Feature photo: Jonathan Choquette holding daughter Annica with Caitlin McLaren and their son, Luca in front of the Capitol Theatre, where they will marry June 17, 2017. Photo by Joe McParland
Couple Says “I Do” To Downtown Windsor
As a registered Ontario marriage officiant, I have officiated many “themed” wedding ceremonies in the past 10 years. These include zombie weddings, Halloween weddings, weddings on the back of boats in Lake St. Clair, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Star Trek ceremonies, country-western weddings and, my favourite, a ceremony at the WFCU Centre where everyone wore hockey jerseys, including the bride and groom — and the officiant.
Now, this month, I will wed Jonathan Choquette and Caitlin McLaren — with their two adorable children Annica (two years old) and Luca (seven years old) — on the stage of Windsor’s Capitol Theatre in a “Downtown Windsor” themed celebration of love. Every component of their wedding day is urban centric, making use of downtown Windsor businesses and services.
McLaren, a Dietician, originally hails from the Ottawa area. She met Choquette, a Windsor area Conservation Biologist, 10 years ago while attending the University of Guelph. They selected Windsor as their home and chose to live in the urban core on Dougall Avenue near Park Street.
Choquette describes his home location “as one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in the city.” Both he and McLaren are committed to “living in higher density communities for health, air quality and natural habitats.”
Describing why they chose a downtown themed wedding day, Choquette says, “the downtown wedding is our way to support urban living and businesses in our core; it allows out of town guests to walk our neighbourhood streets from their hotel and explore where and how we live.” And McLaren adds, it lessens the hassles of wedding preparations since “we can simply walk to various appointments for services needed that day, such as my dress fitting.”The Capitol Theatre (121 University Avenue East) was selected as the venue for the ceremony after Choquette first saw it and was wowed by its history and architecture. After checking out their website, the couple was excited to discover that the theatre advertised itself as an “unique venue” for weddings. Booked! As well it’s just a few short blocks from the Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel (277 Riverside Drive West) and the couple’s home. The hotel will host the couple’s out of town family and friends, and doubles as their reception location boasting a magnificent view of the Detroit skyline. The catered meal is provided by the adjacent St. Clair College Centre for the Arts (201 Riverside Drive West).
McLaren will be wearing a custom-made wedding dress made of natural fibre material. It is from Hello Beautiful Custom Fashion & Bridal Boutique, 532 Pelissier Street. Choquette’s wedding ring is from G & G Jewellery & Coins, 28 University Avenue, East. Janette Florist Inc., 686 Janette Avenue, will be tending to the floral needs of the day. Printing is being be done by Allegra at 225 Wyandotte Street West.
A unique and personal touch for guests is the “natural honey” they will receive as wedding favours. Choquette’s father is an apiarist, and maintains a number of apiaries in the downtown area and will provide the honey.
Not everything for their wedding day comes specifically from downtown, but close by in the city’s urban core. The couple’s photographs will be taken by Britton Images Photography and Klueless Cupcakes at 1598 Wyandotte Street East is supplying the wedding day cake. And finally, their officiant (yours truly) hails from 1559 Victoria Avenue — although they will be married with an Ontario Marriage Licence obtained from Windsor City Hall, 350 City Hall Square West.
This is not an all-inclusive listing of the services and products the couple will need. They indicate there’s likely even more to come, including a downtown spa, his and her haircuts, McLaren’s nails’ needs, and some possible ballroom dance lessons. And, oh yes, Choquette and McLaren are sure to show their guests some of their favourite downtown Craft Beer establishments.
I contacted Larry Horwitz, Board Chair of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA) and informed him of this creative concept by McLaren and Choquette. Horwitz and Executive Director, Debi Croucher, were thrilled with this news. And to show their gratitude to the couple for their thoughtfulness and commitment to downtown Windsor businesses and services, they solicited some local businesses for wedding gifts.
The participating businesses (known at the time of writing) and their contributions are listed here: Obsession Hair Designs, 37 Chatham Street East (“His and Hers” hair appointment); A Dog’s Breakfast, 505 Pelissier Street on Maiden Lane (breakfast for two); Little India, 411 Pelissier Street (ruby red earrings and bangles); Frenchy’s Poutinery, 361 Ouellette Avenue (lunch for two); Pause Café, 74 Chatham Street West (ice cream for two); St. Clair College for the Arts/Chrysler Theatre, 201 Riverside Drive West (tickets to OPERA Luminata in August) and gift certificates from Bread Meats Bread, 33 Chatham Street East; Snackbar-B-Q, 39 Chatham Street East; The Burger Farm 21 Chatham Street East; Chatham Street Deli, 20 Chatham Street East and Casa Chavela, 405 Pelissier Street.
When informed about the DWBIA gesture, McLaren and Choquette respond, “we are excited and grateful to see recognition from the DWBIA in supporting residents who are supporting downtown businesses; we give you a big thank you!”