Five picture-perfect mountaintops across the province offer gorgeous wedding backdrops


1. Journeyman Lodge

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In an age ruled by social media–and oversharing–sometimes stepping away from the phone to steep in what really matters can lay the groundwork for a glorious wedding. Journeyman Lodge, managed by Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures and located outside Whistler on the upper Callaghan basin in the province’s Coast Mountain range, is a location that eschews digital connectivity for human interaction. “Its totally off the grid and unplugged. The connection here is human,” explains the venue’s assistant general manager Kim Ebers.

Instead of constant Instagram uploads, guests can revel in 3,500 hectares of picturesque wilderness. “It has untouched mountain scenery… stunning glaciers, majestic peaks, pristine lakes, cathedral-like old growth forests and lush alpine meadows,” says Ebers. And those vistas promise portraits to treasure, with “breathtaking backdrops of our secluded, postcard-worthy sub-alpine valley.”

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After the ceremony and a few photo stops, the 5,000-square-foot lodge offers visitors well-appointed accommodations, a commercial kitchen and a dining room that comfortably seats up to 48 adventurers. “Guests can even enjoy our wood-fire Scandinavian sauna that sits next to a rushing alpine creek, just a five-minute hike from the lodge,” adds Ebers.

With its emphasis on the beauty of B.C., Journeyman Lodge appeals to wedding parties with a passion for the outdoors. “It’s a unique backcountry escape; perfect for the ultimately adventurous duo,” explains Ebers. “They don’t need glamour; all the shine they need is embodied in their spirit and untamed approach to life. Their wedding day is only shared with their most intimate friends and family. It is a celebration of their past and future adventures together.”

TIP: “Have the venue educate you on the details of transporting all the wedding items up the mountain. Decor, flowers, favours, speciality food items and liquor all can be transported by either snowmobile, sled or Snowcat. Once you understand the timing involved and the space available, you can begin deciding what your priority items are and what you can feasibly bring up.” –Aurora Buchanan, wedding planner at Alicia Keats Weddings & Events


PREVIOUS WEDDINGS:
One to two per year since 2007
CAPACITY: 15 to 24 overnight guests, with a daytime capacity of 48
MINIMUM SPEND: Past budgets range from $8,000 to $30,000
LEAD TIME: Six months, depending on flexibility and vacancy
PLANNING: Independent wedding planners are welcome, with familiar options available for reference
A/V: Arranged by planners
INSIDER INFO: “Flexibility is key as many of the logistics rely on weather, operational schedules, and a hardworking but tiny team,” says Ebers.

2. Big White

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The warm, welcoming nature of Big White, an hour southeast of Kelowna, is a regular draw for couples tying the knot in the winter wonderland billed as “Canada’s favourite family resort.” But so is the abundance of choice. “Accommodation options range from full-service hotels, ski-in/ski-out cabins, condominiums with private hot tubs, and grand chalets sleeping up to 30 people,” explains Christine Gobeil, food and beverage events manager. “There is something to suit all wedding plans, big or small.”

And there’s no shortage of support. “We have also had couples get married on their snowboards or in their ski boots, and their guests joined them in a celebratory ride down the mountain after their ceremony. This definitely draws a crowd and lots of cheering from fellow skiers,” says Gobeil.

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That little touch of magic was planned from the beginning. “Big White’s accommodations have been purpose-built to provide the ultimate winter wonderland wedding experience,” explains Gobeil. A few truly romantic options exist… and they will certainly impress guests. “There’s the opportunity to create your own fairy-tale arrival to your wedding by majestic Clydesdale-led sleigh through the magical forest.”

Once a reception venue is confirmed on the mountain, employees get to work in a cohesive manner, creating a celebration to remember. Says Gobeil, “Big White is one big team, and our motto is one team, one dream. This is apparent with weddings as you can see all the departments working together to create this couple’s special day.”

TIP: Think outside the box. Personalizing your ceremony experience makes it memorable for everyone. Go off the trails into the majestic forest, ride on horse-drawn sleighs, or head up to the mountaintop and enjoy wide-open skies… find the spot that resonates with you. –Sondra Richardson, Okanagan Celebrant


PREVIOUS WEDDINGS:
Approximately 100 winter weddings over the past decade
CAPACITY: From four to 300, depending on venue
MINIMUM SPEND: Specific to each wedding, but ceremony site rental is $600
LEAD TIME: Generally three to six months (though one wedding came together in just three days)
PLANNING: Coordinator on-site, though independent planners also welcome
A/V: Equipment available for rent, though outside rentals also permitted
INSIDER INFO: “Always ensure your guests are aware of the destination of your ceremony, and that it can be cold in the mountains. Be prepared to experience mountain weather. The reception is where they can dress up,” says Gobeil.

3. Sea to Sky Gondola

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Located just a short 15-minute drive from the ever-expanding town of Squamish, the Sea to Sky Gondola showcases accessible beauty and spectacular views. “There aren’t many places you can find a cozy mountaintop lodge, surrounded by snowy peaks with a view of the ocean,” says Anne MacKenzie, sales manager. “Being able to see both the mountains and the water is truly unique.”

Additionally, the elevation of the gondola—and its associated Summit Lodge, approximately 885 metres above sea level—provides another special treat. “At a time of year in our province when the weather is often unpredictable, you sometimes have to go a little higher to find your winter wonderland and having all of your guests arrive at your wedding via gondola is pretty memorable.”

With a dedication to accessibility and family fun, the locale can cater to a wide range of guests. “The Sea to Sky Gondola’s mandate is to provide easy access to the outdoors, so people of every age can truly experience adventure by nature,” says MacKenzie. “But,” she adds, “the one thing our couples all have in common is an adventurous spirit and a love of the mountains.”

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With holiday spirit already in place during December, some wedding parties may even manage to bank a few pennies. “If you like twinkly lights, lots of greenery and candles, then you can save on decor,” jokes MacKenzie.

With a combination of summit and sea, and a few thrills along the way, the venue is a West Coast gem. And MacKenzie is clearly proud. “There is so much magic in the mountains in the wintertime… the snow, the views, the lights… it’s simply extraordinary.”

TIP: Because of the outstanding views and wild surroundings, consider a low and grounded ceremony installation of floral and greenery, such as a semi-circle built up from the ground or floor. This design is cohesive with the environment, but will draw you and your guests deeper into the intimacy of your ceremony. –Erin Urton, A Fox in the Flowers


PREVIOUS WEDDINGS:
Approximately 150
CAPACITY: 100
MINIMUM SPEND: $10,000 (in peak season)
LEAD TIME: Six to 18 months
PLANNING: Independent wedding planner required
A/V: Projector, screen and microphone packages available for rent
INSIDER INFO: “To minimize costs, consider having your wedding on a weekday or in non-peak season. Save money and–bonus!–it’s not as busy,” recommends MacKenzie.

4. Kicking Horse

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For those who dream of tying the knot on a mountain peak, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can lay claim to quite the impressive title. “Our Eagle’s Eye Restaurant is the highest restaurant in Canada,” explains sales coordinator Adrianne Parke. “It is located at 7,700 feet and surrounded by 360-degree Rocky Mountain views, plus five national parks.”

A short drive from Golden, British Columbia, the resort’s stunning scenery is just one of many central points of focus. “Kicking Horse is perfect for the adventurous couple looking for something unique, but it also allows for celebrations with everyone from grandparents to infants,” explains Parke. “Being a ski and summer resort, we have activities from tubing to double black diamond runs to family grizzly bear tours.”

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Wedding services include catering, bar service and even the all-important set-up and tear-down. Says Parke, “We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service. Throughout the planning process, you are in touch with a wedding coordinator to assist with questions, requests and pulling the entire event together.” A pride in their offering certainly shows. “Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a world class wedding destination where the mountains are a lot closer, the moments are a lot larger and the smiles more than just a little wider,” she says.

TIP: “Be prepared… for unprepared guests. Weather conditions at the top of the mountain are much cooler than those at the base, even in the summer. Blankets make excellent gifts.” – Susan Bateman, Golden Dreams Weddings & Events


PREVIOUS WEDDINGS:
Approximately 40 per year
CAPACITY: Up to 180
MINIMUM SPEND: Depends on package, but $120 to $140 per person is suggested for full receptions
LEAD TIME: 12 to 15 months
PLANNING: All outside vendors and wedding planners welcome
A/V: Speaker system rental, projector, microphone and podium all available on-site
INSIDER INFO: “End the evening with a bang! A private fireworks show makes a spectacular addition to your event,” suggests Parke.

5. Red Mountain Resort

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The proudly independent winter haven of Red Mountain Resort is acclaimed by both bridal parties and The New York Times alike. Cited as one of the central reasons that Rossland, B.C. was once declared the eighth best place in the world to visit by the esteemed daily newspaper, the community was heralded as “a quiet mountain joining the big leagues.” But incredible powder and a brand new boutique hotel, The Josie, are just half the story.

“We offer spring weddings… and—more or less—the whole space can be your private destination with a buyout,” says Ivor Smith, the resort’s director of food, beverage and conference services.

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Several customized wedding packages are on offer, and a 4,400-square-foot deck provides sweeping photo ops with both Red and Granite Mountains as a wedding day backdrop. “There is great access to nature,” explains Smith.

Well-suited to outdoor enthusiasts, the locale can be a truly exclusive experience. “It’s your own private wedding retreat for you and your guests to enjoy.”

TIP: Set up lawn games on a section of the expansive patio to give your guests something fun to do during cocktail hour.” Tamara Boden, Wanderlust Photography


PREVIOUS WEDDINGS:
40+
CAPACITY: 160 is comfortable, though licensing permits more
MINIMUM SPEND: No, but events must include catering and bar
LEAD TIME: Six to 12 months
PLANNING: Independent planners welcome, though deals are available on planning
A/V: Yes
INSIDER INFO: Use a combination of the beautiful outdoor deck at the day lodge along with the indoor ceremony and reception space.

 


FROM SEA TO SKY

Unable to make the trek? Perfect winter backdrops are available right at sea level with these stunning oceanfront venues speckled around B.C.

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The Pipe Shop

The North Vancouver venue, located in a restored heritage building at the city’s shipyards, offers over 8,000 square feet of open space in which to create a dream wedding. “With original wooden beams, industrial concrete floors, soaring vaulted ceilings, expansive windows and endless natural light, the Pipe Shop is truly one of a kind,” professes Kelsey Malden, the locale’s venue manager.

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Bowen Island Lodge

Just a short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island has always held an artistic, airy charm, and this venue certainly reflects that. Housing 24 guest rooms and event space suitable for celebrations of up to 150 guests, the lodge is both modern and rustic.

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Rockwater Secret Cove Resort

A romantic getaway at any time of year, the Sunshine Coast’s Rockwater Resort consistently creates wedding-day bliss for couples who choose the spot for its focus on both natural beauty and guest relaxation.