Bernadette’s Take #53

Love notes from a wedding planner

Annie Smith from Steveston near Vancouver B.C.

Jungfrau Joch - CopyAnnie and Alex on the Swiss mountain Jungfrau Joch, trapped in ice (they are still smiling, they don’t know their fate yet) (Photo Annie Smith)

Have you seen the movie “The Wedding Planner”?

Well, there are Swiss girls whose life is like a film script.

Annie Smith spent her early life in Moosseedorf in the Swiss canton Berne until she decided to travel to Vancouver.
Vancouver is known for its movie industry. But Annie (26) did not have to become an actress to turn her life into a movie.

She has become a wedding planner in Vancouver.
It came in very handy because she had to plan her own wedding, too!

AnnieAlex.Wedding.HiRes.331 (2) - CopyThat is how it looks like when a wedding planner plans her own wedding – just picture perfect! (Photo Matthew Anderson)

This is one determined, organised lady, I can tell you.
Annie has had her eye on Canada since she was 16 years old.

She discovered that there was a company named Canada Live in the Swiss city of Solothurn that helped Swiss students to go to Canada. “But my parents put a stop on my plan as they wanted me to get an education first”, Annie says.

Have a look at the website of Canada Live:

A second opportunity opened up when the commercial school in Switzerland that she attended, required her to do an internship.

in Bern - CopyAnnie in Berne – ooops! I have just given away the answer for the “LIKE+++MINDED” competition. Oh so sorry. (Photo Annie Smith)

“My English was not good at all, so I decided to go to Canada in order to improve it”, Annie says. She chose Vancouver, came here in 2006 and went to school at International House on Broadway and Granville Street.

She stayed with a family in Vancouver. “The first night I arrived, the parents were away and there was a huge house party where I knew nobody”, Annie says.

It turned out to be an amazing family, though. And other things turned out to be very promising.

Annie was an intern for nine months at Synchro BC, an non-for profit provincial sports organisation for synchronised swimming.
She did not learn to swim in common mode. But she did everything from assisting at the competitions, website management to any required office work.

Synchro - CopyThey can do this, they really can. It is unbelievable. (Photo Synchro BC)

She worked so well that Synchro B.C. offered her the office coordinator position. So in the summer 2007, Annie went back to Switzerland to get a working visa.

After 18 months at Syncro B.C. she became the competition coordinator and soon after, she took over the executive director position to replace a maternity leave for one year. That is what she is doing right now.

But Annie has other projects on the side. “I have been taking photography classes and I also have a website with my photos”, she says. (And she plays basket ball in the Kerrisdale Basket Ball League.)

Have a look at:

Sandboarding in Oregon - CopyIs there anything, this Swiss lady cannot do? This is also a question in the “LIKE+++MINDED” competition. The correct answer is NO. (Photo Annie Smith)

When she planned a friend`s wedding together with another friend, she realised that she liked it: “So we started a wedding planning business. We currently have an office in Steveston.”

It is all there:

In Steveson2 - CopyAnnie’s favourite human and Annie’s favourite animal. Another question for the “LIKE+++MINDED” competition: Which one gets treats? Correct answer: Both. (Photo Annie Smith)

What a good training for her own big day. (My advice: if you want to save the costs of a wedding planner, become one yourself!). At a house party in 2008, she met her future husband, a Canadian named Alex, and they married in August 2012.
The wedding ceremony was in Switzerland, by the way. They took pictures of the bride and groom at the castle in Oberhofen near the town of Thun. “My husband loves having a Swiss wife”, Annie says, “and he loves cheese and swimming in the river Aare near Berne.”

AnnieAlex.Wedding.HiRes.275 - CopyOberhofen Castle and Princess Annie and Prince Alex. (Photo Matthew Anderson)

I asked Annie what the difference between Canadian and Swiss weddings was (sorry, guys, this is more girl talk but we had hunters and fishermen and male chefs in this blog, so please cut me some slack!).

“Canadian weddings are very much Amercanised. In Canada, you have between two and seven bridesmaids and groomsmen. In Switzerland, you have one maid of honour and one best man and they both are very involved in organising the wedding. In Canada, they often have a wedding planner.” (Good for you, Annie!)

“In Canada, you also have more decoration details, colour themes, seating charts, homemade invitation cards and specific themes. Often, there is a photo booth as well as a candy buffet. The budgets are bigger than you would have in Switzerland. Canadians feel they have to have more done. It is a huge industry.”

Honeymoon (4) - CopyThe Royal couple on their honeymoon in Venice. Which is Italy. Why not Moosseedorf in Switzerland? I am sure they have water there, too. (Photo Annie Smith)

Annie does not stand still. She is now training to become an event planner.
I had to tell her that in my mystery novel “The Zurich Conspiracy”, one of the main characters is an event planner for a Swiss company.
Maybe I have to put a wedding planner in my next book. That might be fun!

Well, now it is time for the

Can-Swiss Quiz with Annie Smith

– What gift do you bring home from Canada (or Switzerland)?

From Canada: maple syrup and fresh salmon from Steveston wrapped in newspaper and icepacks. My parents absolutely love the quality fresh fish from the ocean. Even after a 24-hour trip, the salmon is still nice and chilled when unpacked in Berne.

From Switzerland: probably 3 kilograms of Migros Budget Milk chocolate that you can find for 0.45 CHF, as well as cheese and salami. Oh, and whenever I can, I will bring back the Red Vodka as I can’t get that here at all (it’s not being exported).

– What product(s) do you miss most in Canada?

I mostly miss delicious cheap bread, the real vollkorn (whole wheat) croissants (not as buttery as you find them in Canada), the cheeses and the cheap everyday chocolate (Lindt is getting expensive after a while).

Jungfrau Joch2 - CopyI told you that Annie and Alex were trapped on the Swiss mountain Jungfrau Joch. They are still there and must be freezing with their bare legs. Take the train to the valley, subito! (Photo Annie Smith)

– Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Swiss men or women?

What I like most about Swiss people is their open minds, the get-togethers for barbecues in the summer and the group events.

In Steveston - CopyThis is a “Zopf” on the table, a Swiss speciality bread in the shape of plaits. (Photo Annie Smith)

– Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Canadian men or women?

I love how friendly and helpful Canadians are.

– What triggered a culture shock for you in Canada (in one sentence, please)?

Not to see all Canadians in cowboy boots and horses.

– Which Canadian or Swiss personality fascinates you?

Canadians are very polite and friendly, always humorous. For instance, when taking a bus or a sky train, the crowds on the platforms all line up nicely to let everybody get out first and then one by one, without any pushing, people line up and go inside, calmly, unstressed and happy. I could not believe it when I first saw it upon my arrival.

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