Real Weddings: Julie and Dave

Inside a summer camp–themed celebration in Muskoka, with archery, high ropes and a canoe ride to the altar

Julie Babin and Dave Marr live like peppy camp counsellors. They work regular nine-to-fives during the week (she’s in business development and he’s in real estate), but spend every spare moment outside, playing hockey in the winter, doing triathlons in the summer and regularly attending yoga and cross-country skiing retreats. The couple met through mutual friends at a party in 2015. The next day, they took a lengthy bike ride to Caledon and immediately started dating. This spring, they decided to get married. “It was just that—a decision between two adults,” says Babin. “There was no over-the-top proposal.” They wanted the party to represent their playful personalities and give friends and family a chance to participate in their active lifestyle.

A friend suggested holding the wedding at Camp Manitou in Muskoka, where Babin had once attended a yoga camp. They were thrilled by the idea of getting married by a lake and loved that all their guests—many of whom had never met—would get to spend the entire weekend bonding over activities like archery and canoeing. They took over the entire facility, with guests sleeping in sparse camper cabins and the whole group enjoying communal meals in the dining hall.

Cheat sheet

Date: September 29 to October 1, 2017
Photography: Stef Neves from Rosewood Wedding Photos
Bride’s dress: Claire Pettibone
Flowers: Sweet Woodruff
Groom’s attire: SuitSupply
Venue: Camp Manitou
Caterer: Camp Manitou
Cake: Scullery Café
Music: The Soul Motivators
Guests: 140

Guests began arriving at 3 p.m. on Friday. These welcome packages included their cabin assignments and the weekend’s jam-packed schedule, including a buffet dinner and rowdy campfire that night:


A homemade sign showed guests the way. Babin and Marr merged their last names to anoint the setting “Camp Babarr”:


The next morning, guests gathered early for breakfast (the couple provided Pilot coffee, as camp coffee is notoriously weak). Afterwards, one of Babin’s friends led a morning workout, and Marr’s sister instructed a yoga class:


The rest of the day was filled with activities like swimming, running, canoeing, kayaking and high ropes:


The planned activities went just as the couple had hoped. “By the afternoon, everyone was totally comfortable with each other,” says Babin:


Around 3:30 p.m., Babin rushed to her cabin to throw on her dress and some makeup. All guests received customized camp mugs for the weekend:


Babin met Marr for photos at 4 p.m. She was originally against the idea of wearing a white wedding dress. “I almost bought a yellow cocktail dress from a vintage store,” she says. But she got a great deal on this designer number from Kleinfeld:


The wedding started at 5 p.m. They held the ceremony by the water, where the camp usually has campfires. They didn’t have official bridal parties, but their parents and siblings walked down the aisle to stand at the front:


In a move that surprised the crowd and elicited cheers, the couple arrived at the ceremony via canoe. Babin’s steering was meant to be a bit of a feminist statement:


Their parents helped them gracefully exit the canoe:


They then walked them to the podium:


The couple got hitched legally at city hall the week before their wedding, so they had their siblings perform the ceremony:


There was a “no kids allowed” policy for the weekend, except for Babin’s nieces, who acted as the de facto bridesmaids. Babin never had an engagement ring. Instead, the pair had custom wedding bands made at K&Co Bespoke and Fair Trade Jewelry Co.:


After the ceremony, guests drank spiked apple cider from their mugs:


Evidently, the docks weren’t designed to hold 20-plus guys:


The reception and dinner were held in the dining hall, which was decked out in lush greenery:


The couple wanted to class things up for this dinner, so a team of their friends, including Sweet Woodruff’s Lisa Gray, spent the afternoon moving tables, placing candles, stringing lights and arranging flowers:


Guests had a choice of salmon, veggie pasta or lamb. The camp also made pies and tarts for dessert, and all the wine was from a friend’s restaurant at Niagara winery Pearl Morissette:


For dessert, one of Babin’s friends made them a tiered vanilla cake:


The couple hired a band that played mostly Motown and soul music:

The party continued until 4 a.m., and more than a few people (including Babin) went crowdsurfing. “We had to take a nap on the 400 on the way home the next day,” says Babin:

Photograph by Aaron Puls