Monday, 26 September 2016

Chris and Jason's DIY wedding - Day 3

Yep, 3 day wedding!
After breakfast with Aimee and Mike which included lots of walking/rocking with Avery who, although they said he had slept well, looked like he needed another good nights sleep, I checked out of the hotel and headed up to Jason and Chris' house.
The clean up team, including Faye and David (Jason's parents) had already been back out to Toronto Island and given back the key and bought everything back to the house (their porch was full).
It is a testament to Chris and Jason as organizers and planners and to their friends and family, all of whom stepped up and contributed time and expertise that everything went so well. On the back of the program there was the statement that "137 guests of all ages helped with 358 different tasks for a total of 2,151 hours". So much support, kindness and love.
All were invited back to the house on Sunday for hot dogs and we started to put out some of the food left from the previous day in anticipation of the visitors.
Nicola and I were there for another reason though:
Nicky had made a King size quilt (she says she'll never make another one that big again) and I had made a rug to match. We weren't allowed to give wedding gifts so these were "house warming" gifts.
We waited at the bottom of the stairs while Chris and Jason took their luggage up to the bedroom. There was no sound. Nic and I looked at each other, what did silence mean? Then we heard crying. Oh, was that "I love it" crying or "I hate it" crying or "I am just so tired, I'll cry at anything" crying. When they came down stairs it was clear it was the first and just a bit of the last too. Whew!

Chris and Jason's DIY Wedding - Day 2

Saturday dawned clear and sunny. From my hotel room. Already too many early mornings!

Jamie and Cyndy came to help with hair and Chris' make up. Photo by Cyndy.

It gradually became more chaotic as more members of the bridal party arrived but everything went according to plan and on time.

Christine's hair had a reverse braid, then two side pieces crisscrossed and Jamie's beautiful hair jewelry.
Avery went to the Grooms room so Maya came and hung with the girls.
The 3 bridesmaids had partial french braids and then we curled the rest of the hair and eased it into "beachy" waves. Even Sarah's which was considerable shorter.
The whole time Steph was clicking pictures, nothing posed, just as it happens. Dave was doing the same in the Grooms room.
Finally everyone was ready and they left for their photos at the park near the Roundhouse. Cyndy, Jamie and I walked to the ferry docks, stocked up at Tims and met Jim and Mike with Aiden and Ava.
Mike and Ava, on the ferry.
Over the bridge from Wards Island to Algonquin Island.
Through the cottage community, a tree lined path and we were greeted at the club house and handed a program.
The program was a 33 page, glossy magazine full of colour, facts, pictures and information. It had introductions to the whole wedding party (along with their favorite current and childhood books), family trees, words to readings and songs in the ceremony, Chris and Jason's vows, a time line of their relationship, a memorial to George, ,things to do at the hall and on the island after the ceremony and information about the reception and the participation of all the guests. It was a massive undertaking.
A team of guests had come on the earlier ferry and done the last minute set up of placing the chairs outside, moving the sound system back outside, setting up the activity table,
the pot luck buffet tables (guests had thought to match the wedding colours, not only in the napkins but in the cupcakes too.)
the tables for the euchre tournament and
the colouring table and activities table.
At the activities table there was a guest bingo (you filled in the square based on finding someone who fit the clue ("has looked after Two", "has traveled with Chris" etc), a scavenger hunt and sign up for the euchre tournament. There were  also maps for a nature walk and the frisbee golf course (one of the favors offered was a frisbee) That brings me to the favors table. Rather than offering one or even two there was a choice of an umbrella, pashmina, fan, frisbee, pack of cards and lots of beer bottle openers shaped like bicycles (craft beer and biking being 2 of Jason's hobbies). No-one at this wedding was going to be bored.
Chris and Jason had asked their officiants to wear white pashminas draped around their necks, hoping they would look more like officiants and less like their siblings. But this wedding was about creativity so the siblings got creative:
Jason's sister, Meghan
Her husband, Mark
Aimee tried to rig up a baby sling but Maya just wasn't going for it.
Mike trying out his "officiant look".
The bar was open (those of us with our Smart Serve took shifts serving bar) and we were directed outside, to take our seats, drinks in hand.
Glorious weather
The Officiants (not looking terribly official I must say) kept the ceremony moving along.
The wedding party was pretty relaxed.
Some more relaxed than others. A second day without "bearing" the ring! Well I don't think the flower girl, Evelyn, of about the same age, carried any flowers either.
Chris and Jason arrived and the ceremony began. Chris wore her fathers wedding ring as a necklace and her grandmothers brooch on her dress. Jason sported a black t-shirt and jeans. (Chris was into yoga pants and a tank top as soon as the photos were done)
There was humor, faith, readings about love and marriage, a guest vow of support and  encouragement,
Chris and Jason exchanged vows they had written
The ceremonial Mentos in the diet coke ritual (no I hadn't heard of this one before, either, I think they just made it up) which was not as spectacular as they had hoped even though they have been practicing.

We ended with a group rendition of Oh Canada (Chris wanted singing in the ceremony but they wanted everyone to know the words and tune. Chris was pushing for Christmas Carols which Jason vetoed so they compromised with Oh Canada)
Well that woke him up.
Looking much more relaxed now they are "officially" married.
There were a variety of alcoholic and non alcoholic options with which to toast the bride and groom and then we were on to the less formal part of the day - the eating, drinking, playing, chatting part.

With this as the backdrop.
Those of us entertained by sailboats
were constantly amused.
For the kids there was a large, fenced play area behind the hall with climbing equipment and ride on toys.
Quite the face Mike.
One of the groomsboys assisting with the rock collection. At one point in the ceremony the officiants asked each guest, at some point during the day, to pick up one of the rocks used to delineate the aisle, make a wish for Jason and Chris' marriage and throw it in the harbour (thus leaving it in Toronto, with them)
Avery thought this was a great idea and kept picking up rocks and running, full pelt, towards the water, with Mike in hot pursuit, to throw them in.
By about 4 we had declared winners and given prizes, for all the games, eaten too much, had lots of sun and were starting to tidy up. Again there were lots of hands to pack up food, fold tables and chairs and when we caught the ferry back there wasn't too much left for the cleaning up crew next morning. The sound equipment and those with mobility issues took a water taxi back.
Next stop was the Watermark Pub for the reception. Upon arriving we each received a small package of poker chips with our name and table on it. Tables were named after fictitious literary places. I was in Whoville. The head table was Middle Earth.
I did take pictures at this location but they were almost all very blurry. I like to think it was the low lighting and that I was tired but I think the caesar and then glasses of red wine may have had something to do with it.
We indulged in the open bar while waiting for those guests who had had to take children home before returning and for Chris to finish writing her speech (this is traditional also). Jason made his own speech and read Teri's, Rob (the best man) spoke and Chris made us laugh and cry (when talking about missing her Dad. Boy, he would have loved this party!)
Then it was on to a good pub meal. I had Jay Gatsby's Smooth as Butter-nut Soup, Captain Ahab's Fish and Chips and Great Cheesecake Expectations (all the menu items had been given literary names). The poker chips were to put in one of 2 jars on the head table, labelled with the 2 charities Jason and Chris chose, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Jesse's Journey Foundation. They will donate the amount in each jar to those respective charities. In order to get them to kiss the guests had to put real money in one of the charities jars (kissing for a cause).
I wish my picture of the cake cutting had come out (very blurry by this point) but I can attest to the fact that the carrot cake that Meghan had made was delicious.
I left at about 10 when the younger people were setting up to play Kings (a drinking game) and then to have a burger slider buffet at 11.
Even my picture of the CN Tower, as I walked back to the hotel, is blurry.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Chris and Jason's DIY Wedding - Day 1

I'm in Toronto for Chris and Jason's wedding. Chris calls it a DIY wedding both to keep the costs down and because they wanted a wedding in which their "community" (family and friends) were truly involved.
Friday was Day 1.
Early morning from my hotel room (Intercontinental). Dreary and rain in the forecast.
From Chris and Jason's room. Even Chris' favorite view was obscured.
I went to Vistek and picked up the sound equipment, had lunch with Chris and Jason and got ready.
In the hotel lobby before Steph and Dave, the official photographers, arrived
 I met up with Laura and drove to City Hall where we were all to meet in Nathan Phillips Square. The rain had stopped and although rather cool, it held off for the rest of our day.

The bridesmaids, Sarah, Fiona and Heather, looking bright and cheerful in spite of their early morning start. The bouquets were made from paper (during a "brides attendants sweat shop" at the cottage) to go with the literary theme for the wedding.
Didn't take long for the girls to start having some fun
or Mark
or for Chris to take off those pretty shoes.
Soon we were into the "herding cats" part of the day for the different photo groupings. The bridal party.
Jason's family
Christine's extended family.
Etc, etc, with much chasing of children and trying to get them to face the camera.
Mike and Avery (who was more interested in the fountain and the gulls than the wedding). I don't think he even saw the ring he was supposed to be bearing.

Then it was into city hall and more photos on the curving staircase.

We all piled into the elevators and created quite a noisy crowd, waiting  in the wedding lobby area for our turn.
My pictures of this are a little sparse as I was trying to keep Avery occupied at the time.
There were too many of us
for the available chairs.
After the signing of the paperwork they were officially married, but not according to Chris, as the ceremony in front of all her family and friends, the next day, was what really counted for her.
The one person missing from her entourage was Teri. She had her son, Rory, yesterday. Chris considered that a good excuse for missing her wedding.
Next we all went down to the waterfront and took water taxis, with our loads of cargo, across the harbour to Algonquin Island.
This is where the DIY kicked in. We had food, drinks, decorations, sound system and activity materials all to set up

at the clubhouse on Algonquin Island.

This would be the site for the ceremony the next day.
There were about 40 of us there to set up tables, drape them with pashminas
and pinwheels.
Some tables were set up for card games, the activity centre, the colouring centre, the various pot luck buffets and the favours table. The bar had to be stocked and the kitchen set up. Decorations had to be hung. It was an amazing and efficient work crew.

It was difficult, though, to tear ourselves away from the beautiful view of the Toronto skyline and the evening sky.
Simon and Fiona. I suspect they were watching sailboats.
Before the rehearsal could start, Dan and Simon set up the sound equipment (very handy being related to a stage manager) and the aisle had to be created from stones (some contributed by guests)
In the gathering dusk the officiants (Mike, Aimee, Mark and Meghan) performed their script (with a little ad-libing)
as the wedding party

spectators (Maya) and
wildlife, looked on.
We had to run to catch the ferry from Wards Island but were treated to a view of the skyline at night.
 From the ferry dock we walked, as a group, to 18 Yonge St, where we had the rehearsal dinner in the party room. Mum, Dad and Laura were there already as well as the rehearsal dinner set up team. It was a lovely room, good food and drink, and at each step in this DIY wedding, Chris and Jason's "community" were getting to know each other through working and socializing together.