Victoria Rosati & Cody O’Neil
When COVID changed their Plan A and Plan B, Plan C was put into place: a beautiful, private ceremony in the mountains of British Columbia. Bride Victoria tells us how it all happened.
Tell us a bit about your love story:
We met at a local beer fest in 2015. We started out as friends and it took a few years but we eventually become something more in spring 2018. On Oct 8, 2020 Cody proposed by putting the engagement ring inside a sushi order. When i opened the takeout box, I saw the ring and turned around and he was down on one knee. We had a short engagement and planned a small wedding of 100 people thinking it would be okay by May 2021.
What were your original plans for your wedding day? Something bigger? Will you be having a larger celebration at another time?
Our original wedding plan was a small destination wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake, On. with 100 guests. This was taking place at Club Roma in St Catharines. When COVID restrictions tightened up in Ontario in early April 2021, we decided to cancel the Niagara wedding and move it to our hometown of Windsor, On. and have a ceremony only, as that was the only part allowed at the time. Then about a month before the wedding date, the ceremony rules changed again, only allowing 10 people for the ceremony. Since our immediate family alone is larger than 10 people, we decided to move the wedding to August 8 2021.
A few days later, we started thinking about elopements and keeping our original wedding date by getting married, just the two of us. We considered going to Niagara (since we still had vendor deposits with our officiant and photographer), but I felt if we were going to elope I wanted to really elope in a special adventurous way and not tell anyone we were doing it. We planned to go out west Canada for our original honeymoon, so I added in the weekend before the wedding and booked all the vendors (officiant, photographer, hair, makeup, and flowers) to do a helicopter elopement.
We are celebrating on August 8, 2021 in our hometown of Windsor with our immediate family and our bridal party, which is about 50 guests. We will be having a ceremony again on this day, so I can walk down the aisle with my father and spend the day with our bridal party. This will be followed by a dinner, all taking place at the Magnolia House B&B. We kept a couple of our original Niagara vendors (videographer and music) who were willing to come down to Windsor, but sadly lost deposits with a few others (photographer, DJ, hair) who were not willing to travel to Windsor.
Walk us through your day:
We flew into Vancouver on May 21, picked up our rental car, drove to Squamish, BC and went right to the Service BC to pick up a marriage license. We had to make it there by the time they closed at 4:00 p.m. for everything to work out as planned, so luckily there were no flight delays or issues with our travels. We grabbed dinner at a local spot called Howe Brewery. I booked a hotel room in Squamish with a separate living room, so we could do it the traditional way of sleeping separately the night before our wedding. We both woke up early though, around 5:00 a.m. (because of the 3-hour time difference back home) and realized we had hours before I would be going to get my hair/makeup done so we decided to go to breakfast together. We ended up going to a cute cafe called Cloudburst and had a nice, quiet morning together. We went back to the hotel and opened up the wedding gifts that we purchased for each other. Cody bought me a necklace and earring set from People’s and I purchased a Citizen watch for him.
Cody dropped me off to get my hair and makeup done and while I was getting pampered, Cody went to pick up our flowers from Billie’s House flower shop. We finished up my hair/makeup around 11:30am and Nina was so kind as to give me a ride back to my hotel so that Cody wouldn’t see me. He stayed on the patio as I walked back into the hotel room and I went right into the bedroom.
We read letters that we had written to each other at that time, in separate rooms. The letters were heartfelt and sweet and we wrote them in a similar way. A few minutes after that, the photographer Alanna arrived. She took final photos of Cody getting ready and then he went down to our “First Look” location at the back of the hotel. Alanna took final pictures of me in the hotel room and then we walked down to the first look location. The restaurant patio at the back of the hotel was full of guests as we walked down. I guess someone had jokingly hollered at Cody, “Don’t do it” when he was walking down and a few people shouted to me how beautiful I looked. It was a bit uncomfortable having a small audience, but was also kind of funny and loosened us up. The green area we chose for the first look was farther back from the hotel, between some small mountains and near a lake. I tapped him on his shoulder and the look on his face was something I’ll never forget. The moment was so special and full of love. We walked around there for a bit and I helped him put on his boutonniere. The temperature and weather was perfect at this spot.
We made our way next to the Squamish Spit & Estuary, which is located at the tip of Howe sound and gives awesome views of the Stawamus Chief. It is also home to hundreds of species, including bald eagles. We saw so many flying around. This area is also known around the world for its prime wind and kitesurfing conditions. There were tons of kite surfers out and let me tell you, it was super windy in the estuary. We were getting blown around! The views were stunning though so I’m still glad we chose this spot.
We made our way next to the Blacktusk Helicopter base location. Considering how windy the Estuary was we were nervous about flying and how windy it would be up at the top. The pilot said we were all good to go and had us choose which mountain to go on. Our officiant Jeremy is very experienced in these helicopter elopements and so he ended up choosing which mountain we were going to fly to. Cody and I were full of excitement and nerves on the ride up. We were warned of course that it would be chilly and very windy on top of the mountain, but when we landed and got out, it was SO calm and a great temperature. We were amazed. I put on boots to get through the snow cover to the spot where we chose for our ceremony location. The ceremony was beautiful, and included our own vows. The views and the intimacy we experienced were more than we could have ever envisioned. After the ceremony, we popped some champagne and spent a good hour taking pictures and enjoying the quiet stillness together. We took the helicopter back down, taking a more scenic route and signed our legal papers at the bottom. Alanna, the photographer and the pilot, Darren were our witnesses.
We headed back to our hotel, and Face-timed our parents from our balcony. They were all shocked, but excited (my parents were more shocked than excited haha). We told our bridal party members and siblings as well that day, but decided not to tell anyone else until after our trip so that we could enjoy our honeymoon week, without being on our phones all week.
It was the best day and everything went smoothly as planned. The following days in the Vancouver area were foggy and drizzly so we lucked out with perfect weather for our special day. We spent a few days in Vancouver and then went to a hot springs for a night, and then to Okanagan Valley for the second half of the trip.
What was your favourite part of the day?
The personal vows we wrote to each separately and how in sync they were when we read them. We both ended our vows with “Thank you for choosing me, I will always choose you” without even planning it. The officiant even asked us after how they were so similar. The vows were a special intimate moment, and we felt like we were the only ones in the world when we said them to each other.
What advice can you give to couples planning a wedding?
Choose the wedding you as a couple want, not the wedding for anyone else. What matters the most is the special moments that you share together throughout the day. Make sure to take time for you two, because that’s what you will cherish forever.
Also, have a back-up plan. I ended up going with a “Plan C” wedding given the circumstances and we are both so thankful on how it worked out. We were able to experience the adventure elopement and still are looking forward to August 8th to celebrate with our loved ones.
Ceremony location: Goat Ridge,Tantalus Mountain Range, Squamish, British Columbia
Wedding dress designer: Stella York, Here Comes the Bride, Leamington On.
Suit designer: Surmesur
Photographer: Alanna Govenlock
Flowers: Billies House
Hair/makeup: Nina Farrauto
Helicopter: Blacktusk Helicopter
Officiant: Jeremy Postal
Hotel stay/first look location: Executive Suites Hotel and Resort, Squamish BC
Second photo location: Squamish Spit & Estuary
Planning an outdoor wedding? Be sure to read our Outdoor Wedding Guide!