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North Okanagan couples can compete for free wedding

An all-expenses-paid wedding at O’Keefe Ranch is up for grabs in a contest running through November
One lucky couple will be announced the winner of an all-expenses-paid New Year’s Eve wedding in front of a live audience at O’Keefe Ranch on Dec. 1, 2023. (Dee Cristante photo)

An Okanagan wedding planner is looking to offer one lucky couple an all-expenses-paid New Year’s weekend wedding at Historic O’Keefe Ranch.

The only catch to the shotgun wedding extravaganza is that the couple getting married must do so in front of a live audience.

Dee Cristante, wedding specialist of Okanagan Hospitality, has partnered with the ranch to put on the shotgun wedding, which she’s successfully done twice in the past at other Vernon locations.

Helping a couple walk down the aisle without the financial or event planning stress is a “pretty exciting” prospect, she told The Morning Star.

“It’s been quite some time since they’ve had any sort of New Year’s celebration at the ranch, so we decided that we would incorporate doing something special for a local couple, and sell tickets to the public to come and be part of a ceremony celebration at the ranch and party,” Cristante said.

The wedding will be held Saturday, Dec. 30, with the shotgun ceremony starting at 7:30 p.m., a toast to the bride and groom immediately following the ceremony with complimentary bubbles for all guests, then a cake cutting with ticket holders getting a slice. The party will start at 9 p.m. with music by a DJ, followed by a serving of Italian wedding pizza at 10:30 p.m. There will be a bouquet toss at 11:45 p.m. and then a pre-New Year’s Eve countdown will take place at 11:55 p.m., giving guests a countdown warm-up one night before New Year’s Eve.

“We want to fill the room, we want to make sure everyone has a good time and we want it to be successful so we can do it again next year,” Cristante said.

Cristante says the event will be a great chance for people to dress spiffy.

“No one dresses up anymore, so this is New Years and a wedding, there’s no excuse not to put on your Sunday best,” she laughed.

To enter for consideration to be selected as the couple that will be married at the event, couples are asked to email their “heartfelt” love story to Cristante at Couples should include all of their contact information and a favourite photo of themselves.

The contest will take place throughout the month of November and the winners will be announced Dec. 1 through social media and the O’Keefe Ranch website. Tickets to attend the wedding will also go on sale Dec. 1.

Cristante says the Okanagan wedding industry has been struggling lately, with very few couples getting married this year. She said weddings were cancelled across the board when the pandemic broke out, and the first year after weddings were allowed again was very busy, but only because couples were catching up on their weddings that had been cancelled.

“This year from my market research, and I’m not alone, it’s been quite a soft year this year for weddings,” she said, adding the wildfires and smoke from August didn’t help.

She hopes the shotgun wedding event at O’Keefe can inject some excitement into the local wedding industry.

“We’re still here, we’re still amazing, we’re still doing great things; come back and visit us again. Revisit us under destination weddings again.”

Cristante says this wedding opportunity is ideal for a couple who may not have the financial means to plan their dream wedding with all their family in attendance, and she’s looking forward to reading couples’ love stories and picking the winner.

Only local couples from the North Okanagan will be considered.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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