The Fairmont Empress hotel carries such a special place in my heart.
In the beginning of my career, my mom and I would take a trip there at the end of every wedding season to recharge, relax, and indulge. While we were there, we would sleep in, eat lots of amazing food, and reflect back on the wedding season that had just gone by. I would use this time to think about what was coming next and how I could better prepare for the next season. That’s why, when I got the invitation from Merina to join her and a small group of other wedding planners for a weekend at this wonderful historical hotel, I just couldn’t say no.
Merina, the Wedding and Special Events Manager at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, worked with Kimberly, the Director of Conference Services and Events at the Fairmont Empress, to plan two delightful days for us. Here’s a look at what we got up to — all captured by the wonderful Samineh from Belluxe Photography.
DAY 1: VIEWS, FOOD, AND GREAT CONVERSATIONS
We started our adventure with a sushi lunch at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. I had the vegan bento box, and it was delicious. The perfect fresh meal before we hopped over to Vancouver Island.
Ok, maybe “hop” isn’t the right word. What we actually did was board a charter Helijet that took us directly to Victoria. This was my first time making the trip by helicopter, and I thought it was the perfect way to capture the beauty of this part of the world from above.
We arrived in Victoria and were shuttled to the Fairmont Empress, where Kimberly welcomed us with our room keys in the newly renovated lobby. After a quick break to freshen up, we started our tour of the grounds.
As we walked through each room, my mind was spinning. Each event space and suite could fill a separate special moment in a wedding — whether you want a place to get ready, somewhere to host a rehearsal dinner, or a large hall to dance the night away in. With all the recent renovations, the hotel is filled with over a century of history that’s highlighted by luxurious, modern design choices.
The last spot we got to see was the hotel’s rose garden. This would be the ideal place for an outdoor wedding in July or August, once the flowers are in full bloom. It’s truly the perfect garden venue.
After our tour, we all changed for what we knew was going to be a very special dinner. Set in the hotel library, our dinner table was beautifully decorated by Jennifer Newton of Darling Vintage Rentals and Annise Lorel of Bespoke Blossoms. With pastel florals and complementary tableware, it was the perfect setting for our meal. The decor on the table was matched with a statement floral arrangement that sat atop the most beautiful mantlepiece. I mean, who doesn’t love a fireplace framed by teal tiles?
Music for the evening was provided by Siegel Entertainment which set the tone perfectly. We started with cocktails made with the Empress gin, which changes colour as you add other liquids to it. This was paired with a delicious selection of canapés and eats that I’m still dreaming about. The dinner itself was also fantastic. We got a chance to see many of the things that the Fairmont Empress kitchen has to offer, and it gave me a lot of ideas for the couples I’m working with.
This meal was also a treat because it gave me a chance to chat with other women in my industry in a calm and relaxed setting. We got to compare notes, share some of the stories from the last year, and come to the welcome realization that we’re not on our own.
DAY 2: SERENITY AND HIGH TEA AT THE FAIRMONT EMPRESS
Our first day was full of activity, but the second came at a welcome slower pace. While some of the group chose to take a walk on the harbour, I took that time to sit at my bedroom window and watch the water for a while. With my phone off and no other distractions around, I got to take a moment to breathe and truly be present.
Later, we got to participate in the infamous high tea experience at the Fairmont, and we were spoiled with delicious tea, scones, and finger food. It was the perfect way to wrap up our weekend before we “hopped” back over to Vancouver.
I’m so grateful to Merina and Kimberly for asking me to join this trip. It was the perfect way to take a little time for myself and connect with other women in the same space as me in one of my favourite places in the world. It was such an incredible opportunity to get to know some of my fellow wedding planners in an intimate setting and life long friendships were formed. I am so grateful for these ladies!
I am so looking forward to the day I go back to this stunning property to plan some magic for a special couple.
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