Real Weddings: James and Justin

Inside a sparkly queer art party with multiple drag performances

On their first date in 2013, James Maycock, a pastry chef, and Justin Miller, a theatre artist who moonlights as drag queen Pearle Harbour, bonded over their mutual obsession with the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Four years later, they went to dinner at their favourite restaurant, Montgomery’s on Queen West, for their anniversary and exchanged Christmas tree ornaments as gifts. When they got home and started decorating the tree, James asked Justin if he would marry him. “It was sweet and intimate,” says Justin.

They had a specific vision in mind for their wedding, and decided to have a long engagement—nearly three years—to make sure they could pull it off. They definitely weren’t interested in a traditional setup: “We imagined a sparkly queer art party that happened to have a wedding at it,” says Justin. They wanted to hold it at the Theatre Centre on Queen West, where Justin has showcased his work many times, but the venue had never hosted a wedding before, and the couple had to work around jam-packed performance schedules. They eventually settled on a date and worked tirelessly in the months and weeks ahead to organize everything themselves. Justin dealt with the production elements—including painting the floors and hiring a lighting technician— while James handled the caterers, bartenders and rentals.

They ended up with exactly what they planned: an intimate yet vibrant event that celebrated queerness and encouraged guests to lose themselves in the entertainment. The couple decked out the venue in shiny gold curtains, brought in vintage furniture and arranged for six drag performances throughout the evening from friends like Mango Sassi and Beardoncé. They collected vintage costume jewellery—including bejewelled broaches, clip-on earrings and chunky cocktail rings—and had every guest grab a piece as a party favour. “We wanted everyone to drag up for the evening,” says Justin. Here’s a look at what went down.

Cheat sheet

Date: November 2, 2019
Planners: the couple
Photographer: Ian Lawrence Photography
Grooms’ attire: Philip Sparks
Venue: The Theatre Centre
Caterer: Montgomery’s
Decor: Mid-century tchotchkes sourced from vintage shops
Production designer: Joseph Pagnan
Lighting designer: Logan Raju Cracknell
Performers: Beardoncé, Bonbon Bontemps and Mango Sassi
Music: DJ Regina the Gentle Lady
Invites: Christopher Rouleau
Guests: 120

The pair got ready in a Ritz-Carlton suite that Justin’s mother arranged for them as a gift:

 

They split a bottle of Moët before heading out to take portraits:

 

They each had bespoke suits made by local designer Philip Sparks. James went with a 1970s-inspired vibe, while Justin channelled a mid-century gentleman:

 

Slightly buzzed from the champagne, they got a little silly in Grange Park:

 

At the Theatre Centre, guests mingled beneath banners of gold streamers before the ceremony:

 

They had their close friend and Justin’s professional mentor, Karen Hines, officiate the ceremony.“She quoted from Hedwig instead of scripture and talked about how we found each other,” says Justin.

 

While the couple were signing their wedding licence, guests helped transform the room for dancing and performances. Their emcees announced that everyone could go and grab a piece of vintage jewellery from display cases around the room. “Apparently there was a small stampede,” says James:

 

They ate passed appetizers, cheese and charcuterie boards, and pork rillette from Montgomery’s:

 

After guests grabbed a bite to eat, there were speeches and the first round of performances. Justin’s mother surprised the couple by doing a duet to Elton John’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Beardoncé:

 

Mango Sassi danced to Björk with a confetti cannon hidden in a bouquet of roses:

 

When she tossed the bouquet into the crowd, Justin managed to snag it and the room erupted in cheers:

 

Bonbon Bontemps showed off some acrobatic moves:

 

Here are the queens, who are all close friends with the couple:

 

The couple’s first dance was to “Any Other Way” by Jackie Shane. “We chose it because she’s a queer Toronto legend and so important to the fabric of this community,” says Justin:

 

After their speeches, they partied with the guests. There was another drag performance later in the evening, and a fried chicken bar and cookie buffet. Instead of a cake, the couple and their mothers baked 12 different kinds of cookies:

 

Here are some more photos from the evening:


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