Osler: Community-Based Backyard Wedding

From the bride and groom, Kaytee and Chris:

From the very beginning of our relationship we’ve wanted to be ourselves in everything we do. With our wedding, we wanted to ensure that we were true to our values and to who we are through the whole planning and execution of the day. We held our day out at Chris’ parents farm near Osler, where he grew up and where we now live. I have lived in cities my whole life so we wanted to incorporate both city and country aspects into our day.

The day started with the bridal party getting ready at a hotel. We celebrated with a bottle of champagne and orange juice and spent the whole morning laughing. Chris and his party got ready at our farm house, and their morning was very relaxed. We met at the house for photos prior to the ceremony. We gathered with family and friends in front of the pond, and then continued on for photos in the greenhouse. After the photos we had a little quiet time while the guests arrived.

The weather was gorgeous and sunny with a little wind, which was perfect. Chris’ family farm is over 40 years old and has many wind rows with trees that tower over, and we were able to neatly tuck our ceremony into the trees. Chris’ dad found a set of old church windows salvaged from the Osler Mennonite Church before it was deconstructed. He took these window frames and set them up in the middle of the trees to make it look like a cathedral. He also built beautiful planters out of old barn wood, in which Chris’ mom planted large ferns and vines, and placed throughout the trees. The setting was breathtaking.

The ceremony was the most important part of the day for us because we felt it was when we could really express our love and commitment to one another and to our communities. Our friends played “Green Eyes” by Coldplay as Chris walked down the aisle. I followed, walking with both my parents on my arms. This was important to me because I felt that both parents had equal parts in raising me and that both should be honoured in the ceremony. I was so delighted that they agreed.

We sat for most of their ceremony on an old wooden swing, from which we could see everyone. The ceremony lasted just over a hour but was packed with so much! The pastor, a long time friend of Chris, wrote out the most beautiful and honouring program. He included prayers, humour and liturgy into the service, which created the space for us to worship. Because our group of friends is so vast and all so important, we couldn’t chose who to be in the wedding party, and so instead tried to find meaningful ways to include them in the ceremony. Three friends read scripture, a couple read quotes from influential writers, and friends joined in on a choir and sang all the songs we chose. For the union ceremony we bought an elm tree to plant in memory of my treeplanting days. Everyone in attendance took turns tossing a handful of dirt into the planter with the tree. This symbolized the rootedness of our life and how each person there made us the people we are today. We planted this tree on our property after the wedding was over.

We’re really into games of all kinds, so after the ceremony, there was games for all ages in the backyard. Guests visited around the popcorn machine and homemade juice table, kiddos played in the bouncy castle (Kaytee’s request!) or play house, and others took their turn at the axe throwing area. We wanted to ensure there was something for everyone on the day, not just us.

The food was all locally sourced as we highly value local foods. We’ve always loved homemade pizza and so we went all out! We spent the better part of two days in May constructing a huge cob pizza oven. Cob is a building material made out of mixing sand, clay and hay/sawdust or other brown matter, which creates a compound you can use to build almost anything.We had four ovens baking four different kinds of thin crust pizza, and the meal was so delicious.

After supper, a kissing game with a 20-sided blow up die, speeches and thank yous, we went to the beautifully decorated shop behind the house to dance! We started the dance off with a couple’s swing dance performance which was not choreographed but was so much fun! Then we had a lesson in swing dancing for anyone who wanted to join in. Our friend loves to surprise people and he set up a fireworks display for us after the couples dance. It was magical and so much fun! During the bonfire and the northern lights showed up and wowed everyone. The evening was spectacular and we loved every minute of it.

Prior to the day, think about what you want in your photos. You may not realize exactly who and what you want photographed until after the wedding, and the day is hectic. Take lots of photos yourself with your phone.

It’s ok to break tradition if it makes you happy and allows for your wedding to represent who you are. When I attend a wedding, I want to come away from it with a better understanding of who the couple is, and not just witness the same old ceremony because that’s what’s always been done. If that suits you then great, please go with it. But if you feel stifled or held down because the tradition is stagnant or suffocating, know that it is good and ok to not go with the traditional pieces and you will be grateful afterwards  that you didn’t compromise on your values. It’s also okay to say no to people, even when they may have good intentions. They’ll get over it and probably won’t remember after the wedding is done.

We are so grateful for all of the people who made our day happen. One of the main things I remember is how much support we got from our community, and how it took a village to make this dream of a day come true. One favorite moment was walking into the ceremony from the back and seeing all the people there to show support for our marriage. It was a truly special feeling that I’ve never experienced before.

Kaytee and Chris –  August 8, 2015

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Photography: Retrospect Photography

Jewellery: Shannon R. Welch

Bridesmaids: Henkaa

Hair: Rochelle at Rock Paper Scissors Salon

Makeup: Genvieve Coulombe

Flowers and decor: Linda Stucky, bride and groom’s garden

Catering: Floating Gardens, Chef Jenni, The Night Oven (pizza dough), W.E. Cob (additional cob ovens)

Rentals: Handy Rentals, The Rent-It Store, Canadian Tarpaulin

Cake: Leona Leortie

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