Having been through two weddings of my own (same woman, different locations!), worked at a destination mountain wedding venue for 7 years helping to manage logistics, and now a wedding photographer for almost a decade, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the many intricacies involved with planning a wedding. But more importantly, I feel I’ve got the experience to impart on you a couple bits of “insider knowledge” that might help you make sure your adventure destination wedding day is exactly the day that you want it to be.
Probably the most important thing to decide up front is the size and location of your wedding. Are you wanting to elope, and/or have a very small and intimate affair? Do you want to have a big-ass extravaganza with your cousin’s uncle’s 2nd ex-wife, her new husband and their 5 kids, along with 600 of your not-so-close friends and family? Or, maybe something more modest in between? Choosing the size of the wedding you want will help determine the location, and determining the location will also impact the size. You aren’t going to fit a 500 person wedding into your favorite restaurant in Fernie, nor are you likely going to want to rent the Chateau Lake Louise venue with seating for 320 if you’re only planning on having 16 people at the wedding. Another thing to consider, if you’re planning on doing a destination wedding either near or far, is how is that going to impact your guest list? You are likely to have a much higher percentage of invitees attend a destination wedding in the mountains if they are only a 1-3 hours drive away, compared to a destination wedding on the beach that might include a 10-hour flight.
Getting married in “The City” has its advantages. There is a much greater variety of venues, vendors, and overall options for you and your guests. Travel arrangements are generally considerably easier to arrange for guests. Lodging options generally have a greater variety of price points, and no matter the weather, you and your guests will have options for entertainment, photos, etc. You are also pretty much guaranteed to find a venue that will be the perfect match for the size of wedding you want.
But thats not an adventure… A destination wedding is what the two of you want. Something either in the mountains, or on a beach, right? Who wouldn’t want to get married with their bare feet buried in white sand?!? The warmth of the tropics, palm trees all around, the sea breeze wafting over you… If I did it again, I’d probably get married on a beach somewhere. But, if you’re living in Canada, getting to the tropics isn’t cheap, and this will impact the number of people who will be able to attend. Even if the actual cost isn’t an issue, generally destination beach weddings involve a commitment of time to travel to the location, and for a lot of people, this can be difficult to arrange with work, family, and other commitments. If you don’t want to plan a huge wedding, and know that the people who you want to be there will be able to attend, then a destination beach wedding might be the way to go. Booking a destination beach wedding also has the added benefit that many resorts sell wedding packages, whereby nearly all of the planning is done for you, including flight and travel arrangements. You select a colour scheme, meal, and let them know the size of your wedding group, then they will deal with the rest.
Planning a destination a little closer to home can often times be the perfect compromise. I live in Fernie. Fernie is located only 3hrs away from Calgary, and is a fantastic destination to have your wedding. Many people think of mountain weddings, and immediately think of Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore. They may be the more popular mountain wedding destinations, but that popularity also comes at a price. Many of the venues are booked years in advance, and many of the venues charge a premium for weddings on Saturdays during the summer months. Banff is packed chocker block full of tourists in the summer, and honestly, unless you are planning your wedding at the Chateaux Lake Louise, or Banff Springs Hotel, most of the venues are pretty generic. Add to that the recent introduction of Banff Business License requirements for all vendors working weddings within the Townsite of Banff and Banff National Park, and suddenly your wedding planning logisitics just got a little more “fun”. THERE ARE MANY OTHER MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS BESIDES BANFF! Invermere and Panorama Resort, Fairmont Hot Springs, Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, as well as Fernie and its many options offer great alternatives to Banff. As a photographer, I can tell you that any of these mountain towns are going to give you spectacular backdrops, and gorgeous scenery for your images, as well as plenty of options for your guests to enjoy themselves. Bonus fact, all of these communities are under 4hours drive time from Calgary International Airport, so no matter where you may have guests arriving from, it is relatively easy for them to fly to Calgary and make the trip to your mountain destination.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series of posts, how to prioritize your expenditures.