Romantic. Bohemian. Effortless. Ethereal. The list goes on and on when we’re describing real Martina Liana bride Kara’s wedding to husband Ty. Every detail from her perfect lace and crepe gown to the copper mug favors fit the theme effortlessly and was so true to the couple’s style. We can’t get enough of this woodland wedding!
From the bride: Our proposal was simple and beautiful and it happened in the very same place we chose to get married. We were visiting the Whatshan Lake Retreat on a rainy weekend in November with most of our family and other volunteers to help clean up the site and get it prepared for the winter. Ty asked me to go for a walk with him on Saturday morning, which isn’t unusual when we go camping, so I didn’t think much of it. We poured ourselves a cup of coffee and walked along the many winding paths through the forest until we reached the lake. Ty told me he wanted to take a photo on me in front of the lake so I stood there gazing at the water and when I turned around, he was down on one knee with the ring in his hand and he had asked me to marry him.
When I went to Calgary, AB to find my dress, I was accompanied by my mom, my sister in law, and my best friend/MOH. My intention for the day was mainly to have fun with my closest people and play around with the idea of trying on dresses to hopefully find something that I really liked – I was never too consumed in the idea of finding the perfect dress. I never thought I would have that “moment” that you always hear about when reading bridal stories. My vision was something bohemian, top to bottom lace, and fitted. If I was getting married in the fall, I would have been all over the idea of long sleeves, but an August wedding in BC is no place for sleeves. I had four appointments in four different shops around the city and ended up finding a dress in another shop that I liked, but wasn’t necessarily in love with. I took many photos of myself in that gown and had one more appointment to attend. When the stylist at the last shop pulled my gown off the rack and showed me, I was initially attracted to the lace on the top of the dress but was unsure about the bottom as it was crepe, which wasn’t what I was originally envisioning. However, the illusion neckline, top-to-bottom buttons down the back, and stunning scalloped lace train forced me to try it on. I put the dress on and was honestly quite speechless. All of my girls really liked it and the stylist asked me if I wanted to try on a veil. When I told her I was going to be wearing a flower crown, she pulled out an artificial flower crown they happened to have in store and put it on me. I walked out into the main area of the shop to a large, vintage mirror and ceiling to floor windows, and stared at myself. The stylist asked me, “Can you picture marrying your fiancé in this dress?” and I immediately burst into tears (along with my entourage). The “moment” was happening – the dress completely blew me away and fit every part of my vision for our wedding day. We went next door to a local pub (which is the best location idea ever, by the way) to compare the two dresses but my decision was already made. We had a drink (ok, maybe two…), made the purchase, and I never looked back!
We didn’t necessarily have specific “colours”, but the theme of our wedding was based on a single photo of a bohemian picnic in the woods. The photo contained wood elements, lots of greenery spread about the table, an arrangement of figs and flowers and, most importantly for us, gorgeous copper mugs to finish off the look. We wanted to go for a woodsy bohemian theme and that’s exactly what we got. The boys were dressed in navy Lululemon pants, white collared shirts with subtle polka dots, and Ty with suspenders and a bowtie. The girls were in a beautiful neutral “greige” tone from Show Me Your Mumu with flower crowns that matched mine. The focal point of our table settings were the incredible greenery garlands scattered with David Austen Juliette roses put together but our talented local florist and finished off with copper mugs, which were our take home for our guests. The rest of the décor combined elements of vintage metals, wood stumps from trees that were previously cut down around the site, macramé pieces created by myself and from shops on Etsy, and boho rugs both purchased online and borrowed from a friend. Almost all of the accent tables and furniture were a mix match of vintage pieces borrowed from family members. The wedding arch and the dance floor poles were created by my dad by borrowing pieces of his fence from home.
Both my husband and I come from Doukhobor heritage so food is a large part of our lives. Our dinner was a “vareniki” (perogies) bar, all 700 handmade by my Granny and my Auntie Nellie. Our dessert also included homemade mini fruit tarts created by my mom that we grew up eating all too often. These accompanied the most delicious semi-naked vanilla bean cake with a caramel filling and coconut buttercream frosting from a local bakery that people are still talking about.
In our family, it’s a tradition to have a two-day wedding. The day following the wedding is what we call a “Shishlik”, which is basically a BBQ held to celebrate a big life event. All of the men in my family get together days before this takes place to cut up and marinate lamb and chicken, which is then skewered the day of and roasted over a fire pit. The combination of delicious food and incredible company always makes for the best celebration, not to mention the fact that we got to spend two full days with all of our closest family and friends instead of just one.
Our wedding was held at the Whatshan Lake Retreat which in itself is personal to our love story. It’s a magical place where I grew up visiting with my entire family each summer, a place where my Gramps used his hands, along with others, to build. I took Ty there our first summer together for the annual music festival, The Whatshan Jam, that my family helps operate. He claims to this day that it’s the place where he fell in love with me. Four years later, it was also the place where he proposed to me. Being married in such a special place just brought our love story full circle.
My husband, Ty, and I chose to read traditional vows. I was under the impression that we would have a variety of traditional vows to choose from, but we were given one set and that was that. Our rehearsal was short and sweet and I never thought much of having Ty practice those vows before the moment he actually had to repeat them. On the day of the wedding, in true “Ty” fashion, he stumbled on his words and had myself and the entire crown giggling. It was honestly one of my favourite moments of the day as it made all of our nerves disappear and truly set the tone for a relaxed and light-hearted day – exactly what we were going for. Aside from the vows, my Gramps played a big role in our ceremony by adding in a traditional piece of a Doukhobor ceremony, where the bride and groom bow on a carpet to both sets of parents and to all of the guests before them. This was such a special moment for us as we both share the same culture and it tied in that element of appreciation and respect for all of those who shared in our love that day.
Our first dance was also incredibly special. It took place at dusk on the grass beside the retreat, surrounded by sparklers and performed by Ty’s cousin, Shawn Hook, who played and sang Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”, which holds a special place in Ty’s father’s heart. Later that night, Shawn put on an impromptu mini performance on stage and had the entire crowd singing and dancing. It was the perfect finishing touch to the most magical day.
Photography by Heidi Bauman