Wedding receptions are typically thought of as joyous, fun-filled affairs with food, drink and music. But when a recent reception held in Parksville turned into a completely Serious affair, the newlyweds couldn’t have been more pleased.

Corelli Mattice-Mills and Jai Mills of Duncan had planned an idyllic beachfront wedding and reception for Oct. 8 at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. After Mother Nature crashed the nuptials with the first major storm of the season, disaster was averted when the nearby Serious Coffee shop in Parksville opened its doors to the party of nearly 100 people.

“We were prepared for rain or shine,” said Mattice-Mills. “We were not prepared for a torrential downpour; a massive storm.”

Jai Mills, left, and his new bride, Corelli Mattice-Mills, address guests during their impromptu wedding reception at Serious Coffee in Parksville Saturday, Oct. 8. - Photo submitted by Erin KapelaImages:yellow bridesmaid dresses australia

While her friend and wedding planner Erin Kapela called hotels in the area in a desperate, ultimately fruitless bid to secure a last-minute indoor location for the reception, another friend took a break from set-up in the monsoon-like conditions to grab a coffee at the nearby Serious Coffee shop in Parksville.

When Serious co-owner Dawn Deschamps saw the soaked Anna Mae Rutledge and her friends enter the shop, she was aghast.

“I said, ‘Why are you so cold?,'” Deschamps recalls. “She told me about the wedding, and I said, ‘Well, if you need to warm up, you can come here.’

“I said it kind of jokingly, like, come by for coffee. But then I thought, why not have the reception here?”

When Rutledge noted there were as many as 120 guests for the wedding, Deschamps said that was no problem.

“Seriously?” Kapela said when Rutledge returned to the beach to share the news. “They put it together in 10 minutes.”

Mattice and Mills exchanged vows as planned, under dripping canopies and tarps at the tree line above the beach at Rathtrevor. Immediately afterward, Kapela, her husband Jaroslaw and other guests descended on Serious Coffee with the tables, chairs, floral arrangements and other decorations to begin transforming the facility into a credible reception hall. Complete with a band.

“They could use the tarp and have the (wedding) ceremony as a novelty,” Kapela said of the newlyweds. “But nobody was going to stick around for a potluck picnic on the beach in the pouring rain.”

Mattice-Mills described herself and her husband as “loose, Bohemian types” — Kapela called them “hippies” — but the bride jumped at the chance to get out of the downpour when it was offered.

“My first reaction was, ‘Sweet. Awesome. I don’t care if it’s a small coffee shop at this point. Anything with a roof is good,'” Mattice-Mills said. “Then they said it could seat 120 people and it looked amazing. I was overwhelmed.”

Interestingly, while the newlyweds and their guests arrived in Parksville without a ‘Plan B’ for their outdoor beach wedding, the ‘Bohemian’ Mattice-Mills was well-prepared with a second wedding dress. So she was high and dry at the reception even as the dress she wore on the beach was soaked.

“I totally changed,” she said with a laugh. “I love second-hand shopping, and I actually had three wedding dresses. The third will probably be a Halloween costume.”

The reception was just as positive for Deschamps and her husband, John Pope. The couple bought the coffee shop just a month ago after moving from Montreal, where lifelong Quebecer Pope was a cabinet-maker and Deschamps, who hails from Prince George, worked as an office manager.

Coincidentally, the two moved here after Pope fell in love with the region while attending another cold-weather beach wedding — the marriage of Deschamps’ niece last February — on the beach at nearby Tigh-na Mara Resort. Further coincidentally, Oct. 8 was the 49th wedding anniversary of his parents back in Montreal.

For the past 20 years, the couple has been involved in family gatherings of 40-50 people for that Thanksgiving-week anniversary.

Further coincidentally, Pope’s birthday falls on Halloween, and the reception took place with wall-to-wall Halloween decorations already in place at Serious.

“We had a halloween-themed wedding reception,” she added. “It was a lot of fun.”

The couple closed the shop early, thought they did continue to serve the occasional customer who wandered in and made their way through the reception set-up to the counter. After brewing a couple pots of coffee for the reception, Pope and Deschamps were invited to join the party. They were fed, treated to wine thanks to a one-day event license, and were even the subject of several toasts.

“This was going to be our first Thanksgiving alone,” said Deschamps. “But it felt like home. We were included; it was like we were guests.”

“To meet people like that and have them step up and offer their business as a place for our marriage to really take off from is so gratifying,” said Mattice-Mills. “Words barely do justice to level of gratitude and wonder for that gesture.”

Kapela and other guests passed a hat for donations to Pope and Deschamps for opening their doors to the reception, but they didn’t want any money. The first collection went to the one employee they had called in on her day off. The second went into the bride’s gift box.

“They asked if there was anything at all they could do for us,” said Deschamps. “I said, ‘Well, you could like us on Facebook.’

“So they liked us on Facebook. They liked us a lot.”

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