As the final details of Anna Mackenzie and Daniel Rosen’s formal, 300-guest wedding at the Art Gallery of Ontario were being put into place, the world as we knew it turned upside down. The couple — who had been planning their late-summer wedding for months — had a bitter pill to swallow. They cancelled the event and began experimenting with new scenarios, including a November 2021 date. Eventually, they realized that they didn’t want to put their lives on hold and decided on an intimate, backyard affair, which some guests later described as the best wedding they’d ever been to. By abandoning their original plans and being open to change, Anna and Daniel pulled off their dream wedding without sacrificing any of the style, elegance or love they had wanted for their “big” day.
Daniel — an entertainment lawyer, musician and producer — remembers the first time he saw his future wife. An associate at Borden Ladner Gervais at the time (he’s now developing his own practice with a boutique firm), he was working long hours and had put zero effort into dating. At the urging of a mutual friend, he agreed to meet Anna, a software developer in the conversational AI space. As he walked into Voodoo Child, a Toronto espresso and cocktail bar, Daniel couldn’t find his date. “She was deeply engrossed in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius — I was impressed — and I had to stoop down to get her attention,” he explains. Anna, a voracious reader, was absorbed in her book at the moment Daniel walked in, but explains that when she looked up and locked eyes with Daniel, "I felt safe right away.” The two, who had planned to meet for one drink, soon moved on to El Ray in Kensington Market, where they drank tequila and talked late into the night. “By the end of the evening,” adds Anna, “I realized he was different from anyone else I had ever dated.”
From there, things moved quickly. Their shared values — including a passion for fitness (when not working, Anna teaches fitness classes and Daniel teaches yoga), self-improvement and Anna’s dog, Maui — deepened their relationship, which they nurture by a shared commitment to supporting the other’s goals. A few months after they began dating, Daniel suggested that Anna move into his more spacious apartment while he was travelling to Peru and Patagonia. “I never left,” explains Anna. “We just knew from the beginning that it was right.”
A year after they began dating, Daniel took a rare Friday afternoon off, and with the help of his mother, prepared his proposal. Anna, who was celebrating her birthday the next day, came home to find the apartment filled with roses and birthday balloons. Daniel was dressed in a sports coat hours before they were supposedly going out for dinner, and presented her with an early birthday present, an Apple watch. As Anna was busy admiring her gift, she didn’t notice Daniel getting down on one knee, ring in hand, offering one final birthday surprise. “The intimacy of the proposal was perfect,” she recalls. “I’m so glad it happened at home.”
When the pandemic hit, the couple struggled not only with losing their dream day, but with the changing norms and rules that made it nearly impossible to plan anything, let alone an entirely new wedding. As the months progressed, they came to the conclusion that they didn’t want to put their wedding — or their lives — on hold. Working with Melissa Baum Events and the pandemic protocols at the time, an intimate celebration in Daniel’s parents’ backyard took place on a glorious early September day, surrounded by a small group of family and friends.
Instead of their original aesthetic of white flowers and lush greenery that would have suited their black-tie AGO celebration, the couple created an entirely different look which worked better with the size and location of their wedding. Taking inspiration from the French-style garden and giant hedges that would be the backdrop, they decided on a vibrant palette of fuchsia and orange. “It would have been overkill for a large wedding, but was perfect for how we ended up celebrating,” explains Anna.
The ceremony took place with just 20 immediate family members, including Daniel’s grandfather Harry, who performed the blessing of the bread under a chuppah decorated with bright pink flowers. The smaller scale of their wedding didn’t stop the couple from going for a big impact. Among the touches that wouldn’t have been possible for a larger wedding: a pink champagne tower, a catered dinner in Covid-friendly Chinese food takeout containers from Queen Mother Café (the couple is passionate about supporting local businesses), and Daniel taking the reins as DJ later in the evening. Though groups of up to 100 were allowed at the time, the couple chose to stop at 50. “Weddings are all about the energy of the guests, and we didn’t want anyone being fearful,” says Anna.
“The way it all came together ended up being better than the original plan,” says Daniel. “With all the extras stripped away, our wedding day was intimate, authentic and incredibly beautiful. Though it was hard to stomach all the changes at first, having a smaller celebration relieved a lot of pressure, and allowed us to spend quality time with the people we love the most."
Post-wedding, the couple flew to the Gulf Islands for a mini moon, where they discovered the incredible beauty of the West Coast and the glorious Wickaninnish Inn. Though they plan on a longer trip when the pandemic is over, the newlyweds are happily settled into married life. They love to spend time at home, where Daniel’s music playing makes the outside world disappear. They look forward to hosting dinner parties when life returns to normal, and now that they have a proper dining table!