James and I keep getting comments on how unique our wedding was…I guess it’s not everyday that people get married outside in the snow in the middle of winter. When we told people our plan soon after our engagement we got “Are you guys crazy?!?!” a lot. I fully admit that during the few months of planning James and I asked ourselves that frequently. So I wanted to share with you all the reasoning behind the outdoor winter wedding and the green dress.
We never planned on a winter wedding before we got engaged. We had talked about our wedding day and what we thought we would sort of want our day to be like, but “snow” certainly never came up in conversation. We had thought autumn would be nice. The fall here in Ottawa is absolutely stunning, especially for an Alberta girl that is used to the early winter coming in and freezing everything before the leaves have a chance to change colour. It is certainly one of my most favourite things about this city. But when the proposal came the first weekend of September, autumn was out of the question. At least to us anyways. Neither of us really wanted to wait a whole year to get married and I insisted on giving people more than 6 weeks notice when we had so many people to invite from the other side of the country. So, James and I started talking. We thought maybe Spring…that would be nice. Flowers blooming..everything turning green. I mean really, what other options did we have? And then it hit me. My parents got married in the winter, December 21st to be exact. Now their wedding wasn’t outside, but I remembered seeing pictures and it was beautiful.
My favourite picture of that day I remember very fondly. In the hall outside my bedroom, up on the very top of the bookshelf was a picture of my mother on their wedding day. She had long beautiful brown hair then, almost down to her waist. She wore a long sleeve dress with marabou trim. She wore a floor length white winter wedding cape. She was a knockout. I saw that picture nearly everyday of my life as a youth and everyday I thought it was stunning.
Knowing that there was no way I would ever fit into my mother’s wedding dress…I was desperate to incorporate my mother into our wedding somehow. Just because she couldn’t be there in body, I had to bring her there with me in any way that I could. I realized that I could wear her cape and have her with me on my wedding day…and from that moment every other option in the world disappeared. We would be married in the winter and I would wear my mother’s cape.
We started planning right away, sending out invitations within a month of being engaged. We booked a venue with a beautiful outdoor ceremony site and the rest was history. We would be married on January 28th, 2012 outside in the Canadian winter. A little crazy? Probably. But we didn’t want our wedding to look like everyone else’s. We wanted a different story.
I wore an emerald green dress, instead of the traditional white wedding gown. So when people see pictures from the wedding and say “Green must be your favorite colour?” the answer is “yes, it is”. But that isn’t why I wore green that day. And anyone that knew my mother, knows that my green wedding dress was simply a tribute to her. Now, in all fairness, before anyone makes me a martyr, this tribute was a selfish act. I needed to feel like she was a part of this whole experience. I needed to feel like I had my mother on my wedding day.
When my Dad walked into the Strathmere Lodge and saw me in my mother’s cape, the very one he had married her in over 35 years ago…you could see the emotion instantly rush through him. And I knew then, that she was there that day, inside the hearts of those she’d left behind.
I’ve never been too sure what I believe in, as far as the afterlife and what happens to us when we die. But I do know, that if she was looking down on us that day, she would’ve loved my green dress and she would’ve been honoured that I wore her cape.