Questions and Answers


“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” When I saw this quote by Zora Neale Hurston, there was something about it that rang true for me as I looked back over the events of 2014. For at the start of this past year (and my first full wedding season), I was full of questions, with so many unknowns yet to be answered. Every aspect of my life seemed to have a question mark precariously waiting for the answer to reveal itself. One thing for certain, this was going to be the year of finding out.

Here at Sanctuary Gardens, 2014 started off with our first celebration of love in January and the wonderings of how the first ever winter wedding would unfold. My answer to that question was found as I witnessed the adoring glances between the groom and his beautiful bride, warming the air on that cold January day. From this kitchen window perspective, no words were needed to explain why they were there that day, surrounded by family and friends.


Would the relatives in Finland be able to watch from the other side of the world as two families united? Yes, thanks to Wi-Fi and Skype! All systems were a go, making it not only our first winter wedding but also the first internationally “broadcasted” one. I love this photo by Adrian Photographers showing the love reaching across the miles.

Kelowna Wedding Photographers

With Spring came more questions, ones that pertained to the finishing up of some last minute projects before the start of wedding season. Rockwork, and parking, and pathways oh my! One by one, each looming project was completed, falling into place like the pieces of a puzzle. I am thankful for my crew of help who provided answers by way helping hands and quality work.


I cannot even begin to type out all the questions that were rolling around in my mind as I embarked on this love filled adventure called Sanctuary Gardens. I could only imagine at that point what would this first wedding season be like? But the questions found their answers through the lens of my camera, captured as images of love that surrounded me.

Would my personal sanctuary, that I was soon to share with the world, become the wedding sanctuary as I envisioned it to be?


There were the logistical questions like how would the new path from the parking lot work as a processional for the bride into the Sanctuary?


What would be the special moments that I would be privileged to witness because of this leap of faith taken?


In what ways could Sanctuary Gardens go beyond weddings to contribute or make a difference in the world?


Did the wedding photographer catch that moment during the father and bride processional when the deer went bouncing through to the delight of all the guests? Sadly no and all I got was a little peek but it will live on in our memories and be a fun story to tell in future years.


Would he ask? And would she say yes?


How would the fundraising partnership with Opera Kelowna work with Sanctuary Gardens hosting their Hampton styled brunch, complete with Opera performances by up and coming musicians and singers?


 What would be some other potential uses of the space?


With so many talented industry professionals around, who would I have the opportunity to work with?


And if a picture speaks a thousand words then the answers to the many questions could easily be a novel sized picture book full of wonderful memories from this first season.


I am thankful for this year of answered questions and especially thankful to all who helped answer them by way of entrusting me with their most special day. And with each answer, life has a way of posing yet another question. But as I sit here amongst my answers with still so many questions contained in the unknown, I feel at peace with letting each wondering unfold in its time.

Thank you to all who follow along on social media as I post the many day-in-the-life-of photos from Sanctuary Gardens. I appreciate every single “like” and your kind words of encouragement.

And because “we all need somebody to leeeean on,” I am so very thankful for my family and friends for hanging in there with me this first season! Whatever I needed whether it was a listening ear or standing in as parking lot attendants, you were there! And… thank you to the ‘One True Love’ from above for shining down on me with so much love… and giving me a firm foundation to stand on and a level path to find my way back to love!

Wishing you all a Happily Ever After New Year!



Happy Brand New Year at Sanctuary Gardens

Happy New Year! With a brand new year beginning right now, I can’t help imagining the possibilities of what one can do in its 365 days. All I have to do is look back on previous years to realize this. Yes, there are always those imposing limitations we all must face, and the realities of our current situation, but there is also the drive of the human spirit that can overcome what seems impossible and unimaginable at the time. This morning I am reflecting on this very thought, the unlimited potential we all have, if given a brand new year.


Looking a whole two years back, I can recap 2012 as the year the seed was planted to “grow” my dream gazebo. Although it was one of my most challenging years as far as my personal life went, it became one of my most creative. Consequently, this year of creating, planning and execution resulted in exactly what I had envisioned, a pretty little gazebo to look out at through the white winter months as I dreamed of what was to come.


That foundational year was then followed by a ‘roll up your sleeves and get things done’ 2013, filed into a folder I’d label, Making Things Lovely. With all that dirt moving from the construction phase, there was a lot to do in this department. Even though I ran around, traffic controlling the excavators, trucks, and bobcats to keep damage of the natural terrain to a minimum, there was extensive mending needed to bring things back to a semblance of what was. Going for a “naturescape” theme, I wanted it to look as though the gazebo just somehow landed in the middle of the meadow. This proved to be a lot more work. It seems disturbed soil is a welcome home for every weed imaginable, and then some extras for added measure. With help from a great crew of knowledgeable experts, I was well on my way to creating this dream garden space with big trees, flagstones, and lawn. Anything beyond would be wild meadow, which I jokingly described as “the opposite of Butchart Gardens.”

First Wedding

The year 2013 then took some interesting twist and turns, some as a result of all the hard work and some because life tends to mix things up. One of the biggest highlights included opening my business early for the simple fact that everything was looking so lovely. It was far from “perfect,” and I had yet to have a website or business cards, but the timing felt right. This early opening allowed us to host our very first wedding in September, a beautiful celebration of love and family… everything I had hoped for when I made the decision to share my Sanctuary. This early opening also brought about a surprising amount of inquiries. Engagement, maternity, magazine and wedding photo shoots were taking place here and I often took a step back to happily ask, “Is this my life?” and “Is this really happening?”


Back to the aforementioned twist and turns… as September rolled into October, our family was hit with a tragedy. My daughter’s true love broke his neck and damaged his spinal cord in a rugby accident. I found myself holding my daughter outside of the emergency room as she cried, while her true love lay paralyzed and unable to feel or move from his neck down. “Is this my life?” and “Is this really happening?” were questions that surfaced again, this time in a whole different context. The Sanctuary turned into a fervent house of prayer as I pleaded with God to save the day. Without getting into all the details of what transpired, I will say that one truth remained constant. Love always shows up in difficult seasons of life. I was witness to the most amazing, most genuine form of love as I watched my daughter care for her true love. She rarely left his side, sleeping every night beside him in the ICU, then in his rehab room. It was a “for better or for worst” deal without any marital contract. Her love, combined with the love of family members and friends, the healing hands of the doctors and the caring coaching from the physiotherapists, played a big part in the recovery process. Love is a healer. Love is the hope. Love is the answer. My questions turned into statements of “This is life. This really did happen!” Many of you followed the story on the facebook recovery page and I thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement along the way.

As the seasons changed and the days began to grow longer, the year finished up with my (don’t blink or you’ll miss it) two seconds of national TV “fame” with an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s season finale of Super Soul Sunday. With submissions coming from all over the world, knowing that Oprah and her staff picked my little Sanctuary as a “place of peace” was an honour and validation that I am on the right path. “Is this my life? Did this really just happen… my Sanctuary on Oprah?”

Spring at the Sanctuary

So, as 2014 unfolds, the visionary spirit in me is wondering what this year holds as I look forward to the celebrations of love that will be happening here at Sanctuary Gardens. Thank you to all of you who have entrusted us with your special day. I look forward to sharing my Sanctuary with you, my haven of peace inspired by love, built with love, to celebrate love…

Thank you all for following along on my Sanctuary journey and for your support via Facebook and in real life! Wishing you a Happy (brand) New Year… full of possibilities and love.