Kellen & JP’s Creative Casual Outdoor Wedding in Ottawa

A backyard wedding vibe without the backyard at Cumberland Heritage Village Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, CA.

Kellen & JP were married in July of 2018 at Cumberland Heritage Village Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. This fun-loving couple wanted the vibe of a casual backyard party complete with lawn games, local craft, beer, colorful decor, and delicious smoked BBQ! 

Here is Kellen to share more about how she and JP planned their delightful wedding!

Kellen: JP and I are a pretty adventurous couple and are always looking for something new to try! Chances are pretty good at any given time you will find us outside, whether it's hiking, camping, canoeing, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, skating, or lying in a hammock drinking a beer we belong outdoors!

JP proposed in a small town in the middle of nowhere Germany without a ring! We got engaged in September 2017. We had talked about getting engaged before, so I was kind of expecting something while on our trip. On the 4th day of our 3 week vacation we had planned a hiking trip into the Alps. We were planning on hiking up Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany.

The hike started out a little bit rainy, but we didn't let that stop us and we continued on! We had some incredible views and it was an experience I will never forget. About half way into the hike, we made the decision to turn around. The hike was taking a lot longer then anticipated and we knew we couldn't make it to the top before dark. JP seemed more disappointed then normal about this, but I didn't really think much of it at the time (turns out he wanted to propose up there!). On the way back down there was one spot on the trail that I thought was breathtaking, I remember standing in the spot looking all around and thinking "if he doesn't propose here, he is not proposing on this trip in Germany at all". Well he didn't propose. So later that night, after dinner, when he did, it definitely took me by surprise! On the walk back to our Airbnb the conservation went something like this:


JP: Hey, Did you want to marry me?

Kellen: Yeah, I do.

*long pause*

JP: I'm serious

Kellen Me too

*long pause*

Kellen: So is this the official proposal?

*another long pause*

JP: Yeah - remember that Canada Post missed delivery slip from Thursday...that is your ring!

Turns out the mail delivery slip we got on the day we left home was my ring, not a boat part like JP lead me to believe! Despite the ringless, thwarted mountain top proposal, I still said yes and we spent the next 3 weeks in Germany blissfully engaged while I was silently dying to know what my ring looked like!

Our original thought was to have a causal backyard party at my aunt and uncle's house on the Ottawa River. However, once we started looking at all the logistics we realized it wasn't very reasonable financially or otherwise. So we did the next best thing - found an outdoor venue that already had the basics, like bathrooms, shelter, tables, and chairs! It ended up being under 10 minutes from my aunt's house, so we were still able to do our first look and bridal party photos at my aunt's on the river!

We wanted our wedding to be fun and causal - lots of games, dancing and a bonfire! We didn’t want any pressure to have a ‘perfect’ day and we wanted it to reflex our laidback, down to earth personalities.

My favourite part of the day was the ceremony. From pretty early in the day we knew it was going to pour rain right around the time of our outdoor ceremony. Now, when I say it poured rain, I mean it POURED right during our ceremony time. Our venue was completely outdoors with our ceremony to take place on a tree lined road. We had a covered pavilion and a large tent, but they were both still pretty open to the elements, so they didn’t really help with the sideways torrential downpour. We were all watching the radar closely and knew we would have a 20-minute window of rain free time, so we mobilized quick to get our ceremony going! Since we knew we didn’t have time to wipe down all the puddles on the chairs we moved back our arch a few feet and had our guests stand and line the aisle. It ended up being very emotional and felt so intimate to have everyone surround us and support us in that way. Despite it not going according to plan - I wouldn’t change how it went down for anything!

We were lucky enough to have an army of people help us day of and throughout the whole planning process, so that we were able to make our wedding reflect us. Our whole wedding was DIY – we collected tin cans that became our centerpieces and decorated with ribbon and baby’s breath, we hand wrote all our signs on old mirrors and windows, I designed our invitations on Canva, my mom made our bouquets from Costco flowers, my bridesmaids did my hair, I did my own makeup, my father-in-law built our ceremony arch, my mom and sister-in-law sewed all the colorful bunting, my grandfather made a giant kerplunk lawn game (total hit!), my husband built our wooden card box, my other grandfather made the wine, my older brother played the guitar as I walked down the aisle, my younger brother was our DJ with speakers we borrowed from my aunt – I could go on, but I think you get the point…

What was totally worth it?

Our photographer. This was one of our biggest expenses but 100% worth it. Our photos are gorgeous and at the end of the day the photos are all we really have of the day, so I’m so glad we spend the money to hire an amazing photographer!

What was not worth it?

This may sound cheesy, and has been said hundreds of times, but seriously, the stress. We are both thrilled with how the day turned out and very happy with all the decisions we made and vendors we picked. However, at the beginning of the process before we really had a vision of what we wanted the day to be, I was stressed out about what it ‘should’ be. In the end all the stress did was delay planning!

What did you throw in the Fuck-It Bucket?

The nature of our wedding meant a lot of traditional wedding things naturally ended up in the bucket, mostly because they were never on the table or considered in the first place – I’m looking at you chair covers, charger plates and a formal seated dinner!

There were still definitely a few things we actively threw in though! Favours were a big one (hint: no one missed them or asked about them), seating plan, garter and bouquet toss, wedding cake and everything that goes along with it (had butter tarts from my husband’s hometown instead – best decision we made!), programs and other printed material, videography, a head table (we sat among the guests!).

Speeches were almost, kinda in the bucket as well. I didn't want them, but my husband did, so we comprised on having 'campfire stories' where a few people could share with us around the fire. It was going to be more of an optional thing for guests to enjoy if they wanted to (dancing would continue as we did this). But of course, it started to rain again just in time for the stories to start. Instead we put the dancing on hold for a few minutes and had the best man and my bridesmaids say a few words. It turned out perfect! 

What advice do you have for other couples planning their weddings?

Have fun, take it easy, and make your own rules. Don’t let planning take over your life – it is ok to take some time to not think or talk about the wedding.

How did Bridechilla help you plan your wedding?

We always knew we wanted a laid back, causal wedding but before I found Bridechilla I had this weird reaction of justifying our wedding and why we weren’t doing certain things. After listening to the podcast and being in the facebook group I became more confident in our choices and stopped paying as much attention to everyone else’s opinions. Bridechilla helped me stay focused on us and what we wanted our wedding to be (aka a causal backyard party without an actual backyard). It also played a huge role in me staying so relaxed amid the torrential down pour and change ups of the day. As the rain came down I could just hear Aleisha’s voice saying “fuck perfect” and had a much easier time going with the flow! 

Kellen & JP's Rockstar Vendors

Venue: Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Photography:  Amy Pinder Photography

Catering:  Meatings BBQ

Butter Tarts: Jean-Marc Bakery

Dress:  Dominique Leveseque

Bridesmaids separates: Love Tanya (skirts) &  RW&co (tops)

Bridal Hair Piece:  Luna and Stone

Bridesmaid Jewelry: Statement Grey

Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Shiruba Tree

Brewery:  Broadhead Brewing Company

Officiants: Keith with Exceptional Ceremonies & our friend, Grant.

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