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3 Outfits, Aperol Spritz on Tap, and a Tequila Piñata Made For a Dream Downtown Bar Wedding

The couple had the most fun and glamorous “f*ck-you to weddings” wedding.

renee rodenkirchen wedding
Nathan Legiehn
“Someone called our wedding the ‘fuck-you to weddings’ wedding, and I liked that.” And let us tell you, that’s a pretty accurate description of Renée Rodenkirchen, formerly longtime Coveteur photographer and now lead director at Poolhouse Creative, and Justin Schell’s dive-bar wedding in Toronto. Nothing was traditional. They traded in a stuffy banquet hall for a Christmas-light-and-taxidermy-decorated watering hole; five-layer fondant for mom’s homemade cake; standard vows for a roast; and a coursed menu for everyone’s favorite finger food. But there wasn’t a shortage of glamorous touches. Rodenkirchen wore three outfits (count em) for the occasion: what she calls her “wizard” dress (a bright blue velvet Rixo mini) for City Hall, a sleek floor-length deep-V Charlie Brear gown, and a bespoke couture white jumpsuit with gold beadwork. And, of course, a quick change from Prada to Saint Laurent heels.

“I had brunch at Tennessee Tavern and instantly knew I wanted to get married there. If a neon-lit ‘Smoked Fish’ sign doesn’t say ‘wedding,’ then I don’t know what does. It reminded me of my childhood home—full of eclectic trinkets, taxidermy, and a wall of antique iconography. Kitschy but cool. Also, the food is delicious! It’s in the family of Grant Van Gameren’s restaurants—Bar Raval, Bar Isabel, etc.—which are some of the best in the city. With a menu of pierogies, schnitzel, and pickles, how could you go wrong?

“We wanted everything about the wedding to feel intimate and to keep all of the details within our amazing community of creative friends. Ease was also another key factor. If something was going to give us anxiety or stress us out, then we didn’t do it. Our whole approach was to keep it as simple as possible in every way. No wedding party, no walking down the aisle, no speeches. But yes to fun, good music, and dancing!

“We got married at City Hall on the Friday with just our immediate families, and then the Saturday was party time. We got ready with close friends, met up for a cheers of champagne, and headed to the venue. My dad, aunt, and a friend built a wall of baby’s breath that we got ‘unofficially married’ in front of. Two of our best friends (who are married) introduced us, so we decided to have them marry us as well. It was pretty much a roast, and we laughed the entire time. I vowed not to get mad when Justin eats Kraft Dinner, and he vowed to accept whatever cleanse or celery-juice diet I’m on. A match made in heaven.”


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