Celebrating the design + style of luxe weddings across canada, the usa + beyond

 

English Tradition  
When British-born Sophie Bifield, a cake designer based in Ottawa, began planning her September 10, 2011 wedding to Ryan Short, she wanted as many English traditions as possible integrated into the day. “So we decided to have an English garden party themed wedding,” recalls Sophie. “Although we had many traditions throughout the day, we were very mindful of our guests’ experience. We wanted them to have fun, so we kept the ceremony and speeches to a minimum and made sure our guests were entertained.” 

A Perfect Proposal
Years earlier, Ryan and Sophie were both guests at a birthday party that was being hosted by a few of Sophie’s friends. “It was a few hours before Ryan and I were introduced, and to say it was an awkward conversation would be an understatement. Ryan’s first words were ‘So, you’re from England. My shirt is from Ted Baker,’ remembers Sophie. “After we got over those initial moments, the night progressed a little more fluidly. Ryan was among the last to leave, maybe because he was having so much fun, but more likely because it took him all night to get my number. Before we even got to sleep, we had already become Facebook friends, and then we started dating.”

 

Two years later, Ryan proposed alongside the Rideau Canal. Under the guise of wanting to show Sophie an article in a newspaper, the pair sat down. “I should have guessed something was going on by this point, as he NEVER reads the print version of the newspaper––but I was clueless,” says Sophie. “Ryan found what he was looking for, and handed me the paper to read. Uninterested in the article, I handed the newspaper back to him. He tried again, with another article, to no avail. After handing the paper back and forth a few times, Ryan finally asked if I noticed anything interesting on the page. After scanning for a few minutes, I saw a box that said ‘Ryanshort: @sophiebifield #willyoumarryme?’ Considering that Ryan worked in advertising and I worked in social media at the time, it was the perfect proposal.”

 

 

Sophie wore a birdcage veil and custom headpiece, created by Chapeaux de Madeleine in Ottawa. Her necklace was from Young Designs’ Audrey Collection. Her sparkly gold Jimmy Choo shoes were a gift from Ryan, brought back from a business trip.

 

 

Sophie’s bouquet featured lisianthus, cool water and white and sahara roses, white dahlias and pops of ivy.

 

 

Garden Party Style
Sophie wore McCaffrey Haute Couture. “I worked with designer David McCaffrey to custom design a unique gown that suited both my shape, personality, and the garden setting of our wedding. It was made of 100% silk ivory Peau de Soie with a French Alencon (re-embroidered) lace overlay, sweetheart neckline, and a billowing 100% silk organza layered gusset in the skirt. It also had a built-in 100% silk bustier. The simple, but effective, five ribbon bustle kept the beautiful shape of the dress, and allowed me to shorten the long train, making it easy to walk and dance in the wedding’s garden setting,” she recalls.

 

Ryan wore a French blue suit by Nick Tentis, purchased on Savile Row in London, England.

 

Sophie’s bridesmaids all wore the same colour as the bride. “It’s an old English tradition. It was once thought that bridesmaids should wear the same colour as the bride to protect her from evil spirits. If evil spirits or ill-wishers didn’t know who the bride was, they wouldn’t be able to steal the dowry, curse or taint the wedding,” Sophie explains.

 

Ceremony
True to the garden party theme, the afternoon outdoor ceremony was held in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park on a gloriously sunny day. The couple chose to be married at three o’clock, the same time both sets of their parents were married, years ago. “We also hired a Rolls Royce, partly because of its British heritage, but also because my parents left the church in a Rolls Royce when they got married, almost 30 years ago,” remembers Sophie.

 

The decor at the ceremony was kept somewhat minimal, so as not to interfere with the natural beauty of the venue. “We used the natural path as our aisle and placed gold Chiavari chairs on either side of the path,” Sophie says. Bags of rose petals graced each chair, and wicker orbs adorned with flowers hung from the trees. Floral arrangements by Erin Carmichael of Full Bloom Floral Design, marked the altar.

 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true English wedding without hats, so Sophie and Ryan requested that ladies wear them.

 

 

Afternoon Tea
An afternoon tea party followed in Rockcliffe Park’s Jubilee Gardens. As guests walked through the oversized wrought iron gates, they were welcomed by a string quartet. To the left, groupings of bistro tables were each topped with a teapot, filled with fresh flowers. In the centre of the garden, guests could choose to play a game of croquet (with a vintage croquet set), or horseshoes. Across the garden, a vintage film reel played the couple’s engagement video. Refreshments of Pimms and lemonade were served with fruit, cucumber pieces, and sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, of course). A topiary tree made of cupcakes and scones (with cream and jam) also lent to the true British flavour of the reception. Naturally tea was also served, in fine china cups.

 

As the sun began to set, guests made their way across the lawn where a marquee tent was set up for the evening reception. Outside, green orbs, tassels and twinkle lights hung from the trees. Tulle, ivy and tassels also hung from the sides of the tent. “Inside, we had three long banquet tables and one long, head table, all covered in black linen and decorated with gold accents. On each of the tables we had tall candelabras with luscious floral arrangements. Mirrors ran along the table, topped with tea candles,” describes Sophie. “We named the tables after those we have lost. We didn’t want to sombre the mood by lighting candles or performing a reading during the ceremony, so we incorporated them into the seating chart. A photo and a personal note about each person graced each table, rather than a number.”

 

Sophie and Ryan both wanted the food at their wedding to be ‘amazing’ so they hired a top Ottawa chef, Colin Locket and his team from The Copper Pot, to prepare the wedding meal. “The venue didn’t come with a kitchen, so we rented two, 8-ft grills so Chef Colin could barbecue. The food was probably one of the most luxurious aspects of our wedding. We treated our guests to an abundance of fine foods, good wine and international cheeses,” says Sophie. Not only was the food delicious; the menus were too! (Sophie and Ryan incorporated edible menus into their wedding decor!)

 

Just outside the tent, on the far side, was dance floor and bar areas, housed in a little hut adorned with greenery and twinkle lights.

 

 

Behind the head table were three separate tables covered in gold organza. The first of the two smaller flanking cakes featured cascading white sugar ruffles and golden swirls, while the other was covered with a cascade of golden sugar butterflies. Each sat on a raised stand, with gold, hand-painted hydrangeas and a vase of Manzanita branches. Large ornate mirrors were placed behind the tables, giving a beautiful reflection of the entire display.

 

 

A monogram, designed by EverLovin, was used on the invitations, menus, welcome-bags, and on one of the cakes. The groom and groomsmen also had the monogram on their cufflinks.

 

The large cake had the couple’s monogram in the centre and silhouettes of both Sophie and Ryan facing inwards. Soft purple and white sugar roses cascaded down the cake and an edible cage, filled with hundreds of edible hydrangeas, surrounded the bottom tier. The cake was topped with sugar roses, hydrangeas, two edible golden birds, and an edible golden bird cage. Cake flavours included: chocolate buttermilk, vanilla bean, carrot cake, banana yogurt, and maple walnut.

 

For Sophie, the creation of her own wedding cakes came with a limitless set of boundaries, but a high degree of pressure! “Most of the time when I design a cake, I have limitations which guide my creative process. Usually a couple will give me colours, a theme, a vision, likes, dislikes, a budget or something to work with. For my own wedding, I had very few guidelines, a head full of ideas and 75 guests with very high expectations. I ended up doing what I do best and designed a cake that suited the affair. I could have had a 9-foot cake that showcased a plethora of skills, but instead I opted for a 4-tier cake, adorned with flowers and butterflies, and two smaller cakes styled to match. They fit in perfectly in our intimate garden setting.”

 

The couple now resides in Ottawa where Sophie continues her ‘sweet’ career path with Sophie Bifield Cakes, and Ryan is an information architect.

Photography: Mango Studios
Reception Venue: Jubilee Gardens, Rockcliffe Park (Ottawa)
Bride’s Gown and Shoes: David McCaffrey, McCaffrey Haute Couture and Jimmy Choo
Bride’s Accessories: Birdcage veil and headpiece custom-made by Chapeaux de Madeleine, Ottawa and necklace by Young Designs’ Audrey Collection
Hair Stylist: Michelle, Rinlado Hair Designer and Spa
Makeup Artist: Bree Powell, Freelance Makeup Artist
Stationery: EverLovin’ Press
Floral: Full Bloom Floral Design
Rentals: Showtime party rentals, Cody party rentals
Vintage 16mm film: { First Kiss Films }
Catering: The Copper Pot
Cake: Sophie Bifield Cake Company 
Transporation: Hollywood Limousine

 

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