Real Weddings: Inside a joyful Island party with a musical parade

Real Weddings: Inside a joyful Island party with a musical parade

Jennifer Danahy and William Reid first met at the University of Toronto, where she majored in English and he majored in voice studies. They had mutual friends, but were never alone together. “When you live in res with 400 people, you don’t really date,” says Jennifer. “It’s more like hanging out.” It took a year and half for them to have what Jennifer calls their “first pseudo-date” in the quad. Two weeks later, they crashed a house party in Kingston together and became an official item. “Will got the point after I kissed him,” Jennifer says. “I was always the loud, obnoxious one. He’s a little more reserved.”

In 2014, after seven years together, William invited Jennifer to the Lula Lounge to see his band, Yasgurs Farm. At midnight, the band played “Your Smiling Face” by James Taylor, a song they had both enjoyed at his concert earlier that summer. After the show, the couple grabbed milkshakes at the Lakeview. When they got home, William proposed to Jennifer—in bed at 3 a.m., while they were both in their PJs. “It was intimate because it was so thoughtful and laid back,” says Jennifer. The next morning, they shared the news and went shopping for a ring.

They knew they wanted to get married at the Church of the Redeemer, where William is an assistant choir director. For the reception, they settled on the Ward’s Island Recreation Association clubhouse on Toronto Island for its homey feeling. The ferry ride would make it seem like a destination wedding. They enlisted wedding planner Danielle Barich of the White Book Company to carry out their vision of a wedding with a backyard party vibe. “We wanted the event to feel more like a lunch at our house than a party for 120 people,” Jennifer says. “We didn’t want it to be stuffy.”

Cheat sheet

Date: September 10, 2016
Photography: Sara Wilde
Bride’s Dress: BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding brand
Flowers: Grower’s Flower Market & Gifts Inc.
Groom’s Attire: Topman
Makeup: Jennifer Topp
Venue: Church of the Redeemer (ceremony), Ward’s Island Association Clubhouse (reception) and Clinton’s Tavern (afterparty)
Caterer: The Island Café
Favours: Orange shades, flip-flops and TTC tokens
Music: Playlist by the couple (ceremony) and DJ Michael Braithwaite (reception)
Invitations: Designed by the bride’s cousin, who was one of the bridesmaids
Planner: The White Book Company
Guests: 120

On the big day, Jennifer started getting ready with her sister, her maid of honour, at her hotel suite shortly after the crack of dawn. The rest of the bridal party showed up around 9 a.m. “At that point, I was feeling so zen,” Jennifer says. William, who was at home, kept things low-key with breakfast sandwiches from Tim Hortons for his wedding party. “I thought it was a little early for cigars and shots”:

The couple met up before the ceremony to take photos along Bloor, around the ROM and on the Philosopher’s Walk. This shot was taken near the Louis Vuitton across from the ROM:

Photographer Sara Wilde took one photo in the Trinity quad as an ode to the couple’s first date. The rest were on the front lawn of Trinity College, which seems to be a lucky place for William’s family—his parents had met there, and so had his sister and her husband:

At the church, the couple walked down the aisle together to an instrumental arrangement of “Married Life,” from the Up soundtrack:

They were married by the former priest at Will’s church. When they signed the registry, a friend sang “The Luckiest” by Ben Fold, which had everyone bawling:

After the ceremony, Jennifer changed into a pair of orange rubber boots with sentimental value—she had owned them for many years:

With TIFF going on, they decided to take the subway instead of driving to the ferry docks, and gave their guests tokens and orange shades for the journey. They adopted a Louisiana tradition where the bride and groom lead a wedding parade from the ceremony to the reception with a band: tambourine, clarinet, trombone, banjo, melodica, washboard. They sang Dixieland tunes like “This Little Light of Mine.” There was a lot of staring, honking and strangers taking photos:

Guests were served G&Ts and bourbon lemonades as they arrived at the clubhouse:

Inside, the vibe was hipster-rustic. They had white bunting hanging from the ceiling and four long tables, each adorned with a burlap runner and a bridal bouquet as the centrepiece:

The couple had spent a year collecting jars and bottles to spray-paint and use as vases, and they bought mason jars from Canadian Tire for guests to use as drinking glasses. Guests also left messages for the couple to read on the anniversary corresponding to their table number:

Lunch began around 2:30 p.m. The couple used the clubhouse’s in-house caterer, the Island Café, which served a buffet with pulled pork tacos and corn on the cob:

The couple decided against a wedding cake—“It’s too formal. It’s not us,” William says—but still had plenty of sweets. Guests brought homemade baked goods like bourbon pecan pie:

During the speeches, Jennifer’s parents surprised her by showing a piece of her kindergarten art, of a man and a woman getting married, mounted on a foam board. “I had not seen it since I was living at home,” Jennifer says. “I had a very clear idea of the man I wanted to marry—someone who is kind and loves music”:

At the reception, Jennifer tucked into a comfy pair of wedges, and the guests received pairs of flip-flops (their dancing shoes for the night):

Afterwards, some people moved outside for lawn games, like cornhole, bocce ball and kubb:

Others stayed in to sip cocktails and dance. The couple had a few different playlists: jazz and slow jams for dinner, ’70s music for cocktail hour and rambunctious tracks for dancing (they grooved to “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone for their first dance):

The reception wrapped up at 7 p.m. “The curfew on the island is actually 11 p.m., but a daytime celebration felt more like us,” Jennifer says. Everyone took the ferry back and continued the festivities at Clinton’s Tavern. They didn’t rent out the space; it was just a typical Saturday night.