Inside a boho backyard wedding in Etobicoke

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Kristina Curatola, a secondary school teacher, met Danielle Laderoute, an accountant, on a dating app in January 2019. When Kristina’s father’s health took a turn in May 2021, the couple decided to fast-track their wedding. Here’s how it came together in just over a week.

Kristina: I saw Danielle’s profile on a dating app in January 2019. She had a pretty smile and a Blue Jays shirt on, and I love going to baseball games. It was a no-brainer to message her.

Danielle: I’m from Trenton but I was living in Niagara when Kristina’s profile popped up. She was beautiful, and she had photos with a cat, a goat, a bunny. I’m vegan, so it caught my eye that she loved animals.

Kristina: We started messaging each other about everything: our favourite foods, our nostalgia for Blockbuster, our shared interest in gaming—we both love The Legend of Zelda.

Danielle: We also brought up the commute between Niagara and Toronto on our first day. We both have cars and didn’t mind with the distance.

Kristina: I really wanted to meet up with her the first weekend, but I had booked a trip to visit Florida with my parents. My father had been diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer, so I wanted to spend as much time with my parents as I could. The weekend after I got back, Danielle and I had our first date.

Danielle: I was so nervous as I drove to Toronto. I brought my green Donkey Kong N64, a special edition video game system that we’d been nerding out over. And I brought garlic hummus because she said she’d never had it before, which I thought was crazy.

Kristina: Danielle gave me a huge hug as soon as we met. She was carrying a grocery bag full of stuff. We went inside and played N64, then I took her out to Get Well for drinks. The bar has lots of retro arcade games so I thought it’d be a cute date.

Danielle: Our relationship developed quickly from there. I drove to Toronto to see her again a week later, and on our second date Kristina told me I was the one. I felt the same way.

Kristina: We started visiting each other every weekend. We were basically living out of our suitcases for a year. I’d go down to Niagara and Danielle would take me to places like the farmers’ markets and her favourite doughnut shop. In the city, I took Danielle to the High Park Zoo.

Danielle: Kristina is such an amazing person. She’s so kind and caring. All of my family and friends love her. She’s super-nerdy like me, and we always have a lot to talk about. It’s a feeling of instant comfort when I’m with her.

Kristina: Danielle is gorgeous but she’s also super-smart and so easygoing. By the end of 2019, we were ready to get engaged. One weekend in November, we went into Made You Look, a jewellery store on Queen Street, and I tried on a beautiful wedding ring. It has an antique wheat pattern with a yellow sapphire. Two weeks later, we went back to order it.

Danielle: The ring was ready earlier than we expected, so I was able to surprise Kristina. We had just come back to her place from a friend’s holiday party in Toronto, and she decided to take a shower. When she stepped away, I scrambled to get everything together. I’d already bought a bunch of candles, so I lit them and set them up in the living room.

Kristina: After I got dressed, I walked down the hall and all the lights were off. I saw all the candles in the living room. It was beautiful. I was hyperventilating because I was so excited. Then Danielle got down on one knee. I was so happy.

Danielle: We had talked about what we wanted to do for our wedding. We thought about getting married in a forest or maybe a backyard. We looked at some venues, but nothing was quite right.

Kristina: We also talked about moving in together and who would move where. We were flexible about it. I applied for jobs in the school boards in Niagara, but it can be a long wait to get in. Danielle was trying to see if she could get transferred closer to me, but nothing had been finalized.

Danielle: Then Covid hit and my work went remote. My employers said that I could keep working remotely even when they started to go back to the office. So in July, I officially moved in with Kristina in Toronto.

Kristina: We thought about getting married at city hall over the summer, but shied away because we really wanted Covid restrictions to open up to have most of our family around. In May, my dad took a turn for the worse, and we found out he didn’t have much time left. It was very important to me that my father would be there for the wedding, so I asked Danielle, “Do you want to get married next weekend?” She said yes.

We decided to hold the ceremony in my parents’ backyard in Etobicoke, and we had just over a week to get everything together. I posted in the Palz Helping Zone Facebook group about our situation and to get last-minute recommendations for a photographer and officiant. So many people reached out to help, including someone from Toronto Micro Weddings who wanted us to be able to spend those last important days with our family, and not planning a wedding. They and their team of vendors all gifted their services and offered us a beautiful package with everything we needed and more, free-of-charge. By the end of the day, they had booked a photographer, an officiant, decor, rentals, music and florals. While the vendors did gift their services, we purchased upgrades because we wanted to support their businesses.

Danielle: We didn’t have time to go shopping for wedding clothes. On the day, I wore one of Kristina’s blazers with slacks and a shirt that I used to wear to the office. Because of Covid, we kept our guest list limited to our parents and close family. About 50 of our friends and family joined a Zoom call.

Kristina: I wore a flowy boho dress I had bought off Etsy at the start of the pandemic, which was altered for me in two days by one of my best friends. We decided on an afternoon ceremony because that’s when my dad was most awake. Everything came together so perfectly.

Danielle: We decided to walk down the aisle together. We had a pianist, and we asked her to play “Make Me Yours” by Bettye Swann. I felt so happy. I kept looking over at Kristina and smiling at her. It was a surreal moment.

Kristina: During the ceremony, we turned around to wave at my dad, and I will never forget his smile. After our kiss, Danielle and I danced in a beautiful area that the Toronto Micro Weddings’ team had set up. They had displayed framed photos along with a few special items from my parents’ house that meant a lot to me: an ancestral family photo, a vase my dad had made as a teenager, an old wine bottle from my grandparents’ house. Danielle’s mom brought photos of her family who couldn’t attend because of Covid, and everything looked perfect together. There was a close-by Elm tree that dropped white petals all afternoon. It was so nice. At that time, my dad could only stay awake a few moments in the day—but he sat outside the whole afternoon.

Danielle: After the ceremony, we had little bottles of wine and individually packaged vegan cupcakes that people could take home with them.

Kristina: The day was a whirlwind. We were just so happy. I wanted to relive it over and over and over again. I’ve been trying to call Danielle “my wife” as much as possible. That’s my favourite part. People have been asking us if it feels any different now that we’re married. I do feel a little bit more at ease, like, I got her.

Danielle: I felt a big relief because we’d been talking about getting married for so long and we finally did it.

Kristina: After the wedding, we both moved into my parents’ house to help care for my dad. About a week later, my father passed away peacefully. These past few weeks, I think I’ve felt every emotion possible. Our hearts have been bursting with joy and also breaking with loss and tragedy. I miss my dad so much, but I feel thankful that everything came together in time for him to be a part of our wedding. It was always my biggest wish for my dad to see me get married, and I’m so grateful that we were able to do it with him there.

Cheat Sheet

Date: May 30, 2021
Planning and florals: Toronto Micro Weddings
Officiant: Matty Dean, The Good Reverend Matty
Photography: Keston Martinez
Pianist: Mira Mela
Decor: Southern Charm Vintage Rentals, Sunshine Party Rentals
Cupcakes: Suga on Top
Guest Favours: Carmen D Wedding and Home Decor

Here are some more photos from the day: