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Some Unusual and Beautiful Wedding Venues In and Around Banff Alberta
-Article by: Norm Goldman
-Paintings by: Lily Azerad-Goldman
A Wedding Near Banff- painting by Lily Azerad-Goldman

Over 2,500 weddings are celebrated in the Banff-Canmore area of Alberta each year. The sheer beauty of the majestic mountains, gorgeous lakes and the abundance of wildlife are enough to seduce couples to exchange vows in a part of Canada where nature reigns supreme.

Remember if you are an American, Asian or European your currency goes a long way in Canada. Possibilities and choices are endless, particularly if you are looking for a distinct western Canadian flavor.

A Unique Inn Wedding- Bear and Bison A Canadian Country Inn

Nestled under the majestic peaks of the peaks of the Three Sisters Mountains, and located to the east of the Banff National Park is Canmore, and it is here you will discover one of the most charming inns in the area: A Bear and Bison, A Canadian Country Inn.

According to its innkeepers, Fiona and Lonny Middleton, over the past two years this inn has hosted over two hundred weddings, many of which have been elopements. They must be doing something right to attract all of these couples!

What is most noteworthy about the Bear and Bison is that it is a perfect answer to just what makes an intimate setting so different from the sometimes- cold atmosphere of some grand hotels. This is particularly in evidence when you immediately notice the large picture windows located in the dining and lounge area of the inn that have magnificent views of the Rockies, and with its generous natural light you have a perfect setting to pledge your love for each other.

The inn owes a great deal of its wedding popularity to the expertise of its owners. Lonny is a first class chef having practiced his culinary skills in Paris, Switzerland, Germany, USA and Canada. He was also a chef on the number one cruise ship, Royal Viking Sun, where he met and married Fiona, who at the time was one of the ship's officers.

Having had the opportunity to savor some of Chef Lonny's breakfasts, we can vouch that they are a sheer delight. Incidentally, a unique touch offered by the inn is that guests are provided with daily lunch baskets filled with sandwiches and fruits, and on their departure similar lunches are packed in paper bags.
A Wedding at The Bear and Bison Inn- painting by Lily Azerad-Goldman

Fiona brings to this husband and wife team her vast experience in the hospitality industry as well as her superb wedding organizational skills. You can count on her to make sure that your big day will run smoothly, and she can be called upon for her sound advice pertaining to photographers, musicians, wedding commissioners, florists, beauticians, coiffeurs, and any other entity or person that may be required. By the way, if you are worried about un-cooperating weather, the inn is also equipped to set up the Willow Chapel that can be set up within three hours notice.

Fiona can also put you in touch with the appropriate individuals pertaining to the various adventure weddings and scenic areas hereafter described, where you might want to tie the knot prior to holding the reception at the inn.

Banff Adventure Weddings

v Heli- Weddings

Interesting enough Alberta law permits couples to marry anywhere where they can safely place five people-the couple, two witnesses and the officiating officer. It should be borne in mind, however, that there may be seasonal restrictions as well as other restrictions, and a permit may have to be obtained for certain venues or those that are subject to approval by Alberta Environmental Protection.

A unique Alberta wedding is the Heli-Wedding where a helicopter drops the couple off in some permitted area. According to Rick Rick Kunelius, who specializes in these weddings, Mount Whitehorn can be accessed by ski lift followed with a short hike. Tunnel Mountain requires a one- hour walk / hike, and Peyto Lake is a long drive with a short walk. Rick further pointed out that he cannot land a helicopter in the National Park, and he is limited to certain sites in the Province.

Incidentally, Rick is a marriage commissioner and he is able to perform the marriage ceremony.

If you are in good shape, you can even incorporate into the wedding ceremony, as one couple we met did, a one and half hour hike, where along the way vows are exchanged within different scenic backgrounds. You may even have some surprise guests at your wedding such as bighorn sheep, bear or chipmunks.

v Dog Sled Weddings

If your wedding is celebrated during the winter months, how about exchanging vows while dog sledding and snuggling under warm blankets with some of the most enthusiastic "running dogs" you will ever encounter.

The "go go go" and barking of these beautiful Alaskan Huskies will surely provide you with most unique endless photo opportunities, as you are swiftly transported to some of the most scenic terrain in the Canadian Rockies. Areas that during other times of the year are inaccessible are now open such as some frozen rivers and streams.

v Sleigh Ride Weddings
How about taking a sleigh ride either alone or with your wedding party? Warner Guiding & Outfitting Ltd can accommodate a maximum of sixty- six in three eighteen seater sleighs together with one twelve seater and a separate sleigh for the bride and groom. Ceremonies are generally held somewhere on a river or in the open field behind their facilities.

v Hummer Weddings

Ever heard of a Hummer wedding? These vehicles can generally accommodate up to 5 persons. One company in Banff, Banff Hummer Backcountry Tours will transport the wedding party to a remote picturesque location where a quaint ceremony is performed by the driver/guide who is certified marriage commissioner.
According to this outfit these remote settings are only accessible by a 4 x 4 Hummer.

v Hoodo Weddings

What is a Hoodoo? Frankly, before visiting Alberta I never heard of the term.
These are strange formations some resembling mushrooms, that have a certain mystique about them. They are pillars of limestone that were formed by water and wind erosion over thousands of years, and they provide a unique backdrop for wedding ceremonies.

In addition to the above weddings, you may want to consider mountain biking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, whitewater rafters and water skiing as possible inspirations for your adventure-wedding ceremony.

Banff Scenic Weddings

If you are opting for a less daring wedding that not necessarily falls into the category of a mundane traditional celebration, you may want to consider the following beautiful vistas.

v Vermilion Lakes are a very popular Venue with its spectacular view of Mount Rundle. These series of shallow lakes are located west of the Town of Banff and it is estimated that this area supports more than two hundred species of birds and a wide assortment of mammals such as moose, beaver, muskrat, bald eagles, osprey, and bighorn sheep.

v Moraine Lake may be half the size of Lake Louise, however, it is just as breathtaking and dazzling to the eye. It is located about eight miles from Lake Louise around a winding side road. Many a romantic couple has been inspired by the towering ranges of the Valley Of The Ten Peaks and provides just the perfect spot to celebrate a marriage. You may even wish to walk to the top of the pile of rocks at the end of the lake that provides a magnificent view.

v Upon our visit to the Town of Banff we were very much impressed with the spectacular Cascade Gardens that now houses the Park Administration Building. Parks Canada has described them as a unique and beautiful example of Canadian landscape design. This is quite in evidence when you view their unbelievable manicured lawn and flower- beds.

v Did you know that Marilyn Monroe filmed The River Of No Return at Bow Falls located minutes from the Town of Banff? The falls may be small in comparison to others, however, they nevertheless create a spectacular backdrop for a beautiful wedding.

v Even if you are not a Nordic ski enthusiast, you will love the surroundings of the Nordic Centre Provincial Park, where the 1988 Olympic Nordic skiing events were hosted. This facility can accommodate about 225 guests. It is located 2 km from the town of Canmore, and one of its principal attractions is that it is surrounded by the Rockies, as well as having at the center of the trail system, an extensive meadow providing spectacular views.

v Since 1926 Banff Mount Norquay has proven to be one of the most popular ski venues for the local inhabitants. It has also gained a reputation as being very much in demand for weddings.


For more information about wedding venues contact the Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau

How To Obtain An Alberta Marriage License
Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau
Travel Alberta Canada
Norm's Review of "Moon Handbooks Alberta Including Banff, Jasper and The Canadian Rockies"
History of Alberta

A Bear and Bison, A Canadian Country Inn
705 Benchlands Trail, Canmore, Alberta
Tel: 1-403-678-2058
Fax: 1-403-678-2086

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