I am Katherine Fortier – a fun-loving adventurer from Canada. I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta surrounded by wonderful friends and family. I have a sense of wild, and even though I am now a part of the “old, boring married couple” crew, my husband and I have done everything in our power to ensure we do not live up to the title. After tying the knot, we quit our jobs, gave up our apartment, and travelled the world for 8 months. We have since moved to London, England and are now out of semi-retirement, and back to the work grind. By trade, I am a professional accountant, and spend my spare time on the golf course, out for a run, or enjoying new cuisine (specifically baked goods). I am the luckiest girl in the world that I get to experience all of these incredible things with my best friend and the love of my life by my side!
Our Love Story
My husband and I both grew up and lived in Edmonton, but the first time we met was actually in Australia. Which sounds super romantic .. but it took a long time for anything to develop. A year later at a mutual friend’s birthday party, sparks began to fly. Our first date was one for the books – Stephan took us to a trampoline park! Being an activity person, this was right up my alley and added to his intrigue. After our second date, I had already fallen and knew I was in it for the long haul. We dated for a year before moving in together, and a year later got engaged!
We woke up Christmas morning and Stephan was extra energized. I was moving slow to save energy for all the festivities to come, but he was having none of it. We went over to the Christmas tree, and I was shocked to see that there was a stocking for me. As we had booked a trip to Mexico (leaving the next day) to spend a week on the beach and get our PADI scuba diving certificates, we agreed that no presents would be under the tree this year. I went over to my stocking to find a mix of “Katherine’s Favourite Things”. Once I got to the bottom, there was an empty box and Stephan was down on one knee – and the rest is history! It was the most perfect day spent between our families’ houses celebrating our news (and obviously more Christmas festivities and presents). The next day we jetted off to the Mexican sunshine and spent a week of bliss, just the two of us.
Saying I was surprised about BEING proposed to would not necessarily be the correct word – I knew in my heart we would end up together, but WHEN he proposed, definitely surprised me. We had only been dating for two years and did not have any other close friends that were engaged and/or married. But in no way did that scare me, it was the easiest question I’ve ever had to answer.
Let’s Talk Wedding Planning
Wedding Date, Geographical Location, Venue
Our special day was August 27, 2016, we tied the knot in our hometown of Edmonton, Canada. Our venue was the Blatchford Hangar at Fort Edmonton Park. Set along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, the Park is a living history museum that takes visitors back to the days when the Canadian West was first settled, and highlights the growth of the city. The building itself is an airplane hangar turned events venue and although I never told anyone (so no one else stole it from me!), it was always where I wanted to get married. Growing up nearby, my family and I would often visit the park on days off school, enjoying the midway and riding the steam-powered train. While we considered a few others, the Hangar was the only venue we visited. Having a lot of memories there along the serene river valley setting, I was ECSTATIC when it was available for our date. First big ticket item checked off the list
We had around 240 guests, and for us, it was the perfect size. Preparing the guest list, we worked with our parents to ensure that all family, friends and notables were included in our special day. Luckily, our venue was able to handle a large crowd and we did not have to limit ourselves, which made the growing list easy to manage. My husband miiiiight have had a heart attack when he found out how many people were attending (with my side contributing a larger portion), but it was such an amazing day having everyone with us to celebrate, I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
What was your wedding budget?
Budget was something we focused on A LOT. Though we did not have a fixed number, we did have a price range – because of this, we were extremely fiscally responsible to ensure that we got the wedding we wanted for good value. I would say that we stayed within our range and were thrilled with how great our wedding was, given the cost. That often meant not taking the advice from some of the industry professionals around us and doing a lot of the planning and work ourselves. We meticulously kept track of every expense on a spreadsheet, including small things such as straws, postage or clothespins (which surprisingly add up!). It helps that I’m an excel-whiz of an accountant, so budget planning was right up my alley. All receipts were kept and tallied as they came in, to eliminate any surprise costs.
How did you prioritize your budget, what factors were most important to you
Flowers, flowers and more flowers! I’m joking of course, but that was one thing I refused to miss out on. We prioritized our budget based on the absolute wedding necessities – venue, catering, photography. From there, we moved onto the wants – decor, flowers, stationary, DJ, etc. Once we had the building blocks in place, we then look at where we wanted to add to make it not a basic wedding but a beautiful one!
How did you ask your besties to be your bridesmaids?
This was such a great day! What I did for my three bridesmaids was make a string of letters that spelt out “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” with pictures of us over the years of our friendship. It was nothing fancy, but the look on their faces as I stood on their front step holding it as the door opened was priceless. For my Maid of Honour who lived in another city, I went on a weekend trip to visit and we just had the best girls weekend, with the question coming naturally. She already knew it was going to be her (and had in fact been telling people before I even popped the question!) so I didn’t feel that much pressure.
How was your dress shopping experience?
What was your overall vision or theme?
Obviously my Pinterest account was key in finding the perfect theme – you can get so many great ideas from others! It may sound strange, but I wanted “Rustic Bohemian” (if that is even a thing!). As we were getting married at a historic park, the venue was quite traditional – I wanted to ensure our theme was both new-age and timeless, as opposed to bland and old-fashioned.
If you had to describe your wedding style in one word what would it be?
My husband might say that I’m a bit of a princess, but even I wouldn’t want something too over the top. I guess if my ideal wedding had to be compared to a person, I would pick Kate Middleton – how much more elegant can you get!
How did you find your vendors?
A bit of everything here. Having direct referrals from people you trust is always the best! Being a bit younger, we were among the first to get married in our friend group, so I didn’t have a lot of people with experience for proper input. That being the case, our wedding coordinator had preferred vendors we often used and, found researching vendors on social media was very effective – this way we could see the end result of their work in photos taken by other guests and not just professionally-staged photos on the websites. In most cases, we found that once we picked a vendor, we ended up working with them. For example, we only had one meeting with our photographer, DJ, decor and flower companies, and ended up using their services. That doesn’t at all mean that we settled, I think we benefited from a ton of research prior to our initial consultations and meeting in person then solidified that we wanted to work with them.
How did you design your table layout & decor?
We worked with one of the largest decor and events companies in Edmonton for our tables – we hired the chairs, linens, napkins and almost all of the table settings. We had flowers for centrepieces, 3 different styles so the venue didn’t look static, a simple napkin setting, and candles. We wanted to make sure that the tables weren’t cluttered and that we had fancier chairs instead of covers – this made the venue look more decorated than it was, while sticking to both our theme and budget.
For our decor, we did have one major issue – on one wall (our backdrop to head table) there was a giant mural of a plane that had to be covered up. Being an airplane hangar and having 24 foot ceilings, finding a drape company that could hide that was a challenge. For this, our wedding coordinator was key because only one company in the city had the proper setup to do this kind of work – so booking them early was super important (and was a huge relief once secured!). The rest of our decor relied mainly on the floral centrepieces and a crafty entranceway to give our guests that initial wow factor. Our guestbook, table numbers, and seating chart were all Pinterest inspired DIY items that gave the decor a lot of character at a low cost. Having multi-functional items was such a great idea. We rented large barrels that held flowers during the ceremony but could also be cocktail tables during the reception. The flowers on those barrels were also used for centrepieces at dinner. We rented fancier chairs for the ceremony that didn’t need covers, and then transported them all during cocktail hour into the venue for the reception. It required a lot of planning and extra work on the day to coordinate, but saved a lot of money on decor.
How involved was your fiancé in the planning process?
He was a wedding planning wizard and did consider a career change after…KIDDING! But all jokes aside, my fiancé was very helpful in the planning process. He kept us on track timeline-wise because I tend to procrastinate whereas he pushes to get things sorted early. It was great because toward the end of the process when things started to get stressful, all of the major aspects of the day were already taken care of well in advance. I found that giving him tasks that fit his personality was the best way to get him to help. Most men are not going to be fussed with flowers, invitations or decor – and neither was he. Putting him in charge of our timeline, the catering, DJ and bar services were aspects he cared about and since I knew he was engaged, would be done right. It took stress off of me and since we were both focusing on our favourite parts of our wedding, we both enjoyed the process.
Did you use a wedding planner?
No. Our planning approach was an upside down triangle – starting with the biggest aspects first and funnelling down to the nitty gritty details. Don’t get too fussed about the napkins or what your signature cocktail will be before you have your vendors booked and enough chairs for everyone. There are so many online resources about weddings that we heavily relied on along with all the advice from our day of coordinator. I honestly only felt like we were behind in our planning maybe once or twice. Not letting our to-do list get overwhelming was probably the thing that kept us most sane during those 8 months!
Social media is amazing for ideas, but be careful because once you make all your decisions you’ll see something that might make you second guess yourself and it ends up causing more harm than good. Be confident and also understand that many of those glamorous weddings you see on Instagram likely had large budgets. We had to be realistic about what we could achieve and tried to put on the most beautiful wedding we could within our desired spending range.
Did you have a Day-of Coordinator present on the day of your wedding?
We did have a day of coordinator and it was a great help throughout and on the day. During the planning process we met with her a couple times and her advice on vendors, timeline and budget planning was life saving! On our wedding day, she took all the responsibility in coordinating timing with the vendors for set up and take down so that us and our families could enjoy the day without having to worry about other responsibilities. If there were any issues on the day, she was the first point of contact and would make decisions before things got escalated to us.
Did you guys do a “First Look”, or did your fiancé see you for the first time walking down to aisle?
The timing of our wedding: Ceremony at 4:00, Cocktails at 4:45, Dinner at 6:15 meant that we had to do a first look photo session. It worked out really well because we were able to have a full 2 hours for photos starting around 1:00 and still had some time apart to get fixed up again before the ceremony began. It did calm a bit of the nerves as well and the first look moment was so special because it was just us. I think that having the traditional down the aisle first look in front of 240 people may have added a lot of extra stress and emotion. Post ceremony we did our family photos, which took up the full amount of time we had before dinner.
Our photographer was amazing and kept us on time to ensure that we got all the photos we wanted. We did a pre-wedding walk through to ensure that everyone was on the same page. Having an experienced photographer is so worth the money!
What would you recommend as “must have pictures” for future brides?
My favourite part of our pictures were thanks to our phenomenal venue. With all of the distinct historical areas, we were able to capture a large array of backdrops. Whether it was the old wooden fort, the 1920’s midway, or the brick firehall, the photographs took my breath away. I also loved all the photos of me and my girls getting ready. Getting pampered, hanging out with my best girls and my Mom while putting on my dress was extra special. We were lucky to have two photographers – so when getting ready before the wedding, both the boys side and the girls side had their own photographers.We had a good mix of photos with multiple backdrops and photos of just me and my husband, all of the wedding party, just the girls, just the guys, etc. The group shots that were not staged also turned out great l because it felt natural. Having real close up shots on the flowers and rings are really nice to have because it shows off the detail of the day. All of the candid shots during our reception were also great to look back on – peoples’ reactions during speeches and the raw emotion captured are memories we would not have otherwise.
A great tip is to have your wedding photographer shoot your engagement session. It gives you a chance to get used to their shooting style and feel natural in front of the camera. Send your photographer a Pinterest sample of photographs you like, so they know what moments to capture when it counts!
Did you have a videographer?
We did not opt for a videographer. Knowing our special day will only be seen live once made it extra special!
Escort Cards or Seating chart?
Seating chart, everyone knows where to look and it’s a fun DIY project!
What song did you choose for your first dance?
Ed Sheeran – Tenerife Sea. I love Ed and the moment I heard this song, I knew it was the song I would dance to at our wedding (assuming Stephan proposed – thank goodness for that!).
Buffet or sit down meal?
We had passed champagne and 4 different appetizers during cocktail hour. We had a range of hot and cold, and both meat and vegetarian. There was variety of options, but not too many as we wanted people to save up for the rest of the food!
Dinner: We had plate service and only offered one choice of meal (unless there were vegetarians/dietary restrictions). It was a risky move as we went for pork tenderloin, but had so many compliments. We were very picky about the food and were in constant communications with our caterer throughout the process to ensure everything was perfect and it paid off!
Live music or DJ?
We had a DJ coordinate the dance. My husband had a friend who worked for the company so we knew we were in good hands. A great service they provided was our own personal webpage where we could outline songs for important events throughout the day, must plays, and must NOT plays at the dance (more important than you think!). They also had a Photo Booth which was a hit throughout the night with our guests. The printouts were a fun thing to take home and we received all the digital copies for more photo memories!
Our MC throughout the evening was a good friend to us both and was also responsible for setting us up together. He was the perfect, sentimental and logical choice for our MC and he did a great job. Keeping both a crowd of 240 entertained and the program on track is tough. Make this choice wisely!
Cake or Desserts?
We opted for a “cookies and ice cream” buffet dessert bar. All the guests loved it – sadly we were too busy to get any (my biggest wedding regret because i LOOOOVE ice cream). We did have a small cake to cut for photo/traditional purposes, which we kept – and still tasted amazing on our first year anniversary!
Did you provide transportation for your guest or valet parking?
There was no transportation provided as many of our guests were in the city. We had a limo for the wedding party that came back later to transport some of the out of town family guests back to their hotels throughout the evening.
Top 3 most memorable moments of your wedding day?
- I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride – DUH!
- Getting beautified with my Mom and best girls, before my Dad’s reaction when he saw me in my dress.
- Being surrounded by everyone I love to celebrate our most special day! It 100% sounds cliche and I didn’t believe it until it actually happened to me, but no day will ever top it.
One thing that made your wedding unique or something special and personal you added to your day that stands out from other weddings.
My favourite personal touch we added to our wedding, was our creative guest book. Rather than having the traditional album, we opted for adirondak deck chairs. Stephan’s Dad built them for us, and our guests signed all over! Since then, we have moved the chairs up to my family cottage and this past summer, evening sunsets were spent sat reminiscing on our wedding day by reading through all of the comments friends and family left for us.
Total months planning?
We got engaged on Christmas and starting planning a few weeks later, so we planned for 8 months in total. The second and last month were the busiest. The second month is spent on the big things – like venue booking, guest list, etc. The last month is spent on the fine details and tying the whole thing together! There are so many little things that you don’t always think of that come up in that last month as well so be prepared for those!
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?
Planning the decor and how to fill the space was the most difficult part. We saw our venue 3 times during the 8 month planning process, and it was rarely ever fully set up. Trying to picture how an empty space would look with our 30 tables, head table platform, dance floor, and bar all set up with decor that would fill the space without making it look crowded, was difficult. If we could have, I think that attending events at the venue to see how other groups used the space would have been super beneficial.
The easiest thing to plan was the program of events during the reception. We really didn’t want our reception program to be drawn out, which can easily happen if you put in too many speeches and other events (shoe game, etc). That being said, we kept it to 5 speeches and a 6 minute slideshow. We also broke up dinner courses with speeches so everything flowed smoothly and by 9 pm the dance was on!
One thing you wish you knew when you were planning your wedding?
How far in advance you have to book things! Photographers can be booked out on Saturdays 1-2 years in advance, dresses can take 4 months to be fitted, while flowers and cake shops can only handle so many weddings on one day. The earlier you get things booked in advance the better, it’ll save so much stress!
Anything you would have done different?
Honestly, when I look back I would not have done anything differently. We worked so hard beforehand to ensure that we could live in the moment, and that is exactly what we did. This is my best piece of advice!
One thing that helped you stay stress free throughout your planning and on your wedding day?
My husband and I made sure that we had “us time” that was free of any wedding planning. Otherwise, you find all the time spent with your fiancé is focused on the wedding and you forget to the enjoy their company. The day before our wedding, we needed a breather so decided to hit the bowling lanes before our rehearsal dinner. It was something fun to clear our heads and was our last “date” before we got married!
Did you go on a honeymoon? If so, where to? Did you go right after the wedding or wait?
We did go on a honeymoon but not at all a typical one. One week after our wedding, we went to the North East United States and enjoyed a nice week touring around with our time primarily split between Boston, MA and Newport, RI. 6 weeks later is when we quit our jobs in Edmonton and headed off on our world adventure, some people called it our “YOLOmoon”.
Last but not least if you could give ONE piece of advice to a bride-to-be planning her wedding what would it be??
If you have a vision for your dream wedding it can always be done, it just takes some creative brainstorming! You only get to do this day once, so be firm about what you want and it’ll be the best day of your life!
Katherine & Stephan’s Happily Ever After
As I mentioned above, we took off on a YOLOmoon (after all, you only live once!) through Latin America and South East Asia for 8 months. From there, we found ourselves settling in London, England where we enjoy travelling Europe and getting back to routine work life in a big, new city. We have been married for a year and a half and continue to live our life with love, laughter and happily ever after!
For a full update on our current adventures, feel free to check out my personal blog!
Venue & Catering: Fort Edmonton Park // Decor: Special Event Rentals & Site 6 Events // Photography: Kelsy Nielson // Hair & Makeup: Behind the Blush // Florals: Fabloomosity // Coordinator: Jennifer Bergman // Wedding Dress: Nicole Miller // DJ & Photo Booth: Happy Wife Happy Life
Keep Scrolling for more gorgeous photos of Katherines’s Wedding!
Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Fortier, may your adventurous continue with lots of love and happiness as husband and wife!