Ashton & Matt Staffen

MARRIED SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2016

 

Our love story began as an office romance, back when we were both working for a large Canadian retailer. I was finishing up my university degree and only in the office part-time, when Matt first started in my department. I would admire his ‘goldie locks’ from afar, and we would smile at each other in passing, since I wasn’t in the office too often through the week. When I began working full-time hours a few months later, overlapping tasks would encourage our email exchanges, and Matt finally mustered up the courage to ask me out. At the time, I was freshly out of a long-term relationship, and not looking for love. However, when Matt insisted that, being new to the city, he was simply looking to make more friends in the area, I thought that a friendly outing wouldn’t hurt. Of course, in actuality, he intended to sweep me off my feet – and that’s exactly what he did! It only took one conversation (and a couple Caesars) to convince both of us that there was something incredibly special about each other; and we’ve been inseparable ever since!

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Fast-forward four years, when we were taking over Matt’s family business and house hunting in the surrounding area. On our way to view a house, Matt pretended that our agent delayed the viewing, and insisted that we kill time by having lunch at his parents’ golf course (which their house sits atop of). We parked at his parents’ house and were carting down to the clubhouse, when be passed by a large tree that had a red felt bag hanging from one of its branches. Since the bag seemed out of place, Matt told me to hop off the cart and check out what it was. I opened the bag to find a pair of nude Valentino Rockstud heels – the exact shoes that I dreamed of wearing on my wedding day! Completely surprised already, I turned around to find Matt on one knee, holding the most beautiful engagement ring I had ever seen! I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect moment, and of course I said ‘Yes’!

When it came time to choosing where we would get married, it was an easy decision, being that our family business is actually a wedding venue! With an absolutely beautiful setting, a seamless process we had already put in place, and a team of staff that had become a second family to us, there was no other place than the St. Marys Golf & Country Club to host our reception. For our ceremony, we wanted a unique and intimate outdoor setting, and we knew that exchanging our vows beneath the tree where Matt had proposed was the perfect spot. Not only was the tree incredibly sentimental to us, and situated with a panoramic view of the golf course, but also a convenient location for our guests - it was within walking distance to Matt’s parents' residence (where we hosted cocktail hour), and a one-minute bus drive down the hill to our reception.

Once our date and venue were set, next was deciding on all the details, such as attire, invitations, décor and floral – all of which were inspired by the organic spot where it all began (our tree!). For my gown, I knew that I wanted a structured but flowy dress, which to me was a perfect balance between timeless elegance and a more laidback bohemian feel – much like our overall wedding vibe. I visited Taylor’s Bridal Boutique in small town Elmira, and fell in love with a Pronovias tulle gown. With a softly structured mermaid shape, Chantilly lace embroidery, a flowing train, and a moveable weight to the fabric, I knew I had found my dress. To make the dress my own, there were a few details I had my seamstress add to gown – eyelash lace to soften the crisp sweetheart neckline, and a subtle tulle sash at my waist.

For Matt’s suit, we turned to Garrison Bespoke in Toronto, who specializes in custom suits for men. It was just as important to us that Matt also had a perfectly tailored outfit to wear on our special day, and Garrison customized a regal blue two-piece suit for Matt, with a champagne-coloured plaid lining (since champagne was our primary wedding colour, and because Matt and his groomsmen have an inside joke about wearing plaid). Garrison even stitched ‘MASHTON’ into the lining, which is what our friends and family sometimes refer to us as. And I will never forget the moment I saw my handsome groom in his suit for the very first time – I fell in love all over again!

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The rest of the gentlemen (including Matt's dad, who was his Best Man) wore their own fitted dark navy blue suits, as we wanted them in slightly different attire than Matt. To pull both styles together, we paired the groom and groomsmen look with white shirts, white pocket squares, dark navy knit ties, and brown leather shoes.

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My ladies and I visited LoversLand in Toronto for their bridesmaid dresses. We chose three different shades of ballgowns by twobirds – two tones of champagne and a muted navy – since I wanted to create a unique and eclectic palette that would compliment the boys, and also differ from what many other brides were choosing. The whole look came together beautifully, and each one of the girls was absolutely radiant.

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When it came time to design our invitations, I wanted to create a very personalized feel, so I handled the task myself. Matt’s sister had graciously gifted us with a watercolour painting she had done of our tree, and I used this image to brand our stationery. With the tree, my own sketches of Matt’s parents' house and the Country Club, as well as a gold calligraphy font, I designed our invitations, RSVP cards, maps, guest name cards, menu cards, and table numbers.

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On the morning of September 10th, 2016 – our wedding day – there was a 90% chance of thunderstorms at our exact ceremony time (and tornado warnings in the area!), so we didn’t think there was going to be a chance of us actually getting married at our tree. However, in addition to our incredible staff and vendors who did everything to ensure that our outdoor ceremony would happen, even our late grandparents looking down from above were there to support us on our big day – the clouds broke 10 minutes before our ceremony and rolled back in 10 minutes after! Some things are just meant to be!

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Following the ceremony, guests were escorted up the hill to Matt’s parents’ residence, where cocktails were served and hors d’oeuvres were passed, and where guests could enjoy frozen yogurt via The Fro.Zen Trolley. This was also the spot where some guests had setup tents for camping (and the after party), all surrounding the authentic teepee that Matt’s Mom had arranged for Matt and I to sleep in – complete with a fully-framed and fitted queen bed, sheepskin rugs, and custom pillows featuring an embroidery of our tree. Guests were then shuttled down to the Country Club for our dinner and dance reception. It was important to Matt and I that all of our guests enjoyed the day from beginning to end and that everyone felt included, so we had left a dare on each dinner table for them to complete in order to get us to kiss. Dares ranged from performing a free-style rap about our honeymoon, to starting a conga line around the room, to simply giving us their best piece of marital advice – it was incredibly entertaining for Matt and I to watch, and so much fun for our family and friends!

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Looking back on the rest of the day, all the other details also came together flawlessly – and we have our vendors, staff, and family to thank for that. Being in the wedding industry, we’ve been lucky to grow professional and personal relationships with some of the best in our area, so choosing vendors was another easy decision. Above & Beyond Event Design did our décor and styling. Kim and her team brought our rustic elegance and garden-inspired vision to life – and then some! With harvest benches for our ceremony seating, an antique wood table and chair for our signing, chandeliers and candlescaping sparkling everywhere, flowing drapery throughout the Ballroom reception space, and wood tables and vineyard chairs for our head table dinner seating, the whole look was an absolute dream come true! Although I wanted our wedding to be styled by a professional, Kim allowed me to tie in my own pieces, such as wood signs I had crafted, birch log holders for table signage, seating chart prints that she and her team used to create a gallery wall above our gift table, and a thank you note to our guests that sat in Kim’s vintage typewriter.

Lanny and Jay, of Lyric Flowers, were the masterminds who made our floral fantasies a reality. Matt and I had spent one cottage weekend hunting down piles of birch pieces, in hopes that Lyric could hang them in our ceremony tree and reception space, covered in flowing greenery and floral. Not only were their suspended creations even more incredible than we could have pictured, but they also added loose greenery and bursts of floral through our chandeliers, to our signage, and in our gold and vintage accent pieces. Aside from all the other gorgeous floral arrangements Lyric created for our wedding, some of the most jaw-dropping pieces were the flowing greenery garlands they added to our signing table and head table. However, it was my oversized bouquet, filled with various greens, garden roses, dahlias, and wrapped in raw silk ribbon from Frou Frou Chic that was the real showstopper. It was so stunning that I cried when Lanny dropped it off at our house, while me and the girls were getting ready! Partnering together, Lyric Flowers and Above & Beyond did not miss one single detail – and not one single person (myself, Matt and our guests included) failed to comment on how unbelievably magical the entire setting was.

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Our photography was done by Erin Leydon, who is so immensely talented, with her flawless editorial style and easy-going personality, that we couldn’t believe we locked her down to shoot our wedding. She sent us 400 photos from our day, and we could quite literally frame every single one – that’s how amazing she is.

We worked with our Chef, Jason, to put together an inspired menu for our guests, which was much raved about – almost all of our guests emailed us afterwards about just how much they enjoyed their meal. During cocktail period, guests were treated to mini Brie and apple montecristos, scallop ceviche and Caesar shrimp shooters. First course consisted of grilled vegetables, feta cheese, and aged balsamic on mixed greens. For their entrée, guests made the choice between braised lambshank, oven-roasted chicken breast with shrimp and scallops, baked Atlantic salmon in coconut curry sauce, or a stuffed roasted red pepper. For dessert, guests chose between chocolate crème brulee and frozen lemon meringue cake. To end the night on a high note, guests were treated to a late night selection of chicken and shrimp tacos, served with poutine.

All the other vendors and friends we collaborated with on our wedding day were exceptional as well. Gabriela Soares worked her makeup artistry on the bridal party, my friend and hairstylist Melanie James perfected our hair, and bridesmaid robes were sourced from Pretty Plum Sugar. For music, we had four different arrangements – violinist Laura C. Bates for our ceremony and cocktails; my longtime friend DJ Makem for our dinner and dance reception; groomsman and dear friend James Arthurs for our first dance guitar, vocals and harmonica; and Zed Cover Band for our party, who kept the dance floor packed until the very end. Both Laura and James customized versions of the song 'Can't Help Falling in Love,' by Elvis Presley - Laura arranged a violin cover for my walk down the aisle, and James mastered his own indie cover for our first dance. The Cake Box created our vanilla naked cake and custom macaroons, and we sourced some of our other favourite sweets from various local bakeries. Cherrey Bus Lines provided transportation for our guests, and Pelee Island Winery provided all of the custom-label wine.

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In the end, we had the most memorable, meaningful and beautiful day of lives. Matt and I continue to talk about how much fun we had on our wedding day, and how we wish we could relive the day over and over again. Spending the entire day celebrating with our favourite people was one of the best feelings we’ll have ever experienced, and we are eternally grateful to our family, friends, staff, and vendors for making our day so incredibly special!


Story by Ashton Staffen

Photography by Erin Leydon