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Extravagant marriage proposal in Ucluelet

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore.”
Richmond couple Wilbert Syjuico and Kaman Lai embrace after getting engaged in Ucluelet last week. (Jen McLeod photo)

West Coast Weddings and Events principal Suzanne May orchestrated a breathtaking marriage proposal scenario for a Richmond couple last week.

The romantic vision unfolded down 100 stairs and at the bottom of Snug Harbour Inn’s 85-foot cliff. Flickering lanterns and candles led the couple down a trail towards living walls of stunning flowers, a crackling bonfire, champagne chilling on the bistro table set and the sweet melodic voice of a local guitarist serenading from behind a tree.

“Even the drizzle couldn’t dampen our excitement of the vision we had created at the bottom of 100 steps as we waited nervously for the surprise to take place. Would she say, ‘yes’? Did I encompass his vision of a breathtaking life changing moment? The answer is yes, absolutely ‘yes’. They are thrilled and once again I feel all is going to be ok – just different!” May said.

Nancy Owen, co-owner of Snug Harbour Inn a Best of the Best on Tripadvisor, said it was probably the most elaborate proposal she has ever witnessed.

“The crème de la crème is what Taryn set-up,” said Owen.

Taryn Bellavance, a travelling florist and owner of Soul and Stem, said it took her 10-hours to install the floral walls, and many, many trips up and down the Snug Harbour stairs.

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore,” said Bellavance.

The newly engaged couple Wilbert Syjuico and Kaman Lai told the Westerly their visit to Tofino-Ucluelet was actually a bit of a conciliation trip.

“We were going to go to Napa in March and I was going to do it there, but Covid cancelled that,” said Syjuico.

“I wanted the proposal to be a transformative kind of thing. Like a fairy tale,” he said.

“He went all out,” notes Bellavance.

Photographer Jen McLeod was there to document the enchanting evening.

“Being part of this proposal was amazing. That flower arrangement… I was floored! And being the photographer, I got to eavesdrop on all the things he was saying to her. I may have teared up a bit…or maybe I was blubbering like a baby. What a lucky lady. They were so obviously happy. I love West Coast magic,” said McLeod.

Syjuico told the Westerly they have been together for four years now, and that throughout that time they were doing long-distance as he was working in the Philippines.

“Even though the odds were stacked against us, I was never unsure it was not going to work,” Syjuico said.

May said the wedding industry was devastated at the onset of Covid-19.

“I was in a habit of saying that I could fix anything, but the rain, now I add ‘and a Pandemic’. It is hard to be part of something that we had absolutely no control over and I know personally that it was very hard to see a business that I had built from the ground up in 2006 and now see it collapsing through my fingers with no end in sight,” said May.

“Having those heart-wrenching conversations with distraught couples was not something I had been in a habit of doing. I have to say though that now the industry is moving forward: Love is Love and no pandemic will be able to keep it under wraps for long,” she said.

Couples are hosting more intimate celebrations, notes May, with no dancing, just a lot of visiting and storytelling, love and laughter.

Bellavance said people are sending more flowers as well.

“People can’t see each other so people are sending flowers. The floral industry has boomed. Everyone is working more. Getting imported flowers is hard, but overall, it’s been pretty good,” Bellavance said.

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