An interview with Toronto bride about her epic Berkeley Church wedding inspired by Kate Middleton and the Royal Wedding.
You mentioned that some of your choices for your wedding were influenced by the style of Kate Middleton’s Royal Wedding. In what way?
I definitely have a mild obsession with Kate Middleton and the Royal Wedding! I loved her dress and wedding photos from Westminster Abbey. The most heavily influenced choice was definitely my wedding dress. I knew whatever dress I picked was going to be inspired by Kate’s. My bridesmaids wore white dresses too which was inspired by Kate’s sister Pippa, who also wore white. Our choice in venue was even somewhat influenced by the Royal wedding as the Berkeley Church has a very historic and romantic feel to it.
What other places did you look for inspiration in your planning process?
A lot of my inspiration came from an Australia based wedding website called The Lane. It isn’t your typical wedding site that continuously repeats the same themes; each wedding they post is unique in its own way. Pinterest was also another outlet I browsed for inspiration. My bridesmaids and I had made a Pinterest board named “I’m actually getting married!!” where we pinned fun ideas.
What drew you to the Berkeley Church venue and how did you utilize its unique qualities for your wedding?
Years ago, before I was even engaged, I saw wedding photos on-line from a wedding at Berkeley Church. I immediately fell in love with the place and emailed myself the venue link for when the time came. At the very beginning of our search, we made an appointment at Berkeley Church, but due to work conflicts we couldn’t make the appointment. After seeing almost every venue in the city, we decided to book another appointment at the Church. As soon as we walked in, we knew it was the place for us. We loved the beautiful hardwood floors and the vastly unique entertaining spaces. It felt like the place you could have a real party at, yet it was beautiful and elegant. The only other venue we debated was another Berkeley event venue; Airship 37. The Church just had such instantaneous charm. We utilized the qualities of the Church by spreading out its charm throughout the day. We started with our ceremony up on the Mezzanine in front of the windows, followed by a cocktail hour in the Circa Lounge and outdoor courtyard. Our dinner and reception was later held on the Church’s main floor. We had our head table situated in front of the stage so that the large arch was the backdrop throughout the evening and we strung globe lights across the dance floor to give it that romantic, yet relaxed party feel.
What first impression of the wedding did you want to give your guests when they arrived? What general mood and style did you want to convey?
We wanted our guests to feel welcome and relaxed from the very moment they walked in. As much as the day was about us, it was also about our friends and family. We had the venue staff serve welcome champagne cocktails upon arrival which turned out to be a big hit with our guests! We made large gold glitter directional arrows that lined the entrance of the Church and stairwells to direct guests where to go upon arrival. We handed out ceremony programs so our guests would know what to expect in terms of the style of ceremony and the order of events. We had display items like an “Instagram sign” with our wedding hashtag, photos of our parents’ weddings and a large frame lined with photos of our wedding party. The general mood was definitely happy and fun and our overall style was classy and charming. We think the day really reflected us as a couple. We had a few guests say things like “the venue was stunning and all the details were very Steph and Scott” – we took this as a good thing!
Your wedding pictures are lovely. What photography style were you looking for when you chose your photographer?
I didn’t realize how many different styles of photography there were until we were looking for a photographer. I wanted more candid style photos; photos that tell the story of the day versus fixed events throughout the day. A friend of mine had referred Julia Park and after seeing some of her work on her website, we met with her. Her husband Anton joined us as he recently started doing wedding cinematography. It was a great opportunity to discuss both options with them. After our meeting with them, we knew we had found the right team to capture our special day. Julia’s style is unique as it documents every part of your wedding day without you really having to think about it. It was nice to feel confident in her skills and vision. They did a fantastic job of capturing all our favorite moments. The photos are bright and romantic and we are so impressed with how they turned out.
Your wedding dress had a lovely cut and design; it was a great combination of a traditional look with a very modern touch. What is the story behind choosing this dress?
My first appointment was at a Toronto boutique called MRS. Bridal and I entered with ‘Kate Middleton’ on my mind. My mom pulled a dress with long sleeves (Amy Kuschel “Gardenia”) and we all looked at her sort of funny as it didn’t strike any of us as an immediate winner. I tried it on anyway and fell in love with the lace sleeves and unique neckline. It was even four sizes too big for me and we all still loved it! However, as it was my very first appointment I felt I had to do my due diligence by seeing what else was out there. I tried on many other dresses in a variety of different styles and kept finding myself thinking about that first dress. Not a single other dress I saw had a similar look. As I admittedly had tried on way too many dresses and sort of forgot what the Amy Kuschel gown looked like, I made another appointment at MRS. I tried it on for the second time and knew I had made the right decision going back. Originally, I had fallen in love with the “Gardenia” gown but upon hearing that there was a slightly different version of the gown called the “Audrey” which had the same traditional bodice as the “Gardenia” but a slightly modern skirt; I knew I had found the perfect combination. With trust in the salon owners and my own gut instinct, I ordered the “Audrey” gown without even trying it on. I never thought I’d have that “moment” with a dress but when it finally came in, I had happy tears running down my face. It was my perfect gown!
Your bridesmaids had a lovely classical look. How did you arrive at this look?
I found there was a severe lack of bridesmaid dress options in Toronto. I looked in many different stores and nothing stood out. Most of the dresses were too traditional or just boring and unoriginal. To add to the already difficult situation, I was looking for white bridesmaids dresses. Yes, wearing white at someone else’s wedding is usually a fashion faux pas, but an old superstition says that bridesmaids and groomsmen should dress similarly to ward off evil spirits. Plus Pippa Middleton wore white at the Royal Wedding which, of course, made me love the idea even more. I was eventually inspired by bridesmaid dresses I saw on The Lane. They were elegant, unique and WHITE! After discovering the dresses were custom made in New Zealand, I started to inquire about custom bridesmaid dresses here. Finding a dress designer/seamstress wasn’t easy but eventually a family friend referred me to a local designer who helped create the girls’ custom bridesmaids dresses. They turned out exactly how I pictured them in my head and the girls loved them. We added a piece of fabric to the neckline that hung at the back of the dress (similar to a train) that I felt gave it an extra hint of romance. I loved the look of the dresses next to mine and I think they fit the venue perfectly.
Your wedding had beautiful decor with glittering touches and a lovely colour scheme. How did you plan this?
The Berkeley Church is beautiful by itself so we knew we didn’t have to go overboard with colors or a wedding theme. We wanted to play off the rustic charm of the venue so we kept the decor simple and clean. We started with lots of ivory to keep things elegant and simple yet also match my dress and the bridesmaid dresses. We then added hints of gold and gold glitter to bring out a “fun party” feel. We added small pops of pink throughout the flowers for a little girly flare and added contrast against the ivory. We picked ivory patterned linens and then accented them with small square vases of mixed ivory and pink flowers. The table numbers were a neutral gray color inside a gold glittering wine bottle. The mix of neutral yet pop of color and glitter really came together on the ivory table
The banner that hung from the side of the church stage was beautiful and unique. What was the process behind the banners creation?
My husband works in the marketing and trade show industry so he has an eye for design. As soon as we walked in I saw his eyes light up at the spaces within the church. During one of our site visits he had noted the poster boxes out front of the church and I guess his mind began running from there. Knowing he works with displays, it was only natural that he surprised me with a personalized vinyl banner that hung along the back wall of the stage. I was really impressed by the banner not only because it was extremely thoughtful, but because it was such a unique idea. It had a variety of important dates and fun memories throughout our relationship listed on it. It started with our first date and ended with our wedding date! It also served as a nice focal point for our guests throughout dinner because of where it was displayed.
Your invitations and announcements were done by your husband’s graphic company (Scott Fitchett of Blacklime Media) what was the inspiration for the looks of all the graphic work for your wedding? What did you like best about the outcome?
My husband does a lot of graphic design work in his profession, so between his vision and ideas I had seen on-line, we came up with something we both loved. My maid of honor and mother-in-law did some online research to get ideas for the “honeymoon shower” invitations and then relayed those ideas to Scott, who took it from there. He did a great job in tying each look together, using similar fonts and style. Sometimes you see wedding stationary that is so busy you can’t actually get the proper information across. We wanted it to look good, but be easy to read. All the décor including our ring bearer’s sign, wedding and shower invitations, programs, menus, table numbers and banner were all designed with a similar minimalist, clean look. The print/graphic details from the day were some of my favorite décor aspects as it was all created by my husband. His contact information is: Scott Fitchett, Blacklime Media; firstname.lastname@example.org & http://blacklimemedia.com/.
At what stage of your planning did you choose your florals and cake and in which order?
We chose both our florals and the cake somewhere in the middle stages of planning. We chose our cake first, in December. Cake tasting was a fun part of the planning process as I was able to bring my mother-in-law and bridesmaids with me. We chose a two tiered simple cake from Serendipity Cakes as our wedding cake. They also provided three different types of cake for our dessert. We had caramel, lemon and chocolate zucchini–being the guest favorite! After deciding on our cake, we chose our flowers. We wanted our flowers to be simple with a mix of pink and ivory. We added gold spray painted baby’s breath to tie in the gold sparkly table number bottles. Other flowers that were arranged throughout the venue were mainly ivory to contrast against the dark walls and floors.
What element of your wedding planning was the most challenging?
The most challenging element was finding a venue. Unfortunately, you can’t really plan too much else without having a date and therefore a venue booked. We didn’t want to get married outdoors or in a banquet hall, and with a large guest list, our options were limited. It was frustrating trying to find the right ‘look’ and have it work within our budget. We also got engaged and married within one year which meant a lot of summer dates were already taken when we went to book our venue. We settled on Friday, July 4th as it had a good ring to it being America’s Birthday. We had fun joking about our wedding day being referred to as “Dependence Day” not “Independence Day”.
What were your musical choices for your wedding and how did you arrive at your playlist and what was your first dance song ?
Our family and wedding party walked down the aisle to Bruno Mars – Count on You. It was upbeat and fun and described our relationship with our wedding party. I walked down the aisle to John Powell – Kisses and Cake. It is from the P.S. I Love You soundtrack which is one of my favorite movies. After we were announced as Mr. & Mrs. Fitchett, we danced happily back up the aisle to American Authors – Best Day of My Life. Our first dance was to Eric Church – Love Your Love the Most. We are both big country fans and the lyrics of the chorus always makes us think about one another. My father-daughter dance was to Bruce Springsteen – When You Need Me. It really depicts my relationship with my dad and he’s a big Springsteen fan! The mother-son dance was chosen by my mother-in-law and they danced to Rascall Flatts – My Wish. Everyone in our wedding party is really close, so we also shared a wedding party dance to Ben King – Stand By Me. The rest of the evening was a good mix between country, oldies, hip hop and top 40’s with lots of people on that dance floor! At one point during the dinner, we had a 185 person sing along to Bill Withers – Lean On Me. That was a first for most guests and even the DJ!
Did you and your husband do a photo shoot around the Berkeley Church on the day of your wedding and how did it work out?
We did some getting ready photos with the girls and guys separately at our house and my maid of honour’s house. My husband and I met at a historical society building near our house where we did our “first look” photo-shoot. We took lots of photos together on the porch of the old building. We did our group shots at a park near Scarborough U of T campus. We took more photos at the venue and our family portraits in front of the gorgeous windows at the church. Our wedding party made it easy to create photo opportunities, but the work of our photographer really highlighted the beauty of the day and our venue.
What was your favorite part of getting married and what were some of your lasting impressions of your wedding day?
Wearing my dress! Seriously, it was one of my favorite parts of getting married. It was so comfortable and fun to wear. I really enjoyed every moment of the entire day, though. We had great weather, a fantastic venue and a wonderful celebration with our family and friends. The day was filled with lots of love, happiness and fun! It turned out to be everything we wanted and more.
What advice would you offer a couple in the beginning stages of planning their wedding?
There is a lot of planning and organization that goes into a wedding, so don’t take it on alone. For us, one of the best parts about planning a wedding was discussing different ideas and learning to make decisions as a team. It’s where our most unique ideas came from! At the end of the day, our wedding was everything we wanted. Even our guests felt it was very “us” and that’s because it really was created by us!
You used an Instagram hashtag for your wedding. How did this go? Did a lot of guests participate? Did it give you another perspective of your wedding to enjoy?
As much as everyone loves professional photography, we knew our guests would capture other moments. We took advantage of social media by creating a wedding hashtag which allowed us the ability to look back on our guests personal photos from the day and year leading up. We chose a wedding hashtag “#fitchhitch2014” shortly after we got engaged and we used it every time we posted a wedding related photo. With the help of our friends and family, we’ve basically created a personal on-line photo album simply by using the hashtag. By simply clicking on the hashtag on Instagram, we are able to see photos from our engagement party, venue hunting, wedding dress shopping, invitation creating, bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties and most important – our wedding day. It was a really cool way of seeing the wedding day from our guests’ perspective! We even received a pillow given to us as an engagement gift that had our wedding hashtag screened on it!
Your cocktail reception in the Circa Lounge looked so fun and elegant, how did this intimate space work for your reception?
We were a little worried the Circa Lounge would not be big enough for all our guests, but it turned out to be the perfect space. Guests spread themselves out between the outdoor courtyard space and the Circa Lounge. It was great as it gave everyone an indoor OR outdoor setting and enough space that they would be comfortable with it still feeling quite intimate. We have been dating for many years so were lucky enough to have friends and family that had met many times over the years. As much as they enjoyed sharing a cocktail in celebration of us, it meant a lot to see everyone equally as joyous catching up with familiar faces. For anyone that may not have known us as well, we brought down our guest book, seating chart and ‘wedding party frame’ with photos and bio’s for people to look at.
One is struck by how much fun the wedding party is having throughout the whole day. Did you do anything to ensure their enjoyment of the day?
Our wedding party was a great group as it was composed of extremely close friends and family (or what we like to call our “framily”). Most of us have been friends since we were children or at the very least since high school. There were even a few couples mixed into the bunch! Our wedding party also made a “Wedding Party Introduction Video” that we showed at the beginning of the reception. The 8-10 minute video explained how we all knew one another amidst a friendly fight with bright colored corn starch powder. It was so much fun to film, and even more fun to watch the reactions of our guests watching it. It was definitely the most fun and memorable part of the planning process and allowed everyone to spend that extra bit of time together before the big day. Scott and I were very organized with the schedule of our day of events which helped ease the stress of the day for everyone. We also allocated the right amount of time to enjoy getting ready, take photos, enjoy a champagne toast and enjoy our limo ride to the venue together. The boys golfed the morning of, which I am sure helped ease them into a busy day ahead.
You included photography in your event which added a fun engaging element. What was the idea behind the pictures?
You hear about guests attending weddings where they haven’t met the couple or they have no idea who most of the people are in the room. Usually those guests leave the wedding feeling disengaged or removed from the couple. We wanted to ensure all our guests felt comfortable and connected to what was happening around them. To help with keeping our guests engaged we displayed photos of our parents on their wedding day and photos of our wedding party (and flower girl and ring bearer). The photos of our wedding party were strung inside a large wooden frame with a note that said “Meet the maids & the men”. We included bios on how we knew each of them and some fun facts for our guests to read through. We found it helped guests feel more engaged by knowing what who everyone was and what role they played in our lives (especially during speeches)!
Congratulations to the lovely couple!
Watch their stunning wedding video.
Photographer : Julia Park Photography
Venue: Berkeley Church
The print/graphic details : Scott Fitchett, Blacklime Media