It seems strange to talk about a personalized wedding, given that committing the rest of your life to another human being is about as personal as it gets, so, fundamentally, all weddings are personalized. But some couples take it to a whole other level, injecting the essence of who they are as individuals, and a team, into every moment and every detail of their big day.
Leila and James did exactly this. The family-oriented pair celebrated their heritage, personalities and interests in each choice that they made. This strong unit, and the love that would surround them as they journeyed on into married life, was evident in every word and every beautiful image by FO Photography.
There is no better interior (exterior) decorator than Mother Nature, and the nature-themed wedding brought the best of the outside indoors, with forest-inspired centerpieces (created with a little help from a bonafide zoologist friend).
In addition to a personal zoologist, James and Leila’s creative cast of friends helped provide custom cocktails, created by a culinary artist pal, jars of vanilla extract as favours, with the vanilla beans brought back from a trip to Madagascar by a friend, and an international Chuppah, celebrating the couple’s respective heritages, sourced by the bride’s mother.
Added touches included HUE lighting to create an atmosphere (used with enthusiasm by the couple at home) and personalized vows, with the subject matter and key themes in common, but the final content as a surprise for one another..
We’ll hand over to beautiful bride, Leila, for her report on the big event. Take it away, Leila!
A nature-themed wedding
First and foremost, our wedding decorator was amazing. She is a good friend of ours, and worked with our limited budget to make our wedding incredibly beautiful.
She is the artist behind ID Bohemia and she did an amazing job. She helped us navigate all sorts of unknown channels, and we are so grateful for her friendship and her artistic eye for design. We had a nature theme, and our colours were green, gold and fuscia.
We created our e-invitations ourselves, and sent them out through MailChimp. It was really important to James to have a minimal carbon footprint, so we sought to reduce or remove anything that would likely get thrown out after the wedding, including paper and plastic.
Hair fit for an elven queen
For my hair, I went to Gina at Fuss Art of Hair. I am not a super glamerous person, and I really wanted my natural red, curly hair to shine through. It’s a huge part of my personality, so I wanted to make sure that it got the attention it deserved.
As a result, I really liked the idea of a side braid of some kind. That way, you would still be able to see my natural hair (without it being hidden away in some up ‘do), but not in my face either. The other piece here, is that I was kind of going for an elven queen/greek goddess look, which I am pretty sure my hairdresser nailed.
For my makeup, I went to Cara Eden. She was also amazing. I wanted something bright and fresh, and specifically requested bronzes, browns and golds. We ended up doing a smoky eye in those colours, and I think it worked out pretty well!
An eye-catching, elegant gown
My dress was by Theia, from Novelle Bridal Shop. The most significant thing about the dress, to me anyway, is the cut and the beading of the top. I did NOT want a big poofy dress, as I am not a big poofy dress kind of girl. I wanted something simple, and, more importantly, something that I could dance the night away in.
The beading at the top really sealed the deal for me, and I fell in love with it the minute I put it on. I loved that it was simple, but eye catching; elegant and not too over the top.
I got my headband, earrings and necklace from Etsy (AL Bridal Accessories, House Yeager, and Crystal Fairy USA respectively).
My shoes were from the online Towne Shoes store.
The handsome groom
James’ suit was from Simons, and his bowtie was from Etsy, Two Guys Bowties. His shoes were by Steve Madden.
An international Chuppah
My mum found the Chuppah through a friend at her Synagogue. We customised the poles with ribbons representing the flag colours of our shared cultural heritages: blue and white for Greece; red and yellow for China; blue, white and red for the UK; red and white for Canada (all parts of James’ heritage); and the chuppah itself represented Israel (for me). Our chuppah was pretty great.
We wrote our own vows, which we had sort of planned ahead together. We came together and thought of six or seven different areas in life that are important to us (community, communication, gratitude, etc.) and then each went away and wrote a few sentences about them.
That way, when we read them, our vows would be conceptually similar but still unique because we wrote them on our own.
Dana from Floral Studio at Hole’s, Enjoy Center, did our flowers.
We had forest-inspired centerpieces, with moss gathered by our friend, Amelie (a zoologist), and other natural bits gathered by us on forest walks.
Our fabulous photographers
Our photographers were Funmi and Adrian of FO Photography. They were referred to us by a friend of ours. We decided to go with them because their work was beautiful and they were more than willing to be flexible.
We had some specific requests from them that they were happy to work with us to meet, and were truly wonderful. They are lighthearted, hilarious (but professional), and were excited to work with us too! Having them feel as excited and enthusiastic about our wedding as we were was so lovely, and honestly it was a great experience from start to finish. They got some really interesting and unique shots, and we love their work.
Ombre naked cake
We are really lucky here… My sister-in-law made our wedding cake! Because the cake was a naked cake, and somewhat see-through, she suggested we go with an ombre effect. The bottom tier was a nutella chocolate layer, the middle was pumpkin spice, and the top layer was my husband’s favourite – pineapple coconut.
We had a few different wedding favors that drew on the other cultures that we celebrated at our wedding; despite me being Jewish, my husband is half Greek and half Chinese, so we wanted to make sure that we celebrated those cultures as well.
We have a friend who lived in Madagascar for about four years, and every time he would come home to visit, he would bring home about two fistfuls of vanilla beans. Over the years, our collection of vanilla beans grew and grew! So we ended up making homemade vanilla extract out of them all. We then labelled each one with the names of our guests, and used them as place holders. We also placed a stick on the lid of each one – the sticker was of the Chinese ‘double happy’ symbol, and these paid homage to James’ Chinese side.
We also individually packaged seven Jordan almonds, and placed these at each table setting for our guests. This is traditionally done at Greek weddings, and represents the couple being indivisible (like the number seven).
Help from family and friends
Our wedding was the definition of ‘many hands make light work.’ Without our friends and family, our wedding out not have happened. With the help of our community, we started setting up at around 08.30am, and finished tearing down by 04.30am the next day. Something important to us was that our wedding was not just a celebration of us, but of all the important people in our lives who support us and have helped us to get to where we are.
My husband really wanted our guests to connect to one another (especially because our wedding was likely the first and last time we would have all the members of our families together in the same room), so he created a social game for everyone to play.
Each table setting had a game card and a small pencil, and guests could get points by interacting with one another. First person to fill out the card got a free drink.
We also had iPads strewn around the room so that guests to come together and leave us little video messages (seriously, these were the funniest/most incredible videos ever), and take photos of each other throughout the night.
Our own signature cocktail bar
We had our own signature cocktail bar. Instead of having a full bar, we worked with a friend who has a vast knowledge of spirits (who studied Culinary Arts at NAIT) with a little help from the lovely bartenders at Three Boars Eatery, and we created four unique drinks.
We had a rum and coke (with homemade cola syrup and pineapple rum), a gin and tonic (homemade tonic syrup, homemade sugar syrup, and gin), a daquiri (hand-squeezed lime juice, home made sugar syrup, rum), and a Caesar (clammato juice and vodka… and Alberta classic).
We use HUE lights all the time at home and love how customisable they are, that they can be programmed by colour, intensity, light/darkness and even set to different glow patterns.
We downloaded a couple apps onto James’ iPad and pre-selected a few colour schemes for different parts of the evening, but James and I also played with the lighting palette throughout the evening depending on the atmosphere in the room or just for fun.
Leila & James’ little white book
Photographers – FO Photography
Venue – Riverdale Community Hall
Wedding decorator – ID Bohemia
Bride’s dress – Theia purchased at Novelle Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Towne Shoes
Bride’s accessories – House Yeager and Crystal Fairy USA
Groom’s attire – Simons, Two Guys Bowties and Steve Madden
Hair – Fuss Art of Hair
Make-up – Cara Eden
Flowers – Floral Studio
DJ – Thomas Culture
Signature cocktails – Three Boars Eatery
Invitation – MailChimp