that everything flowed seamlessly, everyone had a blast, and we ended up with some INCREDIBLE photos!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | My cousin Liz started a wedding decorating company a couple of years ago called Elemental Elegance, and specialises in rustic chic outdoor weddings. She got the vision immediately and executed the most stunning ceremony and reception, which were exactly what we had in mind – whimsical and wonderful! My Mum and I (along with many other friends and family) made most of the decorations and Liz put everything together and made it beautiful.
We made tie garlands out of fabric, to decorate the aisle (pathway in the forest) and add a pop of colour to an otherwise very natural setting. We also made giant picture frames and hung them in the forest to use as a photo booth. We had a bunch of homemade signs directing people to the ceremony, to the photo booth, to the lawn games, and eventually to the reception. I’m a huge fan of confetti – we had homemade boxes (the sheet music of our processional song), folded by Mike’s Mum, filled with the dried flower petals from my sister’s wedding last year. All the guests had a box and lined up along the path to shower us after the ceremony. We also ordered custom tissue paper confetti from PomLove Etsy Shop for during the cocktail hour & lawn games, which was super colourful and SO much fun!
Mike’s Mum also folded all the colourful cranes that we used as place settings on the tables (a nod to the 1,000 cranes tradition from Japanese culture). We may have cheated a bit, and only had about 200, but they were still a great addition to the décor. With help from our photographer, Lauren, during our engagement shoot we re-created some of the key moments from early on in our relationship. We created a story board, with pictures and a timeline that told the story of how we met and fell in love. We had so much fun with these little details and tried to add personal touches wherever we could. Our caterer, Alex, prepared canapés that were served during the lawn games, and a DELICIOUS buffet made with local food and a ton of flavour. Manitoulin Brewing Company supplied us with their local beer and we made our own wine at Country Corks. For our midnight buffet, Buoy’s Restaurant set up a portable pizza oven outside our reception and cooked delicious homemade pizza by candlelight for our guests.
THE HONEYMOON | We did a mini-moon in a log cabin on the French River immediately afterward and spent the days laying in front of a woodstove, drinking wine, watching the rain and playing board games. We were saving the real deal for the winter, so we could get away from the cold Canadian winter – we’ll be heading to Kauai on New Year’s Eve and spending two weeks hiking, surfing, and exploring the island! We’re both foodies and plan to hit up all the farmers’ markets the island has to offer.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | It poured on our wedding day – we thought all hope of our fairytale forest wedding was lost. We were so set on having our ceremony in the woods, that we just couldn’t call it and go through with the rain back-up. Thankfully we didn’t because about an hour before the ceremony was supposed to begin, the rain stopped, the skies opened up and it was glorious and sunny. Walking down that aisle, with the sun shining through the trees, then finally turning the corner and getting to see Mike (break down in tears) was a pretty incredible feeling.
In the craziness of the day, I completely forgot to put my veil on for the ceremony – I was so excited about it (it was gorgeous) and was fairly disappointed when I realised afterward that I had forgotten it. We went down to the pier to take some veil shots (which turned out to be some of my favourites from the day), and the wind caught it and pulled it in the opposite direction from what we were going for; the result was one EPIC picture, then my veil flying off and almost ending up in the lake. Thankfully Mike has some quick reflexes! The last dance of the night – ‘Home for a Rest’ – I twirled in the middle of the dancefloor in my big gorgeous princess dress while everyone danced around me. It was such a happy moment!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | I know everyone says this – but the day goes by SO fast! Especially the ceremony. Try to soak it all in, and enjoy the little moments throughout the day. I stressed a lot about all the details beforehand, which to be fair did make the day go very smoothly, but there were a lot of things that in the grand scheme of things really didn’t end up mattering. If people offer to help and genuinely want to – take them up on it. Just keep everything in perspective, and remember that the day is about you guys and celebrating your relationship – enjoy having everyone that you love together for the day or weekend because that’s probably the only time in your life it will ever happen!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Lauren McCormick Photography
Dress | Allure Bridals
Bridal Boutique | Ferré Sposa
Bridesmaid Dresses | RenzRags
Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire | Hudson’s Bay, Ted Baker and MenEvolution (Etsy)
Ring Bearer Accessories | SweetnSwag
Cake | Patty
Hair | SHEARS To The New You (Ashley)
Flowers | Gathered from gardens, fields and forests around Manitoulin Island and supplemented with flowers from Bunchesdirect. Bouquets made by bridesmaids, boutonnieres made by Kathleen and table arrangements were a collaborative effort.
Details and Day-Of Coordination Assistance | Melanie & Jessica
DJ | DJ Neon Nomad
Caterer | Alex Blondin
Accommodations | Red Lodge Resort
Congratulations, Aline and Michael. Your hard work really paid off – what a beautiful wedding! I am sure that your obvious happiness and love for each other, as well as the unique components you added to your day (hello, lawn games and cocktails) will really stick with your guests for years to come. Abby xx