Personalize Your Wedding

How to inject some character into your ceremony and reception.

The old Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue played some of the 20th century’s greatest stories, but none were more epic than the one Rebecca Martel and Marc Saucier staged for their wedding in August.

“We [had] started looking at dresses and flowers, and after a day I thought, ‘No way. This is all so boring,'” says Martel, a Radio-Canada anchor who is well known in the Francophone community. “None of it is me; I am not traditional. Basically, if people do it one way, I want to do it the other way.” And, so she did.

 What did their 100 guests expect to see when they received their invitations, an admit-one ticket with perforated stub for “Our Wedding: The Musical”? They likely thought the couple was being more cute than serious, until they arrived to find custom movie posters, a program and popcorn. And their doubts were completely erased when the ceremony started with a PSA advising them to turn off their cell phones.

It began with Saucier, a 30-year-old search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, entering in plain clothes with his best friend, reciting some obviously scripted lines about trying to find the right person. Then, he broke out singing Justin Bieber’s “Somebody to Love.” After they exited the stage, Martel came out with her bridesmaids … in flaunty clubbing clothes.

Two hours, seven songs and numerous costume changes later, the couple were officially married. “Our wedding came from a brainstorm one evening on the couch, of all the crazy stuff we could do,” says Martel. “So we started writing a script. We don’t want a church, we don’t want a court – we want cinema!” (Of course, the old Paramount is a church, but the City Centre Church was merely represented by a sound technician.)

Not all marrying couples want to turn their weddings into Mamma Mia!, but they all want them to be memorable. And weddings that reflect a couples’ personalities are the ones people remember best.

There are many opportunities in the Western wedding formula to get your characters across, starting with your invitations: Silver embossed script is pretty, but what does it say about you? Instead, there are stationery designers such as Veekee Workshop that can illustrate your love story.

Here’s some more ideas for your reception: Pick a first-dance song that reflects your personalities; ask your MC to introduce the head table with nicknames for how they played a role in your life (What’s more telling? “Friend of the Bride” or “Bride’s First Call For Urgent Gossip?”); or give an official “wedding soundtrack,” with customized album art and memorable music, as a wedding favour.

The ceremony is also full of ways to skew the Victorian ritual so that it becomes yours. 

When Jileane and Nathan Stokland – two self-proclaimed nerds – married in the summer of 2010, they were sure to include their love of science in the ceremony. For the “special element,” which usually consists of passing around two candles or two roses, the Stoklands combined a beaker of vinegar and a beaker of baking soda.

“I find the whole candle thing overdone,” says Jileane, 23. “I like the idea of the chemicals because … [it] was something explosive, that you could see getting bigger.”

For their arch, Nathan wanted to dangle a model of the solar system above their heads. “He didn’t know why he suggested it, but looking [back], a wedding is a big public display, so why not include the solar system?”

Every single thing in your wedding can be customized, so it’s easy to get carried away. But there are equally as many ways to tie it back into the tradition of matrimony.

As for Martel, she did change into a wedding dress and walk down the aisle with her father – though it occurred in the middle of her vows as a scripted afterthought. With her attendees humming Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” in place of an organ, she says she got caught up in the moment, and became emotional as any bride. 

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