Theater professor Michelle MacArthur and CBC producer (and former actor) Simon Rice had orbited each other for so long it’s surprising they didn’t meet sooner. Both are theater buffs and had gone to see “Lungs,” a play by Duncan Macmillan, when it was performed at the Tarragon Theatre, and they frequented many of the same College Street bars in the mid-2000s. MacArthur even made a reference to Rice’s theater company, practice, in her PhD dissertation. “The theater world in Toronto is so small and everyone knows each other, so it’s strange our paths never crossed directly,” MacArthur says.
Instead, it took a fateful Tinder date – MacArthur’s first and only – to bring them together. After noticing they had many mutual theater friends in common, they went on a date to Wise Bar and bonded over their shared dark sense of humor and deep appreciation (“some would say snobbery,” MacArthur says) of wine.
There was only one hitch: MacArthur was about to move to another city. On the day of their first date, she was notified by the University of Windsor that she was on their shortlist of candidates for a tenure-track professorship in theater studies. “Academic jobs are like unicorns,” she says, so there was no question she would be leaving. When she got the job two months into dating Rice, she wasn’t sure how the news would affect their relationship. “I would never ask anyone to move to Windsor under any circumstances,” she says. It turned out she didn’t have to. “I was looking to shake things up in my life,” Rice says. After just six months of dating, he asked to be transferred to CBC’s Windsor bureau.
In Windsor, they began to build their life together: they got their first car, their first cat and, in 2018, their first house, a newly renovated Edwardian.
Both knew they wanted to get married someday, and Rice bought a ring in 2018, intending to save it until he could find the perfect moment to propose. He hid it in various places around the house, waiting for the right time, which never seemed to arrive. After a few months, he decided to propose over the Christmas holidays, but deferred after her brother announced his engagement around the same time. “I didn’t want to steal his thunder,” Rice says.
By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, he couldn’t wait any longer. He popped the question while MacArthur was still in her bathrobe, hours before friends who were visiting for New Year’s were set to arrive. “I thought, ‘I better do this now because then we’ll really have something to celebrate,'” he says.
After having to cancel two wedding dates due to the pandemic, they finally got married at Toronto’s Broadview Hotel. Their venue choice paid homage to their years spent in the city’s east end: MacArthur lived on the Danforth in her 20s and early 30s, and Rice grew up in the Beach. They loved the stately atmosphere of the Broadview (“It didn’t need a ton of decor,” she says) as well as its past as the site of notorious strip club Jilly’s. (In lieu of party favours, the couple donated to the Black Sex Workers Emergency Fund at Maggie’s Toronto to honor the venue’s history.)
As theater nerds, they decided to lean into the performance aspect of their October 2021 wedding, executing what they call “guerrilla wedding theatre.” They enlisted actor friends to do readings, including the priest’s wedding speech from Phoebe Waller-Bridges’ “Fleabag” and an excerpt from Duncan Macmillan’s “Every Brilliant Thing,” a play about a man who, in an effort to stave off depression, spends his life making a list of the things he loves. For the latter, MacArthur cut the script and Rice directed, making it their first true collaboration. Various guests popped up from the crowd and read lines, surprising the rest of the attendees.
“We found each other a bit later in life,” she says. “At our age, we both have been to so many weddings that we just wanted ours to be about great food and great music.” In lieu of a frilly-yet-inedible cake, they purchased Dairy Queen ice cream cakes on the day of the wedding and served them alongside crinkle-cut fries as a late-night snack. Rather than hire a cheesy wedding DJ who spins Journey and Taylor Swift, they enlisted DJ Alt Altman to get the crowd dancing with his signature mix of retro tunes from Talking Heads and David Bowie, along with Motown classics.
Beyond a celebration of their romance, the event was like a love letter to their favorite city. “It felt like a homecoming,” MacArthur says. Before the pandemic, they would drive from Windsor into Toronto as often as once a month to soak up the liveliness and take advantage of the arts and culture, as well as the good restaurants. Thanks to MacArthur’s ability to teach remotely, the couple was able to sell their Windsor house and move back to their beloved Toronto permanently, just a few months before their wedding. As MacArthur says, “It was really a double celebration.”
where they met Tinder
Venue Broadview Hotel
Gown Made with Love from The Modern Bride in Guelph
Suit Bespoke from Sydney’s
Florist Stôk Floral & Design
DJ Alt Altman
Hair and makeup Stephen George