Shawn Vandekerkhove was in college and Gillian Cook was about to graduate from high school when they were introduced by friends. There was an immediate attraction and he became her prom date. They supported each other as they each earned their Bachelor of Science degrees at the University of Victoria. Then, Gillian decided to move to Toronto to start a graduate program, so Shawn decided to go with her.
When it was time to propose, Shawn presented her with a unique sapphire and diamond ring. He chose Sooke River where his parents had been married and it had also been the location of their first date. They moved to Toronto a week later.
The couple was married at De Vine Vineyards on an overcast day. At the end of the service, the officiant read a traditional Salish marriage blessing and, at just then the sun broke through the clouds, streaming across the ceremony site for the first time that day. The guests audibly gasped and then everyone laughed at the brilliance of the moment.
The couple had handcrafted log round pots, felling trees, hollowing out the log, sanding and varnishing the wood, planting succulents and tieing with a raffia bow, sprigs of lavender and baby's breath. Each of the 90 guests received a favour.
They had wanted their wedding to be "outdoorsy" in colours of purple with peach accents. It all came together, just as they had envisioned it.
Photographer: Adrian Michael Photography
Ceremony and reception location: De Vine Vineyards
Reception décor: Handmade and thrift shops finds
Bridal gown: Trinity by Sottero and Midgley from Blu Ivory
Bridesmaid gowns: Bill Levkoff from Luz Bridal
Bride’s earrings: Swarovski, bridal hair comb: Bitter Sweet Jewellery, bride’s shoes: David’s Bridal
Bridesmaid’s earrings and necklaces: Vivah Jewellry
Hair & makeup: Kayla Burley
Cake: Collette Vandekerkhove
Favours: Handmade by the bride and groom
Flowers: Collected from family and friends gardens, arranged by Heather Gillis
Invitations: Designed by the bride and groom; printed with Vistaprint
Wedding planners: Bride and Misty Olsen from De Vine Vineyards
Originally published in Today's Bride magazine, Spring/Summer 2017.