Hi I’m Colleen DeFazio! I am from Burlington, Ontario, Canada and my husband and I currently live in Oakville, Ontario. I am 26 years old and currently I’m a stay at home dog mom to our fur baby Dallas. My husband is a professional hockey player so we travel to a different part of the world each year – which isn’t ideal for keeping a full time job back home. So, in my spare time I love finding new places to go on hikes with Dallas and I also volunteer at an equine rehabilitation centre where I work with children with disabilities and teach them how to horseback ride. My dream is to go back to school for nursing eventually when we land back in Oakville permanently.
Our Love Story
Brandon and I have quite an interesting background and although he laughs at me for having a terrible memory and a hard time recollecting exactly what happened I will try to explain with as much detail and memory that I have! My sisters friend/roommate was dating a guy in University who played hockey in the US. His friend (who was from Oakville but played hockey in the US as well) would sometimes come along to visit. It just so happened that this friend and I got to know each other through my sister and her roommates boyfriend and became friends on social media. We didn’t ever speak in person but I would get random messages here and there on Facebook or Twitter from Brandon asking me out on a date once in a while. We never ended up going on a date during that time but he did not give up and told me he couldn’t explain the feeling he got about me. It wasn’t until a few years later, we went on our first date, he knew thats all he needed to win me over and it did! I even ran back to the car after he dropped me off at my parents house and kissed him! Things progressed really fast between us as his lifestyle as a professional hockey player didn’t allow for him to be home in our hometown for longer than the summer. I ended up moving with him to New York four months after we started dating and we bought a dog together, Dallas (after Dallas Green for you Canadians) from this point on we both knew we had something special. Its been a long journey to where we are today and almost two years since our wedding, after New York we lived in Rhode Island (before our wedding), Austin, Texas as our first year married what a special place, and finally we were just in China living there this year for our first adventure overseas for hockey. Its been one amazing adventure together and we can’t wait to see what is in store next!
We lived in New York for two years while Brandon played hockey there and in that second summer home Brandon proposed. I did not see this one coming – and I am so the type to peek into my Christmas presents to see what I got when I was younger, admittedly still do (whoops) but I really don’t like surprises but if someone could pull it off I was very impressed. Brandon took me to New York City for the weekend before he was off to another hockey season, this time he was headed to Rhode Island so a little bit further this time. He wanted to enjoy our last weekend together and it was also his birthday weekend, so there weren’t many red flags in my mind about a proposal. We had definitely talked about it and wanted it in our future but I had no idea that this was it! He took me to Central Park and proposed on the bridge in the middle of the park in front of everyone and I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I could even say yes because I was so shocked although, inside I was screaming YES! It really was an amazing feeling and we decided that day we would be married the next summer. Hockey only permits us to be home from April/May – end of August so we knew we had to do it in-between those times so we could have all our hockey friends there and to be able to enjoy ourselves and also so a honeymoon afterwards. My ring was absolutely gorgeous and Brandon knocked it out of the park however it was about two sizes too big because he asked me for my ring size discreetly and I totally thought he meant my normal ring size. For some reason my ring finger is way smaller than all the other fingers, anyways I didn’t get it sized for three months because I didn’t want to part with it. When I did get it sized it came back looking different and I was so devastated. The place I took it didn’t heat it properly and the setting was all distorted. Very upsetting but we ended up taking it back and getting a whole new ring from a different place. One thing I learned is to be careful when selecting where you take your ring! Do your research. I am very happy with my new ring and so is Brandon so thats all that matters.
Let’s Talk Wedding Planning
Wedding Date, Geographical Location, Venue
Our wedding date was July 8th, 2016! Can’t believe it’s almost been two years!! It was in Hamilton, Ontario and it was called Earth to Table Farms. It is apart of the Ancaster Old Mill and it is actually a refurbished barn on working farm land. Brandon and I both knew we wanted a farm/ barn theme (although he didn’t have a lot to do with the planning process, that’s something we both agreed on) I went to two other venues and they were beautiful but they weren’t exactly perfect like our final pick was! One of them we had to get our own liquor license and you couldn’t drink inside the dinner area which was a huge concern for us. The other venue wasn’t fully exclusive on our big day. I wanted to be able to be the only bride at the venue so that was a huge factor. My mom and mother in law actually visited our venue before we even saw it and they sent me pictures and we got them to book it that day! It was so perfect and really brought to life our dream wedding.
We had approx. 170 people on our big day although our list started at 250. Our venue had a limit of 250, so it wasn’t an issue of space just more so personal preference and mostly our budget!!! It is really difficult to decide who you want at your wedding, this for me might have been the hardest part. I always want everyone to be included but I needed to narrow down who was going to be apart of my life going forward, who knows my husband, and invested in our relationship. I invited who I believed would want to be there to welcome us as husband and wife! One big piece of advice about your guests is the day is about you, and whoever you feel should be there should be there. Don’t worry about what others think and go with your gut!
What was your wedding budget?
Our budget was between $40,000-$50,000 as our venue was $30,000+ alone. I really had to shake my head a couple times when reading over how much everything was going to cost as I never thought it would be possible to spend that much in one day! We stayed within our budget as I got really creative with some of the elements such as decor, the invites, thank you’s etc. I think it’s important to sit down and discuss with your fiancée to figure out what you want to invest the most in.
How did you prioritize your budget, what factors were most important to you?
Our priorities were the venue, food, booze and photography first! If you can do things by yourself, (or have family help you) do it! It really helps keep you on track with the budget if you can cut some of the middle man work out and tackle it yourself. Although I would keep it to the things you know you can handle and make sure you keep yourself accountable on timing. My mom really made sure I stayed on track timing wise as we only had 9 months from the time we got engaged to when we tied the knot! The longer you have for some may be better, although it’s not always in your control.
I used a spreadsheet and a wedding book to keep track of what I owe, what I’ve paid off and how much everything will cost. This really helped keep my mind focused on the overall picture. It is REALLY easy to get carried away and think you are on track. Keeping the spreadsheet and book with me when I went to go book something or buy decor, cake etc helped me calculate what I had left and what you can work with going forward.
How did you ask your besties to be your bridesmaids?
Okay I was totally lame and none of my friends had been married before so I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. I just asked them over the phone (lame I know). I wish I had done something more memorable like a cute box with their favourite things or something that reminded me of each of them uniquely. At our engagement party I got them each a bottle of champagne and a cute card telling them why I wanted them by my side and how much their friendship means to me, so I redeemed myself a little bit. (I think)
How was your dress shopping experience?
From the day I got engaged I knew exactly what dress I wanted – the Lanai dress from Katie May. There were only two stores in Canada that carried her line and thankfully one was only 20 minutes from my hometown called Pearl Bridal Shop. I honestly loved it so much but knew my mom and mother in law would love to go dress shopping and you only get to do it once so we made four appointments at different bridal boutiques just to see what else was out there. I think it’s important to do this just to make sure there’s nothing else that may suit you better than what you envision in your mind. I did end up with the Lanai gown but I loved the experience of trying on different styles! I went with an open mind and made sure to really enjoy. My bridesmaids dresses were from David’s Bridal, I wanted to keep the dresses affordable and versatile so they can maybe be worn again. I picked the colour and style and made sure everyone was comfortable in them. They were easy to walk in and dance in which was number one for me. I really was pretty easy going throughout the whole dress experience which I was surprised by, I usually am a bit more uptight. I think my biggest piece of advice would be to just have fun and relax because there are so many options out there and once you start trying them on you’re that much closer to finding the one!
What was your overall vision or theme?
My overall vision for the wedding was a really clean, rustic theme with lots of whites, burlap, wood, flowers, and mason jars. I brought my Pinterest dream board to life!
If you had to describe your wedding style in one word what would it be?
How did you find your vendors?
Another thing I LOVED about my venue is that the DJ, officiant, furniture, catering, and day of coordinator was included. It made life a whole lot easier as all I had to really worry about was decor, photographers, videographers, florist, makeup artist, cake, hair etc. (Still a lot LOL) For photography, I went with a recommendation from my father in law who set me up with two different style photographers and had them collaborate together so we got two different types of photos. This was really special to me as we got two different perspectives on the same shots and sometimes completely different shots, that if it were just one photographer we may not have got. The videographer I found at a bridal show and my mom and I won a 20% off coupon for the day which really helps when you realize how expensive it is to hire one! I would definitely go to the bridal shows if you can around your area, seems like a pain but it really is a fun experience with your mom and bridesmaids and you could score yourself a deal like I did. I found my makeup artist online and her work was incredible, I didn’t even have to look anywhere else because I knew her style was exactly what I wanted. I really only had to focus on the small things when it came to vendors which made life a lot easier, if you find a venue that has a lot of the vendors already included (as long as they are reasonable) this takes a lot of stress off your shoulders!
How did you design your table layout & decor?
I was so excited the venue had harvest tables (look it up if you don’t know what they are) but I had a vision for my tables and I just looked around art stores and on Pinterest until I found something I liked. I kept it pretty simple but I knew I wanted to keep the beauty of the harvest table so I just had a burlap runner down the middle with a eucalyptus branch on top and three cedar planks with some glass mercury votives and two large mason jars with flowers. We kept the linens white and clean and I actually chose to let people pick their spots at their designated table instead of choosing for them.
How involved was your fiancé in the planning process?
Okay, so I have to give my husband some credit, he was in a different country for the entire time we were engaged so he didn’t really have much of a choice BUT, he was not really involved at all. I kind of took the reigns and went for it in all aspects. I definitely loved having his input on certain things but I also felt so good when he agreed with my choices. We have similar style in decorating so that helped a lot and we kept things pretty simple. At times it actually helped that he want as involved as I was because wedding planning is already a bit of a stressor so it helped us focus on what was most important, not just the one day but the rest of our life.
Did you use a wedding planner?
We did not use a wedding planner for our wedding day. However, we did have a day-of coordinator which helped with timing and ensuring the day ran smoothly, I would recommend if you don’t have a wedding planner to invest in a day-of coordinator so that your family and yourself don’t have to worry about the flow and timing of the wedding. One of the biggest things that you don’t often remember is to have someone responsible for the cards and gift box to ensure it is safely put away after all the guests arrive.
Did you have a Day-of Coordinator present on the day of your wedding?
Yes! My day was stress free thanks to ours, she literally did everything that no one else would want to do – I HIGHLY recommend getting someone to help you out day of as everyone in your friends and family circle will want to be enjoying the day with you not worrying about the small things like ensuring everyone gets inside on time, or that they are paying attention to the cake cutting, flower tossing etc.
Did you guys do a “First Look”, or did your fiancé see you for the first time walking down to aisle?
At first I really wanted to do a first look, I thought it would be a special moment for Brandon and I to be alone and get some pictures taken before we have to be outside in the heat for too long. But, Brandon was so against it! He really wanted the surprise of seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle and I thought, well I made most of the decisions up until this point so I let him win on that one LOL. I am really glad I went without the first look as it makes the walking down the aisle so much more impactful and the reaction they have is truly exactly what the day is all about! Plus, there is plenty of time to get beautiful pictures after the ceremony. We had our photographers there until after the bouquet tossing and he was around for most of the partying which made for some interesting pictures! I honestly think if you want to capture the entire day to just go for it and have them around as long as you would like them there. I did not regret one bit having my photographer there for the end bits as those are the moments that you may not remember as clearly after a long day and they are so much fun to look back on!
What would you recommend as “must have pictures” for future brides?
I think the must have pictures are really straightforward but many are forgotten the day of and let me tell you, you are NOT thinking of staging pictures at this point. You are totally in happy go lucky mode and this is where all the meetings and lists you’ve given your photographer will save you. Family photos are SO important – I made a book for both of our families last Christmas at Artifact Uprising and those memories for our parents and grandparents are so special as they will likely not be looking through their computer at photos but it’ll be helpful to have them physically where they can look through them every once in a while. Both of our photographers were amazing and so attentive to what we wanted. I felt so relieved when I got the photos back and fell in love with them!
Did you have a videographer?
Yes, we had a videographer! I was really happy with our choice although I do fear it will get lost in the future! We opted for a cheaper package so the video is rather short and sweet!
Escort Cards or Seating chart?
Seating chart. Honestly way easier and gives people the choice on where they sit at the table and how their neighbour is! Also – a LOT less work for the bride.
What song did you choose for your first dance?
The Girl – City & Colour. This song is so special to us as it really embodies our relationship. Brandon sent this to me after the first couple dates and we both agreed then it would be our wedding song (a bit preemptive but hey, were here now!)
Buffet or sit down meal?
We had a sit down meal, I had two options, either surf and turf with mashed potatoes and veggies or you could pick a vegetarian option. The starter was a kale caesar saiad (delicious) and then the surf and turf, followed by an apple crumble. I honestly was so nervous about my speech, which was a crying mess by the way to even enjoy my meal, the adrenaline was pumping. The caterer was apart of the venue and what I thought was really cool was most of the vegetables were actually from the farm at the venue, I thought that was a nice touch.
Live music or DJ?
During the cocktail hour, while the bridal party and family were taking pictures we had a acoustic guitarist playing music live for everyone to enjoy. We opted for a DJ inside to do all the announcements and music after dinner. I think having a DJ during this time is awesome as people want to enjoy themselves at your wedding and listen to good music. We had an element on our wedding website that allowed people to submit music if they wanted to hear it which I thought was good, I didn’t have enough time to worry about making a playlist for the entire evening so that took the stress out of that.
Cake or Desserts?
Cake! It was so much fun to cut the cake with Brandon and added another special element to the day.
Did you provide transportation for your guest or valet parking?
We had a couple shuttle buses from the hotel for the guests from out of town or anyone from within the area that didn’t want to drive as well as two going home at different times. I made sure the bus was air conditioned as it was the middle of July and I have been to weddings that we had a school bus which was SO hot. We also had ample parking at the venue for everyone if they decided to drive instead. Brandon and I took the bus with everyone back to the hotel and it really was so much fun to see everyone having a fun time and not worrying about how they were getting home after maybe a few too many!
Top 3 most memorable moments of your wedding day
I got some really great advice from a colleague who told me to take 5-10minutes away from everything during the night after you get married. So I pulled brandon away outside while everyone was dancing and drinking. It honestly was one of my favourite moments of the day just us two soaking up the love. It started to lightly rain when we were out there looking over the farm, it was so special and I felt so happy!
The moment Brandon and I faced everyone as husband and wife to walk back up the isle, I saw everyone I love the most in the world happy for us and that made my day.
The speeches were incredible, Brandons made me cry so badly I couldn’t even speak in my own speech (thanks babe) and my parents and in laws speeches were so special to me.
One thing that made your wedding unique or something special and personal you added to your day that stands out from other weddings.
The one thing that I really cherished as unique at our wedding was our vows, we each wrote them ourselves and I also wrote everything that the officiant said. We didn’t get the opportunity to meet with her in person before the ceremony as we were living in a different country so I felt that it would be impersonal to have her say things about us when she didn’t know us. I added in little jokes and things that our family and friends could relate to and appreciate which made the ceremony feel that much more special and unique. I am always nervous to speak in front of a crowd so I didn’t know if I would be able to get through my vows without crying so we kept them short and sweet but they still meant a lot to us. I know a lot of people don’t like speaking in front of crowds so I would recommend writing a note or card to your fiancé to read before the ceremony as well – I did this just incase I forgot to say something in my vows or speech!
Total months planning?
9 months. Seriously crazy I pulled it all together in less than a year but there’s something to be said about getting it all done and not having enough time to second guess yourself and your choices! I am totally one of those people that makes a choice about a colour or certain item and then three days later feels anxiety about the other colour or item I didn’t chose. So for me it was really good I didn’t have time to feel this way. I really felt relatively calm the whole time, except the last month felt like it dragged on forever and I really was just excited for the day to be here and see everything and everyone all in the same spot.
What was one thing that you had difficulties with during your planning and how did you overcome it? & What was one of the easier things for you to plan?
I was maybe too easy going and relaxed throughout it all I didn’t really have any difficulties planning, the only thing I thought was hard was narrowing down the guest list like I mentioned before but having my family and close friends involved it helped relax me to get some reassuring advice. I really just wanted to enjoy myself and not make it more difficult than it needed to be. After all the day is about you!
One thing you wish you knew when you were planning your wedding?
I absolutely LOVE my photos, they are amazing but I wish I had gotten one on one photos with more people. If you are envisioning having certain photos, do yourself a favour and write them down and give them to your photographer to ensure you get those shots. I think I would’ve appreciated more one on one but I didn’t do this with my photographer or give him an outline of every shot I wanted. It’s good to do this before as during the day you are completely swept away with everything else.
Anything you would have done different?
Honestly I was pretty good about not going overboard with anything however Brandon really didn’t think it was necessary to have a videographer. I really love my wedding video but I worry that it will get lost some day. If you don’t have the budget for the video, its not completely ESSENTIAL. I believe the photos are 100% more important and will last a lifetime!
One thing that helped you stay stress free throughout your planning and on your wedding day?
The one thing that helped stay stress free in all the planning and on the actual wedding day was just knowing the outcome whatever happens will be the same. That Brandon and I will be happy and married and thats all I really cared about. The rest was just a blessing!
Did you go on a honeymoon? If so, where to? Did you go right after the wedding or wait?
Brandon planned our honeymoon to Secret St. James in Jamaica it was a surprise for me. I was really happy to not have to stress about anything after the wedding and just to get away the two of us. Honestly I would have gone anywhere just to be alone for a few days a soak up all the newlywed glory. As well as just completely relax after all the anticipation and craziness of the big day!
Last but not least if you could give ONE piece of advice to a bride-to-be planning her wedding what would it be?
My one piece of advice would be to just REALLY embrace the moment and enjoy yourself, seriously take it in, every dress fitting, cake tasting, special moments with your family and some time with your new husband on your big day as it all goes by in the blink of an eye and you’ll be looking back on pictures in no time. This day is just the start of something amazing and it really doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t show up or the cake is the wrong flavour, or whatever it is – as long as you are happy and you love each other, thats all you need.
Colleen & Brandon’s Happily Ever After
We just got home from our season overseas in China, which was amazing. We met some incredible new friends, and got to experience living in a completely different place than what we are used to. We are looking to buy our first home and perhaps start a family soon! Its been an incredible (almost) two years married and I am looking forward to what is next.
Keep Scrolling for more stunning photos of Colleen’s rustic Wedding!
Thanks for sharing Colleen, you are such a sweetheart and I wish you and Brandon so much love & happiness in your future!