December 28, 2017

Winter weddings, Squamish style

— Discover Squamish
A Sea to Sky Gondola winter wedding. — Gucio Photography.

On Feb. 3, in front of 120 guests, Squamish’s Taylor LaRose will marry her fiancé David Foster at the Cheakamus Centre in Paradise Valley.

The pair met at a pub and have dated for nine years.

They got engaged last Christmas.

Taylor LaRose and fiancé is David Foster. - Submitted photo

“I have always dreamed my wedding would be in the winter – hopefully with lots of snow,” LaRose said. “Squamish seemed like the perfect place for us. We moved here April of 2016 and fell in love with everything – the mountains, the trees, and the water. So, it all fit perfectly.”

The couple is not alone in choosing Squamish for their winter nuptials, according to local experts.

Squamish is becoming a “cool” place to wed.

For those who want a mountaintop, snow-covered view, the Sea to Sky Gondola is an increasingly popular locale for weddings.

By the end of 2017, the gondola will have hosted 50 weddings, the most since it opened in 2014, according to its sales manager Anne MacKenzie. While the majority were in the summer, winter weddings are gaining in popularity at the gondola, she said.

“The opportunity to be up there in the snow… and have fun with wearing fur stoles and the tables look beautiful and there are blankets on the backs of the chairs,” she said, explaining the draw of a winter gondola wedding.

During December, Christmas decorations are up in the gondola’s Summit Lodge and fire burns in the fireplace, adding coziness to the winter Squamish wedding, MacKenzie added.

But to snag any beautiful Squamish venue, including the Sea to Sky Gondola, couples need to plan ahead and book early, warns local wedding planner Shelley Jacobsen, owner of Squamish’s Oh Lovely Deer Events & Design.

“Venues in Squamish book incredibly fast lately, almost two years ahead,” she said.

Another consideration with a Squamish winter wedding is the Sea to Sky Highway.

“You can’t get that just anywhere.”

“You’ve got to think about the weather,” Jacobsen said, adding she suggests couples bring their wedding party to Squamish days in advance to ensure everyone has arrived for the big day and isn’t stuck on the highway due to a snow storm or accident.

Venue and highway issues aside, Jacobsen said with the extremely active demographic and reputation of Squamish, weddings in the winter months can be sporty and unique.

Couples may choose to ski or snowboard down the “aisle,” for example, she said.

“You can’t get that just anywhere.”

The snowy white backdrop of the winter months in the Sea to Sky Corridor also allows couples to play with colours in their décor and attire.

Fellow Squamish wedding planner Ashley Metcalfe of Harmony Wedding & Event Coordination agreed winter weddings in Squamish tend toward the use of darker shades of grey, blue and silver, as well as swaths of burgundy and forest green, sometimes used in capes around brides.

Closer to Christmas, metallics such as silver and gold make an appearance. Sequins on bridesmaids’ dresses can also add a festive flavour, she added.

Metcalfe predicts this season faux fur and velvet will be popular.

Smaller weddings with smaller budgets are common among Squamish locals, she said, as compared to the larger, ballroom-type weddings seen in the big city. 

The average Squamish wedding includes between 75 to 100 guests, according to Metcalfe.

“It is quite pricey to live out here and most couples are paying for the wedding themselves so they want a more intimate and smaller group of people,” she said.

To fill the bellies of famished winter guests, craft beers and locally-sourced foods are a staple of the Squamish wedding, Metcalfe said.

Locally sourced favours are popular as well, such as Squamish-made wooden ornaments or packets of Squamish coffees or teas.

Of course, no wedding would be complete without flowers.

Downtown Squamish’s Billies Flower House is a popular spot for couples to source their local floral arrangements.

For Squamish winter weddings, greenery is a theme, according to the shop’s co-owner Alanna Wilson, who added the store helps design about 80 weddings per year.

“The more casual West Coast natural feel, which most people who get married here are looking for,” she said.

About 95 per cent of the couples that come to Squamish specifically to get married are looking to create a “rustic glam” wedding, according to Wilson.

“It is really popular,” she said.

Traditionally popular greenery includes eucalyptus and more recently ruscus.

Garlands of suspended greenery is a huge local trend, she said.

“Just to add to the sense of magic and a bit of an ethereal feeling,” Wilson said.

All of the Squamish wedding experts agreed the most important thing for couples to remember when planning their nuptials is to not get lost in what is popular or traditional, but instead to stay focused on who they are and what the day means to them.

A wedding place setting from Oh Lovely Deer wedding planners. - David Buzzard

© Copyright 2019 Discover Squamish

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