I was researching the history of weddings, hoping to sound knowledgeable when writing this story and came across some interesting factoids from ‘go to’ bridal portal “Bride and Groom.” In an online article on the history of weddings they write: “The wedding is one of life‘s primeval and surprisingly unchanged rites of passage. Nearly all of the customs we observe today are merely echoes of the past. Everything from the veil, rice, flowers, and old shoes, to the bridesmaids and processionals, at one time, bore a very specific and vitally significant meaning. Today, although the original substance is often lost, we incorporate old world customs into our weddings because they are traditional and ritualistic. Old world marriage customs continue to thrive today, in diluted, disguised and often upgraded forms. Customs we memorialize today were once “brand new“ ideas.”
The wedding location was the Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke and I was given a behind-the-scenes look at Krystine and Matthew’s wedding. My focus was not on the lucky couple, although they were indeed the ‘stars’ of the day, but I wanted to see what goes on with the people who work behind the scenes to ensure that Krystine and Matthew have a day to treasure for years to come.
Nichola Warner, Catering Manager at the Resort, told us this would be one of perhaps a couple hundred weddings she would handle this year. “They come to the Oceanfront Resort, often from Victoria, and they feel like they’ve escaped on a Destination Wedding and yet they’re only 40 minutes from the capital,” she told us. As most bride and grooms will tell you, the wedding event takes a lot of planning and co-ordination and while Nichola explained it can be a rather stressful day, “I feel rather proud to be a part of their adventure,” she added.
Historians have documented that during the “marriage by capture“ era, close friends of the groom-to-be assisted him when he kidnapped the bride from her family. The first ushers and best men were more like a small army, fighting off the brides angry relatives as the groom rode away with her. Bridesmaids and maids of honor became more common when weddings were planned. For several days before the marriage, a senior maid attended to the bride-to-be. This maid or matron of honor, as we know her today, ensured that the bridal wreath was made and helped the bride get dressed. All bridesmaids helped the bride decorate for the wedding feast. For a long time, bridesmaids wore dresses much like the bride‘s gown, while ushers dressed in clothing that was similar to the groom‘s attire. This tradition began for protection against evil rather than for uniformity; if evil spirits or jealous suitors attempted to harm the newlyweds, they would be confused as to which two people were the bride and groom.’
Well, when Krystine Emsley married Matthew Howie I didn’t notice irate and angry relatives brandishing arms trying to save Krystine as Matthew rode away from her - rather the opposite. Both families had smiles and hugs for each other as the couple made a pledge to honour and care for each other for the rest of their lives.
The setting for the wedding is spectacular with Sooke Harbour in the background and the Juan de Fuca Strait to the bride and groom’s right. Mountains with fluffy white clouds clinging to the tops created a picture-perfect scene. Most brides choose the picturesque outdoor pergola for their vows. With soft breezes kissing the bride’s white off-the-shoulder white dress (which I notice is a 2016 Wedding Trend), everyone survives the heat of summer with nature’s help.
After Matthew’s sometimes hilarious vows were read (he told me he was going to inject humour so his bride-to-be didn’t faint) and the rings exchanged, the family and wedding party went through a retinue of poses in front of multiple cameras (it seems a trend today that both still and videos are shot simultaneously … kind of like a mini-Kardashian wedding). I think wedding photography has in all likelihood the most popular photo trend in the world. From the early “Kodak Moments,” taking pictures of the bride and groom has been the singular reason manufacturers have survived. The resort provides lots of photo angle opportunities with beautiful gardens, the blue water of the harbour, the wooden pier and of course the majestic mountain backdrop for the whole setting.
As the photographers and videographers were outside setting up their shots, I was flipping in between them and the kitchen and the decorated banquet room, tracking both Nichola and the Executive Chef. Following the trend to showcase local and regional cuisine, the chef was making bruschetta from local tomatoes but his “showstopper desserts” (also a trend for 2016) made me want to sneak a few nibbles while the crowd was distracted by the bride and groom outside. Food is an important part of any celebration and a wedding filled with hungry family and friends is no exception. Nichola ensured the room was ready to receive the newly married couple and their guests checking on the decor, the MC, the disk jockey and the seemingly endless details involved in a wedding.
As Krystine and Matthew and their guests enjoyed the evening, I stepped outside to pause for a moment thinking about two people who were now joined in their lives and wondering what their story would be in the years to come. Their story is off to a good start and I hoped that the worst life can throw at them will be made all the more easier when they face adversity as a couple.
Of course, I could be forgiven that I was in a contemplative mood with the moon reflected in the water, the boats slowly bopping in the water and the sounds of seagulls feeding on the scraps local fishermen had left on the docks.
It was a good day.