Oh Canada: Lennifer get married! – Day 2

I’m actually in Canada again, in Winnipeg, for another visit home, so I figure before I write about my October visit home, perhaps I should finish the August visit home posts first! Yes I know, I’m a big procrastinator….

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Day two in Hamilton could also be known as Wedding Day! 
I woke up pretty early that morning, as I’d gone to bed early the night before because I was exhausted from travelling, and hadn’t yet adjusted to the five-hours-behind time difference. We were staying in a very cool part of Hamilton on Locke St, surrounded by beautiful old brick houses full of character, large trees that lined both sides of the street, and trendy restaurants and shops that just begged for a peak. I quietly got dressed and left the house in search of coffee, fruit and some kind of breakfast baking. I grabbed an iced vanilla latte from Starbucks, then got some banana bread, a smoothie, and fruit from the busy Locke Street Bakery before heading back. I passed many appealing restaurants, an organic grocery store, a cheese shop and the local farmer’s market setting up for the day. I also ran into my Uncle Les and soon-to-be Aunt Jennifer, hours before their big moment.
The house we stayed at featured this incredible Tuscan-influenced garden:
 And came complete with its own cat!
 A friend of Jennifer’s, who lives off of Locke St, recommended Earth to Table’s Bread Bar, so naturally, my dad and I had to try it. Just walking in, you knew it was going to be good.

The atmosphere is very laid back and the service was very good: informative and attentive, the way it’s supposed to be. My dad and I both ordered the exact same things: fruit salad and Caramel French Toast. They were fantastic! You can tell by my dad’s apparent smile (he really was smiling here! Perhaps it looks awkward because he has food in his mouth?), that the salad was delicious:

And obviously with my equally good photo, you can tell that I was just so delighted and beside myself with how good this salad was:

 

Usually, my dad and I are much more photogenic. I promise. Back to the fruit salad.

When it comes to fruit salad in restaurants, one would normally assume that it’s a) too cold to eat; b) possibly from a can; or c) has been sitting mixed together for a while, therefore all flavours have combined into one. This salad was none of the above as all the fruit had been cut fresh that morning, was not at all cold, and was perfectly ripe; all of which made eating it even better.

At this point, I was on the full side from having had a smoothie and a latte, so when my Caramel French Toast came, I had a hard time trying to eat it despite how truly heavenly it looked:

The Bread Bar on Locke is definitely a place to try for brunch or lunch, as they feature all sorts of coffees, baking and hot breakfast foods, as well as delicious looking sandwiches and pizzas. I’m pretty sure they’re also open for dinner, however I didn’t have a peak at the menu. They also made mojitos from scratch, awesome! We left feeling stuffed and satisfied and headed back to our accommodation to get ready for the wedding. 
The ceremony took place in downtown Hamilton, at Whitehern Historic House, in their walled garden. 
source
I’m not going to lie, it was such a hot, humid day! But we all survived. The wedding ceremony was probably the best one I’ve been to, like, ever. It was interactive and personal, full of laughs and a many tears of joy. At the start, the reverend read out some descriptions, and if you fit that, you had to stand up. Examples of descriptions included:
– if you’re from Winnipeg (I stood!) OR had been to Winnipeg.
– if you worked with the bride or groom.
– if you’ve known the bride of groom for 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? 40 years? 50 years???? (at that point, my dad and his siblings were pretty much the only ones standing).

There was also a feature of the ceremony where guests were welcomed to give advice to the married couple, and many people did, which was really nice to see. The highlight of the ceremony for me though, was the vows. I can’t remember what Les’ vows to Jennifer were (sorry Les!!), but Jennifer’s vows to Les began with one of the most romantic, sincere and beautiful things I’ve ever heard one human say to another. She said: (paraphrased)
Les, when we first started going out, I felt I had to be my best person. Not because I wanted to be my best for you, but because you deserved it.
It was at this point that my Uncle Les burst into tears, along with the entire congregation of guests. There truly wasn’t a dry eye at the wedding.
The ceremony concluded, and I now had a new Aunt! 

The happy, amazing couple

Iced coffees, Italian sodas and baking were served in the garden after the wedding, and tours of Whitehern House were offerred, (which I obviously did! – I love old historic houses, one of the best parts about living in Scotland!).

Half Japanese sisters and cousin

We then made our way to the reception site, which was in the backyard of Les and Jennifer’s friend’s house in Dundas, very close to the river valley. The yard itself was beautiful with many different aspects: a quite little pond, a hot tub (!), a recently covered beach volleyball court, a children’s play structure, and a fire pit. Something for everyone.

Now, the food for this wedding was fantastic! However, I don’t know the name of the caterer so I can’t give anyone credit!!!!! I also don’t have any photos of it either, so I’ll just describe it. The hors d’oeuvres were grilled prawns, some kind of Sambuca-gazpacho-esque shot (I had three and felt tipsy!), a brie-naan bread open-face pizza and seared Wasabi tuna, (which sadly I missed).
Everyone mingled and drank and ate, and I got to know Les and Jennifer’s friends and see how amazing they were. They also had a magician going about, and you could hear cries of amazement and laughter every now and then as he would puzzle people with his tricks. 
It was then time for some speeches! The bride and groom thanked everyone for coming, and also acknowledged some very special people but in a truly unique way. They started by pointing out that there were some very interesting people in our midst: for Jennifer, it was her friend who had an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for dismantling landmines in South East Asia; for Les, it was his friend Cal who’d been shot out of a cannon just before they met! For us out-of-towners, rather than identifying who they were and where they came from, Jennifer asked us all to raise our hands if you came from another country. She also asked all the single people to raise their hands and then look around, very funny (and very clever!). Les also acknowledged that it was so nice to see so many half Japanese people, which us half Japanese people (and our full Japanese parents) laughed at. Next up: dinner time!
Again, I’ve not got photos, so I’ll describe: greens salad with this amazing creamy dill dressing, Quinoa salad (which I tried for the first time and loved!), potato salad, tomato salad, Korean BBQ chicken, and creamy dill salmon. Everyone enjoyed it, and I’m pretty sure there were many people who got to the point where they were eating for the pleasure of eating. I definitely was.
I do have a photo of our dessert!

And the wedding cake was instead a watermelon, cut into segments.

The rest of the evening featured more speeches, a traditional sake (sa-kei, Japanese rice wine) ceremony where the bride and groom pounded on a large cask of sake with wooden mallets then shared it with their guests, and dancing which in some ways, was reminiscent of a milder, easier form of Scottish country dancing. A very wonderful day for a very wonderful couple.

Next post: Day 3 and 4 in Hamilton

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