Real Wedding: Sarah & Denny

Real Wedding: Sarah & Denny

A stunning outdoor ceremony in Calgary, AB. A unique ceremony venue combining beautiful artwork, wild landscape and a tepee ceremony frame. 


Our engagement is a little amusing. We met in the summer of 2001 while working at Emerald Lake Resort in the Canadian Rockies, and we moved into our first place together on Sept 26/2001. So… on our 14th anniversary of “being shacked up and living in sin” as we called it, Denny planned a special night out for us – he even made the dinner reservation (which isn’t usual)!!

It was a beautiful fall day here in Calgary, AB, Canada, so before our dinner reservations, he moved our bistro table to the middle of the yard right where the sun was hitting it. He then suggested we have a pre-dinner cocktail. After a couple of minutes, he declared he was cold and needed a coat – it was NOT cold. When he came back he was all fidgety and eventually he said “I had so much to say, but I’m too nervous!!” and he dropped to one knee and pulled out a gorgeous solitaire diamond. I was completely shocked and didn’t say anything, but I did keep looking at my ring!! Then I said, “Why now???” Needless to say, I eventually got my wits about me and said YES!!


Our wedding date was August 13/16. Since we fell in love in such a beautiful place in the Canadian Rockies, we wanted our wedding to take place somewhere rustic and beautiful, where we could also take some fabulous photos. The big hurdle we had to contend with is that the summer of 2016 in Calgary was possibly the wettest ever. Pretty much every day and certainly every weekend in July and up to our wedding was cold and rainy, but somehow our day was hot and beautiful! Thank goodness, as we didn’t have a backup plan.

Our wedding had 130 attendees, it was a lot larger than we originally anticipated because we didn’t think people would really care that we were getting married so many years later – boy, were we wrong!!

Our theme was “rustic.” We were married in the Artisan Gardens, which displays beautiful artwork from a variety of artists, has a tepee frame and our backdrop was a long grassed, wildly natural hill. Perfection in my eyes! We chose this because we love the outdoors, wanted something wild and semi-informal and rustic décor is just too darn cute.

The most important thing that I remembered from our wedding was how much we absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED our first look. The video of our first look and the pictures are the ones we treasure the most. Even though we were not yet married, those photos convey our overwhelming love for each other and how emotional we were on our special day. Having only the videographers and photographers around during our first look made it so much more intimate and I wouldn’t change that for an instant.

Three words to describe the day: Dream come true!


We had our ceremony at the Artisan Gardens in Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary, AB. This park is very rustic and very beautiful and is quite unique because it’s the largest inner-city provincial park in Canada – and is just 5 minutes from our home. The photos we took turned out amazingly.

We had our reception at Canyon Meadows Community Centre, which is literally a half-block from our home. We chose this location because it is a beautiful hall with lots of natural light. It can fit up to 160 guests, but we were tight with 130 in a banquet-style setup.


I was really lucky when choosing a dress. A relative knew the owner of this new bridal salon called Rococo Brides here in Calgary, AB. It is the real deal! I had been to some of the chain salons when helping friends choose their dresses, but the experience was nothing compared to Rococo. We had the salon to ourselves and my girlfriends each chose a dress, while the salon employees each chose one for me as well. Out of the 6 dresses, I was in love with three of them. Finally, I narrowed it down to the one I chose. It was elegant, yet had rustic touches and within an hour or so I said YES TO THE DRESS! They have a runway with lots of mirrors there and I felt like a princess. We then toasted with Champagne! Such a great experience! The dress was not what I originally thought I wanted… I had in my head I wanted a strapped dress that was fitted. Well, I ended up with a strapless A-line! Wouldn’t change it for anything, such a gorgeous dress. It is made by Sincerity Bridal.


We rented Vera Wang suits from Moores. Originally, I let the guys decide what they wanted, but eventually, I had to step in and make sense of what they had planned. The groom should not be dressed exactly as the groomsmen!


Bridesmaids dresses were a little complicated as both my girls live in a different province. So, I decided to let them choose whatever style dress they wanted from In Wedding Dress online. This website was great, although they are in Asia, their customer service was top-notch. The expedited me a sample of the yellow I wanted and then ensured that both dresses were made from the same fabric roll. Considering we did everything online, it worked out well.


Hair and makeup are something that was really important to me since I rarely wear makeup and wanted stellar hair. I hired a professional makeup artist (Amanda Rye) and my friend Sandra who is the owner of her own hair salon, Marble Hair Company. The bridesmaids, mothers and I all had our hair and makeup done and it was well worth it!


I was passionate about using real flowers, and am I ever glad I was. The bouquets Amborella created were exactly my vision and really made all our pictures really pop. They incorporated our wedding colours of yellow and blue but also had white and orange elements. The boutonnieres the men wore were so original and beyond my expectations. We also used flowers as centrepieces on all our tables. We did these ourselves with white carnations and baby’s breath and they were rustic and beautiful.


When researching catering companies, I came across Alpine Catering. They had fantastic reviews, fit into our budget and had catered many of our friend’s events over the last couple of decades. We chose to have a variety of appetisers, then did a buffet with beef, chicken, veggies, salads, etc. Everyone enjoyed the food a lot!


One of my good friends made our cake and I couldn’t have been happier. It turned out great. It was a three-tiered cake, but the bottom two tiers kind of exploded the night before!! She recovered it nicely though and the top tier is what we cut.  The cake was “rustic” style on a big wooden round base. I didn’t really get people to eat this cake as dessert was provided by our caterer.


For the invitations and favours, we chose a very rustic look to fit with our theme. They were all homemade and gorgeous! A good friend of ours is crafty, so she basically made them all for us!! We also made a wedding website which was extremely handy for keeping track of guests, making a seating plan, managing a budget, picking vendors and putting directions to the ceremony and reception venues and a link to our registry. We used


We had a string trio playing at the outdoor ceremony – two violins and a cello. They also played while we walked down the aisle and during the recessional. We also had a DJ for the reception.


We absolutely loved our videographer and would recommend always getting one. We cherish having some of our favourite moments recorded and I’m sure we’ll be watching it for years to come. Our videographer was Ferdi Flancia Films and our short highlight video was released the day after our wedding!


We chose to use Photography by Ashley J not only because her skills are top-notch, but also because I have known her for years! I looked through all her galleries and was overly impressed. I know quite a few photographers, but Ashley’s work was the exact style we were looking for. We went with one of her packages which included engagement photos, 2 photographers on the day for 7 hours, digital negatives and a wedding album etc. We couldn’t be more pleased with the photographs. She is so easy to work with and it was not awkward at all. The shots she got are priceless. Such a pro!


Although we originally considered eloping, we are SO happy that we opted to have a wedding with our family and friends. It led to having Denny’s family driving across the country in a motorhome to attend the event. Denny’s father had never been across the country, so this was a big thing. Having all our loved ones in the same room is something that we will likely never experience again. It will be something we will cherish forever.


Get a videographer, you won’t regret it. Try to slow down the wedding reception and take some moments for just the two of you… it all goes by so quickly, it’s crazy. Also eat, even if you are nervous and have to force it… especially before the ceremony. I was all nerves and had an empty stomach.



Ceremony: Fish Creek Provincial Park Reception: Canyon Meadows Community Centre
Wedding Dress: Sincerity Bridal from Rococo Brides 
Hair: Marble Hair Company  Makeup: Amanda Rye
Groom & Groomsmen: Moores  Bridesmaid Dresses: In Wedding Dress
Flowers: Amborella  Food: Alpine Catering
Videographer: Ferdi Flancia Films  Entertainment: Sounds Unlimited 

Photography: Photography by Ashley J

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