Industrial & Organic Wedding at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa

Museum of Nature Wedding Gallery

Geoff and Julia's wedding last June was a major milestone in my life (I can't believe I haven't blogged about it yet). It sounds silly that someone else's wedding could be a pivotal moment in my history, but let me give you a little context. Okay, a lot of context.

I was working for another wedding planner in Ottawa for one year before I decided to spread my wings and launch my own company in September 2013. I knew that my real passion was wedding design, not necessarily planning, so I made it my focus. It was a harder concept to market than I anticipated. Not many understood the difference between a designer (one who develops the aesthetic design of the wedding) and a planner (one who coordinates the administrative elements of the planning process and executes them on the wedding day). Couples assume we do it all, and many planners choose to take it all on.

I wanted to draw a firm line in the sand between the services though. I believe that most people excel in one area more than the other. Some are stronger at planning and aren't creative and others are stronger at designing and aren't as efficient with planning or administration. I wanted to build a team that had a strong combination of both types of professionals so that we could all focus on what we love and not have to deal with the stuff we don't. Anyway, I had designed a number of major styled shoots that showcased my design skills (this one in particular), but I didn't have a wedding in my portfolio that could help me market my actual taste: this blend of natural, organic elements and industrial, refined elements. I needed to find my "ideal client" as all the business books call them.

I was pretty nervous leading up to my consultation with Geoff and Julia. They would be my first big client under my own name, and t was also going to be my first official consultation. We met at El Camino where I greeted them over a stiff bourbon sour and tacos. We instantly connected and I knew they were my ideal client. We loved all the same things. I painted them a picture of what I could immediately picture for them and it was a done deal. That night launched a great friendship, a portfolio I am proud to show off, and a possibly a reputation for drinking too much with my clients (which I don't think is a bad thing).

Geoff was studying Green Architecture at the time we met, and Julia was articling at a law firm en route to pass the Bar just days after their wedding. There were a lot of things we wanted to include in the design, but some of them were really conflicting. They are passionate about industrial design, minimalism, being green, graphic design, vintage cars, food, lettering, the great outdoors and their adorable dog Frank. So how did we incorporate all of these into the wedding? Well...

  • The Third Floor Gallery of the Museum of Nature provided the perfect canvas: white gallery walls, exposed ceiling, poured concrete flooring and a contemporary green space behind the Museum of Nature to hold the cocktail hour after the ceremony at Geoff's family church.
  • We rented a vintage Rolls Royce to bring them from the church to the Museum.
  • We scooped up Frank the dog for pictures post-ceremony.
  • The entrance to the reception showcased a 15 foot wall of place cards delicately hanging with greens between two birch trees and over the "guest book" which was two oars for guests to write on. They got engaged while portaging.
  • The reception had greenery-draped planks suspended from the ceiling with their favorite industrial style Edison bulbs hanging low for a more intimate dining atmosphere.
  • The lights illuminated the centrepieces: wood boxes spilling with greenery and florals.
  • The backdrop to the head table was a giant chalkboard wall that incorporated the same lettering used in the invitation suite and menus.
  • The meticulously designed menus incorporated their love for lettering and minimalism and were perfectly accented by little ferns laid delicately on top.
  • The meal was designed around their love of food and was divine. Julia really loves edible flowers and each course incorporated them into the aesthetic of the dish.
  • The traditional Greek treats on the sweets table were made my Julia's family as a nod to her heritage (and were absolutely delicious, I will openly admit to eating a few before the wedding started).
  • The delicious cake was designed to look like a building, complete with a "concrete block" buttercream tier and little fern accents that were reminiscent of greenery growing through cracks of cement. Side note about one of my favourite wedding moments ever: with their guests surrounding them waiting for the big moment, Julia and Geoff cut their cake and fed each other the first slice. After Julia took her first bite she immediately looked over at me and yelled "Holy f**k this is good!")
  • The guest favours were "flower bombs," our florists' genius invention that had wildflower seeds rolled up in fertilized soil ready to be thrown into a garden.
  • The kissing game played to Julia's love of golf: it was a putting green that encouraged the guests to come up and get a hole in one to get the couple to kiss.
  • And finally, the dance party was a never ending wicked stream of old-school hip hop right out of their childhoods (much to the pleasure of the majority of their guests).

We found that perfect harmony between masculine and feminine, industrial and botanical, raw and refined. I was so proud of this wedding. Geoff and Julia gave me complete creative control and together we were able to design a wedding that told their story perfectly. I will never, ever forget when I was standing with them outside the Museum of Nature at the end of the night. They said: "Brittany, you HAVE to quit your day job. This is your calling." (so cheesy, I gobbled it up). Exactly 1 year and 3 days after their wedding, I quit my day job and haven't looked back since.

Design, planning and lettering: Satin & Snow // Photographer: Union Eleven // Florals, favors, backdrop and decorative lighting: Full Bloom Floral Design // Invitation suite, menus and place cards: Wishtree Invitations & Stationery // Cake: Catherine Beddall Edible Art // Sweets table rentals: Amy & Jen // DJ and uplighting: Professional Entertainment // Musician: Cadenza Strings // Hair: Showpony Hair// Makeup:  // Catering: Tulips & Maple Catering // Ceremony: Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa // Reception: Canadian Museum of Nature