Before we got engaged we knew God was speaking the word “simple” over our relationship:
Keep things simple.
If it’s not simple, don’t do it. If it’s simple, full steam ahead.
It’s how we gauged whether wedding details were worth the effort, when to pivot our original plans, and how to stay focused on what was most important. Preparing for a life-long marriage always won over planning a one day wedding.
There’s so much to share about the time leading up to our wedding (our engagement! my depression! all the planning details!) and even on the day itself, but I found one of the most profound aspects of everything was our community & their support for us.
It had always been my dream to have a wedding that was put together not just by us but by the people we call on for the rest of our “life moments”, too. The ones who celebrate with us when things are going extraordinarily well and hold us up when life is difficult. These are the people I ask for help with things much smaller than a wedding, so asking for help with this gigantic thing seemed natural.
As someone who leans “independent” more often than I should, it’s a wonderful practice in humility – not to mention kindness towards myself – to reach out when I know I can’t do it all on my own. It’s something I’ve learned to do over many years, but, in this particular season, dealing with depression also demanded it of me. In return for me asking, I was reminded of how well I’m loved. How well Brandon & I are loved.
And we asked for help with practically everything. The days (and weeks!) leading up to the wedding were full of people asking and being asked to do things, with me handing those things off completely & without worry. We asked women I knew understood the importance of a meal at a gathering to help with dinner, the ultimate coming together of hearts & hands to feed our people as we all celebrated together. The deep joy I found in asking these women to make one big family meal & have them respond with a resounding YES is something I’m going to cherish forever.
We wanted it to be relaxed, laid back, & golden in every way, a representation of what we want our married life (our hearts! our home!) to be like. God provided, the weather was impeccable, & the last minute decision of ordering pizza when our caterer fell through a week out was one of the best we made.
Simple, y’all. Keep it simple.
And now, a small glimpse into our day from my dear friend Justine Russo & new friend Jessica.
My dress, from Agape Bridal, was lovingly tailored by Tita Gemma, my old roommate’s mum. We added the sleeves to the originally strapless bodice & she attached the gold & pearl belt so it wouldn’t slide around.
Other than when we bought it & the day Brandon picked it up at the beginning of May, I didn’t see my diamond ring until Brandon put it on my finger at our ceremony. I love it.
I photographed Brandon’s details after we had breakfast at his house (hours away from being our house!!) that day & handed my memory card off to Justine when I saw her later. Brandon wanted to get ready by himself without spectators to prepare for what was ahead, but I wanted these details. Perks of being a photographer / being friends with our photographer!
Brandon’s rosary is the Christmas gift I gave him last year that he has in his pocket more often than not, and his shoes are from his army days.
I stayed with Hannah & Marcus the last few days before the wedding & it’s where the girls got ready for the day. It’s the same house I got ready to move to Calgary in & the same house I came back to when I moved back to Langley. To be welcomed into someone’s home like that is such a gift.
My sister did my hair both in the morning & right before our sunset portraits. We’d had time to practice since I lived with her little family for the two months leading up to the wedding. I didn’t know I’d be on medical leave from work when we decided I’d live with her, but what a gift to be brought closer together as I navigated some of the darkest days.
Hannah made all our bouquets. All I did was pick which roses would go in mine and decide ribbon length. She’s an amazing, multi-talented mama. I’m so grateful for her and our friendship spanning almost two decades. There’ve been many cups of coffee & glasses of wine shared while we work through life together and I can’t imagine it without her.
My dear Emma. We’ve walked with each other through the darkest & brightest of times. There’s no judgment in our friendship, only complete openness & willingness to get messy & dig through life together. She champions me in every way & this wedding would not have been possible without her taking control of many of the details for me. I’m forever grateful for her.
The clasp on my dress broke & after an attempt to put it back on we just used the hole in the zipper tab to attach it to the hook. And on we went!
My veil was borrowed from my elementary school friend and past bride of mine!
Brandon & I decided to walk down the aisle together, so doing a first look felt like a nice idea. This is the same spot where we took our first photo together, a little trail behind our now shared home.
“You looked so happy. I’ve never seen you that happy before.” – my brother-in-law. He was not wrong.
Because we walked down the aisle together (more on that later!), we waited outside the church for the ceremony before ours to finish. We got to hug our guests and welcome them to our wedding before anyone walked inside. It was magical and perfect for us.
Our altar servers: one of Brandon’s youth ministry teammates (Peter), one of the teens involved at our parish (Chris), and a kid I’ve come to love as a little brother (Judah).
Our parents walked down the aisle ahead of us & Brandon’s two brothers & friend (from when they were four!) were his groomsmen & best man. The best man is the mutual friend that introduced us 7 years ago at Aldergrove Fair Days (which I don’t remember…) because I was going to university with him!
My niblings were part of the children’s parade. The oldest flower girls were champs, the littlest got distracted by a pew, and the boys’ job was to lead us into the church (one was sick so he stayed with mom). How CUTE are they!???
You can see the distracted flower girl to our left hehe.
The Catholic Church teaches that the bride & groom are equals entering marriage, so we entered the church together as a sign of the mutual responsibilities, rights, and privileges that marriage give each of us. Essentially we escorted each other down the aisle, as opposed to being escorted by our parents. Not to be confused with “giving the bride away” which is not what the Church ever teaches, as the key to giving yourself in marriage is your freedom to do so. The bride (& groom!) can be escorted down the aisle by anyone, but it’s the cultural custom to have the father do so (and I’ve heard a beautiful explanation of this being an example of God as Father escorting her to meet her groom!).
We chose people who had spoken truth over both of us to do the Old & New Testament readings: my brother, Jason, and our friend, Jake.
Fr. Lawrence, who I had some integral-to-my-Alberta-move chats with & who is Brandon’s current spiritual director, was our celebrant for the mass. We love him & his “liturgy is life” mentality. What a gift to have a priest who recognizes the magnitude of mass!
Married, right after our vows! We chose to do a hymn of praise immediately following the part where we actually got married, one of our favourites from our times spent in adoration: Holy God We Praise Thy Name.
My dear Heather, a friend/mentor/peace-bringer in my life, praying for us (as she does!) by reading the intentions.
We asked the spouses (& kids) of our wedding party to sit with them in the front row so they could experience the ceremony together. They’ve been huge supports for us as families and it felt fitting to have them all there.
Yes, that is a snail.
My bouquet had three saints who found us on it:
St. Joseph, our parish’s namesake. A strong, youthful, virile, chaste earthly father to Jesus. Reading World’s First Love by Fulton Sheen absolutely sealed the deal on our love for him. This medal is one I bought at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal in 2015 “for someone special, whoever that ends up being.” I thought it’d be a gift for a friend – I gave it to Brandon a few months ago.
Mary, the one Brandon asked me about before we were even dating. She followed us around and prompted us to read that Fulton Sheen book in the first place. The medal of Mary is my mum’s.
St. Dymphna, patron of mental illness. She’s rallying for Brandon & I up in heaven, I just know it!
The best MCs. Jesse & Kathleen have been pillars of truth in my life and it’s because of the dinner they invited Brandon to when he first joined our parish (and before they moved to Ontario!) that he decided he wanted to get to know me more.
The one-bobby-pin-bun made an appearance because it was waaaaarm (even after the thunderstorm the night before) and I’m honestly so glad it did.
Before smartphones were a thing I made Emma a book of cartoons/memes/etc to show her while she had blood work done once because she had a big issue with needles. That was 8 years ago. She kept it. Insert tears.
Our first dance song was performed live by Jesse & Kathleen: the Ed Sheeran & Beyonce version of “Perfect.” After one particular line from Kathleen (the one Beyonce belts near the end of this version), Brandon whispered, “Nailed it.” in my ear. Honestly, it was INCREDIBLE.
The benches were lovingly made as gifts by Brandon’s brother. One is now on our deck & one is in our living room. They’re beautiful & I’m so glad we’re going to have them for a long, long time.
And the LIGHTS! Meticulously strung by Brandon & Gord, making all my dreams come true.
We had already decided not to do a cake cutting, but our wedding day was also Brandon’s birthday! So his mum (now mine, too!) made a cake for him!
What a day. Just the best. Absolutely perfect. Couldn’t have asked for better. Praise the Lord! We’re married!
"They are beautiful photos and I think you captured our day perfectly! You were amazing and made us feel so comfortable and relaxed, you felt like one of the family! Thank you for making the trip out here, it meant a lot to us!
Thank you Thank you Thank you!"
"But you make them comfortable, too. You move through life with such humility and realness that others can't help but be real in your presence. Being a naturally awkward soul, your patience and easygoing way of taking pictures brings out the best in us!"
“The first time I saw our wedding photos, I felt like I was reliving the day all over again. Looking at them now, I still feel that way. It was a gift to have you as part
of our day, reminding us to focus on the now while capturing moments we
wanted to hold forever. We are so grateful for your gorgeous photos that
help us to keep our wedding day close."