Wedding venue

Adventure Weddings Combine Romance and Nature Drama

It’s early morning along the Kent Ridge Trail in Kananaskis, Alberta, and the Milky Way is shimmering. Meteors streak across the sky like fireworks, almost as if to signal celebration. Somewhere near the summit, dawn is breaking in shades of fuchsia and blood orange.

Here, overlooking peaks that graze the sky, Natasha Savas squats behind a rock and swaps her hiking outfit for a wedding dress. Instead of walking down the aisle, she and her partner, Joe Tyson-Muir, walked down a mountain trail to say their “I do.”

“We spend a lot of time in the mountains and have bonded over the mountains. It was really important for us to do something outside and in nature to celebrate our love and commitment to each other,” says Savas, recalling their wedding last August.

Savas and Tyson-Muir are among a growing number of couples who are shunning traditional marriages in favor of adventure elopements, which are, as their name suggests, intimate celebrations taking place in an outdoor-lover’s paradise. air.

In Canada, escape planners and photographers like those in Alberta willow and wolf take couples to Rocky Mountain scenery, backcountry cabins or remote islands to get married. based in British Columbia Coastal weddings and events offers magical seaside, waterfall or island ceremonies in the province’s charming Sunshine Coast region.

Natasha Savas and Joe Tyson-Muir traveled down a mountain trail to get away to Kananaskis, Alberta.

Elsewhere, companies like Let’s tie a knot and say we’ve done it take couples on the trip of a lifetime to rugged locations across the western United States. Adventure Pact (based in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Quito, Ecuador) offers elopements in the Las Vegas desert, at the base of an Ecuadorian volcano, in Panama or Peru. Aloha Zoe coordinates ceremonies in Hawaii (as the name suggests) as well as in glacial Patagonia, Iceland or the Faroe Islands. Typically, couples can hike, helicopter or boat to their meeting place.

Just a few years ago, the concept of nuptials this far away perhaps seemed reserved only for off-grid adventurers or extreme backpackers. But credit the unpredictability of the pandemic — throwing twists and turns in the plans — for helping the trend spread.

“We just wanted certainty. It seemed like we could guarantee it would happen,” says Rachel Breedon, who fled with her husband, Shaun, to Chatterbox Falls in British Columbia. After having to cancel their original wedding twice due to the pandemic, they decided an adventure elopement would be more realistic. than a traditional ceremony.

It was a similar story for Richard Sequeira and Cynthia Manurung, who fled after hiking three hours to a peak outside Canmore, Alta., last May. “There was so much uncertainty with COVID. We just didn’t want to put our married lives on hold,” says Sequeira, noting that their wedding day had been postponed twice.

"It was like being between heaven and earth," says Cynthia Manurung of the wedding setting.

Because Manurung is from Indonesia, they also faced the challenge of dealing with travel restrictions for an international guest list. (Breedon, who is from Ireland, and Tyson-Muir, who is from the UK, also faced this problem).

While a rocky, snow-capped peak in -10°C Alberta was a far cry from Sequeira and Manurung’s original vision of a Hawaiian beach location, in a way it made more sense: a mountaintop crumbly allowed for more streamlined logistics, and it also took the stress out of wedding planning.

Plus, the trek to a peak to exchange vows sums up the couple’s daring spirit. So, at 2:30 a.m. last May 22, they met their pastor and the wedding photographers at the trailhead and started climbing the steep mountain in the dark of night.

They each wore four layers of hiking gear, as well as toques and gloves. Manurung had spent the evening mastering her look and traversing some of Canada’s roughest terrain in full bridal makeup. The bag, which normally contained a tent and other outdoor essentials, now contained a floor-length white dress. Sequeira walked beside him, with a bottle of champagne ready for the summit.

Hiking in the Rockies before dawn is undeniably exhausting. Visibility is low, elevation is high, and temperatures are well below freezing. But as the sun rose above the horizon, the worthwhile call became clear as day: shades of bubblegum flooded the sky, changing color every minute.

“It was the most beautiful thing to get married when the sun was up and we were on the mountain and there was no one there,” Manurung says. “It was like being between heaven and earth.”

Of course, old traditions die hard. For someone wedded to the customs of marriage, an adventure elopement may seem like too big of a compromise, no matter how badly the travel bug has bitten. But couples can keep many of the same classic elements: the vows, the engagement, the keepsake, the photos, the dress, the bouquet.

For some, like Breedon, getting married in some of the most awe-inspiring places the world has to offer — without distraction — adds meaning to the ceremony. Keeping the day small can ensure the focus doesn’t drift away from your relationship and commitment. And getting away into spectacular scenery so far from your usual haunts ensures that the day is what it’s meant to be: a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“It was so moving, so private and romantic,” Breedon says. “Especially with the landscape. It was so special and enchanting.

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