Women’s life choices have always been saddled with traditions and conventions that don’t necessarily serve us: finite timelines, finite storylines for when, who, and how you love, how you look, what you do, where you go — and our "dream weddings" are just the icing on the cake. That's why Bustle's I Do It Differently (under $15K) series is focused on brides who are breaking the mold, but not breaking the bank.
"Love & Pizza"
Fel: I moved out here [Toronto] about seven years ago, from Sydney, Australia, to study at The Second City comedy theatre. I decided that I loved it here and wanted to stay. And then, in the beginning of 2016, Mel messaged me on OkCupid. She said, "Hi, how's your week?" And I was like, "I dunno if I'm going to message this girl back."
Mel: She rubs that in my face quite often. But she did message me back... we went for coffee and immediately hit it off. It was just one of those easy experiences of grabbing coffee with someone, but it felt like I had known her for a while.
Fel: In November 2016, I took Mel to a restaurant that we love called Ruby Watchco here in Toronto, and I was sweating bullets. Then I took her for a walk with our dog. Near where we were living at the time, there was a bridge that people had been locking locks [with their initials written on them] on to, so I had had this lock designed and engraved. It's funny because a week before I proposed, we had gone for a walk to the bridge and all of the locks had been cut off. I was like "There is no way that I'm going to lock this $60 lock on that bridge and then have it chopped off."
Mel: So we kept the lock. But she actually did propose on this bridge that we typically will walk the dog over.
Mel: We knew that we wanted to have our wedding at our favorite date spot, Pizzeria Defina. We went in one day for a beer with the staff, and we were shooting the sh*t, talking about having it there. Then [the manager] was like, "Let's do this!" even though they don't normally have weddings there. He took us upstairs to the events space and we were kind of just blown away with the beauty of how simple it is. We knew that we wanted a smaller, intimate, family and friends event.
Fel: We didn't want our wedding to be formal. We wanted it to be casual, like a party.
Mel: Like a party with cocktails and...
Fel: And pizza.
In my mind, you don't want to spend your life saving on one whole day.
Our Biggest Planning Difficulty
Fel: I'm not going to lie, the budget definitely falls into play ... in my mind, you don't want to spend your life saving on one whole day.
Mel: There was in the back terrace area there was a long table with lots of seats around that people could sit down. It was a really nice May  night, and it wasn't too hot, so people just sitting out there could kind of enjoy conversation; the rest of the evening was mostly standing and cocktail stuff.
Mel: One of Fel's close friends gave me a contact of a designer in Toronto and said, "I actually know someone who creates these dreamy whimsical dresses. You should get in contact with her." So I messaged Breeyn MacCarney to ask if we could meet up for a consultation, and from the moment I saw her work I was like, "Yup." I didn't want a white gown, either; I had made that clear from the get-go that I wanted something that felt like me. She had sent three options with sketches and fabric. I loved one sketch and I knew that it was going to be beautiful. I kind of just said to her, "Let's do this, and I trust you."
Fel knew that she did not want to wear a dress. She wanted to wear a pants kind of suit, and ended up buying a beautiful, tailored jump suit... it's something that she'll be able to wear again.
Mel: Obviously Delfina's pizza is mind blowing, but their whole menu is quite unique.
Fel: You know when you go to a place that you love and then you're like, to your friends, "Oh my gosh, you have to try this place?" Well, we got to be like, "Now everyone gets to try it!"
Fel: We wanted documentary-style photos. We want to be able to look back at pictures, and really remember the day.
Mel: Our wedding took place in the same neighborhood where we created so many of our memories as a couple, and most of the photos that were taken by our photographer, Megan Ewing, were taken right on that main neighborhood strip. The street car that we were photographed on, we would ride to get to work, and the coffee shop that we were photographed in front of with our dog was our favorite spot.
Fel: We just kind of picked up things that we thought were cute and our style to hang up around the space. We used this vintage mailbox that we found at The Junction in Toronto, and we hung up our favorite records.
Mel: They had beautiful artwork in the restaurant, but behind us when we were standing at the window where we got married, we had each of our favorite albums, our vinyl that we played that night. We had that hanging on the walls.
Fel: We also had photos of our siblings, grandparents, and parents on their wedding days.
We used an iPod.
Fel: We didn't want to spend much money on flowers, so we just went to a corner flower shop and ordered a ton of baby's breath to decorate the space.
Mel: And then we wanted our bouquets to be kind of vintage and wild. So we custom ordered those from a place that's right on Roncesvalles, that street that we were having the wedding on. We may have been sneaky about that and not told then that they were for our wedding.
Our moms and Dan, Mel's best friend from Dubai [helped us make the bouquets and hang the decor]. We just wanted them to be involved in the fun aspects of decorating, so we all got there an hour or two early, put on some music and went to town having fun.
We got our cake from a vendor called I Do Wedding Cakes. We actually bought it first, before we had booked anything else. We like them because they work with same-sex couples, and their portfolio was really diverse and affordable. We chose a sponge lemon and raspberry cake — one layer was lemon and the other was raspberry.
We made our own rings at a wedding band workshop held at a jewelry shop called The Devil's Workshop — we spent $320 for the workshop and $600 per ring. We got Kasha, our friend who did the ceremony, an identical ring as ours and had it engraved, as kind of a thank you for sharing in this moment and marrying us.
What Was Exactly The Same
Mel: We did have help with our hair and makeup, and we did a reveal to each other — Fel hadn't seen my dress, and I hadn't seen her outfit on.
Don’t let anyone try to tell you how or where to get married.
What Was Entirely Different
Fel: Walking down the aisle, we had both our parents walk us. We come from very loving and supportive families, and the fact that they support us so much, we wanted our parents to be a part of it as well, as much as they could.
We didn't have any bridesmaids. We didn't have any big speech or anything like that during the ceremony; our parents said a few things and we said thank you, but really the only thing we did was cut the cake, had a quick dance and then it was done.
Mel: Because it was such a small, intimate wedding, we just wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the day and really just relax. We didn't want them feeling like there was responsibility. We just wanted everyone to celebrate with us and enjoy every moment.
Mel: None. I often tell Fel, let's do our anniversary there and have our friends back. Ten years.
How Our Guests Reacted
Mel: I know my immediate family were like, "This place is incredible. What a great thought." It just seemed like everyone enjoyed getting to know each other.
How We Reacted
Mel: Not to sound corny, but I feel like love and family are the things in life that you really need to appreciate and so when you can get everyone together for a day where you have all of your people, it's really special. I feel like that's what a wedding meant for us.
This is yours and your partner's day. Don’t let anyone try to tell you how or where to get married. Be true to what makes sense for you and your partner. Try to use independent vendors and for a personal touch, DIY your decorations or bring pieces from home that represent you both.