Dee & Zack’s Disastrously Perfect Wedding

People often ask to see photos from our wedding back in 2006 (before we were wedding photographers). Astonishingly though, we didn’t actually have a wedding photographer (insert shocked emoji). Moreover, we don’t have any regrets because, truth be told, what we could have afforded at the time (we were total ski bums and climbing dirtbags) would probably have spoiled our extraordinary memories of that day. Be that as it may, if there was ever a wedding which looked and, even more so, felt like ours — it’s Dee and Zack’s.

Not only are Dee and Zack astonishingly akin to us in spirit and soul, but their wedding befell on our exact anniversary and was slated for the exact same backcountry location as ours. Mountain souls through and through, Dee and Zack chose to get married high up (and way out) in the remote Purcell Mountains of British Columbia for all the same reasons that Erika and I did… remote wilderness, isolated seclusion, and mind-blowing scenery. Add luxurious comfort and sensational food to this checklist of requirements, and you’re left with one irrefutable choice… Purcell Mountain Lodge — a quaint but luxurious backcountry chalet in the most spectacular mountain setting imaginable.

The only ones more excited than Erika and me to return to, and finally show the world photos from this magical place, were Dee and Zack. Just as we had been 12 years earlier, they were absolutely giddy with excitement to take their family and friends into this remote mountain paradise and give them a backcountry experience they would never forget. Delightedly and precariously, however, the only way to get there (apart from mountaineering) is by alpine helicopter. That is, if the unpredictable mountain weather allows it.

A helicopter pilot himself, Zack understands better than anyone that if you can’t see, you can’t fly. So when we woke up in the mountain town of Golden, B.C. to clouds as low as the valley bottom, hopes began plummeting as fast as the barometer. Remarkable though, while most of the morning was spent waiting, hoping and dreading, Dee and Zack’s spirits remained indomitable (see 2nd photo below). While their relentless hope was contagious, however, I couldn’t stop thinking of Loyd Christmas’ infamous words, “so you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Eventually and disastrously, Dee and Zack’s last remaining hopes were shattered completely by word of the final decision to ground their flights (see 3rd photo below). Purcell Mountain Lodge was officially out, period.

The clouds opened. The rain fell. Our hearts sank for Dee and Zack.

Not knowing what to do, we did the only thing we could… keep our cameras up and tell their story. That story, while nothing like they’d planned and dreamed, unfolded into one of the most beautiful, perfect days we’ve ever had the privilege (and challenge) of documenting. Dee and Zack’s family and closest friends rallied around their unwavering optimism. New plans were made and changed and remade. Tea was brewed by camp stove. Pizza was ordered. Names were misspelled atop a Dairy Queen ice cream cake (best wedding cake ever). Rain fell. Spirits shone.

In the end, Dee and Zack found a perfect little spot on the banks of the Kicking Horse River for an intimate ceremony in the rain. Their moms marked the spot with lovingly arranged river rocks, Julia Cundliffe conducted a beautifully worded ceremony, and their two close friends, Nat and Tyler, held witness and umbrella.

The evening “reception” ended up essentially being a kitchen party at a last-minute house rental near Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, complete with pizza, beer, and Dairy Queen wedding cake. It was awesome!

Fascinatingly, even though their wedding didn’t end up taking place in the same backcountry location as ours, it somehow still could not have resembled our wedding any more similarly. The vibe and feeling was just as we remember from our own… no pomp and circumstance, small and intimate, quiet and simple, genuine and authentic… just the closest of family and friends… and the best of life and love. Perfectly real in every way.

Dee and Zack, we can’t think of a better way to have spent our 12 year anniversary than with you and your awesome tribe, remembering what’s at the core of life and marriage… the unpredictable journey, as much as the inaccessible destinations… the rainy valleys, as much as the sunny mountain tops.  We know you’re both filled with mixed emotions from this whole experience, but we hope we’ve been able to enhance your memories and show just how extraordinarily perfect your wedding really was.

  • A couple seen holding hands from a view shrouded by umbrellas
  • Bride and groom laugh and smile as they stand together
  • Man and woman talk over a counter
  • Man pours a coffee while woman stands next to him under an umbrella
  • Four people sitting and standing roadside on a fall morning
  • Man and woman using their phones
  • Young girl climbs over a rock followed by a man
  • Two woman make a heart with the initials of Z and D out of rocks
  • Family members play a game with colorful balls
  • Silhouettes against a cloudy sky play a ball game
  • Couple holds hands surrounded by leaves
  • A couple and their friend laugh in the rain
  • Woman wears her wedding ring and holds an umbrella
  • A couple under an umbrella look into the Purcell Mountains
  • Bride wearing an amulet smiles
  • An impromptu wedding ceremony at the base of the Purcell Mountains
  • Bride and groom hold hands during their wedding ceremony under light rain
  • Newly wed bride hug and kiss under an umbrella
  • Bride wraps her arms the groom
  • Newly wed couple and friends and family walk with umbrellas
  • Smiles and high fives in the rain
  • Couple embrace surrounded by vibrant autumn leaves
  • Woman laughs as she struggles to bring food and drink up steps
  • Couple share laughs and drinks with a friend
  • Newly wed couple share a kiss as the pizza delivery arrives
  • Reflection of couple walking along a lake at the base of the Purcell Mountains