Guide to “Eloping” in KW

I come from a large family where my parents both have seven siblings. When I was young, I actually thought that having the same number of siblings was a marriage prerequisite! My cousin count is probably larger than the number of co-workers I have. This huge family makes any festival or celebration an administrative nightmare. Growing up, I quickly learnt that weddings are like convocations – where your parents put on their proudest smile as they sniffle and watch you take the next step in life, and they’d want to invite the whole world to show off that their little baby has come such a long way.

Weddings and convocations are also similar in that they are not exactly the most fun for the participating party. Convocations – you put on a heavy robe and wait in line for hours until your name is loudly mispronounced. You are hushed onto the stage for ten seconds of fame: shaking hands and smiling at flashing cameras. You are then unceremoniously shooed off the stage… and left whiling away hours on your phone until the ceremony is over. Weddings – you plan for months, or years, and stress over every teeny little detail as the whole world saves the date… yet end up spending only half a minute with each guest because you need to be on schedule with pictures, speeches, and the formalities. You go home exhausted, with no memory of your day except maybe the part where you tripped on your expensive flowy gown and fell while walking down the aisle.

Okay. Maybe it is not that dramatic. However, I did skip my convocation because I was deathly afraid of being bored. My parents did not seem to mind… so I tested the waters again.

Can I not invite anyone for my wedding?

After Y and I got engaged, I had surprised myself with my wedding concerns. Instead of rushing to get a team of bridesmaids, getting hooked on Say Yes to the Dress, and dreaming about the magical moment of walking down the aisle, I was mostly concerned about how I could forgo the six inch heels on my wedding day. I barely manage my day-to-day in flat shoes!

Once Y and I informed our families of what we were considering, both sides were very supportive, which is definitely the key to a small wedding or elopement. Since both our sets of parents do not reside in Canada, we had saved thousands of dollars of airfare before even starting our “wedding planning”! Oh man, we’re great at this wedding budget thingy.

I had not known that trying to get married in a simple manner has been coined “eloping”. When my brother first told me that we were essentially eloping, I told him no… we were not running to the ends of the earth and getting married secretly, but whatever – eloping we were.

Embracing this concept, I googled how to elope. Even trying to do something simple is difficult. Hence, here is my guide to eloping in the KW region. I do not have anything against the traditional weddings with bridal showers, walking down the aisle, elaborate receptions etc. My work spouse is actually planning his upcoming beautiful traditional wedding in a few months, and I am so excited to attend. I absolutely love these weddings as long as they are not mine to plan!

This is not a sponsored post. These are vendors that I have worked with in my “elopement” and would sincerely recommend them.

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1. Officiant

Whether you want a big wedding (ie. party) or not, you will need an officiant to get legally married. You can go the religious route, or the civil way. I thought that a civil marriage at the local city hall would be the most hassle-free way to go. However, the Kitchener City Hall‘s lowest price starts at $254, for weekdays only from 10am – 4pm. You do get a chapel, but I did not need one. The City of Waterloo has also just started offering civil marriage ceremonies. Fees are $150, which is much more reasonable. However, it is still only offered on weekdays from 8.30am – 4pm. From this old discussion thread, no one seemed to have a clue on how to get married in a cheaper fashion in KW!

Eventually, we found Paul Filsinger from Weddings by Paul. His “Escape/Elopement Package” costs $125, and is designed to only cover the basic legal requirements – ie. the “I do(s)”. That was sufficient for us. We were not planning to invite guests so there was really no need for fluffy introductions about our love being deeper than the ocean, blah blah blah. The main reason I chose Paul over the other two options, aside from being the most reasonably priced, is that Paul was able to come to my location of choice on a weekend. After the deposit was paid, we actually rescheduled the wedding ceremony a few times due to family emergencies. However, Paul tried his best to accommodate our new date each time. The ceremony proceeded with a small introduction, the “I do” questions, our custom vows, ring exchange, and tadah – we were married! Easy peasy!

2. Photographer

I knew right from the beginning that I would be putting the most amount of effort into looking for the “perfect photographer”. Afterall, memories fade – if you are even able to remember the fleeting moments of your wedding – but photos lasts forever. If I could give one advice to future brides in the KW region planning for the perfect wedding, it would be that KW has a fantastic group of talented wedding photographers. There is really no need to go to the GTA to scout out the “best ones”. I have found that the GTA photographers charge a premium, and the work may not necessarily be better.

The one thing that really impressed me was that many of the local wedding photographers are actually in contact with each other, and they are able to connect clients to photographers based on availability. For example, because we were so lazy and “planned our wedding” at the eleventh hour, we needed a wedding photographer on a Saturday with just a month’s notice. Most engaged couples I know book their photographers at least a year in advance! I had emailed a couple of photographers, they responded to let me know their availability and if they were not available, they referred me names of other available wedding photographers whom they trust! What! Giving clients away to competition rarely happens in other industries!

Then, I found Devon. Given that I am not a photographer, I am unable to vouch that he has the best photography skills in KW. However, I just knew that I wanted to work with Devon when I first saw his website. There might have been a strong white light flowing from behind the computer and “Hallelujah” playing in the background when I browsed his portfolio – I was able to connect with what he portrayed in his photos and it really touched me. My bridesmaid / witness / best friend was sitting beside me when that happened – I was like “I HAVE TO MEET DEVON AAAAHHHH”.

Hence, another tip for future brides – it will not be the cheapest price or even the “best photography skills” (whatever that meant) that will lead you to wanting to work with a particular photographer. You will have to fall in love with the photographer’s style and be able to resonate with what the photographer sees behind the lenses. That will undoubtedly show through the photos taken at your wedding.

3. Location

We thought that location would be the easiest given that the people attending our wedding would only be the two of us, the two witnesses who were doubling up as bridesmaid & groomsman, the officiant and the photographer. However, this meant that all the “usual” wedding locations such as Cambridge Mill, Langdon Hall, Hacienda Sarria, Whistle Bear Golf Club etc… were out of the question. These places require reservations for typically a year in advance. While trying to find a suitable place for our elopement, I also found out that Cambridge Mill actually rents out their chapel for $50/hour, weekdays only.

Another challenge we faced while deciding on a location was to find somewhere that is “photogenic”. As much as we would like to save on costs, and technically a meeting room in the basement of a library would work, we wanted somewhere that is effortlessly beautiful – so that we do not even have to spend extra time decorating it. #lazy

In the end, we decided on the Timeless Cafe & Bakery. The cafe was an old hen-house, and has since been beautifully restored by the owners. It showcases the rich history of reclaimed materials from The Timeless Material Company just next door. Not many know that the Timeless cafe has a function room on the second floor, which is perfect for intimate functions or meetings. It only costs $35 to book the function room for an hour.

Best of all, we were able to have a delicious lunch there before the ceremony.

4. Decor

Our florals came from La Petite Fleur, which was a recommendation by Devon. Since I was in love with Devon’s photography style and taste, I knew that I could wholeheartedly trust Brandy, owner of La Petite Fleur, with the floral decor. I showed Brandy some pictures of the room, described our concept, and she went ahead to create a beautiful room for us! All wood materials and candles were complimentary from the Timeless cafe and/or the Timeless Material Company. All other decor was taken care of by my bridesmaid.

5. Cake

Our cake was from The Cake Smith. It was a $50, supposedly six serving cake. However, it was more like 20 servings! It was artfully crafted.

6. Tailor

Weddings put an insane amount of emphasis (read: undue stress) on the bride. It is supposed to be the most beautiful day of a bride’s life – I sure hope not because that would mean that I am just going downhill from now! I am quite petite, so it is very difficult to find clothing that I do not end up swimming in. Hence, I bought a dress online that is deliberately a size too large, then brought it to my trusty dressmaker for alterations. I have been going to Xuan from Threadz Tailoring in Uptown Waterloo for a number of years now. Her workmanship is fantastic, and prices are reasonable. If you are searching for a good tailor, I would recommend Xuan in a heartbeat.

Y got his wedding wear from Paul Puncher in Uptown Waterloo.

7. Hair & Make Up

Xuan then recommended Johnny, the owner of Flo Hair Lounge for both hair & make up services. I’d read that brides should stick to two different professionals for hair & make up because one person cannot possibly be good at both. However, I was too lazy to find someone else so I went with Johnny. Given that I only called him just a week before the wedding, his schedule had no spots available for me. However, he specially carved out time one evening for a hair trial, and work up exceptionally early on my wedding day to squeeze me in before his first customer. Now that is great customer service!

Here’s showcasing all of the above professionals’ work, credits to Devon C Photography.

 

I hope this post helps, whether you are trying to plan for a huge wedding or an elopement. If you have any recommendations with regards to wedding photographers in the area, unique locations, good tailors, good makeup/hair stylists, and the idea of elopement, I would LOVE TO hear from you in the comments section below.

Any wise marriage advice is also welcomed in the comments section! My favorite so far is from a co-worker –

Don’t be afraid to apologize when you two disagree, but secretly know that you are always right.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing this special day with us.

Y & Maple

 

P.S. Yes, Y and I have the same number of siblings. Nailed that prerequisite!

 

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People who made my wedding possible:

Photographer – Devon Crowell, Devon C Photography

Location – Lesley Brickman, Timeless Cafe & Bakery

Tailor – Xuan Laughton, Threadz Custom Tailoring

Hair & Make-Up – Johnny Nguyen, Flo Hair Lounge

Officiant – Paul Filsinger, Weddings By Paul

Floral – Brandy King, La Petite Fleur

Cake – Aaron, The Cake Smith

Suit – Scott Puncher, Paul Puncher

Coffee Skills & Milk Pitchers – Phong & Dawn, Matter of Taste

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6 thoughts on “Guide to “Eloping” in KW

    1. Thank you Emily!! Yes… I thought this is the one or never chance to show our faces because someone told me the wedding day will be the best looking day of our lives! ;)
      Its all downhill from now I guess? lol!

  1. I am planning on eloping in KW too and was also surprised at how difficult it was to find a venue that would be beautiful enough for photography and small…thank you for your perfect suggestion…I am going to check out Timeless Cafe this week! You did an amazing job!

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