The Christmas season will forever be an extra special time of year for Corey Akerman and Diane Thiessen, who are set to tie the knot after winning an all expenses paid wedding at the Okanagan’s historic O’Keefe Ranch that will take place Dec. 30.
It’s even more special since their grandson will have his first birthday a few days earlier, on Christmas Day.
Dee Cristante, wedding specialist of Okanagan Hospitality, partnered with the ranch to put on a contest to provide the free wedding to the couple with the most moving story, and selected Akerman and Thiessen’s story out of the many written submissions she received from couples willing to have their big day be a shotgun wedding in front of a live audience.
“Both of us were a little bit in shock when Dee said we’re the chosen couple, and I think we both started crying,” Thiessen said at the ranch on Wednesday, shortly after the couple found out their dream wedding would take place in little over a month.
At the ranch, as Cristante gave the couple an early tour of the wedding venue, a positively good omen arose, like an unexpected marriage blessing from above — or rather, below. As the couple were walking from the old church on the ranch where they are to be married, Akerman noticed something on the ground and kicked it with his boot. He picked it up and showed it to his fiance. It was an old diamond engagement ring.
Cristante said she might know who the ring belongs to and will try to return it to its owner.
It wasn’t the first sign of things happening “for a reason” that day, as Akerman said. That morning the couple’s song (God Whispered Your Name by Keith Urban) played on the country TV station they listen to for the first time in months.
It’s been a series of coincidences that have brought Akerman and Thiessen together. She grew up in Armstrong, he grew up in Lumby. They knew many of the same people and they may well have crossed paths many times before meeting. When they did meet it was through work at Kal Tire, Akerman working in the store and Thiessen in the administrative office across town. They would talk over the phone as Thiessen trained Akerman how to manage payroll or other tasks at the store.
One day Akerman told her his marriage was falling apart; she told him her’s was also on the rocks. A few months later they were out of their previous relationships and started dating.
It wasn’t their first professional interaction. When Akerman was 17 he went into a job interview at Bluenotes clothing store, and lo and behold, his future wife (who is 13 years his senior) was the interviewer.
“She denied me the job,” Akerman laughed. “But when we started dating I recognized her (from the interview).” Thiessen, on the other hand, didn’t recall the interview.
“We’ve realized all these connections,” said Akerman. “She’s turned into absolutely the best friend I’ve ever had in my life.”
Together since 2016, the two got engaged in June of 2020 and with a pandemic emerging, their future wedding was out of sight.
“We didn’t really have a plan in place so (the contest) kind of presented an opportunity to get to the finish line,” Akerman said.
They’re both grateful to be where they are now. Their coming marriage may never have happened at all had tragedy struck.
“We both had health issues,” Akerman said, explaining he had his appendix burst in 2017 and almost died. A year later Thiessen had a major stomach issue and had surgery, and that too was a near fatal experience.
“We both almost died, I thought I’m not waiting any longer, so I asked her to marry me,” Akerman said.
Asked what they like most about each other, both have the same answer: “everything.”
They also share a sense of humour.
“The biggest thing is that he makes me laugh, he makes me laugh all the time, he’s incredibly sweet and kind,” said Thiessen.
“She’s the only woman that’s ever made me laugh out loud,” her fiance returned.
The kicker to the contest is that the couple has to be willing to get married in front of a live audience, but Akerman and Thiessen don’t mind that one bit. The more the merrier, they say.
The Dec. 30 New Years Eve Weekend Wedding Party Extravaganza is a wedding crasher’s dream. Anyone can buy tickets at ticketseller.ca for $89.99 (family members get a discounted rate) and enjoy welcome bubbles, wedding cake, a “late night slice,” DJ party music, a cash bar and more.