True patriot love? Wedding venues not seeing big demand to get married on Canada's 150th
Long-distance couple say it's a 'fantastic day' for their wedding, but few bookings at popular Winnipeg venues
If all the usual pomp and circumstance wasn't already enough, one couple has decided their big day will coincide with Canada 150 festivities in Winnipeg.
But the soon-to-be newlyweds seem to be bucking a trend — several popular wedding venues in the city say they haven't seen a big rush from couples wanting to get married on Canada's 150th.
"Canadians aren't that overtly patriotic … but I think we all have a sense of pride and esteem in our country," said Darren Vallentgoed, who will marry Signy Perlmutter on Canada Day.
The couple have a bit of a history of doing things on significant days — the 39-year-old Vallentgoed popped the question to Perlmutter, 34, on Christmas Day in 2015.
I think that it's a fantastic day to celebrate Canada and celebrate our relationship.- Darren Vallentgoed
Soon after getting engaged, they booked St. Boniface Golf Club to host their special day on July 1 of this year.
As it turns out, they probably didn't need to rush to make the booking — there hasn't been an overwhelming demand for Canada 150 weddings, some venues report.
An employee with the St. Boniface club said there is always a spike in booking requests on Canada Day and this year is no different, but other venues have actually noticed a dip in demand.
Angela Docouto, director of sales with Inn at The Forks, said the organization usually hosts wedding ceremonies every Canada Day, but not this year.
"Mainly, people just want to take part in the festivities," Docouto said, adding she believes couples didn't schedule on July 1 to avoid potential Canada 150 celebration conflicts.
The Millennium Centre in Winnipeg also won't be hosting any nuptials on July 1.
"We happen to have nothing across the board," said Christian Friesen, assistant to the director of catering at the Main Street event centre. "That it's Canada 150 hasn't made a huge difference."
Meanwhile, a worker at The Gates said the popular wedding venue just west of Winnipeg city limits is typically closed on July 1 and hasn't noticed an uptick in Canada 150 weekend booking requests.
The Transcona Country Club has no weddings on Saturday; a manager with the club surmised Manitobans aren't big on booking their big days on long weekends because they would rather be out of town at the cabin.
Vallentgoed and Perlmutter's 150 guests, coming in from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, don't seem to mind that the wedding is happening on the Canada Day long weekend.
The date was appealing because "100 per cent of Darren's guests" have to travel from Vallentgoed's birthplace of Turtleford, Sask., many of them farmers in between seeding and harvesting season in early July.
"We didn't initially intend to make the wedding really representative of Canada … but it's been pointed out to me that we ended up being that way in a lot of ways," said Perlmutter, who works as a speech pathologist in Winnipeg.
"We also thought that getting married on such a historic day for Canada would add an extra level of meaning to it, especially since Darren is in the Armed Forces."
Anne and Avonlea: A very Canadian wedding
The couple's relationship has spanned nine years and four provinces, but it all started out at Your Father's Moustache, a pub in Halifax, N.S. To cut through the nerves on their first date, Vallentgoed serenaded Perlmutter with Winnipeg-born singer-songwriter Neil Young's Heart of Gold to make her feel more at home.
"I found it cute because he can't really sing," Perlmutter said. "I could see where his heart was with it. He was willing to try and do that without really caring about whether he was going to make a fool of himself."
Their East Coast beginnings and the years of travel that ensued will be reflected in their wedding ceremony. Bridesmaids will stroll up to the altar to Gus Pike's classic theme song for CBC Television show Road to Avonlea. Perlmutter will follow close behind as she walks down the aisle to the opening tune from the 1980s Anne of Green Gables miniseries.
"I've always loved Anne of Green Gables and like to think of it as my version of Cinderella," Perlmutter said. "I like to think that Darren and I look a little bit like Gilbert and Anne, which makes me happy."
Wedding guests, rather than clinking glasses, will have to answer Canadian trivia questions to elicit a smooch between the newlyweds.
'Celebrate Canada and … our relationship'
Vallentgoed's career comes with many moves and continues to add challenges to their cross-country romance.
He currently lives in Ottawa with the couple's dog — Signy moved back to Winnipeg a few years ago — and is hoping to get stationed to Winnipeg as soon as possible.
"This is our third go around of being long-distance and it's never easy, but we're getting a hang of it now," Perlmutter said. "Hopefully it's not going to be too much longer, but we're prepared."
As a rule, they don't go more than a few months without flying to see each other, but Vallentgoed said the distance never once made him question their future together.
He is looking forward to the day when the pair will share a home together in Winnipeg, this time as husband and wife.
"I've got my fingers crossed," Vallentgoed said. "We love each other. The other things just work themselves out."
And while others might not be clamouring to get married on Canada's 150th, Vallentgoed said it's a perfect day for the couple to start their new life together.
"I think that it's a fantastic day to celebrate Canada and celebrate our relationship."