When Nicole and Jan embarked on a road trip through the Canadian Rockies, she had no idea he was planning on popping the question. For their last night out West, the two checked into the scenic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise—a property Nicole had always dreamed of visiting—where Jan surprised her with a beautiful engagement ring. “As soon as I saw the ring I realized why he had been carrying a backpack everywhere,” she laughs. “He had it on him the entire time!”
In search of inspiration, Nicole started perusing bridal blogs and found herself drawn to weddings with a rustic esthetic. She loved the idea of getting married on a farm, but wasn’t sure she could find the perfect venue near their home base in Milton, Ontario. For a time the couple toyed with the idea of a destination wedding, “but it just didn’t feel like us,” Nicole muses.
Returning to her original concept, she typed “weddings in a barn” into Google, and lo and behold a property 2o minutes away popped up—the aptly named Weddings in a Barn, located in Cambridge. “It was everything I had imagined,” Nicole explains. “I knew right away we had to have our wedding there.”
With the ideal ceremony location locked down, Nicole turned her attention to creating personal touches and DIY elements for their special day. To give loved ones a taste of what was to come, Jan and Nicole chose rustic wooden wedding invites packaged in boxes filled with moss. The invite packages also included hand-drawn maps folded into heart shapes courtesy of the maid of honour. Other crafty projects included send-off flags, which guests waved at the happy couple post-ceremony, and snack packs containing apples and cookies. “The snacks were to keep our guests energized,” Nicole confides.
Her bridesmaids helped pull everything together—they even hand-tied their bouquets of baby’s breath. For her own bouquet Nicole entrusted the professionals at Eco Stems to create a natural-looking arrangement. “I wanted my bouquet to look effortless, like I had just walked through a garden and picked out some flowers,” she explains.
On the day of the wedding 100 guests joined Nicole and Jan beneath the barn’s soaring beams to witness the two say “I do.” Following their vows, and some amazing photo ops in the surrounding countryside, the newlyweds and company hit the road for the urban portion of the celebration—a rocking reception at downtown Toronto’s Drake Hotel.
“A typical banquet hall wouldn’t have been a good fit,” Nicole admits. “The Drake has a lot of personality so we knew it would be perfect. Plus, we used to go there a lot when we were first dating.” The hotel’s mouth-watering culinary offerings also sweetened the deal—guests were treated to such delights as a pulled pork buffet, macaroni and cheese and corn dogs.
After dinner everyone was lured onto the dance floor by Jan’s personalized playlist—an eclectic mix of hip hop, house and oldies. Nicole and Jan didn’t plan on having a first dance but the crowd insisted, so their first twirl to Robin Thicke’s “U Center Me” turned out to be a highlight of the evening.
“During the song our 18-month-old daughter River wandered onto the dance floor and joined us,” Nicole recalls. “She is such an important part of our lives. She represents the best of both of us, so it made perfect sense for us to have a first dance of three.”
Nicole Fajardo and Jan Almanzor, August 19, 2012, Toronto, Ontario.
Photography courtesy of All This Happiness Studios.
Ceremony location: Weddings in a Barn
Reception location: The Drake Hotel
Bridal gown: Allure Bridals at Ritché
Caterer: The Drake Hotel
Flowers: Eco Stems
Groom’s attire: Holt Renfrew
Hair and makeup: Unbridled Images
Stationery: Wood Chick Studios
See more photos from this laid-back urban wedding in Toronto, Ontario.