Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Woodsy Chic New Brunswick Wedding

I'm thrilled to share these details from the wedding of Stephen Kopp & Monica Adair, a pair of badass architects based in Saint John. As Monica and I wrote back and forth over the past few months, I became convinced that we're kindred spirits.

We got married on the new moon, on August 30, 2008. I think we were on a wedding high for a full month after the wedding.

The theme of the wedding was ‘woods chic’ with our own familial twist. My mother, who was born in Mexico, is the oldest of 18 children and is used to entertaining large crowds. We embraced some of those traditions to really inspire the day. My mother and father were also married in the woods, on a volcano outside of Mexico City. I absolutely adore her photos and was inspired to create something as authentic as they had.

It was a wedding of embodied energy – the energy of friends and family coming together to build the day that we have been thinking about ever since. Everyone got involved. Some learned how to drive tractors to build the dance floor, some helped build altars, while others laid the hundred glow sticks that created the path in the dark woods to and from the dance floor. A local farmer provided the hay bales for the ceremony seating that found their way to insulating the cabins on the site after the wedding. My mother sewed yards of table runners made from two textured tweed fabrics tied together with a red silk ribbon, my father, who owns a furniture company, searched for the richly coloured fuchsia seats for the dinner, my uncle spent weeks splitting wood for the head table and altar.

The papel picado, personalized white streamers hand cut in Mexico, were an amazing gift from the family in Mexico. We just recently spent our honeymoon in Mexico City and connected with our distant family. The wedding really brought us closer together.

And no Mexican wedding is complete without piñatas. Forget coffee as a wake-me up after a long dinner and speeches, piñatas helped set the tone for a long night of dancing. A light rain drizzle set the mood and some blindfolded dangerous swinging was a great lead-in to a long night of dancing and late-night swimming. The piñatas were filled with Mexican treats, carefully chosen from markets around Mexico City by my aunt Margarita and cousin Laura.

Buffalo plaid & a feathered cap >> Over 10 years ago, I fell in love with a photo of a woman in a wooden canoe paddling in a plaid dress. It has stuck with me ever since. I spent a great deal of time in the trenches of the Garment District of NY looking for buffalo plaid in wool – surely one would think that the fabric store for ‘Project Runway’ would have buffalo plaid in red and black – sadly no. After another, literally 50 store visits, I returned to the first fabric store and a man in there suggested I try one more store – sure enough – buffalo plaid – the last 4 yards – my future dress.

Julie Culberson, a local seamstress who happened to have done design for a theatre company’s production of Caesar, seemed like a perfect person to execute my small fantasy. The plaid shawl was cinched together over a taffeta J. Crew dress with a belt I found in a great little store. I was torn between wearing a white dress and the plaid dress from my memory; this was a way to manage the pull in all directions. I also loved wearing cowboy boots on my wedding day – I love boots and dresses.

I spent the rest of the day trying to find the perfect feathers – only in new York would I be so lucky to find a place where they were making the hats for the fall collection of Ralph Lauren and the costumes for carnival – whose hats were absolutely incredible – I was in pheasant heaven as I spent the afternoon handpicking each feather that adorned the centerpieces, table settings and finally the spectacular hat that milliner and designer Frennel Morris from Still Life helped me create.

The food>> My brother and chef, Jose, put together a beautiful menu of local appetizers, and he and my mother, a natural born food lover and maker, put together a meal for 150 that people are still talking about today. The menu consisted of a mix of local and Mexican treats: Mole chicken, achiote pork, plantains, tortillas, and a feast of other Mexican-inspired foods. We had a vegetarian friend that night who couldn’t resist and tried the chicken and hasn’t looked back since.

3am brought scavengers back to the tent in search of those last licks of probably the best cake we have ever had. If you ever come east, head to the Happy Baker where you will find this prized Baker – Holger Mammen. When we told him we wanted to make a 42” cake he talked us down to something that would fit through a door, but he was willing to take on a challenge. He beautifully rendered our family crest in gold icing and it was a slice of heaven.

Flowers>> My bridesmaid Katie's mother Gillian Wallace was our florist, and we knew she hit the theme spot-on when she showed up with a car full of cat tails, pussy willows and wild flowers galore. I do think they were the most inspired arrangements I had ever seen and I loved the trailing bouquet that was put in my arms just hours before the wedding.

The lens>> While many of our friends have showered us with great photographs of the wedding week, we were pretty damn lucky to have friend and photographer Karl Redding as our official 'third wheel' for our wedding – he made it feel easy and kept it all quite real. His thoughtfulness carried past his photographs and into all his help from climbing trees to folding napkins in the wee hours of the morning.

The lodge & cabins >> I spent many a weekend at my aunt and uncle’s lodge and cabins on the Kingston Peninsula in New Brunswick. It was exactly the place that best fit our wedding. Adair’s Lodge & Cabins is a wonderful place for an escape into quiet rustic country along the Saint John River.

Our friends made it happen.

We tried our best to design as many things as we could for the wedding and when we could we wanted to showcase our friends' talents: Our wedding favors were beautiful fishing flies designed by our friend Rich Cassidy. Meghan Barton, a talented artist friend of ours silk-screened our crest for the floating candles. Darren Emineau’s (MNO) pottery housed the flowers and served the head table. The ring-bearing dog's plaid outfit was made by Darren’s partner Alex, and Sam delivered the ring with perfect timing and elegance, heading straight to the pond for a dip upon completion of his task in true dog style. As for ‘les bijoux,' we asked local jewelry designer Jeneca Klausen to design our bridesmaids’ jewelry for the wedding, a commission she was perfect for: asymmetrical antlers, lava rocks and twig-like silver branches are just some of the one-of-a-kind gems that she designed for the ladies. John Wallace cut our serving-trays out of an 18” tree trunk. My maid of honour Charlotte Macdonell was like a full time logistics coordinator for the hundreds of details that were being fabricated up to the last minute of the wedding; she also got stuck making floating lantern bases out of left over tile we ripped up from an old reno.

Our farewell party was at happinez wine bar, where stephen and I had designed the little wine patio ‘hapito’ for our friend and owner of the bar. It was fun to have a party in something we actually designed.

As if I haven’t gone on enough, a few of my favorite moments>>

My brother Manuel wadding in water with a post-ceremony canoe full of Moosehead Beer for our guests>>Stephen’s vows>>Pre-wedding swimming for the boys in the pond >>the skinny dip that ended the dance and the hours of laughing at the camp-fire>>realizing we had nowhere to sleep and ending up in our tent…no better way to end a night of stars and lights.

I absolutely loved, loved our wedding. I can’t thank everyone enough for making it so real.


  1. wow! this looks like so much fun!
    thats so the way everything should be!!!
    I love the black and white pics especially the one where everybody is jumping in hte water!...not to mention how much I love the design of the details...the tablesettings are f* GREAT.
    This wedding rocks!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Oh that pic in front of the car is soooo hot! And lovely prayer flags! Heaps and heaps of them!

  3. i love every single detail. This couple seems amazing. I want to copy&paste this wedding and apply it to my future one.

  4. Love the shot of everyone diving into the water.

    Effing awesome wedding.

  5. this wedding embodies everything a wedding should be... family and friends coming together and helping out with all the details that made their day perfect.

    a girl after my own heart, boots and a wedding dress and hay bales for seating...the puerto rican in me is still dreaming about plantains and mole. amazing.

    love. love. love this wedding.

  6. my god. that canoe is the kicker for me.

  7. pinatas? swimming? machetes? plaid? eff yes! thanks for posting this.

  8. so much thought and detail went into this wedding. it was amazing to read about all of the friends and family members contributing in different, beautiful ways.

    thanks for sharing.

    and O CANADA!!

  9. Amazing. I would've killed to crash this. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  10. loving these photos. what a lovely wedding.

  11. Oh wooooow. This looks like so much fun! Just gorgeous.

  12. I love this! How beautiful! Do you know where the bamboo flatware is from???

  13. what a totally killer wedding...especioally loving the beer in the canoe. perfection.

  14. Karolina, I suspect Stephen & Monica ordered from Aspenware (a Canadian company):

    Budget Savvy Bride also just posted about ecoware biodegradables:

  15. Hi,

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  16. Pinatas were my favorite part of my childhood parties. When I saw this post, I was so inspired. But can you have a pinata at an inside party? I'm thinking... no?

  17. if the space is well-cleared, i say sure! i once went to a birthday party at a bar where the pinata had been filled with little minibar-sized bottles of booze; i've been meaning to steal that idea for years.

  18. Hi Monica,
    This is Sofia.I lived in your old apartment with my sister(chloe), mom, and dad.I miss you so much and we have been searching for you and found this page.Your wedding looked beautiful and i am so happy for you!My nana and lito are moving back to Newbrunswick so we hope to visit you. i am 12 years of age and my sister is 9 and i dont think i can say my mom and dads age.we have a new cat(mew mew) and dog(pheobe).
    how are you doing.
    please come and visit us!!!
    we love you very much and hope to see you in the coming year!!!!


    Sofia,Chloe,Barb,and Fran

  19. Nice Monica.
    I guess I got the news late - I am so far away.
    Best of good luck

    Georgetown. Guyana