Saturday, July 22, 2006

Our Community Members

And now, a special word from our sponsors...well, the local stores that we supported for our big day, anyway!

The Flower Shops
One of the most important parts of my celebration was the flowers - they just bring a lovely sense of intimacy, nature, and light. So, i went to my favourite flower shop, Cindiloowho, where the amazing owner Dani did her usual wonders for our table. We also went to an amazing flower market at Avenue/Davenport with my sis and friend Kelly (who incidently has a great air-conditioned car). We spent about $100 on random flower bunches but each was gorgeous in its own right. I even got peonies and runnuculus that are supposedly out of season! Other flowers were sunflowers, daisies, snapdragons, lisianthus, gerberas, big mums, and some others i don't even know the names of! I had an absolute ball making the flower arrangements Friday night, and the time doing this was appreciated at it brought a bit of calm to my night!

The Cake Maker
Yum yum! First of all, this tea house/cafe is a place Joel and i go to for 'special dates' like our birthdays, and now assumedly our anniversary. It is such a hidden treasure in the city. Picture Alice in Wonderland tea party cakes and desserts and that is the essense of the Red Tea Box. They have a huge selection of teas and yummy lunch/brunch items. A perfect place to unwind in. They customize cakes for you and even ask you to bring in things that 'represent' you. I wanted a blue tier cake with peach cherry blossoms, and loads of chocolate. That is what a got and more! Han, the owner and cake maker extraordinnaire, made me a vegan cake and it was a masterpiece. One of our extravagent splurges and one of my 'wedding' things but so worth it. I can't wait to eat the leftover pieces! FYI, the top tier is off in this photo, but it was also completely blue.

This is a regular stop for us when we're shopping on Queen W. Cabaret specializes in vintage clothing and has an amazing selection of formal and fun wear at great prices and in excellent condition. Joel and i met Tao months ago, and he dedicated himself to help me find the 'perfect dress.' While i have to admit i didn't fnd it there, we did find just about everything else including Joel's suit, my petticoat, a headpiece for my flower girl and some other important things like my bathing suit and nightgown. Thanks Tao and everyone else for your continued commitment to help us and for your amazing greeting everytime we go in to see you!

The B & B
We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast on the island (did you know there were b&b's there?) called Swan's End. Kiloran and Jeffrey were the perfect hosts and they made us feel at home and pampered. I loved coming home to a tray of cherries and almonds, and we always had cold bottled water on hand to combat the heat. Staying there for 4 days really helped us to get a feel of the island and we loved every minute of it!

Algonquin Island Association
What a perfect location for our celebration. A school and daycare during the week transforms into party central on the weekends. It's just a big hall with the bare bones to offer, but anyone can make it special and personalized (with a bit of work!) We loaded 4 wagons on the ferry and about 20 boxes full of decoartions and key ingredients like presents, 40 aprons, vases, flowers, cake plates, lanterns, you name it. We worked hard Friday night and again post-party Sunday morning, but it was all worth it. During the day, there was a perfect breeze and intimate feel and at night, well, the view was priceless. Even our Toronto friends were mesmerized by the view of the Toronto skyline from the AIA. We have no idea how we found it but are so happy we did!

Other Important Players include:
- neighbourhood Goodwill, Value Village and Salvation Army for vintage dessert plates and aprons
- Caterer David Godfrey for the tasty vegetarian food - tempeh stew and grilled tofu dinner options plus quinoa salad, rice, grilled veggies and a selection of finger foods for 'cocktail time'
- the water taxi dudes for transporting people and our stuff
- neighbourhood grocers for our fair trade coffee and teas, vegan truffles, freezies, and cookies
-ebay because i found my Stella McCartney dream shoes there just in time for breaking in before July 15!!!
- i'm sure i'm forgetting some, but stay tuned because we will be thanking all our important 'key players' soon (aka wedding party and friends who helped out!)

Our Commitment

In keeping with our desire to make things honest, unique to us and sacred, we wanted to write our own commitments to each other. We know we will also love, cherish, and all that, but there are other more important vows that we hold dear. Here they are for you to read:

Our commitment vows:
"I am commiting all my love to you. This is a commitment
to challenge
to support
to have fun
to laugh, to cry
to be honest
to listen, to share
to forgive
to be spontaneous
to accept
and to love.
I love you with all my heart"

We also really care about our community and belonging to one, so we wanted our friends and family to commit to us. So we wrote for them a 'Community Manifesto.'

"We, your family and friends, have witnessed you commit to each other. We celebrate
the love that brought you to this day. As members of your community, we also commit
ourselves to nurture and support you as the unique individuals you are, and the couple
you have become. This community is a home for your partnership, as we do not find
meaning in life by ourselves alone but with others. May your home be a place of happiness
for all who enter it, and your lives be a celebration of compassion, forgiveness, and love."

Lastly, as we love music so much and because singing is a big part of the Mennonite faith (Joel's heritage), we wanted to include a hymn. With no musical accompaniment and with the belief that some people would know the tune, we sang 'For the Beauty of the Earth.' Amazingly enough, it went very well! Here are the verses we sang:

"For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies. For the love with from our birth
Over and around us likes.

Chorus: Lord of all to Thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour, of tghe day and of the night. Hills and vfale and tree and
flower, sun and moon and stars of light.

For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child. Friends on earth and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Our Program Speech

Well, we did it! We had our big celebration on Saturday. The weather was cooperating, all our expected guests came, we danced the night away, and can't wait to share with you all our pictures.

We're going to share with you our big day, but in segments, as we are still running around post-big day doing all the errands that go with post-party work - clean-up, taking down, returning things, eating things, packing up, unpacking, writing thank-yous, paying bills, you name it! We don't want to forget a single detail, and we especially don't want to forget a single moment of our big day - it all went so fast!

Being on Toronto Island was a blessing as we heard that Toronto reached a record high heat wave. With a thunder shower to cool us off on Friday night, we set up and watched the beautiful Toronto skyline as a break from the madness. We promise to post pictures and tid bits of story all this week, but here is our most important piece of info: our speech.

As you may already gather, this was not a typical wedding. We had a friend be our 'facilitator' and she acted as a master of ceremonies to help with the flow of things. The party began at 4:30, after a slight delay caused by the meaham of ferry line-ups. We had all our guests sitting on chairs in a circle but we did not have asigned seating. We also made sure we had cold punch and fans on hand to help with the heat! When our DJ Mark pressed 'play' on the boom box, Open Window by Sarah Harmer started, and Joel and vania, with their flower girl Kiki, started to make their way across the field. Along the way, vania and Joel picked up flowers that were given to us by our 12 key women - close friends and family members - as a symbol to acknowledge their approval of our union. This made up vania's bouquet - all individual flowers that characterized our ties to these women. Kiki was a perfect flower girl, dropping marigold flowers across the path.

After Krista the facilitator introduced us, we said this:

"Vania and I are very excited to see everyone here today. In fact, all of you are the reason we wanted to host this celebration. In order for a loving relationship to work, it needs to be surrounded by a community of friends and family. It is your love, friendship, and commitment to us and your community that has encouraged our relationship to grow. By coming and celebrating with us, you have agreed to support us in our life commitment. So, today is not only about celebrating us, but also the wonderful community we belong to. We want to acknowledge our struggles with having this celebration. We feel that celebrating loving relationships is important, but we are also aware that marriage is an institution tghat is political and has been much talked about in the last couple of years. We see our commitment of love here as being rooted in our struggle against violence, sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia and our commitment to a more just, equitable, and democratic world.

Last week, we had a ceremony at City Hall to have our relationship legally recognized as a marriage. We did this so that the law would recognize us as a family, and therefore the joining of our two families. Today, however, is a more important celebration of this for us. We thank all of you for coming and celebrating with us today. "

Saturday, July 08, 2006

One Week to Go!

We are in the final stages of our preparations and are a bit frantic, well at least vania is! All we need to do now really is a few things regarding the decorations - i think i can write a book called 101 Ways to Turn a Plain Old Hall into a Celebration! - and some other logistical things like how to get our caterer to the island without using a car!

Of course, the only thing we can't control is the weather! Yesterday, the Weather Network said Saturday July 15 would be sunny and 28. Today, it's thundershowers and 26. Yikes!

I think i need a glass of wine from one of the bottles we've bottled ourselves....