Becoming the Connors

A couple years back my dear friend decided to blog a rundown of her wedding day (see her’s here). I reread everything she wrote, swooned over her pictures and adored reliving her day through her eyes. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t chomping at the bit to write a similar post where I could gush about my special day and all who had a hand in creating what I believe was the best.day.ever. When Matt and I created this blog together on our honeymoon we wanted to use this space as a way to look back on our adventures. In my mind, getting married was the first step towards a lifetime together. This blog post serves not only as a shout out to all our vendors, helpers, and right-hand men/women who made this day happen but also as a reminder in days to come of all it took to bring this vision to life.

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The Venue

If you are engaged or almost there, I would highly suggest looking into the Secret Garden at Woodbridge Ponds as your venue of choice. From the beautiful greenhouse reception area to the blueberry ice cream bar, this venue hit the nail on the head with as the most picturesque patch of Abbotsford. Caroline and her team worked relentlessly to answer all my pesky questions, set up my roaring floral swag and ensure that every vendor knew where to be that day. I know many brides who have had backyard weddings and have had to worry about cornering in on every inch of decor. Thankfully our venue was already to the nines in extravagant plants, fish ponds, greenhouses and cobblestone flooring. We could relax and focus more on the smaller, finer touches. One of my favorite things about this place is how it was built for the guest’s entertainment. While we took off for our pictures our guests had the options of tasting Secret Garden’s own in-house wine, they could pick up some of their homemade blueberry ice cream (a necessity under the roasting sun) or lounge around the fireplace. There was always something to look at or try. Not only is it beautiful as is, the team is constantly looking to upgrade, expand and beautify their area. By the time my wedding rolled around they upgraded to a brand new clear top tent. I happened to notice on Facebook two weeks ago that they now have gorgeous linens lining the inside of the glass roof, talk about romantic!

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The Photographers

Meghan, together with her husband, James, captured our wedding wonderfully. Back in October, Meghan, Matt and I met over coffee to discuss all of our photography needs and wants. We instantly loved Meghan’s ability to ease all our nerves by answering all our questions with precision and accuracy. As a word to future brides, take your engagement photos with the photographer that will be capturing your wedding. Surprise! We’re not models! Having your picture taken professionally can be intimidating and to a degree, awkward. I had no idea where to put my hands, and for someone who shows little PDA, showing PDA for the camera feels very unnatural. Meghan had us feeling more and more comfortable by the end of our engagement shoot, there may have even been a kiss caught on camera! By the time our wedding came to be, the awkwardness had faded and we truly enjoyed having the cameras around. Meghan and James are very reasonable, the quality is fantastic and they were so fun to have around with our friends and family. It speaks volumes as them as a couple when you have been around them for less than eight hours and you already feel like great friends.

I am so hashtag blessed to have trendy friends who like taking pictures. I didn’t have room in my budget to pay our photographer to take makeup/hair pictures of us girls ahead of time so I called on my great friend Paula and she was there without hesitation. Paula joined us for breakfast early that morning and snuck around taking pictures of us girls getting all dolled up. I was worried that I would regret not getting a few good pictures of these moments, so Paula willingly stepped up. It was not only great having those pictures taken, it was also a joy to have her there that morning!

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Meghan Bustard Photography

Floral

Flowers have been sailing strong in the wedding industry for several years now. Little trendy shops have been exploding with business since brides decided that flowers deserve a stronger focus. I jumped on the band wagon fast and met up with the most delightful shop owner, Kari, from Confetti Floral in Abbotsford, B.C. I had received the top recommendation from a friend and appreciated that she was in Abbotsford, making the flower pick up quite simple on the way to the wedding. Kari sat down with my mom and me to discuss all of my floral dreams. She caught my vision quickly and was able to translate everything I smushed together from Pinterest into one clean idea. A combination of open roses and ranunculus complimented the dresses perfectly. Everything was fresh and able to be enjoyed in all their glory.

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My hefty floral swag doubled as our head table centerpiece. I really couldn’t picture how this would work out but to my amazement, it made for a spectacular table arrangement after fulfilling its use at our ceremony. We didn’t need many decor items at the ceremony since this big guy stole the show!

As for the centerpiece flowers, we ordered them from COSTCO. Who knew that Costco would deliver such simply gorgeous bulk flower sets for $160.00. Rather than paying per centerpiece, we arranged the assortment of white blooms and greenery into dollar store vases ourselves the day before the wedding. My mom, aunt and I trimmed up the ends, sorted through our favorite combinations and voila, my centerpiece. They stayed fresh in my in-laws’ wine cellar, making it easy to plop each vase down in the middle of the table the morning of. If you are looking to trim down on costs or wanting to dedicate your budget elsewhere, I recommend scanning the Costco website. They have many bulk flower options to suit your wedding and plenty of colors so you won’t have to look far.

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The Garments

The dress, oh the day every girl dreams of, finding the perfect dress. My hunt for the wedding gown began a little differently than I had imagined: over the toilet. I was much too excited to let a little spit up stop me so off I was with my mom, mother in law and two best friends to seek out the perfect gown. Matt, the sweetheart that he is came by just before we left to drop off some chocolate and flowers. He wanted this day to be special for me, what a guy. I had made two appointments downtown Columbia Street in New Westminster; the street of dreams for any bride to be. Before sorting through each rack at Lisa’s Bridal, I explained to my crew that I, in fact, did not want anything that had a boat cut neckline, anything lace or that was tight-fitting. Well, who would have thought that I would try on and fall in love with a champagne/ivory dress that was exactly that? The smile on my face said it all, that was the one. It may have taken some convincing for me to try it on, but I am sure glad I did because once it was on, I did not want to take it off. The appointment that came next paled in comparison. I knew what I liked, and it could not be found in their store. Much to their disadvantage, my stomach began to kick and scream. With each cinch of a particular corset back dress, I was convinced Bridesmaids 2 was about to happen. Luckily I was so set on that first dress that I didn’t need to spend much time in the second store. Back we went a couple days later and ordered my very own wedding dress. I had little alternations done aside from hemming. We added a bustle (a life saver during dancing) and trimmed up the arms a little. It was important to me that I felt comfortable in my dress and I sure did. It’s not every day that you can be a princess in pounds of delicate fabric. Pick the dress that feels the best on YOU.

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Here is just one of the times where I can brag about how talented my mother is. Not many people can say that their mom hand-made their bridesmaid dresses (and their veil). My mom made my dreams come alive. I had a picture in mind of floor length, whimsy dresses, in an off-shade of blush or cream. After scouring every website I could think of and patiently scanning the racks of David’s bridal I found an offshoot of what I had pictured. The dress was a light chiffon material, with crossed straps in the back and had a slit up the front. What was the problem? It was blue and it was two hundred and sixty dollars. I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask my college bridesmaids to pay that kind of dime, nor did I want navy dresses. I discussed my options with my mom and showed her some ideas. She cheerfully took a breath and said: “I could make them if you want”. Did I mention that I had six bridesmaids? Over the course of six months, my ever so creative mom, along with Matthew’s grandmother crafted up gorgeous silk lined dresses, with crossed straps in the back and a slit up the front. Since each dress was fitted to each individual girl, they flattered every body type wonderfully and only cost a third of the price.

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Rather than renting getups for the boys, we purchased Slim Fit suits from RW&Co. I was hellbent on classy James Bond suits for our men, which of course meant they would need a jacket and pants. We looked into rentals all over the town but we really had a hard time asking our boys to pay a pretty penny for something they couldn’t keep. RW&Co was able to give us forty percent off each suit because we were ordering so many from them. They were helpful with their sizing and sent pieces by mail if they didn’t have them in store. Each guy walked away with a jacket and pants from it all and paid half of a rental. Since our suits were simple, most guys already owned a white shirt and black shoes, making the whole process smooth, inexpensive and without burden.

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Taylor and Nate had the easiest job of them all: show up and look cute; a task they blew out of the water. These little blondies wore their wedding attire with confidence and managed to make every guest smile as they walked down the aisle together. Taylor’s beautiful white teacup length dress was bought off of an Etsy supplier that I noticed is no longer available. Etsy is a great place to find flower girl dresses, however, ensure that you order it early on, as our’s took around three months to come in. When buying for your littles, stop in places like Sears, Winners, H&M etc. You don’t need to spend loads on simple outfits that they will grow out of soon. We snagged some pants and a shirt on sale and paired them with black suspenders from Amazon. With a borrowed tie, TA DA, they were set. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

My wedding had many trinkets that held special meaning to me.  I wore my mom’s hair clip and garter, my late grandmother’s earrings and Nate’s pillow was fabricated (by mum of course) with my great grandmother’s lace, but perhaps one of the most special for me was Taylor’s flower basket. When I was her age, I was the flower girl in my aunt and uncle’s wedding. I truly thought it was the best day of my life. When prepping for this day, I dug into the deep corner shelves of my closet and pulled down my flower girl basket, complete with dried flowers and my uncle’s boutonniere from 2000. My mom glued in some flowers and tied a new gold ribbon on the side. It took no time at all but held all the meaning in the world. For me it was like passing on the princess torch, a special moment indeed.

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The Decor

It is far too easy to become wrapped up in the decor of it all. I became quickly consumed with all the STUFF and needed several reminders to tone it down a notch. The wedding comes second to the marriage, so invest in your love first and foremost. It’s easy to save on decor since the blow up of DIY weddings in the course of the past couple of years. You can make lots with little. Since our venue provided so much natural beauty, we didn’t have to overload on knick knacks. We made our seating chart from a gigantic gold picture frame backed with a black board and all of my signage was done by one of my talented bridesmaids. My mom co-owns a home decor shop called Welcome Home in Maple Ridge so she was able to provide me with many of our frames and easels. Best of all, she sells Cece Caldwell’s chalk paint, a necessity for DIY brides who need to fit an item into their color scheme. Our centerpieces, as mentioned earlier, consisted of Costco bulk flowers in dollar store vases. Each table had three gold speckled votives which were purchased from Michaels. Do not buy them from there unless you have a coupon or see a stellar deal. The bonus with these candle holders was that the venue bought them off of us for their rental company as soon as the clock struck midnight! Keep in mind when setting your budget that many of your items are resellable online when you’re done with them. I bought my wooden table numbers off of eBay and sprayed them gold. Finally, I scavenged every thrift store in Langley with my MOH in search of charger plates. Over the course of a couple months, I collected 140 of them. In my opinion, they added an additional class to the room and tied in my color scheme nicely. It’s amazing what you can do with a can of spray paint, my friends.

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Likely my favorite “decor” element was our guest book table. At the last minute, we decided to go for it and do a Polaroid guest book. Best decision we made (aside from getting married!). It was the first thing I looked at when we arrived home after our honeymoon. It was so neat to not only read everyone’s comments, but it helped us instantly reminisce about the wedding through all of the mini pictures. It is a keepsake we will definitely look back on throughout our married life. If you’re thinking about having a Polaroid guest book at your wedding, do it.  You won’t regret it one bit.

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Up next is our guest-loving candy bar. My husband wanted one thing at the wedding and this was it. Yet another level of guest entertainment and delicious I might add. A month or so before our wedding my mom and I loaded up the trunk full, and I mean FULL, of treats from Bulk Barn in New Westminster. Bulk Barn has plenty of selection and allowed us to purchase the quantities that we needed. The candy bar gave our guests something to snack on during our cocktail hour and doubled as our guest favors. A little keep sake wrapped up in an ivory organza bag from Amazon and completed with a personal note.

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The Cuisine

We loved the tasty buffet dinner provided by Simple Savory Valley Catering in Yarrow. Gabriella answered all of my emails promptly and without delay. What I liked most about my experience with SSV was the tasting we did back in October. When deciding what caterer to hire, we had the opportunity to go to the owner’s home and enjoy a full dinner with them. During this time we tasted many of the appetizers and entrees we chose for this occasion. It eased our minds knowing what the food tasted like before serving it to all our guests. In case you can’t decide which of the many options to choose from, pick the pesto pasta, it was my fave! I heard from many brides that they weren’t able to eat much on their wedding day, I can relate. My excitement and form fitting dress didn’t allow me to eat much the day of so a stop at the greasiest McDonalds on the way to the airport with my best friends was necessary.

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I couldn’t talk about the food without highlighting the incredible art that my dear friend, Alyssa put into designing my wedding cake and cupcakes. This girl can do anything well and I had no doubt when asking her to make my cake that she would make something perfect. I wanted a white, two tiered cake with flowers to match the bouquets. Alyssa not only made a delicious vanilla cake with espresso chocolate filling, she also made an arrangement of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and gold sprinkles. She went above the call of duty and blew my mind with her delicious abilities.

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This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that putting on a wedding is hard work. It’s very consuming and can take a toll on your emotions. That being said, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my village of support. From my team of role models who stepped up to set up the morning of, to friends lending out their decorations, their time and their talents. I felt truly supported by everyone who was in attendance. Above anyone else, my mom was my biggest support through this process. She listened to my every complaint, painted, shopped, sewed and design countless items you see in the pictures and taught me so much about being in a loving marriage. I couldn’t have done it without her, and wouldn’t have wanted to. I am thankful to now have two incredible families to lean on through it all.

Beyond all the decorations, the food, and the dresses, I was surrounded by people who love me on my special day. These people prayed for me and gave me and my husband an abundance of support over the years. As my dad put it in his and my mom’s speech: “It takes a village to raise a child, you, are a part of our village”. 

A word to the brides: you won’t remember, or care about the song you walked into your reception to, nor will it matter in a month whether or not you served spicy or sweet meatballs. For me, I forever want to remember my friends praying for me the night before the wedding, and the emotion strewed across Matt’s face when I walked down the aisle. I hold on dearly to the kind words spoken through speeches and how I felt looking out and seeing the friendliest of smiles. I want to remember what mattered, and I promise you it wasn’t the meatballs. Focus on preparing yourself for a lifetime of marriage, don’t sweat the small stuff and be thankful for everyone who is walking this journey with you.

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