The offbeat bride: Stacey, Figure Skating Coach & Graphic Designer
Her offbeat groom: Joel, Motion Capture Specialist
Location & date of wedding: Strathcona Park Lodge between Campbell River and Gold River, BC. August 25, 2007
What made our wedding offbeat: My job as a Graphic Designer was at a wedding invitation design studio. My whole life had been filled with other people's wedding plans for years. I'd always been the one dishing out advice and helping people with their taffeta filled or very alternative plans. So when it was my turn I had lots of ideas but I also knew that everything had to be different from anything I had worked on for a client. Having helped with a few hundred weddings, that was very difficult but it also pushed me to try things I wouldn't have otherwise.
I grew up with folk music festivals and barn dances. I wanted to host our reception in a barn with a folk band but I also wanted to design lavish stationery and have table linens and wild flowers adorning the tables. My fiancee and I found the vibe of Strathcona Park Lodge very refreshing. Their staff were all very enthusiastic about all our plans and were open to any idea we threw at them.
First of all, we didn't want titles for anyone or a traditional bridal party and we both felt the most influential people in our lives were our families so were each escorted to the ceremony between our parents and with our siblings walking just ahead. We also arrived at the same time so there was no symbolism of the groom waiting and the bride being given away. The 94 guests sat in a circle three rows deep down on the beach facing a backdrop of mountains. When we arrived with our families we closed the circle.
My brother wrote the music which he played on his fiddle as he walked just ahead of my family which let the guests know we were arriving.
We wrote most of the ceremony which the officiant read from. We had asked a parent from each side to give their words of wisdom for a happy marriage and we wrote our own vows.
My 89 year old Grannie signed the register just as she had signed my mother 27 years earlier.
We ended the ceremony by walking into the middle of the circle as guest threw flower petals from my mother's garden. We led all the guests straight to the champagne and then my father led the champagne toast on the beach as my husband and I got into a canoe and were paddled away to begin our new passage in life supported by nature. (This also meant we had a moment alone to just reflect before the party began)
I wore a custom raw silk gown by Sandra Sung who is a local Vancouver based designer which was a major splurge for me but very worth it. I also wore an antique necklace from Joel's Grannie who was unable to be with us and I had a very comfortable pair of shoes hidden under that train. Joel wore his favourite black suit and a tie also made out of the fabric from my dress made by his mother.
The menu was simple west coast cuisine. Wild Sockeye salmon was smoked over an open fire all day long and the dessert was tiny pies in lieu on a wedding cake.
I didn't toss my bouquet, wear a garter or ‘cut the cake' with Joel but we did serve a pie to each guest after dinner which made for a very fun informal alternative to the receiving line.
We also had a sweetheart table and no head table. Guests came by and chatted with us all through dinner. After dinner almost all the tables were taken down so everyone took to the dance floor.
We had the two time Juno Nominated roots band The Bills play the whole night long for us. Bringing my brother's band up was a special gift from my parents and they made sure we all danced the night away. My husband and I retired to a cabin on the lake and spent the rest of the weekend having after parties with family and guests.
Our biggest challenge: There were a lot of challenges! It was a larger wedding by alt-wedding standards and while we paid for it ourselves it still ended up being a challenge to make our families happy. The funny thing was both of our parents had very alternative weddings back in the '70s so their input was almost always “what are you doing that for?” In the end we all had a blast.
My favorite moment: In the canoe right after the ceremony when we looked at each other and said “we did it”
My offbeat advice: Your budget is your business, don't share it with anyone you're not marrying unless they are picking up the tab. That's one thing I regret doing. I thought it would be a gesture of sharing and openness to make that available to the parents but it really made things very difficult having our families in on the nitty gritty details that were really between my FH and myself. One thing you don't need is people questioning what you are your fiance have carefully put together based on your values as a couple. Make some boundaries