Photographers: Riley Stewart Photography (Maui), John Bello Photography (Vancouver)
Venues: Ceremony at Secret Beach, Makena Cove, Maui; Dinner at Four Seasons Resort Maui; Reception at York Room, Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver
Wedding Coordinators: Denise Black, Four Seasons Resort Maui; Tara Newman, Hawksworth Restaurant
Grooms’ Outfits: Ludlow seersucker suits, from J.Crew, Hugo Boss tuxedos & Etro shirts, from Harry Rosen
Hair: Axis Hair Salons (Fred), Barber & Co. (Joshua)
Table Décor: Four Seasons Resort Maui, Flowerz (Vancouver)
Invitations: Custom designed by Joshua McVeity, Printed at Clubcard
Cake: Butter Baked Goods
Officiant: Richardo Hanakoo
Music: Dawn Chubai & Margaret Gallagher (vocals), Richard Coleman (accompanist)
Wedding Rings: Hélène Bourget Designs (custom rings)
Fred Lee met Joshua McVeity “the old-fashioned way – across a dance floor.”
“In lieu of online dating sites, our connection seemed particularly serendipitous,” says the CBC radio host, national newspaper columnist and UBC alumni relations manager. “It happened in real time, in real life, which was special.”
A relationship quickly formed. Joshua, a Vancouver photographer and designer, says, “There were no games, no wondering when to call, what to say. Everything just flowed.”
Four years later, in November of 2013, Fred was ready to propose. He whisked Joshua up to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where a room had been readied for his surprise.
“I walked in and saw flowers and champagne, but I assumed they were for Fred – people do things like that for him,” recalls Joshua. “Then I noticed a card with my name on it that said, ‘Baby, will you marry me?’ I finally clued in.”
Fred then offered Joshua a collection of gold jewellery he’d inherited from his mother. “In Chinese culture, a sort of ‘dowry’ is passed from a mother to her daughter on her wedding day,” explains Fred. “My mom wanted to continue the tradition, so she gave me permission to melt down the gold to create our wedding bands.”
Wedding planning, he admits, took a bit of a backseat as he and Joshua basked in the glow of their engagement. But when news hit that Hawaii had legalized same-sex marriage, it felt like a sign.
“Maui is our favourite travel destination, so that really sealed the deal,” Joshua says. They pinned the spectacular Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea as their venue and organized a small event.
“We didn’t think of it as a destination wedding – we didn’t want to burden people with that expense – it was simply where we envisioned ourselves getting married,” says Fred. “We decided to plan a second, formal reception in Vancouver, so we could celebrate with the rest of our group. We called it our ‘beach to ballroom’ wedding.”
On November 5, 2014, he and Joshua, in matching seersucker suits, stood barefoot on a secluded stretch of Hawaiian sand to say their “I do’s” before a handful of guests. The ceremony included nods to Polynesian culture, from the grooms’ matching maile-style ti-leaf leis (believed to bring good luck) to the blowing of a conch shell (for a long, loving and harmonious marriage). Cocktails and dinner at the hotel followed.
Two days later, the newlyweds arrived back in Vancouver, just in time to prepare for their reception at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
“The York Room in Hawksworth Restaurant was the perfect venue,” says Joshua. “The space is so beautiful, we didn’t need to do much to elevate it.”
Their chef-designed dinner menu featured sunchoke soup, roasted Alberta beef striploin and slow-baked Lois Lake steelhead trout. A decadent three-tier coconut chocolate buttercream cake topped off the meal. Fred, with a smile, points out, “There wasn’t a slice of that delicious cake to be had at the end of the night.”
Rather than dancing, he and Joshua treated their 60 guests to musical numbers by several close (and extremely talented) friends. “We chose songs to dedicate to each other – mine for Joshua was ‘At Last’ and his for me was ‘Endless Love’,” Fred says. “The bonus was having our best friends perform them for us.”
The love in the room that night, he adds, was palpable. And that was the point.
“Our vision was simple,” says Joshua. “We wanted to involve the most important people in our lives and celebrate in a way that stayed true to who we are.”
Fred wholeheartedly agrees. “From the emotional ceremony we had on the beach to the fabulous city reception – the whole thing was very us,” he says. “The memories are something we’ll have forever.”