Following our post about how yoga can help relieve wedding stress, we wanted to find out just how that works in real life. We spoke to yoga instructor, studio manager and self-professed yogi, Michelle Brunet about her planning process, learning not to sweat the small things and how yoga has helped to keep her grounded as she navigates the waters of wedding planning.
Real Weddings: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your partner. How did you meet?
Michelle Brunet: Andrew and I met in university. We were pretty good friends in first year and I had a crush on him the whole year. Come second year when we came back to classes after summer break—I had been away travelling to Thailand—he kept pulling me aside asking me to tell him about my trip. I realized, ‘ok, this guy’s into me,’ so we came together.
RW: And the engagement?
MB: We were in Hawaii on a vacation with my mom. On the day that Andrew proposed, we had been at the beach all day. There was this really nice surf lookout about 40 minutes away and Andrew suggested that we head out there.
It was packed with tourists. I was oblivious, so I thought it was nice and got out of the car, but Andrew wasn’t having it. He said, “Nope. Get back into the car. We’ll find somewhere else. Let’s keep going.” A little ways down the highway, we found this little pullover that had a beautiful view over the water.
We had a blanket and so we set ourselves up there and he had his guitar to play some music. So I thought he was getting his guitar, and he turned to me with his hands holding on to a box. And he said it really quickly, I think he was nervous: “You know I want to spend the rest of my life with you, will you marry me?” It was really cute.
RW: Tell us a bit about your background with yoga.
MB: I teach at a number of studios in Vancouver and I also manage a studio in Gastown called One Yoga.
Yoga keeps me balanced. I’ve always been susceptible to stress and anxiety. Yoga was the driving force to keep my grounded. In university, I noticed that when I wasn’t practicing, stress and anxiety would build up and take over. So the practice just really helps me stay grounded and not sweat the small stuff as much. I find that as I’ve been planning my wedding, it’s absolutely helped me to not freak out and stay level-headed through the process.
RW: Speaking of weddings, can you give us an idea of the scope of what you’re planning?
MB: We’re getting married in Ucluelet and it’s a three-day event at Wya Point Resort, which is run by the First Nations there, on two private beaches and there’s a combination of lodges, yurts and campsites for accommodation.
Our guests will be travelling from Vancouver and across the country and the world: Half of Andrew’s family lives in Peru and a good portion of mine live in Ontario, so everyone will be travelling and then staying on site. We’re on track for between 80 and 85 guests.
In terms of the events, our ceremony is going to be in the forest under a big crab apple tree; the reception and dinner by RedCan is on the beach. We have a DJ. There’s an octagon tent with the bar and tables set up and then there’s an adjoining square tent that’ll be a dancefloor.
RW: You seem very relaxed for a bride just a couple of months out from her wedding day. From what we can gather, the way yoga has helped in this sense is that you’re able to ground yourself and really focus on what matters and remove yourself from situations that don’t warrant your stress. When you look at the big picture, you know what matters to you.
MB: That’s exactly it. Going to Ucluelet is really a destination wedding. There’s travel and logistics involved. We’ve been confronted by some of our family members insisting that we should hold their hands and plan things out for them. But our response has been ‘everyone’s an adult’. Everyone has travelled and gone on trips. Everyone knows how to book a hotel room. Everyone knows how to find their own breakfast if nothing has been planned. We’ve decided to give people some credit.
RW: That’s smart. Anything you’d like to touch on about your approach to planning? You’ve mentioned that you’re really laid-back about it. Do you have a planner in Ucluelet? Have you had to do site-visits to make decisions?
MB: We had a really difficult time finding a location for our wedding, mainly because we didn’t just want to arbitrarily pick somewhere that didn’t have any significance for us. So it just eventually came down to where Andrew and I like to spend our time and where we like to go. My mother found Wya Point Resort and we actually booked it before even seeing it. She sent us photos and we thought it was perfect: it was rustic, there’s camping involved—Andrew and I are going to be staying in a yurt—so it really spoke to our nature.
I wanted [the wedding] to feel like us. After finding the location, [the planning] has been really straightforward. We haven’t been working with a wedding planner, but we’ve had people in Tofino who are super helpful: the florist, the Wya Point wedding coordinator and our friends who live there. It’s a really tight-knit community so we’ve had a ton of help in finding the vendors.
RW: In a way, your destination has dictated what you’re able to do. But in a way that really works: the destination is you and the people there and vendors there really are you, so the look and feel you’re trying to achieve is already there.
MB: There really aren’t a lot of vendors close by. Beyond their selection, though, we just delegated. Both of our moms really wanted to help so we gave them tasks.
We have a bit of a tight budget that we’re working with, so before planning we thought about the weddings that we’ve been to and what we really loved and have taken away from them, and what’s important to us.
We’re focusing on the things that really matter to us like food and photography. We’re being little more economical on the secondary things. With the décor, for example, we feel like the location really speaks for itself so we’re not overdoing it with flowers. We’re keeping it very simple. My dress is from For Love & Lemons. It isn’t really even a wedding dress, but it’s beautiful and simple. I’ll probably even wear it again.
RW: Do you plan to incorporate yoga into your wedding in any way?
MB: The day before the ceremony there’s a welcome dinner. Everyone will be arriving that day so it’s all we have planned. The next morning we have a brunch and then our intention is to go do some surfing and maybe some yoga. We don’t have anything set.
When Andrew and I are travelling, we usually practice in the morning on our own. We plan to do that on our wedding day. We plan to get up, do a practice together, have a coffee and have a few hours to ourselves.
I’ve had a few friends ask about yoga but out of the friends that are coming I’m the only actual yoga instructor and I don’t want to teach a class on my wedding day, so we don’t have anything set up. I also know a girl who owns a studio in Tofino, so before and after we may drop in for some classes.
RW: Do you have any other tips or last thoughts for couples planning their weddings?
MB: Instead of trying to do it all, just focus on what you think is important. Take time to think about what you want the takeaways to be, instead of wanting to nail every detail. Think about what you’ve liked at other weddings and try to focus on those aspects and let the rest just fall into place.
Another suggestion that’s been a guiding force through the whole process for me, is to just believe that it’s all going to work out. At the end of the day, if you get mauve roses instead of purple, those little details aren’t what you’ll remember twenty years from now. Trust your vendors. They’ve been doing this (probably) since long before you even started thinking about a wedding.
And remember your guests are grownups who can take care of themselves. Trust that everything will come together just the way it’s supposed to.