Real Weddings

A Modern Art Gallery Wedding in Toronto


Bride and Groom

Marianne Miles and Andrew Gowan wanted their wedding day to be a party like none of their guests had ever seen before: a tall order, but one the pair easily achieved by hosting their celebration at Toronto’s beautiful Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

“We booked the AGO without looking at any other venues,” Marianne confirms. “We loved that the space had such clean decor—there were no chandeliers, carpets or wallpaper defining the space.” For the couple and their wedding planner, Gabi Slaninova of Spectacular Spectacular, that meant it could be easily transformed into any celebration style and theme.

The couple—who met at the University of Western Ontario—had four key words in mind for their wedding: love, family, friendship and laughter. “These things were integral to creating a day that was very us,” Marianne attests. “As it turned out, our reception looked just like our house: full of orange, white and wood accents, orchids and candles.”

For their beautiful summer wedding, Marianne and Andrew invited 177 guests to join them for their ‘I dos’ at Toronto’s historic St. Paul’s Basilica. The bride wore a custom-made gown by Canadian designer Lea-Ann Belter while the groom sported a dashing tuxedo by Garrison Bespoke. Though their ceremony was a traditional Catholic one, they selected all the readings and songs to add a personal touch to the proceedings.

According to Marianne one of the day’s best moments came once the two were pronounced Mr. & Mrs. They then dashed up the aisle and out the back of the church where hired buskers were in the midst of a full jam session. “I found this band playing at Yonge and Bloor and we hired them as a surprise to our guests,” Marianne notes laughingly. “They were playing James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’ on the curb outside St. Paul’s and it was crazy fun. Everyone was dancing!”

Upon arrival at the AGO guests were again dazzled, this time by the luxe decor: candles lit up the room and highlighted the incredible suspended centrepieces comprised of Manzanita branches, Dendrobium orchids and spherical votive candles. “I wanted the room to feel cosy and romantic, but modern at the same time,” Marianne confides. “Working with the colour orange proved to be somewhat challenging as it’s not the most popular shade for weddings, but with all our florals we made it happen beautifully.”

Guests enjoyed a spirited cocktail hour featuring a signature Rum Dum cocktail, a steel drum band and limbo dancers, a nod to Marianne’s Bahamian heritage. Incredible food was another must for their day, so for the formal dinner the couple worked closely with Anne Yarymowich, executive chef at the AGO’s Frank restaurant, to create an epic, customized menu. Carrot cake (Andrew’s favourite) was served for dessert, and in place of location she and an after-dinner sweet table, which Marianne felt was not origi- nal enough, she opted for a ‘sweet and salty’ table instead stocked with chips, crisps and yummy salty snacks.

The dancing that started at the church and cocktail hour, continued with the appearance of several other musicians, including a saxophonist, violinist and a bongo drummer who accompanied the DJ. “Music was a focal point,” Marianne discloses. “We had five different ensembles to set the mood for each part of the day.” After their first twirl to “Long As I Can See the Light” by Creedance Clearwater Revival, the two boogied with guests and enjoyed their perfect party.

Marianne Miles and Andrew Gowan, July 7, 2012, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Storey Wilkins Photography.

Ceremony location: St. Paul’s Basilica
Reception location: Art Gallery of Ontario
Bridal gown: Lee-Ann Belter
Bridal party attire: Diane von Furstenberg
Cake: Bobbette & Belle
Flowers: Stemz
Groom’s attire: Garrison Bespoke
Groomsmen’s attire: Tuxedo Royale
Hair: Tony Chaar Salon
Music: DJ Dave Campbell
Wedding planner: Gabi Slaninova from Spectacular Spectactular

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