Two days ago, one of the swellest gals I know, Miss Jennifer Newman, the owner of Second Dance Bridal in St. Catharines and a very dear friend, became Mrs. Jennifer Newman-Renette. What a beautiful wedding it was!
Not that I would ever have any doubts with Jennifer behind the wheel, but wow. It was truly a memorable and moving afternoon and evening for everyone involved.
The ceremony officially brought together the blended family of five children, the coolest Super Mom I know, Jen, and her handsome partner-in-crime, Eric.
The wedding took place at the Stone Mill Inn, an elegant 160 year-old facility with historical architecture.
The upstairs ballroom was sectioned into two using a temporary dividing wall; one side for the ceremony, the other, for the reception. The artisanal backdrop that Jen made for the ceremony was the height of chic elegance. I’m not sure if you can really call what Jen does “DIY” because she is really a true artist, not an amateur like most of us. She could easily transition to a life as a professional decorator if she ever wanted to–but Jen, please don’t stop running Second Dance because we love it!.
The Bridal Party
Jen’s bridesmaids–her sister (“Steph” Baxter) and her best friend (“Stepher” McLaren)–both wore Mimetik dresses in navy. This perfectly demonstrated–in “real life”–how wonderful Mimetik dresses truly can be. Both women were able to wear their dresses in completely different ways that flattered their body types and each looked gorgeous in their chosen style. I loved the choice of navy, especially for an end-of-winter March wedding.
Jen’s daughters, Rachel and Mavis, couldn’t have been more lovely in those flower girl dresses. Jen definitely knows how to pick ‘em! If it’s possible for children to be elegant, then these two kids had elegant down to a tee. On the one hand I want to say that they were too cute for words, but it went beyond cuteness. There’s a whole different kind of adorable that comes with kids dressed up in formal wear.
It’s always touching to see the groom waiting for his bride. Eric was shined up just line a new penny (remember pennies???) and I could see how moved he was by the entire experience. He looked so handsome. As for the rest of the “boys”, everyone looked terrific. The oldest boys, Ethan and Aaron, looked very stylish, and the youngest, Taylor, was cheek-pinching cute. But don’t actually pinch his cheeks because that’s really annoying. John Watson and Jeremy Pinard were dapper and perfect gentlemen.
…And the bride?
Jen was EXQUISITE.
Graceful, classic, timeless, sincere, and elegant.
Of course, we were all in suspense to see what dress she would pick. She is the owner of bridal shop, after all! She had shown me a photo of her gown a while ago, but it was not the same as seeing it in person. Plus, Jen had a few tricks up her sleeve (I love a gown with sleeves!) that not even I knew about. But I’ll get back to that later. Jen’s dress was by Catherine Deane, a UK designer, and it was called the Bridgette Gown. Once I saw her in it, I couldn’t image her wearing anything else.
I’d been privy to Jen’s runner up choices for bridal gowns but this was the one. It was like it was made for her.
Of course, her look couldn’t be completed without some hair and makeup magic. I loved her hair. Jen makes an incredible auburn redhead. The way that Paje Honor of HONOR Beauty styled her hair with the little chain accessory was so delicate and lovely.
And her makeup? Stunning! Clean, clear, and just the right blend of both natural and “pop” to make sure that we could see Jen at her very best. It was still Jen, but Jen enhanced. That’s what everyone should have on their wedding day. Perfect, perfect, perfect.
It was hard not to get choked up when Jen walked down the aisle, hand-in-hand with her mother, Brenda. It’s been some time since the family lost Jen’s father, and I’m so glad that mother and daughter walked down the aisle together. It was clearly emotional for them, too. What it must have felt like to look out on her family like that at the end of the aisle… I can feel the love right now just thinking about it.
The officiant from Cathy Davis & Co performed a tasteful non-denominational ceremony that was just perfect–thoughtful, joyful, and sincere. We all appreciated how she handled it.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the family tree planting, symbolizing the family’s roots and continued growth through love and nurture . It was beautiful to see Jen kneel down as both a bride and a mother to help the kids with their seedlings. I was also very moved by how affectionate Eric was during the entire process. It was just so sweet.
The other ceremony highlight? Jen and Eric both wrote their own vows, which were very moving. Each aspect of personalization in this ceremony made it truly their own, and something extra special to be witness of.
When it was time to “kiss the bride”, Eric wasn’t kidding around. It was a looooong and heartfelt kiss. That’s my kind of man! From there, it was time to walk the aisle again, but this time, and for the first time, as husband and wife. They looked so wonderful together!
We all followed downstairs for a cocktail hour in the lobby, while the upstairs was reconfigured back into one large room for dinner. Downstairs, Jen had Betty Loo Photo Booth running a great photography set-up that was very tastefully done. I loved watching Jen take photo booth pictures with her kids, with her bridesmaids, and I couldn’t help but snap this little boomerang video of Jen and Eric kissing, which I was on a mission to accomplish:
The lobby was a great atmosphere to mix and mingle because it wasn’t too big or too spread out. There’s something to be said about a cozier space for bringing people together and making it feel like a party. The hors d’oeuvres were tasty and just the right amount to tie us over until dinner.
The Stone Mill Inn really is a great choice for a wedding in St. Catharines. When we returned upstairs after the cocktail hour in the lobby, the reception room was exquisite. The dividing wall had been removed and the room was set and ready, as though it had never been separated for the ceremony. I’ve seen this room in other circumstances, like for business functions, and undecorated it doesn’t look like much. However, with Jen’s expert-level decorating skills and the right lighting, it was transformed unrecognizably into a very stylish space.
The Head Table
Just as I knew she would, Jen did a wonderful job decorating the head table. The gorgeous ceremony backdrop was moved behind the table, and lacy parasols were placed into the the wall’s alcoves on either side of the table. Jen rented a few key pieces, like the stand for the backdrop and some gold cutlery and a few fancy plates. Functional, but with style! Her choices tied everything together and it all looked divine.
The Dress… Part II!
My personal highlight of the evening was seeing Jen’s transformation from the ceremony to the reception. When she entered the reception, at first glance, it appeared she had slipped on a new dress. But no, her already stunning dress had been beautifully customized for a new look for the evening’s events. She had Diane, Second Dance’s exceptional seamstress, make the lace sleeves of the gown removable. Jen entered back into the room in what was suddenly a beautiful strapless gown. Wow! I loved the unexpected transition.
Dinner was delicious. I had the pleasure of participating in the wedding tasting so I knew that the meal would be excellent. The menu included stuffed portobello mushrooms, salad with spiced pecans, fresh penne, choice of chicken, beef, or eggplant parmesan, and lemon and raspberry gelato. For more details about the food, definitely read this post.
Not only was the meal scrumptious and satisfying, but the spacing in between courses was timed perfectly. At some weddings, they start clearing your plates away before you’re even done; at others, time seems to stretch forever before the next course. Here, there was enough time to finish your course, digest, and get excited for the next.
Do It Your Way!
In a bit of an untraditional move, Jen and Eric opted out of having a wedding cake, and instead, provided their guests with a spread of fruit and dessert squares later in the evening. I have to say, this was actually a refreshing experience. After a full and satisfying meal, including appetizers and dessert, cake wasn’t missed. The lighter fare was very welcome, and it was great to be able to casually graze if the desire struck.
Family Comes First
This was very much a family-focused wedding and we loved watching all of the kids playing and having fun throughout dinner. It wasn’t distracting, but rather, it was a beautiful glimpse into the joy that this family experiences together in their day-to-day lives (even if it isn’t always easy!). As a celebration of family and of life, it felt right. The importance of their children was reflected in their speeches; as Jen said, they didn’t feel it was right to get married until all their children could be there (even little Mavis, who hadn’t yet been born).
Speaking of speeches, it was nice to have them during dinner, and the storytelling was very thoughtful, funny, and personal. I’m sure they are something that Jen and Eric will always remember and cherish.
DJ Marinko, quite a character with his old school telephone prop, took the party into the wee hours. There were a couple of pretty slick dancers on the floor, not least of which was Jen and Eric’s brother-in-law, Jeff. That fella has some moves! Loved it!
Here’s to Life!
I’m just so happy to think about this couple finally coming together to be able to celebrate the beautiful life they’ve created together. It sure isn’t always easy with five kids under one roof. Last week leading up to the wedding, Jen sent me a video of her laundry day. While many brides are at the spa pampering themselves, Jen was doing what would normally be about six months of laundry for me, all in one afternoon, as her normal weekly laundry chore for her family. Holy guacamole! She really is my hero. But I think that realness and devotion are what made this wedding so special. She deserved it so much. They all did. And I couldn’t be happier for them.
To Jen and Eric; a lifetime of happiness, good health, and joy to you and your beautiful family. Cheers!