In conversation with Rebecca Wise from Event Wise, talking about the design and planning of Norine and Brandon’s Stylish Berkeley Fieldhouse wedding venue Toronto.
Your business has many divergent facets and experiences involved with it. How does each experience add to your vision for planning and designing weddings?
One of the most valuable things I learned along the way through these experiences, is to always suggest to your clients the new, unique and diverse options. If they don’t like it, no problem, but if they DO, you’ve opened the door for a new and exciting design/event.
What were some of your first conversations with Norine and Brandon like about their wedding vision?
Right away Norine presented this unique colour palette incorporating bright red and peach, so right from the beginning it was a refreshing change. They were clear in that they wanted an element of elegance and formality, even in a rustic chic environment.
The Toronto bride Norine has a successful vibrant business as a nutritionist and health and wellness consultant with a focus on mindfulness. How do you feel her experience she has in her profession translated to the success of her wedding?
I think her success is largely due to the fact that she’s just an overwhelmingly kind human being. She cares so deeply and transparently about those around her, and treats everyone with respect; it’s truly special to be around her and to experience her energy. And I think the fact that she owns her own business helped her understand that planning a wedding is a process and that it grows and changes over time. She respected the time it takes to create, and she trusted me 100% as an expert in my field to make it happen. Trust is a huge component in any industry, but especially this one.
This wedding had such a romantic and intimate quality to it. What do you think contributed to this atmosphere?
At the ceremony, the romance was emphasized but the loose, flowing fabric we hung as her backdrop and of course by the flower and greenery selections. Romantic flowers tend to be delicate looking, softer. Greenery that trails down or has ivy-like qualities tend to convey romance by reminding us of pastoral or period narratives.
What was your favourite element of this wedding that to you made it a signature unique experience for the couple?
I absolutely loved that we incorporated a traditional Egyptian Zeffeh for the bride and groom’s entrance! It was so real and raw and the guests absolutely loved it! I think also knowing that the bride and groom are both a bit shy made that part and the ceremony both just completely beautiful to watch.
What were the priorities of this wedding day and how did you help the couple actualize these priorities?
I’ve been so lucky with my clients recently in that the priorities tend to be spot on and it’s a pleasure making them happen. Nearly all of the couples I work with want their family and friends to eat well and have fun! So once that was taken care of, I would say the challenge here was to make the wedding elegant and beautiful in a rustic chic venue. The fieldhouse is great because it diversifies that way. It has this great rustic feel to it, but has gorgeous romantic chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It has a long wooden wall you can play up, or you can hide it or decorate it. We really worked with the venue, as opposed to against it to elevate this wedding to where Norine and Brandon envisioned it. For example, we took the giant decorative mirror the venue owns, turned it vertical and used it as a guest book, while at the same time bouncing more light around the room and giving dimension to an otherwise dead corner. We also were able to repurpose the floral hoops from the ceremony to behind the sweetheart table along the wood wall, really amping up the romance.
The wedding had stunning flowing flower arrangements with lots of foliage. What was the result of this beautiful design choice?
This organic style of floral arrangements was just something Norine loved from day one. For us it was just a matter of figuring out how to decorate the various elements of the wedding enough to get the effect without overkill. It doesn’t need to look like a flower-bomb went off to have an absolutely stunning wedding. We are fortunate right now that loose greenery is trending because it also takes up space, warms a space up and isn’t overly expensive. I joked with the florist from A Petal Or Two that for every wedding we do together, she needs to just bring an extra bucket or two of greenery for when I randomly go around and add it to everything like the sweet table, the card box table, the ends of the bars, etc.
There were some whimsical vintage décor touches that fit the intimate style of the wedding. How did these choices all come together?
It was a really interesting design in that there are some elements that are super formal and traditional, while at the same time being paired with a more rustic vibe. For example, the table accents were a mix of silver and gold, while the card box was wooden with white calligraphy. We had a naked cake, but a bountiful and delicate sweets table. The look was really achieved by combining contrasting accents: wood, crystal, silver and gold, and greenery. And we really made up our own style! Half of the tables had a large ornate wooden charger plate, a tall, gold centerpiece and silver flatware; half of the tables had a geometric plate, a low centrepiece and gold flatware. It was important to us that not all of the tables be exactly the same; the look is organic but still incredibly elegant.
To effectively design a wedding you need to have a knowledge of colour, style and great design principals. What would you add to this list?
Flexibility, endless research, to have no ego whatsover, and the confidence to push back when necessary. I tell my clients that ultimately it is their wedding, and I’m going to do everything I can to bring that vision to life in the best possible way we can. And be open minded! If you aren’t sure, try it out.
The modern hoop design with the flowing florals created a dynamic beautiful and interesting backdrop for the wedding ceremony. What is the story behind this creation?
Norine and Brandon wanted something different and were incredibly open to ideas! They weren’t sure of what they wanted but right away I could tell that a floral statement piece would work for them. The fabric behind the hoops was a way to incorporate the peach element of their colour palette and the hoops was just a unique idea I thought they would love! I had seen hoops used here and there, but never as the focal point to the wedding ceremony, and we had this great structure at the fieldhouse to use. It just lined up beautifully! And then of course, the fact that we could repurpose them for behind the sweetheart table was the icing on the cake!
There were some gorgeous unique photographs taken during the wedding day. What do you think was the key to the success of capturing these photographs.
Oh gosh, hire Hugh Whitaker lol He’s such a creative genius and he takes the time to get to know the couple, their energy and style which then translates into the photographs themselves. But over and above raw talent, I always say to my clients that they need to actually like their photographer, because they will be with you all day. If they take the most gorgeous photos but you don’t like them when you meet them in person, it’s really going to impact your experience of your wedding day. And on a logistics level, I always block time for the photographer to shoot the wedding details before guests arrive, and we work together throughout the night to make sure we get everything.
How did you effectively combine the significant cultural traditions at this wedding into the whole wedding experience?
Incorporating cultural traditions is one of my favourite elements of wedding planning. To me that’s what makes the wedding personal and unique, and it’s usually a sign of respect to the families. The Egyptian Zeffeh was so much fun and even guests who weren’t familiar with the tradition loved it! And since Brandon’s side is Jamaican, we incorporated Rum Cake into the sweets table which the groom’s sister made. And of course we made sure that the DJ was comfortable playing both traditional Arabic music and some great Jamaican reggae 😉
The choice of plating, glassware, candlesticks and vases had a lovely vintage romantic feel that contributed to the intimacy of the wedding reception. What informed some of the design choices?
It really just came out through the process. Originally we had both charger plates with the goal of deciding between the two. But at our table setting meeting, one plate didn’t work with both of the centrepiece options we had, so we thought “why not use both on different tables?” Originally we had a white napkin selected, but when we put everything together, the silver napkin brought out the silver tones on the table and contrasted beautifully with the gold. Table setting meetings are so important for this reason as seeing everything together in person can change decisions on a dime.
“I cared as much about the process as I did about the results. No decision was too small.” – Sophia Amoruso . What do you think about this quote and how would it relate to the event planning profession?
I think that process just as important as final product. At the end of the day final product is what the guests will remember, process is what your clients remember. That being said, I do think there comes a point where clients start to drive themselves crazy over the teeny details, and I will tell them that. I have had to tell clients that I think they are overthinking something, or that they can agonize over a decision that literally no one at the wedding will notice. It’s one of the harder parts of the job because leading up to the event it seems like it all matters, and yet day-of the bride and groom won’t even see it. And again, trust in your vendors is so important. For example, if you’ve hired someone well-known and respected to decorate your sweets table, trust them to do it beautifully. Don’t send them a mapped out plan of where everything should go down to the cm. You will make yourself and your suppliers crazy.
“Where do new ideas come from? The answer is simple: differences. Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions.” – Nicholas Negroponte. You create wonderful juxtapositions in your creative designing. How do you achieve this?
Inspiration comes from the couple, the venue, the inspiration they’ve pre-selected and sent to me when we get started. It comes from they way they’ve decorated their home, the way they dress, the restaurants they like. We start with what we know and work towards what we don’t. Aka we take what we know they like, and then we start delicately pushing design boundaries. Our clients know never to be afraid to tell us that they don’t like something or that it’s not their style. But 9 times out of 10 something great has come from pushing the limits of what they’ve previously imagined.
Photographer: Hugh Whitaker
Florist: A Petal or Two