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Real Weddings 2017: Inside a Wes Anderson–inspired bash at Hotel Ocho

By Jean Grant| Photography by Erin Leydon
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Rachel Borgh and Andrew Hall’s love story began three years ago, when they matched on Tinder. Rachel was wearing a pair of funky glasses in her profile picture, and Andrew led with a punny “Your frames look spectacular.” She was impressed with his witty banter, and agreed to meet him at the St. Lawrence Market one Sunday morning to shop for antiques (“I bought a comb,” says Andrew). They already knew they liked each other enough to go out again. “I was really excited,” says Andrew.

They were both 38 at the time, and the relationship progressed quickly. “At that point, you know what you want and what you don’t want,” says Rachel. They both happened to have a week-long vacation scheduled for just a few weeks after they met, and spent every minute of it together. By then, they knew the relationship would work out and moved in together right away. After a year and a half of blissful cohabitation downtown, in November 2015 they made the joint decision to get hitched. “There was no pretense or surprise proposal,” says Andrew. He simply suggested they look at some rings together, and they kicked off the planning process.

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Cheat sheet

Date: August 27, 2016 Photography: Erin Leydon Photography Bride’s Dress: Sherri Hill Flowers: Bride’s father; Farrah Altoumah (bride’s bouquet); Botany (bride’s fern crown, sweetheart table arrangements) Groom’s Attire: Tiger of Sweden Hair and Makeup: Lebel and Crowe; Rachelle White Wind Venue: Hotel Ocho Caterer: Hotel Ocho Music: Playlist by the couple Invitations: Designed by the couple Planner: Trevor Frankfort, Trevents Guests: 100

The pair wanted a summer wedding, so they had to act quickly to secure a venue. Their needed a downtown space (so their guests wouldn’t have to worry about transportation home), where they could host the service and reception. They settled on Hotel Ocho, a boutique hotel with 12 rooms at Queen and Spadina. They loved that it was a relatively blank slate, with lots of exposed brick and wood, where they could create a classy and tasteful celebration with a Wes Anderson colour palette and tons of diffused light. “We were inspired by the idea of the last big outdoor party of summer,” says Andrew:

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The pair handpicked the traditions they wanted to include in the celebration. Rachel wanted her dad to walk her down the aisle, and she wore her mother’s wedding dress from 1969 for the ceremony. They decided against bridal parties, a wedding cake and a bouquet toss. They agonized over the playlist for the day, adding songs to a Google Doc for approximately six months. They picked an edit of a Beach House song for the ceremony, and Rachel walked down the aisle to “Warm Leatherette” by Grace Jones:

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Their officiant was a metaphysical minister (more of a spiritual guide than a religious church leader), who asked Andrew if she could “energize” the rings with Reiki-like movements before the ceremony. “It seems to have worked so far,” laughs Rachel:

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Rachel’s dad is an avid gardener and grew all of the wildflowers in his backyard:

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The ceremony started at 5:30 p.m., and was meant to be a casual, half-standing, half-sitting setup where everyone could sip cocktails. “We wanted to emphasize the party part,” says Rachel. Their signature drinks were an old-fashioned and a negroni:

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After mingling for a few minutes after the ceremony, Rachel snuck upstairs to their room to change into her second outfit, an embroidered floral gown she found at a store called Original on Queen West:

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Andrew stayed in his blue Tiger of Sweden suit, accessorized with his stellar ‘stache:

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The couple’s one image request was to get a picture of all the guests together. Photographer Erin Leydon took the entire group outside to pose against a brick wall:

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Andrew and Rachel decided to DIY most of the decor—they had pretty specific ideas. They made paper airplanes to hang from the ceiling, flower garlands from tissue paper, curtains from punched paper discs (“They took me three months,” says Rachel), and a banner that read, “Together at last.” “Pinterest definitely came into play,” says Andrew:

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During dinner, they sat at their own table as everyone munched on steak, salmon or a stuffed pepper, with créme brûlée for dessert. For late-night snacks, they had a cookie bar with more than 1,000 treats baked by Rachel’s mom and aunts. The leftovers were packaged up in containers for guests to grab as they left. Rachel and Andrew spent a year collecting glass jars for vases, and bought subway tiles to use as coasters:

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During the speeches, Rachel’s uncle spent a solid five minutes firing off wedding puns, like this one: “To some marriage is a word, to others...a sentence”:

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The only reason they did a first dance was to encourage everyone to leave the dining room and hit the floor. They grooved to “I Found A Reason” by Velvet Underground:

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