Claire and Lawson's wedding could be described as a genuine magical fairytale — a gorgeous venue, beautiful florals, elegant bride's outfits, a romantic first dance, and a passionate after-party. The elegant atmosphere and incredible visuals created by our member 515 Photo Co. perfectly convey the uniqueness of this event of love, which will be remembered by the couple and their loved ones for a lifetime. Read below for more details on Claire and Lawson's marvelous wedding.
Tell us a little about yourselves. How did you meet? What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies?
Lawson and I are a testament to the invisible string theory. We were always in each other's orbit, around one another through some degree of separation, but not quite coming together without a little social media badgering and encouragement from our friends. My best friend's stepdad was his hockey coach throughout our teenage years, and then my university friend (who ultimately encouraged the relationship) was dating his cousin at the time. Lawson would write to me on Instagram frequently, usually replying to my cooking. It was a conversation over a cheesecake that sealed the deal and ultimately led to a dinner date. When you know you know, and after our first date, we both told our friends that “he/she is the one”. Lawson plays professional hockey in his 8th season in the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona has become home to the both of us, though we are both originally from Ontario, Canada. I work as a realtor in Ontario, mostly working with local athletes and referrals during the summer months (May-August), and supporting Lawson during the hockey season (Sept- April). I do freelance editorial and e-commerce modeling work. Lawson's hobbies mostly pertain to hockey and training, but he loves to golf in the summer months. We both enjoy cooking and hosting parties together, as well as traveling during the off season. I love all things creative, from personal styling to interior design, modeling, and photography. We both spend a lot of our time volunteering with & through the Arizona Coyotes Foundation.
Can you share your engagement story?
We took a summer vacation to France in 2022. We flew into Paris for a few nights before heading down to the coast. After a day enjoying the city, we went to Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée for this romantic dinner and culinary experience. After dinner, we walked over to the Seine River to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle, but it was only dusk. While we waited for the top of the hour lights, we decided to go for cocktails. After a few cocktails at Gigi, enjoying the skyline, Lawson convinced me to go back to the bridge and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle. I was having so much fun and enjoying the rooftop lounge that I didn’t want to leave. I could tell Lawson was getting nervous, and he convinced me to leave. We walked back over to the bridge, and as I was taking a video of the lights, he told me to turn around, and he was down on one knee. It was the happiest moment of our lives. We enjoyed the pure bliss of the new engagement on the French Riviera for the next 12 days before coming home to celebrate with our families.
Did you have any pre-wedding events, like a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower?
We had a rehearsal dinner and a welcome party the night before the wedding. This was at Valerie in Hotel X in Toronto. We had a beautiful panoramic view of the Toronto waterfront and skyline for the night. Our immediate family and wedding party joined us earlier for a rehearsal and sit-down dinner earlier in the evening. At this time, we opened the floor to siblings and other friends and family members to give toasts and speeches in front of a more intimate group. At 7 p.m., the venue opened up to our entire guest list for a welcome party. Since so many of our guests were friends and teammates from out of town, we thought it would be nice to give them an itinerary of events for the weekend to make their travel worthwhile. It was a nice way for guests to meet and greet, so there were more familiar faces the following day at the wedding. It also allowed Lawson and I to have some quality time with our invited loved ones and say thank you's in person before the wedding day.
Where was your wedding? Why did you choose this venue?
We narrowed down a venue very quickly. Our wedding was at the Harding Waterfront Estate in Oakville, Ontario. We live between London, Ontario, and Scottsdale, Arizona, but both of us hail from Ontario. Ontario made the most sense for our family and friends, since they already travel so often to visit us on the West Coast during the hockey season. When we toured Harding, we immediately fell in love with the black-and-white estate and its timeless elegance in its position on the water.
What was the concept behind your wedding and how did you find your inspiration?
This may sound strange, but I wanted our wedding to look and feel like poetry. We sprinkled elements of ourselves throughout, but the inspiration was sort of grounded in the elegance of a Gatsby party with the florals, tables cape, and stationary of a Parisian garden party in the ceremony and tables cape. Most of the inspiration came from art and travel. My mother is an artist, and my childhood was filled with creativity. Nothing was meant to look or feel too perfect. The classic black and white backdrop of Harding was littered with wildflowers by Rachel A. Clingen, and pops of color in our stationary by Karli Stroschein Art.
How long did it take to plan your wedding? Did you encounter any challenges during the planning process?
The wedding planning process has been going on for almost a year. We were engaged on July 7th, 2022, during a vacation to the South of France, and married on July 20th, 2023. Through most of our vacation, we went back and forth between wanting a wedding or a simple elopement. This decision was the most challenging aspect of the planning process. We really wanted the intimacy of eloping, but we spend so much time away from our family and childhood friends during life events and holidays, so we decided we would do a wedding back home and share this experience with them. Hiring a luxury event planner, Ashley Piggot was our first step. After seeing her on social media, I knew that she would deliver wedding magic wrapped in a bow. From that point on, the entire process was a breeze.
How many guests did you have? And what was the seating arrangement at the wedding like?
We invited close to 150 people and ended up with 130. The tent at the venue is quite big and allows for 200+ guests. We did not want to invite that many people, so we opted to fill the space with some lounge areas. We had formal seating on one side, and the dance floor, stage, lounge, and photo booth on the other side, operated down the middle by a huge round bar with a towering vessel of wild flowers as the middle focal point. The seating arrangements were really quite easy. We grouped different branches of family members together and placed friends amongst friends & teammates amongst teammates from different eras of life. There were really no strangers to one another. We had a mix of rectangular and round tables, each boasting unique wildflower arrangements on top of variations between floral textiles and lacquered table tops. Name cards were custom-made by Karli Stroschein and mismatched to the menu. I wanted there to be variety in the overall look of each place setting.
Tell us about your outfits. How many different styles have you tried?
The bridal styling is where I had the most fun. I would have changed 20 times if I could. I never intend to style myself as a bride again, so I had so much fun choosing different looks. For the welcome party, I wore a crème pleated off-the-shoulder dress by KHAITE, with beige Saint Laurent pumps. The morning of the wedding, I wore white satin pajamas with an over-the-top tule-tiered robe custom-made by VOIR Bride. Down the aisle I wore a silhouette hugging gown with detachable rose puff sleeves, and a sweeping train. (I've been gatekeeping because I don’t want to see it all over Instagram, but I will share this if need be) purchased from Mariee Bridal in Scottsdale, paired with white ALAIA mules. After the ceremony, I removed the sleeves from the gown to add variety to the photos and wore it as a strapless gown with a subtle but structured sweetheart neckline. After our first dance, I changed into my after-party look: a high-neck gown by Khanums with pearls draping over the open back. I had one more late-night wardrobe change into a short ivory Elliat bow dress paired with crisp white Chanel high tops.
What was your first dance song? Did you choreograph or improvise?
Our first dance song was 'I’ll Always Remember Us This Way' by Lady Gaga from 'A Star is Born'. It pays tribute to our home together in Arizona, and effortless romance at the end of the day. We practiced, but did not choreograph anything.
Did you have any special performances or entertainment?
Sole Power Productions was our live entertainment band during the ceremony and throughout the night. They were incredible! One of the highlights that our guests haven’t been able to stop talking about. After 10 p.m., their DJ took over, but the microphone was passed amongst teammates and friends, giving us some karaoke performances.
What was the most memorable moment from your wedding day?
We will never forget our first look. We were both in tears. It was a moment that was always inevitable, but it felt so surreal to be standing in it. During this moment, a pair of swans showed up in the pond behind the venue where we were taking our photos. They stayed with us during our first look, swimming closer during our private vows, and leaving after. They returned to watch the ceremony. Swans are a symbol of loyalty and strength. They mate for life. To us, it was the ultimate spiritual sign of love, connection, elegance, and loyalty. Of course, there is no other feeling quite like looking around a room and seeing your specific loved ones grouped together to celebrate. The feeling of the whole day could not be replicated. Looking around at all the love, support, and faces of those most important to us was almost paralyzing.
Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?
We are blown away by our whole vendor list. Ashley Pigott Events is at the forefront. Ashley & her assistant Jackie are the best of the best in the Toronto Wedding Industry. Rachel Clingen Florals, created an elegant, whimsical masterpiece in the tent as well as the aisle. Of course, 515 Photo Co. captured the day even better than I could have imagined. The images are timeless, artistic, and poetic. Maybe I am biased, but I can feel every moment when I look at the galleries. Wild + Free Films was our videographer. Kat and her team gave us this beautiful piece of cinematic art. They were able to capture the romance and the whole scenery beautifully. I also would like to mention my bridal glam team. Jessica Savedra from Lac + Beauty, Faces by Alex, Allison Kam Hair, and Virasack Hair. This Toronto-based dream team was phenomenal. Above all, they are all wonderful people. Aside from their unmatched technique...It was a joy to have ALL of them and their conversation be a part of the wedding day. Karli Stroschein Art worked with Ashley Piggot and me over the course of the planning process to come up with unique custom invitations and a day of stationary. We toyed with different pops of color and florals, bows, and crest shapes. They turned out to be better than I could have even dreamed! I felt as though all of these vendors made it so comfortable and easy to be authentic, and it helped us to convey our true personalities in different elements of the day.
What advice would you give to couples who are currently planning their wedding?
This sounds contradictory to it all, but I really reminded myself over and over, “It’s not that serious.” Of course, the love and commitment are very serious, but the event itself is spoken about as THAT ONE DAY OF YOUR LIFE. I don’t agree that it should be viewed as the peak of your existence or relationship. It is a beautiful experience, but there are plenty of other milestones and memories ahead to share and look forward to. I have so much gratitude for my wedding planner and all of my vendors. I feel I walked away as happy as I was with our wedding because I didn’t hold anything or anyone to a standard of perfection, yet it all turned out to be perfect. Be with what is, and go about the day with intention. Look at your partner and take mental pictures, because it is lightning fast. Your memories, photos, and experiences don’t need to be the same as what you see online. Or is it really your wedding? Do what feels right for you, invite those who love and support you, and celebrate in a way that feels authentic to your love and relationship. Make your decision with intention and authenticity, and you will end up with a wedding day that feels very you, which is true perfection exactly as it is.
Did you have any special or unique elements (such as a signature cocktail or a fragrance) at your wedding?
There were a few elements I would call unique. The first was that I allowed all of my bridesmaids to style themselves. The only guideline that was given to them was to wear black. I figured a black formal outfit would be something they could and would wear again if they chose themselves. I wanted all the women to feel confident and comfortable. Furthermore, I thought it would allow them to bring elements of their own personalities into the wedding ceremony and make for more natural photos. I love each of them for who they are, and it was important to me that they were able to convey that. My sister wore a jumpsuit, and my maid of honor thrifted a few wedding looks; they all looked incredible in their own right. My wedding day fragrance was Creed "Spring Flower.” We did signature cocktails "His, Hers, and Theirs," but most importantly, we had a "Butter pig" shot to pay tribute to our French Bulldog Butter Pig who was unable to attend the reception. It was Butter ripple schnapps & spiced rum. We also gifted each guest a bottle of HeartBeat Hot Sauce. We had Karli Stroschein custom labels for the bottles, and it doubles as a seating chart wall. We mixed and matched flavors. Heartbeat Hot Sauce is in Thunderbay Ontario, which is where Lawson’s maternal grandparents & mom’s side of the family are from.
HMU: @allison_kam , @jessicaesavedra , @fl.aw.less