The mayor of a small Ontario town knew exactly how to win the hearts of his constituents.

Justin Altmann, the first-term mayor in Whitchurch-Stouffville, a municipality of 37,000 about 50 kilometres northeast of Toronto, married his sweetheart Jenny Hillier Saturday in the town square and invited the entire town to watch.

It was a fairytale wedding, complete with horse-drawn carriage, white doves and an eight-foot, 2,000-lb pink-and-ivory wedding cake -- enough to feed 2,000 people.

“This is romantic,” said Rose Cabrelli, a 30-year resident of Stouffville. “Don’t you think that? When do you see something like this?”

But the ceremony was also cloaked in sadness. The groom’s mother Tanis died last week after a three-month battle with cancer. The day before she was admitted to hospital, Tanis brought her family together to demand they pull together to prepare for the wedding.

“We know she’s here because she threw Jenny’s veil off,” Altmann tearfully told the crowd after the service. “She thought it was blocking the beautiful face.”

The couple took their vows on a second-storey balcony of what was once the town hall as their wedding party stood beside them and hundreds of cheering guests stretched out below. Altmann had proposed to Hillier on that very balcony.

“It was absolutely beautiful. Just breathtaking,” resident Sylvie Larouche said of the ceremony. “It was like the royal wedding brought here.”

Brooke Busato said she didn’t plan to attend but changed her mind after seeing the wedding setting.

“I’m still emotional about it. It was so down to earth, so genuine, so heartfelt. You could feel everyone’s love. You could feel the bride and groom’s love for each other,” she said tearfully.

Hillier, who wore an ivory gown, said after the ceremony that she thought she would find the large crowd overwhelming but instead it seemed “just like a big family.”

Altmann, whose family has lived in Stouffville for more than a century, said looking out on all the people was a “magical thing.” He and Hillier realized early in their wedding preparations that there was no venue big enough to hold all their friends and family. They decided then to tear up their guest list and invite everyone.

That meant 800 invitations sent to VIPs and dignitaries and an open invitation to another 37,000.

The couple asked that in lieu of gifts, residents make a donation toward a mobility trailer designed to help community members with disabilities.

The newlyweds celebrated their reception at the community’s Ribfest afterwards. A honeymoon will wait because Altmann is back to work Monday.

With files from CTV Toronto