Which sounds more impossible? Turning a Trans-Atlantic long-distance relationship into a union for life—or having a chic, Insta-worthy wedding venue in downtown Toronto for about $2,500 CAD?
Well, Matthea den Boer and Dario Wünsch made both those things happen. “The best part is that our wedding was stress-free,” he told VICE. That’s because they opted for a pop-up wedding which is kind of like eloping at a local venue with your closest friends and family in attendance. Organizers of this cost-effective approach handle all the details and set up multiple wedding ceremonies, staggered throughout the day so couples are sharing the venue.
Wünsch and den Boer exchanged vows at 1:30 PM on a Friday, in front of 18 friends and family members at the Drake Sky Yard, which is a popular wedding venue and nightspot. They’re part of a niche, but growing trend of people—many of them millennials—who want something more than a basic civil ceremony at City Hall. But they didn’t want to spend a lot of cash or have a big, traditional wedding so instead they chose a pop-up wedding chapel. On a specific date, organizers prepare a venue to host a series of small, but thoughtfully-decorated 15-minute ceremonies, 45-minute cocktail receptions and wedding photo shoots.
Just as Uber allows people to share rides and Airbnb lets people share their home to split costs, the pop-up wedding business—which event-planning company Love By Lynzie brought to Toronto—lets couples share their venue and decor to keep costs down. On this day, five other couples will be using the ceremony and reception set-up but it’s orchestrated so that they never see each other so that it feels like they have the place to themselves. The catch is that there isn’t a lot of time to linger, which is fine if you’re into events that are short and sweet.
The sharing advantage means that the experience comes with special details and extras without the additional cost. In this case, the couples have access to a trendy wedding venue, a live band playing music during the procession and reception. And although they don’t have much choice when it comes to the decor—everything ties together from the rustic chic floral arrangements to the purple ombré palette in shades ranging from burgundy, mauve, lilac, and white, to the Insta-friendly photo booth featuring a laser-cut hashtag #coolerthancityhall and just outside, large marquée letters that spell “chapel” and practically scream “perfect spot for a selfie.”
According to Love By Lynzie event planner and designer Nicole Connor, the reception space, catering and alcohol typically eat up half of a total wedding budget. She estimates that a reasonably-priced traditional wedding in Canada’s biggest city for about 150 guests would run between $50,000 and $60,000. “Toronto is expensive and couples are saving up for a mortgage, they want to buy a house, they want to travel, and this is a really great alternative that is low-cost,” she says.
The pop-up chapel is designed to be a hassle-free package, meaning details that a wedding planner would typically handle are taken care of, which was really important to den Boer and Wünsch who both travel extensively for work (he’s a professional video game player who moved to Canada from Germany to be with her and she’s an esports referee). They’re self-described “shy weirdos” who didn’t want a big fat wedding with all the traditional trappings. There was some customization available, but all they really had to do was send out invites and show up on their wedding day.
Not everyone was able to make it for their special day though. Wünsch’s best man was stranded in Europe after WOW Airlines shut down without warning. Many loved ones in Germany were also unable to make it, so the ceremony was live-streamed. “My family and best friend watching were really touched to be able to witness our wedding. My dad said it was the most people beautiful wedding he's ever seen,” says Wünsch.
Connor says the pop-up wedding business is brisk—there are six events planned for 2019, which is their third year of doing them. On each date, as many as nine couples will tie the knot at separate ceremonies hosted at the same venue, but at different times. There’s already a waiting list for pop-ups next year and the company hopes to take this concept to other cities including Kitchener, Ottawa and Montreal, with the goal of eventually offering the service across the country.
If you’re wondering how den Boer and Wünsch made their special day happen for less than the average price of a year’s university tuition, here’s a break-down of their costs:
What Matthea wore:
She purchased her dress from The Brides Project, which sells donated dresses and gives the profit to cancer charities. She lucked out because it didn’t need alterations (which can sometimes cost as much or more than the dress) so the floor-length gown came to $350 and she had a belt added for a touch of bling at $50.
She wore a $70 pair of Tom’s shoes and splurged for a couple of real flower crowns (one for her 9-year-old daughter Holly who walked her down the aisle) which came to $150 for both. The crowns were purchased from the same florist who did the wedding venue to ensure that all the flowers would have the same type of look.
She saved money by skipping a trip to the salon and doing her hair herself (with the floral crown, all she needed was a simple style that wouldn’t compete with the flowers).
What Dario wore:
The Hugo Boss suit purchased in Europe and expensive shoes were a splurge—they’re also the very first suit that he has ever bought. Chances are, he will be able to wear elements of his wedding day outfit again even though he typically “just goes the hoodie route” and it was significant for him to have a German designer, so he had a “little piece of his homeland” with him on the big day.
The cake and wedding favours:
Matthea bartered a baking rack that she never uses for a wedding cake and cookies (which were their wedding favours).
The venue, flowers, first toast, photos, etc.:
The complete ceremony package (venue, decorations including florals, legal officiant, photographer and 45-minute portrait session, social-media worthy tableaus for photos, cocktail hour and toast for up to 20 guests, band, bottle of Glenfiddich 18-year old whisky to take home) is $2,499 plus HST. $300 of that goes to a local charity (in this case Sick Kids Hospital).
Grand total: $5,373
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