This gilded, garden-inspired wedding felt like a dessert-filled fairy tale.
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Jenna Illchuk and Mike Hutchinson met nearly four years ago at a bar in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was Christmastime and the future bride was out at a holiday party for her eponymous bakery, Jenna Rae Cakes; the groom, a professional hockey player with the Winnipeg Jets, was living in the area at the time. "I wasn't looking to date him. He was very persistent though, and we officially started dating in June!" Jenna recalls today. Fast-forward to May 2017, when the pair hit New York City—one of their favorite destinations—for a romantic getaway.
"We stayed at the Lotte Palace hotel, where they have an amazing courtyard, and shared a bottle of wine together. Every time we've been back to New York since, we always share a bottle of wine in the courtyard, even if we're not staying at the hotel," Jenna says. "The last time we were there, we of course had to keep up with tradition even though it was raining. As soon as we walked through the door he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He had a photographer there to capture the moment and everything—it was perfect!"
Fourteen months later, on July 14, 2018, the pair wed in flower-filled ceremony at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg—it felt like a fairy tale. Nearly 210 guests gathered to celebrate the wedding, which the bride describes as "the most perfect day there ever was" thanks to the glam, gilded venue—and lots of desserts.
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The bride is very close with her twin sister, Ashley, who she owns Jenna Rae Cakes with. She asked Ashley, who has previously worked in the wedding industry, to design their invites—which were, funnily enough, inspired by those crafted for her own big day. "I wanted to tie in the theme of 'something borrowed' for Jenna and Mike's invitation suite, and because Jenna always loved my [own] wedding invitations!" Ashley says. "I re-purposed pieces of floral line work from my invites into a new pattern for them. It was gold foil-stamped onto thick handmade fog paper, tied with silk ribbon, and put into a matching handmade paper envelope." Calligraphy by Julie Doan completed the dreamy set.
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"We got married at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg in the Provencher room. It is the most beautiful room. It was either that or an outdoor venue where my twin sister got married, and although I copy her on everything, I wanted my wedding to be different!" Jenna says of the dreamy venue. "The Fort Garry hotel is a beautiful old hotel in Winnipeg with amazing detail and character in each room. It has a lot of gold accents which I loved! We also held our ceremony in the same room, too, since we loved it so much."
The couple also took portraits on the grand steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building, pictured here.
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Garden Vibes in a Gorgeous Venue
The bride wanted her venue to give off maximum garden vibes on the big day, which Heather of Academy Florist flawlessly managed. Heather handles all of the flowers for Jenna's business, so she knew she could count on her for all of her bridal blooms.
"What I basically wanted was an overgrown garden feel in this beautiful, ornate room. We had flowers everywhere, with vines even going up the walls—it was stunning!" Jenna says of the abundant flowers and one-of-a-kind color scheme. "I wanted our colors to be different, too, since I do so many wedding cakes a year in blush pink."
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"I had an idea of what I was looking for but was excited to try some dresses on!" Jenna recalls of the initial hunt for her wedding dress. "After getting engaged in New York, we met my sister and her husband in Washington for a sugar flower workshop with Maggie Austin. Ash and I decided to go wedding dress shopping just to get an idea of what I'd like. The first dress I tried on was by Sarah Seven, and that was it! I've always been very decisive, so I knew that was the one."
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Jenna accessorized with pieces both old and new. Her veil and headpiece were, like her wedding dress, by Sarah Seven; her shoes were Christian Louboutin. Her jewelry, however, may have been the most sentimental detail of all—a single pearl necklace that was her Baba's. "It was so special to wear that and have her there with me," she says of the family heirloom. "I also wore a Cartier love bangle that Mike gave me earlier in the day for my wedding gift!"
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The bride knew that she wanted a light blue floral color scheme, but left the specifics up to her florist. "I can't stress the importance of using vendors whose work you love and trusting their vision for you as well—they are the experts! That's something I've learned from working in this industry," Jenna says. The culinary professional creatively incorporated some of her own work into the fairy-tale flowers she carried down the aisle: "I made some sugar flowers for Heather to incorporate into my actual bouquet—I knew I wanted to include those somewhere other than the cake!"
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Bridesmaids in Blue
Jenna's bridal party consisted of her two sisters as her maids of honor; the five other bridesmaids are close friends. Jenna gave them the freedom to select their own unique gowns. "My bridesmaids wore light blue dresses. My only request was that they be long, but I let them choose the style," Jenna says.
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"[Ashley] literally helped with every aspect of the wedding—I couldn't have done it without her!" Jenna says. "She is the most generous person. She's so busy with our business but was always there to help with whatever I needed."
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The wedding party featured to highly-important VIPs: the couple's dogs, Fran and Lola. The pups stylishly sported custom collars and leashes from Lewis and Clark, a local company in Winnipeg, for the big day; Academy Florist even fixed flowers into their collars. "Two of my friends walked them down the aisle separately—it meant so much for us to have them there," Jenna says.
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The groom looked handsome in a dusty blue suit from Giovanni Clother Inc.; he completed his look with a burgundy tie and a pocket square to match. On his wrist, he wore a Breitling watch, a wedding present from Jenna. Generously, Mike gifted his groomsmen (the goup included his brother, Jenna's brother, and old friends) their bright blue suits, also from Giovanni Clothier.
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"Mike did a great job. He made sure he had Ashley's help with designing it so he knew I would love it!" Jenna says of her one-of-a-kind diamond.
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Both the bride and groom say the first look was their favorite moment of the day. "As soon as I saw her all of my nerves went away, and from that moment on I got to spend the rest of the day with her! She looked so beautiful I couldn't wait to marry her," says Mike. "My favorite moment of the day was being able to see Mike at our first look," Jenna agrees. "It didn't feel real until I got to talk to him and experience the day with him!"
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The non-religious ceremony was officiated by Terri, Mike's billet (host) mother and "second mom," who he has known his since he was fourteen. The bride and groom let her "pretty much surprise us" when it came to the ceremony. "We told her we wanted something short and sweet—nothing too cheesy or overdone. She did an amazing job! We wrote our own vows, which were so special not only to hear from one another but to say out loud in front of all of our loved ones," Jenna says. "Our brother-in-law, Luke, played our ceremony music on acoustic guitar."
The bride's father walked her down the aisle to "Drops of Jupiter" by Train—her "favorite song of all time."
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Husband and Wife
After a sweet ceremony, the newlyweds recessed down the aisle to "Better Life" by Keith Urban.
Cocktail hour commenced on the mezzanine of the hotel, which also catered the entire reception.
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Time to Party
"We wanted flowers everywhere! I let Heather take the reins on that and I knew she'd come up with something amazing. When I walked into the reception I started crying I was so blown away!" Jenna says of the elegant reception décor, which included tall centerpieces with on-theme gold bases. "We re-purposed our ceremony flowers all around the room, and my favorite part was the flowers trailing up the walls in some places."
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The head table was covered in flowers and greenery and was bathed in candlelight, adding to the "overgrown romance theme," Jenna adds. Textured white tablecloths and powder blue napkins completed the look; Julie Dolan calligraphed the simple table numbers.
The divine dinner kicked off with a summer salad with a truffle vinaigrette to start, the a choice of thyme herb chicken or short rib with potatoes au grated and green beans. Crème brûlée for dessert followed for dessert, completed with an epic dessert table—supplied by Jenna Rae Cakes, of course. "It was all so delicious!" Jenna says.
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An Unforgettable Cake
As a professional baker, Jenna's wedding cake was bound to be unforgettable, featuring cotton candy flavors (her favorite) and lemon raspberry (Mike's favorite). Despite all of the activity ahead of the big day, she even made it herself!
"The design of the cake is one I had been thinking of for over a year. Initially I thought I wouldn't make my own cake—usually large cakes like these take me days to do, with all-nighters before the wedding and it just seemed like something I couldn't take on with all the other planning," Jenna says. "But as time went on I kept getting ideas for my cake, and I realized I couldn't not make it! So I decided I would do a Styrofoam cake so I could work on it weeks before the wedding."
"I made tons of sugar flowers ahead of time, which took weeks to complete. I ended up finishing the cake three days before the wedding, and it is definitely my favorite I've made to date!" she continues. "My favorite part of it was the sugar blueberries, which represent my granny—we also used to go blueberry picking with her, and I know she would have loved to be at my wedding. And since the cake was Styrofoam, I ordered a custom made acrylic box to store and display it in our home forever!"
Mike and Jenna wanted to pay homage to their favorite book series—Harry Potter—on their big day. They served butterbeer macarons and cream puffs on their decadent dessert table. Other treats included mini cookie sandwiches and cream puffs.
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The bride shared a particularly sentimental dance with her dad to "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle—something that's become something of a family tradition. "[The song] has always been my dad and his daughters' song! It was Ashley's and it will be our younger sister's, as well," Jenna says. "I couldn't help but cry when dancing with my dad to this song!"
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The First Dance
The newlyweds hit the dance floor to "Yours" by Russel Dickerson, a tune the couple lovingly refers to as "our song." "When we first started dating, this was the first song Mike sent to me and told me it made him think of me," Jenna recalls today.
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Ashley custom-designed six-macaron gift boxes for every guest, which were "so beautiful and such a personal touch," Jenna says.
As for their honeymoon? "We went to Dubai and then the Maldives and stayed in an overwater bungalow—my dream honeymoon!" Jenna recalls of their post-wedding adventure. Better yet, the new Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson are thrilled to be expecting a baby in April 2019.
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Photography, Brittany Mahood
Location and catering, Fort Garry Hotel
Event planning, Soiree Planning
Flowers, Academy Florist
Videography, Rhyme & Rhythm Cinematography
Officiant, Terri Robertson
Stationery, Ashley Illchuk
Calligraphy, Julie Doan
Cake, Jenna Rae Cakes
DJ and lighting, Tony Braccio "Junior" of Crystal Sound
Rentals, Planned Perfectly
Bride's gown and headpiece, Sarah Seven
Hair, Prep Hair
Makeup, Ashley Tiopo
Menswear, Giovanni Clothes Inc.
Groom's accessories, Breitling watch
Transportation, Tony's Regal Coach