Real Weddings: Shalene & Andrew

It was a blind date that would seal the fate of avid runners Shalene and Andrew, two dog-loving travel junkies from Toronto. Immediately taken by her love of adventure and insatiable appetite for life, Andrew knew he wanted to spend his life making her happy, while Shalene couldn’t resist his hopeful, happy attitude, expert napping skills, and passion for family and friends.

A puzzling engagement

When Andrew had to fl y to New Jersey for work, he knew it was the ideal opportunity to have Shalene tag along so they could explore the Big Apple together. Ever the romantic, Andrew planned an elaborate “Adventure Day” for Shalene, which involved a tour of meaningful locations in NYC, while she worked to solve a puzzle, with pieces given to her along the way.

The first stop found them in Central Park, at the iconic Gapstow Bridge, where Shalene was given her first clue: A furry puzzle piece inscribed with, “‘W’ander. We wander for distraction and we travel for fulfillment.”

Next, it was on to chapter two of their adventure, Housing Works Bookstore, a delight for the book-lover in Shalene. After a bit of browsing, Andrew gave her piece two: “‘A’thlete. The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other, but to be with each other.”

From there, Andrew led her to his next location, Sun’s Organic Tea Shop, where they sat and sampled a variety of fragrant teas. While enjoying the botanical brews, Shalene received the third puzzle piece: “‘S’leep. No day is so bad that it can’t be fixed with a nap.”

The fourth and final destination brought them to the Brooklyn Bridge, a haven for runners, and the perfect pit stop to hand over the finishing puzzle piece:

“‘Y’ou know when you’re in love, when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Shalene went to work, and once solved, the puzzle formed the shape of a dog, with the letters spelling out the couple’s initials – S.W.A.Y. Andrew rewarded Shalene for her efforts with an engraved handbag containing a very special piece of jewellery: Her engagement ring. On cloud nine, the couple celebrated their love over dinner at Gaonnuri, the “world’s highest Korean restaurant.”

The grand finale

Because Andrew is a frequent flyer, the hotel staff knew him well, and were happy to help make their day even sweeter. Arriving back at the suite, Shalene was greeted by a trail of rose petals, candlelight, strawberries, chocolate fondue, and a card that read: “Congratulations Shalene & Greg.”

Ok, so maybe the hotel staff didn’t know him quite that well, but the mix-up provided the couple and their loved ones with plenty to laugh about.

“My friends still ask me, ‘Who’s Greg,’” Andrew jokes.

The whirlwind adventure came to a blissful close with one final surprise: Another furry card arrived, accompanied by a canine-themed chocolate cake. The card read, “Shalene, Will You…” and atop the cake was written “S.W.A.Y. with me?”

Costa Rican romance

February was the month that saw the couple wed in a stunning sunset ceremony at the Riu Palace Costa Rica. And though they were thousands of miles away, the Polar Vortex raging back home would provide them with the most unexpected surprise of the day. Weather issues delayed two bridesmaids, who managed to arrive only hours before the ceremony was set to begin.

Keeping the adventure alive, the couple spent their honeymoon surfing, horseback riding, canyoning, ziplining, exploring the rocky volcanoes and lush rainforests of Costa Rica.

Get their look

Shalene’s gown: Maggie Sottero.

Daniel’s outfit: SuitSupply.

Photographer: Bella Wang Photography.

Types of rings: Platinum round solitaire diamond for the bride, and cobalt chrome for the groom.

Jewellery: Anzie mother of pearl bracelets and earrings.

Tips for brides and grooms
  • Relax and enjoy every moment of each day
  • The key to a happy life is a happy wife

See your wedding photos splashed on! Submit your destination wedding photos to the Wedding Vacations Photo Contest on our Facebook page for your chance to win a romantic trip for two o Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in sunny Montego Bay, Jamaica! You could also be featured in an upcoming issue of Wedding Vacations magazine