By Heather Walters
ON October 1st, 2022, Kirk Fox and Shawn Collett were married at Red Fox Farm in front of 65 close friends and family. The day turned out to be an October beauty, and the couple exchanged vows at 4 in the afternoon in the shade of an old black walnut tree on their property in Port Ryerse.
It was the perfect place for their ceremony and celebration – a place that the couple had found together and purchased in 2019. Both men had been working and living in Toronto, but stated that they became familiar with this area through friends that had a cottage in Normandale.
In 2018 they began to search for a place “they could escape to” from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The stately and historical property located in the middle of Port Ryerse (formerly the Beamer property) kept popping up on their must see list. According to Kirk “all it took was one look” and they knew they had found what they were looking for.
They purchased the property just prior to Covid and quickly had to decide whether to live in the city during lockdown restrictions or in their country getaway. Both men were able to work remotely so they decided to wait out the pandemic on the farm.
Their first priority was to repair the magnificent but ailing barn that adjoins the red brick farmhouse. It was a massive undertaking to save and restore the huge barn but when it was completed, they knew that it would be a perfect setting for smaller wedding venues and that the first wedding they would hold there would be their own.
The men shared that, like many others these days, they met online. Both laughed while reminiscing about that first date, which they agreed was “a complete disaster.”
They agreed to meet for dinner in the Distillery District, but the power went out in the whole area, elevators were not working, restaurants were closed and, to make matters worse, Kirk discovered that he had unintentionally double-booked himself that evening. It all worked out in the end, however, and the two were together for over eight years before making their union official.
The informal wedding ceremony was officiated by Peggy Guiler. Kirk was attended by his long-time friend from Calgary, Bonnie Poulsen and Shawn was attended by his close friend Max Denardis.
Following the wedding ceremony, the guests were invited to a sit down dinner catered by local chef and caterer Tracy Winkworth that was set up in the newly renovated barn.
The interior of the barn was strung with soft overhead lighting that illuminated the stretch of tables covered in off-white drapery and white/silver place settings, all accented with lavender centrepieces that will be planted on the property.
Following the meal, Black Creek Music (with DJ Lynsay) set up and provided music for the party. Nearly 100 people hit the dance floor until the wee hours.
Kirk shared that the most memorable part of the entire event for him were the vows that Shawn wrote for him and the most fun part was definitely the party in the barn afterwards. Shawn shared that though he was a little bit nervous at the beginning of the day (since they didn’t really have a rehearsal), he did feel like “it really was our special day, and it was so wonderful to share it with our friends and family.”
Photographs were taken by Darryl at RoseLe Studio, some outside in the splendour of the garden area and later, indoors in the rustic barn. Kevin Kavanagh of South Coast Gardens worked tirelessly to ensure the grounds and flower beds were in perfect condition for the ceremony.
Originally published in the Maple Leaf’s “Wedding Stories” feature in March 2023.