Offbeat partner: Christine, Librarian
Offbeat partner: Alex, Piano teacher
Date and location of wedding: Canmore, Alberta — September 30, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
I wanted my wedding to have a classic old Hollywood style. Since we are both bibliophiles who bonded over a love of the stars and Neil Gaiman, we picked Stardust as our inspiration. I was inspired by the images of paper moon photo booths, which fit perfectly with the vintage and astronomical themes that we wanted. I'm also a burlesque dancer who can't image a wedding without glitter.
I also wanted authentic vintage wedding dresses, but I am plus size girl on a budget! The key to my success came by shopping way in advance. I found a 1940s liquid satin wedding dress for sale online almost nine years ago (long before I had even met by partner), and I couldn’t resist buying it (just in case) as it was $40!?! People thought I was crazy for buying it, but it totally paid off!
My reception dress was a 1950s tea length gown that I found at my favorite vintage store for $120, over a year before the wedding. The accessories were all cheap too: The veil was my grandma’s, the headpiece is authentic 1920s wax flowers bought for $5 at an antique sale, the shoes were cheap and rhinestoned by me to match the theme, and the bouquet was handmade by my step-mother from ostrich feathers and costume jewelry.
We had a few specific requirements that made it offbeat: it had to be gay, as we are a queer couple who may appear very heteronormative, but are not; It also had to be comfortable for Alex, who is an introvert, as well as for myself who loves to be center stage.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Gender neutrality was an important part to our ceremony as, despite our very traditional appearance, we have a very gender nonconforming relationship. The ceremony did not contain the words “husband,” “wife,” “bride,” or any other gendered terminology. In fact we wrote the entire ceremony ourselves so that it had maximum personalization.
We wanted to highlight literature that was significant to us, so we had three people read from hand-picked books and poetry: Alex’s nana read from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry which is very meaningful to us. Our friend Eva read the poem “Night Thought” by Goethe which I have always loved. And our friend Margaret read from Stardust by Neil Gaiman, a big part of our inspiration for the wedding.
The best part of the whole wedding was Alex’s vows, which were heart-felt and very sweet. He only wrote them that morning (so I didn’t have high expectations!), but they were amazing — there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
We walked down the aisle to Moulin Rouge’s “Come What May” and exited to “Brandy Alexander” by Feist. The entrance song was a kept a complete secret for Alex who adores Moulin Rouge. I had a surprise entrance from a guests’ room off of the courtyard, instead of down the same pathway that the bridal party walked down, for maximum drama.
Tell us about your reception:
We got the last snow-free fall weekend in Canmore, Alberta. Picturesque mountains with fall colours among the evergreens! The first major snowfall was two days after the wedding. We stayed for a few days before and after, which gave us a chance to really enjoy the surroundings.
Our venue was a hotel called the Grande Rockies Resort, which had a perfect outdoor courtyard and a cozy intimate ballroom for our 60 guests. Our Paper Moon photo booth really influenced the vibe of the reception and it was very popular as the night went on. People could get their photo taken and printed out to take home with them. Photobombing the photo booth became a popular activity for the remainder of the night!
We had a Kissing Crossword that people could use to get to know us better. We also had choreographed dances from years of burlesque and drag performances with by besties that we pulled out on the dance floor. It made for a very lively evening! We accommodated Alex by keeping the wedding to 60 people, making the day totally gender neutral, having a sweetheart table in a corner rather than a head table, and letting me take center stage during the dancing, while my partner could spend some quieter time with family.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Throughout the planning process we were conflicted about how much to reveal about ourselves in the wedding as opening up about the most intimate details of our relationship made us feel vulnerable, especially for my shy partner. I wondered if the gender neutral and reading-heavy ceremony would be embraced by the guests.
If I could do it again I would have made it even more nontraditional and weird! So my advice to readers is DO ALL THE OFFBEAT THINGS!
Our photographer was awesome. One of the things we did was book him as soon as we had the venue. We found him by looking at local wedding shoots that matched our desired aesthetic. Almost the entire day was planned around the photographers needs. We really wanted to make sure we had a happy photog, as that way we would get awesome pictures! He did not disappoint.
The photographer was beloved by our entire bridal party and family. He even did an additional shoot with us two days after the wedding at sunrise, up a mountain, during the first major snowfall of the winter. Those photos are some of our favorites, although our Game of Thrones-style bridal party shots are also now famous among our acquaintances.
Photography by Kingdom Come Photography | Last two dance floor photos by Ply's Photography • Ceremony Dress: Vintage 1940's Gown from Etsy • Reception Dress: Vintage 1950's Gown from Flashback 2 in Toronto, Ontario • Wedding Coordinator: TJ's Events • Alex's Suit: INDOCHINO • Groomsmen's Suits: Black and Lee