{review} West Coast Weddings and Events

Photo: Szymon S Photography

Dedicated wedding planner for Tofino and Ucluelet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island

West Coast Weddings and Events is owned and operated by award winning wedding planner, Suzanne Ryles. This west coast resident has been planning stylish destination weddings for locals and overseas visitors since 2006.

The Wedding Ring caught up with Suzanne on a recent trip to Tofino, where she was busy networking with some of the businesses that help create stunning weddings in this beautiful location.

Navigating your options, tasks and countless details

In this day and age, couples planning a wedding can access all the information they want via the internet and social media, yet opting for the services of a professional wedding planner is more popular than ever.

Why? Well, in Suzanne’s case, this is probably because she helps couples navigate the myriad of options available to them in Tofino and Ucluelet. This is particularly appreciated by those who live in other parts of Canada and overseas. Without local knowledge of the area, it is difficult to pick that perfect beach location or to book the photographer that will best capture your day.

Suzanne doesn’t restrict herself to a handful of suppliers. Her approach is individual and bespoke to each couple. Her experience and knowledge of the area gives her the flexibility to really find the best option without being restricted to affiliated services – something which can put people off using a wedding planner.

On the day of the wedding, Suzanne is seamlessly working away in the background to ensure that everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be. This doesn’t just apply to the wedding couple but to the hair stylist, make-up artist, MC, photographer, caterer and the band. Taking care of the wedding day logistics to ensure everything runs smoothly really makes for a stress-free and enjoyable wedding experience.

Suzanne believes that using her services enables couples to be fully present in their special moment so they can concentrate on sharing it with their partner, friends and families.

Reading through the testimonials on Suzanne’s website (westcoastweddingsandevents.com), it is clear couples hold her in very high regard. One bride describes her as a “rock” throughout the planning process, whilst another thanks her for creating her “fairy tale wedding”. Her professionalism, attention to detail and calm demeanour shine through in many comments.

Shirley and Garnet from Saskatoon were married in June 2015 and told Suzanne,

“You helped us pick a caterer – and we appreciated very much that your refusal to affiliate with just one caterer gave us amazing options, you dealt with all of the issues and made our role seem small. You handled every little detail, you dealt with the financial side of the wedding and came in on budget. I simply don’t know how you kept track of everything, including decorations, cake, flowers, make-up and hair, and on and on. To summarize, the job you did was amazing. Anyone that uses your services will be more than impressed with any function they choose to have you organize and they will benefit from your independence and ability to shop the market for them”

The unusual request

No two weddings are ever the same but some couples have requests that require a little more creativity than usual. The west coast prides itself on having access to all the facilities that you would expect in a central city location, with the added bonus of ocean, rainforest and coastal mountain views.

Everything from harpists, bagpipe players and classical musicians to vintage cars, floatplanes and helicopters can be found here. With such a strong First Nations influence throughout the area, it is even possible to have your marriage blessed by a First Nations chief.

One couple wanted to get married in the nearby Broken Group Islands that form part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Suzanne arranged for the wedding party to be transported out to the Islands aboard a private yacht. They then went ashore for the ceremony and a gourmet celebration meal. The return journey to Ucluelet provided another opportunity for nature watching and provided sightings of whales, bears and eagles.

Private charters can be organised to take couples high up into the alpine region and to the Hot Springs Cove just outside Tofino. Another couple that used Suzanne to plan their wedding, arrived at the ceremony in Tofino in a hand carved First Nations canoe.

Located within the temperate west coast rainforest, Tofino and Ucluelet can expect to receive rain throughout the year.  Some couples actively seek out the moody, misty landscape that the weather sometimes brings to the coast.

Suzanne is very quick to point out that she has all options covered when it comes to the weather and that she is prepared for everything from strong sun to heavy downpours.

The last minute elopement

One couple contacted Suzanne two days before they wanted to elope. Not only was this short notice but it was also a holiday weekend. The contacts and experience that Suzanne has built up meant that she could react at short notice and make the elopement of their dreams a reality. Suzanne pointed out that those working in the wedding industry in Tofino and Ucluelet really want to ensure that the bride feels special and enjoys her day, no matter what. The super natural west coast environment also acts as a natural de-stresser for those looking for a calmer experience or a more intimate getaway.

Although most wedding couples have been planning their celebration for a number of months, it is not unusual for them to be visiting the Tofino and Ucluelet area for the first time, just a couple of days before their ceremony.

Suzanne has found that almost 30% of the couples she works with have never visited the area beforehand.  In these circumstances, trust and a strong relationship with your wedding planner are very important for ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the day.

Communication and keeping in touch have become a lot easier with the use of Skype, Facetime and social media.  Even working out the best time to schedule a phone call across international time zones is made easy with a quick question to Siri, Cortana or Google.

Staying current

Keeping up to date with current trends is very important to Suzanne. Pinterest and Instagram are obvious places to start when planning a wedding or looking at the latest fashions in décor, cakes and dresses –and are a great way to explain your vision to your wedding planner.

Since Suzanne first started planning weddings over 10 years ago, she has seen many trends. Ten years ago, brides wanted very traditional weddings. Now they want to embrace the rustic elegance you find everywhere on the west coast. Natural materials and craft influenced décor are strong features. Many brides want to “bring the outdoors in” when designing the look for their décor. Tea lights, globes and lanterns provide subtle lighting.

Suzanne notes that brides have become much more imaginative with working unique touches into their weddings that really reflect the personality of the couple. Seating plans written on surfboards, individually decorated cupcakes and locally made jewellery are just some of the requests that Suzanne has had.

Weddings have also gone from being single day events to longer experience based events. These involve the whole wedding party and families.  Suzanne is often asked to suggest activities so guests can make the most of their west coast visit.

Many couples will arrive a few days before the wedding, or stay for a few days afterwards to enjoy the other attractions that Tofino and Ucluelet offer visitors.  These include the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and the award winning Wild Pacific Trail. Unspoilt local beaches offer surfing and paddle boarding opportunities whilst the Broken Group Islands has something to offer kayakers of all abilities. Those who are looking for more relaxation after the excitement of the wedding can book into a local spa or take a wildlife watching tour. Suzanne is able to help couples plan an itinerary with something to suit every type of guest.

Working within your budget

If all this sounds expensive, then you might be in for a pleasant surprise. Suzanne offers a range of different packages for elopements, wedding and events. Packages cover everything from total planning of the entire event to wedding day coordination. Suzanne can design a package that works for your budget – and she’ll even help you manage that budget so you don’t end up with any surprises on return from your honeymoon.

Book Suzanne at West Coast Weddings and Events for your Celebration

She has kept in contact with many of the couples she has worked with. Several make return visits to the place of their wedding each year and take the time to catch up with Suzanne in person. It’s clear that she also holds a special place in their affections.

Perhaps the last word on West Coast Weddings and Events should go to Suzanne. From talking to her, it is clear that she relishes every wedding she has ever been involved in. She is able to recall the smallest details that many would overlook or forget after the event. When asked what motivates her, she replies quite simply that “I get to witness love”.

Contacting West Coast Weddings and Events

Suzanne at West Coast Weddings and Events can be reached by email at info@westcoastweddingsandevents.com or by phone at 250-266-2094 for a free consultation. You can also visit West Coast Weddings and Events online at westcoastweddingsandevents.com as well as on Facebook facebook.com/WeddingsnTofinoandUcluelet. For those in Ucluelet and Tofino, Suzanne is happy to offer a consultation at a time and place that is convenient for you.

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