From the onset, an organic ease hallmarked the relationship of actress Enuka Okuma and musician Joe Gasparik. Having met in Toronto while working on the same televised crime drama, the pair struck up a friendship that eventually grew into more. Three years later, with the blessing of the bride's parents, Joe popped the question while the pair strolled a Vancouver beach. Through tears of joy, Enuka agreed, and the couple happily enjoyed a long engagement before delving into wedding planning.
"I'm a pretty visual person," reveals the bride, "so when it was time to make my own ideas a reality, magazines gave me a springboard from which to jump." The print inspiration fueled not only wedding ideas but Enuka's enthusiasm as well. "I got so into it that my friends would laugh when I'd say something like, 'I think there’s a shot of that gown in the spring 2009 issue of Inside Weddings,'" muses the bride. After considering their options, the couple ultimately selected a theme that would combine the bride’s affinity for city life with the groom’s appreciation of country living. "Joe is a pretty outdoorsy guy and I’m definitely a city girl," Enuka notes, "yet, together we expand each other’s horizons."
Although many advised the couple to employ a professional wedding consultant for the planning, Enuka and Joe chose to take the helm themselves with help from several talented friends and family members. The bride's sister, a graphic designer, created a custom invitation suite that combined the Toronto skyline with faux bois elements to play up the couple’s theme, and a talented friend designed a custom monogram that was utilized on wedding stationery and favors. The groom's father and his wife – a professional florist – lent their skills to the floral design, while one of the bride's best friends was appointed to act as coordinator on the big day. "I am forever indebted to her for that," gushes Enuka.
When selecting their ceremony and reception locations, the couple relied on the same instincts that led them to each other. "We fell in love with our venues in kind of the same way we fell in love with each other,” shares the couple. “When you know, you know!" The historical Italianate-style Roman Catholic church where the ceremony was held featured pews decorated with cone vases crafted from birch bark. Each vase held large white dahlias and was secured in place with a white satin ribbon.
Bridesmaids were sheathed in knee-skimming frocks in delicate sage green, and carried small ribbon-wrapped bouquets of white roses and lilies. Two of the couple’s nephews made for darling ring bearers, one carrying a ring in a bird’s nest, and the other cradling a band in an engraved ceramic bowl. "We display both in our home now," says Enuka of the emblematic vessels.
The ebullient groom awaited his bride while wearing a handsome charcoal suit, a white orchid pinned to his lapel. "It took all I had to keep it together," admits Joe of seeing his breathtaking bride glide down the aisle. Enuka was lovely in a strapless silk gown featuring a rouched skirt and sweetheart neckline. Petal-adorned satin pumps, a snowy veil, and a bouquet of large white dahlias added to the romance. Three of the couple's friends played violin, viola, and classical guitar during the processional. “Seeing all of our friends and family together in one place for the first time was a magical moment," recalls the groom. "It was a beautiful feeling I won’t forget."
Apropos to the bride’s profession, a former theatre was the site for the couple’s wedding reception. A marquee announced “The New Romantics Starring Enuka and Joe,” and personalized movie posters designed by the groom's best man adorned the entrance to the theater. Guests located their table assignments courtesy of a unique seating chart the inventive bride had created by securing escort cards to ribbons on an upholstered canvas with clothespins. Table centerpieces were a sprightly mix of white Gerbera daisies, roses, hydrangeas, and lilies, along with green spider mums and a plethora of foliage tucked in cylindrical glass vases wrapped in birch bark and tied with ribbon. As gifts to the couple, the crafty groomsmen had created table numbers fashioned after old Toronto street signs, each representing a road that the bride or groom had either once lived on or neighbored.
Friends continued to play a significant role in providing the extra touches that made the event so special. A tea sommelier teamed up with a mixologist to create liquor-infused drinks, while another acquaintance served home-baked cupcakes frosted with the couple’s initials. A colleague who works as a voice-over actor announced each member of the wedding party while the former theme song for Late Night with Conan O’Brien played in the background. “It was a huge hit!” Joe laughs.
Following a delicious three-course dinner, guests were treated to a chocolate-flavored wedding cake that featured four beautiful tiers. Iced from top to bottom in a subtle gradation from white to sage, the cake was crowned with a single edible white dahlia that mimicked the bride's bouquet. All of the tasty food and drink fueled a night of merriment and dancing to R&B tunes played by a band that the groom selected. "The whole wedding was extremely personal and each creative idea was born out of our life together," says Enuka.
The couple urges future brides and grooms to savor the moment. "No matter how busy your wedding day seems, take a moment to enjoy yourself," says Joe. “I did, and as a result, the whole day is pretty much committed to memory." Which is exactly as it should be.