An Alternative Wedding needs an Alternative Venue

alternative bride, groom, and dog

Deanna & Ryan Maiden

October 29  |  Fergus

It’s your day, do it your way. That was the attitude of bride Deanna Chilton, of Fergus, who, together with her husband-to-be Ryan Maiden, wanted to ensure their special day respected their alternative rock’n roll lifestyle.

‘Soft gothic’ is what I would call the theme, but really, there was no theme. It was just things I, or we, like,” Deanna said, admitting that she really didn’t buy into the concept that the wedding needed a theme.

“We’re alternative people,” Deanna said. “We like rock music and (heavy) metal shows … we were never going to have a pink wedding. “

The wedding dress was never going to be white either. That was a conscious choice, as the couple had lived together prior to the wedding. Deanna didn’t want the traditional white gown or the sentiment that went with it.  She had her mind set on either a black or red gown.  She chose red in the end because it’s her favourite colour.

“When else will you get to wear a big, red dress?” Deanna said, of the long, flowing gown she had custom-ordered off the website.  Upon delivery, she had it altered to fit her perfectly.

Deanna’s grandmother had some concerns about the non-traditional aspects of a bride in red, so out of respect, the bride made sure her grandmother was the first to see the dress. The response was ideal.

“She said, ‘That’s not red; that’s American Beauty,’” recalls Deanna’s mother, Wanda Chilton, in agreement. “When you look at the wedding photos, the red just pops in the pictures.”

Deanna created her bouquet out of used broaches, heirlooms given to her from her mom, grandmother and friends. She incorporated black flower petals, a necklace and used a shortened broomstick for the handle.

The bridesmaids wore charcoal grey gowns, ideal to offset the red dress, and carried lit lanterns up the aisle. Ryan and his groomsmen wore skull and crossbones’ boutonnieres, that Deanna fashioned herself from ostrich feathers that came from her great-great grandmother’s hat.

“We keep everything; we’re Scottish,” Deanna joked.

Her Scottish heritage was evident throughout the day, from the piper that lead the wedding party along the streets of Fergus from the ceremony to the reception, (who also happened to be a former student of her great-grandfather, both of whom belonged to the Mount Forest Pipe Band), to her grandfather’s kilt pin that she wore on her shawl and the Clan McNaughton tie Ryan purchased at the Fergus Scottish Shop, and wore to honour her family. And during the ceremony, they participated in a traditional hand fasting ceremony, a symbolic gesture of making the vows official.

As details of the wedding began to emerge, including the October 29th date, the red and black décor with elements of skull and crossbones and the alternative music bent to the event, the couple were repeatedly questioned about whether this was going to be a Halloween-themed occasion.  Deanna insists it was mere coincidence.

It also happened to be a date that the Fergus Grand Theatre could accommodate the ceremony, which played right into ensuring their wedding was as unique as the couple themselves.

“It was never going to be a church wedding for us,” Deanna said. “I wanted something different.”

She added, “It’s a beautiful venue, even at the front of the building, from the outside.”

Eric Goudie is manager of the Fergus Grand Theatre, which is owned by the Township of Centre Wellington. He says the venue hosts a few weddings a year, but handles many inquiries each season.

“You have to be looking for something different,” he said. “This (site) is for someone who wants to add a component of theatrical to their wedding.”

He added couples can use the stage, scenery, lighting, and backdrops, even special effects just like any other theatre production.  Plus, the theatre is an affordable option that can offer a flexible schedule leading up to the wedding. The cost of the venue varies depending on the length of usage.

“There is a calculator on our website to calculate the costs, so people can see the fees associated with their usage,” Eric said.

“We do provide volunteers to be on hand at the event, as we would for any other event at the theatre,” Eric said. “As far as we’re concerned this is another show and this is part of what we do as a venue.”

Eric encourages brides and grooms to book a tour of the site so they can fully experience all it has to offer. “A tour is the best way to see how you can use the space. Your limit is your creativity.”

Deanna and Ryan toured the site several times, to plan their day. Deanna said the support from the staff up to and during the event was incredible.

“Eric was amazing and put up with us calling to ask questions” she said. “We had the theatre the night before the wedding to set up and we had our rehearsal dinner there.”

Wedding décor included paper flowers at the front of the stage and a large branch that was suspended from the ceiling of the stage, strung with flowers and small lights. Lanterns marked the end of the rows along the aisle. The ring bearer for the occasion was the couple’s dog Callie, (a Boxer-Pug cross), and having the dog on the premises was not an issue.

Theatre technicians coordinated the music Deanna requested for the ceremony, which included hard rock scores. When her dad walked her up the aisle, the theatre technicians cast the spotlight on the pair as she was led to the stage.

“What I liked about the theatre was everyone could see the ceremony and when I looked out, I could see everyone too,” Deanna said, noting there was comfortable seating for her 140 guests. The venue has a capacity to hold 252 patrons.

Eric agreed. “The site lines are great, the sound is great, we have good acoustics, access to mics and other theatre equipment.”

He knows that this venue isn’t for everyone, but he knows it’s perfect for the right couple.

“It’s unique, something nobody else is doing; something nobody else will expect … we offer that.”

Deanna said the venue was perfect for her vision of her wedding day.

“It was fun. People always said to me, ‘you don’t have fun at your wedding’ (because you are making everyone else happy), and we wanted to have fun,” she said. “I think it all went very well.”

Wanda added, “It was beautiful.”

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour in the front reception of the theatre, which allowed the bridal party time to get their photos done, before everyone met up again and were led by the piper from the Fergus Grand Theatre to the Fergus Legion for the reception.

What is most unique about Deanna’s vision for her and Ryan’s wedding day was their ability to be true to the unique characteristics of their relationship while honouring their family traditions too.

“We didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do,” Deanna said. “Some people get pressured into doing what they didn’t want to do (at their wedding). We didn’t want to get stressed.”

Looking back on everything from the dress to the décor of the venues she chose, she felt everything came together perfectly – for a wedding without a theme. That rock’n roll rebellion paid off, and she encourages other couples to do make sure their special day goes their way.

“Do what you want – not what other people think you should do, and have fun at your own wedding.”

There is no greater statement about the chemistry of a couple than their wedding day and that is the whole point of the celebration. Keep it real. Be yourselves. And do it your way.


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