In the days, months and possibly even years leading up to your big day, you’ll consider every detail of your wedding - but sometimes it’s hard to picture how it will all come together. Because there’s nobody better to offer real wedding talk than real brides, we’ve gathered some of our favourite brides of the past to candidly share what you can expect for your own experience, plus their tips for ensuring your wedding is the day you always dreamed it would be!
What was your absolute favourite moment from your wedding day?
Samantha: I honestly don't even know where to start! From the moment the day began, everything was done perfectly and handled professionally. Our plan was to have an outdoor wedding to make use of the gorgeous Ballroom pergola. However, it was cold and rainy on our wedding day. Our ‘Dream Team’ (Lyric Flowers, Above & Beyond and the SMGCC Special Events Team – Ashton, Courtney and Taryn) came together with the PERFECT plan to use the Hideaway to recreate our dream wedding ceremony, which I decided not to see until the moment I walked down the aisle. And walking down the aisle towards my groom in this gorgeously done up space would have to be my most treasured moment from the day - it literally brought tears to my eyes. Enjoying a delicious meal with family and friends, listening to speeches from our loved ones, our first dance, and the dance reception are also huge highlights from the day (it's hard to just pick one!)
Erica: Our favourite moment from our wedding day was our ‘first look’ in the Hideaway. It was just Chris, myself, Nina (our photographer) and Andrew (our videographer), and was the first time we had a chance to see and talk to each other all day (aside from a few morning texts!). It was really special to have that private moment together before celebrating our big day with all of our closest friends and family. And we’re able to relive this moment over and over again, thanks to our amazing photos and video! Also at the top of the list: Our ceremony, which was beautifully delivered; saying our own vows to each other (and hearing what the other had to say for the first time!); and the super fun NYE dance party we had with our friend's live band! The whole day was MAGICAL and the setting was perfect, thanks to SMGCC and all of our amazing vendors!
Julia: My favourite moment of our wedding day was looking out and seeing the people we love most in the world all in one place, celebrating our love.
Courtney: Walking back down the aisle after the ceremony and everyone was clapping. We were MARRIED and looking at each other just ecstatic. It was a surreal feeling.
Nadine: Following our ceremony, we took photos with our wedding party and then let them go enjoy cocktail hour, which gave us some time just to ourselves to enjoy our first moments together as husband and wife. That special time together, and the photos from those moments are incredible and will always be favourite memories from our wedding day!
Brittany: Right after the ceremony, when Jay and I went off to get our pictures taken. We were able to just enjoy the moment, laugh and be on our own before seeing all our friends and family again. Close second - the dance party after dinner!
Anne: There is too many to list, but I loved being surrounded by our closest family and friends! It just made that day more special to have everyone we love around us.
SETTING THE STAGE
If you could share one piece of advice to someone planning their wedding, what would it be?
Nadine: Let other people help you! You can only do so much on your own. It's much less stressful and way more enjoyable to spread out the to-do list. I never would have been able to plan everything as well as I did without the help of my family, friends, and guidance from the SMGCC Events Team.
Samantha: Start planning early and decide on your budget well in advance! Planning a wedding is a LOT of work, and I think many brides underestimate how much work it takes – not only for themselves, but also for the members of your team (i.e. wedding planner, florist, decorator, photographer, makeup artist, etc.). To create your vision perfectly, don’t wait until the last minute to make decisions. Before you start browsing through venues, have a realistic budget in mind, and decide on who is paying for what. Once you've decided on a budget, lock down (in this order): your venue, florist, decorator, photographer, DJ, makeup, baker ASAP. Top-rated vendors book up extremely quickly, and it would be a shame to miss out on your dream list because you waited too long. Ask the wedding planner at your venue for a list of preferred vendors that they recommend, trust and work with often – and book THOSE vendors!
Julia: Find vendors you trust and leave it to their expertise – it will all come together perfectly!
Courtney: It sounds cliché, but honestly don’t stress about all the small details. When you look back and remember the day, those aren’t the things that you’re going to remember. A wedding is meant to celebrate your love and marriage, so keep that big picture in mind.
Brittany: Do not stress! It will all come together perfectly. I wish I had stressed less leading up to the ceremony, because in the end, the day went off without a hitch. Even if the day doesn’t go exactly as you planned in your head, none of your guests will ever know, and you’ll still be marrying your best friend no matter what. Enjoy the planning process, and know that the day will be everything you had hoped it would be if you hire the right people!
Anne: When planning our special day, it was very important to me that Jon and I, and our families were guests at our wedding. I didn't want to have to fuss with setup, dismantle or timing, and I didn't want my family or friends to worry about those details either! At the end of the night all we had to do was take home our flowers and gifts. This was a big reason why we chose to have our wedding at SMGCC – a venue that hosts full-service weddings, as opposed to just renting a hall. Yes, with renting a hall you could save some money, but then you are responsible for coordinating and managing everything yourself - and having the weight of that responsibility lifted is priceless. SMGCC, our decorator and florist took care of every single detail for us, and Jon and I were free to enjoy our day!
Erica: Don't sweat the small stuff...OR the big stuff! If you're getting married at SMGCC, Ashton, Courtney, Taryn (and the whole Special Events Team) will ensure you are more than looked after and that everything goes off without a hitch! Trust their recommendations and expertise! I had a major bride panic moment when our original officiant cancelled on us just two months before our NYE wedding. I emailed Ashton asking for advice and suggestions, and rifled through my bag of vendor info I had saved from the Bridal Open House (which I had attended two consecutive years before our wedding). I had spoken to the representatives from Enduring Promises both years, and emailed them after Ashton personally confirmed that they were a great company to work with. We had a new officiant (Jim Giles) booked within a week and he was absolutely wonderful! In the end, we were so pleased with how everything worked out and that Jim helped us design a ceremony that was unique to us. He encouraged us to say our own vows and we are so happy we did, as this made our ceremony that much more personal and memorable.
DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS
What was the single best decision you made for your wedding?
Brittany: Going with SMGCC! Honestly, they have wedding planning down to a science. We are from Toronto and did most of the planning remotely – and quickly! Our original venue told us less than six months before our wedding date that they were permanently closing, so when we found SMGCC during our second search, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were. It felt like it was meant to be, as we loved SMGCC even more than the original venue. They made the whole planning process so convenient and so much less stressful, with the staff guiding us through every step. I give high praise to their Special Events team!
Anne: How can I choose just one! The best decision was marrying my husband! Then it would have to be choosing SMGCC for our venue, Lyric Flowers for all the floral, and Above & Beyond for our Decorator – the ‘Dream Team’!
Courtney: A comfortable dress! I didn’t want to feel restricted hugging everyone, eating, and drinking and dancing. Also, trusting the Special Events Team at SMGCC. They really truly know what they’re doing and are so wonderful to work with.
Nadine: Trying to narrow it down to one best decision is incredibly hard, as so many great decisions led to our amazing wedding. But, if I had to pick just one, I'd have to say it would be having our wedding at SMGCC, because it was the start of it all. Once we picked our venue, everything else fell into place, and The Hideaway really set the rustic, romantic and intimate atmosphere we wanted for our wedding. Not only that, but it had everything we were looking for all in one place – the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, reception and photo areas. Our wedding party, guests and vendors only had to travel to one beautiful location for the entire event – which, in our opinion, allowed all of us to enjoy more of the day without worrying about moving between locations.
Samantha: Choosing my team of wedding experts and then letting them use their creative judgement regarding decor, flowers, makeup, whether to switch ceremony spaces because of inclement weather – and trusting them, whole-heartedly, to make my dreams come true, even if plans needed to change last minute. This team of professionals does this for a living – let them help you! They know what they are talking about, so listen to their suggestions and be open to changing your game plan. On a side note, my one regret would be not having a videographer. The day passes by so quickly, and I know of many brides who love that they get to re-experience their day over and over because they had a videographer!
Erica: Chris and I decided we wanted to say our speech at the beginning of our dinner reception, instead of going at the very end. This meant that we were able to thank everyone for coming and we were able to introduce our wedding party (and thank them!) ourselves. It also meant that we got our speech over with at the start of dinner! We were both able to relax, enjoy the moment, and be fully present for all of the other speeches, since we had gotten our nerves out of the way. It was so nice to be able to enjoy a glass of wine (or two!) over dinner with our wedding party and their spouses, which we likely wouldn't have done if we knew we had to speak last. (We also highly recommend having a king's table big enough for not only your wedding party, but their spouses as well. It provides such a visual impact in the room and it’s also great for conversation!).
Julia: Honestly, choosing SMGCC for the venue (and I'm not just saying that!) But if that sounds too cheesy, the best overall decision that we made was to not spend too much time looking at options for vendors. If we liked something and agreed on it, we went with it! Also a best decision: hiring a videographer. It's another expense, but in our experience, worth every single penny.
STAYING IN THE MOMENT
What helped you stay in the moment on your wedding day?
Courtney: Getting rid of all electronics. We had a zero cell phone policy for our wedding party, as we knew our photographers would get amazing photos and that there was no need for phones. It helped everyone stay in the moment and enjoy the day to the fullest.
Julia: Wine, deep breaths, and holding my husband's hands.
Anne: Knowing that the venue had everything organized. I did not have to worry about any little detail! Honestly, that is such a huge weight off of a bride’s shoulders. The attention to detail and professionalism by the SMGCC staff was extraordinary. Many of my guests even made positive comments during the day (and after our wedding!) about their team.
Nadine: I can honestly say that knowing I had a team of people there to take care of all of the details, organization, and timeline for the day truly made all the difference to me. I had so much confidence that the SMGCC staff, as well as my family, would make sure that everything we had planned in the time leading up to our wedding day would run properly. Instead of worrying about any of the smaller details that would normally occupy my mind, I was able to be in the moment. I knew that everything would be perfect, and it was!
Brittany: My husband by my side. I also had a friend on dance duty. She would come and find me throughout the night to ensure I was enjoying myself on the dance floor.
Samantha: Your wedding day is going to be overwhelming with so many different emotions running through your head! Lean on your family, friends and wedding team for emotional support. I highly recommend a ‘first look’ (or ‘reveal’) with your spouse ahead of the ceremony, and then taking a minute away together from your reception to soak in each other and the fact that all your loved ones have come together to celebrate the two of you. The day passes by in the blink of an eye, so take in every minute and every detail that you can.
Erica: We had a number of people tell us this very important point – “Take it all in, because it goes by so quickly!” My goodness does it ever! We both made a point to step back and just look around the room at various times throughout our wedding day and evening reception. Our reveal allowed for a nice moment between just the two of us before everyone else arrived for the ceremony. We didn't know what each other had prepared for our vows or for our speech to each other during our reception, which was really nice and forced us to be present in the moment. We also had the most incredibly organized and wonderful SMGCC Maître D', Taryn, who continually checked in to ensure we were both doing okay and to keep us on track with our timeline. Everything was absolutely perfect, and we wouldn't have changed a thing (other than making the day last longer so that the party didn't end!).
What is your number one piece of marital advice?
Nadine: Always make time for each other, no matter how busy life gets!
Samantha: Never go to bed angry with your spouse! Marriage will not always be butterflies and roses, so it's important that the two of you work together as a team to resolve conflict and keep your marriage happy and healthy (even if that means staying up until four o’clock in the morning working through your issues). Marriage takes hard work and dedication, and communication is key! Make sure you make time for regular date nights, and say "I love you" often!
Brittany: Communication! Also knowing that no marriage is perfect. Do not get down on yourselves if there are disagreements. Realize it’s temporary, talk it through and move on!
Courtney: Everyone says trust and communication – and that’s entirely true. Keep having fun together, and don’t stop laughing and playing.
Erica: We've only been married for five months now, so we’re no experts in this area! However, we think a crucial element for a successful marriage is to be invested in each other's growth in all areas (personally, vocationally, socially, etc.). It’s important to encourage your partner to be the best version of them selves, to pursue new opportunities, and to support each other through challenges – take on the world together as a team!
Julia: Advice is only what someone else could do if he or she were in your shoes. There is no such thing as the perfect couple or marriage – every relationship is unique, and so ultimately, there's not a single piece of advice I could possibly give! ... But, if I have to give advice, it's this: buy. a. puppy.
Wishing you all the best for own wedding planning, and all the happiness as you embark on your next adventure together!