THE STORIES BEHIND THE EVENTS (or random things we think are cool...)

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zahra & Don, Take Two

This is the story of a boy and girl who fell in love, got engaged, planned their wedding and then abruptly called it off, three weeks before the big day. 

Rather than their tale ending right there and then (as I believe, statistically, most do), I'm happy to report that they went away, worked on their relationship and made everything right. And 11 months later, we all picked up where we left off and had the most glorious day. Here's the recap; almost two-and-a-half years in the making...

The importance of having great chemistry between a couple goes without saying; but it's equally important to have it with your wedding planner too. It was true love between the three of us from our very first meeting and we quickly discovered that we shared the same zany sense of humour. So when we were discussing what to do with the invitations the second-time-round, Zahra lamented that "her first invitations were so perfect, she couldn't think of a thing she could improve," That's when I suggested that we do the exact same invitation, only with the old date crossed off and the new one 'written' in. We howled at the idea and then decided it was the perfect solution and, with the help of Christine Flynn from Love the Design, we did just that! Letter pressed and all!

So now, the big (new) day was upon us and everything was how it should be: an amazing couple was finally prepared to proclaim to their friends, family and themselves that they were ready for the next part of their adventure. We gathered at the Royal Conservatory of Music and started it off with one of the most memorable and meaningful wedding ceremonies I have ever witnessed.

When we originally toured the venue together, Don mentioned that he had spent 10 years of his youth taking piano lessons there -- that's when I stopped, looked at them and said, "You need to play her down the aisle." And that's just what he did. He went home, dusted off the old piano and started practicing again. For over two years, we didn't tell ANYONE of our plans -- Zahra says that, to this day, it was the hardest secret she's ever kept. 

It was so top secret that the day before the wedding, we held two rehearsals! The first was the real one with just Z&D, their officiant, the photographer and videographer in attendance. To any future brides out there reading this, trust me: you'll always get the best coverage when your photographer and videographer know what's coming. Anyway, I digress. The other reason for the real rehearsal was for me to get the timing right: Don chose to play Bruno Mars' "Just the Way you Are" for Zahra and he wanted her to arrive at the top of the aisle at the exact moment where the lyrics say "And when I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change..." I had to send Zahra on her way so that she could be AT the right place in the room, IN the right place in the song for Don to look up and see her face for the first time on their wedding day.  

Are you getting shivers yet?

So then we held the fake rehearsal, where we were joined by the wedding party and the families. I was surprised that only one person asked if the piano was going to stay in the room for the next day, to which I replied that "I wasn't able to get it out of the room (partially the truth), so we're just using it as a prop, since we're in the Royal Conservatory!" And he accepted this answer... 

So on the big day, the ceremony started, everyone came out as planned, to a cello and ukelele. The parents, the groomsmen, Don, the bridesmaids, the flower girls and then, only when they were all in place, did Don walk over to the piano, sit down, lift the lid and slowly start to play.  

We sent Zahra on her way and she surprised me by doing something she hadn't done the day before in our rehearsal: she kept her head down all the way to the top of the aisle until the exact moment in the song where Don was to look up -- only today, they BOTH looked up at that time and the reaction was crazy! Everyone started crying -- and I mean everyone -- grown men, elegant women, crusty grandmothers, all doing the full-on Ugly Cry. If it hadn't been so darned moving, I probably would have been laughing my head off at the room full of bawling guests!

When Zahra reached the piano, she stood behind Don and placed her hand on his shoulder while he finished the song. As it got closer to the end, she joined him on the bench and then he smiled at her, the signal for her to reach down play the last, single note. It was monumental.

So this brings me to my take away lesson from this wedding: as the spectacle and production values associated with weddings these days seem to be spiraling out of control, I think this is the perfect illustration of how the simplest and most honest experiences often resonate the loudest. Now, don't be fooled into thinking this was any kind of low-budget, DIY wedding, because it certainly wasn't... but even though the decor was stunning and the food was delicious, what part of this wedding do you think every single guest will remember forever? 

Yup. That processional... and the best part? 

It didn't cost a thing.

Alas, I'll stop now before you get even more emotionally invested in this tale, as this was a SpectacularSpectacular, after all, and there are still many more great things to share from Zahra and Don's wedding with you all... albeit not quite as sentimentally charged as what I just described above!

Design-wise, Lidia Tacconelli and I were thrilled when Zahra told us she loved yellow... it's such a happy, joyous colour and I think it's a shame that more people don't use it. Anyway, Lidia seemingly purchased every single yellow garden rose in the province to pull of this simple but effective design; the consistent and graphic repetition of black, white and hits of yellow worked beautifully in the stark, modern room at the Conservatory. Some of the roses were so big, people thought they were peonies!

Bobbette and Belle made the cake and incorporated our flowers into the design -- look at that sugar flower! I would have sworn Lidia had plucked it right off one of the tables...

Finally, I'll leave you with one of my absolute favourite design features: we arranged the chairs at the tables like the keys on a piano, as an homage to Don and his performance earlier in the day... I don't think one single guest noticed this small detail, but I can tell you that it delighted Zahra, Don and myself to no end! Partners in crime, from beginning to a sort-of-end, to back in cahoots and then, finally, to happily ever after. It was an honour to share every up and down (but mostly up) moment with you both...

What was it I was saying about chemistry? Just look at these two...

Special thanks to our friend Jackson -- you were there to document our entire journey together: from the engagement session, to the disappointment, the eventual perfect day, the trash-the-dress session, and now, little baby Story's portraits. Thank you!


  1. What an amazing, touching story. Melissa, I love that you stressed that the most important detail of their beautiful day didn't cost a thing. A sweet reminder of what's truly important and meaningful: the love. (Having said that, the decor, florals, cake - all stunning!)

  2. Beautiful! I have never seen yellow done so well. Great work! Love the design on that cake! So pretty!

  3. What a great story! Love the yellow/white/black theme as well. Unique!