Winery Wedding in Kelowna, B.C.
Polly Wong might not have been a blushing bride on her wedding day, but she certainly was a trusting one. The Calgary-based retail supervisor, who wed her longtime boyfriend Simon Yik, a geophysicist, this past May, entrusted all the details of her big day to a wedding planner. From the décor to the buffet dinner, Polly decided to delegate all the decision-making minutiae.
This was not, says Polly, because she was an indifferent bride. It was simply a matter of logistics, owing to the fact that the Hong Kong-born couple chose to wed in Kelowna, a province away from their home in Calgary. With busy full-time work schedules, plus ownership of a rambunctious puppy, it wasn’t feasible for the two to oversee every element of the nuptials.
Besides, Polly freely admits, she couldn’t have micro-managed the event even if she had wanted to, since she didn’t have a clear vision for her dream wedding. She had neither a theme nor a colour scheme. All she knew was that she wanted a “very clean and elegant” look. With this sole direction, Polly left the details up to the wedding coordinators at Kelowna-based Stage Right Etc.
Leaving so much license to another person could potentially prove disastrous, given that everyone has differing definitions of what constitutes “elegance.” Luckily for Polly and Simon, their trust was richly rewarded.
On a sunny spring day, the two wed at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, an organic vineyard situated in B.C.’s famed Golden Mile viticulture region. After exchanging vows outdoors amid the grapes, they trooped inside for a reception dinner in the Sunset Veranda, a glass-walled room so named for its picturesque views. “When we walked into the room it was amazing,” Polly gushes. “Everything just looked so beautiful.”
The space, shimmering for the occasion in tones of pale pink and white, perfectly conveyed the bride’s mandate for both simplicity and elegance.
But why wed in Kelowna at all? This was the one point where the couple proved decisive. “We wanted to choose a place where we could return to celebrate our anniversaries,” Polly explains. There was another reason, too: The desert city is the place where the young newlyweds hope to retire, one distant day in the future.
They’ve got a long way to go before they reach their Golden Years, though, and the two are taking life one day at a time. Case in point was their courtship, a surprisingly lengthy one considering that the couple knew soon after they met that they had likely found their life partner. Their fortuitous first encounter occurred on Christmas Day 2007 at a dinner in Hong Kong hosted by Polly’s parents, long-time Vancouver residents who were spending the holidays in the old country. “One of my friends called to ask if he could bring his cousin to my parents’ dinner,” Polly remembers. “I said ‘sure,’ and it turned out to be Simon.”
At first, the smitten twosome communicated largely through Facebook and MSN. Forging a deepening bond, they soon graduated to communicating by telephone. A few visits to each other’s home bases followed, each time more romantic than the last. By the six-month mark, the couple had decided to move in together, and Polly relocated from Vancouver, where she had resided since her teens, to Calgary. Then, following three harmonious years of sharing a common address, Simon decided to “put a ring on it.”
The proposal couldn’t have come as a bigger surprise for Polly, who recalls: “We were out for dinner in Banff in July 2011, and he said, ‘Let’s go back to the hotel.’ We were staying at the Fairmont. Then he said, ‘Let’s go for a walk.’ I was a bit confused: first he said, ‘Let’s go to the hotel’ then ‘Let’s go for a walk.’ Which one was it? Then he knelt down on one knee and proposed. I was so shocked! It was so unexpected.”
Unexpected, too, was the ease with which the bride-to-be found her wedding dress. “I only tried on two of them, and I ended up choosing the second one I put on.” That was just one of the three dresses she would eventually don for her big day. In a nod to Chinese tradition, Polly wore a gown of cherry red to symbolize good luck during the morning tea ceremony, switching to an elegant ivory-lace Paloma Blanca dress for the exchange of vows, and then a feminine lilac Noel Chu frock for the dinner. While donning two different dresses is a common practice at Asian weddings, the third gown was chosen for more practical reasons. “I love food and I wanted to be able to eat!” Polly says, referring to the full-skirted dress’s more forgiving dimensions.
For an occasion that the new bride declares was “perfect,” she hesitates for a moment when asked to cite the day’s most memorable moment. “The tea ceremony,” she finally declares. This was not just because it represented an all-important acknowledgment of the couple’s mutual Chinese heritage, but because: “It was so emotional. My mom and my mother-in-law were both crying, even though they were happy for us.”
The mood lightened up considerably during the reception, when tears were supplanted by smiles, as the couple took to the dance floor and swayed cheek to cheek amid the flash of cameras to ’N Sync’s “This I Promise You.” Cameras didn’t stop flashing afterward either, when guests began popping into a flipbook-photo booth the newlyweds had rented for the occasion. This novel aspect of the nuptials was so popular, even the bride and groom had to wait in line.
As wonderful as Polly finds those wedding-day memories, there’s one aspect of married life that makes her melt most of all: “It’s hearing Simon call me ‘wife,’ ” she says softly. “It’s just so romantic, and so sweet.”
Venue — Ceremony, Reception & Catering Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna | Photographer Kevin Trowbridge Photography | Videographer Geoff Heith | Bride’s Dress Paloma Blanca (ceremony gown), Koon Nam Wah & Co. (Chinese gown), Noel Chu (purple gown) | Bridesmaid Dresses Lela Rose | Hair Alyssa, at Bogie & Bacall Hair Design, Kelowna | Groom’s and Groomsmen Attire Derks | Wedding Planner, Flowers & Stationary Stage Right Etc., Kelowna | Cake Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate, Kelowna | Disc Jockey Kalani Laimana, Flyin’ Hawaiian Entertainment | Wedding Rings Spence Diamonds | Photo Booth Okanagan Flipbooks