A modern new winery in the scenic Okanagan provided the ideal spot to say “I do”
When they met at a Vancouver Canucks playoff game in 2009, Mike Mellon noticed Chanel Holt right away. By the end of the night he’d learned a bit about her: for starters, Chanel loves seafood. So when Mike summoned the courage to ask her out, he figured Vancouver seafood eatery The Sandbar would be perfect for their first date.
But as an Albertan from Fort McMurray, Mike’s diet wasn’t big on fish. “I realized he was a rookie and knew I had to get him to try oysters and raw sushi,” Chanel recalls with a mischievous smile.
Mike remembers being handed the largest oysters he’d ever seen. Though he’d never tasted the shellfish before, he graciously accepted, shovelled them into his mouth and started chewing. “Chanel was quick to point out you’re supposed to swallow them, not chew them,” he says with a laugh. “It was a great first-date ice breaker.”
Returning home that night, Chanel texted a close friend. “I’m going to marry him,” she wrote.
“Mike has the most beautiful eyes and a great sense of humour,” she reflects now. “Ever since that first date, we’ve been together.”
They’d spoken of marriage a full year before Chanel returned home from work one night to find the path from their condo elevator to their front door lined with candles and rose petals. Mike waited in the middle of the room, a huge bouquet of flowers in his hands and champagne at the ready. A large sign read: “Just Say Yes.”
The couple set a date a year out, and eight months prior to the wedding relocated to Calgary where Mike had accepted a position. From her new home, Chanel, an event planner by trade, got to work immediately securing vendors. Her first calls were to the Skinner family, close friends and proprietors of Painted Rock Estate Winery in Penticton. The tasting lounge and venue was still under construction at the time, but she and Mike knew it would be the perfect spot to get married.
“The venue is a glowing white structure atop the bluffs overlooking Skaha Lake and a gorgeous vineyard,” says Chanel. “Not only is the wine second to none, but the Okanagan has a special place in our hearts. We’ve vacationed there with family and friends, and it was the perfect middle point between our new home in Calgary and our old home in Vancouver.”
The couple envisioned a classy, romantic and timeless wedding, with Chanel choosing a fresh colour scheme of white and green with a touch of sparkle. On the wedding day a large tent went up with chandeliers that illuminated reception tables decked with garland runners, greenery, white roses and dahlias. In the hours before the ceremony, the couple and their wedding party met at a secluded beach for photographs, champagne and laughter. Then they made their way to Painted Rock, where the bride’s father offered her his arm. The aisle stretched before them, 115 guests, some of whom had flown in from Ireland, England and Spain, waiting expectantly. “The tears started immediately,” she admits. “I was overcome with emotion as everyone looked up at us with huge smiles.”
Mike too recalls welling up inside. “My knees almost buckled, tears swelled in my eyes and I thought I was going to faint,” he says. “I felt a pat on the back from my best man, regained composure and looked up to see Chanel – the happiest moment of my life.”
Later, Mike and Chanel took time to enjoy the vineyard for some sunset photographs, elated to finally be husband and wife. “We ran through the vines and stood on the bluffs to watch the sun go down,” remembers Chanel. “Then we joined our guests and spent the rest of the night celebrating with family and friends.”