Tanya, Environmental Lawyer/Floral Designer & Braden, Software Development/Entrepreneur
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A handmade, eco-friendly, vegan farm wedding reflecting our values and shared with our closest loved ones.
Planned Budget: $12,000
Actual Budget: $14,000
Number of Guests: 54 (including the wedding party)
Where we allocated the most funds
The venue, photography, and videography. Braden and I started planning our wedding only five months before the big day and we locked down our venue right away as we knew there was only one place it could be—Piebird Bed & Breakfast in Nipissing Village. In addition to being a B&B, Piebird is a vegan organic farm and small animal sanctuary. We had taken an organic gardening workshop there a year before our wedding and fell in love with it. From the cute old house, beautiful grounds, adorable animals, and being a twenty-minute drive from Braden’s parents’, it couldn’t be more perfect for us. We made it a priority to fit it into our budget. We also invested a good portion of our total wedding budget on photos and videos since those are the main keepsakes from the day and don’t regret that decision even a little bit.
Where we allocated the least funds
Alcohol: out of respect for some loved ones who have struggled with alcohol dependency we decided to make our wedding a dry one and instead served tea, coffee, iced tea, and my favorite drink—lavender lemonade (which went very quickly!). So although it wasn’t a budget motivated decision, our bar bill ended up being zero dollars. As an outdoor, afternoon affair we didn’t feel anything was missing by foregoing the booze.
What was totally worth it
Getting a wedding video: we originally debated about whether to get video or just photos, and would definitely recommend getting a videographer if you can (or having a loved one videotape the ceremony at the very least). The day goes by so quickly and I missed moments such as the little ones walking down the aisle first. Although we love the pictures, video just captures a whole other element, and I know we will treasure having video of the day in the years to come.
What was totally not worth it
Wasting time trying to paint my nails before the ceremony. Because I made all the floral arrangements, I left my nails until the last minute so they wouldn’t get wrecked. I’m not a nail polish kinda gal so I stressed myself out at the last minute trying to do a quickie manicure without getting it all over my hands or smudging them horribly. I say if something like polished nails doesn’t matter to you on any other day, don’t stress about it on your wedding day. Your wedding will fly by so focus on what matters—spending time with your loved ones and being present in the moment.
A few things that helped us along the way
I definitely relied heavily on APW during the planning process for sane advice on creating a meaningful celebration. We also received help from family and friends on DIY elements, in particular both of our mothers and my aunt.
My best practical advice for my planning self
Focus on what matters to you and try not to think about what people’s reactions may be to your choices. We had a dry, vegan wedding which I imagine is not something most of our guests had experienced before. But it was authentic to who we are, and I think at the end of the day people enjoyed being a part of something a bit different.
Also, try to involve your family and friends if you can. Shortly before our engagement we moved about five hours away from our friends and family and were planning everything on a relatively short timeframe (five months). As a result, leading up to the wedding I didn’t do traditional things like go dress shopping in a group (I purchased my dress online), or have an engagement party or shower. But when when everyone was finally in one place, one of my favourite things about the weekend was seeing our friends and family come together to help out before and after the wedding. My friends and family were busy helping with flowers the night before while the groomsmen were tying caps onto jam favours, and everyone was super awesome helping with the set up and take down. It is not only helpful to involve family and friends, but it can be a great bonding experience and chance to create memories.
Favorite thing about the wedding: Hearing my husband say the most wonderful vows he had written just made my heart melt and is my absolute favourite moment of the day. I said my vows after him and I had a hard time remembering mine because I got so emotional hearing his. There was a bit of comic relief in the ceremony though when our puppy started digging a hole in between us.
There were so many other great moments in the day that I wish I could list them all. Like having my younger sister and maid of honour bring one of the affectionate farm cats into my room for some morning cuddles. Being away from our kitties for the wedding, it put a smile on my face to have a cat purring in my bed first thing in the morning. Also, I loved our first dance. We didn’t know they were going to do this, but our musicians got the audience involved by shouting lyrics of the song and everyone really got into it. I remember looking out and seeing my older brother with a big smile on his face. It was just a great fun moment where everyone at the wedding came together.
We were inspired by an article on APW to do a mutual proposal as we thought it would help us start the next phase of our life together as equal partners. We went to the cutest little log cabin in a maple sugarbush and both asked each other for their hand in marriage. We had ordered custom rings for each other, but there were delays with both and neither of us had a ring when we proposed. But it was snowy outside and we had a fire, wine, fancy cheese, and each other so it was perfect.
We knew from the start that we wanted our wedding to reflect our values so we tried to make purchasing decisions with environmental impact and fair labour practices in mind. The wedding party attire was made with eco-conscious fabrics such organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo. The outfits and accessories were largely handmade in Canada, with a few items made in the U.S. and Europe. Almost all of the decorations we already had, purchased secondhand, borrowed, or were handmade by family. We opted for electronic invitations from Paperless Post to avoid paper waste, and the meal and desserts we served were vegan and organic.
Another element that was important to us was to include our pets in the big day as they are such a big part of our lives. Our dog Tenley was co-ring bearer with my nephew. He was outfitted with a custom bow tie collar made to match his dad and wore the ring pillow on his back made by my mom. Since we couldn’t include our two shy indoor cats in a way that would be safe and comfortable for them, we had a very talented artist paint realistic life sized cutout portraits of them on wood. Our two-dimensional cats got to be part of the ceremony and some of our portraits and was one of my favourite details of the day (the other being the kids’ table for my niece and nephews).
In terms of the feel of the day, we wanted our wedding to be intimate and laid back. We had under sixty guests, with no assigned seating plan and a buffet style meal. We had a variety of lawn and board games for our guests to play while we were busy with photos and after the meal. Guests were also free to explore the property to meet the animals on the farm (such as goats and turkeys), or relax on a picnic blanket (including the one handmade by my aunt for the kids to sit on during the ceremony).
For decor, two of my favorite things featured prominently—cats and flowers. I used mason jars and teapots to house flower arrangements, and I collected ceramic cats to use as table decor in the months leading up to the wedding. Since floral design is a passion of mine, I did all the florals for the wedding (with the help of family and friends who I taught a floral crash course to the day before). My aunt handmade beautiful pastel bunting flags, and Braden’s mom made the signage. We also placed old bells collected from family members on the tables for guests to ring whenever they wanted the newlyweds to kiss. My five-year-old nephew was pretty enthusiastic about ringing the bells to the point where Braden’s grandmother yelled out for us to “save some for the honeymoon.”