When Danielle Eastick first saw Jesse Winter when she was in Grade 7, she told most of her friends he was the guy she wanted to marry.
That was 1998. Fast forward to 2012, and Eastick (who now goes by the name Winter) married the man she’s been with since high school by the ocean on Saturday, Aug. 25. And the Winter wedding was as Ladysmith as it gets.
Danielle and Jesse have been together since high school. They first met in a Grade 7 class taught by Mayor Rob Hutchins — who, 14 years later, performed their wedding ceremony on a beautiful summer’s day, along with marriage commissioner Irene Deschene.
“When I first saw Jesse, I said that’s who I’m going to marry,” recalled Danielle.
Danielle and Jesse officially started dating when they were in Grade 11.
“We’ve kind of always known we wanted to get married, but we didn’t have a timeline,” said Danielle.
Danielle, 27, is a familiar face around town for her work with Ladysmith Family and Friends, the town’s parks and recreation department and the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association, while Jesse, 28, is a teacher on call for School District 68. They both love Ladysmith and were excited to make their wedding as local as possible.
“We wouldn’t have it any different,” said Danielle. “Jesse’s lived here his whole life, and I’ve lived here since Grade 7, and it just made sense. Why wouldn’t we have it in our town we love and grew up in?”
Danielle and Jesse were engaged April 1, 2011, and they had a year and a half to plan the wedding.
“We tried to do a budget wedding and do a do-it-yourself wedding as much as we could,” she said. “We didn’t want to have a huge debt. Because we had a lot of time, we could figure everything out. It was so smooth.”
In the summer of 2011, Danielle started working with a group of women who started planning the wedding.
“It was definitely getting a bunch of people on board, friends and family working together,” said Danielle.
During pruning season, they cut a bunch of willow branches that they later used to create decorations and centrepieces. Garage sales and thrift shops also played a big role in wedding preparations for Danielle and her friends and family, as they found low-cost wine glasses and teapots for their centrepieces that added a whimsical touch.
As the actual wedding day got closer, Danielle and her friends and family cut down flowers that were in season, such as sweet peas.
The Winters had 250 guests at their wedding, and they made all the food themselves, including 1,000 pierogies made by hand as homage to Jesse’s Ukrainian heritage.
The Winters had a large bridal party, with Jesse and Danielle and 11 bridesmaids and nine groomsmen.
“From our Grade 7 class, there were seven of us,” said Danielle. “We were really fortunate our very close friends could be part of it. It was very special.”
The Winters rented the trolley for their wedding, and Danielle says they were thrilled they could include it in their day.
“We said that, by far, was a party in itself,” said Danielle. “The wedding party was so huge, there was probably no other way to get around. It was so much fun. In pictures, the trolley looks so neat and totally our town.”
For their wedding photos, the Winters went all around town to capture some of their favourite scenes.
“We did fun downtown pictures, like the chess set by the Old Town Bakery, and in front of the Travellers,” said Danielle. “Because our town’s so beautiful and heritage, there was just no question. There were endless locations, and we had to narrow it down or we would had been taking pictures forever.”
The Winters held their ceremony at the Transfer Beach Amphitheatre, and their reception took place at Aggie Hall.
“We felt we really transformed it,” said Danielle. “The hall is beautiful anyways, but it really felt like a wedding.”’
One thing they did was make 1,001 paper cranes for good luck and strung them up all over the hall and hanging from the centerpieces and flowers.
“It felt really special because everything was by hand, and it was our blood, sweat and tears,” said Danielle.
With so many bridesmaids coming from all over, they couldn’t get the dresses locally, so they had to order them online. But most wedding purchases were made in Ladysmith, including meat from Bouma Meats and cake from Old Town Bakery.
The combination of handmade touches that meant a lot to the bride and groom, friends and family coming together to be part of the day, and celebrating their hometown made the Winters’ wedding day extra special.
“People say it’s the best day of their lives, and it’s perfect — for us, it really was,” said Danielle. “Everyone was so happy.”