Brayden Boyd and Michelle Fonseca, of Nanaimo, were flown by West Coast Helicopters to the top of Mount Cokely for their wedding ceremony May 9. (Photo courtesy Mike McInnes/Box 221 Digital Studios)

Island couple married on remote mountaintop, socially distanced and digitally connected to family

West Coast Helicopters lifts wedding onto Mount Cokely after COVID-19 cancelled previous plans

A wedding left hovering in limbo by COVID-19 rose above adversity with help from a helicopter company which performed and live-streamed the ceremony from atop a mountain.

According to a press release from Port McNeill-based West Coast Helicopters, Nanaimo couple Brayden Boyd and Michelle Fonseca had cancelled their Mexico wedding due to COVID-19 restrictions.

So West Coast Helicopters offered to marry them in a remote, scenic location. Boyd and Fonseca chose Mount Cokely, near Mount Arrowsmith, with family and friends watching the ceremony May 9 via Zoom.

Mount Cokely has wi-fi, which allowed Box 221 Digital Studios to live-stream the event and surprise Fonseca, whose friends and family from all over the world were able to witness the ceremony live. Her father was even able to give his blessings virtually from more than 4,500 kilometres away.

“I was so happy to surprise Michelle with her family,” Boyd said in the press release. “I know how important this was for her. I wanted this to be very special for her.”

Terry Eissfeldt, West Coast Helicopters CEO and helicopter pilot, who also happens to be a licensed wedding officiant, said the ceremony was a particularly emotional one.

“This one was especially surprising because the bride had no idea. Not only were her entire family going to attend, but her dad was going to give her away,” Eissfeldt said, in a phone interview. “She didn’t know that until it was happening and I don’t know how she held it together … it was very, very touching and meaningful.”

Eissfeldt, a member of the Full Gospel Church in Port McNeill, which is affiliated with the Apostolic Church of Pentacost of Canada, has been a wedding officiant since his younger sister asked him to perform her marriage ceremony about 10 years ago. Eissfeldt said he has performed numerous weddings across Alberta and B.C. since, including a number of them from remote resorts and mountaintop locations. He said he does it because they’re fun.

“I don’t see too many unhappy people at weddings, so for me it’s really an opportunity to get to know people and also to help them with their big day and that’s what I enjoy doing,” he said.

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The Boyd and Fonseca wedding has opened up another service area for West Cost Helicopters, which has more weddings booked.

“We started looking at the whole thing and said, you know what? I bet there’s a lot of people out there that are cancelling wedding just because of COVID, so is this an opportunity that we can get involved with and actually help people out,” Eissfeldt said. “Obviously it will help us out. Our business has been severely impacted by COVID and although we are an essential service in aviation, people want to be careful. Nobody wants to get this disease, so we’re trying to be careful for everybody’s sake, and we are.”

West Coast Helicopters has bases in Nanaimo, Campbell River, Port McNeill, and Bella Coola. The company’s aircraft can fit up to five passengers per flight and it is now offering wedding and engagement packages.

Boyd’s and Fonseca’s wedding package included champagne, chocolates, a scenic flight around Nanaimo, plus stops on the mountaintop and then at a secluded lake after the ceremony.

“Mount Cokely was an ideal location for the live stream as there was wi-fi coverage and we loved working with WCH because they understand creating exceptional client experiences,” said Scott Cooper, CEO of Box 221 Digital Studios, in the press release.

To watch a video of the wedding ceremony visit: https://bit.ly/2TK7LNr.

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