Liane & Daniel’s off-the-grid lakeside cabin-in-the-woods wedding

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 | Photography by Stefanie Fournier Photography
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The Offbeat Bride: Liane, Marketing Guru

Her offbeat partner: Daniel, Software Developer

Date and location of wedding: Strathcona Park Lodge in Campbell River, BC, Canada (on Vancouver Island) — July 13, 2013

Our offbeat rustic wedding at a glance: Daniel and I are simple folk. We wanted very little formality, but LOTS of fun. We took our wedding to the middle of nowhere in a provincial park, and were surrounded by the beauty and peace of a sunny day in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Nothing can beat that.

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We searched for suit items Daniel would wear again (and he has, many times already!) and we weren't afraid of color. I didn't carry a bouquet, and I didn't wear a veil or any jewelry other than small earrings. I wore hand-made vegan flats that were incredibly comfortable. I hate heels, so why on earth would I wear them on my big day? Comfort first! We didn't do anything that felt too formal: no bridal party, no giving-away, no receiving line, no cake or cake-cutting, and nothing that felt patriarchal or symbolized something we didn't believe. Our invites were all by email.

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I love DIY and crafting. It turns out that totally did not save us money, but it was fun to have projects anyway and it made our wedding so personal. My mom's family is from Hawaii and we took on the Hawaiian tradition of folding 1,001 paper cranes for good luck. I ended up getting help from some family and friends to get them all completed, but on the day of we had exactly 1,001 colorful cranes hanging in the reception barn (it was triple-counted to be sure!).

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We spent tons of time in thrift stores looking for colorful vases (and I tested many ways of painting clear vases), and bought flowers in bulk that were arranged by family the morning of. The table numbers had pictures of us at that age and were all different colors. My bridal shower was a paint-and-sip class where we all learned to paint the same picture of tulips on a canvas, and we hung all of those canvases in the reception barn. We dragon boat together, so our guest book was a dragon boat paddle that everyone signed. It now hangs proudly in our living room.

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My mom made us a huge burlap banner that said “Eat, Drink, Dance, We're Married!” to set the feeling of the night when the guests walked up. When the guests first arrived, we had welcome bags waiting with a map of the cabins, a schedule with some key activities for the week, snacks and treats from both the US and Canada (a nod to both of our countries), and letters we hand-wrote for everyone.

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The reception was inside of a wood barn. Daniel spent countless hours building the ultimate playlist full of country, Eastern Canadian folk, and oldies music. We put the songs in the exact order we wanted them to play, and just hooked up a laptop with iTunes to the big barn speakers. The dancing was insane, there was just SO much! Everyone was on the dance floor all night. I can still hear the sound in my mind of 75 people stomping in unison on the barn floor to “I would walk 500 Miles…” Daniel's Ukrainian family even busted out some Ukrainian dance moves from their childhood dance classes.

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Our wedding was about so much more than the wedding day, though. Everyone came for three days leading up to the wedding and we spent time together sitting around campfires, tree climbing, playing kayak soccer, and sitting by the lake. We got so much quality time, and everyone stayed right on site in cabins so we had easy and unscheduled access to each other. There was no cell phone reception and no internet, so we really got away from the world with our loved ones.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Our wedding ceremony was short and sweet. Daniel cried practically the entire time — I hear he was crying before he even made it to the ceremony site. His tears were, of course, so charming and made all of the guests tear up with him. The ceremony was lakeside, in a private area that was all ours. Our mutual best friend, Chris, was our officiant.

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We didn't have a wedding party, but chose other ways to honor key people. Both of Daniel's parents walked him down the aisle, and both of my parents walked me down the aisle. My grandma was our ring-bearer (she didn't walk down the aisle formally, but she had the rings with her and brought them to us during the ceremony). And my brother and Daniel's sister signed our marriage certificate.

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We also used the ceremony as the big announcement of our new last name. We didn't want me to take his name for the sole reason that he is male and I am female, and we didn't want to have a long hyphenated name, but we DID want to share one family name together that was equal to us both. So we decided to merge our names. We took the beginning syllable of his name, the beginning syllable of mine, and merged them into one new name, which we both legally changed our names to after the wedding. The ceremony was the big announcement. I'm not sure everyone understood when it was explained, though… we had to repeat it quite a few times.

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Our biggest challenge:
Money, money, money! I'm super cheap by nature. I hate spending money, and it was so hard to keep the costs down. We wanted it to be a great experience for everyone, since they were traveling so far to be there. But we didn't want to go into debt either. That balance was quite difficult. But our wedding ended up being so much fun, I'm not sure a single dollar more would have been able to make it any more fun. It reached its fun quota for us.

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My funniest moment:
The speeches! My brother gave a speech, which was a hilarious “protective-big-brother now accepts the new man in his little sister's life” kind of a speech. And man, it was hilarious. Then Daniel's two sisters gave a speech together about the many (some embarrassing) traits of Daniel. They had make-shift cardboard signs and everything. It was also hilarious, and ended with Daniel and his sister crying and hugging. Those two speeches were the best ten minutes of the entire day.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photographer: Stefanie Fournier Photography — she was the most amazing vendor, so casual and so much fun… and now we are friends with her!
  • Hair: Headquarters Hair Salon
  • Shoes: Custom-made vegan Hydra Hearts
  • Ceremony venue, reception venue, set-up, food, activities: Strathcona Park Lodge — Strathcona took care of all of the boring stuff, and they a made amazing locally-sourced buffet meal, cocktail appetizers, late night snack, and dessert. I requested my favorite food, mac & cheese, and their chef made us the most amazing version that's ever existed.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Liane & Daniel’s off-the-grid lakeside cabin-in-the-woods wedding

    • SO COMFORTABLE. You have no idea. They provided zero support, but that didn’t matter too much until the next day. The day of, my feet have never been more comfortable 🙂

      I would recommend getting the extra sole, though — the thin sole was just fabric. I ended up buying gel insoles so that there was something between my feet and the rocks.

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