365.2422 days have passed and the world has made a whole revolution around the sun. Same time last year my beloved and I celebrated our Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wedding our family and dearest friends in a rare setting of a historic 1930’s Toronto Georgian Estate, Graydon Hall Manor, renowned for its formal English garden, grand ballroom, and epicurean feasts! Time flies when you are having fun! Ever since our wedding, the catalyst that jump-started our luxury tabletop décor company Tableauscapes, I have been absorbed in a career that I passionately adore. Time slipped through my fingers this year because for the first time in my life I am not “working” in a traditional obligatory sense of the word, but rather practicing a hobby in exchange for payment while decorating new beginnings and rights of passage. To honour my husband’s and my wedding Anniversary, I have decided to take you on a small adventure through the looking glass back to Wonderland via this blog post detailing the creative intricacies of our wedding day with all sorts of eye candy and bridal inspiration.
Both my fiancé and I are old souls. We love collecting antiques and art, listening to classical composers such as Bach and Mozart, as well as jazz oldies like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Since a wedding is meant to represent the bridal couple, the inspiration for our own wedding was “us”. Both my fiancé and I are late bloomers, unlike most of our friends who have been married off years ago and are on their second or third child, we were finally planning our wedding after a five year engagement. The reason for this is quite simple, we refuse to grow up. We are children at heart and in many ways we are still learning about ourselves. We focus on our dreams and reaching for the stars. We both share a common character trait that is generally deemed a flaw. We are romantics at heart and this has proved to be both, a virtue and a vice. Our imaginations have no bounds and we desire to live a colourful and extraordinary life. For where is the joy in life if it is not decorated? The way we see it, beauty and aesthetics should never be compromised in the process of living and mundane routines should not overshadow the excitement of life with monotony. We are a dichotomy, both unconventional and yet strongly tied to tradition. Hence, we felt that the ideal theme that would best describe us is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story is about dreams, self-doubt, growing pains and a rebellion against conventional norms. It is wildly imaginative, colourful and eccentric. We wanted to incorporate the wisdom of the tale, Victorian ideals, and the boundless creativity of this story into our own fairytale wedding.
Since I wanted to have some element of Marie Antoinette, pastel colours and feminine florals set the tone for the colour palette and romantic style of the event. No Alice in Wonderland wedding theme would be successful without a tea party, thus I took most of my inspiration from European fine bone china patterns and infused these motifs into every detail. The invitation was designed to look like an antique storybook with Alice unlocking the door to a journey of adventures. The cover was done in a pastel pink with ornate gold foil scrolls that are often found on English bone china.
Perhaps the most intricate creative process was the design of the cake. I had a precise image ingrained in my mind. After numerous meetings with Toronto-based patisserie artists, I began to lose hope that someone could manifest my vision into life. But alas, thanks to the internet with the world at my fingertips, my hunt for a cake artisan who specialist in sugar paste flowers led me to a very special young woman residing in the city of Chatham. An avid cat lover with a demeanor as sweet as the desserts she bakes, the talented Lisa Roberts was a kindred spirit. After a brief consultation over e-mail, my then fiance and I set out to her studio for a formal introduction. 10 minutes into our conversation tete-a-tete, I knew I hit the jackpot! Lisa spoke my language, we were clearly cut from the same cloth and shared a love for France and vintage-inspired gorgeousness. It was a surreal experience to say the least, it was like she entered my mind and was able to see exactly what I had conjured up for my cake design. In designing the cake, the edges were gilded and scalloped just like an antique plate. The cartouche emblem and the floral image transfer were taken from an 18th century Haviland Limoges plate. Below the cut crystal and gold pedestal cake stand we decided to set up a row of cupcakes individually placed into the most exquisite vintage teacups with the classic Alice in Wonderland “Eat Me” labels.
The garden reception cocktail tables were adorned with pretty teacup and teapot floral arrangements to compliment the Mad Hatter tea party theme. All the vintage organza embroidered tablecloths that I lovingly collected over the years were finally going to get their opportunity to bask in the spotlight! As the guests mingled during cocktail hour, the talented illusionist Nicholas Wallace was bewitching our guests with unimaginable magic and card tricks to the stirring sounds resonating from the instruments of the brilliant Wellington Music.
In the rear of the garden, we set up colourful Garden games; a self-made vibrant Flamingo croquet set, a towering jumbo jenga, and bocce ball set amongst potted red roses and jumbo red playing cards. All of the elements were meant to allude to the scenes in the story but predominantly focusing on the Mad Hatter Tea Party and the Queen of Hearts’ Croquet Ground.
For the dinner reception tables we selected a pastel blush with an ivory Victorian-inspired lace tablecloth overlay to enhance the gorgeous blue and pink charger plates as well as the ornate gold cutlery and wide rim gold stemware. I was adamant about my vision and sourced the Marie Antoinette Charger plates for our wedding but also as an investment into the future of my new company, Tableauscapes.
For the dessert buffet, all of our guests enjoyed their sweet delights from antique china plates and sipped their tea from glorious vintage teacups. The garden setting at Graydon Hall Manor was truly spectacular and perfectly suitable for the Victorian English Garden affair we were hoping to re-create.
The style of our wedding was ethereal, romantic, and whimsical. We took three themes and interlaced them to create a style that was definitively us. The main theme was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. We had a total of 6 banquet tables, and each was represented by a character from the tale: Mad Hatter, Absolem, Alice, Dormouse, Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit. Each character was set upon an antique brass footed mirror plateau and encapsulated by a large glass dome. I asked the florist to create a whimsical woodlands setting within the dome with florals and moss as well as a lush wreath of foliage and blooms circling the centerpiece. We added gold glass votives for that touch of magic that only the warm glow of candlelight can provide.
We also weaved in Rococo motifs from the 18th century inspired by the Dauphine Marie Antoinette, accents that are revealed in the cake, my hair pieces, dress embroidery, and overall pastel colour palette. As nature lovers who are exceedingly concerned for the welfare of the environment it was very important for us to select an eco-friendly florist so that we were not leaving such a large carbon-footprint, especially for flowers that would only last for a day. Having lived in the former neighbourhood of Roncesvalles and the Junction, we fell in love with Sweetpea’s, who are not only eco-friendly but also foster and care for cats and dogs. We love them for that and they were out first choice! Our florals for the wedding were inspired by Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Night’s Dream. We wanted an organic woodlands aesthetic mixed with a dash of whimsy, also befitting the Alice theme. The floral arrangements therefore required an abundance of cascading green Amaranthus, swirling ivy, and trailing flora.
Being sentimental and wanting to hold onto vestiges of this special day, we needed a magical portal like Alice’s looking glass to revisit our Toronto garden wedding. That portal became the exquisite fine art photography of world-renowned Michael Greenberg of Phototerra Studios. I am delighted that the creative efforts of all the talented wedding industry professionals that assisted me in conceiving this vision will be remembered and captured for generations to come. It was a true labour of love, thank you all for your imaginative input and visionary souls.
A special thank you to our wedding coordinator, Madison Winters. There are no words to describe this spirited young woman who exceeds all expectations on both a professional and personal level. Quite honestly to the point of surprise! We love you Maddie!
If you are interested in delving deeper into the details of how the wedding was planned, designed, and executed, I invite you to read the upcoming blog posts that I will be sharing with my audience. I will take you on a behind the scenes tour that will give you further insight into the creation of Wonderland.
To be continued!
Photography: PHOTOTERRA STUDIO | Planning, Design, Tableware, Event Decor Rentals: TABLEAUSCAPES | Flowers: SWEETPEA’S | Invitations & Stationery: WHITE DOVE INVITATIONS | Furniture Rentals: LUXE RENTALS | Hair Stylist: HAIR BY LADYLYN | Makeup Artist: BLUSHING BEAUTY INC. | Gown: INBAL DROR | Formal Wear: TREND CUSTOM TAILORS | Venue & Catering: GRAYDON HALL MANOR | Sweet Treats: COUTURE CUISINE & EVENT ARTISTRY | Cake: LISA ROBERTS CAKES | DJ and MC: MAXIMUM MUSIC | Instrumental Trio: WELLINGTON MUSIC | Jewelry: TIFFANY & CO. | Groom’s Wedding Band: TACORI | Miniature Tea Caddy Favours: SCOTTISH LOFT