Sharon and I got married in Edmonton on September 27, 2014. We had the most wonderful day. But, as anyone who has planned a wedding can tell you, the number of people and goods involved can be complex. We wanted to sum up our day, which would also pay homage to the great vendors we worked with along the way.
Sharon: The most common question leading up to the wedding was whether or not it was stressful planning it. To be honest, the wedding was one of the most fun occasions I’ve ever organized – it was a chance for Mack and I celebrate with our loved ones, and through the process, work with vendors we respect. Any stress leading up to it was related to the fact that the wedding was the last of four “events” we were producing in the seven weeks leading up to the end of September, followed by our honeymoon departure two days after. But we made the bed, so although it was hectic, it was entirely by choice.
Mack: I was thrilled with the way our wedding day went and it was all thanks to Sharon. I certainly tried to help, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that she was the one that truly made it happen. Maybe it was because we’ve attended a bunch of our friends’ weddings over the last few years, but she just knew what to do, from start to finish. As usual, I’d have been completely lost without her. I appreciate that she included me in the planning process and always asked for my opinion, even if sometimes she had already made up her mind!
What We Wore
Sharon: I have always loved the look of Audrey Hepburn’s wedding dress in the final scene of Funny Face – elegant, chic, and tea-length. Although conventional wedding dresses are typically to the floor or beyond, I knew something less fussy and easier to wear would suit me better.
A few years ago, while visiting Amanda in Toronto, we were riding the streetcar on Queen West, when I caught a glance of a storefront window featuring cocktail-length wedding dresses. The shop I was admiring turned out to be Cabaret, a respected vintage retailer which, in recent years, had also developed an in-house collection of vintage-inspired wedding dresses. The Cabaret staff were fabulous to work with, and I loved that the garments were handmade in Toronto. In May, I ordered “The Bijou”, one of the dresses I had seen in the window all those years ago. They shipped it out to me free of charge, and it fit perfectly, requiring no alterations. I couldn’t have imagined getting married in anything else.
Sharon: For my sisters’ bridesmaids dresses, we were hoping to continue that vintage look. Our colour palate was cranberry and charcoal. After shopping around, we couldn’t shake the appeal of Alfred Sung’s line of dresses. We found a great selection at Bridal Debut in Sherwood Park.
I also wanted to mention the two lovely ladies who did our hair and make-up that day. It’s an understatement to say I rarely dabble in beauty products, so I entrusted Jenn Chivers and Jenise Wong to help me. Jenn was efficient, professional, and was able to create art from an image. Jenise, a friend of Felicia’s, knew my apprehension about not looking or feeling like myself, so made sure I was comfortable with the make-up. I think she did a fabulous job!
Mack: Honestly, I had never really considered what I would wear on my wedding day. There’s no “That Suit is a Beaut” or “Say Perfecto to the Tuxedo” show on TLC for guys. I guess I always figured my bride would guide me. Fortunately, she did. At Sharon’s suggestion, I decided I liked the lighter grey color with some red to pop. I wanted to look good, but I certainly didn’t want anything that would take attention away from Sharon and her dress. So with that in mind, service became the most important criteria for choosing where to get my tux.
After checking out a couple of options, we made our way to Moore’s on Calgary Trail, where we met an awesome sales associate named Agnus. She was helpful right from the start, and made great suggestions such as getting an off-white shirt because Sharon’s dress wasn’t pure white (and could look yellow in photos if my shirt was). I ended up renting a BLACK by Vera Wang tuxedo, and was very happy with it. Again, the service at Moore’s was fantastic.
Sharon: Although we were impressed by the sample arrangements at Wild Orchid, our deciding factor to book with them was their proximity to our condo. Being one block away, we negated delivery charges, and a member of our wedding party simply walked over the morning of to grab the bouquets. Sticking to vendors close to home definitely had its advantages!
Taking Care of Business
Sharon: I liked the idea of a first look – not only would it take the pressure off waiting until the start of the ceremony to see each other in our wedding attire, but it also meant we could be more economical about our time that day.
We squeezed in an extra location for our wedding party shoot in the time leading up to the ceremony, taking advantage of having the City Market right outside our front door. It was important to us to incorporate as many of our favourite Edmonton activities into our day as possible – sure, our wedding was primarily to celebrate our love of each other, but why not celebrate our love of Edmonton, too?
Mack: Though I was happy for Sharon to take the lead on figuring out what our day would like, I knew for sure that I wanted a tea ceremony to be part of it. The modern tea ceremony is a nod to Chinese culture and tradition and is a great way to show respect to our parents. There are variations on the procedure, but in general it consists of the bride and groom serving tea to their parents (and sometimes other elders like aunts, uncles, and grandparents). In exchange, they are presented with a small gift to wish the couple good luck.
In our case, we served our parents tea. We also included Sharon’s sisters, and they served us tea in exchange for a red pocket (as we’re their elders). It was a fun way to include a little bit of Sharon’s familial heritage into our day.
Saying “We Do!”
Mack: Because we have decided to live in the core, Sharon and I walk whenever possible – we walk to work, to the market, and to activities. So it was important to us that we be able to walk on our wedding day too. That meant a venue downtown, and though we initially had our sights set on the Citadel’s Tucker Amphitheatre, we ultimately settled on the historic McKay Avenue School. Located a few short blocks from home, we knew it would make the logistics on the day much easier for us, and we hoped that being centrally located would mean easier access for our guests too. The third floor assembly hall was where we held our ceremony, a beautiful space with old wooden beams and floors, and a skylight too. We are thrilled that City Council has recently decided to proceed with designating the building as a Municipal Historic Resource, so that other Edmontonians can enjoy its history and character for years to come.
Sharon: Mack and I had elected to use an internet-based system to manage our guest list instead of issuing paper-based invites. And though we had some functionality challenges with Appy Couple, it was still the right choice for us. It also allowed us to invest more of our budget into the paper program, which we treated as the primary souvenir from the ceremony. Erica Leong, a close family friend, is a designer based out of Vancouver, and she did a fantastic job translating our vision for a whimsical representation of a few of our favourite places in Edmonton. The program text itself was adapted from an online template.
Sharon: After moving to 104 Street, I started associating City Market mornings with the sound of Martin Kerr’s voice. Windows open, his acoustic songs would float up into our condo, and over breakfast, we’d be able to enjoy his renditions of everything from Oasis to Jack Johnson. Knowing he also performed at weddings, we booked him early on in the planning process – while we didn’t get a chance to shop at the market that morning, we did have a piece of the market at our ceremony that day.
Mack: Friends of ours had Fat Franks at their wedding a few years ago and we thought it was a fun, unique way to offer guests something to eat after the ceremony. Plus, with our penchant for food trucks, we knew we wanted to incorporate them into our day in some form! We decided to ask Eva Sweet to serve the waffles we have enjoyed so regularly at the City Market downtown. They were also one of the very first participants at What the Truck?! Back in 2011.
What We Ate
Mack: Whenever Sharon and I are feeling gluttonous and don’t want to cook, we make a trip over to Route 99. We have been eating there since our first trip together in 2007 and I guess you could say that over the years it has become “our place”. We love the easy-going atmosphere, the quick service, and the non-traditional but extremely tasty poutine.
It was important to Sharon that we plan lunch for the wedding party into the schedule of the day as this is often overlooked and just makes everyone hungry and grumpy until the reception. That’s how we found ourselves at Route 99 for lunch in our fancy wedding clothes! It was a great way to relax slightly after the stress of the ceremony, to take a look at the social media posts that had gone up, and to go over our plans for the remainder of the day.
Sharon: We’ve always loved Chef Blair Lebsack’s food. Since his tenure at Madison’s Grill, to his outdoor farm dinners, and now, his celebrated establishment RGE RD, Blair has been an integral part in our journey of understanding the possibilities of locally-sourced ingredients. That said, we knew hosting our reception at RGE RD would require a very select guest list, as the restaurant only has the capacity of forty. We didn’t regret our decision – an intimate group meant we were able to spend more time with our friends and family, and the absolutely gracious staff made us feel right at home.
We were able to customize a menu with Blair (to the point of requesting specific dishes we’d enjoyed in the past), while Caitlin designed the drink pairings. Mack and I especially appreciated Blair’s willingness to introduce each dish – the guided tasting elevated the experience, which was a first for many of our guests. And of course, the food – I will never forget the tempura-fried, ricotta-stuffed tomato, the incredibly flavourful potage, the wood-fired roasted chicken and the panna cotta that everyone couldn’t stop talking about. It was a beautiful end to a wonderful day, and I’m so grateful to the staff that made it happen.
Mack: Photography is of course an important part of any wedding, and truth be told we’ve known for a while who wanted to help us capture the day. We first met Bruce and Sarah Clarke of Moments in Digital a few years ago at one of the tweetups we hosted, and we were immediately impressed with not only the quality of their work but also how great they were to work with.
We knew that Bruce and Sarah would make us feel comfortable and that the result would be a series of beautiful images that we’d be able to enjoy for years to come. They were incredibly helpful right from the start, and played a big role in helping us to organize and plan the day. We’re very happy with how the photos turned out and hope you enjoy them too!
Sharon: No wedding can happen without the help and support of family and friends, and ours was no exception. From our parents to our wedding party, and our friends who lent, manned or otherwise ensured things were done before or on the day, Mack and I are in your debt.