Kristine & Doug's 12th Day of Christmas outdoor winter wedding

December 24 2013 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Red Umbrella Photography
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Photos by Red Umbrella Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Kristine, Database Administrator (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Doug

Date and location of wedding: Woodside National Historic Site and the Walper Terrace Hotel, Kitchener, ON, Canada — January 5, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We got married outside. In Canada. In January. A few people were concerned it would be too cold, but we had a backup plan in case of bad weather. It turned out to be just below freezing, which for us was perfect. Because it was conveniently the 12th night of Christmas (and also cold), we had mulled wine and cider instead of punch at cocktail hour, plus a few more Christmas and wintry details.

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Doug's parents walked him down the aisle, and my parents walked me down. We didn't do a garter toss or bouquet toss and opted for stuffed animals instead. We didn't have any flowers because it was winter, so we used ornament bouquets/boutonnieres instead (from a tutorial found on Offbeat Bride!).

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I wore a custom corset dress (made by StarkersThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them!), with arm warmers made by my aunt on my mom's side, and a cloak and crinoline made by one of my aunts on my dad's side. That same aunt also made the green belts that the bridesmaids wore.

We had a lot of help from family and friends, and that really made the day feel personal. Our cake was made by a friend of ours who recently graduated from pastry school, and it looked like a stack of books on the outside and it was rainbow on the inside! It was also amazingly delicious.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We decided to have a handfasting, and our minister let us customize the wording. Doug's aunt read "The Hands of Love" during the ceremony, a reading suggested by our minister:

These are the hands, of your best friend, the one who has promised to love you all the days of your life. They are strong and vibrant with love as they hold your hands on this day of celebration.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams.
These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.
These are the hands that will grow old along with yours as you grow in years together.
These are the hands that will countless wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief wracks your mind.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.
These are the hands that will give you support as you are encouraged to chase down your dreams. Together, as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, as you live your life time of happiness together.
These are the hands of love.
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We asked four of our friends to form a quartet to sing at the ceremony (there were no pianos outside, so we had to improvise) and they did a wonderful job! Doug wrote an a cappella arrangement of "Winter Song" by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, changing the lyrics a bit to make it a bit happier. I don't think they had actually sung it together before the day of the wedding, but they are all incredibly talented and it sounded beautiful.

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Our biggest challenge: I would say that communication with vendors was sometimes difficult. Don't be afraid to poke your vendors if they don't respond to a call or an email within a few days, because things get lost in the shuffle! Also, if you need an answer from anyone you won't see in person, don't wait until the last minute. Even in the age of email, communication takes time.

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My favorite moment: One of my most meaningful memories is of looking out over the crowd when Doug and I were standing at the front during our ceremony and seeing all of our family and friends looking back at us and being there to support us.

During cocktail hour, the a cappella group that Doug used to be part of (The Water Boys) was singing, and Doug sang a song that he arranged for me a few years ago ("The Girl" by City and Colour) and that was a really special moment for the two of us.

At the reception, people were asked to come up to the podium and sing a song with the word "love" in it, and it was great to have all our guests coming up to sing for us.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Don't automatically write off seemingly traditional wedding venues just because you want to buck tradition. Our venue, The Walper, had their own event coordinator and she did everything she could to make sure our wedding was the way we wanted it, offbeat or not. She even gave the kitchen some of the tea we put in the favours so they could serve that after dinner.

At first we thought we weren't going to have a DJ, and just have a DIY playlist instead. Then we realized that we valued what a DJ can bring: reading the crowd really well. We were able to give our DJ an extensive list of what we like (more classic and alternative rock than top 40), and he played music we liked all night long.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Don't procrastinate on DIY projects! We made the ornament bouquets ourselves, and we put it off way too long because we were intimidated. Eventually, we just sat down (Doug, me, and my mom and dad) and got them all (almost) done in one night. We didn't end up adding Christmas lights because we couldn't figure out how to make it work properly, and we couldn't finish all at once because we didn't have enough tulle. My mom also found materials for the boutonnieres and made them herself because I didn't have time. She did a lot for us, and we really appreciated it.

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We also made name cards to tie on to the wedding favours, the handfasting cords (three four-foot long scarves), and crocheted the bridesmaids' hats and scarves, all during crunch time. Don't wait!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

  1. Oh my goodness, so beautiful! That picture of the rings is amazing and your dress is gorgeous. I love the idea of an outdoor winter wedding, though I'm not sure I'd have the devotion to actually carry it out.

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    • Thank you!

      It was really important to find the right venue for the wedding, having it outside (plus a backup plan, because so much can go wrong with weather in the winter). Woodside almost fell through when the government cut the parks budget, and we were having trouble finding another place that would work. Luckily everything turned out okay and we were able to rent the space. We put up some Christmas lights so it felt a little warmer in the pavilion!

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  2. LOVE IT! I recognized this venue before I even read the description – because it's only a few blocks from our house! It was a treat to see a Kitchener ON wedding featured here – and such a lovely one, too!

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  3. I love every single detail about this, all the details are just gorgeous. The bride's arm warmers are just a perfect touch too. I'd be seriously looking to do something similar if I lived in a country where we actually got snow at winter and not just endless months of rain. 😉 Congratulations to the both of you!

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