Banff and Canmore provide a mountain of luxury for weddings
by Paul Peters
People unaccustomed to the mountains might go so far as to conjure up an image of a hippie bride and groom, bare footed, walking across a meadow while their best man picks “Dust in the Wind,” on a shabby acoustic guitar.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the simple wedding. It’s just that some people like to go big on their big day and have what we’ve termed a “luxury wedding.” As it turns out, luxury weddings are among the many wedding options Canmore, Banff and the Canadian Rockies offer.
Connie Grace, a wedding planner and owner of Elegant Banff Occasions, has become one of the local experts on putting together luxury weddings.
“We may be in the mountains, but there are so many services still available to a luxury wedding,” she says.
She notes that here in the Canadian Rockies, we have some the worlds best spas, salons, golf courses and ski resorts on hand.
As far as accommodations, “We have everything from luxurious lodges to elaborate castles.”
Wedding planner Lauren Laming says one of the best places to hold a luxury wedding and reception is on the terrace at the Chateau Lake Louise, also known commonly as the giant, gorgeous castle-like building that sits on the edge of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.
Laming recommends making reservations for local castles, and other high-end accommodations, at least a year in advance. She imagines a nice luxury wedding may include music, such as Deborah Nyack’s harp playing, and some champagne and chocolates between the ceremony and the reception.
Beforehand, she says the bride and groom may want to check out one of the local spas.
“They have fantastic services,” she says.
These include couples massages, which might be a good way to get out some of the pre-wedding jitters and get relaxed so you can enjoy the big day as much as your guests.
Sailing the seas of luxury
Angela Schrempf, local wedding planner and owner of Sweet Occasions, suggests being married on Lake Minnewanka as an unique luxury wedding.
“It’s such a beautiful way to get married,” she says.
Couples can charter a boat onto the lake with up to 30 guests, with the option of enjoying such luxurious treats as wine and cheese or hors-d’oeuvres and champagne.
Despite its mountainous setting and the area being known for its wildlife population, it is still only 10 minutes from the town of Banff. Unlike higher mountain venues, Lake Minnewanka can offer warmth and beauty even in early fall.
Minnewanka is one of the only lakes on which Parks Canada allows motorized boats, and Sweet Occasions is the only company that can charter weddings on the lake.
Connie Grace notes that people sometimes worry that having a wedding way out in the mountains does not mean getting here or away, or having items delivered, is any more difficult.
“Most mountain communities are situated along a major highway,” she says, “providing easy access for such things as lighting delivery, airport shuttle or courier services, etc. It is actually easier than most imagine having special items delivered to their resort.”