A Short, Sweet Wedding Dress For An Outdoor Union In Vancouver

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I can’t quite believe I’m typing these words but – today, Saturday 20th May, marks just four short weeks until I marry the love of my life. The incredible, love-filled celebration I’m about to share with you is giving me serious butterflies in my stomach, and reminding of the most important thing about planning a wedding. It’s about promising forever to the person you want to take on the world with. The person you want to go to sleep next to every night and wake up with every morning. The person who is your everything and will be forever and for always.

So before I burst into great big emotional tears, allow me to introduce you to the very lovely Wynn, a high school English teacher, and Kevin, a film and television producer. This gorgeous pair wed on Saturday 6th August 2016 in Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada and their stripped back, community-focused day is truly something to behold.

“We were guided by wanting to celebrate the community that brought us together and that has supported us throughout our lives. We wanted to feel like ourselves and enjoy it with the people we love. Aesthetically, we wanted to feel the natural beauty of our surroundings. Kevin’s mom, who is no longer with us, provided flowers through her lovely paintings, which gave us colour and warmth and made the room feel like a garden. Our friend Jess brought in boughs to bring the park into the reception room, and we lined the walls with strings of notecards containing short bios of each of our guests and why they were important to us.”

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“Our images were captured by Jakob at Nordica Photography. We can’t recommend these guys enough. We knew we wanted documentary style, candid photography – nothing that felt too staged or posed, and yet we also wanted the images to obviously be as beautiful and artful as possible. Jakob exceeded all expectations. He has an exceptional eye, great composition skills and he captured the day in a way that was natural and yet totally cinematic.”

“Jakob and Cole were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable when we were planning, and the photos made the day look as full of wonder and magic as it felt for us. We worked with Jakob on the day, and he was calm and friendly, which put us at ease, but also incredibly focused, which led to fantastic photos. Also, once the parade part of the ceremony began, he somehow managed to be everywhere at once and yet we never really saw him.”

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Stanley Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the world and it has featured as a recurring backdrop in the story of our relationship. We were both living in the West End (the neighbourhood that surrounds it) when we first met; we had our first date in the park; we moved in together in the West End; and we got engaged in the park. We also both grew up in or near Vancouver, so Stanley Park has been part of our lives since we were little. It was lovely to be able to celebrate our marriage in a place with so many memories.”

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Wynn and Kevin felt very lucky to have had an incredibly talented and skilled group of loved ones to help piece together their celebrations. An event planner in their friend Sam, a floral designer in Jess, and the interior design and set decoration skills of Julie and Tristan – it’s fair to say the couple had some pretty spectacular back up. Some of their lovely friends were also responsible for setting them up in the first place after a life-changing event in Kevin’s life.

“We met four months after Kevin suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and miraculously survived thanks to an amazing and courageous friend who provided CPR, an incredible medical team, and a whole lot of luck. So our meeting felt pretty fortuitous right from the very beginning. We were introduced on Facebook by our mutual friend, Natasha, who suggested we get in touch. A few messages later, we went on our first date – a walk that wound up going for three hours and took us all the way from the West End to the North Shore and back. We got engaged in September 2016, and were married the following August.”

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Wynn and Kevin spent some precious time together in their beloved Stanley Park before meeting their guests. Oh the heads they must have turned in their wedding day finery! Kevin looks incredibly dapper in his blue-grey J. Crew suit and Wynn is a vision of modern elegance in her Carven dress.

“I fell in love with the dress in a magazine before I even met Kevin, and thought that if I ever got married, I’d love something easy, romantic, and a bit retro. The sheer sleeves and ruffle reminded me of my mom’s wedding dress, which seemed lucky. Of course, by the time we began talking about marriage, the dress had been out of production for years. So, I set up an alert on eBay, thinking that I might luck out and find it sometime in the next year.”

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“I found it brand new with tags, after about a week of looking, and about a month before Kevin actually proposed. It was a ‘buy it now’ instead of an auction, so I had to make a decision quickly. After a few desperate texts with a couple of my best friends worrying about bad luck, and their reminders that it’s incredibly good luck to find what you’re looking for, I went ahead and bought it, then I hid it in the closet until Kevin proposed.”

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I love the contrast of the sheer sleeves of Wynn’s dress with her pointed, richly-hued Michael Kors heels. Our gorgeous girl did her own make-up and her sleek, glossy bob was cut and coloured by Chloe at Space Salon the day before the wedding, and crowned with a floral headpiece from BHLDN.

“My mom gave me a heart necklace that was given to her for her own wedding. I also wore a bracelet that belonged to Kevin’s mom (he also proposed with it) by Nisa’a artist, Robert Tait, earrings from Anthropologie and a garter that belonged to my friend Jeanie’s grandma, which I kept in my purse for luck.”

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Wynn and Kevin waited for their guests in the park that has been so integral to their relationship, ready for the jubilant procession to The Vancouver Rowing Club.

“All of our guests congregated at the foot of a little bridge that is essentially the entrance to Stanley Park. At 7 o’clock sharp they were instructed by our Master of Ceremonies, John, to start walking across the bridge. As they got to the middle, we appeared on the other end of the bridge and joined them in a large musical procession in which we all walked to The Vancouver Rowing Club together playing instruments, banging drums and blowing noisemakers.”

“We wanted to feel the presence of our community in getting us to where we are in life.  When we got to the gang plank that leads to the venue, we stopped at the head of the walkway and greeted everyone as they filed in to take their seats on the outer deck. Once they were all seated, our band started playing ‘Alone’ by Trampled by Turtles and then we walked down the aisle together.”

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The Vancouver Rowing Club has incredible views of the city and a spacious deck for wedding ceremonies – a perfect backdrop for Wynn and Kevin’s union and the staff there were fantastically helpful as well.

The couple’s friends, Colleen and Jeanie, read the Coast Salish story during the ceremony and another friend Chris delivered a beautiful speech. Wynn and Kevin so love the Coast Salish story because it recognises the people whose land they live on and it’s also about love and finding your person. Something with which you sometimes need a little help.

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“We’re both in the habit of sending each other love notes here and there, so for the vows we focused mostly on what we can promise each other over. We both ended our vows with ‘All the ways. Always’ as we wanted them to tie together and ‘All the ways’ is a phrase we use with each other often when expressing our love. After much advice from friends, we also shared them with each other ahead of time so that we could keep it somewhat together during the ceremony.”

“My wedding band was made by Grace Lee Designs. I wanted something that would be interesting to look at forever, but that would also feel natural to wear. Both of our rings were made in rose gold to tie them together. Kevin’s Raven and Moon ring was carved by the incredibly talented Joe Descoteaux, who works in a Northwest Coast style. It was commissioned through the Lattimer Gallery in Vancouver. The Raven and Moon tied into a story that we shared at the ceremony to acknowledge that we were on Coast Salish territory.”

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The newlywed’s cocktail reception had no specific seating plan, rather a charming mix of couches and high and low tables. Wynn and Kevin borrowed lights from their friend Samantha and Kevin’s mum’s beautiful paintings provided the very meaningful decor, adding a splash of colour to the lovely heritage building.

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The guest biographies the couple created were intended to be little love letters to their friends and family. Many people took them home and Wynn and Kevin have so enjoyed seeing them on mantle pieces or fridges in friends’ homes in the months since the wedding.

“We asked our friend Jess, who does beautiful work through her company Quince Fine Florals, to bring in a little extra to represent the forest around us, and she, with the help of some friends, created beautiful and simple arrangements of boughs on the tables for us.  She also made a freesia bouquet for me and my maid of honour as it’s my favourite flower. My bouquet took the place of perfume for me on the day.”

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Truffles Fine Foods provided platters with veggies, cheese and candied salmon and an assortment of desserts, and one of our favourite restaurants, The Eatery showed up in a convoy of seven brightly-coloured Nissan Figaros to deliver an incredible spread of amazing sushi right after the ceremony. Both companies were excellent to work with and helped us figure out how to make best use of our budget. We had opted not to do a formal sitdown dinner since we wanted people to mix and mingle and then we had a late night delivery of a dozen boxes of the best donuts in the city, courtesy of Lee’s Donuts on Granville Island.”

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The Buckaroo Band, a band comprising of some of the couple’s closest and dearest friends, played a song at the start of the ceremony and then also played a complete set after the speeches were done. Kevin has the most touching account of the meaning behind their first dance track.

“Our first dance was to ‘You are the Everything’ by R.E.M. It’s one of my favourite songs; it’s deeply poetic and yet it’s also hard to explain its power. It’s filled with evocative language that elicits a strong visceral response for me: imagery from childhood, teenage years, adulthood and experiences not yet lived. It’s undeniably a love song, but it’s not a traditional love song since it expresses genuine fear and anxiety for the world.”

“So it’s almost the most rare love song of all; a love song about the realities of an imperfect world and yet in the end, it’s still about life itself and what makes it worth living – what it is we do with our days on Earth – and for me, that notion is intrinsically tied to who you would want to spend those days with, in working to try and make the world around them a better place.”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“Budget was important to us, as we wanted to be able to still enjoy life after the wedding – make it about the things that matter most to you. We tried not to think of it as the most special day of our lives, as that would make every day after it kind of a let down, but instead we focused on celebrating love. That helped us stay on track and create something that felt like us.”

“This is not our wisdom, but was passed on to us from our friend Jeanie, whose grandmother said that whenever you have to make a decision, do the loving thing. That has really resonated with us since we’ve been married, as it applies to everything, including the wedding itself.”

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I am utterly besotted with this beautiful union, and so full of gratitude that Wynn, Kevin and Nordica Photography shared it with us all. We’ve all manner of stunning city weddings in our archives if you’re just as hooked as me, just take a look right here.

With love, Em x

Credits & Thanks

Emily Brown

Emily Brown View all Emily's articles

Emily covets all things Scandinavian and loves travelling, modern art, learning languages and living with her brand new husband and a collection of house plants as a Northerner in London