Texas newlyweds Tess and Daniel Layman needed the perfect backdrop for their wedding shoot so they enlisted the help of local photographer Holly Louwerse and rappelled to the bottom of Helmcken Falls to get the shots they were looking for. Photo by Holly Louwerse Photography

Not your average wedding photoshoot

Couple rappels to bottom of Helmcken Falls for the perfect backdrop

Texas couple Tess and Daniel Layman wanted a beautiful backdrop for their wedding photos so they made plans to elope to New Zealand in search of the scenery they were looking for.

However, when Tess was looking up the perfect wedding dress for adventure wedding photos, she came upon work done by local photographer, Holly Louwerse, depicting a styled shoot at the base of Helmcken Falls and plans quickly changed.

“According to (Tess), she called her husband and canceled the New Zealand thing and just said, ‘No, we’re not doing that, we’re going to Canada,’” said Louwerse.

“They were mind blown. They left and just couldn’t believe how hospitable Clearwater was.”

The wedding, which took place Sept. 9, came roughly a year after the above mentioned styled shoot that marked the first descent to the bottom of Helmcken for such an occasion.

Louwerse said the previous shoot was used to prove it could be done and that there could be alternatives to a traditional wedding, and luckily for the newlywed Layman’s, she posted the resulting photos on the wedding blog, Green Wedding Shoes, where Tess came across it and ultimately changed the destination for the couple’s big day.

VIDEO: A drone’s-eye view of Helmcken Falls

It should be noted the marriage portion took place at the top of the falls, though, as Reverend Wayne Richardson was hesitant about strapping up and rappelling down the cliff to perform the ceremony.

“We are dying, they’re gorgeous! The day turned out better than we could have ever hoped for. As much fun as that day was the photos are even topping that,” Tess said in an email to Louwerse following the wedding.

“Thank you for being so talented and open to the wild adventure. Everyone in Clearwater was unbelievably kind to us, we loved our stay there and felt so much warmth from your hometown!”

The event was a joint effort involving other local businesses as well, including Ask Dee Florals, Claire Hanna Graphic Design and Cocoa Dot Cakes from Kamloops.

Deanna Wood, owner of Ask Dee Florals, took care of the flower arrangements and enlisted the help of esteemed florist Paul Jaras from Kamloops, and their praises were also sung by the new married couple.

“The bouquet was basically a cascading bridal bouquet and we did a floral crown for her hair, then I did two large compote designs for the tables and where they got married,” said Wood, adding the floral work took her and Jaras roughly seven hours to complete.

“(Tess) liked her bouquet so much she actually had me ship it to the states and they’re getting it pressed into a frame because she couldn’t leave it behind.”

Some of the specific flowers Wood used were King protea, chocolate cosmos, anemones, burgundy dahlias, lots of eucalypti, and lavender.

After the success of the Layman’s wedding, Wood, Louwerse and Co. are throwing around the idea of offering destination wedding packages to draw more couples to Clearwater, because as the would-have-been New Zealand adventurists illustrated, there could be a demand for it.

Wood noted there aren’t as many couples travelling to Clearwater for weddings as she and Louwerse would like, but it’s something they’d be willing to put more effort into.

“That’s the goal,” said Wood. “Try to get as many as possible.”

Louwerse agreed wedding tourism could be a big thing in Clearwater, noting the event in September brought a good number of vendors in the area together and benefitted several local businesses.

“I have two (more) couples currently interested,” said Louwerse with a laugh. “So we’ll see what happens there.”


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