Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I couldn't let January pass without a look back at what was the highlight of my 2016. Our wedding on Saturday September 10, 2016, is a memory I'll always cherish and writing this post brought it all back. Admittedly there are a lot of photos and I practically wrote an essay about my experience of the day at the very end (how self-indulgent of me), but if you scroll waaaaay down you can find a full list of our vendors—just in case you're planning your nuptials and want a little help. Enjoy!
The night before the wedding, I was just feeling so over wedding planning in general. As I typed the last few words of our thank-you speech and Lawrence dropped me off at the Loden Hotel—where my bridesmaids and I would spend the night and get ready the next morning—all that ran through my head was "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!" It was all downhill from here and I could sit back and enjoy every meticulously planned detail. The staff at the Loden helped me get settled in, and their friendliness and excited congratulations only heightened my excitement.
My bridesmaid Anya arrived as I was applying concealer to my undereye circles in preparation for a quiet dinner at Market St. Georges. We scouted for possible first look photo locations on the walk to the restaurant and I fired a few quick emails to our photographer, but after that we were fully focused on the moment, enjoying a lovely meal and catch-up. Anya kept me from ordering anything too salty or bloating at my request. Dinner ended and we slowly meandered back to the hotel where my maid of honour Yinda would meet us later that night.
Some brides can't sleep a wink the night before out of nerves, but I wasn't one of them. In fact, I had an intense dream about watching a zombie apocalypse TV show in which the protagonist, a technical writer who lived in San Francisco, had to make her way home just as the zombie outbreak was starting. It was a full-on television pilot playing in my head! Walking Dead meets Silicon Valley. What a bizarre thing to dream about the night before getting married.
The three hours spent in hair and makeup went by so quickly I couldn't believe it; I remember thinking the rest of the day would pass just as quickly and kept reminding myself to savour each moment. We chatted about what a perfect day it was (not too hot or cold, not raining, sunny but partly cloudy so the photos would be perfectly lit) and Anya's new article in the Globe & Mail. Our flower delivery arrived, as did our day-of coordinator Mandy, and then before we knew it, the groomsmen were downstairs in the lobby. Lawrence and I did first look photos in front of a heritage building with blue columns, just around the corner from the Loden, and we had a quick sushi takeout lunch in the hotel room before heading to the Stanley Park rose garden.
There were at least three other wedding parties in Stanley Park that day taking photos, although I don't know how many of them actually got married there. Every time smiling strangers congratulated us, my grin grew wider. Then it was an hour of shooting wedding party photos around the park while friends and family volunteers set up the ceremony site. (Major kudos to the ones who picked up goose poop from the lawn.)
Throughout the entire day my feelings had ranged from chill happiness to bubbly excitement, but as we lined up in order and waited for the procession to begin, I started to feel happy tears bubbling up as I kept thinking it's really happening and we were getting married. It took a few steadying breaths and Lawrence's reassuring presence to rein it in and not let the emotions get the better of my eye makeup.
Our civil ceremony started a little late because we were waiting for my grandmother to arrive before we began. I remember walking carefully with my dad by my side, willing myself not to trip; the irrepressible feeling of happiness that bubbled up as we drew closer to the ceremony site and I saw everyone we love gathered in one spot, happy and smiling; the look of utter love and joy on Lawrence's face. It's a good thing the officiant repeats the vows in phrases slowly and carefully so it's impossible to mess up because my brain was just a happy little pile of mush that couldn't process more than a few syllables at a time. Then it was time to sign the marriage licence, march down the aisle, take photos with friends and family, and do more wedding party photos in Stanley Park.
The part of the day we were most looking forward to was the dinner reception at Chambar—hard part's over, time to kick up our heels! Walking into the downstairs dining room and seeing everyone there, the vases of flowers at every table, the marquee lights spelling out "AMOUR<3" behind the head table was another feeling I'll never forget.
The rest of the night comes to mind in bits and fragments. Sipping a glass of sparkling cava when we first arrived. Going around to each table and chatting with guests. Getting compliments on Lawrence's eclectic playlist, which featured everything from Motown and James Brown to 90s R&B and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Being pleasantly shocked my mom ordered halibut and ate every bite as she's a notoriously picky eater and never eats fish, claiming it's too fishy. The laughs the best man and maid of honour's speeches elicited. Our adorable nephew in his stroller parked directly across from us at the dining table. Guests snapping photos in front of the AMOUR<3 lights. The heaping cake trays of macarons. Our first dance to Frankie Valli singing "You're just too good to be true." Our next dance with the woman who introduced Lawrence to salsa and the mutual salsa friend who introduced Lawrence to me. Heading back to the Loden with Lawrence, the both of us tired but so, so happy. Discovering rosé and chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for us in the room, a surprise from Lawrence's twin brother and his wife.
Ceremony | Stanley Park rose garden (booked through Parks Vancouver)
Reception | Chambar
Photography | Stephen K. Lee
Day of coordinator | Mandy Wong, The Sweetest Day
Hair/makeup | Creme Bridal
Macarons | Thierry
Flowers | Flower Factory
Wedding dress | David's Bridal
Reception dress | BHLDN (not shown)
Alterations | Kathryn Bass Bridal
Bridesmaid's dresses | BHLDN
Getting ready suite | Loden Hotel
Decor rentals | Bespoke (marquee lights, milk glass bud vases, cake stands, ceremony chairs)
Balloons | Balloonatics
Tassel garlands | DIY
Blue getting ready robes | Smash + Tess
Full disclosure: Some of the products used in my wedding day beauty look were PR samples and I received a discount on my wedding shoes, but overall we paid for everything ourselves. All of our vendors were exceedingly wonderful to work with; if you have any questions about any of them, please don't hesitate to comment below or email me!