Justin & Lauren’s Wedding

Planning a wedding is undoubtedly exhilarating, as a planner and florist, Lauren faced the challenging task of selecting the perfect design and vision for their special day. In this blog, we’ll delve into Justin & Lauren’s wedding journey, from her unwavering decision on her dress to the meticulous detailing of the romantic and modern wedding theme.

How did you meet? We met via Instagram, Justin had been living back in Lauren’s home town in Nova Scotia. He had worked there for over 10 years and the two had never crossed paths. Lauren followed Justin on Instagram one evening, and the two started chatting that night. Soon texting all day and FaceTiming every day for almost two weeks when Justin suggested he fly to Ottawa to meet Lauren in person. Lauren was a bit nervous as they had only talked for a few weeks, but with the reassurance of a few girlfriends, she agreed to having Justin come and visit (he booked his trip for 6 days!) Haha we always joke that what would have happened if we didn’t get along and him here for that long.

From Lauren: the butterflies I had going to the airport that day to pick him up for the first time was unlike any feeling I’d felt before. I was nervous, but in the best way. He came down the escalators and gave me the biggest hug and I just felt so safe. We hit it off immediately and were completely smitten with each other.

We did almost one year of long distance before Justin accepted a job offer in Ottawa, and moved up to be with Lauren. We lived together for almost 3 years before buying our first house together, in the cutest little town west of Ottawa.

We are each others biggest supporters. Lauren has a wedding planning and floral design business based out of Ottawa, ON that Justin helps with often. We love travelling, have fallen in love with good wine, days spent by the water, and finding new coffee shops together (we have a long list going in our notes app!) Your Proposal Story: We always wanted to do a Europe wedding, rent a villa and have our closest family and friends come stay and celebrate for a week, but because of the pandemic that didn’t seem to be the best idea. During August and September 2020, we flew out to Kelowna, BC and absolutely fell in love with the Okanagan. It is one of the most beautiful places with incredible wineries, mountains, lakes, and lovely people.

Fast forward to July 2021, after talking about getting engaged for almost a year, looking at diamonds, ring settings and styles with the couple’s best friend and jewelry designer, Margot (from Stor by Margot). Lauren and Justin had planned a trip to the Okanagan with Margot and her husband, little did Lauren know, Justin and Margot had been planning a very special surprise.

From Lauren: It’s so funny because I had mentioned before leaving for the trip how amazing it would be to get engaged in Kelowna and Justin had said “no, no the ring isn’t ready. I even called a meeting with him and Margot to potentially change the ring style to see if they were telling the truth. They went along with it totally and I had NO idea.”

We had toured quite a few venues when we were there in August and September 2020 and we had fallen in love with the property and venue at 50th Parallel. On our second day of being in the Okanagan, we had a few wine tours planned in Lake Country (50th being one of them). Lauren had taken the reins on booking the tours for the day, but Margot and Justin had gone behind her back and coordinated the epic surprise.

When we got to 50th Parallel, we started the tasting, had a little tour of the vineyard, and tank hall when Justin suggested we go up to see the infinity pad, which is where they host the wedding ceremonies. We were told there was an elopement on site that day so we could only be a few minutes. We arrived at the top, to the infinity pad which has the most beautiful view, overlooking the Okanagan Lake and there was a special little floral set up.

As Lauren is a planner, she totally believed the set up was for the elopement and had no idea what was happening until Justin took her hand and guided her to the rug, in which she said “babe, we can’t step on someone else’s rug set up..” to which Justin said “this is all for you baby”.

From Lauren: I literally couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believed they had pulled off such an incredible surprise and I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t even really cry until the next day because I was in such shock (and then I cried the whole next day!). We

We celebrated with champagne and headed over to check in to one of the best hotels we have stayed at, Sparkling Hill. We had a lovely dinner and got to relax at the infinity pool. We continued the rest of our trip on such a high and it was one of the best weeks of our lives! We will never be able to thank everyone who took a part in planning that special day for us.
After we got engaged at 50th, we decided we absolutely had to say “I do” there as well, and booked the venue basically as soon as we got back to Ottawa. Wedding Ceremony Readings / Ceremony Music / Reception Songs Our ceremony music was played live by Greg Neufeld, from Musos Entertainment.

From Lauren: He played the guitar and sang which brought me to tears as soon as I stepped out of the vehicle and heard him singing the processional songs. I walked down the aisle to “If You Love Her” by Forest Blakk, as soon as I initially heard this song, I knew it would be my aisle song. It really resonated to me as a person, and with my relationship with Justin.

We had Lauren’s cousin Martha and her husband, Sbu do a reading during the ceremony. Martha had suggested we do 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 and it was perfect. It was emotional and we are so thankful they were such a special part of our ceremony.

We also had our moms bring up each of our rings, this was a special way to include them both in the ceremony and it was a really sweet moment.

Our vows were definitely our favourite part of the ceremony. We both wrote our own vows.

From Lauren: I had started writing my vows in my notes app over a year before the wedding. The week of the wedding, I realized I should probably re-read them and see if there was anything to add. A few tweaks later, and they were perfect. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Justin’s because I knew he was nervous to read them but his were amazing. He was emotional, sincere, vulnerable, and thoughtful. It was one of the best moments, and there was definitely not a dry eye during that part of the ceremony.What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day? Having our closest friends and family in the same room as us, and spending so much quality time with them all week, was definitely one of the most special parts of our wedding week.

We didn’t do a first look so seeing each other at the altar was also such an incredible feeling. Justin was so emotional, which made everyone emotional and we will never forget that moment.

From Lauren: I had two of my bridesmaids help me get dressed as I wanted to do a first look with my mom and sister, as they had only seen my dress on FaceTime because I had purchased it at a trunk show in Toronto and it wasn’t a planned dress shopping day, it just so happened that I found this Lee Petra gown and it was only in Toronto for a few days, so I had to make the decision relatively quickly. It was a really special and emotional moment with my mom and sister on the day of. My first look with my dad was also really lovely. He was so sweet and quiet but was beaming with pride, and it made my heart so happy.

I was also so excited to everyone to see everything we had planned. I didn’t share a lot of details during the planning process in terms of our design or details because I wanted them to all be surprised and I loved seeing everyone’s reactions to the ceremony and reception spaces and to the little details. Wedding Fashion / Wedding Gown / Bridesmaids Dresses / Groom’s Attire / Accessories Lauren wore a custom Remi gown from the La Vie en Rose collection by Lee Petra Grebenau, which was purchased during a trunk show from Powder Bride in Toronto, ON. For shoes, she chose the Amara Jimmy Choo’s that she had been eyeing for forever because she wanted a little pearl element in her attire, as she wears pearl studs everyday.

The bridesmaids wore the Chloe dress in champagne from Amsale. It looked great on all of them and the color was perfect for our design.

Justin wore a custom tux from a small boutique, Third Son in Ottawa, ON. It was beautifully made and very classic. Lauren had gifted Justin cuff links from Stor by Margot for their day of wedding gift and Lauren’s uncle had graciously offered for Justin to wear his Rolex for the wedding day.

Lauren also had a talented hair and make up team travel to Kelowna for the wedding week. Vicky and Shannon did Lauren’s make up and hair for the welcome party and the wedding day. We had the best time together!

From Lauren: I couldn’t have imagined feeling more beautiful on my wedding day and I owe it all to Vicky and Shannon. I remember looking in the mirror after my make up was finished and literally saying “WOW I’ve never felt more beautiful.” I couldn’t get over how perfect my hair and make up. All of the ladies looked so gorgeous.

Ever since I met Margot, and designed my engagement ring with her. I always knew I wanted to do a stack for my wedding bands, Margot put together a few options and we chose three different bands to stack that I am absolutely obsessed with. We chose the Oval Luxe Band, Floating Marquise Eternity Band, and the Petite Floating Diamond Band. I wore the oval band on my right hand for the wedding day and Justin put the other two on at the ceremony.

For jewelry, I wore a pair of the Amara large crystal pearl drop earrings from Blair Nadeau, which complimented my gown beautifully. I didn’t want anything large or overpowering and these earrings were dainty and elegant.

I also wore a stack of two tennis bracelets, one was borrowed from my mom and the other borrowed from Margot. I loved that these were my borrowed pieces for the day!

We both had surprised each other with engraving in our wedding bands as well. Justin had “11:11” engraved in Lauren’s oval band as that is one moment throughout each day where we always try to text or say “11:11” to each other. Lauren had the coordinates of the venue engraved in Justin’s gold wedding band. It is such a meaningful little detail to us both that was a beautiful surprise on the day of. Wedding Design / Vibe / Vision / Details From Lauren: As a planner and florist, choosing our wedding day design and vision was HARD. Much harder than I had expected. I had decision paralysis for a lot of things. Colors, bridesmaid dresses, florals, stationery – but one thing I did not waiver on was my dress. I tried on the custom Lee Petra gown at a trunk show in Toronto and knew immediately it was the one.

Our vibe for the wedding was romantic and soft yet trying to stay a bit modern to compliment the venue. Lauren is a lover for the antique vibe and European style so it was tricky to bring that element into the wedding at a more modern venue, but with the help of stationery designer, Paperocelot, we were able to create gorgeous stationery that was perfect for our design.

We chose ghost chairs for the ceremony as we didn’t want to obstruct from the gorgeous view of the lake and wanted our floral arch and lush floral aisle pieces to be the focal point.

We wanted to keep the colors soft and neutral, with accents of glass and gold. We also requested our guests all wear soft neutral colors to tie in with the design of the wedding.

We really wanted everyone just to fall in love with the Okanagan, the way we had, so we planned a few events leading up to the wedding so it could be a week full of celebrations. We had a wine tour planned one day with different wineries in Olive & Osoyoos, a welcome party at a local winery, The Gallery in West Kelowna, our rehearsal dinner at Predator Ridge. We really got to spend so much time with our favourite people all week, enjoying delicious food and wine, it was the best week of our lives.

Our photographer, Emily Michelson captured our day so perfectly and authentically. We had done our engagement session with her in Toronto and we loved the photos so much, so we knew she would do an amazing job of our photos in BC.

From Lauren: For the morning of the wedding I had Paperocelot design small cards for the girls and moms that I could put a polaroid photo of us on and then I wrote a note on the back. I also got little candy boxes from Sugarfina, because I am a huge candy girl. We actually ate a few boxes on the way to the ceremony! I also had Northern Rose custom label a candle for each of the girls and the moms with their names for them to take home and keep. I wanted them to be able to burn them and think of our morning together.

I had also gotten Justin a bottle of Burberry cologne hand engraved by Atelier 13 Design with a little love note and our date. I had a bottled of Chanel perfume engraved for myself with “Bride” and our date. I also had two Mrs. Boxes engraved with “Mrs Russell” and the other with our wedding monogram. I love having these little keepsakes now to have at home to remind us of our wedding day.

When we first started dating, when we were doing long distance, we started a scrap book. The first plane ticket from when Justin originally visited Lauren in Ottawa was in there, so Lauren cut it out and brought it to Kelowna and tucked that page in with Justin’s wedding day gift. He had tears and was emotional immediately opening that.

Justin also got Lauren a special wedding day gift, a Roman Numeral Date Necklace from Stor by Margot with the wedding date inscribed in roman numerals. The Venue / Atmosphere Our venue, 50th Parallel Estate is a beautiful winery in Lake Country. We had our ceremony and cocktail hour at the Infinity Pad. All of our guests were blown away by the view of the mountains and the lake. We had Greg Neufeld from Musos Entertainment play live for the ceremony and cocktail hour and he is insanely talented. He made our ceremony music so special and his cocktail hour songs were perfect to keep the energy high and happy. We also decided because we had the best view, to do our first dance during cocktail hour so Greg could play our song live, which was “I Get to Love You” by Ruelle. We had chosen our first dance song early in our dating days and never told anyone. Lauren didn’t even recommend it to couples so they could save it for their big day!

We had canapés and wine and signature cocktails flowing on the Infinity Pad for cocktail hour. We rented a bar and had two custom vinyl decals printed for the bar with our monogram and a cute quote that represented us getting engaged and married in the exact same spot. “703 days ago I said “yes”, today we say “I do”.

Guests were shuttled down the hill to the Event Centre for the dinner and reception, we had a large custom seating chart which Lauren designed closely with Mahshed, from Paperocelot.

From Lauren: I have always loved the seating charts with the love notes to guests, but I wanted it to have a little representation of us. When we went on our first trip to the Okanagan, we had sent my parents a postcard from one of the wineries, so we thought, as a destination wedding as well, the postcards were a perfect fit. I also always used to sign my business newsletters as “With love, Lauren” so we had the header for the seating chart as “From Lake Country with Love” and signed each postcard as “With love, The Russells”.

Each couple got a postcard with vintage postage, and on the back, a personal message from the couple with the incredible hand sketch of the Okanagan Lake from the top of the infinity pad, done by Paperocelot.

We stayed at Predator Ridge in their new Fieldglass community for the weekend of the wedding. On the morning of the wedding, we sat on our patio and there was an incredible sunrise over the golf course. My mom and a few bridesmaids decided to go for a little walk to get some fresh air and it honestly made for the perfect way to start the morning. We had a large house to get ready in with so much space for hair and make up and having all of our stuff set up. We listened to the perfect “Acoustic Covers” playlist on Spotify all morning and laughed and had a very relaxing morning. The vibe of your wedding morning really sets the tone for the day, so surround yourself with the best people and find a good playlist!

Our wedding was intimate with only 50 guests, so we wanted to be able to spend time with everyone, which we did! We were able to mingle during dinner, go outside to take photos with friends, enjoy a few speeches, have our family dances and then kick off the dance party!

We had the most incredible golden hour photo session on the dock on the lake, the sun beaming through and we just truly soaked in the moment with each other. Those photos are magical, we will remember exactly how amazing we felt every time we look at those ones.

From Lauren: I knew I wanted to change for party time, I had a few options but that evening I opted for a white strapless midi dress with pearl accents, and my Hermes Oasis sandals, which were SO comfortable to dance in all night long! I also wanted the girls to be comfy to dance too, so they all changed into white mini dresses. We gathered our wedding party and headed outside for some fun film and flash photos in front of the 50th sign. We had ordered glow in the dark cups to pass out to guests during the dance party so we did a little fun entrance back into the party and danced the night away!Florals & Decor From Lauren: As a florist myself, the florals were very important to our design. Along with the decor, table top rentals, and stationery. The little details, really create an elevated tablescape and make a huge difference in the wedding design.

We rented linen linens, ghost chairs, charger plates, cutlery, candles, decor, and draping from local Kelowna companies, Perspective & All Occasions.

We wanted the florals to be lush and romantic, Melinda from A New Leaf Floral Design did an amazing job and we couldn’t have imagined anyone else doing our florals for the wedding day.

From Lauren: When my wedding planner, Jenny, brought my bridal bouquet to the house the morning of – I cried immediately. It was absolute perfection. My dream bouquet filled with garden roses, ranunculus, spirea, and sweet peas.

We also had our rental and decor company, Perspective drape almost the entire venue to keep it more airy and soft. It turned out better than we could have expected and tied the whole design together. Food & Drink We wanted guests to have the best food and drink experience for the entire day, so we had an Estate Rhubarb Cocktail, made with fresh rhubarb grown on property at 50th, as our welcome cocktail. They were set up on two shelves when you entered the reception space with our monogram on top.

The food at 50th was one of the main reasons we chose the venue, the food was incredible and the service was lovely. Everyone left raving about the food experience!

We had chosen signature drinks for cocktail hour, hers – Grapefruit Mojito and his – Lime Margarita. We had the same signature drinks for our engagement party, so we thought it was fitting to also serve them at the wedding. Non-Traditional Elements We opted to not have a wedding cake at the wedding, as we are not huge cake fans. We did a few dessert platters from our venue but didn’t want anything crazy. We had done custom cookies for our welcome party so the bite size desserts were perfect to grab and go back to the dance floor during the party.

We also did not have a traditional guest book. We purchased a Tom Ford coffee table book and decided to have guests sign the inside pages, some even left polaroids throughout the book so we had a fun time reading the messages throughout and finding photos! We loved how it was something that would match our home decor style and be functional for us to have on display somewhere in our home.Special Details We wanted to incorporate a small memory table into the reception space, to honor and remember our loved ones who couldn’t be there with us. Lauren found the perfect quote “We know love, because we have been shown love” It had a more vintage feel with the old photographs and it was a perfect table for everyone to go visit.

From Lauren: I definitely had an emotional moment with my aunts when we went over to see the table for the first time. It was beautiful. We know everyone on that table would have loved to have been there to celebrate with us, but we definitely felt them in spirit. Speaking of which, a few days into our trip in Kelowna, this butterfly flew around us by the water and I said “aww that’s so cute, it reminds me of my nanny.” And then during the ceremony there was actually a similar butterfly that kept flying by the arbour during the ceremony that I noticed throughout our vows and it was a special moment. Wedding advice for couples planning their wedding: From Lauren: As a wedding planner and now that I’ve been a bride, I would say the day is truly the best day of your life. All of the planning is so worth it when you see all of your favourite people in one room. Try not to get lost in the stress and trying to do too many things. Include small details that are important to you as a couple and hire an incredible vendor team. We are so grateful for our wedding planner and the rest of our amazing team. I would also say, having our welcome party two days before the wedding was perfect for our guests to meet and mingle and then we didn’t have to do any introductions on the day of. Everyone just mingled and partied together and it was perfect. Highly recommend a welcome event, which just allows you more time with your guests!!

From Justin: Be fully present in the day. Take a step back during the reception and soak it all in. It goes by so fast.Photographer – Emily Michelson
Videographer – Daniel Abraham
Venue – 50th Parallel Estate Winery
Wedding Design – Sinclair & Co. Design
Wedding Planner – Jenny McAlpine Weddings
Floral Design – A New Leaf Floral
Rentals & Decor – Perspective Event Design
Cutlery – All Occasions Party & Event
Hair – Shannon Petrolito Hair
Make Up – Vicky Mina Make Up
Bridal Gown – Lee Petra Grebenau
Bridal Boutique – Powder Bride
Bridal Shoes – Jimmy Choo & Hermes
Tux – Third Son Tailor Shop
Stationery – Paperocelot
Musician & DJ – Greg Neufeld from Musos Entertainment
Rings & Jewelry – Stor by Margot
Bridal Earrings – Blair Nadeau
Perfume/Cologne Engraving
Shuttle Bus – Kelowna Concierge
Officiant – Jenny McAlpine
Accommodations – Predator Ridge


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