Tonya Papanikolov’s Dreamy ‘Fairy Fête’ Wedding


After three years of hearing about one another from a mutual friend, Tonya Papanikolov met her now-husband Simon Chantry on a blind date in 2017. “He was unlike anybody I had ever dated before, so there was this element of breaking a pattern for me.” says Papanikolov, the founder of medicinal mushroom company, Rainbo. “He was living in Barbados at the time, and when he told me about his line of work, which was all in the cryptocurrency space, it was almost like he was talking in a different language—but he came across as so grounded. There was this beautiful ease, and that has spanned our whole relationship.” Six years later, under the new moon of the 2023 summer solstice, the couple got married on the same Canadian island where Simon proposed. Their friends served as the vendors for the couple’s “fairy fête,” which included a six-foot “forest” cake, mushroom centerpieces, and a performance from the groom. Tonya tells us all about it below.

Dear ITG,

Our mutual best friend, Drummond, had been telling Simon and I about one another for three years, but we were both in relationships. Drum used to say, ‘You two think the same. You’re both out there in terms of your imagination and how kind you are.’ My ears always perked up when I heard his name. I never pursued it, but I thought he sounded awesome. Then in 2017, I went through a big, big breakup. I had a few months to myself before I decided we should meet, which we eventually did, at a wine bar in Toronto called Archive.

It’s funny because on the way to the bar, I remember thinking that I didn’t even know what Simon looked like. I texted Drum, and he said, ‘Walk towards the man with the beautiful curly hair.’ He had told Simon, ‘It’s the beautiful woman with the curly hair.’ When I got there, sure enough, I knew exactly who to approach. After the bar, I took him to my friend Harrison Taylor’s art show. He and his wife, Amanda Laine, who are two of our closest friends, ended up officiating our wedding. There were lots of sweet little ties like this in our wedding, but before we get to that…

I was completely surprised when Simon proposed. There’s an island in Ontario called Prince Edward County where we’ve had a lot of special moments together. It was where we professed our love to one another in 2018, and it was where we got engaged. I thought we were celebrating Simon’s birthday in March of 2021, so the proposal was a complete, complete surprise. We were taking a walk down a pier, and he accidentally hit me across the face with his elbow, so I had all these tears streaming down my face. I think he was nervous, so he just hopped down on one knee and asked. My one eye was tearing uncontrollably, but I was just so happy. It was also a new moon, which he didn’t realize at the time, and these kind of celestial events are important to me. We later decided to get married at The Bright House on the island.

Honestly, we didn’t really start planning until quite a while after our engagement. I started a Pinterest board with inspiration, and the initial board was called ‘Fairy Fête.’ It was very celestial, with photos of fairies and mushrooms and moss and angels. At a certain point, I remember thinking, ‘Am I going to wear fairy wings to my wedding? How fun would that be?’ The board is pretty far out there, but we did land somewhere in that realm—and still called it ‘Fairy Fête.’

Everybody told us our wedding was ‘so us’ and that it was the most uncommon wedding that they had ever attended. Obviously, it was a wedding and we had some traditional aspects, but we really tried to make it our own and to celebrate everyone who played a big role in our love story. Harry and Amanda were at the altar with us—they began the ceremony by leading everyone through a meditation and speaking to the planets that had come into alignment on that day—and we brought Drum out on a leopard couch down the aisle to commemorate being the best man and introducing us. All of our vendors were our friends, too. The music was by Roxy Moon, and we also had a performance by Baby Baby, which is my dear friend Pandora’s band. Even Simon performed. That was a big surprise.

Creating the floral and mushroom arrangements—and the overall decor—was a really fun process with one of my dear friends, Lauren Wilson from Timberlost. We found beautiful vintage Moroccan rugs, which we used for the ceremony, through Mellah in Toronto. I was so thrilled with the mushroom arrangements especially—they’re so beautiful and very much in line with the fairy theme. Even our 6-foot ‘forest cake,’ which was actually a strawberry shortcake, had real mushrooms, fresh flowers, and some tree and plant shrubs on it. Natalie Korac made it, and on top of looking amazing, it really was the most delicious cake I’ve ever had. And actually, we have a Rainbo product called Forest Juice. It’s maple syrup infused with mushrooms, so as a gift for everyone, we gave everyone a bottle. Simon and I’s nickname for each other is ‘sweets.’ Everybody calls us ‘The Sweets’ now, so we called the syrup Sweets Juice as a play on Forest Juice.

The savory food came from Emma’s Eatery by Emma Moore. I’ve worked with her before, and you feel like you’re eating nourishing food that’s made for a small group of people. Among the menu, we had salmon, steak, fingerling potatoes, and grilled vegetables. It was all gluten-free, dairy-free and cooked in olive oil, and it really did have the most delicious home-cooked meal feel.

My dress was a custom combination of two gowns from Newhite, and I had a celestial star veil from Ofrenda—it was the one piece that I knew I wanted when I got married. I wore a silk hairband from Aura Eire, star earrings from Jennifer Behr, and pearls from Chan Luu. Simon is a really big man—he’s like 6’4”—and he has a very particular style, so he designed his beautiful wool jacket and collared shirt himself. He wore a bolo tie with my face on it, which was hilarious.

For my beauty look, I just wanted to look very natural and dewy with a little bit of sparkle and shimmer. Romy Zack did both my makeup and hair and absolutely got it right. She used a lot of Saie products, including the Slip Tint, Glowy Super Gel, Glow Sculpt Blush, and Glossybounce Lip Oil in Kiss, to achieve the look.

I always wear sandalwood oil, so I did wear that, but in terms of my signature scent, it’s a secret. It’s an obscure one that everybody would copy when I was younger, so at a certain point I decided to stop telling people.

I didn’t do a whole lot of ‘prep’ ahead of the wedding. I did two microneedling appointments and a Pure Glow facial at Pure + Simple and a Forma treatment at Tight Clinic, but what I really wanted to focus on was more so for a radiant body in terms of my own energy. I already practice a lot of Kundalini yoga, but Simon and I did a five-class rebirthing workshop. We’re both such busy entrepreneurs, and we wanted to move into the next phase of our relationship as consciously as possible, to take a moment to slow down and digest what this meant for our relationship and the vows that we were saying to one another, and to put an end to any of the old programming from the past.

Overall, it was the most beautiful day. As we read our vows to each other, our guests had their jaws open because the sun started shining, the wind stopped, and even the birds began chirping. There were all of these beautiful little things that happened in the moments of speaking our vows. It was like time kind of stood still in this instant of saying these profound words to one another—and that’s a moment that really stays with me.

—As told to Daise Bedolla

Photographed by Brjánn Batista Bettencourt; Courtesy of Tonya Papanikolov





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