Following the re-openings, we are seeing this trend holding strong. You would think the allure of planning a smaller wedding would be the simpler logistics and less things to worry about overall, and in many cases that is true – however even so, there are still many considerations & decisions to make when getting married in the National Park.
With that – We have compiled the basics that everyone should know or consider about eloping in the Banff or Lake Louise area…
How does someone from outside Canada get married in Alberta?
Step One, You’ll need an Alberta Marriage License to make it legal.
- These are picked up at an Alberta Registry Agent with both parties present.
- You do not need to be a Canadian citizen, nor need any blood tests. You will need to provide your personal information, and the full names and birth places of your parents (including a parent’s maiden name). You must be over the age of 18.
- Your license is valid for 90 days and can be picked up anytime within 90 days of the date you wish to be married. If you need to change dates after you have picked up your license and the new date does not fall within the 90 days, your license will no longer be valid and a new one will need to be issued. Please always check the registry hours of operations prior to picking up as registry hours may differ.
- After you get the license, as tempting as it may be, DO NOT fill out anything on the license leave this to your officiant as it must be completed with both the officiant & witnesses present.
- If you wish to get married in the BC side of the Rockies – the biggest difference is only a legal officiant can marry you and a BC License will be required.
- Our recommendation is the Banff Bureau Office. If you are planning to go to this location your paperwork must be submitted in advance. Link here: http://www.thebanffregistry.com/vital-stats/
Next – Hire an officiant to perform the ceremony.
- Who can officiate a legal ceremony? A legal officiant appointed by the Government of Alberta, Member of a Church, or a Canadian resident over the age of 18 who has applied & received their day of licensing may perform the ceremony. (Please note: it can take several weeks for the One day Licensing to come through, if you plan to go this route please submit early to account for any delays and avoid any unnecessary stress!)
- If you are or plan to be legally married elsewhere, you do not need a license or marriage officiant to preside over the ceremony.
- Here is where you can find a list of all Alberta appointed officiants, but of course more personalized referrals for the perfect officiant can come from our team with our Elopement Planning service.
During the Ceremony, you will need 2 Witnesses
- Must have 2 witnesses over the age of 18, they must be present for the entirety of the ceremony and available to sign off on the marriage license.
- The couple must be fluent in English or have a translator present for picking up the license as well as the ceremony. The witnesses must also be fluent if the ceremony is in English. If a translator is required the translator must sign and submit an affidavit with the submission of license.
- If you are not bringing anyone with you and having a true elopement you still need 2 individuals present. Either your planner or officiant can help you organize witnesses for your ceremony.
Corrina Walker Photography
What happens after the Ceremony?
- After your marriage ceremony, you will be given a copy of the license which will be signed at your ceremony
- Following your ceremony your officiant will submit the paperwork to vital statics and a final copy will be sent to you for your records. This can take a few weeks to process. Your officiant will provide a certificate in the meantime however this is not a valid proof of marriage. Please note if you do not receive your official license after a few weeks you can contact vital statistics to request a copy.
… And that is all you need! Beyond the basics, you may have considerations like location selection, photography & videography, and other thoughtful details including florals or hair & makeup services. All of these details are handled in our Elopement Planning Service, which you can read about here.
Kristyn Harder Photography
What else should I know before deciding to get married in Banff or Lake Louise?
Are Canadian Marriage Certificates valid in the US? The answer is yes!
If you as a US Citizen choose to be married in the Rockies (or anywhere in Canada) your marriage will be considered valid as long as all of the i’s are dotted & t’s are crossed. When you return home you will just need to submit your license to the proper authorities for your marriage to be recognized. This process varies state to state so we suggest confirming prior to your departure to Canada to ensure you have all of the proper documentation for when you return home.
If we are already legally married do we need a license or officiant? The answer is no!
If you are already legally married you can still have a professional officiant or member of the church perform the ceremony if you chose, and a license is not required.
When is the best time or year/ season to get married in Banff or Lake Louise? They are all great for different reasons!
Spring (April – Mid June)) in the mountains is a beautiful shoulder season. You get some sunshine and the snow is beginning to melt, but please don’t plan on the lake being thawed or mountain tops easily accessible by foot until later in the spring/early Summer. The weather is warmer and there are typically smaller crowds, meaning more privacy for intimate elopements – So that part, we love! Dress accordingly – The weather can be fairly unpredictable, yet that is all part of the fun to experience a little bit of everything on your wedding day.
Summer (Mid June – end of August) – This is our summer, and the hottest time of year for weather, with average temps around 23-25 degrees celsius while it can dip above and below that. June is typically the rainiest month, while August is the warmest & most consistent/stable for weather… That being said – Anything can happen! Summer time is also high season for tourism, and we suggest staying away from tourist hot spots if privacy is important to you, and planning for extra travel time on the roads. Lately, summer is also the season of forest fires and can cause for very smokey conditions occasionally.
Fall (September – October) – Have you heard of “Larch Madness”? If not, now is the time to search that term and see the beautiful colours of fall in the Rockies. This is a great season if you are okay with some chillier temperatures at night and the potential for snow. Though in the mountains this season is extra short, it really can be anything from a hot summer day to gentle falling snow depending on the year. The best part is all the fall colours in the mountains are glorious if you catch just the right window, especially at Moraine Lake which is known for the Larch Season. Tourism can still be high this time of year as we transition into shoulder season.
Winter (November to March)- This is when the mountains can become your playground – From skiing, snowboarding, skating, horse drawn sleighs, dogsledding.. There is a whole world of experiences unique to the area awaiting you and your guests in the winter. Extra considerations are needed, from what to wear and having bad weather back ups are extremely important in these months to ensure you stay warm throughout the day, as there are often limited options for indoor back ups if the temps dip a little too low. Prices for accommodations can rise again during this months with many traveling for the holidays. Vendors are usually easier to come by in these months as they transition to off season until later spring/ early summer.
Rebecca Frank Photography
How far is the airport?
The Calgary International Airport is 144km or 1.5 hours from Banff and 199km or just over 2 hours from Lake Louise. Please note travel times may vary depending on the weather. Car rentals from the airport are easy to arrange or alternatively there are options for group transit to & from the airport.
Can I elope on a weekend? The answer is yes, however vendor availability will be limited.
Many vendors & venues only offer elopement packages and options during the weekdays especially during summer high season. Alternatively they may have a minimum requirement of full day packages only (generally 8+hours) for weekends. Depending on your priorities for the day, considering a weekday or shoulder/ off season dates can help reduce your overall budget and stretch it further if you are flexible on dates.
Would I be considered an Elopement or Micro Wedding?
During COVID, the trend of Micro weddings came to the forefront due to limitations on gatherings. For us the true elopement is 5 & under however on average we see up to 15 in attendance. Anything 25+ we would consider a micro wedding and would fall more into our coordination programs as often many of the same elements such as a dinner, decor, speeches, cake cutting, dancing etc are included and more logistics are involved.
Guest Count – To help protect the natural areas within the National Park there is a limit of 25 people to gather at each location. For those wishing to have a micro wedding with 25+ a designated wedding site is required and often comes with a fee and must be booked in advance.
Kristyn Harder Photography
Do I need an on-site Wedding Coordinator? The answer is probably not!
Elopements should be simple & stress free, and as a result 99% of our elopement couples do not require onsite coordination. We assist with creating the plan and itinerary, getting details organized – But from there, with trusted vendors in place, a solid timeline and typically just the two of you and immediate families… an extra person may not be necessary and can feel like an intrusion on your intimate day. However, for those leaning towards a micro wedding or elopement with a small amount of decor, then coordination/ set up could be something to consider.
Of course, these are just the very basics for a legal elopement in the mountains. If you are wanting help with finding the perfect location, vendor team and pulling together all the details we would be happy to help you through our Rose Elopement planning program! Click here to learn more!