Real Weddings: How High-School Sweethearts Defied Clichés With a Personal, Highly Fun Wedding Day

Our former managing editor shares how she and her now-husband threw a creative celebration of love over a decade in the making.

In the 11th grade, when I’d walk down my high school hallway—keeping a respectful distance from my boyfriend—I’d hear the same squeal from friends and frenemies alike: “You have to invite me to your wedding!”

Even though it was a joke, it always embarrassed me. I met this guy in drama club and barely held hands with him in public; I didn’t want to envision some indulgent display of love. Also, this was 2012, for crying out loud. Who still marries their high school sweetheart?

I do. Pun intended. On one of the last sunny days of 2023, those annoyingly clairvoyant teenagers were proven right when then-boyfriend Chris became now-husband Chris at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby. High school sweetheart-ness aside, we were determined not to be some old-school cliché—we planned our wedding with personal, meaningful details at every turn. And I got over my shyness around PDA. After all, sharing your own wedding story in the magazine you used to work for is about as public a display of affection as it gets.

Chris + Alyssa Wedding

ALL DRESSED UP My tiger-lily-printed wedding dress is from Truvelle, and Chris’s navy suit is from Andy Yuen, a Kits-based designer. But it’s not all bespoke and couture—Chris sourced his shoes for $8 at a thrift store.

Chris + Alyssa Wedding flowers by Garden Party Flowers

SURPRISE ME We didn’t feel picky about flowers, so we just asked the team at Garden Party Flowers in East Van to create something playful with yellows and whites—and they really delivered with roses, brilliant dahlias, whimsical feverfew daisies and Italian ruscus greenery.

Chris + Alyssa Wedding flower grammas

NANA KNOWS BEST Instead of traditional flower girls, we asked our grandmothers to kick off the ceremony. The trio of “Flower Grammas” sprinkled white petals down the aisle… and onto the heads of unsuspecting guests.

Chris + Alyssa Wedding origami cranes

PAPER MARRIAGE With help from friends and family, we folded 1,000  origami cranes; Japanese legend says that folding that many paper cranes will grant you wishes. They also make for some very beautiful (and affordable) reception decorations.

Sushi buffet by M Sushi Private Catering

EAT UP Cocktail hour charcuterie platters were catered by Dip and Sip by Unni Pastries, and a sushi buffet was done by M Sushi Private Catering.

Chris + Alyssa Wedding rings

A TRUE GEM The rings were custom made by Ethos Myth, a local jewellery designer I interviewed for this magazine back in 2021.

Chris + Alyssa Wedding program reading

PRINT LIVES In place of a traditional program, we made a wedding magazine, (What can I say? I love print media). Inside was the event timeline, seating chart, info about the wedding party and, of course, ads from the wedding’s generous sponsors (our parents).

cinnamon buns from Grounds for Coffee and pies from Langley’s Krause Berry Farms

SWEET STUFF Neither of us is a fan of cake, so we opted for cinnamon buns from Grounds for Coffee and pies from Langley’s Krause Berry Farms instead. Dance floor popsicles were also served.

Violinist Kurt Chen

THE SCORE Music from local violinist Kurt Chen made the procession feel ethereal but fun—the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” scored the outdoor ceremony.