It’s time to share about my wedding!
I got married on June 11, 2022.
It’s been a long time before I decided to write about it.
Part of that was because my photos took forever to get back, and part of that was because it took me a long time to get the words for what I wanted to share about it.
Then I realized that I just love a deep dive, and so I decided to just walk you through the day for those of you who love a deep dive (I love a deep dive!).
My photographer was incredible.
Laura and I first connected as soul sisters, and she was even one of the first women to ever come to Circle. I always knew I wanted to hire her to do my wedding. You can find out all about here here: https://www.laurarowe.ca/
She’s a documentary style photographer, which is why I now have these photos and am able to share with you all about the wedding.
My photographer shared with me that she feels like weddings are these wild portals where we have so many ideas of what we think will happen, but then on the day of, our spirits take over and it ends up unfolding exactly the way it was supposed to.
For me, I feel really connected to my soul, and despite all the “human” things involved in a wedding like making sure you have the schedule figured out, what you want to wear, navigating relational dynamics, figuring out details and all those type of things – I was really amazed to see how much my true soul self took over the day of.
Before the wedding I was really clear that I wanted the ceremony to be sacred.
It was one of the only things I really cared about.
I knew that the rest of the dinner and the dance floor would be more of a party and lively, but if there was one thing to infuse sacredness and my spirituality into, it was the ceremony.
After all – that’s what the wedding is actually all about.
Having friends and family gather to celebrate you and your partner and to witness this union you’re making.
I guess I’m still just surprised that my soul ready led the way in my wedding in ways that I didn’t expect.
I was surprised about how much spirituality, energy, and healing ending up being woven into the day, although I’m not surprised.
You can read more about what happened on the morning of my wedding in regard to that here: https://catiefenn.com/2022/08/10/the-morning-of-my-wedding/
But, as always, our intuitive selves will lead us to the outcome that’s exactly what we need and what is most aligned with us – if we let it.
For me, if I were to describe my wedding in words it would be: filled with presence and love.
And ultimately – that was all I wanted.
My Wedding Intentions
I set some intentions before the wedding, of course 🙂
I wanted to be super present for each moment, and I wanted to feel love, and for everyone else to feel the love.
Presence and love.
I was truly present for every moment of the wedding and remember vividly even single minute of that day.
To me, nothing felt like a blur (largely because I think in my getting ready time Catherine guided me to get really present and grounded!) and I’m really grateful for that.
Every moment still feels really potent for me.
I wanted everyone to feel so much love.
I wanted them to feel seen, present and connected, and just to be in that high frequency for the weekend.
And, of course, I wanted to feel into the love I have for Chris, but also for our families, and all of our guests.
I also wanted to have a really fun band and dance floor (check!). FYI we used Parkside Drive they were incredible!
Lastly, the biggest piece of advice Chris and I were told time after time was: make sure you spend time together, so that was a clear intention.
A lot of couples shared that they barely spent any time together at their wedding, and how they regretted that.
While I wish I had more time to spend with my guests (luckily having a welcome party Friday meant I was at least able to connect with everyone who came over the two days), I really did feel like I spent the whole time with Chris.
We took photos during the cocktail reception which gave us a bit of a breather after the ceremony, we sat together during dinner, and then after dinner we were on the dance floor together the whole night.
The interesting thing to me is that the intentions of presence and love really carried through throughout the wedding.
The biggest feedback we heard after the wedding was that people really, really felt like they were filled with so much love, and were really present.
I know that a lot of you are just here to see some wedding photos – so here they are!
I’m so happy with having Muskoka as our backdrop and with the way they turned out.
I ended up getting my dress at Kleinfeld’s in NYC.
As much as I was frustrated with how they ordered me a dress too big, which took a lot of alterations to put back together, (honestly the dress never fit the same as it did with the one I originally tried on), they do have the best selection and if you’re coming to NYC to dress shop, I highly recommend going to them.
I also tried a couple of other places in NYC but honestly wouldn’t recommend them.
The dress was Vera Wang and the Veil was from a Canadian company called Noon on the Moon (they have gorgeous veils!).
One thing that really surprised me, and apparently all my vendors too, is that I had ZERO VISION for my wedding.
While I was arguably a hopeless romantic, all my energy and vision really went toward the type of relationship I wanted to have as opposed to the wedding.
I spent so much time visioning, calling in, learning lessons, reworking things, and aligning with the relationship and person of my dreams (which BTW I teach you how to do in the Big Love Course) that I never spent time thinking about my wedding, other than I wanted it to be fun.
As a result, I got overwhelmed when I’d speak to any of the vendors, bridal stores, or anyone else and they would ask me to send my Pinterest board or my colour palette or anything else details related.
I had zero idea.
Anyway – focus on what matters to you is my advice.
I wanted a dress I felt comfortable and like myself in, flowers that were unique and understated, lots of candles, and a band that rocked.
I also chose to plan the wedding just Chris and I as opposed to seeking help from family members, a planner, or anyone else.
It was a gift that I have a partner who was into planning certain parts of the wedding and helping with the decisions, but it was a lot!
In retrospect, I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but I envy those of you who are good at details, enjoy throwing events, or have family members who are into planning.
Why Muskoka and Windermere?
I grew up spending Summers in Muskoka, whether in cottages we once rented until my parents later bought, or attending and then working at summer camp, which truly shaped me into the woman I am today.
Muskoka has always been a special place to my family and I, and where I spend a lot of the Summer.
I often flip-flopped between whether I wanted to get married in the city or in Muskoka.
Chris and I discussed it early in our relationship, long before we were engaged, and decided Muskoka would be it.
He didn’t want a city wedding, and because I’m from Toronto and he’s from New Jersey, we toyed with doing something in upstate New York as a half-way point, but we wanted a place that had meaning to us.
Muskoka only has a few venues, and so when it came to planning I knew I either wanted to get married at the JW Marriott, which is literally next door to my cottage, or the Windermere, which is beautiful, more quaint, and also where we often go out for dinner so holds a lot of meaning.
I ended up picking Windermere over the JW because it ultimately had more character and we could rent out the whole hotel.
I’m really happy with Windermere! It’s great because you have to rent it for two nights, so your guests arrive Friday and it’s a whole weekend away together, which is fun!
I was so set on Windermere that I actually booked it way before we were even engaged. We knew we were going to be, and I trusted Chris had some sort of plan up his sleeve about how we’d get engaged (which is that he waited until we could travel back to Canada and to do it at my cottage the summer before), but…I didn’t want to lose our venue!
I knew a lot of brides would be getting married once restrictions lifted in Ontario, so wanted to lock in a date before the wave of new engagements. Sure enough, I was right! I’m glad I put a hold on our date and venue, because sure enough, the day after we got engaged, there were a few other couples who tried to get that date and Windermere was fully booked.
And yes – Chris knew I booked the venue before we were engaged and was on board.
For quick reference, here’s who I used, and who I would absolutely recommend to use again for any Ontario brides.
Flowers – Cut Floral https://www.cutfloral.ca/
Band – Parkside Drive (omg – so epic). https://parksidedrive.ca/
Welcome Band – The Rockin Krocklin (we hired him for our welcome party. He’s a solo acoustic guitarist. If you are having a welcome party or in general any type of small party like a birthday party or something he’d be so great). You can book him here: https://www.gigsalad.com/the_rockin_krolik_ajax
Beauty – Bespoke Beauty https://www.bespokebeauty.ca/real-brides
Photography – Laura Rowe Photography https://www.laurarowe.ca/
Now let’s go onto the day…
I shared more of how later in the day as I was getting ready I started to get really emotional and had this wild energetic release and couldn’t stop crying.
That’s true – and what’s also true is that it was a really fun time having my girlfriends slowly trickle in as the day went on.
I felt like I got quality time with all of them in different ways, which was really special.
I got to have my morning coffee at 7am with four of my oldest girlfriends where we got to have some nice chats, then I got to pull oracle cards, give blessing and meditate with the girlfriends who are into spirituality later, and got to otherwise laugh and hang out with everyone for quite a while until I got overwhelmed.
Here are some pics of my fabulous bridal party, plus Mom and Dad.
My Dad and I are really close, and he also grew up around a lot of these girls, so I was so happy to have him in the bridal suite with us. The photos with him as the lone guy there make me smile.
Hair, Make-up and Beauty – Bespoke Beauty
I used Amybeth of Bespoke Beauty. Highly recommend her! I knew right away she was who I was going to have do my wedding.
She had already been the make-up artist for all my girlfriends weddings and I loved her.
I’ll never forget when I first met her… I was the captain of the hot mess express.
My girlfriend was getting married right around the time I was packing up my law practice, which was a really difficult and emotional time for me. In conjunction with that, just that week I had welcomed in this guy who I met through instagram from Austin, Texas, who had packed up his life and come to visit me after a month of Facetiming. Needless to say, he ended up being a total nightmare and the whole thing blew up.
I was a 5/10 bridesmaid that wedding, which luckily my friend has forgiven me for.
I showed up late, and didn’t have clean hair, which was imperative and apparently part of the instructions, which I never read.
In fact my hair was extra dirty because the day before the girls and I went to hot yoga and I didn’t shower after (savage, I know).
Amybeth looked at me, finally arriving, in a total tornado, with hair the most disgusting she’s ever seen a bridesmaid come in with – and just laughed.
I showered in the suite’s washroom, and emerged a new person. She transformed me – and I shared with her what had been happening with leaving my job, this weird situation I had gotten myself into with the guy, and probably whatever else was coming from my heart that day. I really like to get deep with people (surprise surprise) and by the end of the day, we had made a connection.
After that, she saw me at my other girlfriends wedding where we got deep into spirituality, about life, and about my clarity around the relationship I was calling in. She had really seen me evolve since the last time together!
At that wedding, my one girlfriend forced me to download Hinge, and two days later I got on a plane to NYC, changed my location, and matched with Chris.
I saw it all as connected in a really beautiful way!
When the Bridal Suite Became a Retreat and Healing Cocoon
This is still the part of the day that really gets me.
It was so intense and beautiful and cathartic, and I’m so grateful that Ayah, who’s a holistic healer was right there, followed by Catherine, who I co-lead Journey to the Heart with, and who is the big sister I always wanted was able to sweep in.
The hilarity to me in this is that it was so close to when I needed to be ready! But, what spirit wants, spirit wants.
The playlist was changed from Kygo over to healing mantras, crystals were placed on my hands, and almost everyone was asked to leave the bridal suite so I could process whatever was happening.
Picture Amybeth, my make-up artist, trying to work around all the crying and healing and the crystals happening in order to try and get me ready on time (I was still late!). A real beauty professional!
Needless to say, I already knew that I wanted her to do my hair and make-up because her work is fabulous, but she’s also so tuned in and I had really connected with her.
Meanwhile…Chris is Thriving
While I was getting ready, Chris is THRIVING. He was having a fun time with all his groomsman in the cottage that’s beside Windermere.
Here are a few snaps of them.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
I finally had done whatever my energy needed to do and was feeling fabulous!
That’s the thing with energy and spiritual alchemy – it’s a like a snakeskin we’re shedding and often we can feel a total shift when the energy just lifts.
All of the sudden, as Catherine was still doing hands on healing on my back, I felt the energy lift from my system. From there, she guided me to ground back into my body, and then all of the sudden it was as if a light switched on and I felt like a new person (again – all the details on that here).
It was time to put my dress on.
My mom joined us and she gifted me with my Nana’s engagement ring, my Nana’s kerchief she carried with her flowers on her wedding day (during WWII!), and a bracelet of hers I’ve always loved.
Something old was the engagement ring, something new were my own earrings, something borrowed was the bracelet, and something blue was the kerchief, which had blue on it.
My Nana and I were also really close, so it was special to be gifted her items on that day.
Then it was time to hoist me into my dress.
Bridal Reveal and Go Time!
I didn’t want to do a reveal with Chris before the wedding, but my girlfriends have done them at their weddings for us bridesmaids and I love it! It makes you feel so hyped up, and I love their faces in these photos.
The Ceremony – Presence and Love
There was one thing I really wanted and that was the ceremony to be sacred and for people to be present.
Back to my intentions, I really focused on PRESENCE and LOVE.
There were a few things I did to make sure of this.
1) We asked guests to put their phones away and not take photos. This was double edged – I wish I had some photos!
2) I had Catherine, who is a spiritual guide for so many, and my spiritual sister, officiate the wedding. Her just being her brought so much love and presence. Her officiating and words shared were beautiful.
3) We did a candle lighting ceremony to signify our family becoming one and starting our own family.
4) We had everyone anchor in and hold hands for a few grounding breaths and a meditation led by Catherine.
5) We had two passages read that I loved and often read on retreat.
6) We wrote and shared the same vows. This was a twist!
But my whole thought was: what are we agreeing to? Maybe it’s because I’m a lawyer, but I was really thoughtful of: What is our agreement here? What is the contract? What are the terms? What are we committing to?
It was important to me that we agreed to the same things and had thoughtfully parsed out what those things were.
Our cocktail reception was cut short because I had been late for the ceremony, so we flew pretty quickly into dinner and the reception.
Some things we did at the reception that were different:
1) We didn’t have enough room for a head table for such a big bridal party. I didn’t like the idea of a sweetheart table, where the couple sits by themselves, so instead we spread out our bridal parties to different tables and had people not in our bridal party at the small head table who I wanted to be able to spend time with.
2) We did a land acknowledgement. The last few years have taught us to recognize and acknowledge our role as colonizers, and of the original inhabitants of the land that we live, work, and celebrate on. I think this has become a lot more common in Canada, but a lot of our American guests shared that they had never heard of this.
3) We had quite a few speeches and let them take their time. Speeches are a fine balance – you want them to not drag on, but I hate when they’re too short and feel rushed! We had my Dad, plus four other speeches, but they were the highlight of the reception for us and our guests all shared that they loved every single one of them.
We had truly incredible speeches, and it was just an amazing experience to be on the receiving end of such thoughtful remarks, and also to see how well my friends see and know both Chris and I.
I also loved my Dad’s speech (which I helped him write). Nothing wrong with stepping in to help people who are less seasoned in public speaking!
Yes – We did a Choreographed Dance Routine
Chris and I love to dance.
Honestly one thing I really wanted to manifest was someone who was really fun on the dance floor. If you know what I mean – you know what I mean. It’s a hard quality to find!
For our wedding we knew having a great band was important, and we also knew we wanted to do a fun dance routine.
Chris mixed the music of “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner plus the version from Schitt’s Creek by Noah Reid so we had a slow start and then a fun end.
It was fun to make up a routine together and practice it leading up to the wedding and it was such a blast to actually do it!
We did a lift – not the dirty dancing lift – but one we saw on YouTube and wanted to try. You can see some clips from the dance here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CeyxO_jgWN_/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Right after the dance ended, we had asked our bridal party to immediately come onto the dance floor to roll right into dancing for the night, which is what we did.
After that, I basically didn’t leave the dance floor all night, which was exactly what I wanted.
THE END and Some Closing Thoughts
Thank you for following along!
Presence and love. Presence and love.
In some ways, I look back at the wedding and am like: did everyone have fun?! I know they did because I’ve spoken with our guests, and I know that we had an epic time, but it’s easy to compare.
My wedding was not as wild as other people’s. It did not have people doing shots, being really lit, and partying in that way. There were no after-parties, and it didn’t go until 4am.
My wedding was also not as detail focused or as aesthetically beautiful as other people’s.
I’m not one for that, and it felt overwhelming to deal with a lot of the details for the wedding.
It was pretty, but it wasn’t like some of those weddings, you know? The name tags needed to be hand written with what meal each guest got so looked messy. The seat table sign broke and had a rip in it. Little things like that. I still look at photos from these Pinterest weddings and it blows my mind the attention to detail some people have (or hire people to have), or how aesthetically tied together they can make things look.
And then – I remember what MY whole intention was. I go back to what was true for me – as we always do.
I wanted presence and love.
That was the most important thing to me.
Everything else aligned with and supported that.
And so while Chris and I were present and grounded in love, so were our guests.
And that, to me, was the greatest gift of all.