Wedding Planning: Alicia Keats | Wedding Photography Jonetsu Studios

Today is our five year wedding anniversary and I thought it was about time I shared my own wedding day with you!

I have really struggled to find the words to describe the experience of planning our wedding. Having had the honor and privilege of being a part of so many weddings over the last thirteen years, I had thought I would have been well prepared for the experience of being a bride myself, but I was wrong.

During the planning process, I really struggled with the idea that the wedding was suppose to be all about us (I am someone who can’t stand to be in the spot light even on her birthday and in my work-life I am happily behind the scenes). During a heart to heart with our stationery designer and my close friend, (Love by) Phoebe, I shared how important it was for me to ensure our guests understood how important their presence on our wedding day was for us and with that thought the intention for our wedding took shape. We would focus on the guest experience and carefully include details that would ensure our guests would feel our love for them. Our design was fairly understated and classic. We used our wedding flowers as inspiration for a lot of the design. I had carefully chosen our wedding date with our florist, another dear friend of mine, Gloria of Flower Factory, to ensure that all of my favorite flowers would be in season (peonies, lilacs, lilies of the valley, sweet-peas, and ranunculus) and Phoebe brought the flowers to life in our stationery. With these beautiful floral inspiration and our desire to spoil our guests, all the pieces began to fall into place and I was able to embrace the planning of our wedding with a new intention and spirit.

Our wedding was about sharing our love: for each other and for our loved ones. When our guests arrived at our wedding, they were each given a boutonniere. We wanted every single guest to know that they were important to us and that their presence and their support on our wedding day mattered to us. We had a small wedding, sixty-three guests, and so the way I saw it, everyone of them was in our ‘wedding party’.

Our ceremony was going to be outside in Pacific Spirit Park (more about that later!), so another way we wanted to take care of our guests was by ensuring they would be warm in the cool early May air. My husband’s mother hand stitched our wedding date on cozy blankets for our guests. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am never more than 2 feet away from a blanket at all times because I am always freezing (even have one on as I write this!) so there were some laughs about the need for blankets in May.

Great food was a must. I wanted our guests to feel like they were at fantastic, intimate, dinner party with lots of food and wine. I think we all know how much I love the Vancouver Club, and their took my ideas for our menu and created an outstanding feast which included a family style first course, a palate cleanser, a plated entree and a plated duo dessert.

Our guestbook that was made up entirely of photos of us with each one of our guests from some point in our past. This was a huge project and I suggest only attempting with smaller weddings, but it was worth it. In the hardcover guestbook, each guest was able to find a photo of themselves, with one (or both!) of us and sign the book next to their photo. I think it is important to create a guestbook that you will want to revisit after the wedding, and I still love looking through it. It is so love filled.

As our guests made their way to the table for dinner, everyone was seated at one large table, they discovered a hand painted floral envelope on each of their place settings. In each envelope was a hand written note from my husband and myself and a photo of us with them from some point in past. The photos that Camille and Chadwick were able to capture of our guests opening these cards are my most precious. There was so much laughter and tears in the room as our loved ones opened up the envelopes and those images capture this moment so perfectly, I can almost hear the noise in the room again. At each of our parents and grandparent’s place setting, I had arranged for their favorite flower to be waiting for them. My dad had a cactus, Duncan’s grandma a rose… It was a lot of fun figuring out what their favorite flowers were and another way we could show them that they mattered to us. There were many more little details we included in our wedding to make our guests feel as loved as we possibly could, but the last one I will share was that my husband and his brother made home brew as favours for all our guests (and I of course provided pink bubbly!). It was so much fun thinking of ways to spoil our guests and how we could show them how much we loved them.

As I reflect on our wedding day, what stands out to me is how much love there was surrounding us. Having taken our time to get married, I think our friends and family were so happy and excited for our day to finally (!!!) arrive that the amount of love and support in the room was staggering. We purposely created an intimate celebration and made sure that we were surrounded by our biggest supporters and champions.

A few quick lessons that I learned while planning my wedding to leave you with:

Lesson One: Let the love in. Allow those around you to have the opportunity to celebrate you and show how you how much they love.  This was the biggest and most challenging thing I learned about being a bride myself. I am very good at loving, but being on the other side of this kind of love was overwhelming but so incredible; something that we both will carry with us in our marriage for the rest of our lives. It was magical.

Lesson Two: Wedding party size does not matter (Duncan had 12 groomsmen, and keep in mind our wedding was small, so it seemed that nearly half the wedding guests were up there with us!) and I think everyone got a good laugh out of it.

Lessons Three: Sometimes things can light on fire, but with quick action, no one will get hurt. That story is for another day.

Lesson Four: If you plan a wedding ceremony in the middle of the forest in Pacific Spirit Park on the first weekend in May, no matter how tightly you cross your fingers or how much obsessing you do over ten different weather apps when you should be sleeping, no matter how many times you have told your couples that rain on their wedding day is magical: there is a high chance it will rain and there is nothing you can do about it.

Lesson Five: Which brings me to the final wedding lesson, hire a wedding coordinator so you can be present and in the moment on your wedding day. It is the best gift you can give yourself and your guests. I can say this not only as a planner myself, but as a bride who had the best one by her side on her wedding day. Aurora, you are the best!

On that note, I will wrap up this super long post but not before thanking my dear friends who were responsible for bringing our wedding day to life. Firstly Jenny for encouraging me to hold a date at the Vancouver Club (honestly without her, we would still be working on finding the perfect wedding venue in Tofino), Aurora and Phoebe for sitting me down numerous times and making me focus on planning my own wedding, Gloria of Flower Factory for telling me when to get married so I could have all my favorite flowers (and who I know lost sleep over the Lilacs and Lilies of the Valley), Karen Ell for marrying us and for being a grounding presence, Camille and Chadwick of Jonetsu who captured the day perfectly, Sweet Thea for the beautiful peony cake, Martin for providing the most beautiful music for our ceremony, Emily (and Katie!) for hair and make up magic, Elsa Corsi for the stunning custom jewelry and hairpiece, sweet Aimee for filling the dance floor and playing all our favorite music, Angela with Photobooth Vancouver for providing us with hysterical memories that we will enjoy for many years to come, Daniel with Pacific Harmony who put up with the 12 loud groomsmen, A Stylish Arrival for being a wonderful chauffeur, The Tux Store for suiting up my husband’s football team, Debut for insisting that I needed candles and lighting, and of course Upright Decor and Pedersen‘s for the rentals.

Now if you have hung in there with me through this epic blog post, here are a few of our favorite memories from our wedding day.

Love Alicia