Real Weddings: Josh and Erin

Inside a French-themed celebration at Coffee Oysters Champagne

Josh Zanin and Erin Jacobson, both PR professionals, connected while working for the same firm in 2016. They were engaged in Paris just before the onset of the pandemic and married at a King West cocktail bar in November of 2021. Here’s how it all came together.

Josh: I met Erin in 2011 when we both worked in federal politics in Ottawa. I worked for the Minister of National Defence and she worked for the late NDP leader, Jack Layton. At the end of the work day, staffers would often end up at the same places for drinks. Erin and I talked once for about two minutes at a pub in the Byward Market during a playoff hockey game. To this day, Erin doesn’t remember the meeting.

Erin: Four years later, I had left politics and began working for a PR agency, eventually working in their Vancouver office. I’d fly to Toronto at least once a month for meetings.

Josh: Coincidently, I had ended up at the same agency but in the Toronto office. One day, I ran into Erin and realized just how similar our career paths were. I asked if she’d like to meet for a drink to compare notes.

Erin: A few months later in the spring of 2017, we had breakfast at Flo’s Diner in Yorkville, which seemed like an appropriate business-type meetup.

Josh: Over breakfast of eggs and coffee, we realized we had more in common than just work. We’re big fans of Motown and geeky sci-fi, and we’re both fitness buffs.

Erin: Josh and I started texting and talking on the phone, which progressed quickly to video chats. We went on our first date in August. Through the fall, I’d see Josh in Toronto, and he would also come to visit me on the west coast.

Josh: It was very natural. We were comfortable around each other and the relationship was progressing in a way that felt serious. Erin’s got a great brain and we always have interesting conversations. She’s funny, in a goofy way. And it’s heart-warming to see how much she loves her dog, Otis—a sweet ragamuffin who’s half Australian shepherd and half Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Erin: Josh is smart but in a totally different way from me. He’ll learn as much as he can about a subject matter and get really excited to share that knowledge. He’s also an incredibly talented musician; when we were dating long distance, he’d send me recordings of him performing songs, and I thought, How do you not melt when you hear that? In 2018, we decided to live together. I packed up my stuff and moved across the country into a new apartment at Dundas and Ossington. It felt like the right moment.

Josh: I knew I wanted to propose because we complement each other so well and there’s a lot of love there. In January of 2020, we took a trip to France, where Erin’s dad lives. Initially, I planned to ask Erin to marry me at the outdoor New Year’s Eve street party on the Champs-Élysées, but we didn’t end up attending. So I tucked the ring in my pocket and waited for the right moment. Walking by the Seine after dinner a few nights later, it seemed like the perfect time. I was confident she’d say yes, but I was a little nervous about making sure the moment felt special. In the end, Paris did the heavy lifting for me.

Erin: The moment was a total surprise. I was taking a picture of the Seine and when I turned back around Josh had the ring in his hand. I said yes very enthusiastically.

Josh: I had proposed with a temporary ring from Mejuri but the one she wears now was made by Anvil Jewellery and we designed it together.

Erin: The planning happened pretty quickly. We had a guest list of 120 people and booked it for September of 2020 at Coffee Oysters Champagne, a cocktail bar on King West that looked like a 1920s Parisian hotel. There was very little we’d have to do decor-wise because it already had such an incredible vibe. We’d just add some flower vases to the tables.

Josh: We decided to get legally married at city hall first, so that we could have a short and meaningful celebration officiated by my sister at the venue—which was important to us.

Erin: We had to postpone everything when Covid hit. I had already ordered my dress, a traditional white ballgown with a plunging neckline and a really full skirt.

Josh: It was important for us to have our family and friends at our wedding—safely. We moved the wedding to April of 2021, and then bumped it to September when another lockdown happened. With the onset of the Delta variant, we had to move one last time, to November. During that time, Erin was working out a lot and her gown no longer fit.

Erin: Instead, I found a beautiful silver-and-pastel rainbow sequin dress on Instagram from Toronto’s And For Love. I DM’d the designer and she said they had only one dress left, and it was in Australia. Thankfully, the boutique owner there agreed to ship it to me. One of my bridesmaids found the perfect silver Margiela shoes for me at VSP Consignment on Dundas West.

Josh: My outfit was a lot easier to come by. I bought a charcoal suit off the rack from Banana Republic and matching pocket squares and ties for myself and the groomsmen.

Erin: The day before our wedding, we were married at city hall as planned with two of our close friends as witnesses. We set up a live-stream of the ceremony and our parents and immediate family met up at Joey’s at the Eaton Centre to watch. We joined them later to celebrate.

Josh: The next day, we got ready at the Bisha Hotel and saw each other for the first time in our wedding outfits on their rooftop. Then, we made our way down King Street to the venue. I was cool as a cucumber until about 10 minutes before the ceremony. Suddenly it was like I had a surplus of energy in my body that needed to get out.

Erin: I felt surprisingly calm. The ceremony happened in the library of the bar, which is an elevated area at the end of the room. I walked down the aisle, which was essentially just the length of the bar, to “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. We exchanged vows under a chuppah that Josh built for the wedding. The ceremony was short, about 10 minutes including the breaking of the glass.

Josh: It was a smooth transition from the ceremony to the party. We had snacks, passed foods and food stations with oysters, shrimp and sliders. There was also a massive candy bar, which was a gift from a friend. We wanted people to interact so we didn’t have assigned tables. My mom has siblings who live across the country and they hadn’t seen each other in a long time. This was the first big celebration since Covid for a lot of people so they were ready to let their hair down. Everyone had a great time.

Erin: We didn’t do a first dance, but there was a lot of dancing. The DJ was great. We started off with Motown and then moved into the ’90s with “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa and Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which got everyone moving. We kept the party going until 1 or 2 a.m.

Josh: It was so nice to see people we really care about having a good time together, especially after having not seen anybody in person for so long.

Erin: In the end, we got incredibly lucky with the timing of our wedding. Delta was tapering off and Omicron hadn’t hit yet. We had this magical window in which our guests were vaccinated, could travel and felt comfortable mingling.

Josh: It feels wonderful to have finally been able to celebrate our special day in the way we’d intended. Now we can focus on the next steps in building our lives together.

Cheat Sheet

Date: November 13, 2021
Officiant: Andrea Zanin
Photography: Scarlet O’Neill
DJ: Tyler Johnston, Night Moves
Cake: Fruitilicious Cakes
Hair and Makeup: Sylvie Prud’Homme, The Loft; Rebecca Pilozo
Bride’s outfit: And for Love, Margiela
Groom’s outfit: Banana Republic, Aristocrats Bows N Ties, Harry Rosen, Cole Haan
Venue: Coffee Oysters Champagne, Bisha Hotel
Guests: 110

Here are some more photos from the day