Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Eat, Drink, and be Married

Jackie Wong and I co-authored this guide to getting married for people who' d like to branch out from the conventional trappings of tradition or expense.

From selecting the invitations to cutting the cake, nothing about your wedding has to be typical — or overpriced.

From selecting the invitations to cutting the cake, nothing about your wedding has to be typical — or overpriced.

Eat, Drink, and be Married

By Jackie Wong and Andrea Warner

Modern-minded urbanites bound for wedded bliss face plenty of challenges on the road from “Will you marry me?” to “I do.” As soon as you put a ring on it, planning the party of your life becomes a claws-out battle of wits, as you and your other half plot, wheedle, and crunch to control inflated costs without sacrificing your shared sense of style. Savvy couples who want to break from convention while still fashioning a day to remember are increasingly seeking out cost-effective, innovative, and, most importantly, fun alternatives to the traditional White Wedding. Here are some options — all of them local — to help you do just that.

Escaping the exhausted — and expensive — cliché of wax-sealed, rose-scented wedding invitations is easy. Just ask Emily Carr grads Brandy Fedoruk and Rebecca Dolen, who co-founded the Regional Assembly of Text in 2005, offering a fanciful line of cards, stationery, and clothing — all of it influenced by typesetting techniques of yore, making use of the duo’s large collection of vintage typewriters and stamps, as well as a letterpress machine. (Please note that they do not sell or supply wedding invitations--they can only sell you the right stuff to do it yourself.) Look here for inspiration to make your own invitations, or seek Brandy and Rebecca’s expertise. Paper-Ya on Granville Island offers a downloadable wedding consultation form to get you started on making your own invitations, while the store itself offers one of Vancouver’s most comprehensive collections of paper from around the world, plus wooden stamps and wedding-specific stationery.

Renting both a church and a reception hall can be costly and time-consuming, particularly the organizational efforts involved in moving the party from one venue to the next. Save time and money by considering just one location for the big day. Restaurants often offer big bang for your buck, taking care of food, the bar, servers, decorations, ambiance, and clean-up. Some of our favourites include La Terrazza, Brix, the Alibi Room, and Canvas Lounge, each of which offers unique rooms and delicious bites.

Community centres and halls can be transformed with just a few strings of lights, and stylish table and chair coverings. Cambrian Hall and Heritage Hall are just blocks away from each other, in beautiful buildings on Main Street. Roundhouse Community Centre offers the beautiful backdrop of False Creek at its back door, and Kitsilano’s St. James Hall still boasts the stained glass and pews from its days as a church, though nowadays it’s typically used as a concert venue.

You could feed an entire village with the amount some caterers are wont to charge for a moderate-sized party. Really go the road less travelled and show off your impeccable — but unconventional — taste by bringing on board one of the city’s most beloved burger purveyors: Vera’s Burger Shack. The local mini-chain, which regularly takes the gold in WE’s Best of the City readers poll, will ply your guests with all the hamburgers and hot dogs they could want. (If any of your friends should turn their nose up at the idea of a burger at a wedding, it might be time to reassess that friendship.) Another meaty option is Memphis Blues Barbeque House, which offers its full menu selection — from brisket to ribs to chicken — and a wide array of side dishes for finger-lickin’ good fun that promises to leave everyone stuffed. And even vegetarians will find their taste buds jammin’ with jerk-infused items from The Reef, the Caribbean-themed restaurant that’s currently celebrating its 10th anniversary; they even offer a backyard-barbecue option if your party plans include the outdoors.

Unless you decide to abide by the tradition of meticulously saving and freezing a portion of your wedding cake for consumption on your first anniversary, boring old white cake can be banned from the menu. Thanks to Vancouver’s impressive legion of independent bakers, your wedding cake can stand strong — and beautifully — as the memorable pièce de résistance to top off the ceremony. Coco Cake is the brainchild of Vancouver’s Lyndsay Sung, whose heartwarmingly twee creations might make you die of happiness, cute overload, or both. (Contact Sung through her website to custom-order cakes or cupcakes for special events.) And the ubiquitous Cupcakes stores do weddings, too. Founded by Victoria friends Heather White and Lori Joyce, Cupcakes offers a wide range of wedding cakes that you can custom-build online before placing your order. For an affordable cake made by a professional pastry chef, try Nina Hemme’s Tartlets (pictured, above left). And finally, if you’re in search of a traditional cake that won’t cost a fortune, look no further than Notte’s Bon Ton, a 76-year-old Vancouver institution where you can still find authentic black-forest amd diplomat cakes.

Regional Assembly of Text (3934 Main, 604-877-2247 AssemblyOfText.com)
Paper-Ya (#9-1666 Johnston, 604-684-2534, Paper-Ya.com)
La Terrazza (1088 Cambie, 604-899-4449, LaTerrazza.ca)
Brix (1138 Homer, 604-915-9463, BrixVancouver.com)
The Alibi Room (157 Alexander, 604-623-3383, Alibi.ca)
Canvas Lounge (99 Powell, 604-609-9939, CanvasLounge.ca)
Cambrian Hall (215 E. 17th, 604-876-2815, WelshSociety.com)
Heritage Hall (3102 Main, 604-879-4816, HeritageHall.bc.ca)
Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews, 604-713-1800, Roundhouse.ca)
St. James Hall (3214 W. 10th, 604-739-9373, StJamesCommunitySquare.org)
Vera’s Burger Shack (various locations, VerasBurgerShack.com)
Memphis Blues Barbeque House (various locations, MemphisBluesBBQ.com)
The Reef (4172 Main St, 604-874-5375; 1018 Commercial Drive, 604-568-JERK; TheReefRestaurant.com)
Coco Cake (604-816-9922, CocoCake.com)
Cupcakes (various locations, 604-974-1300, CupcakesOnline.com)
Tartlets (121 E. 1st, North Vancouver, 604-724-7625, Tartlets.ca)
Notte’s Bon Ton (3150 W. Broadway, 604-681-3058, NottesBonTon.com)

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