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South Cariboo community rallies to help couple host wedding displaced by wildfires

Felicia Corvaglia and Andrew Steeves had to reschedule their wedding due to the Shuswap wildfires

It may not have been the wedding they planned but one South Cariboo couple got the wedding they wanted thanks to the 100 Mile House community.

On Saturday, Aug. 19 Felicia Corvaglia and Andrew Steeves tied the knot at the 108 Golf Resort. Less than 48 hours before they had planned to host their marriage in Celista in the North Shuswap.

“We were very fortunate that our friends, family and community in 100 Mile were able to come together all hands on deck. Everyone just wanted the day to happen for us, which I think was the serendipitous beautiful thing in the whole day,” Steeves said.

Corvaglia and Steeves have known each other for the last decade since they met tree planting in Northern Saskatchewan. At the time Steeves was one of the camp’s crew bosses while Corvaglia was a rookie and after that initial season, they started dating.

After a brief stint of living together the two both went back to school and maintained their relationship over long distance. Corvaglia was studying to become a massage therapist in Cambridge, Ontario while Steeves was studying forest technology in Nanaimo, B.C.

In 2018, a year before they moved to 100 Mile House, Steeves popped the question during his graduation. At that point, he said they had three dogs together so he was fairly certain she would say yes.

“I knew I needed to get on it before she started asking the question instead,” He remarked with a chuckle.

When they first moved to 100 Mile House Steeves said they knew nothing about the community or the Interior in general. He had a job interview and they came up on a Friday afternoon in August during the South Cariboo Farmers Market.

“It was really smoky and I thought no one is going to be outside. Then we showed up downtown and the market was happening on Birch and there were so many people,” Corvaglia recalled. “It really felt like an artsy and cultural community in a smoky little town in B.C., so I liked that.”

Over the last few years, the two have integrated themselves into the 100 Mile House community. They bought a home together and Steeves has become a leading figure in Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School’s basketball program.

Marriage, however, was placed on the back burner, first for financial reasons and later because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Steeves said they wanted to have an event that was dictated by them and not outside forces.

For the last year and half, they’ve been planning to host their wedding at a community hall and winery in Celista for their 98 guests. On Aug. 16 Corvaglia said they went down to get ready and even though it was smoky from the Adams Lake Wildfire they remained optimistic. On Thursday morning the two were able to go for a swim in the lake but were debating what to do as it looked increasingly likely evacuation alerts would turn into orders.

“I do have some experience working on wildfires so I knew an order could come down,” Steeves said. “During my years of tree planting I probably wouldn’t have brought a planting crew into that area that had one way in, one way out so at noon on Thursday we made the decision that we had to pull the plug.”

Rapidly switching gears, Steeves and Corvaglia decided to host the wedding back in 100 Mile House instead. They both frantically began making phone calls with the help of their friends Brad and Jean Meger.

Thankfully Steeves, who is a member at the 108 Golf Resort, was able to get in touch with resort manager Lee Hansen. Hansen not only had space available for the wedding ceremony but was also able to get 25 rooms ready for the guests being redirected up to 100 Mile House.

Fortunately, the 108 Mile Community Centre was also available to rent that weekend as were tents from Arcadia Rentals. Corvaglia said dozens of people reached out to offer them tips and help including Ed and Anne Marie Byers, Shayla Edlund and Sandra and Brian Coldwell, to name a few.

“I don’t think we ever got mad … we just had to focus on the task at hand. We had to have a wedding, we needed to get married and we had all of these guests planning on coming and enjoying this day with us,” Corvaglia said. “We just had to be happy we were able to have this wedding in a community that was so helpful to bring this together.”

After planning the majority of their new wedding on Friday, Steeves kicked off Saturday with a relaxing game of golf. Saturday proved to be one of the few days that week where the Cariboo enjoyed clear skies and Corvaglia remarked that the golf course looked beautiful and lush for the ceremony.

Looking back Corvaglia said her only regret about their wedding day was that they didn’t think to hire a videographer.

“We have amazing photos from Lindsay Crites and they will capture the day but I understand now why people hire videographers. I woke up and I was like ‘I want to go back and relive it!’” Corvaglia said. “It would have been lovely anywhere but it was super cool to have it in the 108 in this surreal moment of ‘how did we get here and how did this happen so fast?”

Looking back, especially considering how the Adams Lake Wildfire grew, Steeves said they made the right decision on Thursday. The response and support of the community only solidified that their wedding went the way it was meant to be.

“Everything worked out the way it was supposed to.”

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Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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