Walking hand in hand on an unspoiled beach as waves crash endlessly and you look upon some of the last rain forests of their kind on earth...undeniably romantic! The Wickininnish Inn, located in Tofino, BC, provides an unforgettable wedding experience for the destination couple. You may be a bride and groom looking for that beach wedding without passports, or you could be the couple desiring an indoor wedding in a naturally spectacular setting. However you picture your dream nuptials, Wickininnish Inn can fulfill them!
When we visited the Wickininnish Inn, the sun was shining brilliantly while surfers rode the waves. We were awed by the beauty and relaxing atmosphere that the Inn provided. And we were blessed with the opportunity to watch an afternoon elopement take place on the beach. We were able to experience personally many of the reasons that the Wickininnish Inn is so highly recommended for weddings! Let us tell you more....
Backdrop to the Inn.....
Wickininnish Inn, which boasts surfside accommodations, world-class cuisine at Pointe Restaurant and the famous Ancient Cedars Spa, is the perfect choice for the bride and groom who wish to have a West Coast wedding. Named after a Tla-o-qui-aht chief from the late 1700’s, the Inn has actually moved locations during its history! Famous citizen, Howard McDiarmid, worked tirelessly to have the area designated a national park, only to find that doing so caused the closure of the original Wickininnish Inn in 1971. Local Tofino residents, along with the McDiarmid family, were thrilled to see the Wickininnish Inn reopen its doors at its current location in 1996, where it has since flourished.
The Inn is situated on a rocky outcrop and surrounded by panoramic Pacific Ocean views on three sides and an old growth forest as a backdrop. We love all the effort that was made to ensure the Wickaninnish Inn represented the indigenous beauty of the region by keeping the natural look around the buildings and by using local materials. The Inn's 'ongoing journey towards sustainability' translates into leaving as light a footprint as possible, earning a five key rating with the Hotel Association of Canada’s Green Key Eco-Rating Program.
Many local artists and artisans, including master carver Henry Nolla, have also made contributions to the design and finish of the interior spaces such as the hand adzed textures. The surrounding rainforest and Chesterman beach become part of the interior, seen through huge windows offering panoramic views across the beach and out to the ocean.
One of the best things about the Inn is being able to walk through the forest on railed staircases and out into one of the many trails that lead to the beach. Whether you are a night owl or an early riser, you can go out and feel like you are the only ones around. And the sunsets are spectacular, to say the least!
The Inn boasts 75 guest suites, including five Chesterman Beach Loft suites with gourmet kitchens, six end suites and the Canopy suite, ranging in size from 600 to 1100 square feet. The Beach building also provides a great library filled with things you would actually want to read and the latest magazines and papers, the fireplace warmed Driftwood Lounge and a fitness room overlooking the beach. The suites themselves boast many small touches that will make your stay enjoyable such as binoculars, blankets for the beach, travel books, reading magazines, your own CD collection, fireplace, and tubs that have their own view of the ocean!
Weddings That Are Unique....
Besides providing unforgettable experiences for guests to Tofino, The Wickininnish Inn really concentrates on elopements and weddings. In fact, there are even TWO event planners, Laura and Rachelle. Laura works on elopements while Rachelle works with larger groups. This means that each couple that weds at the Inn has their own contact who works with you from the start of your event to when you wave goodbye.
And Rachelle and Laura pride themselves on trying to provide everything a bridal couple can dream up.... Wedding on the beach with a clam bake? Check. Wedding in the Library overlooking the ocean view? Check. Wedding in the rainforest? No problem! Laura told us that they have built huppas and dance floors on the beach and had brides arrive in dugout canoes! And while the Inn is used to smaller weddings, they have also had the Inn completely taken over for larger affairs.
Don't forget one of the most special experiences at Wickininnish Inn! The luxurious, couple's side by side hot stone massage in the Sanctuary perched on the rocks and with a clear view of the ocean! The Sanctuary is a wonderful little cottage nestled into the greenery and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But what the Inn is most famous for is the private Shell Beach, adjacent to the Inn, and completely surrounded by private property. In this rarefied atmosphere, a bridal couple can dream up their customized wedding. As Rachelle pointed out, "We are blessed with couples coming from all over the world and that means there are really no 'cookie cutter' weddings here."
Lisa, who married her fiance at the Inn on July 29, 2011, put it best. "We wanted to show off (in style) how beautiful the west coast is to everyone we love and the Wickininnish Inn does that."
Elopements as a specialty.....
Laura, the elopement specialist, walked us through the most famous way of marrying at the Wickininnish Inn. (Check out this article written about Laura at www.wickinn.com/news/articles/TofinoWeddingsElopementPackageWickaninnishInn.html) The "I Do" Elopement Package is designed for just two people but can include up to six loved ones. The ceremony can be held just about anywhere on the property and the marriage commissioner will meet with the couple ahead of time if they wish. And if you decide to elope on a whim, then a BC license can be acquired by the end of the day with proper ID!
Just because a couple has chosen to elope does not mean that any less attention is paid to the occasion. Wedding cake is waiting and flowers are ordered to your taste. Arrangements for hair and makeup can be made on your behalf as a perk or dinner reservations at the Pointe Restaurant.
Laura tries to think of everything that is needed to make the occasion romantic and special. The Inn is famous for their extraordinary attention to detail and it really shows! Turn down service includes walking into your room to find low lighting, music softly playing, candles lit and rose petals sprinkled about.
Gifts from the Inn are left for you to enjoy and photography services include up to 50 images of your wedding on a cd before leaving.
This doesn't mean that the Inn insists on doing everything - if you have some details of your wedding you wish to deal with personally, you are more than welcome to do so. And you can ask for recommended vendors in the nearby towns of Ucluelet and Tofino.
Chelsea and Magnus loved their experience. "They were outstanding - from the moment we were asking for quotes until we were there with our small wedding party and respective dogs! They were friendly, knowledgeable and certainly prepared. Laura was very communicative and answered all of our questions in the months before. They catered to us all - and remembered all of the dietary concerns we had listed. As well - we needed a dog sitter for while we were on our honeymoon kayaking the Clayquot Sound and the staff looked into it - and one of their very own staff members volunteered! They really supported us in all of our wishes. When we were leaving they packed up some water for our dog and wished us safe travels!"
Donald and Judy loved the romantic touches! "It was romantic setting; all the details were looked after. For example after dinner we returned to room, and found rose petals strewn on the floor and in the drawn bath which was lit with candles. I would say you would not find another place as romantic as the Inn. It left us with wonderful memories."
Weddings with guests....
Though famous for elopements, the Inn is also ready to deal with larger weddings up to 150 guests. Rachelle takes on your event and will first make sure that what you are looking for will suit the Inn. Then Rachelle begins the process of listening to what you are envisioning and creating your wedding. As Rachelle says, "Versatility is really a drawing card for us. Nobody else here compares to what we are able to do for a bride and groom. We are a five diamond standard."
While Rachelle plans the ceremony, the reception is carefully planned with the catering Chef. Indoor receptions are held in the Salal Room which has glass overlooking a beautiful veranda and a view out onto Chesterman Beach. Most of the food used in reception menus will be harvested, fished or grown locally and decor can be sourced directly from the beach or forest (more conventional decor can also be arranged!). The extensive wine list will ensure that you will find the right one for your occasion.
One of the best ideas for the couple thinking of having their wedding at Wickininnish Inn would be to spend a romantic weekend there before hand. The Inn has lots of fun weekend packages to choose from, though our favorite package name has got to be 'Ruffing It'! Rachelle will take the time to get to know the couple and go over all the final plans and billing so there are no surprises.
The actual wedding experience begins as you and your guests arrive at the Inn. Each guest is roomed personally by a guest serves rep and shown all the amenities. Rachelle is concierge for your wedding group and experiences your customized wedding with you to be sure that any hiccups are dealt with. And, if you wish, a farewell brunch is arranged so that everyone is together just before leaving the Inn.
Donald Wadela and Judy Wellington, who married on March 30, 2011, were awed by the hospitality. "When we drove up to the Inn, we were immediately greeted by name and made welcome. The team was very professional, attentive and above all friendly. They made us feel like family!"
Lisa found that she loved how helpful everyone was to her and her fiancé. "We were all about keeping the ceremony simple and really enjoying the environment with friends and family. When it came to options, it was anything you wanted. There really wasn't any request they couldn't provide for. You could have the ceremony anywhere, at any time. You could organize the menu and timing of everything to just as you wanted it. I loved that I even had a car provided to me for getting around on the wedding day; from getting my hair done, to taking me down to the beach for the ceremony."
Laura and Rachelle, along with the catering team, most importantly provide experience. They know who to call and how to make your day wonderful. And they can really impress your guests by providing experiences that they will all be talking about when they leave. Surf lessons, biking, kayaking, whale watching, guided rainforest tours....and it keeps on going! And, if it rains, out come the galoshes, raincoats and umbrellas. Storm watching in Tofino is an unusual experience and not one to be missed!
Magnus and Chelsea found that the Inn met all their expectations. "Wickininnish met all of our ideal wishes - a romantic west coast location; it can go from rustic to modern. There were options for activities for any activity level, or just long walks on the beach with our dog. It really allows for a relaxing time but also provides all the 'special-ness' of a wedding."
Lisa Yeakel, who had her ceremony, reception and lodging at the Inn, told us, "I had an epiphany that I wanted a small wedding at a dream location. My husband was always for a small (elopement) wedding from the start. He became very excited about the idea of a small, family and close friends only, wedding. The wedding changed from a big affair into "what did WE want?" For the wedding, I wanted the best luxury accommodations in a rugged beautiful outdoor environment. The Wickaninnish was perfect for that. They were very easy to work with and it was indeed the best decision."
Lisa shared her favorite memory of her wedding at the Inn. "The pictures are simply unreal. The day we got married was the most beautiful weather Tofino had had in weeks. It was pure luck. I will never forget the aged forests, the rocky beach and the smell of fresh ocean air. That night on the beach, it felt like a planetarium, you could see millions of stars. I had never seen such an incredible sky before."
♥ The way the Inn almost disappears into the scenery! When you are in your suite, you feel like you are on the beach. And when you are on the beach, the Inn is almost hidden by the forest. Landscaping is used to hide the scope of the resort which adds to the intimate feeling.
♥ The animal friendly policy. There are even doggy towels in a over-sized birdhouse as you walk back up from the beach!
♥ Valet parking service! And they ask for your pillow preference!
♥ The way that Pointe Restaurant has a water only view at the front. This makes for some outstanding sunset meals!
♥ The adorable cottage - part of Ancient Cedars Spa - nestled into the greenery that is perfect for couples massages.
♥ The hidden carved faces in some of the trees - try to find which ones are birdhouses!
♥ The outstanding art work by local artists that is scattered throughout the resort representing the area's culture (and constantly changing due to the fact that it is all for sale!).
♥ Oh and the strawberry shortcakes from the chef at the Wickaninnish! YUM! All the food was amazing.
♥ Wow...Conde Nast Traveller (UK) travel experts selected the Wickaninnish Inn as their top hotel in Canada in their 2012 Gold List under Leisure Facilities. Travel + Leisure readers voted the Wickaninnish Inn as their top rated Canadian hotel and one of the top 25 resorts in North America for 2011 in their World's Best Travel Awards! And the number one fundraiser for the local Whale Festival...
Details, details, details....
Rachelle told us that they can tailor the wedding for the couple when it comes to budgets but there is a minimum for food and beverage. On the other hand, if budget is not a problem, then the sky is the limit!
Shell Beach has a $2500.00 venue fee.
Taxes and gratuities are on top of pricing.
Lisa felt that the price matched the service they received. "The prices for everything ranged from moderate to expensive. When we looked at our options it was the most flexible that fit all of our criteria for how we wanted our day and time throughout our wedding to be. You only get married once and it was worth every penny."
Chelsea and Magnus felt that the "prices matched the value received." More importantly, they went back to the Inn for their first anniversary!!