“I would have had my Dad walk me down the aisle but sadly he passed away in 2009. I didn’t want to replace him for the role, so Dave met me part way and we walked in together,” shares Leandra. “Overall, we weren’t going for a traditional wedding but I like to think we may have started some traditions of our own. Instead of a traditional ring pillow or box, Dave found a beautiful piece of driftwood on the shore of the lake and cleaned it up to present our rings at the ceremony.”
Why this beautiful location? “Shuswap Lake in British Columbia has always been a special place for my family and me. Despite growing up in Winnipeg, I spent every summer of my childhood on the edge of this lake surrounded by mountains and fresh air. My ancestors on my father’s side moved from England and settled in this area in 1893, so there is a strong family tie. Even though Dave is from Perth, Australia, he was the first one to suggest the lake (having visited and loved it as much as me) for our location. I’d never thought of it beforehand but it was such a natural fit.”
We asked the bride what her favorite part of the day was: “Can I have more than one favorite?” she says. “Getting a surprise serenade by my new husband on his ukulele in front of everyone at the reception – he sang Soul Sister by Train. I didn’t even know he could play the ukulele! Sneaking in a practice wedding dance outside in the gazebo during dinner. Running down to the dock and jumping in the lake just as all the guests’ sparklers went out – this was THE perfect end to our day, it was freezing but amazing!”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Both Dave and I are avid travelers and coming from different countries (Canada and Australia) we knew most of our guests would be making a long journey to attend our marriage. Instead of traveling all that way just for a wedding, we were inspired to get our guests into ‘lake mode’ for the entire weekend, starting with a welcome bag of sunscreen and snacks in their rooms. We hosted a Meet & Greet Bonfire the night before with s’mores and Jiffy Pop and continued the gathering with a post-wedding brunch at the Lodge. Naturally, we were also inspired by the location on the lake, and by the native heritage of the area. Quaaout Lodge is situated on a First Nations reserve and run by the Little Shuswap Indian Band.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? In Australia many brides carry a white satin or lace horseshoe with their bouquet for good luck and I was given a beautiful one to carry by a friend of Dave’s family. I then subsequently forgot both my wreath and the horseshoe when I walked out. I think that was the only bad luck of the day!
Please tell us about any special details from your wedding. My engagement ring was hand carved from Jarrah (an Australian hardwood) by Dave after he heard the story of my Dad carving a cherry wood engagement ring for my Mom, and my brother having done the same for his engagement. // We collected rocks from the lake to use as place cards and several people took theirs home as a souvenir. // As a small tribute to my Dad, we used beeswax candles on the tables at the reception that I made from his beekeeping days. // We planted organic herbs in second-hand teacups as part of our centerpieces. After the wedding we planted all the herbs in our garden and used the cups as decorations along the border. // In order to get us to kiss, guests had to write a poem using the words from a page of a romance novel, which had some very amusing results!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Some really good advice I got was actually right here on this site – basically, decide on your own theme, priorities, preferences, then stop looking at wedding blogs and Pinterest at least two months before your wedding. There are so many cool ideas out there (and more still tomorrow), but you can’t possibly do them all. Take a break and cut yourself off from outside influence once you know what you both want.
What advice do you have for other brides? Keep it in perspective. Making it a memorable day doesn’t have to cost an entire year’s salary. While the number of guests can bump your spending up, try to keep the focus on what’s important. Personally, we didn’t bother with things like chair covers (who really looks at the back of their chair once they sit down?) or rental cars (no one saw us arrive or leave), or a DJ (get your playlists out!). Instead we kept things interesting with good food, an amusing MC (my brother), a few dance lessons and some sparklers.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? If you have the time, do it yourself (or ask a friend). We had a long engagement so our planning was quite stretched out, but that didn’t mean we had everything done in time! We did save a lot of money by keeping things simple but unique. Initially we wanted printed canvas tote bags to use as welcome bags but this ended up being way out of our budget. We settled for brown paper bags with just a few well-selected items and personalized them with a note. We put them in everyone’s room before they arrived and that was all it needed to be – a warm welcome and a token of thanks.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? We had guests from Australia, France, Ireland, Poland, the UK, United States and Canada!