First off elopements (regardless of where in the world you are eloping) are intentional, deeply emotional and all about your love for each other! It’s not about pleasing your guests or making a show in front of a room of family, friends & strangers. And it definitely is not limited to being a ceremony that happens in less than 30 seconds at a courthouse. So what are they?
An adventure elopement is all about getting out into nature. Finding the most breathtaking epic scenery for the two of you to commit your lives to each other. Keep reading to find my 5 Tips for Your Banff Elopement!
Guide to Planning Adventure Elopements
It can look like just the two of you climbing a mountain and saying your vows under a waterfall near the top; inviting your immediate family to witness anywhere in the world; or bringing your 30 closest peeps to take the gondola up the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with you to celebrate your love.
The best thing about eloping is that there are no rules and you can create an intentionally intimate wedding day that truly reflects who you are. Your elopement is the day you are married; it is still a wedding and should not be treated like an all-day photo shoot – we all know the best moments are the ones in between, the laughs, stollen kisses and windswept emotions, and thats what I am here for!
01. What do we need to make it legal in Banff?
Firstly, yes even if you are not Canadian (hola at my International clients!!), you can be legally wed in Banff. Step one is to find the perfect wedding officiant for you. Next, you will need to pick up a marriage license at any Alberta Registry office – these are good for 90 days from date of issue & some officiants (like Casey and the crew at Urban Officiant) will do this as a service for you, make sure to ask whoever you hire!
During the ceremony, you need 2 people to act as witness – I would be honoured to sign the documents for you – and many of my couples who do not have friends and family joining arrange with either the officiant or another vendor (hair and makeup artists, Air BnB owners, etc) to act as the 2nd witness.
After the ceremony, the officiant will submit the marriage licence to the Province of Alberta – and then, it’s a done deal! Yay! You’re married!!
There are literally so many amazing options – I always joke about how even the ditch would make for great images, but it is true! Usually that’s where all the wildflowers grow!! Once you two have answered my super in-depth Getting To Know You questionnaire, I dig head first into finding your dream location to share your vows to one another during your Banff National Park elopement.
If you are planning an intimate wedding and want to have a more formalized ceremony with friends and family these are some of my favourites in Banff National Park.
This is by no means an exhaustive list as many of the Banff area inns & hotels offer both outdoor & indoor ceremonies, as well as receptions on their properties.
03. Harsh light makes or breaks outdoor ceremonies
Truth time! 99% of the images on my website are either taken before 7am or after 8pm. If my style is what you are hiring me for, then please read this section carefully!
It is so important to look at what time the sunsets on your wedding day, because it might surprise you! We have the most beautiful, long summer days around here and in June, sunrise is at 5:20am & sunset is as late as 10:00pm! On the flip side, sunsets are very early throughout winter, and we have much shorter hours of daylight.
While I am here to help and guide you and will let you know the best time for photos on your day – spoiler alert, it is sunrise and sunset – I understand some ceremonies with families in attendance are not going to be at 6am.
Regardless of if you are eloping with just your partner, or with family and friends, be prepared for an early morning. We will be getting to location before sunrise so that you can share your vows with the rising sun and then have the entire day to spend together, making the most amazing memories. If you really want to plan a formalized ceremony later in the day, I still strongly suggest taking this once in a life time opportunity to share the rising sun on your wedding day, something so sacred and magical. We can make this a special moment for just the two of you, with me being the third wheel of course!
Yes, there are large bears here, and wolves, elk and cougars too!
Wildlife is one of the most beautiful parts of our beautiful & untamed Banff National Park, and so please – Obey all signs, and don’t feed the wildlife. I will be checking the weeks & days before your wedding day for any updated postings on wildlife in the area, especially as this often means trail closures. If you see “bear in area” signs along any trails, keep your heads up, travel together and make noise. Read up on what to do in case of a wildlife encounter so that you are prepared. It’s extremely rare to have an incident, but it is something to be aware of.
Besides my camera gear, I have so many items I take with me in my pack for clients like emergency blankets, extra gloves, wool socks, spare headlamps, snacks and water, a first-aid kit, emergency SPOT system, bear spray, and more! I actually have Wilderness Training, including Bear Awareness training, a First-Aid certification! This is all to make sure we have the best, safest experience during your adventure elopement day.
05. Take highway delays, Traffic & Parking into consideration
With the area becoming increasingly popular for tourism, congestion on the roads is becoming a thing around the Town of Banff (on long weekends and over the peak months of July and August in particular) and towards major attractions like Lake Louise / Moraine Lake.
I do recommend purchasing a Parks Pass before your trip, so that you can skip the line at the Gate & drive right into the park without needing to stop at the toll house. Parks Passes can also be purchased in the Town of Banff, but there is always a line there too!
Planning extra buffer times between locations, especially in the summer months, is pivotal! Places like Moraine Lake & Lake Louise are virtually unattainable as the roads are shut down as soon as the parking lots fill up. To visit these spots, pre-purchasing shuttle bus tickets was a requirement from Parks Canada in 2019, unless you are willing to:
1. carpooling or the public transit system (Roam); or
2. arrive well before sunrise to beat the Parks Canada staff who close the road (pro tip: they start work around 5:30-6am).
If you’re planning on going to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, plan on using the bus system to get to the lake, and go early if you can. This past summer, the parking lot for Moraine Lake was filling up by 6:00am… So busses were the best way in & out. Of course, staying at the Chateau Lake Louise is also a great way to rid yourself of parking issues & having a beautiful place to enjoy the views.
For winter weddings in this area, just be careful around days with ice & snow, and expect traffic to be slow. Highway closures from Calgary do happen on heavy snowfall days, I always recommend giving yourself a little time before & after the wedding in case of a road closure. Don’t plan on international traveling the day before or after the wedding, just to be safe. 5 Tips for Your Banff Elopement
Still need a little inspiration? Check out my travel schedule for 2019-2020 and if there is anything that catches your eye, or that inspires you on a whole new location idea – let me know! I would love to travel anywhere to make your elopement dreams come true! I also have some epic travel stories from my adventures in Peru, Ireland, Iceland and Nepal that you can soak in and get some inspiration from.
06. Bonus tip! Making An Adventure-Ready Look For Your Banff National Park Elopement
When it comes to wedding day attire for an adventure elopement, comfort is key! That being said, we don’t think you should give up your personal style — or your dream wedding outfit. Some simple modifications could be all you really need the create an adventure-ready look. This might mean opting for a light-weight suit rather than a tuxedo. Or even a more casual ensemble, so you can move easier throughout the day. Or maybe choosing a wedding dress without a train or adding a bustle so you can tie it up as you walk and let it down for the vow exchange / portraits.
Nude leggings for under dresses and wool-based UnderArmour layers are key!
If you’re worried about damaging or dirtying your dress, I recommend going with a less-expensive option, light weight one that is under $200!
Thank you for visiting my Blog, I am Melissa – the girl behind Cedar Lane Weddings! Are you planning your elopement and looking for someone to help guide you through process?
There’s nothing I love more than helping couples create an authentic intimate wedding day of your dreams, where you conquer an amazing adventure together, and have the privacy & safety to truly be yourselves. Elopements bring the focus of a wedding day back to you two as a couple. They don’t have the “performance” or “production” vibe of a normal, traditional wedding day. You can design the best day for the two of you, from start to finish, and at some point in your grand adventure, be in a gorgeous & unique location and commit your lives to each other.