I first met with Samantha and Amin back in the summer of 2013 at small coffee shop in New Edinburg. Little did I know this client was about to give me carte blanche for what would be the most amazing concept to creation a planner could have ever dreamed of in a super exclusive venue.
I first walked into this reclaimed church for a preliminary site visit I could immediately see the space transforming infront of my eyes. I've been asked about my creative process, and it's something I can't quite put into words. It's kind of like walking into the picture on the right, closing your eyes, and opening them and literally seeing the picture on the left. Vision and potential. And this space checked every box in my creative soul.
The space had been gutted with no immediate plans for any renovations or improvements. Patchy paint, green stained parliamentary looking carpets, 60 scattered unhinged pews, no washrooms or running water. The church in day-light looked weathered. But at night it emanated character of an age gone by and an old world ambiance almost as if you were in transported to little Italy.
The opportunities this converted church provided were endless and by the time we walked out of the space I knew exactly every design element and the vendors needed to make this an absolutely gorgeous wedding.
CURRATED STYLE FILE
Before we delve into the before and after pictures here is the Style File we created for Samantha & Amin in 2014. This is a great glimpse into how our initial style boards come translate to "the day of".
I will confess! I do have a very specific formula of how I plan and design a wedding. The very first thing I do is establish concept and priorities, solidify venue, then move into design, choose a photographer who will document the wedding according to the clients overall design and style, and lastly secure reputable vendors to ensure a strong cohesive look and feel based on intention and fore-thought can be brought to life. Not rocket science by any means...but that's just the beginning.
Since the "church" was now desacralized everything was fair game. This meant we could use the space however we wanted. During our meeting Samantha said something that really resonated with me which unintentionally became the driving force behind our design. She said, her grandmother always wanted her to have a church wedding, but that she herself wasn't did not want a traditional "churchy" wedding. It was almost like a light bulb when off inside my head.......no nuptials inside the church.....we're going to bring all the pews outside on the lawn and your going to get married on the steps leadings up to the church....she died! Little did I know the groom was a New Yorker and HATED BUGS.... good thing I'm a great convincer!
I tend to pride myself in incorporating a unique design element which I like to call the "Piece de Resistance" that will leave a lasting impression with guests. Something slightly extravagant and unlike anything else you've seen at a generic wedding.
Ugly purple banners turned suspended florals and hanging candles. Bringing the outside, inside. A gorgeous floating element that would not only enhance the space but transform.
SUBTLE GRAND ENTRANCE
As our official altar and entrance to the venue we created a floral climbing vine to soften and accentuate the doorway. It was so perfectly designed, guests thought it was part of the landscape.
Two weeks before the wedding the groom straight out of left field said "Hey! Let's have some sort or entertainment.. like maybe some fire dancers..."
My reaction.... "Ummm what?!. lol let me ponder on that for a bit!".
My thought process thereafter: fire + old church divided by insurance =....not gonna happen.... interpretive dancers in glow in the dark costumes- was that even a thing?.... houla-hoop body morphing performance-negative......hmmmm..aerial silks performance?! Mic drop.
This generated a new problem; space was tight and I needed to find a creative way to incorporate a 20ft structure into the venue without it looking like an eye-soar. It also had to be dismantled before the night was over with guests still milling about. One thing you need to know about me is I hate moving things while guests are using the same space. It just looks bad. This structure was a couple hundred pounds and took 45 mins to set up and would equally take as long to be taken down. If you look closely you will see the acro structure at the back of the venue right in front of the main doors. I took a huge risk in its ultimate placement but I also felt like a genius when every guest walked into the space underneath this structure but only noticed it's presence until show time.
In the left hand picture you can see all the pews we had to either use or carefully and cleverly store. We used 26 pews outside for the ceremony and integrated 16 inside at guests reception tables. Another unique detail I just had to incorporate.
OLD WORD DETAILS
It was important to me to keep the space uncluttered, simple with just the right amount of european styling.
With their 1950's Vogue vibe I couldn't have asked for a better photography duo. Old world design + reclaimed church = Joel & Justyna from Joel Bedford Photography.
WEDDING PLANNER: Toast Events, Elise Schmitz, Madison Kelly, Victoria Denofrio, Allie Darwin
CONCEPT & DESIGN: Elise Schmitz Toast Events
DECORATOR & FLORIST: Wedecor
PHOTOGRAPHER: Joel Bedford Photography
CATERER: Tulips & Maple
OFFICIANT: Exceptional Ceremonies
LIMOUSINE: East Coast Limos
TABLE STATIONARY: Wedecor
CAKE: Thimbles Cakes
MAKEUP: Natalie Peachy
AERIAL SILKS: Quality Entertainment (Montreal Acrobats)