More than two years had passed since becoming engaged. We had dabbled in wedding planning, visiting a few beachfront venues that didn’t pan out for one reason or another. While laying on our lawn chairs overlooking the ocean at the Sheraton hotel one afternoon, Diego asked if I wanted to elope in the south of Quebec that summer. I loved his spontaneous and decisive question and immediately fell in love with the idea. It would allow us to plan a wedding without all of the familial and societal pressures, and, I quickly realized that southern Quebec was dotted with beautiful chateaus that would fulfill my dream of having a wedding on a vineyard.
There was still quite a lot of planning to do and small details to take care of. I kept saying to my friends, “I don’t know how people plan ‘real’ weddings.” But I took it a step at a time, beginning with searching for a venue. I loved the idea of eloping on a vineyard, so I typed into the Google search bar, “Quebec vineyards wedding,” and zoomed in on a 150km radius around Montreal. One vineyard stood out from the rest as it had a European castle vibe. It was enchanting, seeming almost fairytale-like. After hours of going through their galleries, reading reviews, and imagining ourselves sipping wine on the terrace, it was decided that our elopement would take place at the Château Ste-Agnès in Sutton, Quebec.
We started planning by making a list of the essentials: officiant, dress, suit, and wedding bands. After searching WeddingWire for an officiant, I found Bruno Laliberté, who lived near our venue. We arranged a video call to make sure we got along and felt good with him. I immediately felt like I was talking to my dad as he was goofy, wore a Canadian suit (flannel shirt with jeans), and cracked bad jokes.
I flew to Guadalajara, booked a hotel inside the Andares shopping mall, and began my search for the perfect wedding dress. I wanted something simple yet elegant like I envisioned our elopement would be. After visiting a handful of bridal stores that only had collections of elaborate dresses full of frills and fluff, I wandered into BCBG. This store holds many memories for me as it’s where I used to buy my party dresses in high school, yet to my surprise, they had a handful of simple but beautiful wedding dresses. I fell in love with the first one I tried on. It had a simple white v-neck and a soft gold and pastel pink flowered-sequence skirt.
Diego took the lead on the wedding bands. He contacted a local jewelry designer and requested him to custom-design our bands. All I had to do was peruse Pinterest, find the wedding band I wanted, and provide him with a picture. Two weeks later we had our gold bands that fit our vision perfectly. (Thanks, Martin!)
We had quite a few last-minute very important details. We wanted to have a first dance, so we took a couple of days to pick the perfect song. All of the songs that I had emotional ties to were in English and all of Diego’s top picks were in Spanish. However, we both loved the vintage jazz feel of older love songs. One day, Diego told me to put on the “Up” soundtrack, and we both fell in love with one of the theme songs (without lyrics). Turned out, it was titled, “Married Life.”
We went back and forth on hiring a photographer and videographer versus doing it ourselves. As Diego loves photography and I love filmmaking, we opted to do it ourselves, but as you’ll read later on, this is one thing I wish we would have done differently.
Only a few days before our elopement, we broke the news to our family. Naturally, Diego and I were more concerned about telling our mothers more than anyone else. To our surprise, they both took the announcement rather well, though I could tell in their voices a hint of disappointment. As we still wanted to find a way to share our big day with friends and family, we opted to live-stream it via Zoom. So, we set up a Facebook event page with all of the details and included a link to a scheduled Zoom call.
The big day had finally arrived. We stayed the previous night at Diego’s cousin’s chalet, just a 45-minute drive from our venue. I woke up with feelings of joy and excitement, along with a touch of nervousness. Over the course of planning the elopement, I had tried my best to ‘go with the flow,’ battling against my tendency to control everything. With practice, it had become easier, but nervousness and anxiety still reared their heads in those moments when you want everything to go perfectly and know that you cannot control it all. I took a deep breath and began curling my hair, applying my makeup, and finally slipping into my dress. Then, I headed down to the dock of the lake, where I would see my soon-to-be husband for the first time that day. Of course, he looked handsome in his blue suit and perfectly groomed hair.
After a scenic 45-minute drive through the Quebec countryside, we arrived at the chateau. It was even more stunning than the photos. We met Bruno, the officiant, in the chateau’s lobby, signed our marriage paperwork, and then headed down to the heart-shaped pond where the ceremony would take place. There, we waited for our witnesses, Diego’s cousin and her husband, while we set up my iPhone to record the ceremony and Diego’s iPhone to live-stream the event for our 35 closest friends and family.
The ceremony itself was short and sweet. Bruno added his unique charm with a few bad jokes, and Diego and I exchanged our vows in Spanish, which Diego’s mom had proofread for me. We virtually celebrated with everyone, had our first dance as a married couple, and then savored wine and cheese boards, all while taking in the scenery on the vineyard patio. It was perfect.
The remainder of the day was an adventure, with both of us running around the chateau, cameras and drone in hand, striving to capture the ‘perfect shot.’ Though it was a fun project, it devoured our entire day. I may not have been a ‘bridezilla,’ but I certainly became a ‘videozilla,’ insisting on capturing every single shot from my list before the anticipated rainfall. I was so focused on creating the perfect short film that we hardly had time for photographs. In retrospect, this is one thing I would have handled differently: hiring a professional photographer and videographer. Nevertheless, we were happy with the handful of photos we managed to take and the 60-second film we created.
As night fell, we found ourselves in the bridal suite, indulging in our homemade pasta salad from a Tupperware container (due to the absence of a restaurant) and sipping the last of our wine. It was a beautiful experience, finally becoming wed to the love of my life after a long engagement, all within the fairytale setting of the chateau. However, one thing was still missing, a piece of the puzzle that would only come together once we returned to Mexico…