Heidi Fouche & Adam Simonar
Heidi’s goal was to create a fairytale atmosphere, and her wedding vendors did just that. Here, Heidi tells us exactly how it happened.
Tell us a bit about your love story: A beautiful outdoor setting to celebrate our love story was a must from the start with us – we love spending quality time together in nature. On our first date we listened to music while driving in a convertible through a conservation area, and so it felt like the just the right place when he ended up proposing to me on a hike in the Okanagan Valley. We were standing on a granite bluff overlooking the Okanagan Lake when he asked me, and we felt the serene atmosphere of that proposal spot was carried over perfectly to the forest chapel at Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat, where we ended up getting married.
What were your original plans for your wedding day? Our original vision was to have a 100-person wedding, with relatives and friends coming from all over. Most of my family lives in South Africa, while most of Adam’s family lives across the country in other provinces, thus we were expecting many out-of-town guests. We had also naturally planned for some of our older relatives, such as Adam’s grandmother, to be able to be there.
When the pandemic hit, we had to decide whether we wanted to proceed with a wedding that would involve some restrictions – a much lower guest count of below 50, no dance floor, and of course a multitude of friends and family that couldn’t attend due to travel restrictions or age and health risks.
When you had to change your plans, how did you feel before and after? It was a fairly stressful experience finding ourselves in the midst of a pandemic after having already planned a pre-pandemic style wedding. We naturally had some concerns about “losing out” on aspects of what a traditional wedding day usually looks like, but we also felt very strongly about getting married if there was any way we could do it and be content with the outcome. However, we were lucky enough that we were still able to make our fairytale wedding come true during a time when not many fairytales were happening for people in the world. We felt an immense gratitude that things somehow aligned and we were given the opportunity to get married safely outdoors during a lull in the pandemic, albeit with some restrictions.
We couldn’t do a dance floor, so Adam and I did a romantic first dance for guests in a balcony-style area of the reception pavilion, and I made sure to plan other activities such as a caricature artist and fun lawn games – we really didn’t end up missing the dance floor! Although we missed having all of our family and friends with us, the lower guest count did allow us to spend more quality time with each person that was able to attend.
The day ended up being magical and the atmosphere was truly special in spite of the pandemic – we could feel that everyone there was savouring the privilege of being able to gather with family and friends after we all had gone so long without being able to engage socially. Although we had to adapt our wedding a little bit, that initial vision we had of people coming together outdoors around a bonfire, celebrating love, eating good food, and connecting with each other, more than came to life.
What was your favourite part of the day? Our favourite moment of the day was the first look we did prior to the ceremony. It allowed us to calm our nerves and to say some more intimate thoughts and vows to each other prior to publicly making our vows. We did the first look on a bridge crossing a spring-fed pond with the forest in the backdrop. It was a surreal experience and a moment we will never forget.
I also loved seeing my visual designs and “whimsical fairytale forest” theme come to life – I had painstakingly made design, colour, rental, and styling decisions, and I now look back on the day and marvel at how effectively our vendors took my vision and made it come to life.
What will guests remember most? Our guests particularly loved the ceremony – the serene forest setting Whispering Springs has created is so unique, evoking feelings of a sacred, untouched space that lends itself to being the perfect place in which to make a sincere commitment to someone. Our florist did an absolutely breathtaking job of incorporating blooms and greenery throughout, which created an even more magical, out-of-this-world feeling.
We also put a very personal ceremony together with our officiant which included our own vows, a handfasting ceremony, and a combined Unity-Memorial Candle ceremony to celebrate the formation of a new family and to commemorate the memory of Adam’s mom. Guests noted that this really made them feel part of our love story and that it reminded our married guests of how they felt on their wedding day. They also loved the South African-Canadian fusion of foods our caterers made and were very impressed with the amazing service, as they were never without food in their hands!
What advice can you give to couples planning a wedding? If you are restricted for whatever reason, whether due to a pandemic, budget, time etc., don’t think about what has been “taken away”. Rather, reframe your mindset to plan the best wedding you can within those parameters; in other words, think about what you can add to the wedding to make it an even better experience despite those challenges.
Number of guests: 45
Ceremony/reception location (including city): Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat, Grafton, Ont.
Wedding dress designer: Olivia Bottega
Suit designer: Indochino
Photographer: Love Photos & Films
Décor: Garden Girl Events, Vintage Bash, Plate Occasions, Southern Charm Vintage Rentals
Flowers: Flora & Farfalla
Cake: Flour & Flower Cake Design
Planner: Day-of coordination by Events Inspired and day of décor setup by Andrea Ashley Co.
Catering: JP Catering
Musician: Jeff Biggar
Hair & makeup: Noor Artistry
Calligraphy: Little Owl Lettering
Officiant: Rev. Rudy Heezen
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