Real Brides: Jennifer’s Autumn DIY Wedding

Jennifer and Christopher’s intimate autumn wedding in Quebec was planned and executed by the bride – just the way they wanted it.


Jennifer's DIY Wedding



When: November 14, 2015

Location: The Royal Canadian Legion. Greenfield Park, Quebec.

Photography: Cousins of the bride and groom

Jennifer's DIY Wedding


Jennifer and Chris met online through, and initially decided that they’d be better off as friends, but that only lasted 6 months before they started dating.  When Jennifer decided that she wanted to move from Montreal to Ottawa, she dropped some not-so-subtle hints that she would prefer to do so as a married couple.  Chris proposed on Christmas morning with a ring stuffed in Jennifer’s stocking that she opened in front of her family.

We decided to do both the ceremony and reception in the same venue. Personally, I have been to 10+ weddings and my least favorite parts are always the travel between the venues, and the lack of organization once you get to venue #2. The dreaded cocktail hour. Standing in a small room with 100+ people…ugh. Nightmare.


Jennifer's bridal bouquet


Caterer: The Royal Canadian Legion (our venue) has a volunteer auxiliary that do a lot of buffets. We took advantage (they let us come and try the food one night) and served our guests absolutely delicious Citrus chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, among other options. All in all, hall and caterer cost us $400.00!! The food was amazing too, we had so many compliments. The ladies were also so friendly, so guests felt comfortable talking to them and asking questions.

Officiant: We went with a non-denominational Open Arms Officiant Rene Charbonneau. He was fantastic and incorporated a lot of personality to the ceremony.  He did all the paperwork for us! 

Florist: I used Bloomex/Bunches Direct. I ordered the flowers in bulk. I made an order in the summer to see the quality of the flowers. Then, as it was November, we went with a variety of roses ranging from Ivory, Peach, Light Pink, Yellow, and Coral. I had some coral colored Freesia for the bridesmaid’s bouquets as well. They actually screwed up the flowers I wanted for my own bouquet, so they gave me burgundy orchids for free!

Wedding Planner: Yours truly! I am type-A so I had 3 running excel sheets, schedules for the DJ, MC, Mother’s, Photographers, Husband to be, and Maid of Honor.

Pre-Wedding Photos: Hotel Brossard


Real Bride Jennifer getting ready


DJ: My friend Francis Ward has his own side business so we hired him to DJ our music. He was very open to our various choices, and incorporated them into our Irish Pub Style wedding. We also had a piper play outside when people arrived. He also piped my dad and I into the hall.

Cake:  A friend of mine runs a side cake business. We had a DELICIOUS 4 tiered dark chocolate cake with salted caramel whipped filling. It was covered with chocolate and fondant. She incorporated our wedding colours and it was covered with peach flowers (in ombre tones).   We also went to Premiere Moisson (Bakery in Quebec) to get pies! We had a variety from Apple Caramel to Blueberry Almond. They ALL went as it just suited the season!  

Linens: White linens (rentals)

Lighting: The venue had icicle twinkle lights that line the middle of the dance floor / aisle. I had asked someone to turn them on but they forgot. I didn’t realize that the guests would be drunk so quickly! So when I arrived at the venue, I could see in the window that the fluorescent lights were on. There was NO way I was getting married under fluorescents. I panicked. That was my moment. My bridesmaids ran into the hall and shut them off, but forgot to turn on the twinkle lights. So we got married in partial darkness.

Wedding Favors: We found a bee farm in Ontario that has delicious straight from the farm honey. So we went with honey pots as our favours. We also did little honey flavoured lollipops for people to have upon arriving. I loved using mason jars, so I made pumpkin spice candles for all of the tables. Michaels is my savior! After setting everything up, I really didn’t want to take ANYTHING home, so we asked our guests to take the flowers, centerpieces, lanterns, candles, decorations home with them.


Real Bride Jennifer and mom


Wedding Theme/ Design: We just went with things we like and that were personal to us. A November wedding meant, pumpkins, mum’s,  honey, comfort food, whiskey, and wine. My husband sort of left me to my devices, which was great since huge type-A, but I incorporated his love of sci-fi by naming the tables after sci-fi space ships. So tables were the TARDIS, Enterprise, Millennium Falcon, etc. But I used a chalk marker and designed them onto little chalk boards. 

Wedding Colors: Honestly, my bridesmaids decided the colors. I couldn’t choose a palette. Everything was beautiful. I knew I wanted orange but didn’t know the rest. The girls decided on Navy Blue dresses, so the colors were Navy, Orange, and Ivory. Flowers brought in pops of coral and greens.


Real Bride Jennifer's DIY Wedding


Bridesmaids Dresses: Each bridesmaid chose her own dress. I wanted them to be comfortable and also choose a price point that worked for them. I thought they would have gone different colors, but they ended up all wanting the same (Navy).

Tuxedos: Waxman’s in the Plateau of Montreal city. It’s the “go to” store for tuxedo’s. He chose a deep navy tux and looked so amazing.

Wedding Dress: I chose a simple sweetheart beaded bodice with a full tulle skirt. I took out the crinoline and also had one of the layers removed so it was more A-line than ball gown. I also removed the train. Color: It was ivory colored, but ended up looking bright white against my skin. Though in the photos it came off as warmer.

Shoes: I had bought these fabulous pink Betsey Johnson glittered shoes, but couldn’t bloody walk in them. So the day before the wedding I rushed to Michael Kors and bought wine colored booties!



Jennifer's wedding party


Wedding Decor: We bought a variety of vessels for flowers. I didn’t want anything to be uniform. There were faux pumpkins and baskets. It gave off a warm, eclectic feel. I wanted the room to be filled with flowers. Since the hall was kind of boring, the flowers really added color and a sense of occasion. I had smaller blue vases on the buffet table, and little birch trees with lights on them. On the tables there were mason jar candles, tea lights, honey pots, flowers, and the table names (small chalk boards). I also dusted a little gold glitter just enough to catch light.

Vows: I wrote them. Again super type A and my husband just would stress over it. I made them simple, funny, but still meaningful. I hate spiders so I actually wrote that he had to kill all of the spiders. It’s in the vows so he has no choice anymore.

First Dance Song: We chose Use ‘Somebody’ by Boyce Avenue. We used half of the song, then turned into ‘Shut up and Dance’ by Walk the Moon.

Real Bride Jennifer's Groomsmen


Honeymoon details and location: We did our wedding on the cheap so that, first, we wouldn’t go into debt and, second, to go to HAWAII! We spent 10 days on the Hawaii Island. Saw an active volcano, hiked Moana Kea, had an authentic Luau, and swam with sea turtles! I can’t even describe it. It’s everything. I wouldn’t go anywhere else if I had the choice!

Did you hand-make or DIY any wedding items? Most of them! Bouquets, centerpieces, candles, seating chart, table names, favours (we put ribbons and stickers on the honey pots), and invitations. Speaking about invitations, I found a girl on Etsy Willow Lane Stationary. I used Vistaprint to actually print everything out; I put a print screen of what my invitations looked like. She was able to change the wording on everything so that it was clever and fun instead of being too formal!  She also used the template and made a Christmas Theme for our thank you cards, which went out that December. 

You and your husbands’ wedding advice: Honestly, just stick to your guns and don’t stress about the small stuff. Our wedding budget of 5k kept us grounded and realistic. Decide what is important to you and follow that outline as you go through the planning. If anyone tries to change your mind, remember this is your celebration and just have fun with it. Things will go wrong and you can’t control everything. Also brides to be, give your cell phone to someone else on the day of. Trust that if someone has a problem, they’ll simply have to figure it out.


Real Bride and bridesmaid

Most Memorable moment: Everything moves so quickly at a wedding. Everyone asks you to stop for pictures, talk to you, take your food away before you’re done with it. I remember a few things…
My MOH’s speech. I’ve known her, Ashley, since I was about 12 years old. We are still best friends at 35. So when she gave her speech at my wedding (after I spoke at hers) it was really special to me. Ashley ended her speech by playing a song for us to dance to, which ended up being ‘Home For a Rest’ by Spirit of the West.

The piper walking my dad and I out to ‘Mull of Kintyre’ was a moment I know people have said was touching. My family is very Irish and Scottish, so we incorporated that into the music. My gf’s and I all took celtic dance lessons, so we jigged and tried to get everyone’s feet tapping!

Also dancing with my mom, really made me cry! My mom married my step father (whom I now call dad) when I was 10. She raised me on her own on a teacher’s salary. So when I chose our song, Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, I couldn’t make it 1 min before bawling. I knew I had to do something special for her. Because we really didn’t have much, but I never knew it. She always made the important things matter, supported me, and loved me.

Almost forgot. I did a bouquet toss and didn’t realize where I was in the hall. I tossed the bloody thing right into the ceiling fan! Pieces of orchid just scattered everywhere, my friend Monica though had no trouble collecting them and claiming the bouquet for herself!


Real Bride Jennifer's Wedding Story


What was the biggest roadblock that you ran into while planning the wedding? Honestly, family. They are the WORST when you are planning a wedding. They tried to make it about them.  My Mother in law, she wanted to have the wedding in June so that her family from France (she’s French) would be able to come for a family reunion. I really had to put my foot down. I had ALWAYS wanted to have a fall/winter wedding. The idea of sweltering in June heat is not something I want. Nor the mosquitoes!

Who/what gave you the most help in the planning process? My mom and my MOH Ashley. Driving me to fittings, to get last minute wax for the candles, and listening to me complain.


Real Bride Jennifer's Montreal Wedding


How much influence did your family/ fiancé have in the planning process? Quite a bit. He helped with the date of the wedding, venue, invitations, food, and favors. He trusted me to find the vendors and do the leg work (Which I personally enjoyed quite a bit!). When it came down to the final choice, he was there to offer his opinion.

Which part of the process gave you the most stress? I would say sticking to the 5k budget and guests. The budget meant a 100 guest maximum for the ceremony/reception. That meant 50 people each, most are married so that cuts it to 25 each. It goes so quickly!


Jennifer's groomsmen


What did you do that you found helped out with stress the best? Microsoft Excel and a wedding budget app (The Knot).  Not even kidding. I had the names and addresses of our invitee’s and used the spread sheet to lock down who could come and who couldn’t. When their invitation was sent and when we received the rsvp. We used this spread sheet to also detail the budget from the app and to note all of the costs. What I liked about the wedding budget app is it helped me to divide the 5k into the most important areas. How much I could expect to spend on flowers, photographer, etc.

Is there anything that didn’t go as planned? Photos. I WISH WISH WISH, I could have allotted more cash for proper photography. We had planned 1 hour for family photo’s and another hour for bridal party photo’s. We did 1 hour with the family, what I could scratch out for the bridal party, and then the men, family, both photographers left. So my girls and I just sat there for like an hour and a half drinking champagne.


Real Bride Jennifer's DIY Wedding


What was your favorite part of the experience/ event? Everything, I would do it again! I loved having the piper there. He was so great! He added something different to our wedding that no one had ever seen before. I liked how we had it at a Legion hall. Everyone there was laid back and helped me to relax. We set up the venue that morning. Friends and family helped to move everything in and set up. Team effort!

We really wanted a party. Wanted to do away with the standard traditions. Everyone helped, which was so wonderful! My mom made jalapeno poppers as appetizers which were placed out for guests to have right away. We also had veggies out along with a cheese plate. There was also a rum punch served for the guests. So right when they arrived, the piper played them in, there was food and drinks, and the DJ playing low key music. Everyone was encouraged to mingle, and were ready for a good time. The ceremony was quick, so we dove right into the reception afterwards.

What I loved about doing it this way was the fact that people could let loose. They could take taxi’s home since there was no driving around. We also had an evening wedding, everything started between 6  or 7 and then ended at 1 am. So even though we had no kids invited, parents could spend time with their kids during the day and go out at night. My mom even had last minute distant family call to come celebrate with us. More the merrier! So we just rolled with it and ended up having a wonderful time with them!


Jennifer's pre-wedding hotel


If you could go back in time, what would you have changed? I would have got a proper photographer J I would have also put more cash into even more flowers!

What did you do to save money? Accepted help from people. My MOH said she wanted to pay for the make-up artist, done! Hairdresser was also a close friend, so she did my hair for free. I also shopped around. We had about a year to plan, so for 6 months I shopped. I used key words in google like “Linen’s Montreal restaurant rental” I found a place that rents out linens to halls and just negotiated to let me rent them. Flowers, Bunches Direct! They were helpful and responded quickly to emails and phone calls.  

Invitations, Etsy and Vistaprint. Vistaprint gives amazing discounts once you buy something. So I waited for a sale and got 40% off the invitations. The shipment included a coupon for another 40% off. So I ordered the thank you stickers for the favors and address labels. Used the same coupon again for the thank you cards.

The key is to decide what you want to spend money on. Some photographers were quoting me 2k for the evening. Which to me, is an absurd amount of money to pay for 1 night.

What was your biggest splurge? Definitely the wedding dress! It was $800.00 before alterations. Which is quite cheap considering what most dresses cost, I’m looking at you Say Yes To The Dress.


Real Bride Jennifer's Etsy Wedding Invite


Thanks for the great wedding story Jennifer!  I’m sure many DIY brides will love this!




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One Comment

  1. February 14, 2017

    I love this! Great advice from the bride who seems to be very easy going and good fun, she also looked amazing and it looks like everyone had a fab time! Wedding planning perfection!

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