An Ethereal Garden Wedding in Charlottetown and Its Surrounds
By Stacey Leunes
Some might say we waited a long time to tie the knot, but Craig and I just seemed too busy travelling the world and living in cities across Canada to set things in motion. Ten years after we met, having finally found our way back to the Island where we’d both grown up and met, Craig decided it was time to make his move. In true Craig style, he planned an elaborate proposal while we were on holiday in Peru, popping the question at the top of Machu Picchu (I know, right?!). It was the easiest ‘yes’ I’ve ever said.
Within a breath, our time became consumed with wedding planning and, surprisingly, it was fun, with venue visits, menu tastings, and décor making becoming everyday occurrences! The first and, arguably, biggest decision was where we would have the wedding and fortunately it was an easy one. We simply asked ourselves “Where is the most beautiful place we’ve ever been to?” and the answer was, of course, ‘PEI’.
Our love of Charlottetown, the Island’s rolling countryside and the ocean solidified our decision to include two venues in our big day. We arranged to have the ceremony at the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow and our reception in Charlottetown at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. We wanted our guests, many of whom would be visiting from the US, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, to be able to experience the beauty of PEI while enjoying the conveniences of staying in downtown Charlottetown, where they could easily walk back to their accommodations after the reception.
As soon as we started discussing our vision for the wedding I knew it had to be one thing: BEAUTIFUL! Being a jewellery designer and goldsmith, I’m very particular about details, so let’s just say I obsessed for a very long time about the ambience and special touches that would make our day one-of-a-kind and unforgettable. Luckily, Craig is very organized and helped reel in all my ideas to create a clear vision.
My key words were: Garden, Ethereal, Gold and Green. With the help of my mother and my Maid of Honour, we spent months collecting vintage brass candlesticks and vintage lace. My Pinterest addiction had me thinking it would be easy to cut out thousands of little paper flowers and string them off of birch branches. It took forever, but it was my favourite special touch.
As the months passed and the big day grew closer, we finalized all the big and little details for our wedding – my dress (by Lazaro), the guest list (about 80), our photographer (the amazing Kandise Brown), the homemade dessert wish list, our bridal party, the dinner menu, the flowers and a million other things one doesn’t even consider until one is in wedding planning mode. By the time the eve of our wedding was upon us, we were exhausted from a week of visiting with out-of-province family and friends that had made the journey to PEI for our wedding and working on the final details of our wedding, but we were also over the moon to have so many loved ones to celebrate with and excited to see how the day would unfold.
The night before the wedding I stayed at the Delta in Charlottetown with my bridesmaids. We enjoyed a relaxing evening together and a meal at Terre Rouge, before turning in for a good night’s sleep . The next morning, we woke up early and walked to Blue Note Hair Studio to get our hair and make-up done, then headed back to the hotel to get dressed. Next, I returned to our downtown home to meet Craig for our “first look.” I highly recommend doing a first look, it definitely helps with those wedding day jitters! Next, we were off to New Glasgow for the ceremony.
It was a perfect day in early summer – clear skies, a slight breeze and warm temperatures. The ceremony took place in the PEI Preserve Company’s Gardens of Hope, which sits along the River Clyde. I walked down the grassy aisle, which was lined with gold buckets brimming over with baby’s breath, and met Craig under a trellis draped in the lace I had collected. Our dog, Willow, was off to the side in her flower collar. The ceremony was short and super sweet. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot of it, because I was nervous. Craig says he wasn’t nervous, but I don’t believe him!
After the nuptials, we were able to relax and enjoy a cocktail hour under the trees with sangria and hors d’oeuvres prepared by the PEI Preserve Company. The natural setting lent itself to mingling and was the perfect place for the younger guests to play in the sun and the older ones to soak up some rays. It was then time to head out with the wedding party for some photography at the beach! We threw off our shoes and walked along Rustico beach, the red cliffs and blue ocean offering a striking backdrop for the pictures. Re-energized by the salty air and sand between our feet, we were ready to make the short 20-minute drive back to Charlottetown for our evening reception.
When we walked into the Confederation Centre’s Memorial Hall, where we would eat and dance the night away, we were in complete awe of what greeted our eyes. The marble-walled hall with glass roof had been transformed into a beautiful, ethereal space filled with greens and golds. It was exactly what I had envisioned and I was glad I had hired Colour Your Event to arrange all of the handmade pieces I’d created and collected. The brass accents held the gorgeous flowers from Island Meadow Farms, the dessert table overflowed with special treats our families and friends had made, the paper flower backdrop behind the head table evoked the garden imagery I’d hoped for, while the white draping from the ceilings and the gold chairs helped bring the look together. Dinner, catered by Mavor’s, was delicious, as were the wedding cake (created by Candi’s Cakes) and homemade treats.
After the speeches and obligatory ‘shoe game’, our photographer ushered us outside just the sun was setting for photos along Charlottetown’s iconic Victoria Row, and in the alcoves of the historic Province House and the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
We capped off the night in true Island-style by dancing to the beats of the Love Junkies, a local band that is well-known for bringing its energy and unique style to every gig. At the end of our spectacular, but exhausting day, we were thankful that our bed was mere steps away at The Holman Grand via the tunnel from the Confederation Centre.
When I look back on that day, all I remember are the good things. Sure a few things didn’t go according to plan, but we made a point to not dwell on those things. Planning a wedding has its ups and downs, but adhering to a ‘go with the flow’ attitude really saved us a few times. We tried to strike a balance between keeping our guests happy and entertained with what was best for us as a couple. In the end, our wedding far surpassed our dreams.
Stacey Leunes is a jewellery designer and goldsmith, who works from her open studio in downtown Charlottetown (Garnish Jewellery & Boutique, 89 Water St.), where she welcomes visitors to experience the collection. She lives in a beautiful yellow house in the city with her husband, Craig, their dog, Willow, and their 2 cats, Maui and Basil.
Photography: Kandise Brown. | Ceremony Venue: Gardens of Hope at PEI Preserve Company | Reception Venue: Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre of the Arts | Decor: Colour Your Event | Florals: Island Meadow Farms | Catering: Mavors |Cake Artist: Candi’s Cakes | Wedding Rings and Jewellery: Garnish Jewellery (Formerly Stacey Leunes Designs)