Kami and Pawel sipping drinks in a dimly-lit bar with stained glass

Real Weddings: Kami and Pawel

Inside a raucous celebration at a 1920s-style speakeasy

As Told To Andrea Yu| Photography by Purple Tree Photography
| May 10, 2024

Kami Spasova, a 31-year-old furniture-company owner, first met Pawel Obyrtacz, a 32-year-old transportation-company owner, when they were in high school in Mississauga. A few years later, Kami moved back home to North Macedonia and the couple split. However, they reignited their relationship when Pawel went on a European vacation in 2017. After a proposal in Santorini, the couple were wed in June 2023. The day included an intimate daytime ceremony and a 1920s-speakeasy-themed reception. Here’s how it all came together.


The couple smiling over a tower of champaign flutes

Kami: I moved to Mississauga from North Macedonia in 2007, when I was 15. A year later, I met Pawel at high school, when I started hanging out with some of his friends.

Related: Inside an upbeat celebration at the Gladstone House

Pawel: Kami and I were always friendly, but we didn’t hook up right away or anything.

Kami: I wasn’t attracted to Pawel initially. I’d always gravitated more toward dark-and-handsome-type guys, and Pawel had blonde hair and blue eyes. I think he’s a great-looking guy now! But at first I just thought of him as a friend. We spent a lot of time together over the years, though, and I noticed how much he cared for the people around him. I thought he was really mature for his age. Slowly, I started developing feelings for him.

Kami and Pawel in front of green marble walls and a chandelier

Pawel: I graduated in 2009, but we kept in touch. I was always impressed with Kami’s ambition and drive.

Kami: I decided to move back home to Macedonia in the summer of 2012. Living in Canada wasn’t making me happy; I missed my home country. My friends threw me a going-away party in Wasaga Beach that summer, even though I wasn’t leaving for another two months.

Pawel: As soon as I got to the party, we all got on Sea-Doos. Kami and I were on the same one, which was kind of romantic. At the same time, I did everything I could to try to throw her into the water. We were having a good time.

Kami and Pawel sitting together on a red velvet couch

Kami: As the night went on, Pawel and I got away from the group and hung out on the beach, just the two of us. We wandered into the water and had our first kiss there. We talked for the whole night and fell asleep on the sand.

Pawel: Kami and I spent every day together before she left. I was actually the one to drive her to the airport. We were both crying the whole time. As we said our goodbyes, I told her, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

Kami: For the first few months, we had occasional Skype calls. But, eventually, I ghosted him. I was trying to build a new life in Macedonia, and I didn’t think Pawel would relocate for me. It was time for both of us to move on.

Kami and Pawel dancing at their reception. Kami is wearing a blue boa over her dress

Pawel: There were a few times over the years when Kami and I reconnected. Her mom still lived in Canada, so she came back for a few visits. In 2014, we ran into each other at a bar in Toronto and hung out for a few days afterward.

Kami: We had an amazing time together. It made me realize that, despite my efforts to start a new life without Pawel, he was still always on my mind. My friends in Macedonia kept making fun of me because I was always comparing the guys I met there to Pawel.

Pawel: Kami and I still exchanged the rare email, once every year or two. She knew that I usually did a trip to Europe over the summer with some friends.

A drink being poured at Kami and Pawel's wedding

Kami: In 2017, I emailed Pawel asking if he was going to be in Europe that summer. He responded very quickly.

Related: Inside a scenic wedding on Lake Como

Pawel: I was excited to hear from her! We started emailing back and forth more often. I was working as a long-haul truck driver, and it was comforting to chat with Kami while I was on the road. We fell in love all over again.

Kami: Pawel and I decided to meet up during his trip to Europe. First, we spent a few days in Amsterdam together, then we went to Tomorrowland, a music festival in Belgium. Saying goodbye after that was really hard.

Kami and Pawel kissing over a tower of champaign

Pawel: I told her I’d come back to Europe for her 25th birthday, in September, and I did. We met in Athens and travelled to Santorini. Then Kami came back to Canada at Christmas and met my parents.

Kami: Pawel met my mom for the first time that Christmas too. I knew I had to make a decision. I could see that my relationship with Pawel had huge potential. I was also ready for a career change; I had been working in politics in Macedonia for the past few years. It felt like the right time to make a move. So I returned to Canada in the spring of 2018 to be with Pawel.

Pawel: I was still doing long-haul trucking, so when Kami first arrived, she joined me for a few work trips. We drove to Texas and back twice. We were stuck in a truck cab that was less than 80 square feet, and we still had a great time. But I soon realized that my trucking schedule was not conducive to growing a healthy relationship with Kami. So I instead found work on the business side of things, scheduling drivers and their routes.

Kami and Pawel leaning against the bar at their wedding reception

Kami: In 2018, we moved into a condo in Mississauga that Pawel had bought pre-construction.

Pawel: I wanted Kami to know that I was serious about her. She’d made a huge life change for me by moving back to Canada. I wanted to assure her that I was also committed to starting a life together.

Kami: Pawel and I had talked about marriage. He knew that it was always my dream to get married young and have kids. So we started ring shopping in May of 2018. We decided on a single round stone on a white-gold band.

Kami and Pawel kissing at the bar

Pawel: That August, Kami and I went on another trip to Europe. We went to Macedonia, where I met Kami’s father for the first time. There, I asked for his permission to marry his daughter. I’m sure he must have been intrigued and maybe a little concerned about this guy she’d moved across the world for. But I told him how much Kami meant to me and reassured him that she would be in great hands. He gave me his blessing.

Kami: We decided to go back to Santorini after that to celebrate Pawel’s birthday on August 3.

Pawel: I wanted to propose on my birthday. I planned to do it while we were in the Adriatic Sea, as a nod to our first kiss in the water at Wasaga Beach. I tied the ring to the string of my bathing suit so it wouldn’t float away.

Kami: As we were swimming, I could feel the knot of my bikini top getting loose. So I asked Pawel if he could retie it.

Kami posing in front of a mirror

Pawel: As I was helping her, I said something like, “While I’m tying this knot, why don’t we tie another knot?” Then I pulled the ring out of my swim trunks.

Kami: Even though I knew it was coming, I was still so happy and excited. It was the perfect moment. Initially, we planned our wedding in Macedonia for the summer of 2020. There would have been over 300 people there. But, once Covid hit and we saw how bad things were getting, we cancelled.

Pawel: The next thing we knew, a few years had passed. Kami had started her own furniture company, and I had started a transportation business. In April of 2022, we got a dog, Lia, a pit bull mix.

Kami: We were busy, so wedding planning was the last thing on our minds. But I knew I’d regret not having a wedding. On New Year’s Eve in 2022, we celebrated at Coffee Oysters Champagne, which has a hidden speakeasy in the back called À Toi. We had one of the best nights ever. We loved the 1920s atmosphere, the service and the entertainment. I was like, “Pawel, this is what our wedding should look like.”

A shot of a drink being held up in the crowd of the reception

Pawel: Kami contacted the venue to see if they hosted weddings, which they did. Everything came together very quickly from there.

Kami: We decided to have a small, intimate ceremony outdoors at a separate venue, the Parkwood Estate in Oshawa. It has a beautiful old mansion and gardens. It would be a private ceremony with only friends and family, just 15 guests. We’d get married on the steps outside. Then we’d head downtown to À Toi for a reception with just over 100 guests. We really liked how classic and elegant the venue looked. It didn’t need any additional florals or decor.

Kami and Pawel sitting with their dog

Pawel: I went to Harry Rosen for my wedding outfit. I didn’t have any of my friends there, just Kami. We chose a classic tux that felt more retro.

Related: Inside a stylish wedding celebration at Soos restaurant

Kami: I was only free to go dress shopping during the week, since I had to work over the weekend, but everyone else was busy those days. So I ended up dress shopping by myself, which I didn’t mind. The first dress I tried on was the one. It was a tight-fitting off-the-shoulder dress from Kleinfeld’s. I loved that it was simple, with no lace. It suited me.

Pawel: The morning of our wedding, we both got ready at our condo in Mississauga.

Kami: I got a good night’s sleep and felt very calm and at peace when I woke up. The morning was slow and nice.

Kami and Pawel walking around their wedding venue

Pawel: It was a fairly calm day for me too. I went to a barbershop for fresh styling and a beard trim. When the barber was done, he shook my hand and said, “Go get married.” I drove home and quickly suited up, then my best friend arrived and we drove over to the venue while Kami got ready.

Kami: My mom was there with me, as was my maid of honour, who had come all the way from Macedonia for the wedding. It was fun getting my makeup done.

Pawel: We had the estate booked from 4 to 6 p.m. The ceremony itself was no more than 15 minutes. In all the photos of me walking to the altar, I have a frown on my face. Kami joked later that I looked like I was walking into a funeral. I was just trying to hold back tears.

Kami and Pawel standing outside being wed

Kami: I felt so happy getting married to Pawel. It was a beautiful day. After the ceremony, we took some photos with our family around the venue. My brother even managed to get our dog, Lia, to the venue for some photos. Then we all headed downtown for the reception.

Pawel: We wanted our reception to be a repeat of the New Year’s party we’d experienced. We got the same DJ. The saxophonist from that party was unfortunately not available, but the venue recommended someone else. We also hired a burlesque performer, which was inspired by the party we’d been to. The dancer did a show for me and Kami, then she moved through the crowd. Some people, my mother in particular, were shocked to see a little strip tease going on in the middle of a wedding, but it was a lot of fun.

A burlesque dancer dressed in green and red

Kami: We decided to do food stations and passed trays instead of a seated dinner. There was a mix of seafood, meat and veggie options, plus oysters. We did a champagne tower instead of a wedding cake. We also had a few extra things that were recommended to us by the venue. As something special for our guests, we hired an artist to paint little portraits that people could take home.

Pawel: We also did a whiskey tasting. We handed out a key to a secret door hidden behind a painting. The tasting was for five people at a time. It was a really cool experience and a fun surprise for the guests.

The hidden whiskey room at the reception

Kami: There was a lot of alcohol involved, so we had some little burgers and poutines as late-night snacks. The party kept going until 4 a.m. It was just a few of our closest friends who stayed with us to the end.

Pawel: I was definitely relieved when night was over. It was the biggest night of my life, and it was so successful. Our guests all had a great time, which made it all the better.

Kami: I was very satisfied with how it all happened. Everything went by so quickly. We talked about the wedding for the next few weeks afterward, reminding ourselves of how everything had gone down. People were calling us to say it was one of the best weddings they’d ever attended.

A server in a 1920s-style outfit passing drinks

Pawel: We went back to Greece after the wedding for our honeymoon, then Kami stayed for another few weeks in Macedonia.

Kami: Being married doesn’t feel different, but now we’re growing together, which is really nice. We still always have so much to talk about.

Pawel: We’ve lived together since 2018, so marriage doesn’t feel like a drastic change to me. I still enjoy spending every day and every night with Kami. Now we just have a marriage licence.

Some of the cocktails that were being served at the wedding
Cheat Sheet

Date: June 17, 2023 Photography: Purple Tree Photography Ceremony venue: The Parkwood Estate Officiant: Raymond Cross Florist: Flower Parade Reception venue and food: À Toi Reception coordinator: Katherine Johannson DJ: Mark Oliver Saxophonist: Bongo & B Entertainment Portrait painter: Valariia Kravchenco Burlesque dancer: Alayna Molotkow Bride’s hair: Svitlana Datsenko Bride’s makeup: Angelina Masich Bride’s ceremony dress: Kleinfeld Bride’s reception dress: Revolve Groom’s outfit: Harry Rosen

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