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Real Weddings 2017: Inside a seriously Canadian affair, with pond hockey and BeaverTails

By Jean Grant| Photography by Lushana Bale
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Cheryl and Dale Egger’s Canadiana love story began on a ski trip to Tremblant in February 2015. They had mutual friends but didn’t know each other, and somehow ended up crammed next to each other on every chairlift. She was working in events management in Toronto, while he was a diesel mechanic in Dunnville—but Cheryl’s invitation to go to a concert in the city together the following weekend sparked a year of long-distance dating (she moved to Dunnville in April the following year). Last August, Dale lured her to a romantically overgrown, abandoned tennis court near her parents’ house in Uxbridge, under the pretense of finding a hidden fishing hole, and got down on one knee to pop the question. Because they didn’t want to wait a year to tie the knot, they decided on a winter wedding. “I initially imagined this Pinterest-inspired, secret garden–esque spring or summer wedding,” Cheryl says. “But a cozy winter celebration just seemed more like us.”

The biggest challenge was finding a rustic, industrial venue with plenty of natural light. “We weren’t really into the banquet hall, ballroom vibe,” says Dale. They settled on the Alton Mill Arts Centre in Caledon, a century-old heritage building that used to be a knitting mill and rubber manufacturer. Despite a -10C January day, they still managed to take advantage of the idyllic outdoor setting: the ceremony took place in an enclosed stone courtyard and guests glided about to acoustic guitar tunes on the frozen pond before dinner.

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Cheat sheet

Date: January 14, 2017 Photography: Lushana Bale Photography
Bride’s Dress: Mikaella Bridal, Club Monaco coat Flowers: Ivy Hype Groom’s Attire: 1670 suit, Danier Leather coat Hair and Makeup: By the bride Venue: Alton Mill Arts Centre Caterer: Lavender Blue Catering Late-night snack: BeaverTails Music: Eric Cowan (ceremony) and Ken Brown (reception) Guests: 85

The couple was originally going to hold the ceremony indoors, but when they saw the inn’s beautiful walled-in brick courtyard, they decided their guests could handle a bit of crisp air. They served steaming mugs of hot chocolate as people were filing in and constructed the giant wreath themselves:

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Guests wore their coats during the ceremony (Cheryl’s mother wore her grandmother’s vintage fur), but Cheryl toughed it out in her lace dress and fur stole:

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During the ceremony, a sudden gust of wind made their officiant, a family friend, accidentally skip over the ring exchange. He only realized after they had already had their first kiss as a married couple—but the blunder made everyone crack up. “I was borderline hysterical,” says Cheryl:

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Plus, they got to do the kissing part again:

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Cheryl walked down the aisle to “Rise” by Eddie Vedder, played by local musician Eric Cowan on the ukulele:

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Cheryl wanted her wedding dress to be comfortable, and loved the look of long sleeves paired with delicate lace detailing. She wanted the flowers to be hardy and wintry, yet still romantic. She added burgundy ranunculus the arrangements to make them stand out from the lush greens and cream roses:

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After the ceremony, Cheryl threw on a coat and some sturdy winter boots:

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The footwear turned out to be helpful for traversing the nearby countryside in search of stellar photo shoot backgrounds:

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Even decked out in vintage furs, the bridal parties still had to huddle for warmth:

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The ceremony wrapped up around 2 p.m., at which point guests could lace up their skates for an afternoon glide on the pond, gorge on BeaverTails or take in the action from an indoor second-floor lounge (a choice many of the wedding’s senior guests relished):

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The bride had her second footwear change of the afternoon, slipping into a pair of Bauer hockey skates:

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Cheryl and Dale thought of BeaverTails as an ode to their meeting in Tremblant, and were thrilled when they discovered a mobile truck in their area. The doughy dessert also replaced a wedding cake: “We’d rather have something fun and interactive,” says Cheryl:

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Inside, the vibe was like a cozy cellar. “I wanted it to be vintage and rustic, but still elegant,” says Cheryl. “I love flowers, so I really wanted them to set a strong, ambient tone”:

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Tons of candlelight was also crucial for Cheryl:

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Aside from the ceremony’s oversized wreath, the name cards were the couple’s other big DIY project. Cheryl loved the look of engraved marble placards, but saved some cash by sourcing marble tiles from Home Depot and printing out clear mailing labels:

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The couple sat at a table surrounded by blooms and the same wreath from the ceremony:

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Musician Ken Brown entertained the party with romantic classics, like Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Their MC Dave Cook also performed a custom cover of Awolnation’s “Sail,” with lyrics about the couple:

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Guests dined on tomato soup with grilled cheese baguette, prime rib and stuffed chicken:

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