Pop-up weddings are changing the way couples in Kitchener are tying the knot
Trend offers an unconventional and affordable alternative to traditional weddings
Megan McEachern was in the middle of planning her wedding last spring when the unthinkable happened.
The venue she and her partner booked closed down unexpectedly, leaving them without a place to get married and they lost the money they spent on a deposit.
McEachern began looking for other options, but quickly discovered it would be too expensive to find another venue available for summer 2019, when they had originally planned to hold their wedding.
Then one day, while she was on Instagram, McEachern stumbled on the answer: a pop-up wedding.
Pop-up weddings are one-day events where multiple couples can sign up for an intimate, one-hour ceremony with their closest family and friends, explained Kim Evans, the owner of Lovely Weddings and Events in Kitchener.
"You and your guests arrive at a provided time. We do a ceremony, you have a toast, we do photos. It's completely decorated. It's literally like an Instagram dream," Evans said.
Evans said pop-up weddings are a growing trend in major cities across Canada and the U.S. She held her first pop-up ceremony in October 2018 at the Walper Hotel in downtown Kitchener.
"We want to make sure that the event itself is still really, really special and unique for each bride," Evans said.
"So even though it's an event that repeats throughout the day, each ceremony is customized, each experience is customized. We go to great lengths that brides don't run into each other."
Evans is already planning her next event in March — and the trend seems to be catching on elsewhere in the region.
TheMuseum in downtown Kitchener is planning its first pop-up wedding in May. It advertises the event as "for the unique couple who want an untraditional and intimate wedding without breaking the bank."
Breaking with tradition
Victoria Wood is a partnerships and special events coordinator at TheMuseum.
"I think what pop-up weddings are trying to focus on and what we're trying to focus on is the marriage aspect of it, the love aspect of it," Wood said.
"It doesn't need to be a whole like show or an ensemble of a reception and all of those traditional aspects of a wedding."
Christine Lafazanos, a life cycle celebrant who officiated the Lovely Weddings and Events pop-up, says couples face a lot of social pressure and expectations when they decide to get married.
"As someone who creates ceremony, for me the heart and purpose of a wedding is to be celebrating partnerships and celebrating community, but the wedding industry has blown weddings out of proportion," she said.
Lafazanos' philosophy is that there is more than one way to get married, and the pop-up trend is just one way couples can choose to break with tradition.
"Not that conventional structure weddings are going away," she said. "[It's more that] the people that I work with are able to examine what the conventions are, what the traditions are, take up what has resonance for them and set aside the rest."
Low cost alternative
Evans, Wood and Lafanzanos all point to cost as another key factor when it comes to pop-up weddings.
The average cost of a wedding in Canada is more than $30,000, according to the Better Business Bureau and Weddingbells.ca.
The Lovely Weddings and Events pop-up costs $1,750, while TheMuseum is charging $3,000 for its event.
Both packages include the venue, seating for 20 to 30 guests, decorations, the officiant and a photographer — but couples will have to spend more money if they want to have a meal or a reception afterward.
In comparison, Wood said TheMuseum's regular wedding package costs $3,500.
"That's just for the venue. So if you're looking at 150 plus people for a wedding, then you're adding on your cost for decor, you're adding on your costs for catering, food, beverage," she said.
'Exactly what we wanted'
While Evans admits a pop-up wedding won't be for everyone, she said the trend can offer a unique and memorable experience for many couples.
For McEachern and her husband, it was the perfect solution to their wedding woes. They tied the knot at the Lovely Weddings and Events pop-up in October 2018.
After the ceremony, they had brunch at the Walper Hotel and were able to spend time with each of their guests.
McEachern said they are also planning to hold a barbecue in the spring, to celebrate with family and friends who weren't able to attend.
"It really did end up being pretty much exactly what we wanted," she said.
"I have said a few times now if someone were to give me $30,000 and say throw the wedding of your dreams, I would still do it the same way."