Real Weddings: Becky and Shaun
Inside a secret elopement at Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat
Becky Wong, a senior manager for a non-profit, and Shaun Muscat, a consultant, planned to get married at city hall this spring with 25 guests, followed by a bigger reception at their home. When the pandemic derailed their plans, they secretly eloped at a wilderness retreat in Grafton in September. Here’s how it came together.
Shaun: I spotted Becky on a dating app in 2015. She was wearing a Winnipeg Jets shirt in her photo. I thought she was beautiful and better yet, a hockey fan, so I sent her a message. It turned out that she was just from Winnipeg. But it’s now our tradition to catch a game whenever the Jets are in Toronto.
Becky: Our first date was at Portland Variety. He was good-looking, well-dressed, funny—but above everything I loved his unwavering commitment to family.
Shaun: After I left the restaurant, I couldn’t find my car. At first I thought it was stolen, but it turned out that it had been towed. I was so caught up in our conversation that time flew by and the meter ran out. We kept dating for the next four years, and I fell for her fast. Becky is selfless. She is extremely caring and puts everybody ahead of herself. Family means a lot to both of us. I loved her family and she loved mine. That strengthened our bond.
Becky: Shaun is adventurous and loves travelling. I didn’t travel much before I met him, but five months into our relationship we visited Peru together. It was amazing. Shaun also loves animals, which is important to me. When I moved in with Shaun in 2018, I brought my cocker spaniel and poodle mix, Juniper. We also bought a chicken coop and two chickens, Rosali and Carmela.
Shaun: Four years after we met, I planned an elaborate sky-diving proposal—but Becky was scared. Fortunately, we had a trip to Egypt in the pipeline for October 2019, so I decided to ask her then. I didn’t want to be cheesy and do it by the pyramids or on a camel. Instead, I proposed at our Airbnb on the last day of our trip. I played her favourite songs in the background: “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
Becky: After getting harassed about getting ready for bed, when I finally walked into the bedroom, I saw the ring on the pillow. I was so surprised. I turned around, and he was on bended knee. We called up our families immediately, and they were all ecstatic. My dad already knew about it—Shaun had asked for his blessing. We booked city hall for an intimate wedding in May 2020 with our immediate family. We planned to host a bigger reception with our extended circle of friends and family at home. In January, we hosted an engagement party at our home.
Shaun: When the pandemic hit, it didn’t sink in that our scheduled wedding wasn’t going to happen at first. But every time we called city hall, we heard the same automated message, and we weren’t able to get our marriage licence.
Becky: It was stressful but at least we didn’t have to rebook a 500-guest wedding. As the months went by we still had no idea whether we would be able to have a wedding this year. Around July, Shaun and I decided to elope. We would get married quietly, and celebrate with everyone when it was safe to do so.
Shaun: We thought about inviting 10 or 20 guests, but it just didn’t feel right. We didn’t want to offend someone by leaving them out.
Becky: A neighbour had gone camping at Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat in Grafton before the pandemic, and I loved the idea of glamping by springs. I called up at the property to ask if they do weddings and booked a stay and wedding for the end of September. Some of our pre-Covid vendors—including my hair and makeup artist, the photographer and the florist—were available on the date too.
Shaun: At every step, it seemed like it was meant to be. I loved that it was going to be outdoors and Becky loved that they had horses on the property. I’m Maltese, and it turned out that our officiant was too, so I bought special Maltese pastries for our wedding day. It was hard to keep everything from our tight-knit group of friends and family. People kept saying things like, “What are you going to do about your wedding?” On the day before our wedding, Becky got our chickens and dog dressed for a photoshoot because they couldn’t join us.
Becky: The next day, I got ready at home, so we had to make sure our neighbours didn’t see us all dolled up. At the venue, Shaun put on a “Fly Me to the Moon/Lucky” mashup by Rick Hale and Breea Guttery before I walked down the aisle. It was just the two of us, the officiant and two staff from Whispering Springs as our witnesses.
Shaun: We had our wedding in the forest chapel at the property. It was surreal. It was supposed to rain, but as soon as the officiant pronounced us as husband and wife, the sun came out. It couldn’t have gone any better.
Becky: It was the perfect wedding under the circumstances. After, we went to a quaint but empty Italian restaurant nearby, Villa Conti. Shaun joked that he had booked the entire place for us.
Shaun: We stayed at Wilderness Retreat for two nights and then headed to the Muskoka Beer Spa.
Becky: Shaun’s family is always joking around, so at first, they didn’t believe us when we called them up to share the news. I had to show them our ring and wedding pictures. They were ecstatic. My family was shocked and so happy for us too. They have always thought of Shaun as part of the family. We’re so glad we did it this way instead of putting anyone at risk. When things are back to normal, we hope to celebrate again with a lot more friends and family.
Date: September 28, 2020
Venue: Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat
Photographer: Hello Inspira
Florist: Thorn Floral
Hair and Makeup: Glow Beauty Bar
Nails: Lan Dai Nails
Here are a few more photos from the day: