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Carly Bennie and Ari Diamond’s Garden Wedding at The One & Only Ocean Club

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Niv Shimshon Photography

There are epic proposals, and then there’s the elaborate treasure hunt Ari Diamond arranged for Carly Bennie in Toronto to ask for her hand in marriage. After two years of dating, Carly headed out to a lunch date with her sisters. “My sisters and I have a monthly lunch date scheduled into our calendars. It was a cold December afternoon, and I remember feeling tired and too lazy to dress up to go for lunch. I met my sisters at the Four Seasons and everything seemed quite normal,” remembers Carly. But at the end of the meal, one of them handed her an iPad.

“As soon as Ari’s face appeared on the iPad, I knew we were getting engaged that day and I immediately started crying,” she remembers. The video featuring her future husband first revealed a clue: a clothing store in Yorkville, where Carly was told to pick out a dress for the evening. From then on, there were stops all over the city: at a nail salon (where her best friends were waiting to get a manicure with her), a drink at the bar where the couple had their first date (with her brother-in-law to help calm her nerves), all the way up to The Hazelton Hotel. “Once I got to the room, I was told to knock three times. I did and a piece of paper slid out from under the door,” she recalls. “As I picked it up, the door opened, and I saw that there were song lyrics on the page. Ari had changed the words to a song and sung it to me. He proposed once he had finished.” After Carly said yes, Ari told her she had twenty minutes to get ready and then they were going to head over to her parents’ house to celebrate with both of their families. “I put on my new dress and got ready with much anticipation,” says Carly. “When we walked into the house, Ari had surprised me yet again by actually inviting over 150 of our closest family and friends. It was the best way to get engaged—I didn’t have to pick up the phone to call anyone!”

Ever since she was a little, Carly always dreamed of getting married in the Versailles Garden at the One & Only Ocean Club. “We knew we wanted the weekend to be filled with dancing and some relaxing on the beach,” she shares. “The most important thing was to make our guests feel like they were in the Bahamas. When having a destination wedding, there is little need for white fluff, and glitz and glam. There is so much natural beauty around you, it would be silly to take away from it.”

When it came to looking for the perfect dress, Carly knew she wanted a look that drew inspiration from the overgrown garden that would serve as the setting for her ceremony. She found exactly what she wanted at a store called Powder in Toronto. There, she fell in love with a dress featuring a floral appliqué by Australian designer Leah Da Gloria. The bride was also determined to find a comfortable shoe for her big night, so she could last all day without having to change into something else. “I ended up going with a pair of silver Manolo Blahnik block heels that were just perfect,” she says. “But I definitely ended up taking them off once the dancing really got started!” She complemented everything with a pair of diamond earrings and a bracelet that her mother lent her for her wedding day.

The wedding weekend began on Thursday night with dinner at a local restaurant followed by dancing at Aura Nightclub in the Atlantis. “It was a wild night with booths, bottles, and lots of sparklers!” says Carly. On Friday night, the couple hosted a Welcome White Party—the event had an island vibe and as the name suggests Carly and Ari asked everyone to wear white so the colors of the local restaurant would pop. A live band played Top 40s songs and guests sipped on drinks in coconut cups.

“The ceremony was my favorite part,” Carly remembers. The couple scheduled the time of their wedding to occur just as the sun was setting on the garden, which made for a stunning background. Once the ceremony ended, guests walked over to the Lilly Pond garden, where cocktails awaited. After that, dinner was served in a candle lit tent filled with island décor: bamboo place mats, palm leaves, and pink gingers and protea flowers. The newlyweds then took to the dance floor to kick things off to the tune of “Lost Together” by Blue Rodeo. “We danced the rest of the night away to a saxophonist, DJ, and live Bahamian singer!”