Julie & Paul's farm fresh and sassy wedding

August 28 |
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Photos by Jule Malet Veale

The offbeat bride: Julie, Creative Producer

Her offbeat partner: Paul, Production Worker

Date and location of wedding: Our home on North Mountain, Annapolis Valley, and the Port Pub Bistro, Port Williams, Nova Scotia, Canada — July 21, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Paul and I are modern-day hunter/gatherers. He and his dog Badger fill our freezer every winter with upland game birds, and I grow a whack of veggies and berries on our small acreage. On any given day you can find us either in the garden or in the woods, on foot or horseback. We love our home on North Mountain in Nova Scotia and wanted to share our nuptials with our family, close friends, and critters, here at home.

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We were not going to rent matching chairs or blow tons of money on flowers, when our view and garden are naturally beautiful. Paul made all the corsages and boutonnieres from poppy heads and grouse feathers, the table settings from succulents, and I fed the hydrangeas for a week before to have them turn blue in time to become bouquets.

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My book club girlfriends came over and helped hand-paint directional signs up the mountain and to our house (and one for the oyster bar that said, "aw, shucks"). We put together a wedding banner made out of old pillowcases, vintage lingerie, and hankies to hang along the electric fence. During our wedding photo shoot, some of the guests started trying on the lingerie!

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Right after our ceremony and legalities, we had Eel Lake oysters freshly shucked by a couple of our guests, and champagne from l'Acadie Vineyards — all local and delicious.

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The fake menu!

Our dinner reception was held on the Bay of Fundy's Canard River Port Pub Bistro, and we created a fake menu for the tables, consisting of well… roadkill-type food. The real menu highlighted Nova Scotian seafood and locally grown deliciousness. We also saved money by bringing in local wine to the restaurant, which meant no corkage fees.

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On our wedding invite we asked that people not wrangle us for photos, as we wanted our photographer to work the event with candid shots. The only staged photo we really wanted was our wedding photo, with Paul in his country shooting suit from Harris Tweed, and me with my horse and pitch fork — our Canadian take on American Gothic. We were both in our green rubber boots too!

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Tell us about the ceremony: Our wedding march was Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'," which got the crowd going, and reflects much of our relationship: cooking and dancing and loving in the kitchen.

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Minty, Paul's best wo-man, was tasked to find a reading that reflected who we are, and read the toast Tina Modotti, in the film Frida, gives at the marriage of Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera:

I don't believe in marriage. I really don't. Let me be clear about that. I think at worst it's a hostile political act. A way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out-of-the-way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative, religious nonsense. At best it's a happy delusion. It's two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they're about to make each other. But when two people know all of that and decide, with eyes wide open, to face each other and get married anyway — well then, I don't think it's conservative or delusional. I think it's radical. And courageous. And very romantic.

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And when the Justice of the Peace asked for the rings, Minty searched for them unsuccessfully, so Paul whistled for his dog Badger who brought them right away!

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The wedding program, chalked on the tarmac.

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was actually getting married! We had planned to wed two summers earlier, but then my dear old granddad suddenly became ill at 92 and passed away. We thought we would postpone for a few months, but then our Justice of the Peace also suddenly died, and that was followed by a tornado that ripped through our property and knocked about our house.

Rescheduling for the next summer was nixed when my dear old dog Lucille died, and our house still wasn't repaired from the storm. It seemed to be never-ending. So when we fixed the date this time around, we kept having to reassure everyone that it was happening regardless of who was going to die next or what natural disaster was about to occur. It was happening, come hell or high water.

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My favorite moment: Our wedding photographer said to us, because we didn't have to be asked twice, "You two are really comfortable kissing." Paul and I are very affectionate with each other, and our ease with intimacy allowed us to escape into our own little world frequently, heads close in the bubble. The party would just carry on around us, as we smooched or held each other close. During the ceremony when we were invited to kiss, people practically started shouting "Enough already!"

ZjJMV-7403My advice for Offbeat Brides: Disaster plan! And serious disaster plan: not wedding dress disaster, but if there are people (or pets) in your life who might not make it to the wedding due to imminent or sudden death, discuss what you're going to do beforehand. Once we fixed on this final (and luckiest) date, we did talk with all of our parents about who was left (grannies) who might not make it, what we would do: carry on, as they would have us do. We were ready this time. And no one died!

Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? From the time I was an adolescent, I was pretty sure I would never marry. Politically, it didn't make any sense to me for a whole host of reasons, and I never believed in the fairy tale. But now that in Canada it's legal for everyone to get married, I warmed to the idea, but only after I met Paul, who, as my Aunt Marg shouted out during our photo shoot in the horse paddock, "Finally, someone who gets her!"

Paul had been married before, but for both of us this felt like the first time. When you're older (we're both in our 40s) you're probably more likely to know what's important and what you want to experience and remember.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? When booking a limo to come to a venue in the country, give them directions, even if they decline. Our transport was way late, as they chose to follow GPS to get to our house, which didn't work well in this case. As a result of the limo company's goof, we were an hour and a half late for our own reception, which put every thing else behind and ultimately meant our dancing time was cut short. We should have ridden the horse instead!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. I love your wedding! It is so beautiful and everything I love in a wedding! Congrats!

    3 agree
  2. What a wonderful wedding! The dress is lovely and your photos are awesome. Congratulations!

    1 agrees
  3. I love everything about this wedding. The "Canadian Gothic" shots are to die for. Congratulations!

    4 agree
  4. Love love love! So much beauty and rustic warmth.

    3 agree
  5. I adore everything about this wedding – what a beautiful couple & location! I wish there were more examples of 40+ couples in the bridal blogosphere… I have worked with several such clients myself and they consistently report that they encounter all kinds of ridiculous assumptions during planning.

    12 agree
  6. I love that they chalked the program onto the pavement :) Tweed rocks!

    1 agrees
  7. Ah, everything about this wedding is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing your stories.

    Your husband is a damn handsome man, and it looks like the two of you have truly created the life you want to live. Your photos are wonderful – especially the one at the top of the post, which just radiates your love!

    3 agree
  8. Aw, thanks y'all! We had so much fun and I think the love-liness of it all shines through because that was our goal: this was about sharing the love, ours with our friends & family. We kept it simple, which I think is also part of the over-40 benefit, Liz, no one can tell you what to do anymore, haha. I must say, that OBB was my best planning adviser, thanks to all who tread the path before me. And agreed, Lolo, Paul is damn handsome! Easy on the eyes, as they say. ; )

  9. Firstly, so beautiful. The beauty of the Maritime provinces never fails to take my breath away and your celebration perfectly captured the natural setting and made it the best decorations ever.

    Secondly, I am agog at the… bravery of the menu that you guys put together! You know that no one dug in at your reception thinking: "Oh god, the same ol' wedding fare…"

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    • Haha, Katie – some of our guests were disappointed that the 'fresh from the mountain' menu was NOT the real menu! The real menu was a still local, but maybe not so close to the wild… delicious, none-the-less.

  10. Julie, I can relate to your biggest challenge. My man and I would love to get married next summer, but with me being unemployed for almost four months and desperately trying to find a job, as well as his dad recovering from a horrible stroke, we have come up with some alternative plans in case the original doesn't work out too well. But we are still determined to make it happen no matter what.

    1 agrees
  11. What an awesome wedding! We may just have to borrow the banner idea, there is already a very silly underwear tradition in my group of friends.

    1 agrees
  12. My husband grew up on the North Mountain, and I on the South. I adore how you incorporated your home and lifestyle into your wedding and employed so much of what our area has to offer.
    Photos are absolutely gorgeous too!

    1 agrees

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