Butterfly-Inspired Spring Wedding in Canada

Amy and Brian

Photographed by: Chris + Lynn PhotographersLocation: Duncan, British Columbia, Canada

Even though Brian Williams had been friends with Amy Arellano’s sister for over a decade, it took the power of the Internet to finally bring them together. With the click of her mouse, Amy sent off a chain letter email to a list of her sister’s contacts. One of the recipients, Brian, responded by asking about her unusual email address. The explanation that it was a combination of her cats’ names intrigued him, and after a few more email exchanges and phone conversations, Amy and Brian met in person and fell in love.

After dating for a few years, Amy and Brian decided to expand their horizons beyond their home base in Los Angeles by purchasing a second home on Vancouver Island, Canada. While flying 35,000 feet above the Columbia River en route to their new home, Amy heard the pilot announce over the intercom that Brian had a question for her. Shocked and emotional, Amy turned to the man she loved and he proposed. The rest of the passengers shared in this special moment as the crew passed around glasses of champagne.

With a nineteen-month engagement, the couple had plenty of time to plan the wedding of their dreams in Canada. As most of their family and friends lived in the continental United States, the couple selected Memorial Day weekend so their guests could enjoy a mini-vacation of their own.

Planning a wedding on a remote island proved to be both a blessing and a challenge for this creative couple. The location for the ceremony was an easy choice as their new oceanfront home sat on an amazing property, but many of the wedding’s decorative pieces had to be shipped in due to the lack of nearby resources. With great effort the couple’s land was transformed into a lush, romantic setting straight out of a Shakespearean play. Amy and Brian drew inspiration from the blooming hydrangea as it reminded them of their blossoming relationship. Working with landscaper and floral designer Ed Kervan, the couple spent more than sixteen months landscaping the grounds of their home, incorporating a rich mixture of deep purples, blues, and pinks.

For the reception, the couple selected the seventy-acre Milner Gardens and Woodland with its majestic old-growth Douglas firs and cedars. Brian still marvels at his wife’s tenacity in bringing the event to fruition: “Amy sort of approached the wedding as a film production! The reception location had never accommodated a full wedding reception. Amy marched in there with all of her silk linens and wedding favor samples and wowed the staff with her vision. They were thrilled to be a part of our wedding and we’ve made history as being the first reception to be held there.”

A butterfly motif became the event’s primary decorative element and was first introduced on the cedar wood invitations. Upon arrival at their hotel rooms, Amy and Brian’s fifty guests were greeted with welcome bags overflowing with spa products, candy, a personalized CD, an acrylic box decorated with butterflies, and a jam-packed weekend itinerary.

Two weeks before the wedding, Brian’s grandfather, who had been very ill, expressed a strong desire to see the couple perform an African tradition known as “jumping the broom” in which the bride and groom hold hands and jump over a decorated broom to symbolize the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new. The bride and groom happily agreed and performed the tradition, which pleased Brian’s grandfather tremendously.

In honor of another important family member, Amy surprised Brian by keeping a chair in the first row empty to represent his father who had passed away. On the chair she placed the same Native American dream catcher that Brian had bought for his father when he was in the hospital. Seeing the dream catcher on the seat next to his mother was very emotional for Brian, and it brought him great comfort.

Amy had another surprise in store for her groom when, during the reception, she unveiled a football-shaped groom’s cake decorated with the logo and colors of his favorite team, the New Orleans Saints. Sitting beside their traditional wedding cake, which was comprised of three round tiers of fondant and fresh flowers, were beautifully framed photos of the parents of the bride and groom during their own cake cutting ceremonies many years ago.

One of the highlights of the evening occurred when the couple released a dozen Monarch butterflies to an extended version of Mariah Carey’s song “Butterfly.” It was a truly magical affair for the happy newlyweds. Desiring to never forget their amazing time, a room in Amy and Brian’s Los Angeles home is now decorated with items from the reception. Each time they enter, the emotions and joy from their special day come pouring back in.

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