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Vancouver Budget Wedding:
Tanvi + Espen

August 17th, 2015 by Jeannine

 
Vancouver Budget Wedding: Tanvi + Espen

Tanvi and Espen are two people whose story proves that love can conquer the world. The couple met in Tanvi’s home country, India, 6 years ago during a UNICEF internship program where they spent 3 months together as colleagues and friends. Espen had other plans though, he wanted to get to know Tanvi a bit better so he asked her out, even though he was leaving the country soon. A short week later, it was time for Espen to head home to Norway, but the couple decided to give the relationship a try despite the long distance. Two continents and many months later, they would eventually find common ground in Vancouver, where they planned to settle down together.

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

When Espen was planning to pop the question, he was being sneaky about it… Even buying a ring in Thailand during a family trip. He couldn’t pull one over Tanvi though… She figured it out. Espen still wanted to surprise her so he kept her in suspense for just a while longer. He wrote her a poem which read:

Why do I love you?
Why is the sky blue?
Why does the rain feel wet?
Why do the leaves fall?
Why don’t the mountains crumble?
In awe of your presence?
I love you for the smile in your eyes
I love you for the thoughts in your words
I love you for the slight tremble I feel in knowing what you feel for me.
I love you for you are you….
Will you marry me and be mine?

How could Tanvi resist such a romantic proposal? Naturally, she said yes :)

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

On June 21st of this year, the couple tied the knot in an intimate ceremony in Stanley Park with 45 guests. They wanted their big day to be meaningful and honour both their Indian and Norwegian heritage. The couple did this in a few ways:

  • Their wedding vows were written in conversational form, in English, Hindi and Norwegian.
  • The food included both Indian and Norwegian favourites.
  • The bride and groom wore both Indian and Western attire. The bride’s dress was her mother’s sari, which Tanvi dressed in as a child, pretending to be a bride. Espen wore an Indian silk kurta Pyzama. These were gifts for the couple from India. Tanvi also wore a white bridal gown.

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

The venue for their $10,000 non-traditional wedding was the Teahouse at Stanley Park, for sentimental reasons. When they were new to Vancouver, they explored the park but got lost along the way. After walking for a while in the rain, they ended up at the Teahouse. Seemed like fate was trying to tell them something :)

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

The event was planned by the bride and groom but they couldn’t have pulled off such an awesome day without their family and friends. Although Tanvi didn’t appoint official bridesmaids, her closest friends sure acted like they were anyway and were a big help during the process, with one even arriving 3 weeks before the big day just to help out. Espen’s talented siblings not only performed for everyone, his sister is also an amazing baker and created their wedding cake. Last but not least, the couple was very moved by all the thoughtful speeches prepared for them. It was the wedding they were hoping for, full of love, meaning and a true union of two different families and cultures.

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

A Few Words with Tanvi…

Tanvi + Espen How many DIY projects did you have? What were they and why did you decide to take all of these on?
“A very exciting DIY project was the centrepiece. We had a book theme so we placed three bound volumes and a glass vase with hydrangeas and a grafted stick with photos of Espen and me glued on to it. We had collected pinecones from Stanley Park and stones from the Wreck beach for the centrepiece. We placed them around it along with paper flowers a friend of mine made for the day. These centerpieces had very Vancouver feel.

We designed our own wedding invite fitting the book theme for the wedding. It reads like chapter from a 19th century novel by Austen or the Bronte sisters. It calls our wedding the third chapter after courtship and companionship. It has black and white pictures of us.

We also had a box for notes the guests could write an advice or a message for us. We will open these on our first anniversary.”

What did you give away as wedding favors? Is there a reason why you chose them?
“We have made a donation to Under the Reading Tree, A Canadian organization supporting community libraries in Uganda. Espen is on the organization’s board and he is studying literacy in Uganda for his PhD. We also chose it because it went well with our theme of books and literature. We have made bookmarks (using the MS word function), stating the donation and we will send them to our guests along with our personalized thank you cards. Each card has a photo of us as a couple and a photo of us with them from the wedding.”

Tanvi + Espen

What did your guests think about your wedding?
“Our guests felt it was a very intimate celebration and the families were very visible through the speeches and the performances. We wrote our own vows and our guests found it to be moving, and many of them cried during the ceremony. They felt the wedding represented an amalgamation of two different cultures and the ceremony venue exemplified Vancouver. We had a few lines in English and Norwegian interspersed through our vows. They loved the food and our selection of wines from British Columbia (We had selected Burrowing Owl). We had a lot of fun in the end with everyone when Espen and his friends lifted me and he sat down on his knee re-enacting how he had proposed to me. A friend described it as a Scarlett O’ Hara moment because I had my beau and my belles.”

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

Tanvi + Espen

What did you splurge on and what did you save on? Why?
Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy “I ended up splurging on my wedding gown. Initially, I thought I would go for something casual to fit a summer wedding. But, while dress shopping I did not like anything that was labeled causal. After a few trips to different stores, I ended up trying a long satin gown and I fell in love with it. It was simple, elegant and had a long train. It made me feel like one of the heroines from a Victorian novel. I realized the budget I had allocated for a gown would not buy me what I wanted after all. I decided to go for it anyway. I justified this splurge because the sari I wore for the ceremony was my mom’s and a gift. We also splurged on food and wine since Teahouse is a tasteful location but I did not mind because it had personal significance to us and I wanted our guests to enjoy the momentous day with us.

We saved on a lot on wedding expenses due to the willingness of our friends and family to help out. Espen’s sister baked our exquisite wedding cake.

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

His sister and brother also provided entertainment for the guests. She is a professional singer and he plays Piano and sings for a choir. My friend, Sarah Meli, did my hair and make up. She has some experience doing this for the stage. She did an excellent job as she personally cared about how I looked.

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

Our talented wedding photographer is the daughter of Espen’s faculty member and she gave us a good deal. Espen got his suit tailored in Thailand, and my shoes were from India, thus we saved some money on essentials. We got our flowers from a bulk seller and arranged them ourselves.”

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

If you could’ve done something differently, what would it be?
“I would get someone to record our ceremony. We wrote our own vows and it would have been great to capture the moment we said those to each other. I did not hire a videographer because I did not realize how important it could be. It was at that moment I fully grasped the gravity of being married and making such a commitment to each other. How I felt at that moment could not have been captured in a video but it would have been nice to hear and see those emotional words being said again. If I had thought more about it I would have asked Espen’s brother or a friend to record it. Now, we have to rely on memory and the photographs. I would have designated friends to be my bridesmaids. I did not want to do the traditional wedding party but now I feel it would have helped to acknowledge those who contributed so much to the day being a success. I did end up calling three of my friends unofficial bridesmaids but I wish I had designated them so. I would have used cabs for transport instead of renting cars as that gets more expensive with parking.”

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

After planning a wedding, what one advice would you give to future brides?
“I would strongly suggest tapping into the potential of your friends and family and checking if they can help out. Be confident of your choices. I decided to keep my curly hair open for the wedding against a lot of fashion advice and I am very glad I did that. It made me feel myself. Use a planner and make sure you have a close friend who can keep track of what you are up to and remind you of things you will forget on the way. She will also make sure you have fun. It is very important to have fun while you do this otherwise it gets stressful. Keep a steady supply of wine and chocolate at hand and a best friend to share these with.”

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy

Tanvi & Espen’s Wedding Vendors

Tanvi + Espen - photo by Maria Asselin-Roy Ceremony venue: Ferguson Point, Stanley Park
Reception venue: The Teahouse, Stanley Park
Catering: The Teahouse, Stanley Park
Wine: Burrowing Owl
Wedding Dress: Bride’s mother’s sari for the ceremony, Alfred Angelo gown from Lisa’s Bridal for the reception
Tux: Tailored in Thailand
Photographer: Maria Asselin-Roy
Flowers: Bunches Direct
Hair and Make-up: Bride’s friend, Sarah Meli
Jewelry: Pearls and gold Jewelry purchased from India, custom made wedding bands with partner’s names’ engraved on them
Invitations: DIY
Cake: Groom’s sister, Marianne Stranger baked the chocolate cheesecake with strawberries
Decorations: DIY by couple’s friends
Wedding Favors: Book Marks stating donations to Under the Reading Tree.
Music for ceremony/reception: Groom’s sister, Marianne Stranger sang a few songs in English and Norwegian. She is part of two Norwegian Indie bands: Kookooo Kitchen and Tomorrow we move to Hawaii
Transportation: Cars rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Wedding planner/coordinator: Couple planned the wedding themselves

All photos courtesy Maria Asselin-Roy

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