We have been together for almost two years. We met the way many millennial couples meet – Tinder! Despite growing up in the same province, we didn’t meet until Leah moved to a new city to start her massage therapy degree. Heather had already been living in Halifax for the years when Leah showed up.

The proposal was not planned! Heather decided to propose on a whim, once she learned that Vow of the Wild was interested in working with her and Leah on the dart-throw idea [a crazy idea she discovered via Instagram. Vow of the Wild happened to be searching for a couple who were prepared to throw a dart at a map and then they’d all travel and elope there, Heather thought it might just be perfect].

Learning that they wanted to work with the two of them, Heather rolled over in bed that night and asked Leah if she would like to run off and elope in the fall– just five months away. Leah said yes, and they were engaged to be married just like that!

However, they still wanted to do something small and sweet for one another. They bought rings for each other and provided a little proposal moment when the other was not expecting it. Heather’s was spontaneous [she’s a terrible planner], while Leah wrote a song and offered the ring out on the rooftop of their apartment building. She quoted an E.E. Cummings poem that came up again in both of their vows, so the lyrics went like this:

I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart /
I’m never without it/ anywhere I go you go, my dear,
My Heather, my darling, my sweet honeybee/
Will you marry me?

When it came to finding outfits we originally chose the other person’s dress! Heather had wanted sparkle, and loved the rosy hue of Leah’s dress, while Leah was taken by the embroidery on the green. However, once they arrived and were tried on, we discovered that we pined for the opposite dress! Luckily we are similar sizes and got the dresses altered to suit our shape even better!

Being two plus-size femmes with dreams of feeling dainty, it was a challenge. Shopping for an unconventional wedding is difficult enough– we didn’t want the standard white wedding dress. That didn’t feel like “us.” ASOS has a gorgeous collection of bridesmaid gowns in great prices, and the bohemian, flowy style filled us with bliss. Their plus-size selection is amazing and the fit worked out very well. The only downside was the need to pay customs when they arrived in Canada. We loved our gowns! And truly, we were more excited to have a thrifty, off-the-cuff elopement than anything elaborate– that’s our style!

Like we mentioned, finding the elopement destination was an absolute surprise. Being from Canada, we had no idea what to expect. We had both visited some classic spots (New York, Florida, Boston) but Arkansas wasn’t on the radar until Leah threw that dart. We played rock, paper, scissors to see who would get to throw, and Leah won! We had discussed whether we wanted to aim– a beach wedding in the south? A fall wedding in New England? But Leah swears that, at the moment, all she could do was throw! In the end, we loved our location. Arkansas was secluded, lush, and a fairytale dream. We were nervous about encountering some homophobia (the Southern US is not known for its welcome nature to oppressed peoples, whether queer or racialized folks). Our privilege, being two white cis women, likely afforded us a pass, especially when wandering around town [there was little handholding or PDA in public spaces].

When we hit Arkansas with the dart, and began doing some research, we realized that the fairy-like wedding we had envisioned as a possibility could be our reality. We searched hiking trails, mountain ranges, and national parks. We ended up deciding to stay close to “home,” that being a lovely Airbnb cabin in Norman, AK, on a gorgeous little creek.

When it came to the wedding day we had no plan, which was so much fun!

Our big day was relaxed. We woke up late, had breakfast, and went on an adventure to find a great ceremony spot. Lisa and Alex were amazing at taking on big projects like that– they also made a copper piping arch! We found wildflowers by the side of the road for a small garnish near the top of the arch, and got married in a small clearing in the forest. I have no idea exactly where we were! It felt like a fantasy.

One little memory is that, while we were getting ready in the cabin, it spontaneously began to rain. A heavy, summer rain, that is gone as quickly as it comes. We ran outside, half in our makeup, and took some pictures on the deck. They say rain on your wedding day is good luck.

Our best advice to other couples planning their wedding day is you have to do what feels best for you as a couple, and no one else. That goes double for couples who are writing their own rules, as queer, interracial, or interfaith matters come into play. For us, running to the woods was exactly the ceremony that we wanted. The moment we had just after, walking through the woods, was unlike anything I have experienced. I hope your wedding is magic, and you remember who is it for: you.

Photography Vow of the Wild