I’ve talked about my husband, Erick, many times in this blog but I’ve never told the story of how he became my partner in crime life. We met just over five years ago, only two days after he had arrived in here from Mexico. Knowing that he is a musician, a mutual friend brought him to “meet some nice people” at choir practice. As a conductor, I was doubly thrilled to meet him. First of all, he’s pretty darn good looking. Second of all, we never turn down male singers because they are the majestic unicorns of the choral world.

Our paths led us us our separate ways the following year, but by the summer of 2010 we’d gotten back in touch. Our first date wasn’t even supposed to be a date, but we ended up at Hurley’s pub in downtown Montreal, singing along to the band Solstice’s rendition of “Wild Mountain Thyme”. Our eyes locked and, as they say, the rest is history.

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When it came time to plan our wedding, we knew that we were going the DIY route for two reasons. One, we did not have an unlimited budget and two, we like being crafty and we’re pretty good at organizing events. We knew we’d need lots of help, and were very lucky to have my mother, our extended family, and many friends who were eager to help us out.

L.A.C.E was created about a year before the wedding: Love in Action Creates Enthusiasm. (Or, as I thought of it for much of the planning process, Liquor in Abundance = Crafting Explosion.) LACE was basically about getting the ladies of my family together to bond over our shared excitement and enthusiasm for the biggest DIY project of my life. We got together a bunch of times (always over food and drink) to plan and craft. It was all kinds of fun!

So when July 27th, 2013 rolled around we were surrounded by details created by our nearest and dearest. From the music to the decor to the flowers to the attire, most of our wedding was hand-made and full of love. Here’s a gimpse of some of my favourite DIY elements. These photos are by Ryan Lindsey and Madeleine Palmer.

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My very talented mother made our beautiful flower girl’s dress. Flora’s only stipulations were that it needed to feature pink and a bow. My mom basically knocked it out of the park.

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We outfitted our handsome ring bearer in a MacLeod (my side of the family) kilt, borrowed from a family friend. Erick had his MacKenzie-tartan kilt custom made by Betty Gibson in Carleton Place. His brother, Andrés, also wore the MacKenzie tartan, and his groomsman, Graham, became an honourary MacLeod for the day!

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Anyone who dares to say that kilts are for sissies is just wrong. Look at that photo. Stare at it. Soak up the handsomeness.

All the gorgeous flowers were arranged by my cousin Pascale and her merry band of amateur florists (i.e. us). The flowers were one of the most stress-inducing aspects of planning a DIY wedding. I must have spent 20 hours alone just sorting out which varieties and quantities we needed. This spreadsheet from Fifty Flowers (even though I ordered through a local company, Valley Flowers) was a total lifesaver. Even so, I waaayyyy over ordered on certain flowers.

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One of the most special touches of the day (to me, at least) was that on each bouquet, we attached the ribbons with a cairngorm brooch. A cairngorm is a traditional Scottish brooch that’s worn to hold on your plaid or to fasten your kilt. The one on Annie’s bouquet belonged to my great-grandmother, and is also the one that I wore on my highland dancing outfit for years.

My mom also made the gorgeous bridesmaids’ dresses, with help from a dear friend in Ottawa. They ended up basically designing the dresses themselves, as none of the available patterns were quite what we envisioned.

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One of my favourite elements from the day was our music. The music for our ceremony was performed entirely by close friends, including my very first violin teacher, Nancy, two of my great friends, Paul and Greg, who played with my band, and a good friend from my McGill days, Hali. One of my family’s good friends, Erna, played the organ.

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What? You mean not every wedding has a friends and family choir? How odd. 🙂 All of our family and friends who are choral singers got together, under my mother’s direction (there are no limits to the woman’s talents), to perform two of our favourite choral works, ‘Ubi Caritas’ by Maurice Duruflé and ‘Rise Up My Love’ by Healey Willan.

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With the exception of our invitations (which were partially DIY since we put them together ourselves), all of the paper products at our wedding were cut, embossed, and printed by us. My parents were a huge help, Cuttlebugging place cards into the wee hours of the morning! We also made all of the napkin ribbons at a L.A.C.E gathering (thanks, Jen!).

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Our chocolate raspberry (yum!) wedding cake was lovingly baked and decorated by my mother’s best friend, Judy. She even made the flowers to look like the ones in my bouquet! Speaking of my bouquet, it was stunning and exactly what I had envisioned. The light blue crushed-velvet ribbon was from my maternal grandmother’s wedding outfit. Yeah, I cried a lot over that one. Let’s have another look, shall we?

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Our first dance remains both Erick’s and my most memorable moment of our wedding day. The same band that played the night we had our first date was also our dance band. For our first dance they played “Wild Mountain Thyme”, and we sang to each other the whole time. It was like being back in that very first magical moment when we realized we were head over heels for each other. We’d printed the lyrics on the menu cards, and all of our guests sang along. *sniff*

For all the beautiful DIY elements, the moments with people remain my most treasured wedding memories. My aunt showing up with my grandmother’s pin to put on my bouquet, because her Alzheimer’s wouldn’t allow her to attend in person. Our parents singing hymns together in the front pew of the chapel. Hugging my sisters and brother-in-law for the first time. Dancing our feet off at the reception. Walking hand-in-hand in our wedding finery to our hotel at the end of the night.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the experience of DIYing our wedding, it’s that all those little crafty details won’t matter in the end. Sure, people will appreciate them at the time, but they are not the memories you’ll think of 1, 5, 10, 40 years from now.

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Did you tackle any DIY projects for your wedding? How did they turn out? Did you help anyone else with elements of their wedding? Leave a comment and let me know!

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