Aaron proposed to Anna on Christmas Eve in. 2012. The couple traveled back to Ontario to visit Anna's family and friends for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, after everyone was full from dinner and happy from gifts, there was a special box for Anna to open. Her entire family watched as she opened a box containing pink champagne and two flutes. Confused, Anna looked at Aaron and said, “Thank you…??” And he got down on his knee and asked her to marry him. The couple enjoyed a full 19 months to plan this sweet handmade mountain wedding, captured by Hayley Rae Photography.
Why a Mountain Wedding?
We originally wanted to do a winery wedding. But as we started looking into it, the venues weren't for us (location, hours and noise restrictions etc…) We started exploring more local venues and set up a few viewings one day, Grouse Mountain being our first stop. We had some time to kill between the first two places so we decided to have a drink in the restaurant at the top of the mountain. Aaron just looked at me and simply said “you can call and cancel the rest of the appointments, this is it.” The views were amazing and it was the perfect place to bring all the out-of-town guests to really see Vancouver from the best vantage point.
“We fell in love with Grouse immediately. The rustic and beautiful room, the view and everything about it, was quintessential Vancouver. We knew our out of town guests especially would love the gondola and how amazing the entire place is. The food on Grouse was delicious too and that was very important to us.”
Where did you find your inspiration?
A lot of my vision was DIY so inspiration came mainly from Pinterest (of course), and wedding blogs (specifically Emmaline Bride)
I think I'd have to say our centrepieces were the biggest splurge (relatively speaking!). Aaron made all the planter boxes from scratch and to fill them up with all the succulents was a bit more costly than I had originally anticipated (I think all the succulents alone were around $500-$600). I didn't care though, they turned out exactly as I imagined and they were unique.
My dress!! I originally fell in love with a $3200 Monique Lhullier gown but knew I could figure out a way to cut down the cost significantly. I tried on a similar dress at David's Bridal, found another bride selling hers (brand new, unaltered with tags still attached) on a wedding classified blog (weddingbee) for $600. Then I found a magical seamstress who took my dress and made it into my dream dress (we lowered the back, took it in from the top to my knees to create the trumpet/fit and flare shape, added buttons all the way down the back and added a bustle) for $200, and I bought a petticoat for $60 from David's Bridal. All in all, my dress cost me $860.
What were some personal details you incorporated?
We didn't do any photos or anything of that nature that would be considered “personal”, but I would say 90% of it was DIY; from the save-the-dates and invitations, to the burlap and lace runners (we cut all the burlap runners from a giant piece of burlap, and our friend's lovely mom sewed our lace runners), to the cupcake stands and the thank you/menu cards.
Talk about your wedding planning process
I found wedding planning to be a breeze. We had about 19 months to prepare everything. Aaron is very easy-going and let me take the reigns on theme and decor and he was super helpful with all DIY projects when I needed him. We knew from the get-go we wanted a small wedding – so writing up the guest list was probably the most difficult thing.
Your favorite moment of the day.
Favorite (and most nerve-wracking!) moment was the First Look. It was the only moment where it was just us and everything else around us didn't exist. Looking back on the pictures and seeing one another's expressions is the absolute best.
The other most memorable moment was standing on the escalator and coming down to the main lobby at the Pan Pacific where my parents, bridesmaids and Aaron's groomsmen were all standing watching me. Then seeing Aaron standing outside of the doors, me putting my hands on his eyes until he turning around and saw me for the first time. The next most memorable moment were the fireworks we could see going off from English Bay.
Three things you’re glad you did.
- Kept the guest list small and intimate.
- Splurge on the vendors that would make the wedding the most memorable for us and the guests; Photographer, DJ and food (baked goods specifically)
- The schedule of the day; First Look, formal pictures, evening ceremony straight into the reception. This gave the guests the option to come up to the mountain for the wedding only, or earlier to enjoy the activities and views. We didn't want to have everyone sit around for 2-3 hours in between with nothing to do
What was the biggest challenge planning your mountain wedding?
The biggest challenge was organizing getting guests (specifically out-of-town guests without vehicles) to and from the mountain (thankfully as a local attraction, Grouse Mountain provides a shuttle in and out of downtown Vancouver which was very helpful), and getting all of our decor to, up, down and from the mountain (we had some tight time restrictions and couldn't leave anything there to pick up the following day). We hired a fantastic set-up girl who did everything and we didn't have to worry.
What was the best piece of wedding advice you got?
Don't stress out about the little details. At the end of the day, no one will notice if something wasn't there to begin with, and no one will remember that the Key Lime Pie never came out.
Anything you wish you hadn’t worried about?
The weather! Its typical for rain in Vancouver, or for the forecast to say sunny then rain anyway. But it ended up being a beautiful, hot, clear, sunny day.
How did you choose your vendors?
Good ol' fashioned googling & interneting and word-of-mouth.
What is your very best advice to other mountain brides?
Be authentic to your vision and don't stress about the small stuff. It's your wedding day, but it's also the day for your family and friends to celebrate your love. Pick and chose your battles with your loved ones (mainly parents and one another during the planning process). The days leading up to the wedding, and the big day – absorb it all. It's an amazing journey but it all whizzes by so quick. And lastly, if budget allows – get that videographer you “don't think you need”! I heard it so much before we got married and now we are the ones saying it – we regret not getting one.
Grouse Mountain Wedding Vendors
Wedding Photography: Hayley Rae Photography | Getting Ready Hotel: Pan Pacific Vancouver | Dress: David's Bridal (with quite a bit of alterations) | MOH Dress: Blush Bridal Monique Lhullier | Bridesmaids Dresses: Aritzia, Tiffany Rose | Men's Suits: Perry Ellis | Wedding Cake Artist: Tessa from Sweet Bake Shop | Decor: Eva Konyari – Love Struck Events | Venue and Catering: Grouse Mountain | Officiant: Joan Miller | DJ: Tall Music