Tell us a little about yourselves!
Monique is 32 years old, is a third generation Chinese Canadian, the second oldest of 5 siblings (all girls!) and has a twin sister. She recently switched career paths to pursue a lifelong passion of going to art school.
Milan is 33 years old, a second generation Indian Canadian and a doctor practicing infectious diseases and addictions medicine.
Both went to the same highschool in Edmondton, AB. Milan and Monique have known each other for years with several common friends. After losing touch for about 7 years, fate brought them back together again in 2016, and they’ve been inseparable since.
Why did you decide to get married where you did?
We decided we wanted to be married legally on June 29, 2023 so that we would not have to choose between either Hindu or Western wedding as our anniversary. It just so happened that June 29 is also the anniversary of when we got engaged! We were legally married in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley. Throughout the planning process, it was important to pick vendors who we felt a personal connection to. Marissa of Lovella Lifestyle's inspiring story which led to the genesis of her business, along with her kind, and thoughtful approach allowed us to have an instant connection. Sparrow Lane Weddings + Events itself is also brand new, its first season was 2022, and combines elements of elegance, tranquility, and openness that are simply not replicated amongst other venues in Edmonton.
How many guests did you have?
We had 130 guests at the Indian wedding and hindu ceremony and 110 guests at the western ceremony, chinese tea ceremony and reception. Doxa Photography captured our multi-day celebration.
What was your budget?
We spent a budget that we were both comfortable with. We already had our entire budget saved between the two of us prior to planning the wedding and wanted to keep our autonomy of the decision making process by being in control of the budget. Additionally, we were very fortunate to be gifted portions of the wedding from family and friends.
Tell us about your outfits.
For the Hindu wedding, Milan wore a Sherwani, which is classic groom attire for a traditional Hindu ceremony and Monique wore a Lehenga. At first I wanted my outfit to be non-traditional (since I am not Indian) but still respectful to Milan’s culture. Typically a bride wears red on her wedding day, as it is an auspicious colour in both Indian and Chinese cultures. I had the idea that I would wear something pastel and not red.
The groomsmen wore vests from Frontier Bridal in various colours of pastels and the bridesmaids also wore various colours of pastel. Each bridesmaid chose her own outfit according to her style. Options they could look for ranged from traditional Indian outfits or even a hybrid (western style dress with a dupatta) that fit their style.
For the western wedding Milan wore a made to measure three piece double breasted suit, an Emporio Armani Cotton Dress shirt and an Emporio Armani silk tie.
Monique wore a white ceremony dress from Ouma. I went shopping once at a single boutique in Edmonton to try on some wedding dresses in August 2022. The dresses were beautiful however, I found that I wanted to change each one significantly to fit my style. My bridesmaid Justine, who was married in 2019, had a custom made dress for her reception dress, so I decided the custom dress route was an option that I wanted to pursue.
I reached out to the designer, Ou Ma, about working together to design my ceremony dress after I had seen her custom work on instagram. Ou came up with some initial sketches from a variety of inspiration photos that I sent her. Once I saw the sketch for the asymmetrical gown with the sheer bodysuit and removable cape I knew I wanted to work with her. The whole experience working with Ou exceeded my expectations and beyond. It transformed the idea of my wedding dress from just a garment to an entire experience: it will be something that I will never forget.
I also originally was going to purchase a cheongsam (traditional Chinese dress) from Chinatown in Vancouver during one of my visits but serendipitously Ou mentioned that she had made to measure cheongsams as part of her collection. I fell in love with a blush rose pink cheongsam to wear during our tea ceremony. During the wedding day, I made the decision to not change into the cheongsam, so that I could spend some downtime with Milan between the western ceremony and the tea ceremony.
Bridesmaids: To accommodate the different styles of the bridesmaids, they were allowed to pick a cocktail style dress they wanted as long as it fit the colour scheme. Ouma also designed and made the bridesmaids sheer toppers to provide a sense of unity in the event the bridesmaids all chose different dresses. Additionally, it echoed my sheer bodysuit during the ceremony. This added a cohesiveness to the bridal party during the ceremony but they could also take them off during the reception.
Groomsmen: To simplify the process, Milan asked the groomsmen if they could wear black suits including any suits they already owned.
What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?
That is was family-centric and love focused. And that we could spend as much time with family and friends and guests, who travelled from out of province and out of country to be with us. We also didn't want the day to feel like a production where we were rushing from one thing to the next and we didn't want to focus on creating picture perfect moments. Milan does not particularly like posing for photographs and we wanted our day to play out organically as possible, without the circus of posing for this, posing for that. We also wanted to feel like the dinner was an extension of how we would host a dinner at our house -obviously just ramped up in terms of elegance!
Speeches are the most important part of any wedding that Milan looks forward to. For us to say thank you to all those who have helped us become the people we are today and also supported the both of us along the way, was one of the most important aspects of the wedding.
Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?
For Monique: incorporating a chinese tea ceremony on our western day. A tea ceremony is a small intimate ceremony that typically takes place at the groom’s family’s home the morning of the wedding ceremony. It is to pay respect to our elders and other people in our families. We were flexible and switched gears and had the ceremony take place after the wedding ceremony when the immediate family members taking time throughout the day to recognize staying true to the both of us and not doing “traditional wedding things“ just because we were getting married. For example, we both did not feel comfortable doing a first dance while everyone just watched us. So instead, we invited all our guests to share the dancefloor with us while we had our first dance, to Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love, with all our family and friends dancing together. It was an incredible experience to look around and watch our parents, cousins, friends, aunts and uncles, all dancing in unison with us.
For Milan: For Monique to be happy. As much as possible, to be present for this incredible time in our lives - and to have thoughtful speeches!
Any tips for couples getting married?
Let yourselves get lost in the magic, even if it’s just for a little bit. Remember to make time for yourselves too! Stay true to what the both of you want as a couple together – drown out the noise of what a wedding is “supposed” to be and just do it your way.
Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?
Yara the Tailorette - A week before the wedding I opened up my garment bag and saw there were four snags (similar to stocking runs) in the silk fabric all down the center my white wedding dress. They were small enough that from far away that they weren’t that noticeable, but up close were very visible (especially to me). I reached out to Ou who reassured me that it was an easy fix that could be done by a seamstress located locally. So she quickly got in touch with the bridal stores in Edmonton and found a tailor that many of the stores use for alterations. Yara was an absolute angel and worked her magic to completely remove all the snags from existence so that the dress was in pristine condition for the wedding day. I can’t express my gratitude to Yara for her incredible calmness, kindness, and coming to my rescue at the eleventh hour.
Freewill Field and Flower was an incredible collaborator to bring my zen garden and wildflower idea to life. Our ceremony arches were a pair of asymmetrical half arches. Our centerpieces were small clusters of wildflowers in small pin frog vases. I was really happy that Jill was excited to bring my vision to life and to create something she hadn't yet done before.
Century Catering - we had two tastings with Century Catering and Deidre Frew, the coordinator who was an amazing help, in order to work with us to create an entire gluten free and vegetarian menu They were so accommodating to our special menu requests in terms of flavours, plating, and service. Deidre paid special attention to those with food allergies on the actual wedding day and really went out of her way to make sure everything went seamless. We loved that both she and the chef were both excited for the menu because they had never done something like that before.
Photographer : Doxa Photography @doxaphotography | Ceremony + Reception Location : Sparrow Lane Weddings + Events @sparrowlane.events | Celebrant : Punditji + Scott Baricello | Entertainment : Glam Cam @glamcam.ca | Planning + Styling : The Bride with Lovella Lifestyle @lovellalifestyle | Ceremony Space : M Wedding + Events @mweddingandevents | Flora : Freewill Field and Flower @freewillfieldandflower (Western Ceremony) | Makeup + Grooming : Saara Studio @saarastudio + Billy’s Barber + Hairstylist | Hair : Priya Bala @inspirebypriya + Lush + Lavish Beauty @lush_and_lavish_beauty | Catering : Zaika Bistro + Century Catering @centurycateringandevents (Western Ceremony) | Beverages (Western Ceremony) : Sparrow Lane @sparrowlane.events | Stationery : by the Bride | Lehenga, Dupatta + Veil : Sunny’s Bridal @sunnysbridal | Sherwani + Shoes : Frontier Bridal Shop @frontierbridalboutique | Necklace + Headpiece : Paras Fashions @parasfashions | Groomsmen : Frontier Bridal Shop @frontierbridalboutique | Rentals : Special Event Rentals @specialeventrentals | Western Ceremony Dress, Bodysuit, Cape + Tea Ceremony Dress : Ouma @ouma_bridal | Reception dress : Lady Pipa @ladypipa | Tailoring : Yara the Tailorette @yara_the_tailorette | Engagement Ring : La Perla Jewellers @laperlajewellers | Wedding Rings : Lim Goldsmiths @limgoldsmiths (hers) + Spence Diamonds (his) | Custom Bridesmaids Toppers : Ouma @ouma_bridal | Bridesmaids Dresses : Park and Fifth Co