You guys—talk about meant to be. Ksenia and Vlad initially met in 2012 on a college trip. While chatting, they discovered they were both Russians but from totally different parts of the country. The two kept in touch for a while, but in time they lost contact. That is until six years later when, out of the blue, Ksenia wondered what Vlad was up to. So, our girl messaged him on Facebook and in short order discovered they were both flying to Russia to visit family on the same day. Not only that, but they were also ON ALL THE SAME FLIGHTS. Vlad then gave Cupid an assist and ensured they were seated together. Fast forward to New Year’s Day in 2020 when after watching the sunrise (it’s a tradition in Japan, where Vlad had once lived and worked), Vlad proposed. AND he got the right size even though Ksenia owned no other rings.
As you can guess, COVID interfered with their 2021 wedding plans. So, to be safe and adhere to guidelines, Vlad and Ksenia chose to have an intimate ceremony in March followed by a cozy reception that November at The Old Mill in Toronto. Their philosophy while planning was twofold—Vlad and Ksenia both wanted a warm, inviting, and informal celebration that also was creative, DIY, minimized waste, and included the work of their friends. Says Ksenia, “We are blessed with many talented friends, and we made it a point to support our friends as much as possible. This way, our cake, first dance, bridal hair, pictures of the day were all made by the people dear to us.” Plus, Ksenia herself loves to make things, one of which was an epoxy resin pendant containing a tiny piece of her dress material that Ksenia intends to pass on as “something borrowed” or “something old” to the next generation. (Is that not the best idea ever?)
Get the details of all their wedding day DYI, how Ksenia found her customized Larissa gown, and amazing wedding advice from our thoughtful bride below!
How did you guys meet?
“We met in 2012, during a Humber College trip to Canada Wonderland. Vlad was an international student ambassador who helped organize the trip, and I was one of the freshly onboarded students. We started talking and discovered that we both were Russians from very different parts of the country (he is from the Far East of Russia, and I am from the South) and shortly became friends. Our friendship lasted for several years, and we eventually moved on with our own lives, losing touch. Fast forward to 2018, I suddenly thought about Vlad and was curious to know how he was doing. I decided to check his Facebook page and liked a few of his posts. He messaged me that day, and we realized through conversation that we were taking the same flights (including two interchanges) on the same day and at the same time to visit our respective families in Russia! Vlad did some magic to change our assigned seats so that we could sit together, and the rest is history!”
How did you an Vlad get get engaged?
“It happened on the first morning of the New Year 2020. Vlad used to live and work in Japan, where watching the sunrise on January 1st is a big tradition. That’s what we did near the Lake Ontario, and after we returned home all frozen and happy, he proposed to me. It was the best way to start a New Year! Then we went to Niagara Falls for a walk in the winter wonderland. Needless to say, I was very impressed that Vlad got my ring size right (he had no outside help and no other jewellery to refer to, as I own no other rings).”
Tell us about your outfits!
“Vlad went with classics, a dark blue custom-made suit that he would wear for many occasions to come! It’s more of a long-term investment when it comes to suits, I feel!
For me, everything started with the idea of a lightweight, comfortable dress with evanescent lace or embroidery. Something as delicate as nature itself. I pinned a few ideas on my Pinterest board as a start. Logistics issues to get the dress from abroad during Covid and the desire to have a locally made dream wedding dress guided my online search. I found the Lea-Ann Belter Bridal website and started my exploration. Larissa dress hit all the right notes for me, and I emailed the flagship store to make an appointment. Based on my description, Vanessa (the magic bridal fairy) prepared a few dresses for me, including Larissa. I tried several more dresses to keep my mind open and have options. It’s better to try than not to, and regret afterward. They all were so different and so gorgeous… Yet, Larissa was so very me! Vanessa was a pleasure to deal with, and we came up with some dress customization together. I looked for no more. The very first appointment was a victory for me! I found not only the high-quality dress of my dreams but also saw how much the team at Lea-Ann Belter loved what they did for brides. Such passion was contagious!”
Why did you decide to get married where you did?
“The venue should mean something special to us, be familiar in a way. The search of the venue didn’t take long, we both liked the Old Mill and decided to go for it. We used to have romantic dinners and high tea there before, so the venue held our beautiful memories. The authentic vibe, its picturesque architecture, the garden, excellent food, and service were all in one package. We ended up having a photo shoot on the premises saving time on travelling to various photo locations. The venue is conveniently located for us and our guests, who mainly reside in the GTA. The closeness of the subway was handy too.
Covid altered our plans to have both the ceremony and reception in March 2021, so we decided to split the two events, having a very cozy (10 people) ceremony on March 6th and then intimate reception on November 6th, to adjust to changing guidelines. Looking back, we think it was the right decision: we mitigated the stress of having everything happing on the same day, paced our expenses, and had an opportunity to wear our outfits twice with different accessories.”
Tell us about your day!
“Our reception day was all we wanted it to be: an intimate, fun celebration, where everyone could enjoy themselves surrounded by the beauty of the venue and our undivided attention. We wanted to own the day and make it just the way we are, friendly, informal, warm, and planned by us from the beginning to the end. We are blessed with many talented friends, and we made it a point to support our friends as much as possible. This way, our cake, first dance, bridal hair, pictures of the day were all made by the people dear to us. Of course, this success wouldn’t be possible without our amazingly cooperative vendors, such as our DJ and Old Mill personnel.”
What was your first dance song?
“It was “Sway” by Dean Martin, choreographed by our dear friends and professional dancers, Sapna and Christopher. Vlad and I practiced daily for a couple of months to deliver a smooth performance. Then, as an ice-breaker after a romantic dance, we followed up with a funny Chicken Dance to open the dance floor.”
One detail you couldn’t live without?
“Creative, DIY vibe combined with practicality. I love creating things and was more than willing to take care of the decorations and memorabilia. I believe that we can feel energy and wanted to pass the vibe of a new beginning onto the hand-painted notebooks made especially for our dear guests. Waste was another thing concerning us, that’s why we opted in for potted plants as centerpieces. A tiny piece of my dress material sample went into an epoxy resin pendant after the event, which I made to pass it as “something borrowed” or “something old” to the next generation when it’s time for our future kids to have their special day.”
Any tips for couples getting married?
“In the situation of a global pandemic, there is more unknown than known when you plan and execute your major life events. The ability to be open to inevitable changes, inspecting frequently where you are at, and adapting along the way pays off. I was in the career transition to Scrum Mastery and suggested to bring our dream wedding to life utilizing the Scrum framework with two-week sprints. Having a clear goal for our wedding reception and an ordered, prioritized backlog of items helped us determine what’s important and focus on what brings value to us and our guests vs. “nice to have” things. You can explore many tools for planning purposes: Trello, Jira, Miro, Mural, or a simple whiteboard with post-its. Get creative, don’t be afraid to experiment, spend energy on what you can control! Things may not go exactly as planned, but it’s ok as long as you make the best of the situation (while having lots of fun, of course!).”
Ksenia + Vlad’s Toronto Wedding Vendors
wedding dress: customized Lea-Ann Belter Larissa gown via our flagship Toronto bridal boutique | photographer: Life’s Elements Photography | hair: Sapna Singh | makeup: by bride | venue & catering: Old Mill Toronto | wedding cake: Austen Neil | DJ: Maximum DJ | guest gifts + cake topper: bride (@ksushade_art) | pendant with a piece of wedding dress: by bride, (@ksushade_art) | first dance choreography: Sapna & Christopher | wedding bouquet: Royal York Flowers