Real Weddings: Cara & Ken’s Cabin Wedding On The Lake

Cara, 23 & Ken, 30

Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba

Wedding Date: October 10, 2010

Number of Guests: 25

Wedding Cost: $5,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: the deck/dock of parents cabin

Wedding Reception Location: parents cabin

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Lakeside wedding ceremony

blue mason jar wedding flowers

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

paper crane garland

chocolate wedding favors

hanging mason jar candle holders

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

Ken and I are the kind of people that don’t really care for huge extravagant parties. We’re homebodies and would much rather spend the night together at home watching a movie than go to a fancy lounge or party. We’ve known each other for 9 years now and when we decided to get married it wasn’t because we wanted to have a big gathering with all our friends and family. We wanted to do it, to finally make it official. Ken could’ve just as easily gone to city hall and signed some papers. I, of course, wanted a little more than that. So, we decided to only invite our immediate family and keep it very personal – just the people that knew the growth of our relationship and where we came from.


beaded wedding headband

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

I think my biggest challenge was getting help. Having such a small wedding included having a small wedding party. Our wedding party consisted of our 3-year-old nephew as our ring bearer, our justice of the peace (Ken’s best friend who we got ordained) and Ken and I. Normally that wouldn’t be a “challenge” right? No need to worry about bridesmaid dresses, rehearsals, etc? Well… yes, that was a bonus, but our wedding was a DIY wedding in every sense of the word. Ken and I made everything. And I will admit, I lost my mind a little bit. We were engaged in June and married in October and in that time I was not only in school, but I was also making everything for the wedding. I sewed and stamped around 50 favor bags. Custom dyed around 100 mason jars. Turned 50 into lanterns, and 50 into vases. Made corsages and bow ties for the pets and boutonnieres for all the men. Custom designed our wedding bands. Had our friend ordained. Wrote the entire ceremony. Made 50 or so custom wrappers for chocolates. Each chocolate had a different engagement photo on it, and when you opened it up there was the password to our online photo gallery. Painted wedding directional signs that my brothers made to get guests from Winnipeg to the cabin with ease. Not to mention, all the other little things every bride does. And to top it all off … Ken and I folded 1,000 paper cranes, painted them gold, strung them together and hung them from the ceiling of the cabin. All of this would’ve been a whole heck of a lot easier with a wedding party to pass duties to.

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

painted wooden wedding sign

mini chocolate wedding favors

rustic sweet table

paper crane garlands

wedding candy bar

stamped favor bags

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Because we knew it would be just immediate family it was pretty easy. About a month before the wedding, we sent a casual email to our close friends and extended family basically saying: “Hey, we’re having this wedding thing on October 10th. If you’re not doing anything, you’re welcome to swing by.” That way, the invitation was there, but there was very little pressure for them to actually come. I actually really enjoyed doing it that way because when people came that I wasn’t expecting, I was really excited to see them. It was a nice surprise.

custom designed wedding rings

empire waisted wedding dress

chiffon wedding dress

ruffled wedding shoes

ruffled and gold wedding shoes

wooden heart boutonniere

 converse wedding shoes

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Honestly, everyone was really understanding of our request. The small struggles we did have were just with my parents being the life of the party at the lake. Their cabin is kinda like party central. I basically compromised with them and asked that the wedding remain just close family for the ceremony, and anything after that was open to whomever.

blue dog bow tie

ruffled cat collar

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

lakeside wedding portrait

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

Ah! That’s a tough one to answer. Ken doesn’t tend to take many things seriously and his vows were no exception. When it was his turn to read his vows, he searched his pockets, looking embarrassed like he forgot them. Finally, he pulled out a ripped up piece of wrapping paper and started to read off a shopping list. Stopped and said “Oh, oops. Wrong paper.” He searched again and pulled out the newspaper crossword puzzle, which his actual vows were written on. The other part that seemed like it came straight out of a movie was when our JP started to say the ol’ “if you have anything to say about this marriage…” my dog who was sitting in the front let out a bunch of barks. The only time he barked the entire ceremony and it was perfectly timed. And finally, the ending to the ceremony was very “us.” Ken and I were best friends for 6 years before being a couple so we have a lot of “buddy-buddy” tendencies still. Opposed to sealing our vows with a kiss like most, we had our JP read out “Ken, you may now high-five your bride!” It felt a lot more victorious than kissing (which we did after high fiving anyway).

mason jar wedding decor

blue mason jar candle holders

nest ring bowl

Lakeside wedding ceremony

Lakeside wedding ceremony

Intimate lakeside wedding ceremony

Manitoba outdoor wedding ceremony

lakeside wedding ceremony

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding


What were the highlights of the reception?

Our reception was really casual. After the ceremony, most of our guests actually changed into sweats!! We played some Beatles rock band, took some more fun photos, had a delicious meal with local grown fruits and veggies. But I think the best part was after the toast to the bride and groom. Ken and I are huge dorks, and like I said, would rather play board games than go out drinking, so we made a crossword puzzle with clues about us. I tied them each up with a pencil attached and we said anybody that would like to try it could, and the first person to finish would get a custom painting from me. (I’m a fine arts student). We expected everyone to kind of groan and laugh, and just tease us about being such dorks, but we ended up having a full on competition break out. It was so fun to watch. There were some questions only one guest would know the answer too, so all our guests suddenly started to interact and ask each other questions to get clues. People that you wouldn’t think to have a fun chat at a small wedding would start laughing together. It was really entertaining and so nice to have a reminder that the people there were meant to be there.

wedding sugar cookies

blue wedding cookies

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

It may sound really small, but not having to be introduced to someone at the wedding. Like most people, Ken and I don’t really act ourselves around people we don’t know. This wasn’t the case at our wedding. Everyone there we knew, and knew well. There was no pressure in regards to making sure I said hi to every guest by the end of the night, because it was impossible not to!


rustic wedding portrait

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Don’t let other people’s feelings take over what you want. I’ve talked to so many brides that say something like “but so-and-so will be so hurt” and “but my mom wants to invite her second cousin from Finland”. They’ll get over it. Have a good photographer who will take tons of photos that allow the viewers to feel like they’re there and share them with the guests that would “be so hurt”. They’ll see how special it was and forget all about their grievances. Compromise if it’s a huge issue. Later when things calm down from wedding craziness, have a dinner somewhere with the people you wanted to invite but couldn’t. Or do what we did … casually invite anyone that wants to come a month before. If it’s on a long weekend like ours was, chances are they’ll already have plans and your wedding will still remain small.

record guest book

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

Intimate Manitoba Cabin wedding

dusk wedding portrait


Photography: Sugar and Soul Photography

Hair: James Ouellette of Hair FX

Makeup: Meagan Perron

J.P.: friend was ordained for the day

DJ: iPod

Cookies: Cut it Out Sugar Cookies by Joanne

Food: Debbie Small

Dress: Chantal’s Bridal

Suit: Club Monaco

Brides Shoes: OxfordHeaven

Grooms ShoesConverse Allstars


Earrings: ShlomitOfir

Garter: Let’s Dance Garters

RingsBryan Johnson Creations

Flowers: Costco, and then my mother arranged them the morning of the wedding.

Linens: Party stuff

Invitations: Midkid

Decor: Midkid

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11 Comments  |  Filed Under: At-Home Weddings, Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Handmade Weddings, Real Weddings, Rustic Weddings

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  1. Posted by Liz on December 14th, 2011 at 6:34pm

    What a beautiful wedding. I love the organic look of the bride. She truly looks like she is glowing from happiness. Thanks for featuring such a beautiful wedding.
  2. Posted by Nicole on December 22nd, 2011 at 7:23pm

    This is such a gorgeous wedding! My fiance and I are planning on having a smaller, more intimate wedding and I feel so much inspiration from reading this blog! Is there anyway I can get in touch with the Bride? I would really like to find out how she made those chocolate candies herself! I'm hoping to have a wedding under $5,000 as well. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful day with us!
  3. Posted by laura on January 27th, 2012 at 1:41pm

    Beautiful wedding! The little personal touches are lovely, how did you dye your mason jars?
  4. Posted by Jessica on May 24th, 2012 at 3:21am

    "you may now high five your bride" haha that's the best
  5. Posted by Cara Mason on July 23rd, 2012 at 8:14pm

    Every once in a while I'll be on pinterest and my face will pop up. (Weird!) This time it linked me to here and made me smile. Thanks for all the wonderfully kind words!
    In response to the commenters questions you're welcome to email me and I can answer whatever you need.

    I wrote about the dying of the jars here:
  6. Posted by Kori on March 5th, 2013 at 2:21pm

    This wedding is everything I want mine to be! Thanks so much for sharing. :)
  7. Posted by Wayne on June 4th, 2013 at 2:17pm

    This just goes to show that simple can be the most effective! I absolutely LOVE the ceremony seating plan on the dock. The blue/aqua coloured glass creates a really nice look and compliments the grooms shirt and even the icing on the snacks! Love this wedding, well done!
  8. Posted by lynn on August 7th, 2013 at 9:21pm

    Thanks for sharing, Your wedding is beautiful,
  9. Posted by Meagan M. on September 16th, 2013 at 10:35am

    It's so funny that the dog "objected' to the marriage. That combined with the groom's vow readings made me laugh and I'm sure made the ceremony quite up beat.
  10. Posted by haily on January 14th, 2014 at 3:12am

    so beautiful and inspiring i hope you are still as happy as you look on your wedding day. congratulations
    wishing you eternal happiness and joy both.
  11. Posted by Stacy Squires on September 6th, 2014 at 8:42pm

    simply beautiful
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