Planning the Perfect Elopement

Planning an Elopement | Christian Wedding | Unique wedding ideas | Fly Free Photos | Banff Elopement


Planning an elopement isn't always easy, especially if you are an Elopement Photographer, like we are! You tend to over think everything and know each and every detail that you want in your special day cause let's face it.. We document tons of weddings each year and help each of our couples craft the perfect timeline and location. Which you think would be easy when it came to our own wedding planning, well, we've decided to share our wedding story and shed some light on what is a huge surprise to most people in our lives! ha!

Step 1: The Pre Thought

Ritz and I knew that planning anything in the peak of wedding season ( May - Oct ) would be silly as we would never actually get to celebrate it. However, neither of us are cold weather people and if you know me, you know I typically spend my winters down in Costa Rica. So how would we juggle wedding photos / video in warm weather plus have a date we want. Thus the ideas started brewing in 2019 & we came to the realization that an elopement was something near and dear to both of us. As we had both been married before and gone through the stress of planning / being at a larger wedding we wanted something more intimate and relaxed.


This is also something that I preach to our clients about ALL THE DANG TIME! haha To have a wedding / elopement that truly embodies them and who they are as a couple! So why wouldn't I listen to my own advice!


We settled on a date we wanted - 02.17.2020 Why you might ask? Great question! 2 is my favorite number and has a lot of meaning to me personally so having it incorporated in some way was important to me (I originally wanted 2022 but Ritz didn't wanna wait that long!) and our anniversary is Dec. 17th, however with Ritz's birthday being on the 16th & mine on the 30th plus Christmas.. December is already too jam packed. So, February 17th was the perfect balance and was also in off season.


Step 2: The Details

As much as people like to say that "elopements are selfish" I would have to disagree. Just because someone chooses to do something you disagree with, doesn't make them selfish, it makes them honest to what they truly want as a couple and that's what matters. Elopements by "definition" means - to run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent. However, that is a very old school mindset and sadly people use this definition to condemn people, especially in a Christian or religious setting. I firmly believe that it's all about education, educating not only clients but also their loved ones that it's okay to have a wedding that is "outside of the box". It's okay to hike a mountain and say your vows all by yourself, maybe just maybe the couple is more introverted and they don't like being the center of attention like in a bigger more traditional setting, or maybe their relationship has always been based around doing adventurous stuff. So why not express that on the most important day of their lives. I digress... haha!

Our details, We had decided to a. Sign Papers on the date we wanted, that being Feb. 17, 2020. For when to take photos, that was a whole different ordeal. I personally am a huge lover of Fall, and really wanted fall photos, but knowing how busy our fall was this year between weddings and traveling with JGLM Canada we knew we couldn't set a hard date till closer to, so we played it by ear and I slowly started putting pieces together. I will admit, helping couples plan their weddings for the last 7 years has really given me an upper hand on my own planning, on things I want and don't want and what is needed and not. haha


I guess when I think about it the planning part itself wasn't hard as I already had all my vendors thanks to my in house Fly Free Family team. But the location was the hard part. Originally we had planned on going up to Iceland for photos as it's a place that we have both fallen in love with & it doesn't hurt that I have family there as well! But plans changed and we knew we had to do something closer to home, so the mountains that we spend a good chunk of our summers in seemed perfect. Now the question was where? This was hard as we both so badly wanted waterfalls ( hence Iceland ) but finding a waterfall here, with zero people and something easy enough for our team to hike in with us was the struggle. But after a lot of research and me living on google maps, we found the perfect one.


Let's talk vendors for a moment, because without these amazing ladies our day would not have been the same. The Dress: First off, if you have ever met me you know I'm 6'2 and fitting into regular people clothes is a struggle! Well friends, a dress is no different! haha 98% of the dresses I tried on were too short, which ended up being okay cause I had my heart set on something pretty specific and ended up having to go the custom route anyways, which meant I could have it as long as I wanted. A las I found this amazing women in Airdrie who has her own small business doing wedding gowns and I knew the moment I walked in the door this was it! If you are looking for AMAZING customer service, amazing quality and really, someone who you are going to want to be best friends with after, please check out Taffeta and Tulle Bridal I promise Marisza will not disappoint you! So, the dress was designed, ordered and I was over the moon excited to try it on with my new friend and the best hype gal - Marisza !


Flowers + Hair & Makeup: This one was a no brainer for me, over the last few years I have worked hard or building a small intimate group of amazing vendors whom I adore and have become amazing friends with! So, it was only natural for me to get Chels from Adventure Floral & Sam from House of Beauty. I knew with these two I wouldn't have to stress or worry about anything, as they both know me very well and it honestly could not have been more perfect!


Rings & all the little stuff: All but Mike's were from local companies in Calgary (I'll be making another post about them all), my rings were custom made, based off my design and Mike's ring was from a little place in Australia. We both wanted our rings to represent us, thus them having a Norwegian / Scandinavian feel!


Mikes outfit: I'll keep this short and sweet as I don't want to boar you. But, it was a COMPLETE Surprise to me! We had talked about different colors and I honestly thought he was going with grey's... But thanks for Chels & Sam they helped him decide on something even more magical!


The media team: This one was something that was super hard for us & honestly most people joked and said we would just put our cameras on a tripod and do it ourselves.. which almost happened! haha jk. But honestly, we have perfected our style of shooting over the years and exactly how we wanted our photos to be as well! So, we ended up hiring our own team so that we could do all the editing ourselves. Our dear friend Zev ( who we do Costa Rica tours with ) was the only one we had to actually tell who's wedding it was before otherwise there was zero way he was agreeing to work a hiking elopement for me! haha Kait ( our "new gal" ) literally thought she was coming to work a wedding with us, much to her surprise when she walked in and I was getting my hair and makeup done. I wish I had video of her reaction, it's something I'll never forget.


Okay, for the moment you have all been waiting for -

We had been traveling with JGLM the end of Sept/ Start of Oct. which Alberta had decided that was when it was going to have fall. By the time we got back we knew it was now or never so I contacted the team and pulled everyone together for Oct. 14 ( Sorry Kayden, it's also my nephew's birthday ) but it was the only day everyone had free on such short notice.

We ended up renting a place out in Dead Man's flats for two nights, as I knew the last thing I wanted was to be rushed the morning of and didn't want an extra long drive. So we headed out the night before in hopes we didn't forget anything. haha


Part 3: The Big Day

Let me just start off my saying that I never in a million years would have thought this day would be so absolutely perfect. I remember telling Mike the night before that if we could get a light dusting of snow it would make things less dead looking. Well, the morning we woke up to what felt like Christmas day. Massive perfectly fluffy snowflakes falling, with a thick ground covering and the sun glistening on the mountain tops. It honestly couldn't have been more beautiful. We got ready in the same place ( I personally highly recommend it ) we got to have breakfast together and joke around while having a dance party with the crew!


When it came time to get dressed, that we did in different rooms so we could have a first look! ( also highly recommend ) By the time we got ready, wrote out our vows & got bundled to headed outside the snow had stopped, everything was white and crisp and the sun was beautiful. We had pre scouted all our location a few days before so it was a walk in the park.

We started with our awesome first look in the forest and did a few photos in the field with some beautiful inverted clouds before packing up to head to our next location. As we started our drive it got colder and much more "wintery" which I can't say I was stoked about LOL We ended up stopping at 2 different road side pull outs on our way to the trail head and friends.. It. Was. Freezing !! I honestly lasted a solid 2 minutes outside and I just couldn't. The wind was too crisp for my Costa Rican skin! haha


Needless to say, I was a little worried about the hike, knowing if it was that cold I wouldn't last very long. But, Thank God when we got to the trailhead it was about 10 degrees warmer out! In we hiked to a cute little waterfall to say our vows and do some photos. As we started our vows the most beautiful big snowflakes started to dance to the ground, it was like being in a huge snow globe! I'm mainly just going to let the photos tell this story as they are much prettier to look at then my writing! haha


After literally the most amazing day, we set our sights for BC! Our pastors and best friends have a property out there and the plan was to go up the mountain and have a ceremony with them! So, Oct 17 we headed up the mountain, which started out beautiful as they still had ALL their fall colors, it was dreamy. However, as it was just the 4 of us we had just planned on setting up a camera and recording and then putting together a video. As Mike was setting up the camera we all watching this .. lovely .. storm cloud come over the mountain and boom! within minutes we were having our ceremony half way up a mountain in a very windy snow storm! haha *insert face palm* Just wait till the video, you can see me shaking haha


After we wrapped that up we slowly drove ( yes drove. Originally we were going to take the side by side up, but Thank the Lord we changed to a different spot and took the truck! ) the mountain stopping at a few spots for B to take a few photos of us with the fall colors! We literally got both seasons in such amazing locations! The best part is, I had my dress designed so it can travel with us.. So you know what that means!! More adventure sessions for the win!


But, in all seriousness, we can not Thank everyone enough who made our special day(s) possible and a special Thank You to Marty & Brigitte. Thank you for not only your friendship/mentorship but Thank you for being like Family to me, I appreciate you two more then you know! Thank you to all of our friends and loved ones who have supported us, you know who you are ;)


&& to all our friends and family, we love you guys and don't worry we 100% will be having a get together in the future! Just trying to juggle work has not made it easy to pick a date but I promise you will see us! Last but not least, to you, the reader. No matter how you stumbled upon our little space on the inter webs, Thank you. Thank you for being here, reading our story and sharing in our adventure!

Thanks for sticking it out and hopefully enjoying our little adventure! There will be a Part 2 coming as soon as we get the video done!! ;)


Vendors:

Officiants (on Feb 17): Gerri and Jack

Dress: Taffeta and Tulle Bridal

Flowers: Adventure Floral

Hair & Makeup: House of Beauty



Xo Shuhyta & Ritz

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​1 Corinthians 13:13​

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