Love the idea of getting married in Banff National Park but not sure where you start when it comes to planning? We’ve put together a great How-To guide to get you going!
Each year, Banff National Park sees more than 4 million visitors1 come through the park gates to explore the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. It’s no surprise that thousands of couples choose this iconic and breathtaking place to share their commitment and celebrate their love with family and friends. However, the task of planning a wedding in one of Canada’s busiest wedding locations has challenges of its own.
1. Decide on the size of your wedding
When planning your wedding in Banff National Park, having a clear idea of how many people you want at your wedding will help with location scouting for your ceremony, venue location for the reception, and general ease of logistics.
Of course, a smaller wedding size will give you more options and flexibility in terms of locations, venues, accommodation, transportation, and so on. It can also help you stay within your budget without comprising the magic of your special day.
Larger weddings are still very common and easy to accommodate in Banff National Park, however many of the venues that can accommodate large weddings book out fast so don’t be afraid to look a year or two in advance to find the perfect location.
Unsure of how big or small you want your wedding to be? No problem – check out our blogs on whether elopement is for you and how to include your family in your elopement for more information on smaller weddings.
2. Choosing the best season to get married in Banff
If you’ve been to Banff before, you may know that mountain weather can change at a moment’s notice. But, when you’re planning a wedding in Banff National Park, the weather isn’t the only consideration that should play into your decision of which season to get married. Depending on your ceremony and reception locations, photo locations, and the logistics of getting you, your wedding party, and your guests around, there are a few other considerations to think about.
Summer (July and August), while extraordinarily beautiful in the Bow Valley, is considered high or peak season in Banff. This is when you’ll experience the highest number of visitors creating a busy and bustling vibe around town and out on the trails. Finding availability with your ideal venue and vendors can be tough so be sure to plan well in advance if your dream is to be married during the summer in Banff.
Spring (May to June) and Fall (September to November) are considered shoulder seasons where the weather can be a bit more dramatic but still create some amazing opportunities for beautiful celebrations! Spring brings its challenges in terms of long-lasting snow and ice on trails, as well as a higher chance of wildlife encounters that could impact your plans.
Winter (December to May) finds most visitors drawn to the ski hills, so venues, vendors, and outdoor locations are typically relatively easy to book. However, if you’re looking for any outdoor component of your winter wedding additional safety considerations need to be made with regards to cold temperatures, avalanche danger, and accessibility.
With any outdoor aspect of a wedding in a national park, a consideration for the impact on wildlife should be made. For example, spring will see lots of closures to allow animals with their young to move freely without being interrupted by human traffic. Additionally, any outdoor element of your wedding should follow a Leave No Trace2 principle. For more ideas on how to plan a sustainable wedding in Banff, check out this blog.
3. The legalities of getting married in Banff
Getting married in Banff National Park can add a layer of complexity in terms of permits but don’t worry, we’re here to break it down for you!
First off, everyone coming to Banff for your wedding will be required to obtain a National Park Pass which can be purchased online, at the Banff Park Gates upon entering the National Park from Canmore, or at the Visitor Information Centre upon arrival at the Town of Banff.
For elopements and small weddings under 20 guests, you have the freedom of getting married anywhere within the Banff National Park boundary, so long as you comply with National Park rules and regulations while you are doing so. For a full list of the conditions, please check here.
If your dream is to get married within the Town of Banff, you have the option of getting married at one of several designated locations within the town or you can explore one of the great private venues available in town, such as the Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff Gondola, The Rimrock Resort Hotel, among others. If you’re still trying to decide where to get married, head over to our blog on the Best Places to Elope in Banff.
The last legal consideration of getting married in Banff is the steps to follow for the union to be legal in Alberta. You will need to apply for a marriage license at least one (1) month ahead of your wedding date and can be picked up once you arrive in Banff at the Banff Registry, just take careful note of their hours of operation so you’re not stuck without it on your wedding day! Your wedding will require two witnesses – hint: your amazing photographer, Dila, can be one of them! Your wedding officiant or commissioner can often provide witnesses as well if needed but cannot act as a witness themselves. Further, if you would prefer a family member or close friend to act as your officiant/commissioner they can do so by applying here at least two weeks in advance of your wedding date! Keep a close eye on what is required in your home province or country if you’re planning on travelling from afar to be legally married.
3. Budget breakdown
As so much of the cost depends on the size of your wedding, venue, and season, make sure you keep this in mind when you start your planning. Here are a few key things you’ll need to consider when planning a wedding in Banff National Park:
– Banff Wedding Permit based on location and size of your wedding
– Banff National Park Passes for yourself, your guests, and any outside vendors
– Hiring a local marriage commissioner can range from $300 – $1,000
– Town-based wedding venues can range from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the time of year, venue location, and wedding size9
– Vendor rates may be higher during peak summer months
Now that you’ve chosen your wedding size, the season you want to get married during worked through the legal logistics, and punched it into your budget, you’re ready to get to the fun part of seeing your dream wedding come to life. There are ways to be creative about your wedding and whether you spend a lot or a little, the possibilities are endless for creating the perfect day of your dreams. Following these four steps can help you get started in planning the wedding of your dreams but adding an expert to your team can ensure that all the little details are looked after too!
Having the help of someone local with lots of wedding industry knowledge comes in handy! Dila isn’t just a photographer, but an all-around guide, vendor connector, local knowledge bank, and so much more – working with her will guarantee your perfect day lives up to the vision you had from the day you met the love of your life!
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