It’s been five years since Tim and I got married on a perfect, sunny day at the Billings Estate Museum in Ottawa. It honestly still feels like yesterday. I can still feel the cool breeze on my skin (my ideal temperature – it’s like the weather gods knew a perfect 20 degree day would be just what I needed to stay cool, calm and collected). I can taste the sweet mimosas that we sipped while getting ready at my mom’s. I can hear the music playing through the trees and the soft wind blowing as I waited just inside the doors with anticipation for the ceremony to begin.
There’s not much I would change about our wedding day. It was perfect. We chose to do a first look, followed by a later ceremony at 6pm, so we could move right into spending time with our family and friends. Both the ceremony and the reception took place on site at the Billings Estate Museum, so we could soak up every little bit of our day with our guests and with each other. No travel, no traffic. Dinner, a few brief (but hilarious) speeches, and an epic dance party until we had to shut it down after a few noise complaints. The party moved down the street to my dad’s place for those who wanted to keep the party going, and while we left around 12:30 or 1 in the morning, the last few stragglers didn’t leave until almost 3am. Sorry Dad.
Since that day, I’ve shot many more weddings, always wondering how I would do things differently, if ever I had to do it all over again (which lets hope doesn’t happen!). Here are five things I have learned since our wedding day:
- I knew it then and I know it even more now that I’ve got another 5 years of being a wedding photographer under my belt – your wedding day goes by SO dang fast. I’m talking, the blink of an eye, poof! It’s done. It’s so important to build in extra time to spend alone as a couple, spend with your family, spend with your friends, and ultimately, just spend enjoying yourself rather than rushing around. If the traditionalist in you will allow it, do a first look so you get to spend some time with your love before you get caught up in the craziness of the day. Plus, having most of your photos done prior to your ceremony means you can spend time with your guests during cocktail hour!
- The details only matter to you. Yes – you want everything to look nice and as you have always imagined, but at the end of the day, none of your guests will even remember what your centrepieces looked like or what wedding favour they ended up leaving on the table. At the time, the whole mason jar/burlap thing was really in, so we did a lot of that ourselves, however, part of me does wish that we’d invested a little more on flowers and substituted the plastic chairs provided by the venue with something a little classier. If only for the pictures. Because now that I’ve seen a gazillion beautifully decorated wedding receptions, I notice these things!
- LOVE your photographer. You are spending a better part of your day with this person, almost as much as your wife or husband to be, so they better be your next best friend. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera. Trust me – as someone who doesn’t like to have their photo taken, I totally get what it feels like to have a camera pointed at you and feeling as though you’re wearing nothing but your undies. You feel exposed, raw, and vulnerable. So having a photographer that makes you feel at ease in front of the camera makes a huge difference when it comes to your wedding photos. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel even more anxious than you probably will already, so having a friend, a.k.a, your photographer, by your side, will make all the difference. Thanks Joel and Justyna!
- Invest in a videographer. This is not something that was even on my radar back then, but I have to say, five years later, as the memories are beginning to fade, I really wish I had video of our ceremony especially, as well as our speeches. I was so overwhelmed with trying not to completely lose it during our ceremony that I almost kinda blacked out. I remember laughing hysterically during our speeches, but I couldn’t even tell you one joke that was uttered. I’ve seen Tim cry like twice in our lifetime, one of which was on our wedding day. Would have loved to have captured that a little more vividly. I will always cherish our photos, but there were some things that would have been made even better on video. 5. Narrow down that guest list. Yes, it’s an impossible task, especially if you have a large family, but at the end of the day, you’ll be thankful. It’s overwhelming having to say hello to each and every guest, and you quite honestly, will probably end up saying only that to most people in attendance. But with a smaller, more intimate wedding, you have more time to spend with the ones you really want to spend time with. Less small talk, more enjoyment. We had just over 80 people, including our bartenders who were friends, and our photographers, and while we definitely weren’t able to have long, lengthy conversations with everyone, it still felt like a cozy group. And made for a wicked, fun, dance party. If I did it again, I would probably be even more cut throat with that guest list.
Our wedding day was perfection in our eyes. We danced the night away with all our favourite friends and family and everyone still goes on about how much fun they had. Five years later, I wish we could rent out the Billings Estate Museum for another wedding celebration. Or just another Saturday night with our nearest and dearest.
Thank you to the following people for their help and contribution on our wedding day!
Dress: Ashton Station Bridal
Bridesmaids dresses: With Love Bridal
Photographer: Joel and Justyna
Makeup: Makeup by Amberine
Hair: Ilona from Jet Black Hair
Cupcakes: Julie Scharf – my bridesmaid
Decor: DIY + Camille Martel!
DJ: DIY + Jordan Khan