My name is Anna and in August I married my husband, Mike. We are both 28 years old, grew up in Oakville, Ontario, and recently bought our first home in Burlington. I am a high school teacher in the city we live in, and Mike has a slightly longer commute to downtown Toronto, where he is an account director at a digital advertising company. We love the life we’ve built together over the past 10 years, enjoy good wine, good food, and lots of travel adventures. We are loving married life and are excited to welcome new milestones in the future!
Our Love Story
Mike and I met over 10 years ago, near the end of our senior year of high school. We grew up going to schools that were around the corner from each other, had many mutual friends, and yet, for a long time I only knew Mike as the guy that drove around town in his green ‘99 honda civic! When we finally met it was at one of our friend’s parties. That night, somebody had dropped a glass, and I, walking around barefoot, managed to get a giant shard of glass stuck right through my foot. It was so painful! Mike’s shining moment? Squeezing my hand and feeding me liquor as my friends played doctor (ha!). We talked for hours that night and spent the next few weeks bumping into each other every chance we got: at parties, hanging out with friends, and at Mike’s rugby games. Our first date was coffee and a bad Adam Sandler comedy, but something must have gone right, because a few weeks later, on the night of high school graduation, we were officially dating, and we’ve been together ever since.
We got engaged on the last night of an amazing trip to California, Singapore and Bali, Indonesia. The night we got engaged, we spent the day riding bikes through the rice fields and villages of beautiful Ubud, Bali. It was a perfect day. We wanted our last night in Bali to be special, so we made a reservation at a beautiful restaurant along the Ayung River. When we arrived, I was so confused when the host began to lead us away from the main restaurant and down a private walkway along the river. I was stunned. There were literally a hundred candles lit, rose petals everywhere, a table set for two, and a loveseat further down the river. I had celebrated my birthday earlier in the week, and I assumed that this was something special Mike had planned for the occasion.
After having a few drinks by the river, Mike asked me to take a look at the table the staff had set up for us and take some pictures. It was just us two, snapping selfies near the water, and to my surprise, my boyfriend’s usually steady hand was very shaky. As I turned away and to walk back towards our table, I began to comment on how blurry all of the pictures were! That’s when he said my name, “Anna..” When I turned around he was down on one knee, with the most beautiful ring, and the biggest smile I have ever seen. When he asked, all I could repeat was, “Oh my gosh!” in shock. He asked, and I said yes!
We spent the next few hours having dinner and wine, loving that we were the only ones in the world that knew what had just happened. It was pretty late when we got back to our hotel – lucky for us, the 12 hour time change meant all of our family and friends were awake for us to share the news! (What would we do without facetime?!) After Bali we flew to California and celebrated with LOTS of wine in Napa.
The ring Mike chose is stunning; I still catch myself staring at it! When you’ve been together for 10 years, there are lots of hints about rings… some subtle, some not so subtle! Your taste and trends will change over the years, so I think its most important to think about a classic and timeless design. For myself, I knew the general style that I liked, and some time before we got engaged I started to talk to Mike about rings; comments here and there while watching The Bachelor (ha) or when friends got engaged. It was also important to me that the ring was something he liked, so I would ask him about rings that he liked or didn’t like, just to see if we were on the same page. In the end, I think it is important to be clear about what you do and do not like, and leave the rest up to your guy! The proposal was the biggest surprise, and the ring was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Mike hit it totally out of the park; he had the ring made a few months before our trip and could not have chosen more perfectly.
Let’s Talk Wedding Planning
Wedding Date, Geographical Location, Venue
Our wedding happened on August 11, 2018. We got married at St. Matthew’s Church in Oakville, just around the corner from Mike’s parent’s house, and had our reception at Earth to Table: The Farm. We feel in love with the venue as soon as we saw it; the farm has a modern barn on the property (with a/c!); it was bright, had high ceilings, big windows, and beautiful harvest tables. We also loved how close it would be for the majority of our guests to get to, only about 20 minutes from where we both grew up. We didn’t see any other venues because we fell in love with the space as soon as we saw it. Once we got over the shock of how much a wedding would cost… we booked it a few days later!
We had approximately 180 people attend our wedding. Our families are very different in size; where my family is a large Polish family, Mike’s is much smaller. Our wedding definitely reflected the Polish influence of guests, food, and traditions. When it came to making a guest list it was important for us to include the people that had the greatest impact on our lives, and that we knew would continue to have a relationship with us or our families for years to come – this really helped to narrow down our guests by setting a “must have” list of names. In the end, we thought the size of our wedding suited the type of atmosphere we wanted perfectly.
What was your wedding budget?
My original budget was delusional. I think that years of watching wedding TV shows from the early 2000s were deeply engrained in my memory, back when the wedding of my dreams would have cost $30 000. What I would REALLY suggest is planning out a realistic budget for every aspect of the wedding (and rounding up if you need to!) Soon after we booked our venue, we went to a coffee shop, pen and paper in hand, and went through every detail of the wedding (music, decorations, flowers, costs of candles, transportation, venue, dress, shoes, jewelry, hair and makeup, etc.) We frequently googled prices and asked family and friends for their past expenses to get a realistic budget. By the end of the night, we got to $70 000. I’m happy to say we met our budget. It may be difficult to face the number head on, but we knew what we wanted, had a clear vision in mind, and were realistic with how much that would cost. Personally, I appreciated having a realistic goal I could meet, rather than budgeting for much less and needing to go over thousands of dollars in the end!
How did you prioritize your budget, what factors were most important to you?
Our priorities were definitely guest experience; this included a unique venue close to home, unique and multiple favors (we did a fruit stand and handmade honey jars), an open bar, great food, a fun photo booth, and the guarantee of a good time! Although many brides take on the position that this is “our day” so we should keep our wants as the priority, Mike and I recognized that while our wedding ceremony was for us, the reception was for our guests, and everyone that has supported us along the way – we wanted them to really enjoy themselves! Having said that, there were other parts of the budget that were not as important to us. For me, flowers are beautiful, but a little goes a long way. I was able to save a lot of money by using lots of greenery, with a few accents around the venue. I am also fortunate to have summers off from work and spent the weeks before the wedding making DIY decorations I could use around the venue that helped with our budget also!
How did you ask your besties to be your bridesmaids?
When I asked my besties to be my bridesmaids I wanted to make it as personal as possible. I wrote them all letters, reflecting on our friendships, the lasting impact they have had on me, and why I wanted them to stand by my side on my wedding day. I “glitterized” mini champagne bottles, and champagne flutes, baked cupcakes, and put them in a box. I spent one day driving all around the GTA dropping off these boxes and asking each of them to be my bridesmaids – it was such a fun and exciting day! Soon after, I took the girls all out for a high tea so that everyone could get to know each other a bit better and we could start to think about the year ahead!
How was your dress shopping experience?
I loved the experience of trying on dresses… the problem is, there are SO many beautiful styles to pick from! Choosing a wedding dress was MUCH more difficult than I thought it would be. I tried on so many dresses, liked almost all of them, but didn’t feel like I loved them or had that emotional, tears in your eyes moment. Now, talking to a lot of brides I’ve realized that this kind of reaction isn’t all that common – it’s a big decision! I chose “the” dress multiple times… Originally I always wanted a flowy, a-line dress. I really wanted to hide my hips, and that was the best way to do it! Anytime I tried on a fit and flare I felt pretty self-conscious. It was until months later when I was venting to my mom about feeling lost in the dress buying process that I looked through all of the pictures of dresses I had tried on where one of the few fit and flares caught my eye. I started to come around to the idea of not wanting the hide my figure and grew comfortable with the idea of wearing something much more fitted. So I called The Modern Bride in Guelph where I had tried on the dress… and IT WAS GONE!! They told me the style was part of a trunk show and was no longer in the studio. If I wanted to have it, I would have to buy it, and only try it on months later when it shipped. I was pretty nervous at first, but decided to go through with it anyways. Once it came in I loved it all over again.
In the end, I think that I could have chosen any dress and would have loved it. I really think it’s the bride that makes a dress – there are so many options out there, and as long as you feel good about it, everyone will love it! There is nothing more special and beautiful than a bride in her wedding dress, on one of the happiest days! Just go with what feels right, even if it’s not what you expected, and you can’t go wrong.
As for Bridesmaids dresses, my goal was to have my girls wear bridesmaids dresses, that didn’t look like bridesmaids dress…haha Long behold, I found an (at the time) small company making the “unbridesmaid collection” of dresses from Park and Fifth in Vancouver. I fell in love with their dresses and colours, and so did all of my bridesmaids. They were affordable in comparison to the many others I had looked at, and were such an amazing store to work with!
What was your overall vision or theme?
Our theme was a combination of rustic, romantic, elegant – where classy and country meet! We wanted to enhance a very rustic location with gold metallic accents, white florals, and lots of greenery. It was important to me to have a lot of personal touches; we included pictures of our families, our engagement pictures, scrapbooks filled with memories over the past 10 years, and sweet little touches of décor, mostly handmade by me! Our vision definitely came to life, with all of the little details.
If you had to describe your wedding style in one word what would it be?
What I mean is that we tried to put a lot of heart into the day (traditions, family pictures, our pictures, details) to make the day as genuine and reflective of us as possible. (oops, that was more than one word…)
How did you find your vendors?
We knew that photography and video were very important to us. We searched many websites, and reviews to find the perfect fit for us. Instagram was really helpful, especially when vendors were tagged so that we could see a whole highlight reel of their work in one place. With both video and photos we only met with one vendor for each, and new before we met that we loved their work – meeting was just a formality to make sure that we clicked! We were so fortunate that both the people we chose felt like close friends on our wedding day – it helped make us feel very comfortable with them. As for other vendors, I mostly found them through Facebook wedding groups – it was a good way to get unbiased opinions from a big group of people, and hear about first hand experiences.
How did you design your table layout & decor?
For table décor, I was able to source materials from various stores, online, and from past brides over Facebook groups. Once I had a good amount of material, I would make a mockup of various areas of our wedding. I felt very lucky to have a long 10-person harvest table at our home, and as soon as I would lay out décor I knew if I need to add more, or pull back. One struggle for me was filling a big empty cart in front of our venue – I had no idea what I could put in! I finally decided to do a big fruit stand, which was a lot of work, but was so worth it! I ended up using lots of cardboard boxes to raise the bottom of the cart up and give it different heights, covered that with burlap, bought and stained many wood crates, and made lots of mock ups of stacked crates at home before I knew the vision would come to life. I did the same for our dessert table and welcome table. Having lots of pictures of my mock ups helped the vendor I used to set up our venue just like I had envisioned.
How involved was your fiancé in the planning process?
Mike was definitely more involved than I thought he would be! It was great having a partner to offer an opinion on each detail, from the food, to the venue, dj, and décor. Having said that, Mike also trusted my taste enough to let me run with a lot of the details – we made a great team!
Did you guys do a “First Look”, or did your fiancé see you for the first time walking down to aisle?
We did not do a first look; I think it’s such a special moment to experience walking down the aisle, towards marriage and towards your future husband, and I wanted to keep that as genuine as possible. I was also so focused on Mike that I was definitely holding back very emotional tears! I did stop looing at my future husband for a single moment; it’s a memory I will never forget.
What would you recommend as “must have pictures” for future brides?
We had the BEST photographer capture our wedding day. Jenn Kavanagh was so organized the whole day. There was only one picture I really wanted (other than the obvious family, friends, and us together) and it was a picture of a beautiful giant tree on the farm property – I’m so glad we got that shot, because it might be my favourite! Even though we never had a must-have list, Jenn captured every detail. I think it’s so important to have a talented photographer that knows what they’re doing! …and then, it’s important to trust them! Originally, I wanted to have getting ready portraits in a certain corner of the room; as soon as our photographer saw how the light hit the space, she was able to capture the most stunning, bright, shots, where the light was much better. Jenn also prepared a list of every possible combination of family members for us to decide on. This was great because in the days before the wedding we could decide on all the combinations of family we wanted, instead of overlooking certain pictures in the chaos of the day.
Did you have a videographer?
What song did you choose for your first dance?
We really wanted to choose a song that was special to us, but that we would also hear throughout our lives together, a classic. There were a lot that we considered, and then, one night, (while watching the Halloween episode of “This is Us”) we heard a clip of a cover: “I got you, Babe” by Goldspot (originally Sonny and Cher), and we knew! My brother is a musician and wanted to sing our first dance for us, he slowed it down, made it acoustic, and it was so perfect. We love hearing the song when we’re driving in the car, watching a commercial, or putting it on to dance around the kitchen. Our first dance is one of my favourite memories of the day!
Another song that is special to us is “I don’t want to miss a thing,” …another classic! It was the first song we ever danced to when we were 18 at a school formal, and just like our first dance song, it has played in the background of so many moments: on the radio, in a restaurant, in the car just before dropping Mike off for a long trip! It’s comforting whenever we hear it. We knew we wanted this to be the last song of the night. I really suggest having your DJ announcing the last slow song of the night – we had all of our guests gather around us, singing all the words to this Aerosmith song; it was unforgettable!
Cake or Desserts?
We used Molly Cakes in Burlington. The shop is just down the street from us and they were great to work with and put our desserts vision to life. We had cakes and cupcakes. We also decided to do Polish donuts which added a nice touch, and we thought added to our dessert table nicely.
Top 3 most memorable moments of your wedding day?
Walking down the aisle – one of the most emotional moments I have ever felt, seeing Mike for the first time.
Both our first dance and last dance with Mike – our friends and family gathering around us, singing the words.
During their speech, my parents sang the song my grandfather had dedicated to me before he passed away. When I was a little girl, my grandfather had asked them to find a special time and place to one day sing it to me, and they chose to sing it to me on my wedding day during their speech. I bawled my eyes out and could cry just thinking about it. The most thoughtful surprise, almost 20 years in the making.
One thing that made your wedding unique or something special and personal you added to your day that stands out from other weddings.
I think the most special part of the wedding was having my brother sing both my first dances, with Mike and my Dad. My brother is so special to me, and having him sing was very emotional – not to mention, he is incredibly talented and sounded amazing! While my dad and I were dancing, we took a few moments to sing along with my brother, watching him, and having him be a genuine part of our first dance. It was very special to me!
As for a unique part of the wedding day, apart from the Polish traditions we included, we also had a giant meat hut (exactly as it sounds) for our late night. It’s traditional to have this kind of display at gatherings, and all of our guests loved it. Coupled with poutine and a pig roast, there was so much food at the end of the night!
Total months planning?
Wedding planning definitely changed over time; it’s was busy at the beginning, locking down venue, vendors, deciding on a wedding party, and then a lull follows. I purposely decided to have the wedding as late in the summer as possible, to still be able to take a honeymoon before school started. This way I could use the first 6 weeks of the summer before the wedding to go into full on wedding-planner mode! It tends to get busy before big events (like the shower, bachelorette, rehearsal dinner, and of course, the wedding!) just make sure you ask for help – friends and family will be so supportive along the way!
One thing you wish you knew when you were planning your wedding?
I think that because we were so focused on guest experience, it was sometimes easy to get carried away – something I kept reminding myself was that you have to have to keep a balance between your dream day, and one that can be experienced by your guest to the fullest. It’s not about planning a wedding to suit the tastes of, or the opinions of your guests, it’s about bringing your special day and vision to life, and hoping that your guests experience it to the fullest.
One thing that helped you stay stress free throughout your planning and on your wedding day?
Lots of wine nights and time spent together – we kept our relationship first throughout the planning process. We never got stressed about wedding planning; we knew from the get go that our marriage was what was most important, and the wedding was just a big (extravagant) party to celebrate that with friends and family! This helped keep us stress-free; we were just grateful to experience so many wonderful memories with our friends, families, and visitors from overseas leading up to and on the big day.
Did you go on a honeymoon? If so, where to? Did you go right after the wedding or wait?
A few days after the honeymoon we left for a 2 week vacation to Bali – back to where we got engaged! We did it on a “we’re on our honeymoon (!!!)” budget and had the most unbelievable time. We both love to travel, and don’t usually visit the same places we’ve already been, but Bali was the most romantic, private, special place we could think of. Each of our hotels had a private villa, and private pools, and because we had been there before there was no pressure to do any tourist things. We just laid in our pool, visited beaches, had daily massages, watched sunsets from bars all over the island, and had two weeks of total bliss. It was incredible!
If you are honeymooning to Bali or just traveling there, give Anna a follow! She has been to so many amazing spots and can most definitely give you lots of recommendations!
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 I could give one piece of advice, it’s to stay positive about your day! If you go into every situation being grateful for what’s most important, that you have found a partner in life, and that this is the day to celebrate, the little hiccups or bumps along the way will not, and should not, affect your wedding day. The day is what you make it, so make it the happiest day ever, because that’s exactly what it ends up being!
Anna & Mike’s Happily Ever After
Venue & Catering: Earth to Table: The Farm // Photography: Jenn Kavanagh // Videography: Cinema Works Entertainment. // Wedding Dress: Ti Adora // Bridesmaids Dresses: “Unbridesmaid Collection” by Park and Fifth // Makeup & Hair: Jenevoy Makeup Studio // Cake: Molly Cakes
Don’t stop here! Keep scrolling to enjoy the beautiful love story of Mr.&Mrs.Goddard!
A love story ten years–a full decade in the making and the best is yet to come. Congratulations Anna and Mike, so excited for you to continue your love story as husband and wife.