MARRIED MAY 11TH, 2018
I guess you could say that our love story began as a total cliché. Spencer and I met at the tender age of 14, in grade nine science class, where he sat directly behind me. At the time, Spencer was nursing a particularly bad ankle sprain, after being injured playing for the Huron Perth AAA Lakers. Being that he was on crutches, I figured that he could use some extra help carrying his books to and from class. So, I volunteered to help him out on many occasions and we got to know each other a little better. Spencer’s hilarious sense of humour, caring and charming personality, and beautiful blue eyes had me hooked, and I began to realize that I wanted to get to know him on an even deeper level.
We had our first date at our local movie theatre in Woodstock, where we saw ‘I Love You Man’, a particularly terrible rom-com. Prior to our date, I had gone out for dinner with my Mom and a family friend, and I had indulged in some delicious (and garlicky!) spaghetti & meatballs, Caesar salad and garlic bread (yep, more garlic!). I remember having buyer’s remorse after dinner, worrying about any potential ‘garlic breath’, so I insisted that we stop for Listerine on route to the date, just in case Spencer decided to go in for our first kiss! After ensuring that my breath was minty fresh, my mom took me to the movie theatre (we couldn’t even drive ourselves yet!) where I would meet up with Spencer. I was beyond embarrassed when she decided to park directly outside the movie theatre, and I bolted from the car the second I saw Spencer walking from the other side of the street. Once the movie began, Spencer and I held hands the whole time and eventually we shared our first awkward kiss. Needless to say, I was grateful for the Listerine I had used earlier. Our kiss was suddenly interrupted by a couple of kids sitting behind us who were reporting loudly to their parents that we were kissing! Despite the awkwardness of our first kiss, and fact that we were still in high school at the time (and on our very first date!), when my Mom picked me up from the movie, I remember thinking to myself, “he’s my soul mate and I’m going to marry him one day.”
Fast forward seven years. Spencer and I watched each other walk across the stage of our high school graduation, as we received our diplomas and prepared for our next few years at college and university. We moved into our current farmhouse at 18 years old, which we fixed up, renovated and decorated ourselves (with a little help from our parents). We welcomed into our lives our first ‘fur baby,’ Emma – our gorgeous, smart and wonderful golden retriever. I sat in the audience and clapped as Spencer finished his HVAC diploma at Fanshawe College, and I was there by his side when he got his first real job a couple weeks afterwards. Spencer then watched me walk across the stage of Western University a few years later, as I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Food & Nutrition, and he held my hand as I received the email that told me I had been accepted into an internship program that would secure my future as a registered dietician.
Prior to the start of my year-long, unpaid internship, Spencer told me that he wanted to take me on a trip to Niagara Falls to celebrate the end of an era. I was sceptical and hesitant about the trip, for a few reasons. For one, money was tight and would continue to be tight for the next year (did I mention that my internship was unpaid?). Secondly, Spencer hated spending money or travelling anywhere that didn’t involve fishing! However, he continued to insist that we celebrate our accomplishments, and eventually I agreed that it would be nice to get away for a weekend.
At this point, I have to admit that I was mildly suspicious Spencer was planning something ‘big’. I was beside myself thinking that maybe a proposal was looming, but was trying desperately hard not to get my hopes up in case it didn’t happen. Well, my curiosity got the best of me! We had booked dinner at a fancy restaurant in Niagara Falls, called Braza (totally delicious and a must-try for anyone visiting the area!), for the night we arrived. While Spencer got ready, I rummaged through our shared suitcase for any evidence that I would move into the title of fiancé. I came up empty handed! On our walk to the restaurant, Spencer told me that he needed to first stop off at our truck, so he could remove the hitch off the back in case anyone ran into it and hurt themselves. I thought this was completely odd, but didn’t question him. Spencer took the hitch off, packed it away in the truck, and off we went. As we were walking, I tried to catch a glimpse of a tell-tale ring box in his pockets, and was disappointed when I didn’t see anything. We enjoyed a delicious meal, and toasted to life and our achievements thus far. By the time dessert came and went and we had paid for our food, I realized a proposal was out of the question. We began walking back to the hotel, when Spencer decided that it would be a great idea to head down to the Falls. As my ‘food coma’ was starting to set in, I was slightly annoyed and uncomfortable that Spencer was really going to make me walk all that way, but I agreed anyways. As we got closer to the Falls, we noticed tons of people waiting for something to happen. Unbeknownst to us, everyone was waiting for fireworks!
After the fireworks finished, Spencer stated that he wasn’t quite ready to go back to our hotel yet. Even though I was extremely tired by this point (and slightly argumentative), Spencer managed to convince me to continue our walk along the Falls. Somewhat begrudgingly, at one point I said to Spencer, “you know what would make this moment perfect? If you asked me to marry you.” I was actually not expecting it when Spencer turned me around and said, “Well Samantha…will you marry me?” Of course, I wept with pure joy and shrieked, “YES!” To this day, I still feel guilty about my annoyance with Spencer on the night of our proposal. He was so incredibly sweet and timed the perfect proposal – and it was absolutely, hands down the best moment of my life!
Since a two year proposal would allow me to finish my internship without the added stress of wedding planning, we decided to have our wedding in the spring of 2018. Since Spencer and I began dating in late April, and because we are both born in May, we decided that May would be the perfect time to share our vows together. Although Spencer and I had two years to plan the perfect wedding, I was so excited to start some planning and we toured venues immediately. For a few weeks, we visited select locations, but Spencer and I still hadn’t found the perfect venue for us. We were looking for something fairly close to home, and decided to book a meeting with Ashton at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club. Almost immediately after stepping foot into the Ballroom, Spencer and I fell in love with the idea of hosting our reception in the space and having our ceremony right outside in the pergola. I remember Spencer and I both looked at each other from across the room and mouthed to one another, “this is it!” Not only did we fall in love with the simple elegance of the Ballroom, and the potential of bringing rustic chic wedding elements into the space to make it our own, but we also instantly clicked with sweet, passionate, charismatic, incredibly personable Ashton (there are simply not enough words in the dictionary to describe how wonderful Ashton is!). To this day, we tell everyone that Ashton was the main reason we chose the St. Marys Golf & Country Club to host our special day. When Ashton told us that she was going to be on maternity leave for our wedding, we were selfishly crushed but at the same time incredibly happy for both her and Matt. Because Ashton is so wonderful, we knew she would leave us in good hands and she most certainly did not disappoint! When we met Courtney, Ashton’s new partner-in-crime, we were overjoyed by how seamless the transition was, and how passionate Courtney was in helping to make our day come together flawlessly. Courtney was wonderful to work with, and Spencer and I could sing our praises about her all day
Not only did we fall in love with SMGCC’s beautiful grounds and the entire SMGCC team, we were also blown away by the incredibly talented ‘Dream Team’ of SMGCC preferred vendors. Spencer and I cannot say enough great things about Lyric Flowers, Above & Beyond Event Design, Nina Polidoro Photography, Makeup Artistry by Heather, Partytime DJ Music Services, and Cherrey Bus Lines (who transported our guests to and from their accommodations at the Arden Park hotel in Stratford). My bridesmaids and I had our hair done by my personal hairdresser, Trish Kanlagna who is simply out of this world. Our delicious peanut butter and French toast gourmet cupcakes were made by our incredibly talented neighbour, Amy Munro. Our wine and gorgeous custom labels were provided by Pelee Island Winery. And to add a sentimental touch, Spencer’s brother played a medley of love songs on his guitar for guests to enjoy prior to the ceremony. Each and every one of these vendors helped make our special day stress-free and an absolute dream come true. I could literally write a book about how great these incredibly talented, personable and wonderful people are – but I will just say, for now, that they will all be part of our lives and family forever!
Once all of our vendors were chosen, I started wedding dress shopping. I knew that I wanted a fitted, lace gown and fell in love with the first dress I tried on at Sophie’s Gown Shoppe in London – a stunning open-back, fit-and-flare ivory lace Mori Lee dress with blush undertones, diamond studded straps and a flowing lace train. To fit with my country chic theme, I paired my dress with my favourite pair of Durango cowboy boots! The rest of our wedding party, including my Mom, all elected to wear cowboy boots as well.
We decided to have SMGCC host our rehearsal dinner the night before our Friday wedding. After our Maître d’, Taryn, flawlessly walked us through our wedding ceremony, we sat down with our closest friends and family to enjoy a casual and delicious meal of lasagna, Caesar salad and chicken wings. Spencer and I decided to order a round of drinks at the bar for our guests, and we met up with an incredibly warm and kind gentleman whom we were not previously familiar with. We talked about hockey, his excellent taste in socks (which featured the incredibly talented Chicago Blackhawks), and our quickly approaching wedding day! We were incredibly shocked and honoured when the man insisted that he purchase our next round of drinks, and it wasn’t until the end of the night that we realized the gentleman was actually Ashton’s father-in-law, Rob! The show of genuine kindness and compassion from (at the time) a complete stranger captures the absolute essence of the loving, kind-hearted culture at SMGCC. The entire team at SMGCC go above and beyond to make their wedding couples feel special and truly a part of their family, and we are beyond grateful to have had each and every one of them play a role in our wedding.
To start off our wedding day, Spencer and his groomsmen got ready at the Arden Park hotel, while myself, my Mom and my bridesmaids got ready in the stunning Ballroom bridal suite. Courtney and Taryn came to check on my bridesmaids and I throughout the day to see how we were managing, and to spoil us with gorgeously decorated (and personalized) homemade cookies and champagne (courtesy of the SMGCC team). They were even available on demand for a hug and motivational pep talk when I got a little teary! These incredibly talented ladies helped to ensure every single aspect of our wedding day ran as smooth as possible, and I can honestly say I was not at all stressed regarding any single detail of our day from ceremony, to first dances, to speeches. Their organization and incredible ability to accommodate any request allowed Spencer and I to be fully present with each other and our loved ones on our momentous day.
It was unfortunately overcast and rainy the day of our wedding, so at the last minute I decided to move our ceremony space indoors, into the Hideaway - something no bride had been able to do before (as both rooms are normally booked at the same time). I elected not to see our new ceremony space until the moment I walked down the aisle, and boy, was I ever stunned. Lyric Flowers and Above & Beyond Event Design transformed the Hideaway into the epitome of what Spencer and I were looking for with our rustic chic wedding vision – the beauty of the space brought tears to my eyes, as I walked down the aisle with my Mom towards Spencer. The styling of our rose petal aisle scroll, the beautiful harvest wooden benches, the stunning floral arrangements and drapery backdrop, and our memorial lantern dedicated to our late grandparents blew us and all of our wedding guests away. We couldn’t believe that our indoor rain backup plan ended up being more amazing than our original plan for an outdoor ceremony!
Our reception, held in the Ballroom, was beyond anything I could have dreamed of. Our mint, lace and burlap backdrop, and our gorgeous vase centerpieces, consisting of submerged Dendrobium orchids with blush rose clusters, were picture-perfect. The greenery, adorable roadside stand for our homemade jam guest favours, and our custom rustic door seating chart brought the entire look together. To this day, Spencer and I continue to say how blessed we were that it rained on our wedding day, which gave us the unique opportunity to take advantage of the gorgeousness of the both the Ballroom and the Hideaway spaces.
We fell in love with Nina Polidoro Photography the minute we met with Nina. She is literally, hands down the best, most genuine photographer I have ever worked with. Nina is able to capture all of your sweetest moments, and her attention for the important little details is beyond anything I have ever seen before. Her photos are so vibrant and yet natural, and I was blown away by how she was able to capture some incredibly special moments without anyone even knowing. All 700 photos in our album were breathtaking, and we could literally frame every single one. I look forward to working with Nina to capture all of life’s special moments to come.
Spencer and I decided that we wanted to have a reveal with one another and our wedding party prior to our ceremony, in order to help eliminate any nervousness and to get some pictures out of the way (so that we were able to mingle with guests during cocktail hour). Seeing Spencer for the first time at the infamous St. Marys Golf & Country Club green bridge is a moment that I will never forget. Our sweet Golden Retriever, Emma, was also present for our first look, and Nina was able to capture some incredibly heart-warming photos with us and our fur baby before Emma passed away in August 2018. Having Emma present at even a small portion of our wedding is one of my favourite, most treasured moments from our wedding day, and I’m grateful to SMGCC for allowing her to be involved.
Since our wedding in May, I have had numerous guests compliment the delicious, flawlessly-cooked and professionally-presented meal by Chef Jason. Jason and his kitchen team cooked all three of our entrée options to perfection – prime rib, stuffed chicken and vegetarian cannelloni. Our entrées were followed with a classic New York vanilla cheesecake with berry compote, which unfortunately I missed out on eating that night, because I was too busy chatting with guests! Jason was thoughful however, and sent me home with a special piece to eat the next day. Our guests were then treated to some excellent gourmet cupcakes and late night poutine, which were both a huge hit and helped to ensure our guests were fueled enough to party all night.
You always hear that your wedding day is supposed to be a day you’ll never forget and that you’ll cherish forever, and because of the staff at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club and our other outstanding vendors, our day was simply beyond anything we had ever expected to be possible. I will treasure forever the moment I saw Spencer waiting to see me for the first time at the green bridge, the look of pure joy and love on my Mom’s face as she walked me down the aisle, our best man and maid of honour’s hilarious and sweet speeches, as well as my Mom’s embarrassing-yet-sweet photo slideshow of Spencer and I growing up together. Spencer and I also felt grateful we were able to celebrate with all of our closest friends and family throughout the day. I could literally go on and on about how absolutely perfect and swoon-worthy our entire wedding experience was, and that wouldn’t even be enough. At the end of the day, it simply would not have been possible without our amazing family of wedding vendors.
Story by Samantha Ball
Photography by Nina Polidoro