LUCKY BRIDE: How a West Kelowna woman saved thousands on wedding costs - InfoNews

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LUCKY BRIDE: How a West Kelowna woman saved thousands on wedding costs

Portia Connor and her fiancé Dirk got engaged in New York city. She thought they were just getting professional photos when he proposed and the photographer captured her reaction.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Portia Connor
August 10, 2019 - 1:00 PM

WEST KELOWNA - Most brides likely consider themselves lucky but most brides haven’t heard Portia Connor's story.

When she weds her fiancé Dirk this September, the 25-year-old West Kelowna woman will have saved roughly $6,000 in expenses by winning three contests that all just fell into place. That includes a free wedding dress, half-off her deejay expenses and a big chunk of alcohol costs for the reception.

“We’ve been beyond lucky,” she says.

She’s not one of those people who enters hundreds of contests, either, which makes it even more difficult to explain how it all came together. It’s obviously worked out well, but when she tells others about her streak, she detects a hint of jealousy behind their congratulatory remarks.

“A little bit,” she says. “It’s not even from people getting married, it’s from people who are married. It's like 'how is that even a thing?’”

She wrote a short entry and hit social media to promote Opportunity Bridal, a travelling discount bridal company that occasionally comes through Kelowna on a blitz. Winning meant she got to pick her own dress, but it came with a catch. She had to work the entire day helping other brides select their dresses. Oh, and one more catch — she only had about one hour to select her own, early before the event opened.

“I had to go there at 7:30 in the morning with my bridesmaids and had to pick my dress,” she says. “It was absolutely mayhem trying to find your dream dress at 7:30 in the morning.”

She had two bridesmaids, her mom and a few others as well as the mother of the groom participating on FaceTime. 

“I tried on 20 in an hour. I just stood there in my underwear and people brought me dresses to try on,” she laughs. “It was kinda’ like a game show.”

She saved $2,300 on the dress, then another $1,000 off the entertainment in another contest she entered on a whim. Then she won 27 six-packs of beer and coolers through an odd fundraiser at work.

“That won’t cover it all,” she says. “But it’s a good start.”

As fortunate as she has been, she needed to find some savings because she has two receptions, one here and one in Dirk’s hometown in Germany later in September. She thinks that might have won her the dress.

“That was my story (to win the prize). I will wear this dress twice and not many brides get to say that.”

If this is starting to sound like a Disney story-book wedding, we’re just getting started.

She met her fiancé in what she calls a “click of fate”. Back in 2010 when she was still in high school, before Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, she tried a weird new web service that connected random strangers. Chat Roulette would eventually be ruined by creepy men but before then, it connected her with Dirk.

Portia and Dirk in New York city after he proposed.
Portia and Dirk in New York city after he proposed.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Portia Connor

How odd is it that anyone actually connected through Chat Roulette?

"We find it awkward (telling people we met on Chat Roulette) because it has a bad reputation now,” she says. "It’s funny with close friends."

She was learning German and he was learning English so they agreed to help each other and soon they were talking daily through Skype and email. “Pen pals,” is what she calls their early kinship. Before long she was connected with his family and later went to his small town in Germany to visit, then later to work nearby as an au pair.

As they got closer, he found work in New York City and she would join him there for summers. They returned to New York last September and arranged to have professional photos taken for the family, or so she thought. That’s when he popped the question and the photographer caught the moment.

He has since moved to the Okanagan where they plan to settle.

She didn’t manage to find any savings on her honeymoon, but that’s perhaps the best part of the story. They often talked about taking a random vacation by picking a destination at the airport so one of her bridesmaids is making that happen.

"We gave her a date and a budget so she booked something, then we find out where we are going,” she says.

Call her lucky, but she can’t help but see something deeper, more substantial in how it has all come together.

"It’s fate for sure,” she says. "We have worked hard for our relationship too. A majority of our relationship has been long distance, which forced us to be pretty serious early on as we realized it wouldn’t be easy or cheap. Luck seems a strange thing to say about love, but if we’re using that word then I am the luckiest girl alive."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones or call 250-718-2724 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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