Ally Lowe & Paul Bertrand
After five – yes, five – wedding dates (thank you, COVID), this couple was finally able to tie the knot in front of 40 guests. Here, Ally tells us how a long-distance relationship turned into exchanging vows…after nine years!
Tell me a bit about your love story: I was living in England, Paul in New York, and our relationship started out as long distance (before Facetime was “cool”? I think we Skyped!). I moved to NYC and our relationship flourished in the streets of the Lower East Side. We both love music and share a hobby of collecting records and spending our Saturdays sipping coffee and listening to records spin. We almost eloped a few months into dating, but decided to wait a “short” 9+ years. It felt very natural from the beginning and we both knew that this was a forever type of thing. Kind of like you see in the movies with less cheesiness (or maybe more, who is to say!) I have taught Paul to appreciate snacking, celebrities and award shows, while Paul has taught me the importance of practical footwear (crocs) and how to play the guitar and creating a soundtrack to our life.
Eventually, we decided to head back to Canada to continue to build our life together and resided in Ottawa until the pandemic hit. Now we reside in the beautiful town of Almonte, Ont. with our dog Buster.
What were your original plans for your wedding day? This was our fifth go at planning a wedding and we were just going to elope at the river but the restrictions changed so we had our close friends and family. Rentals were hard to find closer to the date so we settled for what we had booked early on and went with that number. Our American friends came at 3:30 AM as the border opened at midnight the night of our wedding (because with our luck, of course it did) so they missed the wedding but got to be part of the after-the-wedding festivities.
Our original plan was for June 13th, 2020 and was going to be around 80 people for the ceremony and dinner (with a bigger reception) at The Cameron in Ottawa, with a night before party at the Andaz Hotel.
Honestly, we were happy with the small size. We wish our friends abroad could have made it but my best friend did make it from Paris, France!
How did you feel before and after changing your plans? The first time we postponed we decided pretty early on, in March 2020 for our June wedding. I knew things were not getting better anytime soon so in true Ross Gellar fashion, we had to PIVOT. There were lots of more important things happening in the world so we were okay to postpone. By the fifth time, we were ready to get it done! We had spent money we weren’t getting back so had to use it in some way. We made every decision together – very much a joint effort. I think we deserve a diploma in event planning now.
What was your favourite part of the day? Our wedding was a full weekend of camping and hanging out in the water with good food, wine, and bonfires, which was awesome. All the guests helped with setup and things day of.
We loved having our dog Buster as part of the day. He was rehomed to us during the pandemic and he is our special boy! He wore a matching mustard bowtie to Paul’s pocket square and walked down the aisle with Paul and his Mom. He loved running around during the cocktail hour as there were treat jars out for him.
Our favourite part of the day was the ceremony. We didn’t think we would like the ceremony as much as we did but it was intimate and beautiful. We stood under the arch that our brother in law made for us with the river waves rolling in. Paul and I wrote our own vows which were both funny and emotional and it was nice to feel the energy off of the small crowd.
Being on the dance floor listening to live music for the first time in two years was amazing. The Rock Steadies are an amazing eight-piece band who were excited to play for guests again. They created a really fun and lively atmosphere. Our favourite moment was when they played “The Best” by Tina Turner. I jumped on stage and joined in with the band, everyone was singing their hearts out and dancing and for a moment. Everything felt right in the world. We can’t forget the failed “Dirty Dancing” lift attempts during “The Time of My Life.” Through the stress of the COVID planning, we kept telling ourselves, just picture being together on the dance floor. That got us through and was worth the wait. If we had to pick, that would be our favourite moment.
We also had fireworks and a s’mores bar, which were the perfect cottage combo/vibe!
Favourite wedding detail? Wearing a pantsuit was really fun. I had purchased it two years before the wedding and it had just been hanging in my closet. I kept it a secret and I am glad I did – I got quite a response. It was very comfortable and very me. I loved our colour scheme as well (mustards, maroons).
We both love music and it was very important to us to hand pick the music for our wedding. We curated every playlist for the night from the ceremony and cocktail hour to the after party. Before Ally walked down the aisle, the waves were crashing in and the setting was serene as “Thinking of a Place” by The War on Drugs played. Bliss.
What advice can you give to couples who are thinking about having an outdoor wedding? Plan for more time than you think you need. We did all of the prep work as it was on our family property. Paul did a lot of beach combing, painting and landscaping, which took up a lot of our time. With COVID restrictions changing, we felt very rushed and didn’t leave ourselves enough time to get everything done that we wanted or to take time four ourselves.
Plan for all Canadian weather types and let your guests know what clothing/footwear to bring. Also, ask for help. Recruit your friends and family – put everyone to work! We wish we had more hands on deck beforehand. Having some chill spaces for guests to hangout is a good idea, too! Last, but not least, lighting! Make sure your property is properly lit for guest’s safety. The more lights, the better.
And couples, don’t sweat the small stuff. Or at least don’t sweat about it to anyone who planned a wedding during COVID. A very different beast!
Number of guests: 40
Ceremony/reception venue (including city): Paul’s parents’ home on the Ottawa River
Photographer: Rob Lloyd
Planning, décor & florals: Frid Events
Wedding pantsuit designer: Rime Arodaky
Earrings: Maison Roe
Suit designer: Tip Top Tailors (Grafton Stretch Suit)
Hair: Pärla Hair (Kira McClenaghan)
Makeup: Sarah Coffin
Cake: Holland’s Cakes
Catering: Tulips and Maple
Tent: Valley Tents
Wine: Spruce Street Estates
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Wow, what a groom!! 🥰
Joan Bertrand says
Congratulations to the happy couple 💑. The Bertrand’s know how to do things majestically.