Small businesses forever and always
Something that may come as a surprise: I got married last week. Yup, in the midst of COVID lockdown, without any family here. Yup, in Toronto, far from home. Yup, it’s a whole story and YUP, there are pictures and a proper blog post to follow!
As you might imagine, getting married in the current climate is a stressful situation, to say the least. Luckily I had sourced and altered my own dress just before the lockdown, but there was a lot that was still up in the air at the point at which it became apparent that the wedding was going to look very different than what we had planned.
I don’t know what the day would have ended up looking like if it hadn’t been for the incredible service provided by a number of small businesses who are continuing to operate in Toronto during this time. The care and attention with which they collectively made our day happen truly blew me away, and before I have the time to do a full wedding post, I wanted to take a moment to just give a huge shout out to these small businesses and genuinely just small businesses everywhere. I had also made the blunder of relying on some retail giants during this time, specifically for my wedding, and was colossally let down. The whole experience has just reinforced what I already knew – that small business owners are legends, and I’ll be always going to them over their conglomerate cousins from now on.
This one-of-a-kind jewellery shop in the West Queen West area was a gem I stumbled across on my way to the library and I could not be more thrilled. Made You Look brings together a truly unique selection of beautifully made jewellery, and has about 40 individual local jewellers who can often be found at their work stations in the store, creating custom pieces or making themselves available for consultations. The customer service here is amongst the best I have ever received, and both Jesse and I found rings displayed in store that we had custom-made for our sizes. Mine is a gorgeous thin scalloped gold band from Arsaeus Designs and Jesse’s is a rough-hammered bronze band from Tyler De Witt. When the lock down came into play and all our plans went out the window, I got in touch with the store owner to see if there was any way we could get our rings, despite their being closed. She went above and beyond to make sure the wedding rings could be finished, made available for pick up, and processed payment outside their normal terms. This place just rocks. Thank you!
I have made no secret of my love for Toronto’s amazing dress rental store (and, incidentally, my one-time employer), The Fitzroy. With their amazing collection of gorgeous gowns and jazzy jumpsuits, and super fun studio near Lansdowne Station, there’s many reasons to jump on board the Fitzroy bandwagon, but none so much as the care and passion they throw into what they do. I saw this first hand when working for them, but have now experienced it from the customer side. The business is currently selling some existing rental stock via an Instagram twice a week, but when the dress my friend and one of my only two guests has been coveting these last three months didn’t appear on the sale, she took a chance and messaged them. Not only did she receive thoughtful communication back and an agreement to buy her dream dress, but the business owner made sure she got it to her on time, going out of her way to hand deliver it to her front door the day before the wedding, complete with a bag of Benefit goodies. If that’s not service, I don’t know what is. Toronto ladies – please hit them up for your next event!
On the morning of my COVID wedding I found myself in line at my grocery store in order to get myself some flowers as a last-minute bouquet. The stems on offer were amongst the saddest things my eyes have ever seen, but to my delight, upon arrival at my friend’s house which served as our wedding venue, a giant and genuinely splendid bouquet was awaiting me, having been ordered as a gift by faraway friends (if you’re reading this – you’re the best). Another bouquet had been ordered from yet more thoughtful friends but from a much larger retailer and not only did they not show up on time, they weren’t even what was ordered. While I don’t begrudge any flowers that come my way, I was sorry to see the people who had ordered them so disappointed, and the whole thing just reminded me why it is always best to go with small businesses who genuinely care about every order received. Furthermore, the beautiful bouquet from Wild North packed in so much diversity and texture, I ended up borrowing bit of it for my bridal bouquet, and it turned our perfectly.
The one thing Jesse and I both agreed early we would spend any sort of money on for a wedding is photography – there is nothing I value more than the visual memories you get to keep. Carina came via a personal recommendation, and was incredible to work with. She was generous with her time, turned around our edited gallery in crazy quick time, and was super friendly and fun throughout. I’m so thrilled with the photos we have of the day; especially important to share with all our family and friends who weren’t able to be there.
Jesse is absolutely mad about craft beers, and has done an excellent job in any city we’ve lived in of discovering some real gems. His latest find in Toronto is small brewery Half Hours on Earth who have made our time in quarantine about ten times more tasty and fun than it otherwise would have been. With free, fast delivery, completely dissoluble and compostable packaging and some of the most mind-blowing flavours I’ve ever known in beer, this little company is truly one worth knowing, and when it came to drinks for the big day, they were the first we thought of!
All photos courtesy of Carina Yu Photography.