Intimate Brunch Wedding at Archeo | Heather + Justin

A brunch wedding. During Christmas Market. In Toronto’s Distillery District. To those three ah-mazing things, Heather and Justin brought a little Scottish and Chinese flavor, a little laid-back charm, and a lot of love.

When searching for a venue, they wanted something simple and special…and fell in love with Archeo, a delicious Italian restaurant here in Toronto. To its exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and exposed wood, they added a few cartoons from Heather’s fave relationship comic, Catana Comics. After brunch, Heather’s grandfather hosted a small Chinese dinner reception, for which Heather slipped into a gorgeous red cheongsam. But before that, she wore a custom gown from our flagship bridal boutique with which  she rocked a wrap made of her clan’s tartan!

Get their proposal story, the scoop on Heather’s stellar style, details about their day, and some really on-point planning advice from our wonderful bride below.


How did your sweetie propose?


“We started dating 10 years ago.  During that time, we had obviously discussed marriage.  I was of the opinion that we should do like my parents did and decide to get married.  Given how long we’ve been together, I figured we could skip the whole engagement and just send out invites to our wedding.  Justin had other ideas.

One weekend in spring, we went to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a food truck festival with a couple of friends.  We were at a winery, having a great time tasting wines and catching up.  We went outside to see the vines and Justin suggested we take a picture in front of the vineyard.  It turned out that was the code for our friends (who were all in on it) to triangulate and take pictures.

To my complete surprise, Justin got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.  I was so shocked, I had to ask him (several times) if he was serious.  One of our friends filmed the entire proposal and caught my response of “Of course I will, you idiot!”, which has now become an inside joke.”

bridal gown: Lea-Ann Belter Mackenzie jacket with Audrey bustier and May skirt via the flagship Toronto bridal boutique | photographer: Nova Markina | scroll down for full vendor list

How did you choose your gown?


“All I knew about the kind of dress I wanted was that I wanted lace somehow incorporated.  I love the look of lace necklines and accents.  Beyond that, I didn’t really have any idea.  My visit to Lea-Ann Belter’s flagship store was my only visit to a bridal shop. Under Vanessa’s skillful eye, I was able to find my dress in the first visit.  Vanessa was absolutely fantastic and helped me go through all the (overwhelming number of) styles.  I was able to determine what I didn’t like quickly enough.  When I tried on the Mackenzie top, I absolutely loved its classic style and elegance.  I wanted to get a dress style that looked like me, as in something in line with what I typically wear, but also something that was a little bit different—the off-the-shoulder look was perfect for that, and with the lace, it was stunning!  My full dress ended up being a combination of the Audrey bustier, the May skirt and the lace Mackenzie top.  Together, it created such a perfect look for me—I’m still in love with it!”


Tell us about your day! What inspired its look and style?


“For the most part, Justin and I are low-key people.  So when we were looking for venues, we were looking for simplicity so that everything else could shine. The restaurant, Archeo, is beautifully rustic with exposed wood and I added some simple white flowers in vases at each table. To personalize it a bit more, we added some cute relationship cartoons from my favourite comic, Catana Comics, around the room.  The few personal touches we added made it seem intimate but not so much decoration that it didn’t feel like us and it didn’t feel overwhelming.

We had the ceremony in Archeo and had a brunch reception immediately afterwards.  The natural light flowing in also added a special touch.  It was the first weekend of the Christmas Market, which I felt just added an extra layer of joy all around—it was such a happy event, inside and outside the restaurant.

For some of our pictures, we went to One King West. The modern elegance of the interior, particularly their staircase, was a beautiful backdrop.  It also provided some nice photo contrasts with the ones we took in the Distillery District.

Following the brunch and our pictures, we had a small Chinese dinner reception hosted by my grandfather.  I did a quick dress change and wore my traditional Chinese dress, a red cheongsam, for the dinner.

It was such a wonderful day.  We loved the brunch idea and feel it made the atmosphere relaxed and fun.  The Christmas market also added a nice vibe to the celebration.  I feel like our day really reflected who we are as people and as a couple—in fact, many of our guests commented on how ‘us’ our wedding was.”


What is your funniest wedding day memory?


“Nothing big particularly stands out—there were lots of small funny moments.  My dad is a very funny guy.  He got a couple of good jokes in during his speech.  We also had a fun time taking pictures.  The smiles and laughter in the photos are completely genuine.”


What was your favorite part of the day?


“It was such a wonderful day from start to finish.  There is something so special about being in front of a room full of people that are there to support you unconditionally.  As I was starting my speech and I was thanking everyone for being there, the full emotion of realizing that everyone was there for us was very touching and I started to tear up.

There are so many small moments as well, just happy little moments that really highlight the importance of a great photographer.  Our photographer, Nova, was phenomenal and looking back at the pictures really makes us relive all those beautiful small moments.“


What was your first dance song?


“’Let’s Stay Together’ by Al Green!  It has been one of our favourite songs for years and when it came down to choosing, there was really no other song that felt right.  It also suited our music playlist for the day, as we choose songs from the 60s and early 70s to accompany our brunch.”


Describe your wedding day in 5 words or less:


“Joyful, romantic, intimate, natural, elegant or ‘The most fun I’ve had.’”


What was your something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?


“I didn’t do this, but as a nod to both my Scottish and Chinese heritage, I included a little something for the wedding.  I had a tartan made in my clan’s colours that I used as a shawl to keep me warm and I also had a traditional Chinese cheongsam in red with gold dragons and phoenixes made as my second dress.“


Where did you go on your honeymoon?


“Kenya!  We had the most spectacular time.  We saw the amazing wildlife and we also got to experience the coast of Kenya.  The people are so kind and welcoming and the food was delicious!  It was truly the best trip we’ve ever taken.”


Any advice for future brides/grooms?


“Decide what your priorities are.  The internet is a great place for ideas and inspiration but it can be a bit too much.  It’s easy to get caught up with the whole planning process, particularly when other people are making ‘suggestions’.  We compromised on things that weren’t important to us, but were to our families, and we made sure our families understood what was important for us.

It’s also so important to remember that it’s your day and to take it all in.  Enjoy all the big and small moments and know that, while things might not go to plan, it will still be a wonderful day.  Make sure you and your husband/wife get to spend a little bit of private time together during your wedding.  With so much going on and all your friends and families wanting to congratulate you and chat with you, you also want to be able to take a couple moments as newlyweds during the day to appreciate everything.”

Heather + Justin’s Brunch Wedding Vendors

bridal gown: Lea-Ann Belter Mackenzie jacket with Audrey bustier and May skirt via the flagship Toronto bridal boutique | photographer: Nova Markina | florals: Anthi Floral | makeup: Nicolette Afable | venue: Archeo 

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