A 10-Guest Wedding Among Nature in Alberta, Canada
Sarah Haines and Amy Webber met on Tinder in 2017 and hit it off immediately; they talked for hours on their first date at a cocktail bar. “I felt so comfortable with Sarah,” Amy remembers. “On that first date, I opened up to her about things I had never really told to my previous partners. At the end of the night, we kissed under the soft drifting snow.” Sarah agrees. “I found Amy so easy to talk to, I could have spent another six hours with her that night and still not wanted to leave,” she says.
That was all it took: The two were a couple from that moment forward. Two and half years later, in March 2020, Amy was ready to propose, and she had the perfect plan—only to have it derailed by the global shutdown.
“I had bought us surprise tickets to Portland, Oregon, and was going to pop the question on the beautifully scenic Cannon Beach,” she says. “I had enlisted two of our friends to come along on the trip to secretly take photos and bring Champagne.” Amy continues, “Then the pandemic happened. Traveling was not an option at that point, and I considered putting off the proposal altogether so that we could have our moment the way I had planned. But, if there’s one thing I had learned in recent years it’s that life can change in an instant, so I didn’t want to put it off. And, with Sarah working on the front line as an ICU nurse, I knew we needed something to lift some of the heaviness and give us something hopeful to focus on.”
So, much like the rest of the world, she pivoted. “I was awaiting Sarah’s custom ring in the mail, and the day it arrived, I couldn’t wait any longer—I was so excited to make her my fiance,” Amy remembers. “It was absolutely freezing cold that day, but nonetheless I took her down to a nearby lake and told her I wanted to take some cute couple photos, something we do every now and then anyway, so she wasn’t suspicious. I set up my tripod and camera and set it to automatically snap photos, and positioned us in front of some snowy trees.” Then, as the shutter clicked, she got down on one knee. “Sarah thought I was bending down to tie my shoe! Once she realized what was actually happening, she said yes. Then we quickly ran to the car to warm up and take it all in. It wasn’t perfect, but we were engaged and that’s all that mattered.”
For their wedding, the brides-to-be also hoped to be in nature. “We knew we wanted to get married with the mountains as our backdrop,” the Vancouver-based couple shares. “Since our relationship began in Alberta, and we were lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, it felt like the obvious choice.” Their wedding planner suggested Elbow Falls, a section of waterfalls along a crook in the Elbow River in the gorgeous Canadian hamlet of Bragg Creek. “It was the perfect setting, with the river, mountains, and trees,” the couple says. Their reception was outdoors as well, at nearby Camp Horizon.
They invited just 10 close friends and family, and headed outdoors, saying “I do” on September 8, 2021. Read on to see all the beautiful custom details of their big day, planned by Kay Bank at Social + Co. Design and photographed by Justine Milton Photography.
Their color scheme was neutral and complementary with nature: dusty pink and champagne hues, with accents of marigold and burgundy. A deckled-edge invitation suite on natural paper by Paper Ocelot Studio set the romantic tone.
“Our skincare is fairly simple: gentle cleanser, glycolic acid toner, vitamin C eye cream, a hydrating face lotion, and sunscreen,” the couple shares. Leading up to the wedding, they upped their regimen with nourishing clay masks and got gel manicures—Sarah in mauve and Amy in a soft pink shade. For their scent, they both donned Tom Ford’s Vanille Fatale.
Both brides worked with Vancouver-based bridal designer Stesha Ho to create something custom from start to finish. “She gathered our Pinterest bridal inspiration boards and came up with a custom design for each of us that incorporated similar fabrics but with completely different silhouettes, so that our dresses complemented each other but reflected our individual personality and style,” the couple shares. “Stesha is super talented, so we knew whatever she created for us would be stunning.” Bonus, the process was fun. “It was really cool to get custom sketches and be able to make tweaks here and there to make the gowns perfect down to every detail.”
The results? A long-sleeve fit-and-flare in French tulle for Sarah, with a deep V front and back, sheer lace appliqué, and train. Amy’s was A-line, with spaghetti straps, a low scoop back, and sheer lace bodice. It featured a similar lace appliqué to Sarah’s, and a French tulle skirt with a train.
“Our jewelry was all custom made by Joanna Bisley Designs,” the couple shares. “We sent her a Pinterest board of inspiration and she came up with custom hair pieces, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets for both of us that complemented each other.”
It was a naturally stunning scene.
Elbow Falls, of course, didn’t need much decor; the mountains provided an epic backdrop for their ceremony. Still, planner Kay Bank—who does florals in-house—added a few natural touches. “We had a beautiful archway with flower arrangements,” the couple shares. “It included lots of greenery and light and dark flowers arranged in a way that felt wild and free-spirited. It was set on a rocky beach next to a river, with a backdrop of mountains and trees. It was a naturally stunning scene.”
Guests sat in cane chairs and held cones of biodegradable confetti to toss after the ceremony.
“Neither of us wear a ton of makeup in our day-to-day, so we wanted to look fairly natural—but polished and just a little extra glammed up and special,” the couple shares of their beauty looks. “Amy wanted to emphasize the eyes with a soft smoky look, and Sarah wanted to keep things classic with a soft lip and cheek color and neutral eye.”
Like their gowns, their hairstyles were complementary of each other. “We both wanted a half-up look, but had to be careful to not make them too similar. We also wanted to incorporate the custom hair pieces, so the simple half updo worked great for that.”
Each bride walked herself down the aisle—to the tune of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”—and met their friend and officiant, Mahyar, at the altar.
It was such a magical moment that we will never forget.
“I was first to walk down the aisle, and as I watched my wife-to-be come down the aisle toward me, she began to shed some happy tears,” Sarah remembers. “As we held hands and prepared to say ‘I do,’ the sun came out from behind the clouds and cast a golden halo around us. It was such a magical moment that we will never forget.”
Mahyar recited a ceremony written by celebrant Cathy Yost of Love Speaks, and the brides exchanged personal vows. “We kept them short and sweet, and full of love.”
“Try to take it all in as much as you can, because it’ll pass by so quickly,” Amy and Sara advise other couples. “Before you know it, it’ll all be memories.” They created some beautiful ones, including their celebratory recessional to “My Girl” by The Temptations.
“Our wedding party consisted solely of our joint maid of honor: my sister, Lily Haines,” Sarah says. “She wore a dusty pink deep-V wrap gown by Maide, which we chose because it went perfectly with the soft neutral florals and decor.”
All three carried bouquets of roses and other flowers in shades of dusty pink, deep burgundy, champagne, and white. The traditional florals were interspersed with wildflowers and various greenery.
Planning was “breezy,” Amy says. “We left creative control to our planner, Kay, because neither Sarah nor I had a super specific idea of how we wanted things to be, and we fully trusted Kay’s talent. We discussed our general aesthetic preferences, and what aspects were and were not important to us, and Kay went from there.”
The aesthetic vision they shared? “We wanted our wedding to be earthy, natural, intimate, free-spirited, and elegant.” Check and check.
For the reception, the intimate party moved just a few miles up the river to Camp Horizon, an Alberta summer camp with event spaces available for weddings. “It was perfect because we were able to set up in the middle of the forest, which felt intimate, secluded, and magical,” the couple says.
“We kept decor simple and elegant with an off-white tablecloth, floral centerpiece arrangements in feminine vases, and dusty pink and neutral accents throughout,” the couple shares. “The plates were white with a gold rim. There were candles that added a beautiful ambiance, especially as the sun went down over the course of the evening.”
Their signature drinks were an experience all their own. “We had two signature cocktails created for us by the talented people at Spirits with Smoke: a nectarine gin sour and a smoked Old Fashioned,” share the brides.
“We had a custom four-course meal made with in-season ingredients and very beautifully plated,” Amy and Sarah share. “It started with individual charcuterie on elegant wood platters, followed by an heirloom tomato and burrata salad, and spring pea pecorino risotto. The main course was a Korean braised beef short rib and it was absolutely delicious. Dessert was a sour cherry cheesecake mille-feuille.”
One of our favorite memories was after all of the hustle and bustle of the day, sitting down for dinner among our closest friends.
Guests dug in as the sun went down. “One of our favorite memories was after all of the hustle and bustle of the day? Sitting down for dinner among our closest friends, and just being able to sit back and enjoy a beautiful meal and cocktails, laugh, and feel all of the love around us.”
Impressive sugar flowers topping their Whippt Kitchen cake were modeled after the brides’ bouquets. Inside, passionfruit, rum, and vanilla came together in a delicious combination.
“Our first dance was in the middle of the forest, surrounded by our closest friends, with ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young playing in the background.” the couple remembers. “It felt so magical and romantic. At the end, Sarah dipped Amy down for a kiss.” The sweetest ending to their chic celebration.