Never in my lifetime have I seen a more beautiful DIY wedding. For one, it’s a tough thing to pull off. There are so many moving parts to a wedding that you really need to enlist help from friends and family and be well organized.

The bride and groom got married at the groom’s family cottage and retreat, where you can also rent cabins year round to camp, hunt, hike, explore, and relax. I didn’t know what to expect, as I drove the two hours from Ottawa to the Bonnechere Valley. Highway turned into winding roads, which turned into a dirt road leading into the Red Wolf Retreat.

Things were relaxed as the bride was finishing up her hair when I arrived, while the groom’s family was eating lunch in the kitchen.

red wolf retreat propertybride having her hair done bride having her hair done groom's family having lunch in family cottage bride's lace gown hanging outside woodshed bride putting on her earrings in plaid shirt

Can we talk about how beautiful this ring is?! Also, Jackson’s wedding band was his grandfather’s…making it an even more special ring.

bride and groom wedding rings laying on lace dressbride's mother helping her daughter into her wedding dressbride's mother tying up her wedding dress

After the bride was dressed, I went down to the pond to meet Jackson, where the couple decided to have their first look. With Jackson in place, Christina made her way down to see her groom!

bride walking over to pond to see her groom for first look bride and groom first look by a pond bride and groom first look by a pond bride and groom first look by a pondbride and groom first look by a pond bride and groom first look by a pond bride and groom holding hands by the water flowers in bride's hair with veil as she walks with her groom

The bride and groom had such a relaxed wedding day planned that we had ample time for photos – about an hour following their first look, an hour or so after their ceremony, plus some time at sunset. AH-mazing!

bride and groom leaning in for a kiss bride and groom holding hands in a tree lined pathblack and white photo of bride and groom standing on a path surrounded by trees bride holding her bouquet on tree lined path black and white photo of bride fixing her train in a hay field

It was a pretty hot and humid day in the sun, but nothing like the extreme cold we went through during their winter engagement session this past year. I kept reminding myself how frigid my camera was throughout their engagement shoot and that nothing, not even this heat at 5 months pregnant, could be worse!

bride and groom standing in a hay field in the summer bride and groom laughing as they walk through hay field bride and groom standing on a path among the treesbride and groom cuddling on a path surrounded by trees

Before we knew it, we were ready for the ceremony to begin! Have you ever seen a more beautiful ceremony site?

ceremony site at a family cottage by the water

Button, the dog, was getting prepped for his big duty as ring bearer, while family tied the wedding bands to his collar.

tying rings to the dog's collarbride and her father walking down the aisle black and white photo of wedding ceremony at family cottage under a birch tree altar bride and groom smiling at their wedding officiantbride and groom standing under birch tree altar bride and groom standing under the birch tree altar groom looking at his bride during the wedding ceremony bride reading her vows to the groom groom's grandmother crying during wedding ceremony

A tribute to Jackson’s grandfather, while the bride put on the groom’s wedding band, had a few guests shedding some tears.

bride putting on the groom's wedding band bride and groom first kiss under birch tree altar bride and groom hugging after first kiss tree planting ceremony at the wedding ceremony

Following the signing of the marriage license, the bride and groom had a tree planting ceremony, where they added earth and water to an apple tree that would later be planted to represent their union and growing love.

bride and groom hugging moments after first kissbride and groom looking out onto the water with evergreen treesbride standing under birch tree archgroom wearing a brown leather vest bride and groom cuddling under birch tree arch bride and groom cuddling close with wild floral bouquetbride and groom standing by the water smiling bride and groom cuddling with big floral bouquet bride and groom cuddling by the water with evergreen trees in the backgroundbride and groom holding hands in front of chicken coop

Like, honestly. This bouquet!! Precious Flowers, you are a wizard!

wild flower bridal bouquet groom wearing a brown leather vestgroom leading his bride down a path bride and groom walking along the water's edge bride and groom cuddling by the water and cattailsbride and groom laughing by the water back and white photo of bride and groom with tree line reflected in the water

Ok, now prepare yourself. While the bride’s sister has helped set up a few weddings in her day, this do it yourself wedding is beyond breathtaking. I am blown away. You will never believe it, but the reception took place in the garage of this family’s home. Yes, a GARAGE where you park cars and do man things. Our garage will never look this nice, I can tell you this much.

wedding reception decor in converted family garage with candles and flowerswedding reception decor in converted family garage head table with flowers and candleswedding reception decor with flowers and candles wedding reception decor in converted family garagewedding reception decor in converted family garage

Button did not hesitate to take a quick nap on the cool concrete floor of the garage, as we prepped for the reception to start.

dog asleep during wedding reception bride laughing during the wedding reception maid of honour laughing at dinner table wedding guest laughingbride and groom first dancebride and groom first dance bride dancing with her father on her wedding day bride and groom smiling at each other on top of hill at sunset bride and groom walking down a hill with their dog dog smiling at the camera next to bride and groom bride resting her hand on groom's chest bride and groom laughing

The photo above is one of my faves…it expresses true love and a moment captured in time. The photo below is also one of my faves…but I wish that someone had a camera on me to show you the sheer excitement on my face when I saw the goats running towards us as we entered the goat pasture for our last few photos at sunset. Goats + a bride a groom = my dream wedding. Cuteness overload.

photo of goats running towards a bride in a goat pasture black and white photo of bride cuddling up to groom bride and groom walking with their dog at sunset down a path bride and groom laughing at sunsetblack and white photo of bride and groom on a hill surrounded by trees at sunset bride and groom smiling at sunset on a hillphoto of bride and groom in a goat pasture at sunset black and white portrait of bride and groom at the top of a hill

While this may not have been a complete DIY wedding, because the bride and groom had loads of help from family and friends, it was a wedding day that reflected their personalities and their relationship. It was simple yet elegant. Small but with no shortage of love. It was perfect. Congratulations to this beautiful couple.


Wedding team

Wedding dress: Saratina Bridal Boutique
Florist and Decor: Bride’s sister & Precious Flowers Event Design
Hair Stylist: Amy Valiquette
Makeup artist: Makeup by Paula
Cake: Bake Shoppe


DIY wedding at a family cottage: Christina and Jackson

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  1. Colleen says:

    This is actually helpful, thanks.