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Real Weddings 2016: Inside a Midsummer Night’s Dream-inspired affair at the Hart House

By Jean Grant| Photography by Erin Leydon
Real Weddings 2016: Inside a Midsummer Night's Dream -inspired affair at the Hart House

The story of Nicholas Pye and Miranda Urbanski’s whirlwind romance sounds like an art-school fairytale: they first bonded over Pye’ moody portraits exhibited at the Birch Contemporary gallery (he’s a photographer and OCAD professor), had their first date at the Drake Hotel and got engaged eight months later in the middle of a thunderstorm at the Venice Biennale. They’re both creative thinkers (Urbanski is a marketing manager by day, painter by night), and enjoyed collaborating on an artistic vision for the big day. Luckily, they had the same idea: an ethereal English garden party at the University of Toronto’s Hart House, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here’s how they pulled it off:

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Cheat sheet

Date: June 4, 2016 Photography: Erin Leydon Photography Bride’s Dress: Hayley Paige Flowers: Blush and Bloom Groom’s Attire: Garrison Bespoke Hair and Makeup: Kevin Murphy, John Steinberg and Associates Venue: Hart House, University of Toronto Caterer: Hart House Cake: Joni and Cake Music: University of Toronto String Quartet (ceremony), Sidecar Jazz Indie Trio (cocktail and reception), and DJ Misty (late-night party) Invitations: Smitten on Paper Planner: Valary Thompson (Hart House) Guests: 120

They planned the entire celebration in just ten months:

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The hardest part of the process, the aesthetically-minded couple says, was finalizing the design for the invitations. “It sets the tone for the whole wedding,” Pye says. “We wanted them to be properly branded.” In the end, they settled on a floral theme with calligraphy:

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Rain was forecast for the day of the wedding, so they set up the ceremony inside instead of in the courtyard. They were initially disappointed (especially since it was sunny most of the day), but ended up loving the stately, old-world atmosphere:

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Urbanski walked down the aisle to the melodic “Clair de Lune.” Both her mother and grandmother had used the same song when they were married:

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Urbanski’s mother read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 114 at the ceremony, a tribute to the bride’s love of the Bard, and also her namesake, the heroine Miranda from The Tempest:

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The flowers were inspired by the English countryside:

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The event’s music was important to Pye. The couple hired three sets of musicians: a string quartet for the ceremony, a jazz trio for dinner and a DJ for dancing (their first dance was to a rare Bowie track “Wild as the Wind”):

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The couple also hand-picked each song for every playlist, and spent a whole day agonizing over the order of play for the string quartet. “We wanted it to be a little heavier and moodier,” Pye says. “Not overly frothy:"

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For dinner, the couple used the Hart House’s in-house caterer, and served a duo of beef tenderloin and Cornish hen.

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The lining of Pye’s suit was decorated in motorcycles. “It was very James Bond,” says Urbanski. Their signature cocktail, an Aperol spritz, was a nod to their engagement in Venice:

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The dress code was “cocktail garden party chic.” They didn’t have official wedding parties, so close friends participated by reading a poem at the ceremony or making a speech (“We didn’t want there to be this sense of hierarchy,” explains Pye):

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The five-tier almond cake was made by local baker Joni and Cake. Joni hand-sculpted each of the fondant flowers based on a mock-up of their table arrangements:

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After trying on dozens of dresses, Urbanski ended up going back to the second one she found, with an intricately beaded illusion floral bodice. “It looked like it was made out of magic,” she says:

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She also wore an heirloom handkerchief of her grandmother’s that she tied with ribbon around her bouquet:

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The couple left for their suite in the Shangri-La Hotel at 1 a.m., and were sent off by a pathway of guests waving sparklers:

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Their ride was a 1964 Rolls Royce that Pye picked out because it was the same car John Lennon used to drive. “It was,” he says, “actually extremely uncomfortable.”

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