4 years ago I tied the matrimonial knot with this handsome dude I met in my Biology 101 course at Malaspina University College (now Vancouver Island University). After trying to hook him up with some of my friends, my sister finally talked some sense into me, making me realize it was actually me he was interested in, and how he was a serious catch. I’m thankful she did, because following this, we launched into a courtship (staying out of the “boyfriend-girlfriend” thing until I was certain I was in a relationship I wanted was one of my best life decisions I finally came to). This turned into a solid relationship, and four years later he proposed to me atop Mount Maxwell. We made our vows in our beautiful Salt Spring Island wedding, and now here we are, another 4 years, one house, and a sassy little blue-eyed girl into our marriage.
Having marked our 4th year anniversary last week, I’m feeling nostalgic about the beautiful celebration that was our immensely fun and relaxed wedding, and wanted to take you through a virtual tour of our special day. (By the way, year 4 is for appliances, which we’ve certainly checked off with our kitchen renovation in the works). I have so much to share about our wedding, so I have broken this down into two separate posts. This way I (hopefully) won’t overwhelm you with all the awesomeness. Since the section about the wedding photography will appear in Part II of this post, I’ll let you know right now that all the photos you see were taken by Billie Woods Photography(aside from the obviously unprofessional shots of the invitations and the wedding favours). I hope you enjoy these fun wedding ideas, and that you might find some inspiration for your own Salt Spring Island wedding, or wherever your whimsical wedding takes place.
Our Salt Spring Island Wedding – A Relaxed Outdoor Wedding
Alright. Let’s get down to business. This is what getting married on Salt Spring Island was like for us.
The Salt Spring Island Wedding Venue
Deciding on a wedding venue wasn’t difficult. We wanted to wed on beautiful Salt Spring Island, having visited this BC Gulf Island several times since my then-fiance’s father and step-mom had moved there. When I looked around, we could either spend many thousands of dollars at a location where we’d be forced to purchase their food and drinks and be restricted to times we could be there, or we could fulfill my step-mom-to-be’s dreams and hold our wedding on their private property.
Choosing their property was the perfect plan, as it made them happy, the cost of venue was free, it overlooks the pacific ocean, there was lots of beautiful space to spread out, and these gorgeous little English daisies grow rampant all over the lawns. My father-in-law experimented in the coming months to determine exactly when was the best time to mow the lawn before the wedding to allow for maximum daisy growth before it needed mowed again. They even felled some trees to enhance the ocean views, planted different plants around the site we picked for the ceremony, and all-in-all put in an astounding effort to make our day as perfect as they could. I’m so thankful for these amazing beings.
Since this was a private home property, it wasn’t set up for a bunch of guests to be using the bathroom. To handle this, we rented porta-potties from Big Bear Services. We rented all the other equipment needed to turn the property into a wedding venue (sound system, mics, big white tent, lights, tables, chairs, etc) from The Rental Stop, which has pretty well everything you’d ever need available to rent on Salt Spring Island.
The Salt Spring Island Wedding Invitations
I made the invitations and save-the-dates for our Salt Spring Island wedding by hand. For the save-the-dates, a friend and I made the paper from recycled paper bits with glitter and flower petals in the mix. This was a long process, but turned out beautifully (one day I’ll share the directions for making paper, which I do with my preschool classes). I then hand-wrote a message and instructions to visit our wedding website (check it out for more info about Salt Spring I shared with my guests – I’ve edited the page to remove the address of the venue), and mailed them away.
The invitations (which was more a simple reminder with more instructions for the guests that were coming or had not RSVPed yet) were hand printed on card stock with some pistachio green lettering by a special pen I found at Michael’s. All this hand-printing was time consuming, for sure, but I felt like it was a form of preparation and homage – both to the coming event and each guest – much like the folding of paper cranes that some brides take on.
The Salt Spring Island Wedding Decor
We’re not rich by any means, and we personally feel that recklessly spending for one day of what is essentially a big party is just silly. Therefore, we I made a huge effort to design, make, scavenge and otherwise put together a fun and whimsical wedding myself (and with the enormous help of my bridesmaids and other awesome friends) to save as much money as possible. We’re not especially flashy people, and I wanted to keep things as simple and natural as possible, while still making everything look beautiful. Note: It’s not hard to make a space look naturally beautiful when it’s an outdoor wedding on a stunning island.
I wanted something whimsical and pretty to decorate the main space where the guests would arrive and the dinner and dancing would take place. I decided on using double-sided patterned scrap-booking paper to cut into triangles and string on hemp twine to make the beautiful flags. They hung from the big tent and the trees, fluttering in the breeze, and setting the stage for the celebrations. Very inexpensive, incredibly simple to make, and exactly what I wanted for our outdoor wedding.
I Pinterested myself crazy looking at ideas, but when I came on a simple Gerber daisy in a grass setting, I wanted to recreate it as our centerpiece. I bought a bunch of small terracotta pots from a garden/hardware store (Home Depot? I can’t remember), painted them in the pistachio green we chose as our wedding colour, and my Mother-in-Law lovingly planted and grew grass in these the weeks before the wedding day. We ordered a schwack-load of Gerber daisies in the various colours that went with our decor from the Salt Spring Island Country Grocer. We staked one or two Gerber daisies from inside the stem into each of the grassy pots. We tied a hemp string around each pot for a finishing touch.
The Wedding Table “Numbers”
Instead of numbers, we decided to stick with the nature theme and made each table represented by an animal native to BC, using photos of those creatures that we had taken over the last few years. I printed out the photos at WalMart, then slid them in the twigs with spit ends that were stuck into small tree rounds that my Father-in-Law had sliced up from the trees taken down.
The Directional Pole
To direct our guests to the different areas and activities around the property, I painted each place onto foam board arrows I cut out of a big piece my boss at the time passed on to me, and we attached these to a large tree branch stuck in a stump.
Other Little Doo-Dads
I found some cupboard boards set out for free at the side of the road when I was walking around in North Van. I thought they’d be perfect for adding some details to the wedding, so I hauled them home somehow. My Mother-in-Law helped me paint them in pistachio paint, with a white paint on top, then “crackle varnish”, which crackled the top white layer to let the pistachio show through. I then painted “Hannah <3 Garrett” on one (which now hangs in our bedroom), and wrote the dinner menu on the others.
We also got a bunch of those paper orb lanterns in yellow and green and hung them up under the tent. There was also a string of little white lights up at the bar, and seashells were strewn about on tables around the property. The perfect decor for our whimsical Salt Spring Island wedding.
Guest Reception and The “Guest Book”
At the top of the drive where everyone would arrive, we set out two poles with smaller flags made from the same scrapbook card stock paper as the decor flags hanging from hemp twine by clothespins. The name of the guests were on the front of each flag, and the table name of where they were assigned to sit on the back.
We placed a little table beside this set-up, with a stack of small squares I had made up and printed, that the guests were instructed to fill out and hang on the spot where they took their flag from. Each paper square had a frame at the top to draw a picture of themselves, then a few questions about themselves, their relationship to us, advice, etcetera that they were to answer. We had a blast looking through these later, and I used them in the scrapbook I made of our wedding as a sort of guest book. The memories could not be any more awesome, with some hilarious tidbits and a wealth of wise advise. I highly recommend trying something like this if you’re planning a wedding.
Along with the “guest book” squares, the table also held a basket of wedding favours (pretty plantable seed cards from Botanical Paperworks for the guests to grow different herbs). There were also little paper cones that my bridesmaids made to hold some of the flower petals (some ordered, some dried by my MIL) which the guests were invited to toss when we walked down the aisle after the ceremony.
The Salt Spring Island Wedding Party
Choosing a wedding party can be a little bit tricky. You want to honour the people in your life who hold a special place and have been there to help you along the way, but you don’t want to put anyone out or make anyone feel like they weren’t “good enough” to be in the party. We decided that we would each choose four people who have been there for us in different points of our life. My sister, a very close friend from my first university experience, a very close friend from my second uni adventure, and my soon-to-be sister-in-law made up my bridesmaids. My hubby chose a very close friend from growing up in North Van, another close friend from his time in Rossland, a close friend from time spent on the Sunshine coast, and our good buddy and past-roomate from our university days.
The ladies each picked out styles of dresses they liked from Isabelle’s Bridal in North Vancouver (I’m not linking as we had awful service, although all of the other bridal shops’ staff we visited were quite rude, too), in the green colours we were trying to stick close to, and the guys suits we chose in a grey from Tip Top Tailors, with suspenders and a slightly differently-hued green tie for each of the guys. My handsome groom had a grey suit with a pistachio tie, suspenders, and a grey vest to match. None of the men were subjected to stuffy suit jackets. This was to be a comfortable and relaxed wedding, after all.
The Salt Spring Island Wedding Dress
I looked around at a bunch of bridal dress shops, but I couldn’t find a dress that I liked (do you realize how hard it is to find a dress without gems and glitter and all that flashy stuff??), and especially not in my cheap-as-possible budget. So, I figured out what elements I wanted, and my lovely seamstress friend, Michelle, who makes beautiful dresses and costumes for clients and theatre departments, helped me design what I wanted. She then took me shopping at Fabricland and other fabric stores, where we found the materials I wanted (non-shiny white material, some lace, and a pistachio material for the sash and buttons, which I covered so very nicely). The cost of my dress was about $100 in total, because my darling Michelle made the dress for me at no cost, as a gift to me. What a woman, hey? I really do have some amazing friends in my life. Just wait, there are more I’m going to tell you about.
The dress was a high-low hemline, shorter at the front and long in the back, with lace details and a removable lace bolero (which Michelle made, as well). It was beautiful, and exactly as I wanted. If you’re interested in having a custom wedding dress (or other costume) made, you can contact Michelle here. (She’s currently based out of Nanaimo, BC.)
Well, that’s all for now, folks. Stay tuned for the next post, part II of Our Salt Spring Island Wedding series, in which I share what we did for the outdoor ceremony, vows, music, photobooth, dinner, cake, the Great Ring Mystery of 2012, and more. You can sign up for my weekly “What’s New On The Big To-Do List” newsletter here, to make sure you don’t miss it. I’d also love it if we connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.