Recent Comment from Tofino Bride!

When Layton and I first became engaged, I got to thinking about my ideal wedding. It came to me quite quickly; a cliff-top ceremony on the Isle of Wight with the sea crashing below, some old castles, maybe a jaunt over to Ireland for photos at the Giant’s Causeway. It was perfect! And totally impractical, and I quickly abandoned the idea, but in all honesty, what I got was far better than I could have imagined. I had a perfect day, which went off without a hitch, in a perfect location and I married my best friend, and now I have a thousand beautiful photos to adorn my house with. Our engagement was a long one. I was more than four months pregnant with our daughter when Layton proposed, and we were in no rush. It took more than a year for us to set a date, even. Choosing Tofino was a no-brainer for me; as a child, my family and I had made a yearly pilgrimage to the coast, and although I hadn’t been there in 15 years or more, it was still very much where my heart belonged. I couldn’t wait to go back. So, in the early summer of 2012, I put my finger on the date (July 7th 2012, which would be the next time the seventh day of the seventh month fell on a Saturday – July 7th was also our daughter’s due date, and the day I embarked on a life-changing trip to Thailand in 2007 – the date was significant to me) and started planning…and immediately came to a halt. Tofino had grown several stunning resorts since I’d last been there, and I couldn’t have told you which beaches I even liked, or if I’d been to more than one, or which way Ucluelet was. I was lost.

After a few completely false starts, I realized I needed help. Thank goodness for Suzanne! I found West Coast Weddings and Events on Google – in fact every time I’d tried to figure something out myself (read: whenever I Googled something like “how to have a beach wedding in Tofino) Google would nudge me in Suzanne’s direction. Eventually I just took the very strong hint, and contacted her. I’m so glad I did. Trying to plan a wedding is hard enough without being a whole time zone away. I would never have pulled this off on my own

As someone who works in the wedding industry (I’m a wedding photographer here in Edmonton) I knew what I wanted…sort of. I knew I wanted a beautiful ceremony. I knew at the end of the day, what mattered to me most was having gorgeous photos. However, I didn’t have the first clue where to get a wedding commissioner, how to pick a hair salon a province and a half away. I honestly probably would have forgotten to get flowers at all if left to my own devices, and we would have been cakeless. I found Suzanne extremely adept at figuring out what I wanted, even when I wasn’t sure. Especially when I wasn’t sure.

The journey to my day was long and fairly painless. We chose Cox Bay Beach Resort out of the most suitable options we were presented with, and were not disappointed at all (on the contrary, it was pure heaven; my daughter’s comment: “Mommy, how about we live here, and someone else can live in our house”). It was quite nice to have all the family so nearby (within shouting distance!) without having to actually share accommodations with them! The staff were wonderfully accommodating and friendly, the place was immaculate, it was right on the beach, there was a balcony to hang my ocean-soaked dress on to dry out the day after. It was perfect – pure luxury.

A few months beforehand, in the throes of winter, I had an “I’m going to look like a vampire on my wedding day:” mini-freakout, and Suzanne directed me to Alison at Long Beach Esthetics. I’d never had a spray tan before, so I was pretty nervous about being orange, Alison assured me all would be fine, and she was right. People were fooled, and I looked fantastic.

I mentioned before that I didn’t have a clue where to find a wedding commissioner, and I’m glad I didn’t, because I might not have chosen Gael Duchene. She was perfect. When Suzanne suggested her to me, she said “you’ll like Gael, she is genuine” and she is. I could not have imagined a ceremony more heartfelt, and for that I thank her.

Only a few weeks before the wedding, Suzanne asked me what Layton was planning on wearing to the ceremony. When I responded “kilt”, she had the most fabulous idea (which I never in a million years would have thought of) – hire a bagpiper. What a fantastic idea! The ceremony was bound to be great as it was, but this was the finishing touch that took it from great to amazing. I doubt I will ever hear another bagpipe again without getting tears in my eyes.

The day of the wedding, my sister and soon-to-be sister-in-law and I were pampered and prettied up at Studio One. My hair and make up were absolutely stunning – Rhonda did an incredible job. In fact, we all looked great! I’m always cautious about letting others do my hair and make up. I’m definitely no pro, by any means, but I’ve had a couple of bad experiences (which is actually the reason my mother in law declined to have her hair done) but all were allayed and everything was perfect. I find myself, daily, beaming at my photos. My mother in law said to me, after the whole thing was done, “I’ve never seen you look so beautiful”. I guess that’ sums it up.

I chose Michael Farrow as my photographer because I thought his photos were incredible, and I was pleased to find out that besides being an amazing photographer, he’s a really awesome person who made us all feel comfortable and magazine-worthy. Photos were the most important part of the wedding to me (besides, of course, the marriage!) and I was not disappointed!! Every time I look at the photos, I can’t BELIEVE they belong to me, and that I can paper my house with them and have them for the rest of my life. Looking through them, Michael seemed to be everywhere at once. Not a moment was missed. The journey of the happiest day of my life is palpable when I look at these photos. They are incredible.

After a surreal walk down the aisle and a happy ceremony in the presence of my family, a few photos at Pettinger Point and a dip in the ocean, we went to Shelter for dinner, where we ate some of the most delicious food on the coast (it was so good that we went back a few days later) and ate our beautiful and delicious cake by Jeni Christie, adorned by some of the blossom to match my incredible orchid bouquet designed by Tehu at Crabapple Floral. In fact, I ate that cake for most of a week – it was delicious. It’s a good thing I don’t have to get into my dress again.

Our day went off without a hitch, and I owe it to Suzanne and everyone else who was involved. We were very sad when our time on the island came to an end, but we’ll be back. Thanks to all the wonderful people who made this day the happiest of my life.

Jen McLeod (nee Schimanke)


Studio One


Filagree Cake


Surf Love


Happy Family

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