Avenue Calgary Weddings 2021

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26 YEARS OF CITY | LIFE | STYLE | CALGARY

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Meet 3 couples who adjusted their wedding plans in the face of a pandemic

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RESILIENT CELEBRATIONS

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Best Wedding Service Providers

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FOR CA L G A RI A N S W E L OV E

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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021 | $4.95 AVENUECALGARY.COM

ONLY THE BEST, ONLY IN CALGARY The best planner, jeweller, photographer, cake maker, florists, venues and more

PHOTOGRAPH BY TKSHOTZ PHOTOGRAPHY


WHERE HISTORIC BRICK MEETS ELEGANCE A PLACE FOR memories A PLACE FOR magic...

A PLACE FOR Everyone

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weddings Recent events have been especially tough on the wedding industry. Many weddings set to take place over the past year were postponed due to restrictions imposed on travel and gatherings, not to mention the general sense of uncertainty affecting our ability to make big, life-changing decisions. But those in the wedding world will tell you that love is at the heart of what they do. Love inspires them to go the extra mile to find a bride her dream dress, create the perfect florals, bake the perfect cake or provide the perfect space for a celebration. And so this year, we’re celebrating that love by highlighting the people who make weddings happen in this city. Read about the best wedding service providers as chosen by our readers, and also about three couples who decided to throw their original wedding plans and guest lists out the window so they could get married last summer anyway,

PHOTOGRAPH BY MADISON JAMIE PHOTOGRAPHY

proving that not even a pandemic can stop love.

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CONTENTS

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BE S T W ED D IN G SE R V IC E S WI NNERS

RESI LI ENT WEDDI NGS

We asked, and you told us! Here are the top vote-getters from our first-ever survey asking who you love the most when it comes to planning all parts of the perfect wedding in Calgary. By Tsering Asha

With restrictions on gatherings and travel, many couples whose weddings were set to take place last summer decided to postpone. For others, the right choice was to adapt their celebrations and find a way to still say “I do” in difficult times. By Tsering Asha

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ATTIRE BEST BRIDE ATTIRE Durand Bridal

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he Durand family opened Durand Bridal in 2013 to provide luxurious yet affordable bridal and formal attire in Calgary. At over 8,000 square feet, the boutique on Macleod Trail carries on-trend bridal gowns, mother-of-the-bride/groom dresses, bridesmaid and flower-girl dresses, as well as other types of formal wear, such as graduation dresses and destination dresses. Durand has items in an impressive range of sample sizes, from 2 to 30. Inspired by matriarch Gwen Durand, who passed away in 2012, the family has made caring for, and celebrating each individual client a pillar of their business. Stylists at Durand go beyond assisting with gown choices to focus on creating and accommodating an inclusive experience for their customers. “We had always wanted to have a little boutique or a little store where all women could be truly celebrated, without exception or limitation or judgment,” says cofounder Leslie Durand. The boutique also offers suit and tuxedo rentals and sales from Black & Lee, and accessories from Adesso, a local men’s lifestyle brand. Durand also recently launched an in-house line of gowns, The Zoey Gwen Collection by Durand Bridal.

Best Bridal Party Attire MAIDE wearemaide.com @maidethelabel

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JARED SYCH

Durand Bridal 130, 9631 Macleod Tr. S.W. 403-454-2684 durandbridal.com @durandbridal


ACCESSORIES Best Jewellery EVSTENROOS 104, 1212 13 St. S.E. (Dade Loft, by appointment only) 403-618-1781, evstenroos.com @evstenroos

Best Shoes HOLT RENFREW The Core Shopping Centre 403-269-7341, holtrenfrew.com, @holtrenfrew

Best Undergarments KNICKERS ‘N LACE Willow Park Village, 403-225-1413 knickersnlace.net, @knickersnlace

Best Alterations MARIA THERESA BRIDAL (by appointment only), mariatheresabridal.com @mariatheresa.bridal

BEAUTY SERVICES Best Hair for Women

PHOTOGRAPH BY SHEENA ZILINSKI

BEST GROOM ATTIRE AND BEST GROOMSMEN ATTIRE

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Atelier by Ensemble

telier by Ensemble provides handmade, bespoke garments, designed in Calgary. Founder Lauren Larsen has a background in menswear and launched Atelier in 2016 as an off-shoot of her personal styling and shopping business, Ensemble Style. Larsen originally meant to serve only her existing clientele, but Atelier’s reputation for quality and service spread through word-of-mouth referrals. Now, with hundreds of clients across Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Toronto, Seattle and New York, Larsen says she prioritizes timelessness, longevity and individual personality over trends

when designing a custom suit. “Honestly getting to know [a client] and understanding them as a person is the most important thing,” she says. To date, Atelier has produced around 2,000 suits using fabrics from prestigious Italian and English mills, including the historic Italian mill Vitale Barberis Canonico, established in 1663. The process to get a custom-tailored suit from Larsen averages around four weeks. Atelier by Ensemble 303, 815 1 St. S.W. (by appointment only) 403-901-3199 atelierbyensemble.com, @atelierbyensemble

AVENUE BEAUTY (by appointment only), avenuebeauty.ca @avebeauty

Best Makeup AVENUE BEAUTY (by appointment only), avenuebeauty.ca @avebeauty

Best Nails BUTTER BEAUTY PARLOUR 2429 4 St. S.W., 403-215-3404; and Bankers Hall, 403-453-3404; butterbeautyparlour.com @butterbeautyparlouryyc

Best Dry Cleaning STEPHEN CLEANERS Multiple locations in Calgary and Airdrie stephencleaners.ca; @stephencleanersinc

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BEST CAKE Bake My Day

Best Caterer (Tie) BRIE & BANQUET WILD CATERING CO. (by appointment only) 403-874-7006, brieandbanquet.com @brieandbanquet FORK + FARM CATERED EVENTS 20, 920 28 St. N.E., 403-457-9931 forkandfarmcatering.com, @forkandfarmyyc 8

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Bake My Day 587-998-5177 bakemydaycalgary.com @bakemydayyyc

PHOTOGRAPH BY KRISTYN HARDER PHOTOGRAPHY

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nlike the wedding cakes that are created mostly for show, a cake from Bake My Day is meant to be eaten and enjoyed. Founder and cake designer Tamara Rutschmann believes that simplicity is the key to excellence, and she applies that philosophy to creating desserts from scratch, using local ingredients that are free from preservatives. She doesn’t freeze her cakes either, but will happily deliver them fresh for your event. A graduate of the baking and pastry arts program at SAIT, Rutschmann has been baking her entire life, and unofficially began making custom cakes for her family and friends’ special events from her home in 2012, before renting out a commercial kitchen space in 2016. “It just got to the point where my day was getting so busy, Rutschmann says. “It’s really where my passion lies — in decorating cakes and working with my customers.” Bake My Day also offers a range of mini desserts, including cookies, shortbread, minipies and French macarons. Flavours range from classics like chocolate and vanilla, to cinnamon swirl, banana browned butter and lavender vanilla bean. Her most popular weddingcake flavours are London Fog (made with a tea blend from local company Tearrific) and chocolate-caramel with house-made salted-caramel sauce. Bake My Day continues to expand and recently moved into a new studio space in Ramsay.


NATURALLY YOURS Celebrate your love with a winter wedding in the Canadian Rockies. Then immerse yourself in rest and relaxation in our natural mineral pools. We have everything you need to make your wedding celebration special. Contact us today, and let us help you start planning.

E V E N TS & C AT E R I N G SA L ES M A NAG ER : 778.525.8016 • FA IR M ONT HOT S PR INGS, B C

A WEDDING EXPERIENCE AS UNIQUE AS YOU 220 – 42 avenue se | 403 287 9255 alloydining.com | @alloyrestaurant | events@alloydining.com Émilie Photography | photosbyemilie.com

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WWW.VENUE308.COM | @VENUE308YYC

PHOTO: TKSHOTZ | WWW.TKSHOTZ.COM

ONLINE BALLOT

BEST NEIGHBOURHOOD

Tell us about your favourite parks, recreation centres, community projects and more in our first-ever Neighbourhood Gems online ballot. Nominate your favourite things across the city avenuecalgary.com/neighbourhood -gems-ballot/

N O M I N AT I O N S January 18 - March 1

Custom designed and handcrafted ďŹ ne jewellery for all genders evstenroos.com 10

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I L L U S T R AT I O N : M A R I A H E R G U E TA

GEMS


BEST MOBILE BAR SERVICE

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The Prosecco Cart

en Currey’s idea for a mobile bar was inspired by a social media post she saw showing a similar vehicle-to-mobilebar-conversion in the UK. Currey imported a 1970 Piaggio Ape, and after extensive renovations, The Prosecco Cart was born in February 2019. The three-wheeled, former gelato truck is ivory toned and usually decked out in fresh florals and vintage glassware to match the client’s wedding decor, with Currey as bartender. The vehicle is outfitted to serve beer, wine, kombucha and prosecco on tap, and its distinct styling makes it a fun feature for all types of events, both indoors and outdoors. “It’s just one of those things that make me happy,” Currey says. “Interacting with people really kind of feeds my soul.” The Prosecco Cart 403-826-3405 proseccocart.ca @theproseccocart

BEST WEDDING FAVOURS P H O T O G R A P H B Y A S H L E Y K I N G P H O T O G R A P H Y, E M I LY E X O N P H O T O G R A P H Y

Whippt Kitchen

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he husband-and-wife chef duo of Alison LaFrance and Andrew Kazakoff founded Whippt Kitchen in 2009. LaFrance, the pastry chef of Whippt Kitchen, spent time in many of the classic European culinary destinations like Italy, Belgium and Austria and says she now draws inspiration for her exceptionally detailed desserts from other pastry artists online. Whippt provides a range of edible party favours such as macarons, sugar cookies, cake pops, cupcakes and doughnuts. Along with custom desserts, Whippt also offers a lunch takeout service Tuesday through Friday.

Whippt Kitchen 4, 5329 72 Ave. S.E. (special event inquiries and orders by appointment only) 587-471-1032 whippt.ca @whipptkitchen

Best Dance Lessons ARTHUR MURRAY DANCE STUDIO CALGARY 231 B Forge Rd. S.E. 403-319-0732 arthurmurraycalgary.ca @arthurmurrayyyc

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SMALL FLOWER FLORAL STUDIO

FLORALS/DECOR Best Bouquets / Boutonnieres SMALL FLOWER FLORAL STUDIO (by appointment only) 403-245-5543, smallflower.ca @smallflowerfloralstudio

Best Floral Decor FOXGLOVE STUDIO 915 9 Ave. S.E., 587-206-1378 foxglovestudio.ca, @foxglovestudio

Best Gift Registry

Best Invitations (Printing Services) PAPER + PETALS hollylovespaper.ca @hollylovespaper

Best Invitations (Design / Calligraphy) PAPER + PETALS hollylovespaper.ca @hollylovespaper

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P H O T O G R A P H B Y C H E L S E A K AY E P H O T O G R A P H Y

HUDSON’S BAY Multiple Calgary locations thebay.com, @hudsonsbay


MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT

BEST BAND/ MUSICIAN

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The Contraband

he Contraband is an eight-member cover band known for creating an electric party atmosphere wherever they play. “I think that’s always our goal: we want to have as much fun — if not more — than everybody that’s in front of us on that dance floor,” says Contraband guitar-player Terry Eisthen. The band members are influenced by a variety of genres, which makes it easy for them to adapt to the style of each audience. The self-contained act even provides its own quality sound system, professional equipment and lighting. The Contraband 403-681-7532, tdeisthen.wixsite.com/thecontrabandyyc @thecontrabandyyc

Best DJ or AV Service HI TECH PRODUCTIONS 403-827-1405 hitechproductions.ca, @hitechyyc

BEST MARRIAGE COMMISSIONER Jacqueline Hoare Creating Ceremonies With Heart

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P H O T O G R A P H B Y S V E T L A N A YA N O VA

arriage commissioner Jacqueline Hoare describes herself as a “life celebrant” because she has the honour of playing a pivotal role in celebrating life with her clients. She has been doing civil marriage ceremonies since being appointed a marriage commissioner in the province of Alberta in 2007. Hoare’s expertise at weaving a love story into a ceremony is reflected in the fact that her clients often call her

back to preside over events such as baby-naming ceremonies, and even funerals. “It’s important that I find out, authentically, who [the couple] are and what they want as part of their ceremony,” says Hoare. “By finding that out, it then allows me to ‘create a ceremony with heart.’” Jacqueline Hoare - Creating Ceremonies With Heart 403-255-6408, lifecelebrant.ca @jacquelinehoare

Best Premarital Counselling CALGARY COUNSELLING CENTRE 1000, 105 12 Ave. S.E. (by appointment only) 833-827-4229, calgarycounselling.com, @yyccounselling Calgary Counselling Centre’s premarital counselling program is currently on hiatus to be revamped, and is set to relaunch later this year.

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NICOLE AND JOSH KLUIN, C A P T U R E D B Y T K S H O T Z P H O T O G R A P H Y.

BEST PHOTOGRAPHY Tkshotz Photography

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ing their client base and adapting to changing wedding industry trends. This ability to be agile and adaptable to changing circumstances, along with a commitment to creating a calm and stress-free experience for clients, is what allowed the company to continue working during the pandemic. Tkshotz had been offering cinematic-style videography services as Tkshotz Productions prior to March 2020, but with the restrictions on events due to the spread of COVID-19 the company quickly started offering live-streaming services for

weddings, while simultaneously spearheading an initiative with local wedding planners, officiants, venues and florists to create full-service, prepriced wedding packages in response to the uncertainty that couples were facing. The comprehensive “i still do” packages proved popular, with Tkshotz going on to shoot more than 40 “i still do” weddings. Tkshotz Photography (by appointment only) 403-700-1792, tkshotz.com, @tkshotz

TKSHOTZ PRODUCTIONS (by appointment only) 403-700-1792, tkshotz.com @tkshotz

Best Wedding Planner (Tie) I STILL DO 403-700-1792, tkshotz.com/istilldo @tkshotz MOEVENTS 403-903-4049, moeventsyyc.com @moeventsyyc

PHOTOGRAPH BY TKSHOTZ PHOTOGRAPHY

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odd Kwiczak is a formertradesman-turned-photographer who heads up a small team at his namesake company Tkshotz Photography. Since transitioning to wedding photography in 2007, Kwiczak’s mission is to make every client feel celebrated through light, connection and story. “I love creating connection with the couples,” Kwiczak says. “It is a big difference jumping from the trades to photography, but [for me] it just felt right.” The team at Tkshotz takes a proactive approach to grow-

Best Videography


SING, SHOUT, OR SAY

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VENUES BEST INDOOR RECEPTION VENUE (<100 GUESTS) Venue 308

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enue 308 opened in October 2019 in the Louise Block heritage building in Victoria Park. Approximately 5,000 square feet, the space features original brick walls and lots of natural light, and can host 274 people across two floors. On the upper floor there is an open space for a ceremony or reception, a prep kitchen and The Grace Lounge, a bridal party prep space with a makeup desk and chairs. On the lower floor is The Walter Lounge, a cozy,

speakeasy-style room ideal for the groom and his cohort to relax and get ready. Co-founder Bretton Grassie says that Venue 308 is a great choice for couples looking for a space that is photogenic from all angles, with a family-run staff that is hands-on in the event process. “Really, the role that we’ve taken on is just being there for people,” she says. Venue 308 110, 308 11 Ave. S.E. 403-888-4718 venue308.com, @venue308yyc

BEST OUTDOOR CEREMONY VENUE ince opening in 1975, the sprawling grounds of Spruce Meadows have been the site of numerous sporting events as well as wedding celebrations. To help navigate the process of planning a wedding at Spruce Meadows each couple is assigned their own wedding coordinator from the Spruce Meadows team. The more than 400-acre spread offers a variety of spaces. Two of the most popular sites are the Grand Staircase with picturesque stone walls and steps and the Pond, a pastoral setting surrounded by green space and backed by a bridge. Spruce Meadows 18011 Spruce Meadows Way S.W. 403-974-4264 sprucemeadows.com, @spruce_meadows

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PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH + JEFF WEDDING, PHOTOGRAPH BY TKSHOTZ PHOTOGRAPHY

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Spruce Meadows


Winner of Avenue’s Best Weddings Services: Dry Cleaning & Preservation. Eco Friendly DryCleaning & Laundry Specialists Family Owned and Operated Since 1962 www.stephencleaners.ca

BEST INDOOR CEREMONY VENUE

get distilled.

White Diamond Conference Center

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ocated in Chinatown, White Diamond Conference Center opened its doors in 2018. The venue can accommodate parties of up to 500 guests, and it has hosted more than 100 weddings in the past two years. Owner Ravi Behal says that his venue stands out because of the creativity and inventiveness of his staff. Many of the weddings hosted here are interracial or interfaith, and White Diamond culinary staff are known for expertly weaving together various world cuisines such as western with Indian, or Chinese and Italian. “That’s the clientele that we get, where people are trying to be creative, or they’re looking for a couple of different cuisines, and we can actually pull that together for them,” says Behal. The family-owned and operated event space also provides decor, audio/visual services and catering, and Behal and his family are in attendance for every event that is hosted there.

WINTER LOTUS PHOTOGRAPHY

White Diamond Conference Center 130 3 Ave. S.E., 403-951-4000, whitediamondcc.ca, @whitediamondconferencecenter

manis | pedis | facials | medical aethetics | lashes | waxing & brows | hair @DISTILLED_BEAUTYBARYYC | 2408 34 AVE SW | DISTILLEDBEAUTYBAR.COM

@brieandbanquet

brieandbanquet.com

403.874.7006

Best Indoor Reception Venue (>100 guests) WHITE DIAMOND CONFERENCE CENTER 130 3 Ave. S.E. 403-951-4000 whitediamondcc.ca, @whitediamondconferencecenter

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BEST OUTDOOR RECEPTION VENUE

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Heritage Park

long with 10 indoor venues for wedding receptions, Heritage Park offers an extensive list of outdoor sites on its 127-acre grounds that can accommodate events that are fully open-air or with 20-by20-foot tent rentals. Couples can choose from gardens, gazebos, green spaces and more. To book an outdoor ceremony, couples must also book a catered reception — Heritage Park provides on-site catering (it is known for high-quality Alberta beef options) and entertainment add-ons such as horsedrawn carriage or wagon rides, an antique midway and endless photo opportunities set against the historic buildings. In 2021 Heritage Park will offer another unique outdoor wedding option, with the S.S. Moyie paddlewheeler available for ceremonies. Heritage Park 1900 Heritage Dr. S.W. 403-268-8500 heritagepark.ca, @heritageparkyyc

Lavish Canvas

Best Decor and Event Rentals

avish Canvas offers large canvas tents decked out in a curated collection of decor. Owner Natalie Gomersall started Lavish Canvas in 2019 after attending a wedding, along with numerous festivals, in the UK that featured the onion-shaped “glamping” (a portmanteau of glamourous and camping) tents. Gomersall says that her tents can be a unique addition to any wedding, as the venue for small, intimate gatherings or as a space for children to play in at a larger wedding. A Lavish tent can even be used for honeymoon accommodations. “It just gives [the couple] that little getaway and that little bit of alone time. It’s very romantic,” Gomersall says. Lavish Canvas tents are waterproof and fire resistant and available in sizes of 100-200 square feet and 700-square-feet.

PARTY RENTAL DEPOT 910 55 Ave. N.E., 403-735-6133 partyrentaldepot.com, @partyrentalyyc

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Lavish Canvas 403-862-1940 lavishcanvas.com, @lavishcanvas

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Best Transportation Services AMBASSADOR LIMOUSINE AND SHUTTLE SERVICE 316 Meridian Rd. S.E., 403-299-4910 thecheckergroup.com/limo

P H O T O G R A P H Y S U P P L I E D B Y H E R I TA G E PA R K ; PA I S L E Y P H O T O G R A P H Y

BEST UNIQUE VENUE


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BY TSERING ASHA

RESILIENT C E L E B R AT I O N S What makes a wedding resilient is not that the event itself happens after a series of setbacks, but that the people involved come together to participate in joy, hope and a celebration for the future, during an otherwise difficult time

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t’s something of an understatement to say that the pandemic changed a lot of things for a lot of people. But it didn’t change everything. Most of us still worked (paid or not), played and made major life choices, including getting married. Weddings vary in all aspects, from the bigpicture differences of religious and cultural traditions, down to the nitty-gritty details of decor. But whether intimate family affairs, lavish community events, or impromptu backyard soirees, all weddings have a common criterion: a public acknowledgement and recognition of a couple’s commitment. Amidst last year’s restrictions on guest counts, health and safety recommendations for masks and social distancing, and navigating the logistics of travel, marrying couples also had to dig deep and understand why a wedding ceremony was even necessary for them at this particular time. And while many cancelled or delayed their nuptials, others went ahead, albeit with changed plans. Despite having to change their plans — and in some cases, change again, and again, to deal with the evolving guest limits and travel restrictions — these COVID-era weddings were far from seat-of-the-pants affairs.

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SARAH AND SADIQ Sarah and Sadiq Rajan decided to get married last summer even as the spread of COVID-19 derailed their original plans for a wedding in Lisbon, Portugal. Along with prohibitive international travel restrictions, there had been other setbacks in the planning of the original wedding, with deaths in both families and another close family member diagnosed with a critical illness. These considerations weighed on the couple as they considered whether to delay or proceed. They could see their own parents were getting older and they did not want to miss the opportunity to celebrate their marriage with them. “You want the wedding of your dreams but I think you also want to make sure that the people you want there can be there, especially your immediate family,” says Sarah. “The thought of not having our parents there was kind of scary.” The Rajans are both of South Asian descent and in their culture a wedding consists of several events over multiple days, all of which are as important as the ceremony itself. Indian weddings are traditionally quite large, says Saaraa Premji Virani, founder of Blush & Co. Events. “A lot of it goes back to the parents,” Premji Virani says. “Parents in our culture, their kids getting married is their pride and joy. They save up for it.”

Each of the wedding events includes multiple family members from both the bride’s and groom’s side of the family, which is why, for the South Asian community, the idea of a wedding without any extended family could seem somewhat redundant. In that sense, many of the grand Indian weddings set to happen last summer were ultimately postponed, unlike the Rajans, who decided not to wait for less-restrictive times.

EVELYN AND HOWARD The Rajans were not the only ones who based the decision to have a wedding last summer around immediate family bonds. Evelyn Ackah and her fiancé, now-husband, Howard Ames, weren’t as concerned with fulfilling cultural expectations as much as they were eager to start their life officially as a family. Both Ackah and Ames had been previously married and the couple have six children between them. Their biggest concern was Ackah’s two young children, who live with them, and upholding the life they had begun building with Ames as their dad. “We said we’re going to do this, and we didn’t want to put it off,” says Ackah. “We were creating our family, and he was dad, and that was really important.”


SARAH AND SADIQ RAJAN

“YOU HAVE TO FIND DIFFERENT WAYS OF MAKING YOURSELF FEEL SPECIAL.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY RIANA LISBETH

SARAH RAJAN

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“PEOPLE FELT

The day of the ceremony and afterward, the couple noticed a marked change in the family dynamic and how the kids felt, which reinforced for them that they had made the right decision. The emotional tide of their wedding day stretched far beyond the confines of their blended family. Beforehand, guests told Ackah and Ames how much they were looking forward to attending the occasion, and afterward, how enjoyable the entire day had been. (Ackah says that people have been “relentlessly” asking them for written copies of their vows). “It just became increasingly important to us, and for family and friends to celebrate something in this period of time,” says Ames.

INVESTED. THEY WERE DOING SOMETHING, THEY WERE GIFTING SOMETHING, OR THEY BROUGHT SOMETHING.” VICTORIA BUCHOLTZ

KAYLA AND VICTORIA

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K AY L A B I G R A S A N D V I C T O R I A B U C H O LT Z

FEWER GUESTS, BUT MORE TO CONSIDER For the three couples we talked to for this story, having smaller guest lists didn’t necessarily affect their wedding budgets. Rather, the re-planning process mostly affected their choices of where to spend their money. Ackah and Ames estimate that they spent close to the original amount they had set aside for their pre-COVID wedding, but were able to put more money toward a videographer and a livestream of the event. Those things, which they hadn’t initially prioritized in the pre-COVID planning stage, ultimately helped them connect to guests who couldn’t attend the ceremony and outdoor dinner at River Café. The Rajans’ original 1,000-person guest list ended up as 200 log-ins for the livestreamed ceremony, though Sarah Rajan estimates that with multiple people observing from each log-in they likely ended up with more than 500 virtual guests. The reception was an inti-

mate family dinner for nine in the backyard of Sadiq’s parents’ home. The smaller scale allowed the couple to invest more money into decor items from local vendors and to put together a keepsake look book of their wedding ceremony. “Because we weren’t able to have the people there, you kind of have to find different ways of making yourselves feel a little special,” says Sarah. Looking back on how the pandemic shaped their weddings, it was the intimacy of each event, the understanding and devotion from family and friends, and the freedom to reimagine what a wedding can, and should be, that created unique celebrations for the couples who married during COVID. While delaying wasn’t the best option for these and other couples, many more out there did choose to delay, and are now looking forward to forthcoming dinners and receptions with loved ones once gathering restrictions are lifted, turning what is often described as a once-in-a-lifetime occasion into an extended community celebration.

PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HOSIER

Victoria Bucholtz and Kayla Bigras also married last summer, and echo the sentiment of their wedding bringing joy to their guests during the pandemic. More so than the belief in the institution of marriage, it was the desire to celebrate their love and their relationship that inspired them to have a wedding at all, Bigras says. Bigras and Bucholtz had originally planned to celebrate their relationship at an Albertabased regional event inspired by the annual Burning Man gathering in Nevada. But, after festivals in the province were cancelled, they opted for a backyard wedding. Instead of gifts, the couple asked guests to provide all the trappings needed for their ceremony and reception. From floral arrangements, to a DJ, and even tables and chairs, their gathering of 50 people was a much-needed communitycrafted affair, in line with the Burning Man ethos that participants give something to the event without expectation of receiving anything in return. Upholding these principles for their backyard event ended up being a way to keep part of the original wedding plans alive. “People felt invested because they had a job: they were doing something, they were gifting something, or they brought something. And it made people feel like they were a part of it,” says Bucholtz.


E V E LY N A C K A H A N D H O W A R D A M E S

“WE SAID WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS AND WE DIDN’T WANT TO PUT IT OFF.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHANIE COUTURE PHOTOGRAPHY

EVELYN ACKAH

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