Our Vancouver Island Wedding – The Details
Everyone loves knowing all the details around someone’s wedding day so I thought I’d share ours! Planning your wedding from overseas does add an extra level of stress to the whole process but with the help of the internet and blog stalking, it isn’t something I’d tell people to shy away from.
To read the story of our day, check out that post here.
Venue – Merridale Ciderworks
When we got engaged we knew the first thing we needed was the venue. On top of that, we had to decide on a country. We wanted to have it somewhere different since we love travel so Italy was on the list for a bit before I discovered that we’d have to had a civil ceremony at the registry office before or after our big ceremony in a villa. I’m only getting married once and I was definitely not having a fake one so Italy was out.
Then we thought of having one half way between NZ and Canada so that it was neutral territory for both families and started researching Hawaii. There are far too many choices in Hawaii that I eventually got so overwhelmed and gave up on that idea. It was our wedding, these details should not be hard to figure out!
Once we settled on Canada, we went through a few different spots across BC. One thing I knew was that I wanted it at a winery/orchard and there was surprisingly few options to choose from in our google searches. It was here that I found Merridale Ciderworks and finally felt that this could be our venue! I sent it to Matt to get his thoughts and he came back with “I don’t care if it costs £10,000 we’re getting married there!”
What sold us on Merridale (beside how gorgeous it is) was their business model. They have a set cost for the ceremony and one for the reception which includes tents, chairs, dining things, and pretty much everything else you can think of so there’s no need to rent anything separately.
Included in this is their resident wedding co-ordinator, Jess, and she makes sure everything runs smoothly in the planning but also on the day. She was so awesome to work with and made everything so easy. We even skyped with her a few times to settle the details which was a great alternative to emails. They also provide the food and drink, cake, wedding night accommodation, and even a decorator package all at an additional cost so it’s totally a one stop shop. Perfect for when you’re planning a wedding from overseas!
The wedding industry is a money-making machine and I hate it when places put prices up just because it’s a wedding. I thought Merridale was totally transparent in their pricing structure – it was reasonable and affordable and I felt like I was paying a fair price for what they provide. Basically, they’re doing things right at Merridale and I can’t recommend them enough. Matt and I have even talked about going back there for an anniversary one day!
Photography – Neville Black
Being into photography myself, I had a very specific vision of what I wanted my wedding photos to look like. I’m not a huge fan of posed portraits and I wanted someone who would capture the story of the day. I did a google search of photojournalistic Vancouver Island wedding photographers and Neville was one of the first to pop up. Looking through his blog, I noticed his photos were so different to anything else I’d seen before. I’m really into landscape photography (as you can probably tell from the photos in this blog) so I loved that the couples in his portrait sessions were almost an afterthought to the beauty surrounding them. It made for awesome, dynamic, and unique shots that I knew I had to have. It was my turn to tell Matt, “I don’t care how much he is, we’re booking him!” Luckily, his prices also reflected what I thought was fair value although he’s so much more talented than most of the other photographers I looked at! Neville was so great to work with – he was easy going but had a clear vision of how he wanted the shots to look like. On our wedding day, he totally blended in to the craziness and got amazing candid shots which is exactly what I wanted. His photos really captured the overall story of the day and he photographed some great moments that I think a lot of traditional photographers would’ve missed. All the photos on this post are his handiwork – he’s awesome and I really hope we get to work with him again some day!
We booked our marriage commissioner, Anne Brunet, pretty much at the same time as our venue and to be honest, I was a bit nervous about meeting the person marrying us on our wedding day. But Anne was great, we had a few emails back and forth and she was so helpful that I was totally confident in her pretty quickly.
It was important to us that the ceremony was really personal – there were only a couple lines that she legally had to say but the rest of the wording was completely up to us. We knew we had a full day to fill when we were in Stavanger, Norway after our hike so we found a cafe and set a goal of completing our ceremony before we had to fly home. We used a chunk of a ceremony that we found on the internet that totally fit us as a couple but the actual vows were things that were important to us to promise each other. The result was a ceremony I loved, that was totally us, and each word had meaning behind it. We also asked our mums to each do a reading of their choice – we didn’t know what they were going to say which made it even more special. The vows/ceremony is the most important part of the whole day so I’m really glad we took the time to really think about and write our own.
My mom came to visit us in London last year so that we could go dress shopping together. It was one of those things where I didn’t realise it was important to me until the experience was over. I’m so glad we got to share that. We went to 4 stores in one day, I tried on about 15 dresses, had a few that were favourites but one that definitely stood out. It took a few months, and a couple trips back to the store to try it on again and secure a little bit of a discount before I finally decided it was the dress.
It’s called Jade by Lusan Mandongus (awesome last name) and I got it from Teokath Boutique in Wimbledon. They’re wonderful there and if you’re in the market for a wedding dress then definitely book an appointment with them.
Matt’s groomsman, Craig got married this year as well (Matt was one of his groomsmen too) and had his suit made at Cad & The Dandy on Saville Row here in London. After hearing about his experience, Matt decided he wanted one made there as well. All the salesmen had big beards and wore suspenders and were generally awesome in all their hipster glory. They were so helpful and knowledgeable and made the process so easy. The suit turned out perfectly too.
When it came to the groomsmen, I was about to fuss over what they wore, my only comment was that they should be in the same colour family (grey) but other than that, it was up to Matt. Jono wore the same suit he wore to Craig’s (yay for recycling!) which was from M&S and Craig wore one from Next. Both were surprisingly good quality and affordable – definitely recommend them as well!
I had 6 bridesmaids coming from 3 countries. There was no way we’d all be able to go shopping for dresses together or that I’d be able to buy them all the same one here and bring it with me. I originally wanted them to be in a very specific shade of green but even I couldn’t find a dress in that colour so my accent colour of peach/light coral became the main colour in our theme. I’m really not a fan of matching bridesmaids dresses but knew mix-match had the potential to fail big time.
I couldn’t have asked for a better result. I loved all their dresses and they came together perfectly!
I also bought them 3 of 2 types of green necklaces to further tie the dresses together.
Hair & Makeup
I did a search of ‘Vancouver Island wedding make up artist’ and Erin Bradley was the 3rd result from the top. I took a quick look at her site, decided her style was exactly what I wanted and emailed her to see if she was available. She was and I booked her in!
She also arranged for a friend of hers to come and do our hair so that took care of that. I don’t think I even bothered to look at other options. I absolutely loved both of them – they did a great job and totally made themselves at home. I felt like I had known them for ages despite not having met before the wedding day!
DIY projects – Flowers, Favours, Guest Book, and Candy Bar
Thanks to our venue, there wasn’t much I needed to sort in regards to decorations etc. I really only had the 4 things above to work out and Pinterest was the source of my inspiration for all of them.
I’ve seen a lot of really cool guest book ideas lately but the one that stuck out the most to me was getting guests to write a message to us on a chalkboard then having their photo taken with it. I have a DLSR and tripod which I brought and gave to my sister, Courtney, to take charge of. The photos turned out so much better than I even imagined they would! I plan on creating a collage and having it printed on canvas so we can hang it up.
We love cake, but we love candy more so we decided to have a candy bar for our guests. My mom sourced different sized containers to hold the candy and also mason jars for each guest to fill up. I bought ribbon then created and printed the labels which were hot glued or tied to the jars. The candy was our favourites and we got people to bring a bunch from New Zealand and my mom also sourced the Canadian treats. I thought they were so cute and definitely a hit. The little mason jars also doubled as place holders on the tables.
This was my favourite of the DIY projects, not making them, but for how they turned out. I don’t really like flowers particularly for weddings because they are SO expensive and don’t last. At first, I was just going to buy a gerbera daisy for each of us to carry and call it a day but then I found paper bouquets on Pinterest. From this, I had the idea to create the flowers out of maps in tribute to our love of travel and how big a part it’s played in our relationship. I’m not going to lie, these flowers were not fun to make. They were so much work and if I haven’t had lots of people helping, I would’ve given up on the idea pretty quickly. My bridesmaid, Jessie, is really into crafts so I told her my idea months in advance and asked for her help/to take charge of the project. She was so awesome in leading the group and everyone was so willing to help and came up with different ideas to make the process a little bit easier/better.
At each stop in our roadtrip, we’d all muck in for a few hours to cut paper, glue beads on the wire, fold the petals, etc, etc, etc. We then added little real flowers and ferns as filler and well, they turned out beautifully. And I get to keep them forever. So, so, worth it.
Matt had his own ideas of how he wanted the boutenierres, so he came with us to the flower shop to pick out manly flowers and I (didn’t listen to his concerns) and added a map pinwheel to match the bouquets. They turned out great as well.
I am so grateful for everyone’s help with these projects – thank you so much to all of you (you know who you are)! You helped me so so much!
Matt really headed this part of the wedding. He signed up for spotify premium and spent months working out the different playlists and timing. I thought it turned out really well and was really happy we didn’t need to hire a DJ. To be honest, I’ve never been to a wedding where I liked the DJ so doing it ourselves was always going to be better in my eyes. We had total control of the music and asked guests to give us their favourite songs to get them on the dance floor! There were a couple kinks in the plan but it still worked really well.
Overall, the day went really smoothly although it’s so true what everyone says – it goes WAY TOO FAST! We’ll talk about the day from each of our perspectives in the next post…