Are you planning a small intimate wedding and just don’t know where to start?
That was me last summer when my son and his finance asked me to do all the decor for their wedding. It was a dream come true for me and I was honoured that they trusted me. I enjoyed every second of it!
I would also like to thank my amazing husband since he was with me every step of the way on every project. I don’t know many dad’s who would be as genuinely involved as he was. We were celebrating our 35th anniversary that week as well, and I pray that our kids have as much love, adventure and friendship as we do.
Obviously this blog is coming from my perspective of the decor since that is what I do, and I just wanted to share with you the process that I took. I will share all my DIY’s, successes, challenges, breakthroughs and even some failures. Many of you have seen little teasers through the summer, but now you get to see how it all came together.
My biggest challenge was that we were right in the middle of a COVID lock down. All the stores were closed for months and we didn’t want to count on them opening up at the last minute so it was time to be creative. Thank goodness for Amazon. We were getting deliveries at our house everyday. Because of the pandemic, everything was either out of stock, arrived late, or it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. Some things still haven’t arrived and the wedding was 2 months ago!
Another important factor to consider was they were living in Toronto, I was living in Ottawa and the wedding was in the country. Let’s just say we talked on the phone A LOT. They were extremely organized with their spread sheets of everything that had to be done so our daily ‘meetings’ were productive. We divided and conquered the tasks that needed to be done.
They had created lots of Pinterest boards to get a sense of what they were looking for. My pressure was making their wishes come true with all the variables and obstacles that were happening at the time.
No Matter How Big or Small
I want to emphasise the importance of the decor since it tells the story of the couple. It sets the whole tone of the experience and it should express who THEY are as a couple. It’s the little personal touches that guests remember. It’s those little touches that makes everyone feel included, loved and welcomed.
In some ways it doesn’t matter if you’re decorating for 20 or 200 people. You still have to go through all the same steps:
They had chosen to rent a chalet for 6 days. The on-line photos looked gorgeous but we couldn’t even go to see it in person since the Provincial borders were closed. I studied the photos to get some inspiration. It was just as nice in person, but it was pretty remote so I knew I had to be extra prepared to make sure nothing was forgotten at home. Organization was the key! I treated it the way I would stage a house. I planned everything in the tiniest detail ahead of time, took extra’s of everything and took a tool box and craft supply box.
The venue really dictates the entire feel for the wedding. When we went to one of the rental companies nothing represented a wedding in an upscale chalet. They were geared for modern city weddings. My heart felt heavy and I was discouraged since I knew that was not what they wanted. Even though the venue was a chalet in the country, my son wanted an elegant black tuxedo wedding and my daughter-in-law wanted a more relaxed bohemian vibe. How the heck was I going to do this? Challenge accepted!!!!
Change Of Plans
As I said, the venue really dictates just how formal or casual to go. Prior to seeing the venue in person I had a very strong vision of how I wanted it to look. But once I was there, I had an immediate change of plans. That is the risk of not seeing the venue in person. Although the rooms looked the same, the scale was different and the exterior landscape terrain was more steep than I expected so we had to figure out where to get married or have the dinner if we were going to do it outside. The whole family went to see the chalet together and since we only had a couple hours there between other renters. We all had specific tasks to do. Measurements of certain rooms so we could figure out how many people we could sit, what was in the kitchen cupboards for cooking and supplies, taking measurements outside for lights etc. We accomplished a whole lot in a short period of time.
The guest list kept changing with the COVID regulations which was also another challenge. We decided to rent the tables and the chairs (for the outside ceremony and also for the indoor dinner), the dishes and the table cloths. When you are only renting for a small group in a remote location it was cheaper to just buy everything. It was also piece of mind knowing that I had everything and could still decorate even if the rental company had to close down with new restrictions. You couldn’t sit in my living room all summer with boxes to the ceiling.
We ended up with 34 guests in total so they rented a second chalet down the road so we were spread out more for the sleeping. Everyone stayed for the entire long weekend. It was pretty nice of them to share their honeymoon with all of us lol.
The Wedding Dress
The wedding dress is symbolic since it also dictates the style of the wedding. Casual, formal, traditional, modern etc. Once the dress is chosen you can tie everything together with a colour scheme. Since the venue was already chosen, she knew she wanted a simple yet elegant dress with a touch of whimsy for the enchanted forest wedding. It was important that there were leaves on her dress. She wanted a Boho vibe but still look right beside Greg’s black tuxedo.
Angela bought her dress literally the day before everything shut down and she only was able to pick it up a couple days before we left for the wedding. It must have been meant to be. She looked so beautiful!!!! I felt very lucky to be able to go dress shopping with her mom and sister since we were only allowed so many people in the store at a time. Even with her mask on, I could tell she was thrilled. It was so much fun making the voting ‘paddles’ so we could help her decide but her smiling eyes said it all.
It’s always a bit nerve wracking when you depend on the weather. They were predicting 100% sunshine so they cancelled their white tent two days before. Of course it started to rain about 2 hours before the service but fortunately it was just a sprinkle and stopped in time for us to dry everything off. Everyone was running in and out with the floral archway, candles, and tables etc. A time consuming and stressful event when you want to be relaxing. Trust me….rent a tent just in case and don’t listen to the weather forecast unless you have an inside alternative!!!
Angela didn’t want a lot of stark white, but we went with white chairs and tables because I knew black chairs wouldn’t show up against the dark trees in the background. I actually set up a ‘mock ceremony’ in my backyard to make sure it was going to look o.k. I was really glad I did since that is when I knew I needed more white and symmetry in the decor.
Since there was no ‘room’, I created one by having two tables up front for balance and the gold circle of flowers was the focal point.
Angela definitely knew what flowers she wanted on the circle arch. That was almost the most important thing to her so I was very happy that they hired a florist who came out to the chalet the day before the wedding to attach the swags of flowers and her 2 bouquets and the boutonnieres. We ordered the gold circle from amazon. Again, I wanted to have it beforehand to make sure we had it and it was what she wanted.
I lined the aisle with black shepherds hooks with jumbo gold lanterns and huge white pillar candles.
I cleaned out the shelves 🙂
Since there was a bohemian vibe to the wedding, I bought a round table on Facebook Marketplace for them to sign their marriage license on.
I painted it white and stenciled a bohemian gold mandala on the centre. It was very subtle and caught the reflection of the sun. The mandala was carried on to other tables as well. To dress up the front of the table, I added pampas (that we ordered online), fresh eucalyptus and some of the other flowers that were in her bouquet in a huge green glass vase.
I had an old black iron and glass sofa table that I painted white for the ‘lighting of the family candles’. I put another gold lantern on that table to tie in with the ones going down the aisle. Each father lit a candle and then the bride and groom took their parent’s candle to create their new family by joining the two families.
The same table was then brought inside after the ceremony for the cake.
Angela loved the idea of having little vignettes in the woods for taking photo. She really wanted to have whimsical crystal chandeliers and a vintage chair to sit on.
This was how my vision started. I could see it completely redone but I wasn’t sure anyone else could envision it. 🙂
Labour Of Love
There was nothing worth renting that suited her style so once again it was time to think outside the box.
I had my grandfathers old wood chair that I have always loved but it was falling apart and the cushions were originally filled with horse hair and they had disintegrated. I have such wonderful memories of him sitting in ‘his’ chair reading the newspaper. I was allowed to sit on the arm of the chair and I would pretend to read along with him.
The chair was passed down to my parents and then to me so it has a lot of sentimental value to my family. I thought it would be personal to incorporate it into the decor since Greg also had fond memories of it when it was at my parent’s house.
I really wanted to bring as much ‘Family Sentiments’ into the decor since they either couldn’t be with us because of the Pandemic or because they have passed. I definitely felt their presence.
I hang a chandelier over my outside dining table so that was my inspiration to create some chandeliers for the wedding on a budget.
Thank goodness for Marketplace. I searched everyday for inexpensive chandeliers. I didn’t care if they worked or not since I was going to remove the wires anyway. I just cared about the lines of the lights and ideally, it was a bonus if there were hanging crystals. It’s truly amazing what you can find if you stay focussed.
I bought two small lights strictly for the crystals but then I fell in love with them as well. I had 4 chandeliers in total. I just spread the crystals out to other chandeliers. I was even given a bag of crystals from Angela’s family cottage that was going to be thrown out. SCORE!
Everything had a coat of white Rust oleum spray paint and then I highlighted some areas with gold paint and gold ribbon. I individually wired each crystal to the chandeliers after they had all been individually been washed and polished.
For the final touch a attached a string of fairy lights to each light so they would sparkle.
Even though the lights couldn’t be turned on, I still ordered white frosted chandelier bulbs (no longer available in stores). It’s the tiny little details that take the most time but they are projects that I love the most. Since I wasn’t sure there would be tree branches in the right places, I brought extra tall shepherds hooks to hang the lights. Always be prepared for anything! That is my Staging experience kicking in.
Extreme Room Make Over – Day Before The Wedding
Since this chalet was privately owned, the main area was set up as a living room. We had to remove all the furniture in the space and store it in the truck that we had brought up so nothing would be harmed. Fortunately, the immediately family was there to help do all the heavy lifting. Once the room was empty, we set up the rental tables and the chairs, removed the drapes, and hid the huge TV unit with folding folding screens that I painted white back at home. They were the perfect solution since we didn’t want to tamper with any of the electronics. Then it was time to start getting the table decor started.
The whole family pitched in wherever it was needed. Whether it was setting up the chairs outside, raking the grass, cutting back some branches, steaming drapes, running errands and getting the last minute food and alcohol.
The living room and the kitchen/dining area were all open but I was determined to divide the space so we weren’t looking into the kitchen while we were having our dinner. I brought ivory silk drapes to fit on a wall divider and then some faux eucalyptus for the top to hide all the strings and polls etc. It made a nice backdrop and certainly blocked the kitchen. I’m sure the caterers appreciated it too.
Wedding Decor For the Dining Area
Now this is my favourite part!!!!!
Once the wedding dress was bought, her maid-of-honour dress was also chosen (Sage green) and the men decided they were in black tuxedos, the rest fell into place. I had my colour palette, I knew the venue, and I knew what they wanted.
Repeat, Repeat and Repeat
White, ivory, green, black and gold were the colours that I was going to be working with. The gold was through the accessories. Notice how the same colours carried from the outside ceremony and photo shoot vignette?
Angela wanted it to look classy, modern with a touch of bohemian in the centrepieces.
I practised setting my table at home so many times it wasn’t funny. I just wanted it to be perfect for them. Every time I create a table scape, I sent them photos and videos for their approval. Remember they were living in a different city than me. I also laid everything out on my living room floor since the tables were not the same size as my dining room and I wanted to make sure everything was going to fit on them.
My biggest challenge was the guest list kept changing with the COVID regulations so I wasn’t sure up until the very end exactly how many people would be allowed. It definitely got easier once everyone was double vaccinated so thank you for that.
You Have to Be Flexible
The morning of the wedding I was still setting the tables and dressing the mantle since it was all fresh greenery so I wanted to keep it in the water as long as possible. I had my makeup and hair done but still needed to get dressed.
I was originally going to have more white in the decor but after our visit to the chalet, I realized we definitely needed some strong black accents (which might sound weird for a wedding). The wood log walls had a yellow tinge to them so I wanted more of a contrast. Even the maid of honour was originally going to wear a champagne pink but it would not have looked as good for the venue. Especially since you typically do the decor in the wedding colours. It needed to be natural and green. Green is also Angela’s favourite colour.
I knew Angela loved eucalyptus so that was our main greenery and decor. Since I was bringing all the greenery with me the day before, I just took it fresh in large buckets of water. That also meant that I could not finish setting the tables until the morning of the wedding. I also picked up some white spider moms on the way to the chalet to put in the bud vases for more texture and interest. Ahhhh!!!! No pressure lol.
As I mentioned earlier we had to order most of the items online since the stores were closed. Unfortunately, the colours and textures are not always exact. We ordered two different sets of runners and neither worked. They were very nice but just not for our colour scheme.
I even tried dying and bleaching them but they still looked peach. This was very upsetting since I didn’t know what to do and then I realized I had some organza ivory (with a tinge of gold) long drapes. I took them apart and made runners for each table and a double wide and double long one for the head table. They were the perfect colour and texture. Phew!!! Problem solved. Sounds silly, but I literally lost sleep over this.
I was able to find classy black and gold champagne glasses and gold wine glasses for the head table to make them stand out more.
Both of them wanted real flowers/greenery on the table. I bought 12 live succulents that were all the same size in little black pots. I talked to each plant every day since it was my job to keep them alive for 4 months until the wedding. I loved them since they were all the same size and colour. They were so perfect they almost looked faux.
As I mentioned earlier, it was easier for me to buy the vases, candles, candle holders, votives and twinkle lights than it would be to rent since it was a small number of items. They have already been reused many times since as well so it was not a waste. I was so grateful when the stores opened up a few weeks before the wedding so I could go buy everything but the inventory was LOW everywhere which was limiting but I think the tables still turned out just the way they wanted them. We hit Michaels, HomeSense, IKEA and even the Dollar Store. And of course, I had a ton of stuff in my Staging Inventory to use.
I have never done much floral arrangements before but since I had so much fresh eucalyptus and Pampas left over as well as some flowers that the florist didn’t use, I quickly put together a few large bouquets to fill up some empty spaces.
I think we bought all the fairy lights, string lights, and Edison lights that Amazon sold. It’s amazing how many shades of white lights there are and I wanted them all the same so some had to go back and reorder. Greg is the master of ordering and returns. I can’t even remember how many candles and tea lights I bought, but I know the bags were heavy lol. I found the cheapest ones at IKEA.
Angela’s brother did a stellar job streaming all the little lights indoors from the balcony to the doors behind the head table. They really made you feel like you were in a fairy tale.
The outside also had Edison lights stretching from the balcony to a 12 foot pole that we bought at Home Depot and took up. My daughter, her partner and Greg’s best man were able to hammer the post into the ground and worked on the lights. It was incredible what a difference it made. I could feel my parents smiling down since they were all about party lights.
It was the bride and groom’s dream to do their first dance under twinkle light so we had to make that dream come true for them. They had taken dance lessons in the summer and surprised us with a beautiful and romantic dance. The truth is, it was magical and I think everyone else enjoyed it too.
The Bride & Grooms Personal Touches
They did so many personal touches it was hard to take them all in. They ordered gold painted wood name tags for the table. I will hang mine on my Christmas tree 🙂
They also had a table with their parents and grandparents wedding photos on display.
There were two huge boards with photos of them with their family and friends which was fun to look at. They also put personal photos with them and their friends in each of their guest rooms. This took months going through all photos.
Greg and Angela have a true love story in the sense that they have been best friends since grade 6 and have never dated anyone else. I can’t remember her not being in our home and family. They made this poster for the mantle and I think it was perfect for them. Not many couples could say this.
Even their welcome sign stand was made by their friends who used it earlier in the summer for their wedding and then by another couple of their friends used it the week before. This copper stand might just make the rounds like throwing the bouquet of who gets married next. 🙂
The custom bar was hand made with palettes by Angela’s sister and her boyfriend especially for the occasion. This is just another testament to how everyone stepped up to make it a special day.
Some of My Favourite Memories Of The Wedding Day
There really are too many to recall but I think it’s more of a ‘feeling’. Since it was such a small group for 5 days in a beautiful location and everyone were good friends, and there was continuous laughing. The celebration never stopped.
I was absolutely grateful how everyone chipped in at the last minute to clear the tables after the dinner so the dance could begin. It took me so long to set everything up and within a few minutes it was all done. I had been really worried how that was all going to happen for nothing. Yes, I am a worrier but I like to be prepared. I forgot how much stronger and faster the younger generation move. lol
One of my very favourite surprises was their vows to each other. They were so personal and really captured their love and their love story. Even the officiant was impressed with all the personal touches and the closeness that was felt. I think she might have even shared a tear while they were saying their vows to each other.
Their thank-you speeches to everyone were also extremely heart felt. It was obvious by all the speeches that they have wonderful friends.
Little things meant so much to me. I loved that Greg had black suits custom made for the men. Even though the wedding was at a chalet with friends, he still wanted it to be very important and classy.
I loved that Greg wore his dad’s cuff links (the ones he wore at our wedding), and Angela wore the earrings and bracelet I gave her.
On a personal note, Jay and I had been learning how to dance following YouTube videos all summer so we surprised them with a choreographed dance. We danced in our backyard every night and I can’t tell you the fun we had. The dance was much more successful than I had anticipated.
During The Rest Of The Weekend
Other than the wedding, there was a day of outdoor games and Olympics, golf, water activities, hot tub, sauna, pool table, table tennis, bonfire, and of course lots of dancing every night.
I was also grateful that the parents on both sides were treated so kindly by their friends. We didn’t want to be the ‘old guys’ ruining their fun so we joined in all the activities.
I have to admit I was surprised how much everyone helped out with the cooking and cleaning during the rest of the weekend which was amazing. Angela’s mom did a phenomenal job feeding us deliscious dinners. You can always count on her for making food ‘just appear’ and she makes it look so easy.
It’s very special that the two families have been great friends and very much involved in all our holidays etc. and now it’s just official that we are all family <3
The caterers and servers did an amazing job the day of wedding. I don’t think they really wanted to leave the party at the end of the night.
I would also like to thank Greg and Angela for treating us all moms and sisters to a hair and make-up artist. That was a real treat 🙂 We have never looked better!
Well, if you were wondering what I did last summer, now you know lol.
Bouquet & Archway: zennfloral
Decor: StyledHomeLiving (me)