REAL ELOPEMENT: Intimate same-sex wedding in Banff
The Couple: Erin & Crystal
The Season: March 17 just before the Park stopped services due to COVID-19.
The Location: Cascade Ponds, Lake Minnewanka, Surprise Corner & Bow Falls in Banff National Park
Note: While I’m referring to Erin & Crystal’s wedding as a same-sex wedding for the sake of the blog & search-ability, to me it’s a wedding the same as any other full of love & awesomeness… I don’t want to call it out differently, but by doing so let’s other same-sex couples know that I am more than happy to photograph their love too! LGTBQ+ friendly here.
A Snippet About the Day: I had been looking forward to Erin & Crystal intimate same-sex wedding in Banff from pretty much the first second I heard about it. I had gotten to know Erin a bit more through Instagram (I actually like to follow along with my couples there to help get to know them a bit more before their wedding or session since most people I work with live far away) & thought we were going to just have the best time, especially since they were coming from the East Coast (which still holds a big piece of my heart). The weeks leading up to their wedding got a little complicated as we started to feel the effects of COVID-19. Even though they had an intimate wedding planned with just close family, they still felt repercussions of the situation on their wedding day. A few guests did not attend, including Erin’s Dad who had been out of country recently & returned home to self-isolate. He chose to do the right thing by keeping his family safe even if that meant not being there in person to attend his daughter’s wedding. Let that sink in for a second & maybe we can learn a lesson from this man. He watched through a live broadcast on someone’s phone from home while he was all dressed up for the occasion. Yup, getting a little teary-eyed writing that. I only found that detail out later in the day, but boy, it had an impact. After the ceremony we worked our way around Banff as a snowstorm blew in making the most epic of portraits. I parted ways with Erin & Crystal as they joined their guests at a new venue for their intimate same-sex wedding reception as their original venue was forced to close earlier that day due to COVID-19. Even with all the changes & the craziness going on in the world, nothing could stop this love & the Rimrock Resort took care of them that evening on super short notice.
Review from Erin & Crystal (before they even got their final photos back!):
We worked with Something New Wedding and Event Planning who had ENV Photography as one of our options for photographers for our big day! We feel super certain we made the RIGHT choice!!!!!! I cannot say enough wonderful things about Beth: My partner and I really felt strongly about having beautiful photos since we were having a very small wedding. I feel confident that Beth made that happen! She was warm, friendly and clearly knew what she was doing. Not to mention she was sweet and made so many recommendations for great things to check out in the area. We were both a little nervous to be in front of the camera but we quickly lost our awkwardness and found ourselves laughing and enjoying our time out in the mountains. I highly recommend ENV!
I also had Erin write a bit for me to share from their perspective.
How did the proposal go down?
Crystal proposed to me on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove on a hot August day: we visited Peggy’s cove many times leading up to that fateful day but never at a time when tourists were at the peak. We had often chased sunrises at 5am or visited on winters’ day when we were the only ones visible. Not this day: we could barely find standing room. Children were everywhere and there were several drones circling us. As private, introverted people that is essentially our nightmare: Crystal admits now that she hadn’t considered how many people would be watching when she popped the question and I apologize for my awkward, shy, self aware almost inaudible “yep!” in that moment. I don’t think I even kissed her until we got back in the car. We laugh about this scenario now and both concede that it solidified our desire for an intimate wedding without a lot of people.
How did you choose Banff to get married & how did you choose your vendors?
We chose Banff as the location for the day as my family is from Nova Scotia and Crystal’s family is from Yukon: finding somewhere beautiful halfway in between was our mission! Crystal and I had visited Banff together before and loved feeling nestled in the mountains and all the fun things to do ! A good friend of mine had eloped and used Something New Event Planning for her day, as well as Beth for photography and we loved her photos so we took her recommendations and flew with them!
Tell us more about your day & what it was like getting married in the time of COVID-19!
Crystal and I are a bit notorious for our luck. In a bad way. Don’t get me wrong, we get through most scenarios laughing, exercising gratitude and more in love with each challenge, but the road there isn’t always easy. So we weren’t super shocked when we started hearing rumblings of coronavirus early in March as we ambitiously boarded our plane to Edmonton, we were on vacation to elope!! With each day of our trip, a little more information would come to light and we grew increasingly anxious- some of our family began making alternate arrangements to facetime in to the wedding. We payed close attention to everything being shared and all guidelines to ensure we didn’t break any public health recommendations. Elbow bumps abound.
The day came and we each decided to spend time with our respective families to start the day, then we finally got to meet our wedding planner Danielle in person which was so nice and she brought our GORGEOUS flowers from Willow Flower co. in Canmore. Sam and Natalia from Lilies and Lace had us looking our best for the event and the weather was warm for a mid-March wedding. Marian, our officiant made our ceremony feel intimate and personal despite the fact we had never spoken to her before. Seeing Crystal seeing me for the first time as I walked down the aisle will forever remain etched in my memory: it was definitely a special moment. We chose to write our vows and I loved that they captured our distinct personalities. Our ceremony ended up including 10 of us total gathered at Cascade Ponds and 3 phones with 3 separate families watching by facetime because they ended up needing to cancel their trips. We have 2 nephews and a niece and seeing their cute little faces glued to the screens was a definite highlight for us. My dad, who was unable to attend because of international travel, watched in his suit at home, and stayed dressed in it all day- even joining us for a toast with a bottle of my favorite Contasera wine from his living room during dinner. These small gestures were reminders of just how loved and supported we are and are the memories we’ll cherish forever.
After the ceremony, the fun began- we headed to Lake Minnewaka with Beth for photos- she really was a tour guide and photographer, warming us in her vehicle and giving us all her best tips for staying warm. She is a great conversationalist and we exchanged our favourite beverage concoctions! It was great! Crystal and I are awkward in life- we’re both introverts and fairly private so two hours of taking photos seemed like a lot-it FLEW! I think we might even venture to say we enjoyed it! Beth was amazing. We were sad to part ways at the end of our time together.
We ended our day at the Rimrock resort Primrose Restaurant for dinner. They pulled through at a moment’s notice and graciously hosted us for dinner. I have talked about the lamb I ate that night at least once per day since! Their service was exceptional. Crystal and I have had lots of time to reflect on the day since we’ve been home: while we would love to eliminate some of the tears and stresses and emerging pandemic what we wouldn’t change for the world is the love we felt for each other, how supported we felt by our families and how wonderful our vendors were!!
Looking for more Cascade Ponds elopement inspiration in Banff National Park? This Cascade Ponds winter engagement session had frost flowers & green ice! We stopped at Cascade Ponds for this winter elopement. Cascade Ponds in the fall for this wedding. This Banff winter elopement had portraits at Cascade Ponds.
Thinking about planning an epic mountain elopement of your own? You need to see my 5 Tips for Planning your Dream Mountain Elopement! Also see my Guide to Eloping in the Canadian Rockies to help figure out the best place for you to get married! If you’re thinking about eloping at Moraine Lake, you need to read this! Why Elope? See why running away to get married is the best!
Soheel, 2016 Groom