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herbal garden themed wedding

July 23, 2016

Over a year ago, my dear and longest friend got engaged. Her name is Christie. Christie and I have a special friendship that can never be replaced. There are some people in life, who enter and leave for a reason and there are others that you cherish and hold dear to your heart because you know that they are there forever. Christie is that to me.

I had the honour of styling and photographing her wedding alongside my cousin Lauren, who is now Olive Studio’s event planner. Together, we carefully executed this custom wedding for my friend and it was of uttmost importance to me that it was perfect for her, her fiance Matt and their families and friends.

I think it is only fitting to share the speech that I said on that special day so that you too, can get a better sense of our what makes us like family today…

“I met Christie when we were just 3yrs old in Nursery School. One of my first memories of Christie is seeing her at play school with a cast on each leg that was bound together by a horizontal pole. This pole kept her legs separated and I assume her hips equal so that her surgery healed properly. I never really wondered why she needed it, but I do remember questioning how she would be included in everything that I did at school. Christie however, always was keen and determined to do what every other kid did and she did it with pride and grace.

I think our friendship really blossomed with our mutual sense of adventure and love for life. I quickly became a staple at the Ladner residence, often invited over for dinners, pool dates, sleep-overs and trips to the family farm. The Ladner’s were really good to me, treating me like the 5th addition to their Brady Bunch.

When we were in our early teens, we broke free from adult supervision at the local mall and rode the escalator up and down with her manual wheel-chair. We made forts in the forest, tobogganed down the hill and bobbed around the pool on a noodle trying to survive the wrath of her twin brother, Jeff’s tidal waves. We read “Sweet Valley High” novels out loud and recorded our readings on tape. We would dance to CCR in the basement and prank call the homes of boys we liked at school. We challenged the Taco Bell drive thru with our “wheelchair drive” thru orders and created exclusive clubs at recess.

One of my favourite memories is creating a diary together that we named “Heidi”. We hid Heidi in a secret meeting spot in the forest where we would keenly journal every time we visited, fighting the swarms of mosquitos. Heidi managed to stay hidden and miraculously dry for 5 years through winters and thawing springs and still we returned ritually years later to read our past and enter our present. Christie and I shared our deepest secrets, our crushes, and then our loves and of course our heart breaks.

Eventually Christie and I went to different schools, and then I traveled for 5 years. We rarely saw each other but when the stars aligned, we made the effort to catch up over coffee and we would find ourselves lost in chatter for hours. No matter how many years, minutes or seconds that separated us, our friendship remained concrete. We were always right where we left off.

Christie was one of the first of my friends to move out on her own. When I first found out, I feared for her poor mom actually. I knew that she would have the hardest time out of anyone in the Ladner crew but I knew that Christie’s tenacity would rise above any fear and I was right. Tiny, laughing Christie was a grown ass woman living on her own in the city. She was riding the subway at night, getting her tires caught on un-shovelled sidewalks in the winter and yelling food orders  from the bottom steps of fast food joints on Church St. because they were not wheelchair accessible. She joined the board of her housing complex and continues to makes frequent trips back home to visit her growing family who she cherishes more than anything in her life. She is independent, fearless, motivated, fierce, loyal and witty. She is the kind of person that everyone wants in their life. She is a true friend, a loving daughter, a thoughtful sister, a fun auntie and will be a dedicated and caring wife.

Matt – When I see my friend look at you, I see her truly look into you with love and admiration. Christie doesn’t NEED someone to look after her but somehow you have made her WANT to be looked after. You are a true gentleman, a man of integrity and respect. You make her laugh, hold her when she’s sad, feed her when she’s hangry and tell her when she needs to chill. Christie has always been a sucker for romantic love stories so I think its fitting to end this speech with a quote from the Notebook: “ The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.”

Matt, you certainly have done that for my best friend and I know that she too, has returned the favour. Congratulations! I love you both.” – April


I can really talk about Christie for days and Matt is not so bad either 😉 It was such a pleasure for me to be a part of their wedding on a fundamental level. I think we bonded even deeper this past year for it.

Christie and Matt, you have both become my true friends and I love you both like my family. Thank you for dealing with my crazy and being such fun along the way!

So now that you have a sense of our history, I would like to share some of our tips, struggles and DIY’s for Christie and Matt’s restaurant wedding.


Since this wedding needed to accommodate people with various disabilities including 4 wheelchairs, finding a venue proved to be a tricky task. Did I mention that the budget was $22k, within a “walking radius” of Christie and Matt’s apartment, good food and could seat 80 guests? hahaha. Sometimes, I really believe we worked a miracle with these parameters but we did it!

Lauren searched and searched for a venue within the limits and it was proving to be a daunting feat. One day she found Parlor (currently Boil King) restaurant by chance one evening while she was eating with her family there. It suddenly hit her! Why not this restaurant?! It was one level, seemed big enough for 100 people (squished), had a great ambiance and delicious food! The rest was history. We got the couple to 333 King St (only a 20 minute walk) from their apartment to try the food and they were hooked! Parlor had got the gig and we finally had something to work with.

The next difficult task for Lauren was finding a Catholic church within the area, without stairs that ideally could be walked to from the venue. Again, Lauren realized that the answer was right under her nose and she found St. George the Martyr Anglican Church just around the corner from where she lives! The church is a hidden gem in the downtown core with a gorgeous outdoor lawn space and a beautiful chapel with stunning natural light and cute church pews.

The scene was set and now I had some work to do! I presented the couple with some themes and they chose their favourite story board. Since I know Christie’s style so well – it was quite easy to impress her and Matt. They told me their favourite colours to incorporate which are purple and green and I began! Here are some of my DIY projects:


Purple, green, white and black


The stationery announced the theme and mood of the upcoming wedding; casual, restaurant, garden theme. The invite was simple and white, a 5×7 vertical card with botanical garden drawings along the border. A smaller 3.5×5 RSVP card also came in the envelope stating that the rsvp could be responded only by the wedding website. This kept costs down for the couple, avoiding paying for postage. Since the wedding was casual, this was also most appropriate. The two cards were then tied with string, put in a kraft envelope and sealed with a custom wax monogram logo. The addresses were hand written with cursive writing in white paint pen. The return addresses were printed on tiny labels and stuck on the back of the envelope. To top off the whole look, a botanical flower stamp was the stamp of choice.


In keeping with the garden theme, I thought that the ring boy needed to carry the rings in something gardenesque and so cut a birch log and drilled a hole in the top. I covered the top with moss and dropped the two rings inside.


Boutanierres and corsages were made for the parents of the bride and groom, grandparents, brothers, best man and ushers out of lavender and and greenery.

The adorable church that we ended up switching to an indoor ceremony the day before the wedding because of the intense heat and sun that weekend.


All signage was hand written on hand painted chalk boards and framed in Olive Studio’s rental collection of frames.


Ceremony programs were designed by myself and printed by myself and the groom on kraft paper. I would never recommend doing this yourself, as the paper jammed in the printer so many times I think both Matt and I wanted to call it quits! Problem is, many printers in Toronto won’t print on Kraft paper. (good thing to know before this becomes your creative desire) Anyhow, they eventually got done and then folded and scored and glued with a popscicle stick in between to act as a fan in case of a hot day.


Many churches nowadays don’t allow you to throw paper confetti or anything that will make a mess or not biodegrade so we opted for mini bubble wands. To fancy them up, I tore strands of purple ribbon and attached them to the wand handle.


A barrel bar welcome drink station greeted guests on the church lawn before they entered the ceremony space. Lavender Lemonade was the feature drink, displayed in tiny glass jars with fancied up straws. An array of herbs in terra cotta pots cascaded around the drinks, setting the tone for the day. This drink was a great welcome especially on such a hot and sweaty day!

Sticking to the colour scheme, purple and white straws fancied up the lemonade drinks. A sprinkle of lavender was added to each jar for visual interest as well.


The flower girl dresses were hand sewn by Christie’s mom Bonnie and Bonnie’s good friend, Ruth Croft. Bonnie managed to find a lavender fabric that couldn’t have been sweeter for the girls and the theme.


I made a different flower crown for each flower girl out of lavender, rosemary, and some various greens. The crowns finished off the floral patterned dresses beautifully.

The moment Christie and Matt were pronounced husband and wife was one of my favourite moments! I cried all day actually. It was an extreme pleasure witnessing her ultimate happiness!

After the ceremony we headed towards the venue taking photos of the newly weds. Christie and Matt giggled the whole time – aware of their new and well-awaited status!


Christie had one maid of honour to stand beside her, as the couple wanted to keep things simple and laid-back. I made both Christie and her sister Carlie, a bouquet of dried lavender bound with string.

We couldn’t forget the Toronto staple – streetcar shot for the city lovers!

Meanwhile, Boil King was getting its final touches! It looked awesome! Here is the entryway guests seating chart. Names are adorned with little herb sprigs.


The seating chart was kept simple and sweet. 4 string lines were strung along a tile wall and hand written names and table numbers were painted on hand torn pieces of water colour paper. These pieces were then clipped to the string and hung with an herb. Overall it was a nice visual and aromatic effect to play on the look of a drying herb wall.


A large print of Christie and Matt’s engagement shoot was printed and framed in a rustic white frame by Soho Framing and centered by an enlarged white matte for guests to sign.


Simple. Herbal. Natural. Garden.

Using an emphasis on herbs you cook with like sage, rosemary, basil, thyme and adding pops of lavender for the accent colour. Since the venue is very rustic with lots of woods like barn board, cork and clay it seemed perfect to incorporate herbal potted plants in clay pots. This would be the foundation of the creative.


Each place setting had a paper white napkin folded and placed on top of a white side plate. On top of that, was the potted favour.


More potted plants were dotted along the centres of the tables in various sizes. Extra small clay pots had off white candles in them. In addition, water bottles with table numbers were scattered along the tables.


Favours were potted plants, planted and nurtured by me for months leading up to the wedding. Plants were purchased in the spring and spliced down into smaller pots when they matured. This saved money and still looked luscious and natural. Each guest received an herbal potted plant in a small clay pot that sat on their place-setting displaying their name hand-written on a popsicle stick. The favours not only smelled and looked beautiful but they also re-purposed as centrepieces for the tables.


The menu was written on an old barn window saving money on paper menus.


The gift box table had various candle sticks, a love sign, b+w photos of the couple over the ages and a hand written dinner menu on an old farm window pane. Since budget was tight for printing individual menus, this was an easy and simple solution.


Since herbal garden was the theme, I thought that a simple hand painted sugar cookie would help add a special hand made touch to the reception. This was my first attempt at these cookies and I was super excited with the results! The great thing about sugar cookies, is that you can prepare them and freeze them for up to 2 months before your event without compromising taste. The cookies took no time to make, but the painting took me about 10hrs.


Since there were 4 toddlers in the wedding, it was extremely important for the couple to accommodate their needs as much as their own. I created some custom gift bags for them, with the typical candy, colouring and jewellery tools to keep them occupied.

Restaurant weddings are super intimate and cozy. At first, I think guests were overwhelmed by how “tight” the space was. In the end however, everyone exclaimed with delight that it had made their wedding experience feel really “real”. I was so happy! They were right! Being in tight quarters was hard to move around freely but on account of saving a LOT of money, guests felt involved. They spoke to everyone, laughed and cried – because they could hear the speeches and knew everyone who spoke. The food was also impeccable. So, a compromise on space, may have limited dancing or mingling with ease, but the positives way outweighed the negatives. If you are considering a restaurant wedding to keep within a smaller budget, I highly recommend this as a first choice!


These Pina Colada cupcakes were a hit! They are refreshing, zesty and for a moment, make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. More importantly, they are easy to make and jaw-dropping with their pineapple dehydrated flower top! 


The dessert table was a bit of a huge feat that I decided to take on myself. I tried to choose an array of desserts that appealed to all kinds of sweet teeth, like vanilla and chocolate lovers, citrus lovers and candy lovers too.

I also tried to choose recipes that I could bake or prepare in advance so I wasn’t baking for the full day before the wedding.


These sweet puddings are meant to look like plants! How cute! and so appropriate for the herbals garden plant theme. These could also be prepared a few days in advance. The only thing that needs to be dropped in last minute is the mint sprig! I of course, displayed the puddings in tiny Terra Cotta pots!


I decided to take on the adventure of lollipop making. I wanted them to feature an edible flower of course, and so that was the hardest part. I finally found edible pansies and made various lollipops ahead of time. I froze them and displayed them before serving. The thing to caution about these – is that they melt quickly! so they are better left in the freezer until they are displayed.


A great way to get family involved with the wedding is asking them to make a dessert! Pick the dessert you want, and request them to not cut or display it. If you have a themed table, let one person narrate the story by controlling how the desserts are displayed. Here, Christie’s mom made these and I spooned the “squares” into serving spoons for a modern and lovely display.

Christie and her dad take a moment to laugh in typical Ladner form, dad teases and Christie thinks he’s hilarious!

Christie and Matt’s first dance was truly very sweet. I think everyone had a tear in their eye….I surely did. The twosome embraced one another laughing and sharing thoughts. It was a beautiful moment.

Christie and her dad had their dance as well. I was pleasantly surprised and yet again full of happy tears, when he picked her up out of her chair and slow danced with her in his embrace.

The day and night of the wedding was one I will never forget! I couldn’t be happier that Christie and Matt had the time of their lives! I am so happy you found one another!!! You will always be the sister I never had Christie. I love you and I especially love you and Matt together!

xx- april



photographer: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio // second shooter: Kate O’Connor // wedding planner: Lauren Maciborka @ Olive Studio // wedding planner assistant: Veronica // stylist and decor: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio //stylist assistant: Holly Bowman // chef + crew: Jason Danna // venue + crew: Boil King // flower girl dresses: Bonnie Ladner + Ruth Croft // dessert table: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio // desserts: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio + Bonnie Ladner // flower crowns and boutannieres: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio // bouquets: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio // potted herbs: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio // stationery: April Maciborka @ Olive Studio // church: St. George the Martyr Anglican Church // Harvest Tables + Barrel Bar: Marvelle Events







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