Vancouver Island wedding experts reveal tips and tricks to make your big day the best it can be

Sometimes we forget that we have a world-class wedding destination in our own backyard. We take for granted what the rest of the world covets: dramatic ocean vistas, spectacular mountain panoramas and every picture-worthy backdrop in between. We have Vancouver Island.

And Vancouver Island is full of wedding professionals whose sole job is to help you create a beautiful, stress-free wedding. With years of experience and connections to dozens of local vendors, they’re not only professional wedding producers, they’re also exceptional at understanding the unique challenges of planning a destination wedding. They’ll ensure your wedding is not only a perfect day for you but for your out-of-town guests as well.

Here are 10 tips from Vancouver Island wedding specialists to make the most of your big day...

Oak BayOak Bay Beach Hotel1. To have and to give

Giving back to charities has been a growing trend in weddings, either in the form of donations in lieu of favours or having a sponsored charity included in the registry. If philanthropy is an important part of your wedding plans, find a venue that shares your generous spirit.

At Oak Bay Beach Hotel, “a portion of all proceeds from every event booking... go towards the David Foster Foundation,” says Cheryl Williams, conference services manager. “It’s a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing financial support for non-medical expenses to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants.”

Villa Eyrie ResortThe Villa Eyrie Resort2. Call on the concierge

For your out-of-town guests, Gigi Choy, sales and catering manager at The Villa Eyrie Resort, recommends taking advantage of your hotel’s concierge services. If you have guests coming in early or staying a few extra days, or if you simply have a break in your day’s programming, ask a concierge to arrange some activities. They’ll not only have great local knowledge but can often arrange for transportation and discounted admission as well.

Parkside HotelParkside Hotel3. Stay the night (before)

“Book the hotel room for the night before the wedding,” advises Melissa Latter, sales and catering coordinator for Parkside Hotel and Spa. As Parkside’s certified wedding planner (WPICC) as well, Latter knows this is a secret for starting off your wedding day stress-free. Wake up with nothing to think about except getting dressed and enjoying the day.

Toque CateringToque Catering4. Go locavore

Impress foodie guests with a caterer that showcases Vancouver Island’s natural bounty. “We use all local suppliers,” says chef Nicholas Waters of Toque Catering. “My favourite local ingredients are albacore tuna, side-stripe prawns and sablefish. And lots of foraged mushrooms!” Last year, Toque catered a three-day wedding that featured products from 52 local farms.

5. Let the hotel help

Find a hotel that offers an in-house wedding coordinator. They’ll not only understand the specific details necessary to make it perfect, they’ll also have contacts for local suppliers. “We work with suppliers that trust and value our clients as much as we do,” says Choy. “ If you want it stress-free, just let me know your style and budget and we will take care of the rest!”

DeltaDelta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa6. Embrace the ocean

Make the most of the waterfront setting. At the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa, catering coordinator Aimee Bouchard adores the Harbour Room, which is adjacent to the spectacular waterfront Harbour Patio that offers breathtaking views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the city. “It is the perfect setting for an elegant ceremony and the best way to wow your guests, especially those who are seated facing the water as the bride makes her grand entrance down the sweeping staircase.”

Prestige Oceanfront Resort SookePrestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke7. Plan for the weather

Vancouver Island’s best feature is its connection to the elements, which means weather can often change, and change quickly. Having a backup plan for an outdoor wedding is key, advises Nichola Houle, convention and catering manager at Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke. “We have equally impressive indoor and outdoor ceremony/reception areas and we can easily switch them out with less than 24 hours notice.”

8. Set the scene

Take advantage of one of Vancouver Island’s best assets: its stunning scenery. Waterfront views are easy enough on the island but if direct access is important to you, consider a property like Oak Bay Beach, which has its own private beach access. Without a private beach, it can be extremely stressful to figure out local bylaws/permits and battle the general public as you pose for pictures. “We only host one wedding per weekend so you have our full attention at all times and our private beach is your private beach.”

9. Stormy romance

Just as sought-after for its moody, stormy seascapes as for its sunny, beachy weather, Vancouver Island during off-peak months has its perks. “Our off-season weddings offer complete packages with great discounts,” advises Houle. “So even the most budget-conscious couples can enjoy our luxurious resort.”

oak bayOak Bay Beach Hotel10. Destination decor

“Avoid doing everything yourself, especially if you’re travelling,” advises Choy. “I’m always surprised at the amount of time and money spent on DIY decor, which can add up quickly.” Instead, Choy recommends working with a local decor company who will set everything up and tear it down at the end of the event. “Who wants to spend time after a wedding to pack up the stuff?”