Almost 15 years after they first laid eyes on each other in their Grade 6 classroom in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove community, Kimberly Vaage and David Jones were wed during a multi-day celebration with nearly 200 guests.

The couple had been high school sweethearts and maintained a long-distance relationship through post-secondary education on nearly opposite sides of the continent — Kimberly at the University of Calgary and University of British Columbia, and David at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. But David waited a few more years to propose, until he was established and could give Kimberly the wedding of her dreams.

“It’s an exorbitant thing,” says David, who now plays in the NHL for the Colorado Avalanche, of planning the ultimate big day. “I wanted to be able to give her a wedding that she would really remember and give her a ring that she loves.”

“It was perfect,” Kimberly gushes. Sounds like David’s game plan paid off.

One day in the fall of 2009, as she was about to fly back from Vancouver to David in Denver, Kimberly came across a photographer’s website showing images of Hatley Castle. Dating back to 1908, the former private home and later military college is a National Historic Site on the grounds of Hatley Park and Royal Roads University in Victoria. She cancelled her flight and travelled to Victoria with a girlfriend the next day.

“We weren’t engaged yet, but I thought it was coming,” says Kimberly, who immediately booked the castle after seeing it. “It was beautiful,” she says.

Even though she suspected that a proposal was on its way, it still came as a surprise. “It was right before Christmas and David had just had knee surgery, so I didn’t expect it,” she says.

Kimberly had been a ballerina growing up and the couple has made it a tradition to attend a performance of The Nutcracker every year. “We ended up going out for a drink after the ballet and it was a snowy night, so no one was out,” says Kimberly. She had no idea then that David had hired a photographer to capture the proposal, as he led her down a quiet Denver street to an X marked on the ground where the perfect shot of their special moment was already lined up. “It’s just us in the middle of the street in the snow. It’s pretty romantic,” she says.

After that, Kimberly shifted into high gear. “She’s been reading wedding magazines since she was born, pretty much,” David jokes about his bride, who actually made a business out of planning weddings after orchestrating her own.

“I’d hired a wedding planner and realized I liked things I was thinking of even better,” says Kimberly, who launched Love of Fair wedding and event planning with Chanel Holt — who coordinated the Joneses’ wedding — after realizing her knack for “everything to do with planning and organizing.”

More than 70 per cent of their guests were coming from out of town and as the wedding began to take shape, Kimberly planned an experience that beautifully wove together the fabric of the couple’s history, with personal touches like tucking Deep Cove’s famous Honey Doughnuts inside the guests’ welcome bags.

“When you’re from Vancouver, you really take pride in your home, and because we’re not here most of the time, it became a big feature,” says Kimberly, who now splits her time between Denver and Vancouver, of incorporating so many elements of their country, their province and their hometown into their wedding.

“We really wanted to showcase the West Coast,” says Kimberly, “and for it to be a destination, but not too far away.”

For the wedding itself, she envisioned an old-fashioned English garden party — “very romantic and light and elegant” — and in keeping with Victoria’s British heritage, she hired a small fleet of double-decker buses to shuttle guests between the hotel and castle.

“We didn’t want 200 people flying in to see a hotel room,” says Kimberly. “We wanted them to see the outdoors and the water and all of that. And we really wanted people to stick together.”

With so many friends and family arriving as strangers to one another, it was Kimberly and David’s intention to foster a spirit of camaraderie amongst the group by bringing everyone together for various activities.

Guests all stayed at the Delta Ocean Pointe overlooking Victoria’s scenic Inner Harbour, where the bridal party had a common area in their shared corner of the hotel for breakfasts and cocktails together. The rehearsal dinner was held two nights before the wedding in a private room at Ferris’ Oyster Bar in downtown Victoria. The day before the wedding, the guys golfed and the girls visited Butchart Gardens and enjoyed afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. And that night, many of the guests gathered for a big welcome dinner at Bard & Banker, a British-style pub in one of Victoria’s historic buildings.

“By the time the wedding came along, lots of people were buddies, which was beyond exciting for us,” says Kimberly of the friendships that were forged in the days leading up to the wedding.

Another great bonding experience for the bridal party, say both Kimberly and David, was having photos taken before the ceremony.

“So many people came from such a long distance, I just wanted to see everyone after the ceremony,” he says. “We chose to do pictures before and I think that was definitely the right decision.”

“I booked the photographers the day after I booked the venue,” says Kimberly, of hiring renowned husband and wife duo Jesse and Whitney Chamberlin of Our Labor of Love. “They’re from Atlanta, Georgia, and I’ve been in love with their work for years. They were the coolest people to work with, ever,” she says. Adds David, “They were just incredible; our pictures turned out amazing.”

“It was the highlight of my day,” says Kimberly, whose priority was capturing the day’s events in candid photos, “and I didn’t think it would be because when you take photos before, you think it could be a letdown, but it was easily the most exciting. It’s so great to share your wedding day together, as opposed to arriving separately.”

After their photo session, they made their way to the castle’s lawn where the ceremony took place in the summer sunshine. “The ceremony was great,” says David. “We had unbelievable weather and I had a friend of mine — a guy I used to play hockey with who is now a pastor — do the ceremony.”

Dinner followed, in the Quarterdeck Ballroom, before everyone hit the dance floor on the castle’s terrace. At the end of the night, Kimberly and David — who welcomed their first child, baby boy Ronan, into the world in early September — headed off to start their new life together, in a double-decker bus full of family and friends.

Venue — Ceremony & Reception Hatley Castle, Victoria | Photographer Our Labor of Love, Atlanta, Georgia | Videographer Publik Productions | Wedding Planner Love of Fair Events | Bride's Dress Alison Hartford of Manuel Mendoza | Bridesmaid Dresses Amsale | Groom's & Groomsmen Attire J Crew | Hair Isolde Montgomery of Avant Garde | Makeup Breianne Zellinsky | Flowers Jennings Florists | Stationary Minted | Décor Wedding Design Studio | Catering Truffles Catering | Cake Passion for Cakes | Live Music The Young Executives | Photo Booth Lucida Photography