Are you dreaming of an elopement or intimate wedding? Does eloping appeal, but you don’t want to “miss out?” What the heck does “intimate wedding” even mean?! And why would you have a wedding planner for an elopement? Read on!
Most think of an elopement as one couple, two random witnesses and one legal dude/dudette (maybe Elvis, if he’s available). Well, if you think we’re in Vegas, you might have found the wrong website! We’re in the Canadian Rockies, home to beautiful Banff, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, Emerald Lake and Canmore. And it’s a pretty popular place for elopements and small weddings precisely because it’s not Vegas! So what is it?
Photo by Two Mann Studios
In our lowly lingo, an elopement is an event for the two of you alone, or with handful of guests. There’s a ceremony followed by an a la carte dinner at somewhere awesomely “you.” Imagine a lingering meal at a fabulous restaurant, a romantic boutique inn, a cozy tapas bar or a trendy wine lounge. If you and your guests can fit around a regular restaurant dinner table, you guys are an elopement!
To us, an intimate wedding is up to 25 of you grand people at a ceremony followed by some kind of fabulous reception. It might be speeches in a plush private dining room, a whimsical picnic in an mountainside meadow, or any other private, planned reception for up to 25 guests.
Okay, now we know what we’re gabbing on about! But why hire a wedding planner when there’s so few people, when it should be so simple? We’re glad you asked!
1. A wedding planner will help you create something custom. Something personal. Something YOU.
Some elopements are offered as a pre-defined, cookie-cutter, check-box wedding package. You pay a fixed price which includes A, B and C, provided by X, Y and Z. The plus is that this is super simple. But the minus is that the experience won’t reflect much of you and your partner. That makes us sad!
We think there’s something wonderful about carefully taking the time to hand pick each little detail of your wedding. (Or to have someone hand-pick personalised suggestions, if you prefer!) It’s a bit like making a pie from scratch with berries grown in your own garden.
Not all planners work the same way, but this is exactly why we don’t offer packages. We just don’t think a package would be able to capture all those nuances that make you the people you are, and the marriage you’re about to become.
As as side note: If you have a wedding planner for an elopement or intimate wedding, make sure you’re happy with the vendors they bring on board. It should be about the providers that are best suited to you. We don’t have any reciprocal contracts with vendors. There are folks we trust, but we’ll only recommend someone if they’re the right fit for your day. And if there’s a certain vendor you’re in love with, then we can’t wait to work with them!
2. A planner knows their area like their back yard. Because it is their back yard, duh!
There’s no substitute for local knowledge. This is particularly true of popular tourist towns like Banff and Canmore; only the locals know how to escape the crowds, get the best views in every type of weather, and find backup vendors in emergency situations faster than The Flash.
We’re based right on Main Street in Canmore, and we’ve lived and breathed the Bow Valley (that’s the stretch from Exshaw to Lake Louise) for over 20 years. Working on our home ground makes us confident in our decisions, gives us insight into possible problems so we can manage them, and blesses us with solid relationships with vendors in the area. Plus, we really love this place, so we take a lot of pride in being able to show it off to our couples!
Wherever you marry, these kinds of things can only be found from a local. When you’re using a wedding planner for an elopement or intimate wedding, you get both the benefits of a wedding pro and a local pro – double awesome!
Our Callandra at an elopement at Tunnel Mountain, Banff. Photo by PNG Image
3. The Canadian Rockies can be a bit, um…, “special.”
And by “special,” we mean there’ll be snowstorms in the summer (and spring and fall and winter), you can get sunburn in the winter (and spring and fall and summer), herds of elk cause traffic jams, bear spray is recommended, tour buses need avoiding and there are so many stunning views that choosing a few for your wedding photos can be overwhelming!
Simply put, it’s not your average vacation destination. (It’s waaaaay cooler!)
All these cool, fun, unusual aspects can make eloping here not quite as predictable as your average sun-sand-and-sea destination. It’s one of the reasons so many people love this area. And it’s also why having someone on hand to deal with unusual, unexpected or last-minute events can save you a bunch of time and stress.
So when an elk gatecrashes your reception (which has happened to several of our couples! Including Nirvana and Calvin, below), you can laugh and take photos while someone else keeps both you and Mr. Elk safe! Or when an unexpected September snowstorm rolls in (like in Christie and Elaina’s wedding), your planner will rebuild your whole wedding inside, and help everyone find their way there.
Photo by David Guenther Photography
4. Elopements and small weddings still need planning time.
Many of the wedding planning duties have to be done whether you’re having five or 500 guests. You need to find a ceremony location, a commissioner, something to do after the ceremony, you’ll likely want a photographer and maybe a videographer, some pretty flowers to hold, you’ll need to eat something somewhere…
A wedding planner will save you time. Period.
They’ll help find all the vendors you need and confirm all the bookings, they’ll plan a timeline, they’ll set up your dinner, they’ll decorate where it’s needed, and they’ll make things run like they should on the day. What you do with your saved time is your call…!
5. With fewer guests, there are fewer folks to help with “all the stuff.”
It can be hard to ask loved ones to help run errands, pick up the boutonniere and bouquet, carry the cake across town, find lost guests or press play or the iPod. But when you’ve only got a couple of guests to start with, it can make those requests even harder. And if it’s just the two of you… who do you ask?
A wedding planner, that’s who!
And since they’re a pro, you don’t have to feel guilty about it, either! With a wedding planner for an elopement, you don’t even have to figure out what “all the stuff” is – they’ll take care of that. You’re making a super special commitment and if you’ve decided to share it with just one another, you want to ensure you have the time on the day to treasure each other, to enjoy it, and to celebrate the relationship you have. Running errands is a great way to spoil the mood!
In short, we can’t recommend enough a wedding planner for an elopement or intimate wedding. And if you’re getting hitched in the Canadian Rockies, we’d be honoured to be your wedding planner! Do you have questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. More of a phone person? Call us at 1-888-959-2656. We’d love to create a day that’s perfect for you and your sweetie.
Christie and Elaina are soulmates who achieved something amazing. Not only did they commit to one another on the deepest of levels, but they brought friends and families together with incredible memories, through a Banff wedding week of Bucket List activities. And they didn’t let distance, snow or Elaina’s injured ankle get in the way!
They flew up from the States to Christie’s long-dreamed of destination, Banff. They landed in our gateway city of Calgary (1hr 15mins away) in the midst of Calgary’s Gay Pride Festival – a fitting surprise! And the joy continued as they drove into the towering Canadian Rockies mountains.
They stopped in Canmore for a hug and chat with Callandra, their Chief Wedding Planner, before their eight-day vacation took them sightseeing at Emerald Lake, canoeing on Lake Louise, meeting chipmunks at Moraine Lake, indulging in beaver-sized BeaverTails in Banff, horseback riding with the family, summiting Sulphur Mountain on a gondola, walking on Athabasca Glacier (another Bucket List item), and, of course, meeting some of the local deer.
Their ceremony was to be at Lake Minnewanka, a glacial lake named in the Nakoda language as “Water of the Spirits,” on the last day of their trip. Now, we often tell our couples to expect any weather at any time of year. True to form, a September snow blizzard descended on Banff. As the snowflakes fell larger and faster, our brave ladies headed out into the forest surrounding Lake Minnewanka for their First Look. Christie described it beautifully:
“Everything you envision about how the first look would be can’t compare to the emotions you feel the first time you see the love of your life standing in front of you. It is a rush, an energy, a breath-taking moment, sensory overload and overwhelming love! In that split second it reaffirms that feeling you have in your soul that this is the person I want to spend my days with. My soulmate!”
While the soulmates spent some treasured time together, Callandra and Krista (the managing team from Postcard Weddings) contacted everyone involved and worked with the amazing vendors to re-construct the wedding indoors. They rallied the guests and hid all the commotion from the brides, who arrived at their private room at the Rimrock Resort Hotel and were led through their ceremony by the remarkable celebrant Barbra Parker.
The reception was held at one of our favourite foodie venues, Canmore’s Sage Bistro & Wine Lounge. Their cheese and charcuterie selections are divine! If you like a tipple, they have over 250 wine labels available. We decorated Christie and Elaine’s private reception room overlooking the Three Sisters Mountains, where their parents gave heartfelt, beautiful speeches. After it all, they headed back in to Banff to stay at the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Christie and Elaina’s Banff wedding week was the perfect example of the beauty of an intimate wedding. They enjoyed so much of this amazing area, made their lives’ biggest commitment, and bonded with their loved ones in a totally unique, unforgettable way. See more of their wedding day below, told in images by the fantastic Julie Williams Photography.
Intimate Wedding Management: Postcard Weddings & Events
Celebrant: Barbara Parker
Photographer: Julie Williams Photography
Ceremony guitarist: Andrew Ibanez
Hair: JK Hair Designs
Makeup: Canmore & Banff Makeup Artistry
Baker: Mountain Mercato
Florals: Willow Flower Co.
Rentals: Special Event Rentals
Stationary: Pink Umbrella Designs
Ceremony location: The Rimrock Resort Hotel
Reception location: Sage Bistro & Wine Lounge
Accommodation: The Rimrock Resort Hotel, a private vacation rental house, and The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
We love Elopements! (You can see a blog post about how we make elopements special here.) There’s so much opportunity to have a meaningful, creative event designed for two. Today we wanted to share five really cool elopement concepts that we can’t wait to help you plan!
1. A Mountain Sunrise Elopement
The sun rising in the Canadian Rockies can be one of the most spectacular sights you’ll ever see. This is a challenging wedding to do if you have lots of guests, but if it’s just the two of you, it’s totally feasible. If you get the right day, the mountains light up pink as the sun starts to come up, and it’s stunning. Try the shores of Lake Minnewanka for an amazing view. We could do this elopement on a Sunday, then after you say your “I Do’s” head to The Bison Restaurant & Terrace in Banff, sit out on the terrace and enjoy the most amazing brunch you’ve ever eaten. (Think French toast with double smoked bacon, berries, silvan star gouda, apple slaw and whipped cream… yes please!)
Photo by Julie Williams Photography
2. A Banff Summer Elopement at Sunshine Meadows
Ski hill in the winter, hiking destination in the summer! Sunshine Meadows sits at an average height of 7300 feet above sea level, and straddles both Alberta and British Columbia. For a short time in August, the alpine wildflowers are in full bloom. We love the idea of doing the short 40 minute hike to Rock Isle Lake, and getting married near the Continental Divide with this pretty spot in the background. After you say your ” I Do’s,” take some time to have a little picnic and enjoy the amazing backdrop you’ve chosen!
Photo by Kyle Kitagawa
3. A Lake Louise Winter Dogsledding Elopement
Dogsledding is a seriously exciting and surprisingly romantic excursion. You cuddle up with your honey in a warm sled, and glide through some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen. We love the idea of bringing a marriage commissioner and photographer on a private tour, and stopping out in the forest to have your marriage ceremony. If you are set on a white gown, this might not be the right fit for you – it’s important to dress warm for a wedding like this!
Photo by Matt Long
4. A Canmore Elopement for Foodies
The Paintbox Lodge is a lovely little inn that sits right in the heart of downtown Canmore. They have an amazing kitchen and host fantastic cooking classes! The Paintbox Lodge can be ‘bought out’ (this term refers to reserving the whole lodge) during off-season (October to May, excluding some Christmas dates) for your elopement or intimate wedding. We love the idea of getting married outside in their garden, or inside next to their fireplace with your closest friends and family. Following the event you can move into the kitchen for an interactive cooking class dinner, a more traditional harvest table dinner with lots of locally sourced goodies, or a casual tapas party with cocktails, and lots of time for enjoying your guests!
Photo from Eric Daigle
5. Heli-Wedding Elopement
I’ve had the pleasure of living and working in this area for almost 20 years. My favourite adventure experience in all that time was a heli-hike I was invited to join a few years back. If you’ve never done it, landing on a mountainside and jumping out of a helicopter is pretty darn exhilarating! The views ‘up top’ are also incredible. Heli-weddings typically take place in the morning when there’s less wind. We love the idea of a short heli-tour, then light hike up in the alpine followed by a unique ceremony and small lunch picnic.
Photo by Two Mann Studios
Shoot us an email or give us a call on 888.959.2656 so we can work with you to create your own totally unique mountain elopement!
Last year was a great one for news from Postcard Wedding & Events, and 2015 is already pretty exciting, too! Aside from planning weddings for amazing couples, we’ve been able to share some of the work we love with magazines, industry pros and wedding planning guides. And now we want to share those things with you, too! Read on to see what we’ve been up to lately…
Last month, Avenue magazine, Calgary’s premier lifestyle mag, tracked us down to ask our thoughts on 12-month wedding planning – which is great timing for those who got engaged this Christmas! We were thrilled to chat with them, and it resulted in a great overview article called ‘The Countdown to Wedded Bliss, Your 12 Month Wedding To Do List‘ (on pg 110). We were honoured to be quoted as one “of the local bridal industry’s … established entrepreneurs,” and to be placed alongside some other really respected vendors. Read the online version of the article here (and be sure to keep on reading down to month two for more Callandra wisdom)!
Ever heard of The Special Event (TSE)? (No, this special event isn’t your wedding, this time!) TSE is the event industry’s premier tradeshow and conference for event professionals. It’s super inspiring and super fun; where established pros get together to talk and learn more about our industry. And this January Callandra Caufield, our founder and Chief Wedding & Event Producer, was invited to talk on something she’s passionate about: How Competition Can Be Your Biggest Asset. We really believe that working with your competitors makes your market stronger. And the stronger we are, the more we can do an awesome job for folks like you. That’s important. So a huge thanks to TSE and all the event pros who came out to Anaheim for the conference. Callandra had a blast sharing her big stack of knowledge with y’all!
We came home from TSE to hear that we’d won the 2015 WeddingWire Couples Choice Award! This is presented to “the top five percent of wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism.” Thanks WeddingWire! And thanks to all the couples who’ve given us that 5 out of 5 score! It makes us all warm and gooey reading those kind reviews.
Looking back a couple of months, we were interviewed by the awesome Kirstie at Canoe Wedding, the online mountain wedding guide by local photographer Orange Girl Photographs. She’s been featured by Martha Stewart Magazine, Wedding Bells Magazine, Style Me Pretty and soooo many others. Even though we’ve worked together a bunch, the fact that such a fabulous photographer wanted to interview our Callandra was pretty exciting! They talked about growing up, living and working in the mountains, and gave plenty of advice to mountain couples. Read what they have to say here.
That’s the latest news from Postcard Weddings & Events! Callandra’s looking forward to more fun stuff in 2015 as a board member of the Canmore Wedding Industry, working with the Calgary Bride Organization, and attending some local, national and international wedding and event workshops and conferences. Plus, of course, designing and producing weddings! Phew! But she still finds time to read her emails (and bake cookies, yum!). So if you want to ask Callandra and the team about these events (or anything else for that matter!), shoot us an email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
After deciding on The Big Vision, the next exciting decision should be your venue. And a Banff wedding venue is a beautiful thing! (So is a Lake Louise, Canmore, Emerald Lake or Kananaskis venue, for that matter!) We’re lucky to have a ton of great options to chose from. And by thinking through a few simple points, you and your partner can find the best place to start your married life. Read on for our advice.
Photo by Julie Williams Photography
1. Let’s Talk Numbers
We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you cannot fit 120 people into a room that seats 100. It doesn’t matter how skinny your guests are or how “cozy” you’re willing to get! And it’s not because venue managers are horrible old meanies. There’s a – don’t yawn yet – legal number they must stay within. It’s there to keep you and your guests safe in case something bad goes down, and it keeps the venue’s insurance valid. But there is another reason that you might be more interested in…
An over-crowded wedding just sucks. You’re crammed too many to a table, you can’t lift your elbows to cut your steak, there’s a line up for the bar all damn night, there’s a line up for the bathroom all damn night, and the dance floor becomes a danger zone (once Uncle Jimmy starts sweating, you really don’t want to be that close).
A good venue manager won’t let you go above their maximum capacity number. They’ll know and respect the fact that you’ll have a better wedding experience when there’s the right number of people in the right sized space. So please, please, please make your draft guest list before picking a venue, and don’t just hope it’ll work out.
2. Keep in Mind The Big Vision
You can’t fit a round wedding in a square venue, so pick somewhere that suits your Big Vision. Just because your cousin’s friend’s sister’s aunty loved her intimate 30-person wedding doesn’t necessarily mean that venue is right for your extravagant 300-person soiree. If you want rustic and fun, pick a rustic and fun venue! If you want elegant and classic, pick an elegant and classic venue! Otherwise it’s like putting a bow tie on a pig (but much less cute); a lot of effort for something that just doesn’t work. We’ve got so many choices in this area that are filled with great character. The better fit you find, the easier it’ll be to get the atmosphere you’re looking for. Plus it frees you up to use less (and spend less on) decor!
Photo by Stacey Hedman
3. Get Some Advice
Once you’ve got some ideas that fit your Big Vision, you need to find out if they’re any good. For real. Not just “they-say-so-on-the-website-so-they-must-be-good.” Try to find someone who knows the area, someone you trust, and get recommendations based on your specific type of wedding. If you don’t know anyone around Banff with wedding experience, you can ask us. We live right here! And we have a super handy guide based purely on venues we trust (we don’t take payment for recommendations). They’re ones we know do certain things well. The list is part of our DIY Planning Kit and talks about both themes and capacities. Check it out here.
4. Make a Backup Plan
Those who get married in the Canadian Rockies love it for those breathtaking mountain vistas, sunsets streaming warm colours across the skies, wild bull elk wondering quietly across mountain meadows, and sweet fresh air filling up your lungs. But you know what else happens in the mountains? Snowstorms in August. Just like the temperatures, rainfalls and blizzards, you can’t predict them very well. So if you’re having an outdoor ceremony or reception, make a backup plan, no matter the season.
If you haven’t agreed an indoor backup option with your venue and included it in your contract, they have no obligation to provide it. If they’re nice (like most of our vendors are), they’ll try and make something work. But since you haven’t planned for it, you have no idea what, if anything, you’ll get. It can cause stress, confusion, lost guests, uninspired decor and angsty delays.
Let’s be honest. We know some people worry they’ll be forced to use a backup plan when they really don’t want to. We just want to take a moment and tell you that we never force you into anything. Never. As a wedding planner it’s our job to tell you the reality and offer some advice. We ensure that if you do have to move inside, it’s still the most beautiful and memorable moment in your life (for all the right reasons). We’re also the ones who decorate the new space, stand in the pouring rain re-directing your guests and call all your vendors. (It’s those days that we burn the most calories running around!)
No one wants to move inside when they dreamed of an outdoor wedding. But not planning for it is just asking for trouble!
Photo by PMG Image
5. Understand What You’re Signing
Even the smartest gal or guy has likely never dealt with a venue contract before, so take time to read what you’re signing and ask questions. Areas to watch are room rental fees and minimum food and beverage (F&B) spends. Here’s what you need to know:
Room rental is a flat fee to rent the room. It’s subject to 5% GST* tax. It almost always includes basic room setup, but be sure to ask if and how much the venue will do. It’s usually the basics: standard tables and linens, chairs, cutlery and glassware.
Minimum F&B spend is a minimum dollar amount that you agree to pay for food and beverages, no matter how much your actual F&B bill is. It’s quoted before taxes and is subject to gratuity (around 18%* but varies) plus 5% GST* tax.
If your F&B minimum is $10,000 and your F&B bill comes to $9,000, you’ll be charged an extra $1,000 to bring your final bill up to the $10,000 minimum. But if your F&B bill comes in over $10,000, you won’t have any extra charges as you’ve already reached the minimum. Make sense?
Things to watch:
– Some places waive the room rental fee if you meet your F&B minimum, some don’t.
– Some places won’t have a flat room rental fee but if you don’t meet your F&B minimum spend, they’ll call that top-up amount the “room rental.”
– Some places include revenue from cash/subsidized bars in the F&B total, some don’t.
Bottom line? Ask and understand! Then there are no surprises.
*Taxes quoted here are for Alberta in 2015. The other Canadian provinces have higher taxes, so be sure to check if you’re getting hitched at Emerald Lake in BC, or anywhere else.
If you’re still feeling unsure, do not fear! Head on over to our DIY Guide and grab yourself an instant download of our comprehensive Venue Guide. Or, if you just want to chat over your ideas, book an Idea Session. We’ll answer every question we can and give you our honest opinions. And for anything else, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the venue hunt!