Sarah & Ryan's Toronto Island love festival

Updated Oct 12 2015

Remember that awesome photo of all the bridesmaids in pretty mis-matched green dresses? Well this is the full story on that beautiful outdoor Toronto wedding.

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The Offbeat Bride: Sarah – writer and writing teacher

Her Offbeat Partner: Ryan – outdoor educator

Location & date of wedding: Toronto Island, Algonquin Island Clubhouse — August 23, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: It was a DIY bonanza — luckily we have an incredibly talented group of friends who are also professional performers, crafters, photographers, musicians, and chefs. In lieu of gifts, our friends and family participated in the making of a huge, magical, love-filled event.

Almost every aspect of our 130-guest wedding was handmade. We sewed tablerunners and hankies, Gocco-ed the invitations, and bound little books for guest favours. My bridesmaid made my wedding band, a milliner friend updated my mother's veil for me, and my brother and sister in law designed the wine labels for our homemade wine. There are too many DIY details to list here!

andrea's vegan coconut-lemon cake

Best of all, there was a Love Cabaret after the ceremony, and our talented friends performed a number of short pieces on love — we had a flowergirl belly dancing, a comedic monologue, a clown act, poetry… and my groom played me a love song he somehow managed to write in secret.

Our dinner was completely vegan — including the coconut-lemon cake — and prepared almost exclusively by my bridesmaids and friends. I heard that certain family members ate some street-vendor meat after they took the last ferry home, but I don't think I'm supposed to know that detail.

vows

Our wedding was truly our own because we made almost every single detail with our hands, or the hands of people we loved. It truly was a festival of love.

Our biggest challenge: The hardest part was transporting everything to Toronto Island properly and on time. Food for 130 people — including a delicate wedding cake — had to go to the Island on a boat on the morning of the wedding! Not to mention all of the guests.

At the start of the ceremony, we were waiting in the bushes getting bitten by fire ants when we were told that half of the guests didn't catch the ferry, and we had to wait for the next boat before starting the ceremony.

vows
to know him is to love him

My favorite moment: At the end of the night, our Love Cabaret producer presented a surprise performance. She turned out all the lights and dressed in a "book dress" and another friend shone the light of an overhead projector on her dress. Then they played a story that they wrote together on love — a story about the magic of love itself — while live drawings and paintings floated by on the overhead, illuminating the "pages" of the dress. At the end of the performance, one of the story voices said, "Do you think anyone knows what love really is?" and the other voice said, "I think some people do," and our friend found us in the audience and met our eyes meaningfully.

watching the love cabaret

I don't know if it comes across in writing, but this was incredibly profound for me. In that moment, I felt like everyone in the room understood how we were feeling, and what it meant for us to get married with your whole community there in the room.

My advice for other offbeat brides: Do as much as you can — time and stress levels permitting — with your own hands. It's like the difference between eating a home-cooked meal or one in a restaurant — it tastes different when you know the ingredients!

And don't be afraid to ask for help. In our experience, people LOVED to be included in the organization and planning and creation of the day.

Also, don't forget that love itself is bigger than just the two of you. A wedding can spread love exponentially, if you let it.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

  • My dress was made by Chrissy from Wai-Ching — she made the Samsara dress out of vegan silk for me, when I requested it!
  • We went to The Workroom (in Toronto) for a lot of sewing and craft advice. Karyn at The Workroom rented us her Gocco for our invitations and helped us make our table runners and hankies and so much else.
  • My photographer is a friend but he's also a stellar wedding man: www.photoderek.com.
  • Oh and The Paper Place provided our Gocco inks and bulbs and all of the prettiest paper, pens, and inspiration.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn:
You can see pictures here.

  1. Gorgeous wedding!!! You must be thrilled with the pictures. Any chance you had the cake made? I'm going crazy trying to find a vegan wedding cake maker in Toronto.

  2. Holy Cow, just last week I was just remembering how I much I loved the teasers posted long ago and if they ever filled out a profile! Guess this answers my question. 🙂

    Absolutely gorgeous day and gathering. Thank you for sharing the details with us!

  3. Your wedding was so gorgeous! I saw a picture of your bridesmaids months ago and fell in love–I asked my attendants to wear green, too, because yours looked so happy and wonderful and perfectly themselves. 🙂

  4. I remember seeing the teaser photos as well, and I've been dying to hear about it ever since. It's this wedding more than anything else that first inspired me to go for the kind of wedding I'm currently planning. It's just so sunny and smiley and green and lovely. LOVE IT!

  5. Thanks for all of the love, people! It was so nice to go through the photos all over again tonight (it's really snowy in Toronto right now, and all that summer sunshine)!

    Anna, the cake was made for us by a friend, not a vendor. But I know that there is a baker on Toronto Island who specializes in both vegan and gluten-free cakes. Her name is Luisa Milan, and if you contact the AIA or go to their website (torontoisland.org) to find her number.

  6. I remember seeing a Globe and Mail article about this wedding, and I think a classmate of mine was in attendance. It looks so beautiful!

  7. Fabulous article. I actually attended this wedding and it was wonderful. It was the most creative wedding! I loved every minute. The island in Toronto was perfect too.

  8. Now this is wedding porn!! What a beautiful couple. I'm in tears as I watch your slideshow.
    There's so much heart and soul in every detail. Love the photos! Truly inspiring! I think I have a wedding crush!

  9. A beautiful wedding! You've got my imagination running. We are also planning a toronto island wedding, and maybe at the same location. would you mind answering a few questions about your day?

  10. I'm currently searching for a wedding dress that is 100% vegan in Toronto.
    What is vegan silk? Like… from bamboo or something?

    I definitely like all the DIY details in this one!

  11. Hello Sarah, your weddings looks like it was amazing.
    I am getting married in that exact same venue and we have 125 guests. We are worried it might be too crowded and I was hoping you would be able to give me some pointers!
    For some reason I can't really see most of your photos :/

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