Just Married married Hilary and Stephen tell the story of their Beautiful meaningful Berkeley Fieldhouse Micro Wedding with photos by Thomas Weddings.
What was one of the best choices you and yours husband made in the planning process that you feel paid off the most ?
We were specific as we could be when we were asking for help, and then we accepted the help we were offered. When people ask if they can do anything, take them up on the offer! The wedding day is about gathering your friends and family as you make a commitment, let people who care about you participate and support you.
COVID19 has been such a teacher for us as we designed our wedding day and prepared for marriage. What a way to do prepare for marriage than during a pandemic and a lockdown! Luckily any wedding planning conflicts we had could be blamed on the virus, anxiety around the pandemic, or working in such close quarters.
While we always intended to have an intentional and meaningful wedding that was not focused on gifts or Pintrest, stripping down every decision permitted us to even further consider what we were doing and why. We stayed true to the original purpose, and the outcome was a meaningful beautiful and emotional day.
Our family members and friends who were not physicaly present at the ceremony but tuned in on Zoom showed us how adaptable and accepting our community is. We are truly amazed by how we felt their presence with us, and how they all participated.
The best choice we made was to still get married and not wait for things to go back to “normal”. We don’t know when that will be or if things will return to what they once were, we are so lucky to have been able to go forward regardless of the restrictions.
The florals designs and bouquets at your wedding were so stunning what was your process for this ?
The grooms family owns a garden centre in Orillia, so we were able to grow many of our flowers ourselves. Grooms mom did the whole set up of the archway at the front, and we brought all the planters from up there. She has such an amazing eye for floral design and the planters were so gorgeous because she focuses on using plants and flowers that are in-season, they suited the venue and time of year. Grooms parents was there setting it all up before we arrived and really brought our vision to life! The garlands, floral decorations and all the bridesmaids bouquets and boutoniers were also made by their lead designer– a huge part in our preparation.
We had collected bricks from the Leslie Street spit to use as our centrepieces as candle holders, and pivoted our design when our plans changed because of the pandemic. Bride’s mum used the foraged materials create something that would suit the venue and still honour our original intention. Bride’s mum also has an eye for florals and she designed the brides bouquet.
What advice would you give a newly engaged couple ?
Enjoy your engagement! This time goes quickly regardless how long you’re engaged for. Use this time to reflect on your relationship so far, and when you start planning the wedding, think about what is most important to you before picking up the planning manual. Keep the focus on the intention/meaning of the day.
The advice we heard from so many was to be sure to take a moment after the ceremony and sit with eachother to let it all sink in. We did that and it really helped ground us and focus each other, it was very special to talk to my husband for the first time in private.
We also heard the advice that brides/grooms are so busy talking they don’t get to eat. This was no concern of ours after the food tasting – the food at Berkeley is so good! not just ‘good wedding food’, but really delicious and expertly prepared.
The other piece of advice is that no matter how much you plan or practice, something will go ‘wrong’. My music cut out when I was half way up the aisle, but we wasn’t there for the music, I was there to get married. When planning a wedding (or any special event), its so easy to get caught up in the details and have a perfect idea in your mind, on the day of, you will not be able to control if a detail goes awry, so remember what you’re doing there, and then do that. Keep the meaning central.
Did you have to adjust and modify your wedding plans because of covid ?
We got engaged in April 2019 and were planning for a fall 2020 wedding. Stephen’s family owns a garden centre and we had decided to hold our reception in their greenhouse for over 150 guests. We had originally opted for this as it would allow for flexibility and creative license. We had sent out the invitations, and after the initial COVID-19 lockdown, we anxiously teetered back and forth between optimism, that restrictions would relax, and pessimism, that the second wave would come early, as the calendar moved closer to September 2020. In July 2020, we made the difficult but right decision to cancel the initial plan. It was becoming evident that the social gathering restrictions weren’t going to relax further, and even if they did, we were concerned that many of our guests would not feel comfortable among more than 50 people. Around the same time, we connected with Berkeley Fieldhouse.
Why did you chose the Berkeley fieldhouse and how did it fit your wedding vision ?
Hilary noticed Berkeley’s mini wedding advertised on Instagram and thought it was priced attractively and was thoughtfully packaged.
When we toured the venue, we immediately fell in love with it. It matched the design and vibe we wanted.
Given the short timeframe we were in, among other wedding and COVID related stressors, we also felt confident in the venue and liked that it covered the gamut of food & beverage; tables, chairs & linens; staffing; signage & social distancing precautions; and an assigned wedding coordinator. It also included an officiant, but we brought in our own Pastor.
The Sales & Event Specialist, Derek, was responsive and reassuring that the mini wedding deposits would be transferrable in the event of any unforeseen COVID lockdowns, while our Senior Venue & Event Coordinator, Allie, was amazing at understanding our desired ceremony and reception timeline – we couldn’t have been any happier with how the event flowed.
Since COVID weddings are more of a fancy dinner party these days, decorated with stories that rekindle memories from what now feels like a former time, food & beverage and ambiance were our primary criteria in selecting Berkeley Fieldhouse. The food tasting helped us to feel confident in our choices for our loved ones. The indoor/outdoor space will help all of the guests find their own comfortable balance in this unusual time. The diversity of spaces and environments are noticeable and pleasantly surprising to many guests. The dining area, with its high ceilings and French doors, is welcoming, intimate, yet socially spacious. The sweetheart table ensured that we enjoyed the evening with each other the most and also provided us with thoughtful and reflective breaks in between visiting with other guests. Lastly, the podium and projector made for a cathartic night of story-telling, laughs, and tears.
The event was special to us, but also to our guests. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and emotion to be out at one of their only celebrations of the summer, and I couldn’t believe how good every single one of our guests looked. The lighting – natural and electric – complemented the vibe of the evening and made for the most amazing photos by our photographer Thomas Campean.
While we didn’t have the greenhouse wedding we had planned for, but our families brought enough beautiful flowers to make it feel like home.
The butterflies so amazing and magical what was the inspiration for them ?
We’ve noticed in the news and in Toronto greenspace that butterflies are making a comeback thanks to social and environmental efforts. Stephen’s Mom, Pat, loves butterflies. Stephen’s parents go to Costa Rica every winter where Pat goes jogging early in the morning in search of the Blue Morpho butterflies. In February 2020, right before the world shut down, Stephen’s parents went to Australia instead of Costa Rica. When Stephen visited them in the Daintree Rainforest, they went swimming in a creek and when Pat was drying off, an Australian blue butterfly, the Ulysses butterfly, landed on her swimsuit and was flying all around her for a few minutes. She was so happy and it was such a good memory.
When Stephen came across monarchbutterflies.ca, we knew we had to do a surprise butterfly release. Berkeley Fieldhouse, with its garden and creek was the perfect place to release the 30 Painted Lady butterflies. It was a perfect and joyous surprise – nobody suspects the butterfly!
You had a thoughtful writing suggestion on the guests reception tables how did this enrich the evening ?
We asked a lot of our 48 guests who were able to be with us in person. Each table gave a toast to a value that we want to embody in our marriage, we are so thankful to each person for contributing and providing sage advice. Our closest people will always be our most trusted advisors and we will lean on them when our marriage needs support. Having them stand up and give a speech/toast was a very fun way to keep things interesting, grow our connection, and stay aligned with the intention of the celebration.
Photographer Thomas Weddings
Florals and Plants : Scott’s Garden Center
Venue and Catering Berkeley Fieldhouse
Brides Jumpsuit : Fitzroy Rentals