PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE NICKERSONS
Rustic beauty and a dash of India made Jennifer Couvelier and Girish Chhatwani's Victoria wedding simple yet striking
Jennifer and Girish Chhatwani first met in Toronto about five years ago while pursuing their MBAs. By the time they got engaged in June 2015, they had settled in Calgary. But when it was time to plan the big day, there was no doubt their vows would be spoken on a farm in Victoria. You might even say the venue was Jen’s “something old.”
“It was a place where I’d spent a lot of time growing up,” the Island-born bride explains of her grandparents’ property overlooking the ocean. “It was always my dream to host my wedding there.”
It was a tone-setting decision, as all subsequent choices leading up to the July 2016 ceremony would spring “organically” from the rustic land on which it was to take place.
“Once we agreed on the location of the venue, we really wanted that to dictate the style, the feel of the wedding”—a style Jennifer pegs as “simple” with an “element of timeless.”
Though it wasn’t the only place they said “I do,” as Girish and Jennifer held a more traditional Indian ceremony across the pond for Girish’s extended family (“His nest is a little bit larger,” she explains). Still, they made it a point to pepper “flares” of their shared Indian heritage into their country wedding.
And indeed, their idea of a perfect wedding day was—like their decor—quite simple.
“We really wanted to make sure we created a memorable evening for every one of our guests. Girish and I have lived in two different cities together and have friends from around the world that were all coming to this one space to share this day with us; we wanted to make sure it was a relaxed evening for everyone to enjoy.”
Knowing they’d be in a field all day, Jennifer favoured a “simple, comfortable dress,” which she found in this elegant Monique Lhuillier number; the day’s “something borrowed” came from mom and grandma, who provided the bride’s accessories. Girish fits the “timeless” theme in a classic Italian tux from Canali.
Keeping with the “simple” theme, Jen dressed her bridesmaids in BHLDN, with “a fairly neutral palette,” and plenty comfortable for dancing the evening away in a field. Victoria’s Verbena Floral Design created the gorgeous bouquets. “I really left the specifics up to Verbena,” says Jen. “I showed a few different inspiration pictures but it really came down to what was available.”
Jennifer realized a childhood dream of returning to her grandparents’ Victoria farm for a wedding overlooking the ocean; “It was spectacular to see it come to life,” Jen says. Part of the reason they opted for a simpler approach was “to take advantage of the beautiful background that was there,” Jen recalls.
During the reception, guests danced and mingled on a grassy field beneath a large tent from Black & White Event Rentals. inside, the vibe was again rustic and elegant, with “small flares of Indian throughout” (see tablecloths and hanging lights). Toque Catering provided the eats; Bash Specialty the drinks; and Side One band the live covers of “Aretha to Lady Gaga, The Beatles, Pitbull and Queen, and literally everything in between.”
Jennifer and Girish had the pros at Sweet Surrender Cakes etch a paisley design into their display cake, one of several understated nods to Girish’s Indian heritage. The cake “was a little bit more my department,” Jen confesses. “I have more of a sweet tooth than Girish.”
Being based in Calgary presented some challenges for planning a Victoria wedding, making it important to have a local planner they trusted executing their vision. They got just that in Barb Walker of French Kiss Events. “She helped us assemble a team that’s worked together in the past and is highly collaborative… Girish and I are both very organized and detail-oriented people,” Jen explains, “and it was comforting to know that we had a great team in Victoria that was making sure that everything was taken care of.”