When I first met Ashley Struthers, I had been locked in my home studio for three days straight interviewing candidates for an intern position with Satin & Snow. Ashley was one of my very last applicants, and I was a little worse for the wear. One of the (many) questions I had asked all of the candidates during the interview process was what they envision for their own perfect wedding. Ashley's reply struck a chord with me.
She pictured walking through the snow to one long table by the woods, set for an intimate gathering of close friends and family. Nothing overly pretentious, nothing overly themed. Just one table in the snow with soft lights, wonderful food and great company.
It got my mind wandering and suddenly, we were sitting together designing this perfect wintry feast instead of going through my questionnaire.
We ended up designing a smaller version of her dream two weeks ago. The shoot took place at the edge of the forest in Rockcliffe Park, where we hiked up a very tall hill covered in ice with a 300lbs wood table and 7 boxes of decor to the most serene, sun-washed clearing in the middle of the trees. One hour and a few rest breaks later, we started our feast surrounded by friends in the industry.
To set the scene, we had a beautiful custom wood harvest table surrounded by ghost chairs draped in sheepskin. The table was set with a combination of marble plates, gold flatware and modern glassware and glass menus. The center of the table overflowed with organic, whimsical white florals and lush greenery, spilling our around antlers and off the edges of the table down to the snowy ground.
We decided not to use models for this particular shoot; our focus was to highlight the guests' experience rather than the bridal experience. We wanted to sit down at the table ourselves andenjoy the food and design. It was the small, real and intimate gathering in the woods that we imagined. Not only was the Satin & Snow team there, but photographers Jonathan and Katriina Kuhn joined us, along with Mel Lafleche of Makin' It Lovely.
One of Ashley's talents is that she's a brilliant culinary artist. Her plating skills rival work we've seen in magazines and television shows, and we wanted to showcase her talent. In other words, we needed an excuse to get her to cook for us, and if hauling a 300lbs table up a mountain will do it, then so be it!
Ashley prepared a three course meal for us, followed by the most delectable cake made by Danica Guibord, another planner on our team who is also a very skilled Condon Bleu trained culinary and pastry chef who recently launched a sweets company in Ottawa. Needless to say, we ate like queens.
First Course: Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup with Parsley Oil, Frizzled Shallots and Bacon
We are noticing a trend in couples seeking more authentic, less ornate designs for their weddings. Many of our couples are trying to get away from the luxe, over-the-top styles and want something that is refined but organic at the same time. We wanted to create a shoot that appeals to that mindset. We wanted to build a functional, real setting for real people, similar to what we would see in Kinfolk but designed for couples that are seeking an alternative to the large, ornate and often impersonal weddings that we so frequently see on Pinterest. This is for the couples that value intimacy and breaking bread with those they love in a way that feels more natural to them than formal seating plans and ballrooms.
Second Course: Arugula, Figs and Beet Greens with Parmesan Ribbons and Balsamic
Our purpose with every design is to find that magic balance between masculine and feminine, modern and rustic, organic and industrial: a challenge we love to rise to. We believe we achieved this by blending elements like the wood harvest table with the modern clear chairs, ornate gold cutlery and marble with soft linen napkins and white sheepskin, wild floral arrangements on a table of clean lines. It will make for an interesting, contemporary and Nordic-inspired table setting in the woods.
Third Course: Tagliatelle, Garlic and Sautéed Spinach with Roasted Sweet Tomato
And finally, le pièce de résistance. The cake, made by our very own Danica, who will be baking cakes and creating custom sweets tables for many of our Satin & Snow couples this year with her company The Sugar Lab. Of all the wedding cakes I've had since becoming a wedding planner, this was by far the best I have ever had. And I'm not a cake person. It was such a treat, literally, to get to enjoy it the way we did, with wine after a wonderful meal together.
Fourth Course: Rough-Iced Semi-Naked Vanilla Buttercream Cake with Rosemary
And just as the sun started falling behind the trees, we emptied our wine glasses, ate the last crumbs of cake, and toasted to a wonderful evening together. Our feast ended, our feet were getting cold, and it was time to lug the 300lbs table back down the mountain.
Our Wonderful Contributors:
Photography: Jonathan and Katriina Kuhn of Jonathan Kuhn Photography // Creative Direction, Decor Styling, Floral Design and Food Styling: Satin & Snow // Cake: The Sugar Lab // Table and Candle Holders: Makin' It Lovely // Ghost Chairs: Lou Lou Lounge // Cutlery: Mrs. Gawn :)