Real Weddings: Dylan and Laurence
Inside a city hall ceremony and a reception on an estate in Quebec
Laurence Fortin-Côté, a 29-year-old content creator and designer, first met Dylan Wu, a 34-year-old freelance hospitality and retail consultant, in 2017, when she visited the Yorkville café where Dylan was working. But the two didn’t begin dating until Laurence tracked Dylan down on Instagram. In 2022, Dylan proposed to Laurence on a trip to Paris. The couple were wed in a civil ceremony at Toronto’s city hall in August 2023, with a bigger reception in Quebec City in September. Here’s how it all came together.
Laurence: I’m from Lac-Saint-Jean, which is about 90 minutes north of Quebec City. I moved to Toronto in the fall of 2017 to get a master’s degree in fashion at TMU. I was living at Bay and Bloor and went to a nearby café, Sorry Coffee Co., pretty often. I noticed Dylan early on—he was working at Sorry Coffee every time I visited. I thought he was extremely cute, but he was always busy, so I didn’t want to bother him.
Dylan: I grew up in North Toronto, at Yonge and Lawrence. I was the manager of the café when I first saw Laurence. She was really quiet and pretty shy. She didn’t seem like the most approachable person.
Laurence: I felt weird about asking Dylan out at the café. I didn’t even know his name. So, in October, I went on the café’s Instagram account and looked through the list of people they were following to see if I recognized him. Luckily, I spotted him right away.
Dylan: I saw that Laurence had liked one of my old photos on Instagram. We started DMing each other, and a few days later, I asked her out.
Laurence: Our first date started at 7 p.m. and didn’t end until 3 a.m. We met at Northern Belle for a drink, walked around the neighbourhood and then went to Hanmoto for another drink. We were able to really get to know each other. Dylan had studied French in school, and French is my first language. That made me feel more connected to him.
Dylan: My French is quite rusty, so most of our conversations were in English. I was pretty nervous, but I warmed up quickly. I loved how ambitious Laurence was. She knew exactly what she wanted to do, which was to create content for iconic fashion brands. I found her focus really attractive.
Laurence: From there, Dylan and I went on dates twice a week. Things progressed pretty quickly. I always felt safe in my relationship with Dylan. We were both ready to invest time and effort from the start.
Dylan: Laurence and I would go for dinners out and have day dates where we’d visit museums. I have a lot of connections in the café community in Toronto, so we’d go to cafés around the city and walk around nearby neighbourhoods.
Laurence: Dylan helped me discover Toronto. I fell in love with him and the city at the same time. In November, my mom came to visit, and the three of us went to dinner at Aloette.
Dylan: The dinner went well, but Laurence’s mother doesn’t speak English. So, when Laurence went to the bathroom, we’d try to chat in French. I’m pretty sure I messed up my conjugation and phrasing.
Laurence: My mom really liked Dylan. Even though he didn’t speak perfect French, I think she was happy that he spoke a bit. When I moved to Toronto, my mom thought I might settle down with someone who was fully anglophone, so she was relieved that they could communicate in some way.
Dylan: In December, Laurence and I went to Montreal, which is the last city she’d lived in and where my brother and his now-wife live. Then, the following Chinese New Year, in 2018, Laurence met my parents.
Laurence: I was quite nervous meeting Dylan’s parents. I just wanted it to go smoothly, which luckily it did. His family was very welcoming and warm to me from the start, which made it easy to envision a life together. In the spring of 2019, I was finishing school and my lease was about to expire. Dylan was living in an apartment in High Park at the time, so I moved in with him.
Dylan: Merging two people’s stuff in one apartment was a bit challenging, but Laurence had a vision to upgrade the space and make it a lot nicer. We painted, bought new furniture and rearranged our things.
Laurence: I got a job working in the fashion office of a department store, and Dylan had started working for a retail clothing chain, opening up cafés within the stores. We were both working quite a lot and travelling around North America and Europe on business.
Dylan: When the pandemic hit, we were both suddenly home much more often. We could really connect, and we spent even more time together. Since we lived right by High Park, we went for a lot of long walks.
Laurence: I never questioned my relationship with Dylan once. We strengthened our bond during the pandemic. I always wanted to get married eventually, and I’d shared that with Dylan pretty early on.
Dylan: Getting married wasn’t a must for me, but I knew how important it was to Laurence. The more time we spent together, the more I knew I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. So, in January 2022, we started shopping for rings.
Laurence: I tried on a few different styles. I really liked one with an oval-cut diamond with a halo. A month later, at the end of February, I was travelling to Paris for fashion week. By this time, I was working as a freelance content creator, and it was the first time I was invited by Chanel to attend their show. I was really excited about the trip. Dylan would join me ten days after I arrived, near the end of fashion week, and then we’d meet up with some friends in Burgundy for a holiday.
Dylan: I thought that proposing in Paris would be a great way to mark such a special occasion, so I ordered the ring Laurence liked. It didn’t arrive until the day before my flight, which was pretty stressful. I didn’t really have a plan. I just carried the ring around with me on the trip and figured I’d wait for the right moment. The day after I arrived, I asked Laurence to go for a walk along the Seine.
Laurence: We decided to go to the Pont de l’Alma, which has a really good view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s usually a very touristy spot, but because it was cold and windy that day, there was nobody around.
Dylan: I asked Laurence to take a seat by the Pont de l’Alma so I could take a photo of her. Then I said I wanted a shot of her looking away from me, toward the tower. That’s when I got down on one knee and pulled out the ring. I was quite nervous. I don’t even remember what I said.
Laurence: I was shocked. I didn’t expect him to propose so early. We had only started looking at rings together. I immediately started crying and said yes. It was nice that we got to have a private moment together in such a scenic spot.
Dylan: We wanted to enjoy our time being engaged and not rush into the logistics. So we didn’t start planning our wedding until the following year, in January 2023.
Laurence: We knew that getting a venue would be quite hard since the dates get booked up quickly, so we started there. We thought it would be nice to have the wedding in Quebec. We asked our friends and Dylan’s family in Toronto if it would be too far for them to travel, but everyone was excited about it. My parents knew about a venue in Quebec City called Domaine Cataraqui, which is a 19th-century English estate. They had a date available in September 2023, so we booked it.
Dylan: We kept the guest list pretty short, with about 50 people. It was just close friends and family.
Laurence: We rented out the entire estate so we could have all our events there—the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
Dylan: Adding on a civil ceremony in Toronto was a last-minute decision. We wanted my childhood friend, Gilbert, to be our officiant, but he needed to be registered in Quebec three months before the wedding. We only found out about that in early August, a month and a half before our wedding. I had a small panic attack, thinking that we couldn’t get married. So we decided that we’d officially get married in Toronto first, then do our larger reception in Quebec. I went online and we took the first opening at city hall, which was August 18.
Laurence: That day would just be the two of us and our two photographers, who would be our witnesses. I was wearing a Herskind two-piece top and skirt, and Dylan wore a Theory suit. We had some accessories from Chanel—two camellia flowers. Dylan wore one on his suit, and I had one in my hair.
Dylan: At first, Laurence said she didn’t want a bouquet. But we decided last-minute that it’d be nice to have something to make the ceremony feel special. So, the morning of, I ran over to our local flower shop right when they opened at 8 a.m. and put something together with orchids and white flowers. Our appointment at city hall was at 10 a.m. We made it there just in time.
Laurence: It was nice to have that little ceremony, just the two of us. It was special because Toronto is where we met.
Laurence: For my Quebec wedding dress, I went to a few traditional bridal shops, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked. I decided to buy a dress online from Anna Quan, an Australian designer. It wasn’t actually a bridal dress, but it was silk, strapless and flowy.
Dylan: I got a custom-made tuxedo from Harry Rosen for our Quebec wedding. It’s made of wool gabardine, with wide lapels and a single button. We jigged the measurements to get a bit of a flare in the trousers and the jacket sleeves. My mom had also had some jackets made for us when she’d visited China earlier in the year. She got a cream cashmere jacket for Laurence, with a traditional rope button closure, and I had a silk and velvet collarless Tang suit jacket with rope buttons. We wanted to incorporate both of our cultures into our wedding, so we decided to wear them during the reception.
Laurence: On the morning of the wedding, Dylan and I got ready in separate rooms in the estate. Dylan was in the maison du chauffeur, which is the old carriage home for the horses and drivers. I was in the main house with all the girls—my mom, grandmother and two bridesmaids.
Dylan: It didn’t take me long to get ready. At one point, my dad and I went out to get coffee. I helped the planners set up the venue, and as the guests arrived, we went out to greet them. Our ceremony was going to take place outside in the courtyard.
Laurence: The venue was already beautiful, so we didn’t need a lot of decor. We wanted something that felt classic and cozy. We added some florals in deep purples and blacks, and my makeup palate was purpley pinks. From the room where I was getting ready, I had a view overlooking the courtyard and could see everything being set up.
Dylan: I didn’t feel nervous until I was waiting at the altar for Laurence.
Laurence: Walking down the aisle felt surreal. I don’t think I was really nervous; I was just trying to live in the moment and focus on Dylan. It was a really happy 20 minutes. We said our vows, which we’d written ourselves, and it all went super well.
Dylan: Gilbert, my friend who was also our wedding officiant and MC, did a great job of weaving in French and English to accommodate both sides of the family.
Laurence: After the ceremony, there was a cocktail hour with a traditional French cheese table, an oyster bar and Ibérico ham. Then we moved to another room for dinner.
Dylan: Our menu combined traditional Quebecois and Chinese cuisine. We started with split-pea soup, then we had beef cheek with mashed potatoes, steamed fish with ginger and dan dan–style noodles. We also served Chinese beer with dinner.
Laurence: Just before dessert, which was a choux tower, we went outside for our first dance to “Happiness” by Rex Orange County. It was under the fairy lights in the courtyard. Then the dance floor opened up. We had two DJs from Montreal who played a lot of classic songs, from the ’60s to the ’80s, plus some older French songs for my parents. We ended the night with more electronic, rave-type music.
Dylan: At midnight, we got poutine delivered to the venue for everyone, which was a nice snack. The evening ended at 1:30 a.m., and then Laurence and I went to a hotel we had booked in Quebec City.
Laurence: People always say your wedding day happens so fast, but I felt like we had the time to take it all in and be with our loved ones. It was a nice pace. I didn’t feel like we missed anything.
Dylan: The next day, we left for our honeymoon. We had a pit stop in Paris so that Laurence could attend a Chanel show.
Laurence: After that, we headed to Rome for a couple of days and drove around Puglia, in the south of Italy.
Dylan: Married life feels good so far. It’s the same but better. We’re not huge on planning the future. We’re just happy being together. Our work keeps us busy. I’m freelancing now as a retail and hospitality consultant, so we have more flexibility to travel for each other’s endeavours. We’ll be going to Paris again in February for fashion week.
Laurence: We’re working on building a clothing brand together. It’s a passion project of ours. Marriage has solidified our bond. We’ve been together for so long already, and we know each other so well. This is just a new chapter.
Date: August 18, 2023
Venue: Toronto City Hall
Photography: Kristina Bastien
Bride’s dress: Herskind
Groom’s outfit: Theory
Quebec City reception
Date: September 30, 2023
Venue: Domaine Cataraqui
Planner: Rebecca Mathieu, Simplement-Nous
Photography: Tyler Hayward
Officiant/MC: Gilbert Coyle
Florist: Atelier Carmel
Catering: Bistro Évolution
DJ and live jazz band: A1DJs
Bride’s hair: Francis Bouchard
Bride’s makeup: Chanel by Julie Cusson
Bride’s dress: Anna Quan
Bride’s second dress: La Collection
Groom’s outfit: Harry Rosen