Dec. 7 2017

Darkside Love: Details from a Dartmouth Backyard Party Yurt Wedding

Back in August, my live-in breakfast chef of 7 years and I said yes to getting married—to each other, no less. When he popped out of the bushes at my friend’s house almost 8 years ago and offered me a place to live (I was looking for a new apartment at the time, so it wasn’t that weird), who would have guessed that we’d be toasting ‘yes’ to marriage in a yurt some years later with all our best friends gathered.

Sidebar: 28 days after I moved in—yes, 28 days just like the zombie plague movie—to his apartment, we started dating. He made me breakfast every day. Still does. Can you argue with that? I can’t.

His name is Rob. He proposed to me all romantic-like on a mountain in B.C. during a night where we were almost eaten by a bear in our camp and he proposed with a ring he kept in a sock for months and sized based on my thumb ring. It was a good time.

Getting Ready

This was so much more than just the morning of, but the weeks and months getting ready. Having our venue change from a hotel in Iceland to a yurt in my Dad’s backyard in THE DARKSIDE, a.k.a. Dartmouth—the dark horse to Nova Scotia’s capital city, Halifax. (I’d say it’s the Brooklyn to Halifax’s Manhattan, but only to offer a somewhat accurate metaphor to Americans or others who might not be familiar with Canada’s East Coast geography).

Planning the wedding was HIL-AIR-IOUS. I never grew up writing Mrs. So-and-So on my notebooks, or dreaming of Prince Charmings, or marriage in general. If you asked me in my teens or even early 20s, I’d have probably told you marriage just wasn’t something I was particularly…after? There were so many other things, like going on adventures, reading books, etc. But it’s funny—when Rob proposed (get it) the idea, it just seemed so awesome, I was like—Hell yeah! Let’s do it! Let’s get married!

So, it’s funny when you get to the details:

For example, three months before the wedding we were absolutely certain that we need to get biodegradable bamboo plates. Of course we ended up just running out and buying whatever they had for cheap at a nearby store a couple of weeks before the wedding. Weddings are a lesson in perspective.

Getting all our friends together to pitch in setting up a yurt (and a baby yurt, a.k.a. ‘The Chill Yurt,’ a.k.a. ‘Yurt Can Call Me Al’), and getting awesome rugs for the yurt thanks to some last-minute Value Village finds (Kai—you’re a great human).

Then there was Rob, boiling strips of wood for hours because he was determined to make his wedding ring by hand.

Rob and I both being up at midnight before the wedding, writing our vows and trying to figure out what we were going to say, while having our friend read and edit them for us.

It’s funny how, despite all the thought and effort and everything you put into the wedding, in my mind all I really remember was how loved I felt. Not just by Rob, but by everyone. It was… magical. And sure, I was feeling very loved in an extremely attractive setting because of all the work my friends and we had put into it.

What ‘m trying to get at is that plates don’t matter. You matter. Love matters. People matter. The rest is just, well, icing on the cake (errrr, doughnuts, in our case).

Wedding Day

A good decision was going to get my hair done by myself in the morning. I’m a really private person (must be why I write on the internet, har har har) and I loved having an hour alone by myself with my hairdresser, just super chill and casual conversation interspersed with gathering my own thoughts. I had a tea. It was awesome.

A gathering of bridesmaids is like a gathering of unicorns.

Everyone really showed up and did their thing. It was like everyone knew how to have a wedding and Rob and I could just glide through the day. That’s how you know you have a team of friends who care about you, this much I know.

When I got back to our apartment they were already getting makeup done, had stuff on the go, the best man’s lady friend dropped by with some crêpes from the awesome Portland Street Crêperie around the corner, and an emergency kit containing things like band aids, thread, and granola bars (all of which Rob ate months later when he found the kit stashed in the closet).

I know everyone put in so much work behind our backs to make everything happen so magically. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We had a production team working to make this happen (literally—a lot of our friends work in production).

The Vows

I walked down the aisle to Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” played by our friend A.J. on keys.

Here are my vows:

Rob. You are my favourite person.

Seven years ago, we’d probably be waking up hungover on our bed made of sofa cushions in Lennoxville, Quebec, talking about who was going to make the run to go pick up some greasy breakfast sandwiches.

Now we’re getting married in a yurt in Nova Scotia and sleeping in a real bed—and this morning you got up and made me a greasy breakfast sandwich, and I was so excited.

When we first moved in together just as roommates, you started making me fresh—hand-squeezed—orange juice. Because you liked me.

The oranges were so expensive. It made no sense. We had no money. We should have just bought a carton of OJ, but love is like that. It makes you do crazy things.

In seven years, we’ve each graduated—twice. We had a cat, then tried for another cat, and now we have TWO cats. I’m so proud and happy to see you doing work that you love.

We’ve also helped each other through hard times, whether that was a back rub to soothe a hangover—an inspirational speech when one of us is feeling down, or just hugs and cuddles.

We’ve traveled across the world together and apart. We have literally climbed mountains together, sometimes without water, which is very ill-advised. We spent 30 days sleeping in a car together, driving from Halifax to Tofino and back.

Life has these big moments, and grand adventures, but I also really love the little things about you, like how you wake up early in the morning and put on rice so we can take bibimbap for lunch, or how you know all the different Batmans, or how you sing Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit, ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,’ or how you’ll go get me the ‘croissant of the week’ from TIBS.

Through everything that’s happened, we work hard and we always laugh. We rub each other’s backs. We make orange juice.

You give me strength. You encourage me to pursue what I love, even when I’m scared. You are my best friend and I love you so much.

I love that we’re not afraid to journey down this crazy road together. Life is messy and I’m excited to see all the ways we’re going to mess it up and then all the ways we’re going to fix it.

To quote my main Canadian literary crush, Margaret Atwood:

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier

where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

So, I call upon everyone here to witness that I, Mel Hattie, do take Rob Tracey to be my lawful wedded partner.

[Put the ring on Rob’s finger]

I’m committed to spending the rest of my life with you. Because I love and respect you, and trust you to love and respect me forever. This ring is a symbol of my commitment to our relationship, and life together.

Is it lame that my voice cracked during the Margaret Atwood poem?

The Missed Kiss

And then, dear reader, I forgot to kiss the groom.


I know. You’d think: of all the wedding ephemera, this would be the easy part. The part that pretty much all weddings of religious or non-religious nature have in common.

Weeks ago when we were running through the ceremony on our officiant Kevin’s iPad, sitting at the Smiling Goat coffee house at Bishop’s Landing, Kevin leaned over in his chair and asked us, “And here do you want me to say, ‘Now you may kiss the bride?” Both Rob and I had balked, “No! That’s old-fashioned. We’ll know when to kiss. It’s obvious!”

So, surely enough, on our wedding day we forgot to do just that. We essentially stared happily at each other while Kevin waved his hands and announced, ‘And now I present the married couple,’ and I stopped the proceedings and said, “Wait. Don’t we get to kiss,” to which Kevin replied, “Oh, you missed it.”

Ahaha. Of course. So that’s when we kissed.

Yurt Wedding Kiss
Better late than never.

Then we dance-exited the yurt to Van Halen’s ‘Jump.’

The rest was a big blur.

The Party

Everything went by so fast.

If I could clone myself for one night, this would be it. I’ve never been surrounded by so much love. Literally all night there were so many stories and laughs going on. I wanted to suck it all up and I couldn’t. I was a supersaturated love sponge.

Even though people were constantly handing me drinks (thanks for that, by the way—it was super appreciated), I still felt like I barely drank anything because I was just so busy talking and enjoying, and it was 3 A.M. before we knew what was happening.

The next morning I was opening our wedding cards with Rob and I remember sitting by my bedside lamp and just feeling like there was a little cocoon of love light surrounding me. “Nothing can touch this,” I whisper thought to myself, as I gently opened all the cards. It was like a power suit. It was like when you get the star in Mario Kart. It was awesome.

Love is an invincibility cloak made of really soft cozy cotton, that smells like fresh, warm laundry and is 100% impenetrable and infallible. It makes you feel like—Fuck you, world. I’ve got a cozy blanket love shield. But you say it really quietly and soft because you feel so happy and nice and not angry at all.

Special Shout Outs and Thank Yous

Special shout out to our amazing (AMAZING!) wedding party, friends, and family who arrived early to help us set up and just do the stuff needed to make a wedding happen—Miranda, Chelcie, Kai, Allie, Liz, Shawn, Dave G., Ronan, Matt, Ben, Jess M. and Jess M., Gab, Dave F., Mel M., Peter, Naomi, Paige, Saajid. Dad, Mom, Lorraine, Dave H., Bill, and Bernice. Just… everyone. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Bishop's University Wedding Crew
Look at those Bishop’s University alumni—bunch of alcoholics!

Having people willing to make a mess with you is great.

Having people willing to wake up before noon the next day and clean it all up with you? The. Best.

Also, if anyone is still wondering if they should get married in a yurt, the answer is: YES.

Vendor List

A.k.a. people who made us look good.



I love this post a whole hell of a lot. It ALMOST makes me feel like I got to be there. Wish I was! You guys are the best! What a way to start my Friday! Lots of love <3 – Kaleigh

You were there in spirit!!!! I could feel the love coming over from Japan. <3 Did you see Rob and I took the same cool ring power fist punch picture that I took of you and Eric??? ???????? Pow!


Message received. ????

Denise St Pierre

This is seriously the most beautiful thing! GAH! Love is grand. I am seriously contemplating poaching that Atwood poem for my own wedding vows/toast/speech. xo -Denise

Love IS grand! Please feel free to pouch—I pouched it from Atwood after all and it is a damn good and beautiful poem. You’re getting married in a book store after all! You’re gonna kill it. ✌????

LOVES. Huge congratulations!! I LOVE BACKYARD WEDDINGS. I can’t believe everyone doesn’t do them. Except I guess in Newfoundland the tent would just blow over all the time.

Yes backyard weddings!!! Haha, I’m glad you share the passion. Although I can totally picture a cliffside wedding in Newfoundland with the tent blowing away. Then again, as long as the beer kegs don’t blow away… good to go, right? ????????

%d bloggers like this: