Plan Your Fabulous Local Wedding

Will and Maura wanted their wedding day to reflect their love of their Bayfield cottage. They wanted their guests to enjoy that cottage-y feeling that they love. Add in Maura’s amazing jeweler talent and you have a day full of personal touches…

Bride & Groom: Will & Maura Dolphin

Wedding Date: June 15, 2019

Ceremony & Reception Location: Hessenland Inn ( “My mother’s side of the family shares a cottage in Bayfield that’s been in her family since my mother was a child. Will and I have been summering there together for five years. I’ve always dreamed of getting married at our cottage, but we didn’t think that the grounds could host the amount of guests that we truly wanted. Hessenland was recommended by a local family friend, and once we toured the grounds, we were so impressed. We knew that it was the perfect introduction to the area for Will’s family. Since ours was a bit of a destination for most guests, we planned a large meet and greet event for Friday night instead of a smaller and more formal rehearsal dinner, and I could not recommend this more highly. The day of the wedding, it felt like everyone already knew each other and there was just so much joy in the air. Also, it was really lovely to be able to spend more time with our guests, since Saturday was such a whirlwind.” – M

Colour Palette: Black and Gold with accents of white florals and greenery

Theme: “The historic Coach House setting of Hessenland is so unique and so beautiful. We really didn’t want to overwhelm the feeling of the space with anything but florals, greens, and soft light. I wouldn’t say there was a specific theme, though, as a jeweler metal details were very important to me. The black and gold color palette refers to the black sapphires and yellow gold of our wedding set.” – M

Flowers: “The Garden Gate ( in Grand Bend did our florals, and we opted to give the florist more liberty than I believe is normal. Last fall, we met with Shannon, the owner, to discuss the flowers that we knew we didn’t want, like roses, and to provide a few that we knew we did, like white peonies, white ranunculus, olive sprigs, and eucalyptus. From there, we showed her a few images from her own social media and also from Pinterest of the loose look we were going for, and then gave her the freedom to choose the selections and arrangements that she thought would be the freshest and most beautiful. I must say, I could not be happier with this decision- she did an amazing job, and included some of the most gorgeous flowers and greens that I still do not know the name of! I would recommend doing this for any future event requiring flowers (provided that you trust your florist!) As with many of our vendors, we were lucky enough to be referred to some very talented people by our family in the area and other vendors.” – M

Décor: “We did not hire anyone for decor besides Hessenland and the Garden Gate, and they did an excellent job!” – M

Fav décor element: “The floral arrangements at the head table, namely the large one centered in front of us was absolutely stunning!” – M

DIY: “I made most of the metal elements featured in our wedding, such as the brass W&M cake topper, our gold and sapphire wedding bands, my gold and sapphire earrings, and the silver, sapphire, and cubic zirconia earrings worn by members of the bridal party and both moms.” – M

Noteworthy elements: “For my something borrowed, I carried a handkerchief around my bouquet that belonged to Will’s great grandmother and that his older sister carried at her wedding, which was very special. For my something blue, I wore a star sapphire ring given to me by my beloved Nana, who was in attendance and put many half her age to shame on the dance floor! My something old was my engagement ring. Lastly, for my something new, I wore a pyrite and oxidized silver bracelet made especially for the wedding by my friend and mentor, Heather Oleari, who resized the antique sapphire ring that Will proposed to me with.” -M

Invitations/Stationery: “We took a non-conventional approach to the invitations and combined both save-the-date and invitation into one postcard with a prompt to RSVP digitally on our wedding website. This was another strange choice that I would make again in a heartbeat!” – M

Cake: That Little Cake Place in Dashwood ( “Will is not a huge fan of sweets, and so I got to pick the three-tier / three-layer cake of my dreams! The bottom was vanilla, the middle was carrot, and the top was lemon. I am not exaggerating in any way when I say this was the best cake I’ve ever had, and I had multiple people seek me out to say the same! Mandy was also just lovely to work with, and Shannon provided the perfect greens to accent the simple design.” – M

Wedding Favours: “Since many guests were coming from out of town and country, Will’s mom put together welcome bags that had local treats from either the Bluewater area for American guests or from the Chicago area for Canadian guests. For the wedding favors themselves, we chose soy candles made by a company in our home city of Chicago called the Giving Wick (, which donates a part of its proceeds to charity. For our wedding, we chose the PAW partnership, which is a non-profit that helps train service animals for children. These candles were at every place setting, and we’ve been enjoying them at home!” – M

Groomsmen and Groom’s attire: “The suits were rented from The Black Tux ( and the ties were from Brooks Brothers ( and they had dolphins on them!” – M

Bridesmaids attire and accessories: The dresses were from ( and the jewelry was made by me.” – M

Bride’s dress and accessories: “The dress was Jenny Yoo from BHLDN Chicago (” – M

DJ: DJ Rob Aitken from Music Central Entertainment ( “DJ Rob did all the music for the entire day including ceremony and reception, MC’d the event, and set up a photo booth. He did an excellent job, the flow of the event was seamless, and he is truly a pro. The photo booth was extremely popular, and the memory book that the attendants helped our guests put together as they took photos was really fun to look through in place of a guest book!” – M&W

Hair & make-up: Makeup: Erin Bolger. “I cannot say enough about the talent of this woman. I am very particular about the way my makeup is done, and she was so patient and helpful! She was also the third vendor we booked after the venue and photographer because I was told by several people that she was the best. We all looked absolutely flawless.”-M  Hair: Amanda Schmuir. “I was referred to Amanda by Soul Shears of London, and could not have been happier with how all of our hair turned out. My hair was absolutely perfect as was all of my bridesmaids, who have very different hair cuts and textures!” – M

Wedding Planner: “Liz of Hessenland and myself! Really, it was all Liz of Hessenland. She has a unique talent for providing all of the help and support you didn’t know you needed while also almost fading into the background and letting you feel completely calm and in control. It’s obvious that she is extremely passionate about Hessenland, and you can feel that in the quality of her staff, the excellence of her food, the beauty of the grounds, and the overall guest experience. Also, nearly every vendor we hired had the same delighted reaction when they learned that Hessenland was our venue, which I think speaks volumes.” – M

Catering: “Hessenland! Some of the best food I’ve ever had. They host a tasting event in the Spring for all of their couples to be married that year, and we had a chance to try everything on the menu; this made us so confident that the food was going to be excellent, and it was.” – M

Photography: Dianne Brandon Photography ( )”Dianne was referred to me by several people in the Bayfield area, and I am so grateful that we chose her. We met with Dianne last summer when we were up for our time at the cottage, and her warm personality coupled with the talent that she obviously has for photography led us to book her on the spot. Will and I were both pretty nervous, but when we came up for our engagement photos, Dianne made the whole thing so much fun. She’s extremely easy to be around and really knows composition, location, and photography in general. Her photos are absolutely gorgeous, and my favorite part is her unique eye. There’s one sunset photo she shared that just encapsulates the magic of our wedding, and I relive the day every time I see it! I could rave about Dianne forever.” -M

Biggest challenge: “The biggest challenge by far was trying to plan it remotely from the US. There were so many logistical challenges that I had not considered. We took three trips up to meet and see people in person, but I relied a lot on the help of my family members in the area for all of our preliminary work, and would not have been able to do anything without the help of my family.” – M

Fav wedding memory: “The best memory of our wedding is a bit broad, but bringing our families together in our favourite place was everything we had imagined. There were several moments during the reception where we just looked at each other with the widest smiles at the conversations happening around us.” – M

Advice from one couple to another: “Decide what’s important enough that you don’t trust anyone but yourselves to accomplish, and then let people help you with anything and everything else. Trust me, enjoying the time leading up to the wedding is almost as important as enjoying the day itself. Also, make a website and buy a book. The wedding websites have such useful tools to track RSVP’s and registries, and the book that I used was indispensable when considering vendors and knowing what to look for. We used The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner and Organizer by Jessica Bishop.” – M

Venue: Hessenland | Photo: Dianne Brandon Photography

MORE ABOUT HESSENLAND COUNTRY INN | Hessenland Inn & Vineyard is the ultimate Ontario West Coast wedding destination offering gazebos, overnight accommodations, waterfalls, lake access and gorgeous in & outdoor wedding spaces. More details in their review in The Ring, here. To find out more, email Hessenland, directly using the form below. 🙂

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