Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Alex and Brittney

Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

As told to Andrea Yu| Photography by Ryan Bolton
| November 17, 2021

Alexandra Tassone, an accounting manager, and Brittney Anyon, a VP at a brokerage firm, met in 2014 and started dating a year later. As pandemic lockdowns eased over the summer, the couple planned an intimate backyard ceremony and reception for their friends and family in September. Here’s how their wedding came together.

Alex: I had met Brittney in passing in 2014 through her roommate Laura. The following year, the company I worked for was starting a real estate brokerage called Property.ca and was hiring for new positions. I recommended Brittney for an operations manager position, and she got it. We started to spend a lot of time together in the office and after work. I tend to enjoy my alone time, but Brittney is the kind of person who is always going on adventures and making plans. So she’d invite me out after work with her friends and encourage me to enjoy the city.

Brittney: We became inseparable that year. When my grandmother passed in September of 2015, it was a difficult period but Alex was by my side the whole time.

Alex: I knew I wanted to be there with her. We became really comfortable just sitting together in silence. That’s when I realized I had strong feelings for her. It was more than just friendship.

Brittney: We had never considered a romantic relationship, especially since a same-sex relationship was new to both of us, but it got to the point where our friendship had changed so much that we couldn’t ignore it anymore. One night, we discussed our feelings and realized we both felt the same way. We decided to take things one day at a time.

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Alex and Brittney bought their dresses from Park and Fifth and Reformation.

Alex: It felt right to me. I was really nervous but also really excited about it.

Brittney: Alex has a huge heart. I’m methodical and tend to overthink things, and I love that Alex is a bit impulsive and lives in the moment. She encourages me to throw caution to the wind and go all in. I am in awe of that quality in her. She’s very fun-loving.

Alex: I admire Brittney’s character, her values and her drive. She knows what she wants out of life and what she stands for, and she fights for it. In September of 2017, I rented out my condo and moved in with Brittney. Two years later, we sold my condo and bought a detached house near Woodbine and Danforth.

Brittney had planned to surprise Alex with matching denim jackets on the day of the wedding, but Alex serendipitously found the same jacket online a few weeks before the wedding and suggested they buy a pair.

Brittney: Marriage was never a sure thing for us. I really wanted to be married but it wasn’t something Alex felt she needed to do in order to start and build a family.

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Alex: Covid brought us a lot of challenges, but once people were getting vaccinated and things were opening up, it was like a collective weight was being lifted for everybody. We got through this tough time together, and it felt like we could take on the world if we wanted to. Brittney is my best friend and my partner and everything I want for the rest of my life. It felt so obvious, so I thought, Let’s do it; let’s get married. One day in June, when Brittney and I were going for a walk around our neighbourhood, I said, “Do you want to get married this year?" And she said yes.

Brittney: At first I wasn’t sure if she was serious, but I was 100 per cent in. We started designing our engagement rings together right away. I got a pear-shaped diamond with a gold band, and Alex had an oval-shaped diamond with stones from her grandmother’s engagement ring built into the band.

Alex: We knew we wanted our parents and our siblings to see us get married so we decided to do the ceremony in our backyard in East York. We picked a date in late September and just ran with it. We decided to host a big Happily Ever After party following the ceremony for 80 guests. We didn’t tell most of our friends that we were getting married, so they found out once we sent out invites in July, six weeks before the date.

Brittney: On the day of, our friends Laura and Heather came over to do our hair and make-up. We had mimosas, they lit candles and had some music going. They created such a chill atmosphere for us to get ready.

Alex: I felt really relaxed the whole time, since it was just going to be our family there for the ceremony.

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Brittney: We wanted to keep things simple. Our chairs for the ceremony came from Alex’s mom, who works at Fabric Spark (they use the chairs for workshops). I bought plans for a simple wooden A-frame arch off of Etsy, and my friend Matt and I built it together in the backyard. We decided to go with dried florals since we could pick them up a few days in advance. Our florist, Rikki Marcone, made an arrangement with zip ties built into it so we could attach it to the arch we built. We bought an outdoor rug from IKEA that served as our wedding aisle, and we scattered some fresh petals on top.

I only started to feel nervous once the ceremony began. We walked down the aisle together. It was surreal. We had been together for almost six years, and I was so happy that our wedding was happening. Our dog, Oakley, was just loose in the backyard. He’s pretty high-energy, so he could have been barking or running around in circles, but during the ceremony he chose to lay down right in front of us. He did start eating some of the rose petals on the lawn, so it was hard not to look at him and laugh.

Alex: I had the biggest smile on my face. Brittney looked beautiful, and I was so happy to see our families around us.

Brittney: After the ceremony, Alex and I went to the Distillery District to take photos while our family set up the backyard for the reception. The ceremony was just immediate family but we invited about 60 additional guests to the reception.

Alex: We planned to create an outdoor living room in our backyard. We set up some patio furniture and heaters for when it got cold in the evening. We booked a food truck called the Dirty South and hired bartenders to serve drinks. We had curated two playlists with our favourite songs: a cocktail hour one with a lot of the classics and contemporary music and an upbeat one for when the party started.

Brittney and Alex were worried that their backyard might be too packed with eighty guests, but the guests were nicely spaced out. “We had hand sanitizer out and asked guests to put on masks when they went in to use the washroom,” says Alex.
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Brittney: The food truck was parked on the front driveway, which helped maintain the flow of traffic because people were able to be spread out between the front and the back. For dessert, we had doughnuts.

Alex: We wanted to keep it really untraditional. There was no cake and no guestbook. We didn’t do speeches and first dances.

Brittney: Most of the guests went home by midnight but about a dozen close friends kept the party going until about 4 a.m.

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
The food truck menu included beef briskets, fried chicken sandwiches, cajun shrimp tacos, jackfruit tacos, mac and cheese, peach arugula salad and doughnuts.

Alex: We didn’t plan for the clean-up at all. The next morning, our house and the backyard were trashed so we spent our first day as a married couple trying to get it back in order. That weekend we went to Joshua Tree in California for a short honeymoon, but we’re hoping to get away for longer some time next year.

Brittney: In the end, I don’t think Covid changed anything for us. We would have gotten married the way we did, pandemic or not. I can’t imagine us doing it any differently.

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Cheat Sheet

Venue: Alex and Brittney’s backyard Photographer: Ryan Bolton Photography Florals: Rikki Marcone Brides’ outfits: Reformation; Park and Fifth Catering: The Dirty South Officiant: Tade Credgeur Guests: 80

Here’s some more photos from the day
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Brittney built the A-frame arch with the help of a friend, using plans she bought off Etsy.
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Florist Rikki Marcone made an arrangement with zip ties so it would easily fasten to the A-frame arch.
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Florist Rikki Marcone made an arrangement with zip ties so it would easily fasten to the A-frame arch.
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Brittney and Alex headed to their office, in a cool loft space in the Distillery District, for photos.
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
For their engagement rings, Brittney went for a pear-shaped diamond with a gold band and Alex had an oval-shaped diamond with stones from her grandmother’s engagement ring built into the band.
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
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Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York

Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
Real Weddings: Inside a DIY backyard celebration in East York
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