This wedding was held in Oak Bay BC in the “back yard” of a newly built luxury home, which, coincidentally was approved for occupancy just days before the nuptials. The move-in date was September 4. The wedding took place on the 10th. Festivities would be held on the water side of the property on a flagstone patio just above the shore. But the story does not begin there.

Our bride and groom, like many others who’d planned to marry in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take shape, was forced to postpone their dream wedding twice. The original plan was to say their vows in New York City, and hold all festivities at Eleven Madison Park, a prestigious restaurant in the heart of Manhattan. Eleven Madison is an award-winning three-star Michelin Guide restaurant named Top Restaurant in the World in 2017. Today, it offers an entirely plant-based tasting menu created by star chef Daniel Humm.

After abandoning their plans for the second time, the Oak Bay clients were persuaded by the event planning team to replicate the experiences of their favourite NY restaurant at their own newly built waterfront home on Vancouver Island, quite literally on the opposite side of the continent. Nothing for this event came ‘off the shelf’. Every detail, from the uniquely conceived tasting menu to the style of lighting, furnishings, and décor were all custom-designed for this wedding alone. The job of the backdrop—the event tent—was to accommodate anything and everything demanded by this high-end event and the high-end expectations of the discerning clients, including housing a small replica of the Eleven Madison Park restaurant and kitchen.

In the middle of the chaos of the week before the wedding, the precisely planned staging of the wedding tent was executed. Along with the couple’s high expectations, and a site that was in a state of construction until very near the wedding date, there was one other challenging physical impediment. In the middle of the area designated for the 20 X 40 tent, sat a permanent, custom-designed seven-foot di. circular fire bowl protruding some 20+ inches above grade. The carefully devised plan, was to set up a raised 20 X 40-foot stage to clear the fire bowl, lay the dance and kitchen floor on that stage, and then build the clear-sided/topped tent over that base.

Setup was done over two days starting on the Wednesday before the Saturday afternoon wedding, to allow time for an elaborate set-up by the incoming décor team. Our crew worked eight to nine hours on day one and returned on day two to tweak and perfect the setup. In this case, necessity was very much the mother of invention, for elevating the tent structure accomplished two things. On the practical side, it allowed the tent to be set up over the large fire bowl. Conceptually, the elevated space added to the evening’s experience, enhancing the illusion of guests being physically transported to the Eleven Madison Park environment as they ascended the stairs and entered the restaurant.

The tent housed all the evening’s festivities and formed the perfect backdrop for the reception space and dance floor, decorated & furnished in keeping with the NYC original. From the fully equipped open-concept restaurant kitchen, an elegant 11-course tasting menu was prepared on-site by four catering staff and served immediately to the intimately small party of just 26 guests.

Our team was available at every step of the planning process, from problem-solving the fire bowl impediment to answering questions about the weight bearing capabilities of the tent structure—for instance to accommodate an elaborately built lighting fixture—to the safe installation and use of a full, commercial kitchen. No detail is too small when it comes to executing a custom-designed event. We supplied the banquet tables and high cocktail tables, including extensions used to widen dining tables to replicate the feel of the NY restaurant.

Based on feedback from our partner event planner, the clients were thrilled with the results, their guests fully immersed in the New York style dining experience. This would be reward enough for the hard work of our crew. However, while the stage and tent installation were underway, a few unexpected guests paid us a visit. Just a few hundred feet offshore, for several minutes, a half dozen or so orcas appeared and delighted us with an impromptu frolic. What a treat… and proof that our clients had made the right choice in holding their wedding on this jewel of a coast after all.