Nova Scotia

Why some N.S. couples are sharing their wedding day with strangers

A growing number of Nova Scotia businesses are offering small, shared "pop-up" weddings as an alternative to expensive nuptials that require months of planning.

Small pop-up weddings let couples say "I do" with simpler affair at fraction of traditional cost

Taylor and Chris Boylan were married at a pop-up wedding event in downtown Halifax on Easter Sunday last year. (Applehead Studio Photography)

Taylor Boylan always had big plans for her big day, but in the end, she and her husband decided to go small. 

The Berwick, N.S., couple said "I do" on Easter Sunday last spring during a 12-minute ceremony at a venue they shared with two other couples.

They're among a growing number of Nova Scotians who are choosing small, shared "pop-up" weddings over expensive affairs that require months of planning. These events let couples have their own tailor-made ceremonies one after the other, so the venue, photographer and some of the same decorations can be shared.

"I love a big wedding with 250 guests, but after going to those I kind of was thinking, 'You know, maybe that's not us,'" Boylan said. "'Maybe our focus still needs to be on our extensive home renovations, our three kids, our full-time jobs, our dog.'"

After being engaged for more than two years, the Boylans decided they didn't want to wait any longer, so they contacted East Coast Pop Up Weddings, and nine days later they were married at a Halifax restaurant in front of 14 guests.

The Boylans have three kids, and said they kept putting off their wedding because it felt like too much work, and too much money. (Applehead Studio Photography)

"I rushed out and bought a wedding dress. We ordered rings on Amazon on the Thursday before. Luckily with two-day shipping, they came on Saturday morning," Boylan said.

She said despite sharing her special day with strangers, her wedding felt entirely unique.

Carol Ann Frank has been planning weddings for 30 years, and last October held her first "pop-up chapel." The four spots filled up in just three weeks, she said.

"The feedback we get at first is, 'Oh, I don't really want to share my wedding with other couples.' So we always reassure them … they get their own ceremony where they don't cross paths with the other couple until the dance party," said Frank, who owns A Beautiful Bouquet Floral Designs and Decor in Coldbrook, N.S.

At her events, couples have their own ceremony but share a reception. There are separate first dances, but one bouquet toss.

"In all the years I've been in the wedding industry, it was the most fun I've ever had," Frank said.

Renee Royal from Lower Sackville, N.S., married her husband, Daniel, at Frank's October event, but said it didn't feel like they were sharing the spotlight.

"We just made it our own and we danced with our families and even one of the other brides. We had a lot of fun dancing together," she said.

Royal had never heard of a pop-up wedding before she came across a post on Facebook, but said it checked all the boxes for the small, budget-friendly wedding she had in mind.

Sarah Anderson, who owns East Coast Pop Up Weddings in Wolfville, N.S., has married 13 couples at her Pop Up Love events, including the Boylans. She handles all the details, so couples simply show up with a marriage licence.

'They're quite intimate'

"Even though it kind of has this Vegas wedding-chapel vibe, there's still lots of room for personality and they're quite intimate," she told CBC's Information Morning.

Anderson, a justice of the peace, also plans private pop-up weddings where couples exchange vows in unconventional settings, like on the Dartmouth ferry or at the Halifax airport.

East Coast Pop Up Weddings organized a ceremony on the Dartmouth ferry. (Submitted by Sarah Anderson)

She said the popularity of no-fuss nuptials is proof many couples want something different out of their special day.

"Lives are different now," she said. "People are more focused on maybe buying a home or paying off student debt or they want to travel. They just have different priorities."

For Charlotte and Blake Hayes, a pop-up wedding meant they could spend more money on the honeymoon.

Charlotte and Blake Hayes decided to get married with just three days notice. (Zack Goldsmith)

The Kingsport, N.S., couple had their own private ceremony with just their parents at the Brewery Market in Halifax after giving Anderson three days notice.

"I was getting more and more stressed, and honestly the financial aspect, that was a really big one for us ... to, you know, start our lives maybe debt-free from a wedding perspective and be able to go on two or three honeymoons," Charlotte Hayes said.

What would have cost about $25,000, ended up costing them about $3,000, Hayes said.

Now, the couple is using the money to travel to Cuba, New York City and Europe later this year.

Hayes said she's already heard from a handful of her friends who are intrigued by the idea of letting someone else take the reins so they can simply relax and enjoy the day. 

"I think sometimes on the day of the wedding or leading up to it, there's so much hype, so much anticipation and sleepless nights," she said. "This way we just really found that we were really, really in the moment."

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With files from Brooklyn Currie and CBC's Information Morning

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