Brayden Boyd and Michelle Fonseca had plans for a big wedding with both their families in Mexico this summer. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and they knew there was no way for their dream wedding to take off.
That’s when Nanaimo’s West Coast Helicopter stepped in and offered to marry them on a mountaintop.
“We were planning on eloping,” Fonseca says. But when Boyd suggested a different idea, “I was like WHAT? I could never imagine!”
Helicopter pilot and licensed wedding officiant Terry Eissfedlt, CEO of West Coast Helicopter, was uniquely suited to the task.
“Aviation was always in my blood, inherited from my father, grandad and uncles,” he says. Eissfedlt is also very involved with the Full Gospel Church in Port McNeill, and trained to be a wedding officiant for his sister’s marriage over a decade ago.
“I didn’t think it would land here, but I’ve done 30 or 40 weddings. On mountaintops, backyards, giant churches – covert areas as well, and that’s all I can say about that!”
For Boyd and Fonseca, the nuptials were a spectacular solution. Fonseca grew up in Mexico and has explored Vancouver Island hotspots like Victoria and Ucluelet since moving to Canada, but a helicopter ride to the summit of Mt. Cokely tops her west coast travel list.
Mt. Cokely offers spectacular views of the UNESCO Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region on Central Vancouver Island. The biosphere stretches from Port Alberni to the Salish Sea on the Island’s east coast, conserving biological and cultural diversity while promoting economic and social development.
Family memories, from mountaintop to Mexico
Fonseca had been taking care of most of the planning for their Mexican wedding, but the roles switched for the West Coast Helicopter ceremony – and Boyd organized an extra surprise for his bride-to-be.
WCH collaborated with Box 221 Digital Studios to live stream the wedding ceremony and surprise Fonseca with friends and family from all over the world.
“You could feel the love of everybody who was watching on the video call. It was amazing,” Fonseca says.
“Mt. Cokely was an ideal location for the live stream as there was wifi coverage,” says Box 221 CEO Scott Cooper.
Once it’s safe to travel, the newlyweds hope to bring their families together in celebration in Mexico. And as for the helicopter ride, Fonseca joked to her husband that they might have to make the once-in-a-lifetime experience an annual tradition.
“We’re going to have to do this now on our anniversary,” she says with a laugh.