The road to love sometimes takes you on a journey, and in Meredith and Christian’s case, it came full circle. From Chatham to Toronto to San Francisco, Meredith and Christian followed their hearts and dreams until it all came together in Hawaii. Now engaged, no place seemed better to exchange vows than where it all began – in their Ontario hometown.
Meredith and Christian’s celebration at The Kent 1874 was as sweetly romantic as their wedding story…which is best told by the bride herself!
“When I began seeing Christian in 2013 – for the third time! – I laughed to a girlfriend “I either can’t learn my lesson, or I’m in a romantic comedy.” I’ve known Christian since I was about 9 when I started taking piano lessons with his mom. He was my first teenaged love but we couldn’t seem to stay in the same place. School took us on our own journeys from our southern Ontario home town of Chatham, to university and graduate school across Canada – when we briefly dated again – until fate and geographical location put us in the same place for a third time, eleven years after our first date. Months after the conversation with my girlfriend and much time together, Christian moved to San Francisco for work. We spent hours on the phone and most of our vacation time between San Francisco and Toronto. In June 2015, he surprised me by proposing at the end of a muddy hike beside a stunning waterfall in the pouring rain in Hawaii. The verdict? I was in a rom-com!
With the encouragement of my dad to “make our wedding our own” we launched into planning – still from a distance! More than a theme, our wedding became a celebration of our home and our roots. Although only a handful of my family is left in Chatham, it felt like the right place to begin our married life.
The first time I put on the beautiful the “Charming” gown at the Lea-Ann Belter store in Toronto – where they’re made! – I grinned, stuffed my hands into the pockets and joked to the sales lady, Ginny, that I could stash snacks in there. The silk felt divine and it was perfect balance of delicate, classic and fun…and it was completely different from what I thought I wanted! After a spin, I happily declared it dance-able. Fast forward to the wedding day and instead of snacks, I carried jewelry from Christian’s maternal and paternal grandmothers in my pockets (along with a hankie and my vows) and I wore jewelry from my maternal and paternal grandmothers’ families. Our wedding rings came from meaningful places too: mine was made in Toronto to fit the engagement ring from San Francisco. Christian’s wedding band was purchased at my favourite jewelry shop in our hometown. Chatham has the unusual reputation of having an enormous crow population. I joked to Christian that we should put crows on our wedding invitation. He spoke to his cousin, an artist, and she did a beautiful pencil, ink and watercolour invitation, with crows. My sister made our wedding cake and other friends provided asparagus for the dinner… that had been picked that morning. Friends of mine own a boutique hotel, The Retro Suites, and we got ready and stayed in the themed rooms there.
On June 11th we were married by my dear friend Michael in an old converted church. We decided to write our own vows and Michael suggested including our “top five” favourite things about each other. Taking a bit of a risk, we chose to keep our vows and our “top five” secret until the ceremony. When Michael finished Christian’s list I couldn’t handle it. His list was so sweet that – without thinking – I stepped in and kissed him! Everyone burst out laughing. Even I couldn’t believe I’d been so bold!
Because our families knew each other through music, our siblings and parents sang a beautiful four-part harmony blessing to us at the end of the ceremony before a bagpiper piped us out. After a divine dinner of local food and heartfelt speeches, we literally danced the night away. My feet were sore for days.
If I were to give advice to other brides and grooms, it would be to encourage them to make their wedding their own. Then, once the wedding is upon you, let it all go and be present. It is the most magical feeling to be surrounded by so many people you love, who travel from far and wide to wish you and your partner the very best. My other piece of advice is practical: after the wedding, take your flowers and arrangements to a retirement home if you can’t use or travel with them! You’ll brighten many other people’s days and weeks.”