Kate, book designer & Oliver, Bicycle Mechanic
sum-up of the wedding vibe: A cozy backyard dance party wedding at our favorite neighborhood restaurant.
Planned Budget: $10,000 (CAD)
Actual Budget: $9,500 (CAD)
Number of Guests: 45
Location: Rino’s Kitchen | Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Where we allocated the most funds:
Our priorities for the wedding were good food, good music, good dancing, and good company, so our budget followed that model. The most funds went to the cost of our dinner, which we knew would be excellent because our venue is our favorite local restaurant. We were able to sit down with Josh, the chef and owner, and chat with him about our dietary restrictions and the atmosphere we wanted for the wedding, and he came up with an amazing meal for us. We also invested in our photography, and we are so glad we did because Sarah was great to work with and we love our photos. A large portion also went on rentals. We used the restaurant itself for the dinner, but our ceremony, cocktail hour, and dance party were all outdoors in the backyard. Given that the wedding was in October, we had no idea what the weather would do, so we made sure to rent a big tent, a dance floor, and a heater just in case. (It poured with rain, so we were grateful for the tent. It was also strangely very warm for October, so we didn’t need the heater. Nevertheless, we were glad to be prepared).
Where we allocated the least funds:
We didn’t put a lot of money into flowers. We didn’t have a wedding party, so we only needed one bouquet and a handful of boutonnières for family. We also didn’t buy arrangements for the tables because Oliver’s mother and one of her friends bought cut flowers and greens from our florist and did a lovely job arranging them for us. We also decorated with seasonal items like pumpkins, which added to the (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend coziness but without adding a lot of cost. We were lucky enough to be gifted our wine, which Kate’s parents made (and Kate designed the labels), as well as our beer, which was a custom brew by Oliver’s brother Jeremy (who is a German-certified brewmaster) in conjunction with local brewery Chapter II. Our friend Ivy, who is an incredible artist, designer, and illustrator, also generously designed and made our invitations, our friend Keenan, a talented chef, made us a beautiful and delicious cake as a gift, and our friend Dana gifted us her artistic skills on our chalk signs. We were able to do the graphic design for the seating chart, table numbers, and other printed signage ourselves.
What was totally worth it:
The day went by so quickly, and we couldn’t be everywhere at once, so receiving our photos and being able to go through them and experience the day all over again at a more relaxed pace was absolutely wonderful. Sarah, our photographer, has an amazing way of putting people at ease, even those people who don’t usually like being in photos. We were so completely overwhelmed not only at how well the photos turned out, but also by her kindness and the amount of care she puts into her work. We loved working with her so much on our wedding and our engagement photos, and she has become a friend. Our day-of coordinator, Grace, was also incredible. Any time there was a potential problem, she solved it immediately without letting the stress of it even reach us. She is incredibly organized, patient, and great at getting things done right, so she was perfect. She had no problem running around in the rain and getting muddy setting up our venue, which is worth noting! And, of course, she’s a friend too (there’s a pattern here I think!).
What was totally not worth it:
Honestly, not much. The only thing we didn’t end up needing was the heater for the tent because it was unseasonably warm. It was really cold the day before, however, so we were glad to be prepared for whatever weather came our way. We knew we had a small budget throughout the whole process, so we eliminated pretty much all of the expenses that wouldn’t be worth it. For example, we knew we wanted to do a donation to a charity instead of wedding favors. Because our black cat Winn is such a big part of our lives (yes, we took wedding photos with him, and the portrait our friend Ivy drew of him was hanging at the reception), we decided to donate to the Windsor Essex Humane Society (where we adopted him) instead of doing traditional favors.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Taking eighteen months to plan the wedding from engagement to wedding day was a great decision because it allowed us to take our time, book things well in advance, and keep our budget and priorities straight without too much stress (plus, we got the October wedding Kate wanted). Also, working on it together and not letting one person take on too much work made the process a lot easier and more balanced. We were also lucky to have family who we could ask favors and bounce ideas off, including Kate’s brother and sister-in-law who live nearby. It meant we could sit on their porch when we got stressed or stuck on a decision and get some advice without even leaving the neighborhood.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Remember that you can’t control everything. Kate is a very organized but anxious person, so when the wedding started approaching, it was hard for her to let go of little details. Giving in to the fact that there were inevitably things out of our control was important but difficult. Don’t be afraid to go against tradition if it does not align with your priorities. Also, don’t check the weather. Ever. The forecast changed about thirty-six times before our wedding day, and there was nothing we could do about it, so it was pointless to check and stress about. Yes, it was freezing the day before while we set up the tent. Yes, we were sweating in the heat the day of the wedding. Yes, there was a massive rain storm in the afternoon. We couldn’t control any of it, we were well-prepared (and Rino’s owner Josh saved the day with some hay for the backyard mud), and luckily the sky cleared up just when we needed it to for our photos, ceremony, and dance party.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
How it became, through design or serendipity, this amazing little neighborhood-focused event. We started counting how many of our vendors were based within a short walking distance of our venue (which is also in the neighborhood where we live), and it was most of them: photographer, DJ, both florists, hairdresser, baker… This really added to the cozy feeling of the wedding along with the fact that we are friends with a lot of our vendors. It made the atmosphere very relaxed and familiar. Some of our vendors even commented on how they felt included and how much they enjoyed knowing some of the guests and other vendors at the wedding. We also loved doing a first look and getting to share that moment together before our family photos. The build up of anticipation throughout the morning and afternoon was exciting, and we really enjoyed the experience of surprising one another. Oh, and our dance party was phenomenal.
Something else We’d Like to Share:
We loved that every part of our wedding felt like us. During our planning, it was suggested that we might be focusing on the little details too much, but it was the details that really made the day our own. We chose music that was meaningful to us for our ceremony musicians, we wrote our own secular ceremony to reflect our life together (with a focus on being equal partners and including some serious sappy stuff, but also a couple jokes), we made a dinner playlist with songs that had meaning to us and our guests (including some that we listened to with our families as children), we drew (Oliver) and designed (Kate) table number signs that told the story of different bicycles throughout our relationship (and a pair of roller skates because Kate is a roller-derby skater), and we prioritized the things that meant the most to us without worrying too much about tradition.
We kept it small to share it with our closest family and friends (we both have small families, so that made this easier). We were able to spend time with each and every guest, which was incredibly important to us. And, this was a huge priority for us, we had the most fun dance party I have ever experienced. Our dance floor was packed all night, Jamie, our DJ, was fabulous, and everyone had a really fun time. That’s about all we could ask, so we wouldn’t change a thing. Finally, our wedding hashtag #ourOKwedding got a few laughs. The running joke was that we were turning an OK (Oliver/Kate) romance into a more-than-OK wedding.