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Kortney + Neil

S+B bride Kortney shares her words on how COVID affected her big day and how it turned into something magical!

“We got engaged in February 2019, in Miami, where Neil and I met. My family and I have been vacationing in Florida since before I was born, and we were in Miami for a few weeks in February 2018 when he and I connected and had our first date at my favourite sushi restaurant – Makoto, nestled in the eponymous Bal Harbour Shops. 

We soon began planning our wedding, to be held in Toronto, and organized (we’re both lawyers…we like to plan!) all of our vendors, hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests, and everything in between, including our honeymoon in Italy, which we had both been to before, but this trip would be a bit more unique as we were going to Capri and Positano and staying in a charming estate in Tuscany before venturing off into the rest of the country – we were so excited.

Fast forward to March 2020, when news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke, and reality began to sink in…we were told by so many that we were overreacting when we began to contingency plan, and that our wedding “would be fine”, and “all would be fine”…I began to truly detest the term “fine”! 

A few days later, people told us to “push it to November!” and then “why don’t you have the wedding in early 2021!” We swiftly decided to listen to our respective guts and cancel our venue, all of our vendors, as well as our honeymoon (that was a great week let me tell you!) and send out a note to our 140+ guests (even though up to, and including late March to early April, we were still receiving RSVP cards in the mail noting “attending” on freshly inked stationary), to notify them that we were indeed, still moving ahead with our wedding on its original date…however, without the actual, well, erm…party part!

Prior to the pandemic, I had found my wedding dress in the summer of 2019, after countless trips to what felt like hundreds of bridal shops throughout the city…I should also note, in the spirit of transparency, I am not a fan of wedding gowns….the lace….the beading…while I do however, love my sparkly heels and a timeless designer handbag and am a sucker for a fabulous gown for a party, when it came time to finding my wedding dress, I just wanted something clean and simple: exactly how I wanted the entire wedding décor and event to be. I wanted something I could wear again to a party. I wasn’t into intricate beading, voluminous skirts, embellished bodices….I am who I am and wanted to honour that. 

After visiting the Sash + Bustle boutique (and countless other studios as noted), my mum, Riva, encouraged me to try S+B more time after our initial visit because “you never know!”. At her insistence, we met with the S+B ladies again. I think I lost it after dress #103298237 when I just started to tear up and thought that my search for my dress had hit a wall – this process was soooo not for me (albeit for my love affair with fashion, there was something about this journey that did not resonate). 

My stylist and guide, Rebekka, was everything I needed. She wasn’t pushy or overbearing. She listened to me and my mom with such intent and patience, and understood I was looking for something very different. After about an hour on my second visit, it was as though a lightbulb suddenly went off bursting with glitter and sunshine and she suddenly exclaimed, “I think I have something downstairs! Give me a minute!” Moments later, Rebekka would emerge holding a buttery soft, chiffon gown with a halter neckline and with the simplest fabric flounce detail at the waist, which draped down like a silky waterfall to give the slightest, yet impactful, bit of movement and detail. I cried when I tried it on; not because I had found “the one”; not because I found the “perfect dress”….it was because Rebekka listened to me, TRULY listened to me, and saw my character and heeded my personality and found me a dress that spoke to me. Once I put it on…I didn’t wear the wedding dress, nor did it wear me; we wore each other. Did I mention the dress wasn’t even a wedding gown? It was a bridesmaid’s dress! I loved it even more after hearing that. 

Rebekka had also noted that the dress was made (in the same fabric) in a jumpsuit style as well, armoured with a flattering deep V, spaghetti strap detail and the perfect amount of wiring: it was pure simplicity, with wide-cut legs made of the same buttery, effervescent fabric with high slits up each side providing mystery and movement, perfect for dancing the night away as my second look. It too, was a bridesmaid outfit – sense a theme!? This didn’t bother me at all, because, at the end of the day…a dress is a dress; a jumpsuit is a jumpsuit. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your wedding day…what matters is how you feel on your wedding day, and let me tell you – I felt like ME. 

My mum had also found at S+B (the last one too! I love scoring those!) a gorgeous cropped lace vintage-inspired topper to wear over the jumpsuit as my second look, which was so understated with iridescent subtle beading (yes I know….but the beading was so delicate and lightly peppered the modern lace that bled through the underlay. It looked gorgeous overtop both the dress and jumper. I was so excited)!

We purchased both the dress and jumpsuit as well as a topper and were put in touch with one of the S+B resident seamstresses, Larissa. Larissa and I met in the beginning of 2020 to start measurements just to tweak the pieces to ensure they fit well and that I was comfortable on my wedding day. 

Between cancelling our wedding celebration and honeymoon, I was still able to wear both my wedding dress and my jumper on my wedding day! Prior to the pandemic, Larissa had masterly re-imagined the top of my gown, by removing the halter bodice and creating the Princess Bride dress of my dreams. By using the extra fabric we had purchased through S+B (tip: if you think you want to change up the look of your dress, buy extra fabric right away just in case!), Larissa created a top from thin air, with billowy elfin-like sleeves that subtly collected at the wrist, creating a whimsical and flowy feeling I had been searching for. Pearl buttons were added to collect the gauzy fabric, and at the end of the day, both my dress and jumper (which was untouched, albeit for minor hemming) fit me perfectly.  

Close to my wedding date, my mom had said in passing that she still had her wedding dress from the early eighties – she showed it to me and I told her I wish she would have showed it to me earlier as the top of it was so beautiful. It was so not me yet so me at the same time – all lace, with elastic flared sleeves and a high collar. Larissa had the idea of cutting the top off of my mom’s dress and creating a separate topper that I could alternatively wear over the jumper as well as keep as a piece in my closet – it had a gorgeous keyhole back and she cut the high collar and used it to create a garter! I plan to wear it post-COVID with a pair of jeans and a nude pump for when we can all go out again!

A few weeks before our wedding, once we had settled on moving forward with it being just us, I was scrambling to find a photographer who could safely take some photos for us during our mini-mony. I came across Danielle Horvath of D Horvath Photography and we clicked right away. I am so grateful to D for taking some of the most precious and real photos of our wedding and wish we would have met sooner. I now have her in my phone when I need any photography needs!

When our wedding day came, May 17th 2020 of the long weekend, I was so calm, cool and collected. I hung out and chilled that weekend, and the day prior, I went around the city with my mom, to our go-to local florists to collect my most loved flowers, in my favourite colour pallette; white and green! We picked out lush green ruscus, plump white peonies and bouncy ranunculus. My mother, who is the Martha Stewart of moms, obviously had green floral type just “lying around” and was able to put together the most beautiful, organic and perfect bouquet I could have asked for. She also painted my nails so I would feel put together for the big day.

On the morning of our wedding day, I did my own makeup while sitting in my childhood bathroom wearing a beautiful crisp bridal robe my mom surprised me with from S+B. I ended up wearing my mom’s lace topper over my jumper first so that my grandmother could see me first in the piece of my mom’s wedding gown that my late grandfather had found. I plan to wear my jumpsuit in Florida when we finally get to celebrate with our family there and take lots of pictures down there! I then changed back into my wedding gown for my real first look for Neil (he hadn’t seen me yet), and proceeded to set up the tripod and video camera that were lent to us from a friend (I filmed my own wedding video by mixing the camera footage with cell phone video from friends and the Zoom video itself – our friends helped us edit it!). My friends surprised me with a drive-by car brigade and Neil and I were able to have a few moments just to ourselves as I walked out of the house, and toward him from behind as he waited patiently. 

We were grateful that our Rabbi could marry us that day, and it was the most intimate and special affair I had ever been a part of. While it was less than ideal that Neil’s parents and brother and his wife could not be a part of it in person, we were grateful for Zoom and that we could share in our day with them, albeit virtually. We sang traditional Jewish melodies and songs underneath the “Chuppah”, the traditional marital canopy that we stood under during the course of the ceremony, and drank sweet wine while we laughed and cried. Our parents each spoke and there were some tech issues with the Zoom connection but we were able to laugh at it and thankfully it was all caught on camera!

While our wedding was nothing at all like we had initially planned, and I wish Neil’s parents could have also been there to walk him down the aisle, the universe works in mysterious ways and it was truly everything that I had hoped for; just Neil and I surrounded by those we love, near and far, where we could focus on one another and our blessings. There was no running around and feeling rushed, no sense of having to please or chat with anyone but ourselves. We realized we did not need a large affair or grandiose ballroom, eight-piece band, fancy food or over-the-top décor: we just needed each other. Our first dance was in my parents living room, wearing cozy socks and comfy leggings, dancing to what would have been our first dance song, Jason Aldean’s, “You Make it Easy.” Sometimes the best things in life are unexpected, and I wouldn’t have had our wedding any other way. Love always wins.”

– #SashAndBustleBride Kortney

Bride is wearing dress 5850, jumpsuit 5710 and Gracelyn topper

Photographed by Danielle Horvath

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