They had attended the same Burnaby high school and known each other most of their adult lives. But until 2005, Sonia Peter thought of Adam Tortora, 27, only as the friend of her kid brother, David. Then, on a group trip to Mexico, the two became friends themselves. In the years that followed, 28-year-old Sonia began to recognize in Adam an understanding listener, someone who offered her thoughtful advice.Over the next three years, both dated other people, but turned to one another for support when their respective relationships stumbled. As Adam watched his older brothers get married, he began to think earnestly about settling down himself. And as he did, one name kept popping into his head: Sonia. “We’d become closer and closer friends over time and I found her so kind, caring and beautiful,” he says.By March 2008, both found themselves single. Sonia had long harboured romantic thoughts about Adam, but dismissed them, kidding herself that their relationship was purely platonic. Everything changed one night when Adam asked her to be his girlfriend.

“There was definitely chemistry between us,” she recalls, looking back on their friendship. “He made me feel so secure, and we flirted all the time. I realized I was very attracted to him.” The moment they started dating, Sonia and Adam became inseparable. Both from fairly strict Italian Catholic families, they considered themselves foodies and harboured a shared passion for travel, while they also shared another link — both work for the same courier and transport company.An avid fan of TV reality show The Bachelor, Sonia made no secret of the fact that she would welcome an engagement ring on her finger. “I’d examine the rings exchanged on The Bachelor and promptly call Adam’s mom to discuss their designs,” she says. “Each time he would suggest we do something romantic, I would head to the beauty parlour for a manicure, thinking ‘This is it!’ ” But each time she’d be disappointed.In May 2011, Adam placed a call to the family jeweller, working closely with his mother to design a ring he knew Sonia would adore. Three months later, when the ring was finally ready, he wasted no time. By now entirely comfortable in the Peter family home, Adam simply walked into the house, entered Sonia’s bedroom as she was dressing to head out to a show, and popped the question.“His hand was outstretched with a ring nestled in it,” Sonia recalls. “Initially, I thought he was swooping down to help me buckle my shoes, but when I heard him ask me to marry him, I just started crying.”The two planned their wedding for the following September, giving Sonia 13 months to arrange an event she had long dreamed about. The ceremony would be a traditional Catholic one at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Burnaby, with an all-out party afterwards at the Westin Bayshore. “I’m the only girl in the family, so I knew it would be the only wedding my mom and I would get to plan together,” she says. “I wanted it to be the best day of my life, but I also wanted it to be fun, beautiful and memorable.” Mother and daughter flew to Los Angeles on a gown-shopping expedition, finding an exquisite ball gown by Vera Wang. “With its lace bodice, tulle bottom and pieces of Alençon lace on the tulle, it made me feel like a princess,” she recalls.On the day of the wedding, she and her six bridesmaids were up and ready by 7 a.m. for their schedule of hair, makeup, dressing andphotography, while Adam, relaxed and unflappable, hung out with hisgroomsmen at his own home.Sonia remembers feeling nervous and emotional all day. “I’m a shy person and I knew all eyes would be on me,” she says. To reduce the possibility of bursting into tears and ruining her makeup, she deliberately omitted her contact lenses for the walk down the aisle, avoiding eye contact with her groom.“I was taken by surprise when I saw her,” Adam confesses. “I thought she was just the most beautiful, amazing thing I’d ever seen.”The ceremony formalities over, guests headed to the Westin Bayshore for a relaxed cocktail hour, followed by a feast of Italian favourites, including antipasto, fresh pasta, beef tenderloin and assorted seafood, plus a lavish dessert buff et crowned by a croquembouche tower. Then thenewlyweds danced beneath a canopy of cherry blossom trees to the tune of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” sung by local Elvis impersonator Darren Lee.“We hired an Elvis impersonator because growing up, Elvis was such ahuge musical influence in our house, it’s what I grew up listening to,”explains Sonia. “He was a surprise and everyone went wild when they saw him come out to sing. “All our guests sang along, to us, while we danced,” Sonia recalls with tears in her eyes. “It was my favourite moment of the entire wedding.”

Photographer Jonetsu Studios | Ceremony Venue St. Francis de Sales Parish |  Reception Venue & Catering The Westin Bayshore | Wedding Planner (day-of coordination) Alicia Keats | Décor Art of the Party | Bride’s Dress Eliza, Vera Wang Luxe Collection | Bridesmaid Dresses Monique Lhuillier, Bisou Bridal | Hair Melissa, Gossip Salon | Makeup MAC artists Fuzhan Ghahremani & Kendall Packman | Groom’s Outfit Canali suit, Tom Ford shirt & bow tie, from Holt Renfrew | Flower Girl Dresses Pegeen | Ring Bearer Outfit Black by Vera Wang, from Moores Clothing for Men | Stationery Palettera, custom design by Deborah Lau-Yu| Flowers by Debbie Tortora, Debbie’s Flowers 604-298-9156 | Cake Ganache Patisserie | Disc Jockey DJ Daryl O | String Quartet Musical Occasions | Dinner Singer Reid Jamieson | Elvis Impersonator Darren Lee | Photobooth Butter Photobooth