A contemporary vibe united with ancient tradition in this elegant urban celebration
Elisa Kharazi was in her second week of medical school when she met her husband, Alexis Assadi, at a house party thrown by her then-roommate. “At the time I’d just moved back to Vancouver from New York,” says Alexis. A few days later, he called and invited Elisa to Thanksgiving dinner with his family, as their first date.
It must have been a successful dinner because the two have been together ever since. Two years after they first met, Alexis, a venture capitalist, said to Elisa, “I don’t want to get engaged or married until I’ve got all my ducks in a row.”
Yet one evening, shortly thereafter, the couple was out for a walk in Olympic Village. “There were so many perfect moments where I could’ve proposed, but I chickened out,” says Alexis, who was keeping the ring he’d purchased earlier that day in his pocket. “We walked by a creek and there were all these ducks, and they started quacking loudly. I don’t believe in signs, but I thought this is it, so I got down on one knee and proposed.”
Due to Elisa’s hectic school schedule, the wedding took place 18 months later, during her two-week break the following summer.
The decisive duo knew they’d found the perfect venue immediately upon seeing the luxurious Owner’s Suite at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. “We knew we wanted to get married at the Fairmont before we started looking,” says Elisa. “Some of our best trips and vacations together have been at that hotel chain. It was actually the first and only venue we looked at. It was perfect for an intimate wedding.”
The suite includes a spacious outdoor patio with its own gazebo and a private tented terrace that Elisa and Alexis used for both their ceremony and reception. While the couple wanted a modern Western vibe for their day, they found ways to incorporate their Persian heritage into various touches.
“My mom designed a miniature version of the traditional Persian sofreh, which is a table of sweets, nuts, fruits and other items with symbolic meanings,” explains Elisa. “Although we didn’t have a traditional Persian wedding, we wanted to honour our Iranian heritage.”
Family was also a key part of their big day. “Both our parents have been a really big part of our relationship and we spend a lot of time with them,” says Elisa. “We tried to include them in the ceremony more so than is traditionally done – we gave roses to our moms and we had our dads witness our marriage – and for the reception we had a central table with our parents and close family instead of a head table, and our guests at the four tables surrounding us.”
Another important member of the family made an appearance too: “We had our bunny there – that was really special,” says Elisa of their pet who recently passed away.
Nearly 50 guests, who came from as far as England and New York, mingled on the suite’s private terrace during cocktail hour before moving back into the tent – transformed for dinner following the ceremony – for a buffet catered by the hotel that the couple had personalized to their tastes.
“After dark, our planner, Michelle [Kaurs] from Flawless Events, set up hundreds of LED candles all around the terrace and our guests lined up outside with sparklers making a row that we walked through to our first dance in the gazebo,” says Elisa, who recalls swaying to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s “Cheek to Cheek” with her groom, under the moonlight. “That was my favourite part of the wedding.”