Sarah and Kristie met at a Hallowe’en party where the two bonded over research methods to the bewilderment of other partygoers. When friendship bloomed into romance and the two decided to tie the knot, Hart House was the obvious choice where they wowed guests with stunning architecture, an oyster bar and 1,000 origami cranes to honour Sarah’s Japanese roots.

Cupid strikes in unexpected places. Couples find each other in a myriad of surprising ways. University of Toronto PhD candidate Kristie Serota first met psychologist Sarah Glaser at a Hallowe’en party – Sarah, dressed as a self-described “scary zombie doctor;” and Kristie, donning an animal onesie. They discussed, of all things, research. And from there, a friendship grew.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal

“I remember being very intrigued by Kristie,” Sarah recounts. “I thought she was poised and well dressed. I remember thinking, ‘She seems like a really interesting person.’”

This first conversation centred around psychology. “There was a lot of overlap in our interests,” Sarah explains. Kristie has a Masters in psychology. She’s now in the Public Health Sciences Division of Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

“We were actually talking about research methods,” Kristie interjects. “The rest of the people at the party were kind of looking at us like we were a little bit bizarre. But we were really enjoying the conversation. And so, after that, every time we met at different social gatherings, we always had very interesting, in-depth conversations.”

This friendship took a romantic turn in 2019. When they started planning their wedding, Hart House came to mind as the first-choice venue.

Hart House “the obvious choice”

Kristie was already familiar with Hart House. She had attended a bat mitzvah at the House years ago. “Hart House has always struck me as such a beautiful, unique space in downtown Toronto because of the historical elements, the cathedral ceilings, and how private and quiet that courtyard area is,” she says. “I've never seen any other building downtown that has that same kind of intimate outdoor space. And so, when we were looking at wedding venues, it just seemed like the obvious choice.”

Sarah adds, “It was definitely one of those things where we went to go look at Hart House and it was an instant yes, this is where we're going to get married. It just felt right.”

Team at Hart House Helped their Vision Come to Life

The couple collaborated with Wedding Coordinator Tara Munro, in Meeting and Events Services, to customize their wedding day.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal

“Tara was wonderful, really great. She was, honestly, a lifesaver,” says Sarah, adding, “I was working full time and didn't really have a lot of time to devote to planning. Kristie did a lot of it. She and Tara worked very closely together to get things up and running.”

Kristie concurs, “I would come up with ideas and then ask Tara, do you think this is possible? How can you help us with this? She was really open to all the different things we wanted to do including hiring U of T music students to play during the ceremony and cocktail hour.”

Photo credit: Raph Nogal

Tara also helped to plan the menu, which included an oyster bar. Months later, their guests are still raving about that feature. Sarah says, “I'm from the Boston area. I love oysters. They are a big part of the foods that I ate growing up.”

Kristie, a vegetarian, did not partake but agrees that the oysters were a big part of making a memorable experience for invitees. “It was more about our guests and curating an environment where they felt welcome. We wanted a fun party atmosphere.”

Fairy Tale Wedding Day

Stepping into Hart House on their wedding day, September 3, 2022, “felt like a fairy tale,” says Sarah.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal

They invited just under 100 guests and the event was held in the Great Hall.

“It was a beautiful day,” Kristie adds. “Summer was in full swing. Things were in bloom.”

Photographer Raph Nogal helped to capture their special day at different locations around the House. “I really loved the way that his photos highlighted the architecture of this space. It was important to me that we had photos taken in different areas of the building, inside and outside, so the architecture was a main feature of our photos. And they turned out really great. We were very happy,” says Kristie.


1,000 Origami Cranes to Celebrate Sarah’s Japanese Roots

In establishing a theme for the wedding, the couple actually created, by hand, 1,000 origami paper cranes. This was the one-of-a-kind backdrop for the photo booth they had at the reception.

Photo credit: Raph Nogal

“I'm half Japanese; my roots are from Japan,” Sarah elaborates. “Because a lot of my family from there couldn't come to the wedding, the paper cranes were a way to honour them. In Japan, origami cranes represent good luck and longevity.”

This was another feature about which their guests are still talking. “I think it made a big impact and complemented the space,” Kristie emphasizes. 

As a lovely finishing touch, in each of their thank-you cards to guests Kristie and Sarah included one of those cranes.  

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Photo credit: Raph Nogal