How to Elope in Banff
So, you’ve decided to follow your heart and elope in Banff? Woohoo! Congrats on the decision to have a wedding that is focused on you two. Plus in one of the most beautiful national parks in the world!
But where to start and what to look for?
As a Banff elopement photographer and planning guide, I’m here to help you have the best experience. I totally understand how overwhelming the process of planning your elopement might be, especially if you’ve never been to Banff National Park and aren’t sure where to start.
In this guide, I will walk you through the steps to take so you can elope in Banff. I will try to answer all sorts of questions you might have if you are planning your elopement in Banff National Park and in the Canadian Rockies in general.
Along with the list of some of the best places to elope in Banff, I will get to the legalities of your wedding in Alberta, what activities you can involve in on your big day, what weather to expect throughout the year, and much more.
What is an Elopement
For many folks, their wedding day ends up being for everyone else. The planning revolves around the guests, and the day is spent mingling and posing for pictures. Couples are over it, and they want a day just for them, and I’m here to help!
Choosing an elopement allows the day to be focused on you two.
Eloping used to mean running off and getting married on a whim, but that isn’t the case anymore. Traditional weddings with large ceremonies and banquet halls can be costly and exhausting (did you know that on average, a wedding in Canada costs over $42.000?). Often, they don’t even represent your love and who you truly are. You two deserve a meaningful, stress-free wedding day that focuses on being connected, present, and free.
If you decide to elope in Banff, you can have an intimate ceremony that we can plan down to every detail with enough space to be spontaneous. To be YOU.
Why Elope in Banff
Eloping in Banff gives you the opportunity to spend the day celebrating what’s most important: YOU, with incredible scenery and activities to fill the day. It can also save you serious bucks that you can later spend rather on a honeymoon trip around the world or landing that house of your dreams. Choosing a location like Banff National Park will give you and your guests breathtaking views, and tons to do on your trip.
Planning a Banff elopement is going to take some steps before we get out into the wilderness. I have put together this guide to ensure you are fully prepared for your big day. You don’t have to worry about anything but tying the knot, creating beautiful wedding memories and, of course, getting the most epic photos!
7 Steps to Elope in Banff
- Set your heart on having a small intimate wedding that will be focused on you two and your love.
- Pick your location – Banff National Park offers anything you can think of (well, we don’t have the ocean, but we have hot springs instead) and I will be happy to help you choose the perfect location for the two of you. Whether you want to fly a helicopter to the glacier, canoe across the lake, hike to the summit for the sunset or have a simple quiet ceremony in the forest.
- Choose the time of year that fits with what you want. Do you want the horse sleigh ride through the winter wonderland or camp under the stars? It is all up to you and the sky is the limit.
- Find your vendors like elopement photographer, wedding commissioner, makeup artist, florist, etc.
- Get your marriage license, and any permits needed to elope in Banff.
- Prepare for one of the BEST days of your life 🙂
How to Elope in Banff, Alberta – marriage license & permits
To elope in Banff is pretty easy as long as you follow the proper steps. Even though this is an elopement, you will still need a marriage license and permits before the big day. The good news is, this can all be done from home before your travels and is inexpensive.
You do not need to be a Canadian resident to elope in Banff, so if you’re from outside the country you are more than welcome to tight the know in the gorgeous Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Getting a marriage license in Alberta is necessary for the elopement to be valid. There is no waiting period once you receive the marriage license. It is then valid for three months. Be sure to keep that in mind while you’re planning. Once you acquire the license, you can even get married that day. The cost for a marriage license will run you around $100 (if done in bigger Alberta cities like Calgary or Edmonton, it can be a bit more expensive in smaller mountain towns like Banff and Canmore).
Alberta doesn’t have any citizenship or residency requirements to get a marriage license, either. There’s also no blood test requirement. You will have to go to a registry agent’s office, so even though it seems like the most important item to get before you elope in Banff, you can get the license and it’s ready to go. The license, however, will only be good for marriage in Alberta.
To qualify for the license, you both must be 18 or older and have proper identification like a passport or driver’s license. You will give your marriage license to your wedding officiant before the ceremony (no worries, he will ask for it).
If you want to get married in British Columbia (BC), for example at popular Emerald Lake you will need to get your marriage license in BC. Your wedding officiant will have to be able to perform ceremonies in BC.
Types of Ceremonies
Even though we are talking about elopement, in Canada there must be a formal ceremony for the marriage to be valid. The type of ceremony is up to you. It must either be religious or civil.
Although symbolic ceremonies in Banff, Alberta do not count as in some other countries, I had couples that had a quick civil ceremony before their elopement day just to obtain the registration of marriage. A few weeks later they eloped on the top of the mountain exactly the way they wanted without the need of witnesses or a marriage commissioner.
There are quite a few requirements that I will ensure you follow to make sure there are no bumps in the road on the day of.
If you choose a religious ceremony, your officiant needs to be registered with Vital Statistics to perform marriages specifically in Alberta. You can start your search here for a member of the clergy that is registered with Vital Statistics. The officiant must have a copy of the marriage license before the ceremony begins.
Civil ceremonies must be performed by a marriage commissioner that is appointed by the Alberta government, which you can search for here. You’ll need a valid marriage license. During a civil ceremony, there are specific statements that need to be said during the ceremony
Ceremony Requirements to Elope in Banff
For the ceremony to be valid, you have to meet a few requirements. Don’t worry, on the day of the ceremony I, as well as the officiant, will be able to guide you through the process so we don’t miss anything:)
- If you get the marriage license in Alberta, the ceremony has to take place in Alberta, so only apply for the license when you’re sure. The same goes for British Columbia (BC) – if you get the marriage license in BC, you can only have the ceremony in BC.
- The license must be valid on the day of the ceremony. Since there is no waiting period, this should be super easy for you.
- You have to give the license to the officiant before the ceremony starts
- There must be two witnesses present
- If you aren’t planning to bring anyone else along, I am happy to be one of your witnesses, since I will be there. If there will be other vendors, consider asking one to be the other witness
- Witnesses must be over 18
- Symbolic ceremonies that are neither religious nor civil are not valid in Alberta
- As I already mentioned, we can still do the symbolic ceremony on your elopement day. You will have to get legally married before or after your elopement (I recommend getting the legal stuff before your symbolic ceremony, so you don’t have to worry about that later)
Can My Friend Officiate The Wedding in Alberta?
Yes yes and yes!
I am very excited about this new government update (2020) since many couples were eager for this. You can now have a family member or friend officiate your wedding, which can make things easier, especially during Covid-19 with the guests’ limits. It can be also great if you want to elope in Banff National Park during a multiday camping trip.
Your friend/family member should be at least 18 years old and a permanent resident or Canadian citizen when applying for a temporary marriage commissioner license. The license is free and valid for one day. It can be only used to officiate a civil (non-religious) ceremony. The application can take up to two weeks to process.
Do I Need a Permit to Elope in Banff?
If you book an outdoor or indoor venue for the ceremony itself, then you don’t need a permit. If you want to elope in Banff or any National Park and pick a spot by the lake, on the mountain, or in front of the waterfall, then yes, you will need to apply for a permit. You can have your ceremony literally anywhere as long as there are less than 20 people in your group (including the vendors). If there are 20+ people, then you have to book a venue for your ceremony. You don’t need a permit if you’re only taking portraits.
Getting your permit is an easy and free step towards your fully legal Banff elopement. I recommend getting the permit at least 30 days before the ceremony. You can even apply for the permit from home up to 18 months prior to the ceremony. You can find the application here.
Having a permit does not mean you will be able to reserve a spot in the park. Part of the deal with eloping in a National Park is that it is a shared space, and it’s important to be flexible about where the ceremony takes place. That’s part of the adventure, right?
I feel you. All of this can be confusing, but if you choose me as your elopement photographer, rest assured. I will guide you through the whole process and make sure you have everything needed for your day.
The Timing of Your Banff Elopement
Best Time of Year to Visit Banff
There’s no bad time of year to elope to Banff National Park, and it all depends on what you want to see and do and/or how adventurous you want to be.
- Spring – mid-April to mid-June
- Springtime in Banff is just lovely. There will still be snow lingering around from the winter that won’t melt fully until late June. If you’re looking to do a lot of hiking, spring may not be the best time of year, but the foliage is beginning to bud and the animals will be emerging for the season. Your photographs will have snowy mountains in the background, without you being too cold during the momentous occasion. It’s a truly lively time to be in Banff. Winters are long here though, so if you want to come for those famous blue lakes, ideally you should plan on coming to the Canadian Rockies in mid-June or later.
- Summer – mid June to mid-September
- If you’re looking to be out and about camping, hiking, and seeing the highest points you can, summer is best. Summer is also the best time to see wildlife and flowers in full bloom. It’s the most colourful time of year in Banff. The days are very long, so you will get optimum sunlight for activities and photographs.
- Fall – mid-September to mid-November
- This is without a doubt my favourite season in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a lot less crowded, the leaves are turning golden, snow is already starting to pile up on the mountains, and the lakes are not yet frozen, so you can enjoy fifty shades of blue. If you plan to do any hiking, it might be more restricted in the fall, but if luck and weather are on your side, you can also enjoy some of the gorgeous trails to yourself.
- Winter– mid-November to mid-April
- Wintertime is going to get you some incredible photo ops. The snow- and ice-covered mountains as a backdrop are unmatched. With that being said, it can be very cold! We can have days at -35°C. Yes, that’s right. If you choose a wintertime elopement, other than photographs outside, I would guess you’d want to spend most of your time indoors. Those winds are no joke!
Yes, you guess right, the weather in Banff couldn’t be contrasting anymore. When planning your mountain elopement, I recommend you be honest with yourself. If you dream about a winter wonderland elopement, but if you are not a big fan of way below-zero temperatures, maybe consider coming in warmer months. After my clients fill out their questionnaire where I get to know them better, I usually know what season and which locations they will love the most.
No matter what season you choose, the weather in Banff is… hmmm… totally unpredictable. It’s important to pack for any season and any weather. Rain or shine, it’s going to be an unforgettable day with immaculate photographs to remember it by.
What Time of The Day Is The Best for Wedding Photos?
As a Banff elopement photographer, I am always going to recommend you plan the most important parts of the day – things like your first look, your ceremony, and couple portraits – for around sunrise and/or sunset. This is when the light is at its softest and most romantic and makes for the most beautiful and flattering photos.
Whether you choose sunrise or sunset is really up to you and which you enjoy most. Whichever you choose, I will then base my location suggestions on that to make sure you get the best views, least crowds, and best conditions at your chosen time of day.
During the Summer Solstice, which happens in late June, the sun rises around 5 am and sets around 10 pm, making for a very long day full of sunlight and warmth. I will help you choose the best time of day for your ceremony once we decide on the time of year you will be joining us here in Banff. It will be up to you if you’d like sunrise or sunset, but those will be your best bets for lighting.
To avoid other visitors and have a better chance of the area being more private, sunrise is usually the quietest at popular locations in Banff. Plus, then you have the rest of the day to celebrate your union creating your first memories as a married couple in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
My favourite elopements are 10+ hours of full-day adventures when you can have both sunrise and sunset (usually with a little break in the middle of the day). You can see an example timeline below of what that day of adventure might look like for you.
Sample Day-Of Timelines for Your Banff Elopement
My Banff elopement packages start at 4 hours of photography coverage and go right through to multi-day, multi-location adventures. I am always happy to chat with you and create a fully custom-made package.
Here are just a couple of ideas of what your Banff elopement could look like:
A Banff Elopement 4-Hour Sunrise Intimate Wedding Timeline
6.00 am – Meet at the Bow Lake parking lot, walk to the ceremony site
6.30 pm – First look + portraits
7.00 am – Ceremony starts, exchange vows and rings
7.15 am – Toast, wedding party & family photos
8.10 am – Head to Peyto Lake
8.30 am – Hike to the lake viewpoint
8.45 am – Couples portraits, private breakfast charcuterie style picnic
10.00 am – Photo coverage wraps up
A Banff Elopement 8-Hour Sunset Helicopter Intimate Wedding Timeline
2.00 pm – Meet at your Canmore Airbnb for getting ready photos
3.30 pm – First look at the forest near your lodging
4.00 pm – Getting to the helicopter base, signing waivers
4.30 pm – Up we go
4.50 pm – Landing
5.00 pm – Ceremony,
5.30 pm – Celebration, family photos
6.15 pm – Explore the area, champagne, picnic
7.30 pm – Headed back down the valley
7.55 pm – Drive to the lake
8.30 pm – Sunset portraits at the lake, first dance at the lakeshore, reading private vows to each other
10.00 pm – Photo coverage wraps up
A Banff Canoe&Helicopter Elopement 12-Hour Sunrise + Sunset Timeline
5.30 am – Meet at Emerald Lake, getting ready photos, first look
6.45 am – First look near the cabin
7.15 am – Driving to a big waterfall
8.00 am – Enjoying the waterfall and exploring around
9.00 am – driving back to the lake, renting a canoe
10.00 am – Canoe across the lake for the ceremony
10.40 am – Ceremony at the lakeshore
11.00 am Charcuterie style picnic on the shore, first dance
1.00 pm – Returning the canoe
5.45 pm – Headed to Golden
7:00 pm – Arriving in Golden, meeting our pilot, signing waivers
7:30 pm – Up we go, exploring, remote alpine lakes, meadows, glaciers, and possibly waterfalls, having a snack in the clouds
10:00 pm – Photo coverage wraps up
Be Prepared for Changes
Once you choose the time of year, we can discuss locations. As I mentioned before, always be ready for anything. Eloping used to be spontaneous, right? Let’s channel that energy into being prepared to change plans at a moment’s notice. I have compiled a few of the most popular locations to elope in Banff. Once you fill out my questionnaire, we can pin down the locations and start planning.
What Are The Best Locations to Elope in Banff National Park
Did you know that Banff National Park is the first National Park in Canada? It’s full of the most picturesque locations you could ever imagine. This makes it a very popular wedding destination with more and more elopement each year. Once you have decided to elope in Banff, you have to keep in mind that your first choice of a location may not be available. I suggest choosing 2 or 3 locations as backups. There are also a few things to consider when picking your locations.
Most Scenic Locations to Elope in Banff
There are numerous gorgeous locations throughout Banff that will be the perfect backdrop for your big day. It’s up to you to choose what you’re looking for, and once you fill out my questionnaire we will have a better idea of what will work best. I have put together a list of some of the most popular locations with easy drive-in access.
You can also have a sneak peek at this map to have an idea about where all the mentioned locations are.
Easy Drive-in Locations
- Moraine Lake
- 2023 UPDATE: No personal vehicles are allowed to get to Moraine Lake road at any time. The best way to get there on your wedding will be to hire a private taxi for about 600 CAD, take a public shuttle bus, or stay at Moraine Lake Lodge where you will have granted personal vehicle access (if you choose this option, please remember that you will still need to find a way to get there for your wedding vendors)
- Beautiful turquoise lake with The Valley of the Ten Peaks standing majestically behind it. If you’ve looked up pictures in Banff, they were probably taken here. This is an incredibly popular spot, so the best time to have the ceremony would be midweek R93QPZ60OFFR93QPZ60OFFat sunrise.
- Peyto Lake
- Peyto Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway and provides us with another stunning view of the glacial-filled lake with a mountain backdrop. This is where those hiking shoes come in. To get to Peyto Lake, we will have to do some hiking, but it will be worth it in the end. The hike is around 3.8 miles round trip, which is something to consider when choosing Peyto Lake for your elopement.
- Tunnel Mountain Reservoir
- If you aren’t looking to do much hiking, Tunnel Mountain Reservoir is close to the Town of Banff and easy to get to. You’ll be treated to the view of Rundle Mountain which can’t be beaten. If your elopement in Banff is going to include a few guests, this location is a great choice for groups to get to.
- Lake Louise
- Lake Louise provides another view of the glacial-fed turquoise lake we all know and love. If you’re coming to Banff, I know you want at least one photograph in front of this gorgeous lake, and Lake Louise is another great option for photos. You’ll be surrounded by a majestic mountain range, with a full view of the lake. There are a few hiking trails that are easily accessible, so we can continue the day right from there after the ceremony. Or, end the day here with a sunset.
- Lake Minnewanka
- Another location that is close to the town of Banff. Easy to get to if you are travelling with a group with plenty of trails for hiking and biking. You can also camp nearby if that’s on your agenda for your elopement.
- Two Jack Lake
- A picturesque lake with easy access is only a ten-minute drive from Banff. It’s a popular elopement location as well as locals’ favourite for picnics in summer and ice skating early in winter.
- Castle Mountain
- The dramatic ridge together with the blue waters of Bow River makes it a romantic spot for an intimate ceremony.
- Bow Lake
- One of the most beautiful lakes to have a ceremony and portrait photos if you decide
- Sulphur Mountain
- A ten-minute gondola ride will get you to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Right above the town of Banff, you will be able to enjoy superior views of the mountains. There’s also a Sky Bistro restaurant at the very top, so right after the ceremony and couples photos, you can celebrate with a bottle of fine wine a delicious food.
Day Hike Locations
- Sunshine Meadows
- Only a twenty-minute drive from Banff will take you to Banff Sunshine Meadows gondola base. The gondola will take you to incredible alpine meadows. If you visit from mid-July to mid-August, you will be rewarded with gorgeous blooming wildflowers. If you’re a flower lover, I can’t think of a better place to elope in Banff. In 2022, the Sunshine Meadows gondola will be finally re-opening after being closed for two years due to Covid19.
- Bow Glacier Falls
- One of the many beautiful falls in Banff National Park.
- Aylmer Lookout
- If you’re up for a long day 22km+ hike with incredibly rewarding views, then consider Aylmer Lookout above Lake Minnewanka. Although it’s one of the longer hikes on this trip, most of it is an easy walk along the shores of the blue waters of the lake.
- Larch Valley & Sentinel Pass
- This hike is popular the whole summer but especially at the end of September when the larch trees turn golden. You can decide to hike a bit extra to Sentinel Pass with dramatic mountain views.
- Tower of Babel
- Short yet challenging scramble that offers unique views of the famous Moraine Lake and Valley of Ten Peaks
- Sunset Pass
- Not a very known yet utterly spectacular hike with a truly Canadian wilderness feel. It is unique for its views of the North Saskatchewan River
- Helen Lake & Cirque Peak
- Glacier views, turquoise lakes, wildflowers. One of the best day hikes out there will make you wanna elope to Banff instantly
- Parker Ridge
- If you want to get married with the glacier as a backdrop, then this short 4 km return hike might be worth considering. It’s extremely popular, so an early or late start will be necessary for some solitude.
- Wilcox Pass
- Another wildflower-filled hike with stunning views could be a wonderful choice if you want to elope in Banff and looking for an easier hike
- Rockbound Lake
- A treed trail that will lead you to romantic scenery with lakes and larch trees. If you’re up for a light scramble, you won’t regret the extra effort.
Overnight / Multi-day Hike Locations
- Mt. Assiniboine
- This is one of my favourite multiday hikes and although it’s in Mt. Assiniboine Provincial, my favourite way to get there is from Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park. It can take 3-5 days to hike the whole trail, but you can also book a helicopter ride in and out if you want to enjoy a unique experience, are time-pressured, or simply don’t fancy long hikes. You can stay in the lodge, huts, or campground. Due to high popularity, all three need to be booked ahead of time.
- Glacier Lake
- A quiet and easy two-day trip to the shores of the turquoise lake. If you want
- Shadow Lake
- Straight out of fairy tale location is something you can expect when you venture for an overnight (or longer) trip to Shadow Lake. You can choose between the luxury of staying in rustic cabins at Shadow Lake Lodge or booking a campground. If you want to have a winter elopement, the good news is that the lodge is open in winter as well.
- Hector Lake
- This one is truly special. It’s only about a 4 km return hike with the incredibly blue waters of Hector Lake waiting for you. Plus there’s a canoe hidden in the bush that you can use for canoe wedding photos. The campground is right at the lakeshore and consists of only five tent pads, so expect to have a good quiet time on your elopement day. The perk is that you need to cross the glacier river. Yep, you hear right. So if you don’t mind getting ‘little’ wet, this one is for you.
- Skoki Mountain
- The views can’t get any better than on the Skoki loop. You can book one of many campgrounds or you can stay at Skoki Lodge with is a National historic site. Come in the third week of September – mid-October if you want to enjoy the unique golden colours of larches.
- Taylor Lake
- A hike to Taylor Lake could be easily done in one day, but why rush if the campground is probably one of the best you’ve ever seen? Imagine watching the stars in the night and enjoying the first sun rays while exchanging vows at the lakeshore. It’s a great hike to see the golden larch trees as well.
- Paradise Valley
- Crossing the glacier rivers, enjoying waterfalls and of course, turquoise blue lakes. That’s what you can expect from an overnight trip through the Paradise Valley to Lake Annette. Canada’s scenery at its best if your big dream is to elope in Banff.
Lakes in Banff Where You Can Have a Canoe Elopement
Involving paddling a canoe on your wedding day can be a magical experience to remember all your life. Imagine showing your grandchildren how badass a wedding you and your love have had!
You may keep in mind that the winter in the Canadian Rockies lasts longer than you might expect. Some of the lakes don’t thaw out until about mid-June. I would say, the best time to plan a canoe elopement is July to the end of September.
At all of the four following lakes, you can rent a canoe, which is super convenient. But always feel free to bring your own canoe or kayak. If you want to save money, consider renting a canoe from the Outdoor Center at the University of Calgary.
- Moraine Lake
- I don’t think that the Canadian scenery can get any better for paddling the canoe than at Moraine Lake. It’s my number one choice from this list indeedThe canoe dock is open from mid-June to mid-September. It can close anytime for bad weather without notice.
- Rates: $130 for a one-hour rental (as of 2022)
- Lake Louise
- This milky blue lake is the most sought-after lake in Banff to go canoeing
- The canoe dock is open from mid-June to mid-September. It can close anytime for bad weather without notice.
- Rate: $145 for a one-hour rental (as of 2022)
- Emerald Lake
- Emerald Lake is not in Banff National Park but in neighbouring Yoho National Park, British Columbia. Since it’s only 30 mins drive from Banff National Park, and it’s such a great place to do canoe elopement photos, I didn’t want to leave it out. Don’t forget that you will need to get your marriage license in BC if you want to have the ceremony at this location. As well as the BC-assigned officiant.
- The canoe dock is usually open from mid-June to mid-September. It can close anytime for bad weather reasons and without notice.
- Rate: $90 for a one-hour rental (as of 2022)
- Vermillion Lakes
- This is the cheapest canoe rental on the list and also the only not-that-crazy-blue-water lake. Expect incredible scenery and also warmer water great to swim in, since Vermillion Lakes are very shallow and not glacier-fed.
- The canoe dock is open from mid-May to the end of September. It can also close anytime for bad weather without notice.
- Rate: $50 for the first hour of rental and $30 for each additional hour (as of 2022)
How to Choose Where to Elope in Banff
As a Banff elopement photographer, I’ve seen it all. These are many incredible locations that Banff has to offer us for your special day. As I get to know you more, I will have plenty of other locations to suggest, depending on what it is you want to do with your day.
Some of the above places can get pretty crowded, especially during the summer months, so if you are up for an adventure, I can recommend to you many places where we can hike in and enjoy complete solitude and incredible mountain vistas. I know vendors like marriage commissioners or makeup & hair artists that can hike with us, so just dream it and we will make it happen!
We also want to make sure you have a few backup locations in mind, just in case the weather decides to change our plans or something else comes our way. My years spent travelling around the world have prepared me for anything, so rest assured you’ll be in good hands while we are out there in Banff!
Awesome Activities to Do on Your Banff Elopement
The ceremony isn’t going to take all day, and we want to have some fun! How many wedding photographs have you seen of couples standing stoically and posing the same ways every couple has posed in every wedding photo in the history of forever? I want you to have a day you will never forget and photographs to back it up.
Besides hiking and taking in the breathtaking views, Banff is full of great food and drinks, including a brewery. There’s lots of on-the-water stuff to do, as well as horseback riding and dog sledding. What better way to spend your first day as a married couple than creating memories and trying new things?
Take a Helicopter Ride
Here you can read more about how to plan a Helicopter Elopement Wedding in Banff
Hiking is fun and all, but wouldn’t it be fun to get to the top of a mountain and not be exhausted from all that work? Alpine Helicopter offers scenic tours that will take you up and around to get an aerial view of Banff. They offer a variety of different types of flights that you can pick from depending on what you want to do.
Some helicopter operators in the Canadian Rockies will even take you to the top of a mountain, waterfall, or glacier to elope up there! As if eloping in Banff couldn’t get any better, saying you got married on the top of a mountain would be extremely special and memorable.
When in Banff, hiking is a no-brainer, right? There are so many beautiful trails and views to take in while in the park. After the ceremony, pack a change of clothes for the day and good hiking shoes to hit the trails. I will help you choose the perfect trail for you and your partner based on your hiking experience.
Hiking can be exhausting, so if you have a sunset ceremony planned, it may be best to save hiking for the next day unless you want that to be what leads to the ceremony and I will gladly capture the experience for you. Be sure to pack everything you’ll need, and be aware that cellular service will be very limited, if not completely unavailable.
In addition to hiking, I would highly recommend adding chasing waterfalls to your list. As an expert on the park, I will be able to assist you in planning a route. You can hike to the various waterfalls, or try SUP boarding to get as close as possible. You can also rent bicycles for your waterfall-chasing adventure.
The waterfalls are gorgeous when they’re flowing, but how about climbing up them when they’re frozen? There are ice climbing tours fit for every level of experience, so even if you’ve never done any type of climbing you can still try it! It’s not every day you get the chance to climb up a waterfall, so if you’re interested I will help you book the right tour for you.
There’s no doubt in my mind you’re going to want to float atop the gorgeous turquoise waters of the lakes in Banff. My job as your Banff elopement photographer will be to capture you living your best life doing the activities you’d like to. There are canoe and kayak rentals in the park, but it’s best to reserve ahead of time to ensure there will be some available.
Canoe rentals are also only available in the spring and summer months, starting in June typically. If getting on the water is at the top of your activity list, I will ensure your trip is planned at the right time of year so we can get amazing photographs of you two on the lake.
While you’re in Banff, I can’t recommend a Gondola ride enough. Services like Banff Gondola will give you aerial views of the mountains we spent time down below. It’s a perfect memory maker, and when will you be back to do this again? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime view and I recommend taking advantage.
If hiking isn’t your thing, there’s always horseback riding! Navigating the terrain of the Rockies can be difficult on foot, and experiencing the park on horseback will give you a glimpse of what it was like during the original navigation of the area. Plus, riding horses is fun, of course.
There are several different companies available to book with, and based on experience and what you want to see I will help you choose the perfect experience for your big day.
Could your Banff elopement wedding be any more romantic than a sleigh ride in a winter wonderland? I seriously doubt so. If you aren’t interested in riding horseback, sleigh rides are also available. You’ll experience the beautiful mountain views while being pulled by majestic horses through the snow. There are larger sleigh rides available, or intimate two-person sleigh rides perfect for your romantic day in the wilderness together. We will find the perfect match for you.
When visiting Banff in the wintertime, dog sledding is a must. Dog sledding can run you around $150-$500 depending on the type of package you choose. Most dog sledding companies operate outside the park, but Kingmik Dogsled Tours runs inside Banff National Park.
We will plan out what you need to bring for your dog sledding day. It can get really cold, and those winds will be flying at your face full speed while you’re being pulled through the scenery by a gorgeous pack of dogs.
White Water Rafting
If you want to kick things up a notch with adventure, white water rafting is another activity available in Banff. There are plenty of companies offering white water rafting, and I will help you pick the best one based on your experience and how intense you’d like the ride to be for your big day of memories and adventure.
Eat and Drink
Even though you can’t consume alcohol out in the park, once the ceremony is over it’s time to have fun your way! If you’re interested in craft beer, Banff Ave Brewery is the place to stop to get a taste of local beer from a microbrewery. You can also schedule a tour of the brewery after you’ve had a few to see behind the scenes!
Banff is also full of incredible restaurants. Whether you’re into fine dining or want casual quick meals there’s plenty in the Town of Banff. If you are feeling extra luxurious, you could look into hiring a private chef for an intimate dining experience to come to where you’re staying. This is your day, indulge however you’d like.
The Logistics of Your Banff Elopement
Getting to Banff
Banff National Park is located only about 90 minutes outside of Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway.
The easiest way to get to Banff is to fly to Calgary, rent a car at the airport and explore everything on your own. If for some reason, you don’t want to hire a car, you can always take a shuttle bus from Calgary Airport to Banff. There is a couple of companies operating and shuttles that depart the airport pretty much every hour.
Where to Stay While You Elope in Banff
When you decide to elope in Banff, you will have many choices on where to stay that will fit most budgets. It’s good to know, that accommodation in Banff is in high demand, especially in the high season (mid-June – mid-September). Prices can skyrocket in those months and during holidays and long weekends.
Budget Banff NP Accommodation $15-200
- Camping – if you decide to go for a 100% adventure or prefer to save on accommodation, you might consider staying in the campground instead of a hotel. You can choose between backcountry (hike-in) and front country (drive-in) campsites. The rates per night can be as low as $15 per night for a rustic site and $30-40 for a campground with hot showers and other facilities.
- TIP: If you want to stay in campgrounds, yet don’t feel like spending nights in a cold tent, consider renting a campervan or an RV
- Glamping – if you want to combine camping with a little bit more comfort, there are two campgrounds in Banff, offering to rent of ‘tent cabins’ oTENTik. There are ten of them at Two Jack Lake campground and 21 sites at Tunnel Mtn. Village II. The price per night is about $120.
- Hostels – Samesun Banff
Mid-Range Banff NP Accommodation $200-600
Luxury Banff NP Accommodation $600+
Banff NP Backcountry Lodging Perfect for Your Elopement
The following places are for true nature lovers, that want their elopement to be unique in every way. You either need to hike, ski, or helicopter in to get to these gems. But it will be worth every penny and effort.
Who to Hire for Your Banff Elopement: Banff Wedding Vendors
Okey-dokey, you have decided that eloping is your thing, you might have, or might have not picked your location or/and activities you’d like to involve in your big day. Now it’s time to shop around and pick your vendors.
Here are some of the vendors to look for when you’re planning to elope in Banff:
- Banff elopement photographers tend to book out pretty fast, so knock on the doors as soon as you know you want to elope in Banff. If you are planning to elope last minute, try to plan it for weekdays as it’s your best bet to find your wedding photographer.
- Wedding Planner
- Depending on your preferences and the complexity of your elopement, you might want to reach out to a wedding planner. From my own experience, none of my couples eloping in Banff have ever needed a planner. I am not only an elopement photographer but also your planning guide and offer plenty of guidance and recommendations throughout the elopement planning process.
- Having an elopement videographer is a great addition if it fits your budget. I am a huge fan of video memories, especially if you want to share the moments of your important day with more friends and family. I will be happy to hook you up with some incredibly talented videographers that can capture your Banff elopement.
- Officiant or Commissioner
- Unless your friend or family member will officiate your wedding, or you decided to do the symbolic ceremony, you will have to book an officiant or commissioner. I can connect you with incredible people that can officiate your elopement in Banff, no matter, if you decide to hike at 3, am for the sunrise or fly a helicopter for sunset.
- You might want or might don’t want the bouquet. Unless you want to pick up your flowers in Calgary, there are not a ton of florists in Banff and around. Therefore, I recommend you book them ASAP.
- Makeup & Hair artist
- There are some talented wedding makeup & hair artists in Banff and nearby Canmore. Most of them are willing to travel to you for an extra fee. For example, if you’re eloping at Bow Lake, Banff is the closest town, so you might want them to join you at your accommodation near Lake Louise.
- Do you want a picnic just for the two of you at the shore of the lake or looking for a cute little cake that fits your elopement theme? Then I will recommend to you some bakers or/and catering companies that you can chat with about your wishes.
- Venue or Location
- Some locations need permits, so you’ll need to book those if needed.
- No matter if you want to involve in some special adventure like a helicopter ride, dog sledding, via Ferrata, or gondola ride, it might be a good idea to book your adventure ahead of time. Especially in July and August, some activities tend to book out. Always better to play it safe.
Insider Tip #1
The beauty of eloping is in the opportunity to be flexible with your dates. If some of your desired vendors or venues are not available on your first choice date, try to play around a see if you can switch the dates. Weekdays are usually easier for booking your desired elopement vendors.
Insider Tip #2
Consider hiring the least amount of vendors possible. This way you can spend more time looking forward to your day rather than figuring out the logistics of everything.
What to Pack for Your Banff Mountain Elopement
Since this is not your traditional wedding, you won’t be packing a traditional overnight bag! Once we have specifics hammered out, there will be more on the list, but to give you some idea, these are things you shall pack when deciding to do a hiking elopement.
- Hiking shoes
- You’ll probably want to wear these until it’s time for the ceremony. Most of the terrain will not be flat, and you don’t want to ruin your wedding shoes hiking about. Sturdy and waterproof boots can save your day. If you buying a brand new pair of hiking shoes, make sure you walk in them and break them in before your elopement. Nobody wants to suffer on a wedding day, eh?
- Extra Sweaters and Jackets
- We already talked about the weather being unpredictable. It could change while we are already out for the day, so be sure to pack extra clothes to keep you warm, dry, or lighter clothes if you’re overdressed. You never know in Banff.
- My favourite material to keep me warm is merino wool. My favourite outdoor brands are Fjallraven for outer layers and Icebreaker for base layers.
- Water Bottles
- Depending on the activity and the length of the day, you always wanna stay hydrated. I always like to bring with me at least one liter of water as well as a water filter to be able to safely refill in lakes and water streams.
- It’s going to be a long day and you want it to be a happy day. You’ll want to make sure you’re full of nutrients and functioning at your best. Energy bars are a must and I always have a few extra in my pockets.
- If you’re going to be out around sunset, bring extra lighting for getting back in the dark safely. My favourite is a waterproof and rechargeable Black Diamond headlamp.
- Don’t let the cooler temperatures in Banff National Park fool you. Just the town of Banff itself has an elevation of 1,383 meters (4,537 feet) making it the highest town in Canada. Higher elevation also means stronger sun, so if you are prone to sunburns, definitely pack a bottle of good sunscreen.
- Banff has restrictions on what can be brought in and used, but even within the guidelines, there are items you may bring. Rugs or blankets to stand on or wrap into on the mountain summit, or something special to you both perhaps. Maybe you play guitar and want to play it during your ceremony? Again, the sky is the limit!
- Comfortable Wedding Dress
- I’ll send you lots of information and suggestions for your wedding attire, so you look and feel great the entire time wearing it. Whether you planning an adventure hiking wedding or mellow elopement by the lake, I always recommend choosing your wedding dress based on activity. It should be easy to move in it and that’s why my favourite style is flowy dresses made with light fabric.
- Change of Clothes
- If you’d like to do an outfit change, that is entirely up to you. That’s the beauty and freedom you will get by eloping in Banff. We can do a photo shoot in your wedding attire, and change things up. Maybe you bring along hiking clothing and we get some action shots after the ceremony. It’s your day, you decide what we do!
- First Aid-Kit
- We will be out in the wilderness, after all. Accidents happen, and it’s good to always be prepared.
These are just a few suggestions. Once we plan the day, I will help you create a complete list of things to bring with you for the day.
So, How Much Does it Cost to Eloping to Banff? (One Week Stay Example)
Good news! Eloping can cost much less than a traditional wedding. Of course, the final cost depends on many factors, like how long you want to stay in Banff, where you want to stay, what activities you want to include, etc.
But let’s say for the fraction of the price of the big wedding, you can have both an amazing wedding day + a week-long honeymoon!
How you elope in Banff is completely up to you and the sky is the limit. To give you an example, here’s a One-Week Banff Elopement trip budget updated for 2023/2024 (flight tickets to Calgary and travel insurance not included).
7-DAY Banff Elopement Trip Budget
|Item||Cost (in CAD)|
|7 Night Accommodation||(7×300) 2100|
|Food & Drink||(7×200) 1400|
|7 Days Car Rental||(7×80) 560|
|Gas for one week of exploration||250|
|Discovery Park Pass||150|
|Elopement Photographer & Planning Guide||5400 (based on the average couple investment)|
|Makeup & Hair Artist||400|
|TOTAL||12,930 CAD // 9.500 USD|
Banff Elopement Packages
Banff elopement photographer and planning guide includes:
- Unlimited location assistance – I want to take all the hard stuff around planning off your shoulders when it comes to working out how to elope in Banff
- Creating your elopement day timeline
- Vendor recommendations, tips, and logistical tools
- Assistance with permits and licenses
- Personal printing rights to the fully-edited digital files
- Online gallery with high-resolution photos (about 200 – 600+ photos depending on the amount of coverage and time spent together)
- Travel fees within the Canadian Rockies
If you’d like a more tailored quote, please reach out and let me help design your perfect Banff adventure wedding.
Safety While You Elope in Banff
Eloping in Banff is very safe, but it’s important to remember we are out in a National Park, and unexpected things can occur. Being versed in potential hazards that can happen and preparing properly is essential before your trip. The day should be a magical celebration of love, yet it’s always great to be ready for anything.
- One of the best parts of travelling to a place like Banff is the opportunity to get a glimpse of the wildlife. From bears to elks to birds, Banff has it all. It’s so very important to treat wildlife with respect to keep them safe and yourself. Banff is one of the best National Parks for wildlife viewing, and there are some tips for that.
- Give them space and don’t follow them.
- Do not feed them.
- Wild animals will become very stressed when they are crowded by humans, so this should be avoided at all costs. There is no way to predict how an animal will react to you. Even if they seem like they will be nice, do not get close and do not touch the animals.
- One of the best parts of travelling to a place like Banff is the opportunity to get a glimpse of the wildlife. From bears to elks to birds, Banff has it all. It’s so very important to treat wildlife with respect to keep them safe and yourself. Banff is one of the best National Parks for wildlife viewing, and there are some tips for that.
- Cell Phone Service
- Here’s one thing people often don’t think about. Most of the locations in Banff and especially past Lake Louise do not have cell phone service. If there are people you are in regular contact with, which most of us do, give them a heads up that you will not be reachable while you’re in Banff. I always recommend you download offline maps before heading to the mountains.
Rules When Visiting Banff National Park
I know you want to have the most incredible and memorable day, and I want to make sure you get to do everything your heart desires on your special day. It is important, however, for us to remember that we are guests in this park. We must leave it exactly as we found it. With that being said, the park has rules in place for those of us coming to have wedding celebrations.
- We shall keep vehicular transportation to a minimum. Guests are encouraged to carpool or use the public transportation provided.
- If you choose to invite guests, the park asks that you keep the ceremony to a maximum of 20 people. Since you’re here planning an elopement, I guess there won’t be 20 of us hiking around the park, but be mindful of the guest amount. The idea is to keep it small and keep our impact on the area minimal.
- The entire Banff National Park is a public place. None of the areas can be reserved ahead of time, which is why we must always be prepared to switch things up if need to be.
- Every person must hold a park entry pass – Discovery Pass. They only cost $10/adult, $20/family or group for a Day Pass. the pass will also guarantee you access to other national parks of Canada like Yoho, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton, Glacier, or Revelstoke just to name the closest ones to Banff. You can order your pass online which I recommend, especially if you plan on an early start. You can buy them at the kiosks when entering the park or at visitor centers. For more info, check the Parks Canada official website.
- No confetti, rice, or anything similar can be thrown during the ceremony.
- We are responsible for cleaning up the areas we use when we are done.
- The Gaming & Liquor Control Act of Alberta prohibits open alcohol in public spaces.
Since you’re considering eloping in Banff, I know you are going to adhere to these rules, but it’s never a bad thing to be reminded that we are guests in these incredible places, and we must do our part to take care of them 🙂
Woo hoo! Are You Ready to Elope in Banff?
After you look through this guide and fill out my questionnaire, we will both have a better idea of what we want to do. We can discuss my elopement packages for Banff, Canmore & Beyond, and once we get to know each other we can plan the day. I am here to make sure you have a seamless experience in Banff and that you get to do everything that your heart desires while I capture the moments.
The day will NOT consist of me pausing you to get you to pose for me. My photography style will be documenting the moments you’re making together. I will be with you every step of the way through planning to ensure you’re all safe and sound. Your wedding day should be one to remember and that’s why I am here to help you throughout the whole process.
Let’s chat about designing your dream Banff elopement!