Couple eloping in Golden British Columbia

Where to get married instead of Banff, our top 5 amazing alternatives

Introduction

Banff national park in Alberta, Canada. Is one of the most amazing places in the world. But it has one problem. Everyone knows about it. Which can cause some problems for couples looking to have a low key wedding or elopement who want the unique Canadian Rockies look to their wedding. But they don’t want lots of tourists in their day. Thats why we’ve put together a guide of alternatives to Banff, using our knowledge and experience of travelling all over Western Canada and the Rockies to find you the best spots!

If you’re in need of some knowledge of getting married in the rockies in general, planning your mountain elopement. Check out this guide to eloping in the rocky mountains in general.

Alberta or British Columbia?

For those of you who know your Canadian politics, you know things can be vastly different from Provence to Provence. In terms of getting married, and the legalities around it. Alberta and British Columbia aren’t too different. You’ll need to get a marriage licence from either Provence if you are planning on getting married there. But foreigners can get married in either.

In BC, you’ll need the person performing the ceremony to be registered with Vital Statistics Agency. This is the same for Alberta, both governments have handy websites going through the ins and outs of getting married. Our take on looking through both is, BC is generally easier to get married in. But don’t let that stop you from choosing locations in Alberta because the amount of effort between the two is negligible. 

Click here for legalities of getting married in British Columbia

Click here for legalities of getting married in Alberta

Jasper National Park

Jasper is the second best known national park in the Canadian Rockies, but the amount of visitors the park receives is far lower than Banff, with 2.4 million visitors in 2023 and 4.13 million for Banff national park. So roughly half the amount. Jasper has a much more chilled out vibe in comparison to Banff. The town of Jasper is a lot smaller than Banff town, so this is ideal if you want more untouched wilderness, thats not to say there isn’t a lot to do in the town of Jasper. We had some amazing sushi at One Sushi.

The best airport to use for Jasper would be Edmonton, however Calgary is the bigger airport and has more flights for international arrivals, so within Canada id recommend Edmonton, but for international you’re probably looking at Calgary. The fastest way to the park is to drive, you can either drive from Edmonton, which is 3 hours. Or if you are coming in from Calgary, id highly recommend the ice fields parkway. If road conditions allow, which you should check before your trip. There are also buses and trains to Jasper from Edmonton, Kamloops and Vancouver.

Pyramid Lake

is a great accessible options, which has an amazing lodge that we’ve stayed at many times. The lodge has great views, amazing locations for photos and film. And is right on the lake. So ideal if you don’t want to hike a huge distance in your wedding dress.

Lake Annette

is another amazing glacier lake which reminds me a lot of Lake Minnewanka. The lake is open from May – September and has a beach location on the north shore that is particularly nice. The whole 2.7km trek around the lake is stroller friendly, which also means wedding dress friendly! This is another great option for locations that aren’t too far for easy access.

Moab Lake

is our top pick for Jasper National Park, this lake is breathtaking. Its a short 15 minute hike to the first lookout, which isn’t too impressive, you have to walk further down the trail, which is 7.7km in total and not too strenuous. This would be our top pic for Jasper. It has the privacy, the breathtaking views and some of the most crystal clear water in all of Canada. We’d recommend visiting and getting married here June – September.

Golden

Golden is just over the border on the BC side of the Rocky Mountains. The town of Golden is quiet and the people very welcoming. They also have an awesome gondola. Which we will talk more on in a second. The town is accessible via the trans Canada highway, this is the only way into Golden, at the time of this writing, no passenger rail services are running to Golden. You’ll want to fly into Calgary for international couples, and to either Kamloops or Kelowna for within Canada.

Golden also has so many lakes around to choose from, with varying levels of difficulties. The town of Golden is a lot smaller than either Jasper or Banff. So this is way more suited to couples looking for more of a hiking elopement. Or a way less crowded gondola. Which brings me to…

Kicking Horse Resort

is the answer to eloping at the top of a mountain. I was simply blown away the first time we headed up here to capture the most amazing elopement. As well as having the restaurant at the top of the mountain. You also have access to a mind blowing location right outside, where you can have your ceremony out in the open air with a small amount of chairs. There’s also a gondola that will get you guys to the top. So ideal if you don’t want to trek far in your dress.

The area around the ceremony location is also super accessible, there are plenty of places for photo opportunities from being near the edge of the mountain, to walking through the forrest at the top.

Hillside Chalets

These guys have more of an all in one experience, you have your wedding and accommodation wrapped into one. They also have options for different wedding budgets and stay lengths. I especially love the idea of staying here and having a winter wedding! We absolutely love having a really snug and cosy place to take your getting ready photos and videos. These cabins are perfect for that, just imagine having your room service in the morning with the snow falling outside.

We’ve also got the amazing Canadian rocky mountains outside your window, with amazing misty mornings in the forrest. You really can’t go wrong here.

Tête Jaune Cache

So far, this is the most rugged and rural of our choices. This is geared more toward couples who don’t want any crowds at all. 20 Minutes outside of Valemount, Tête Jaune Cache is the perfect location for any season for your wedding. Why is this? Because it looks absolutely beautiful whatever time of year you choose. But if we had to pick, we’d say Autumn (Fall).

We’d recommend staying at Mica Mountain Lodge & Pine Cabin for a quiet spot to get married. Just don’t forget to check out the guidelines for your specific location for getting married in BC. As British Columbia has different legalities depending on location, such as national parks, provincial parks or secluded locations. 

Nearby you’ve got Yellowjacket Creek Recreation Site which we’d recommend for your ceremony location, its a great spot with some awesome views of the Canadian rockies next to the lake. The hike isn’t too challenging either, plus you’ve got some nearby restaurants in Valemount.

Getting here is similar to Jasper National Park, as the two are about an hour apart. You’re going to need a car to access the town, and to get around, so this is a must as the train does not stop here. You can either fly into Edmonton and drive down, or from the BC side you can fly into Kelowna or Kamloops and drive up. The latter routes are likely to see less traffic, as if you drive from Edmonton you’ll be in line with people headed to Jasper.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

This place is absolutely magical. I have seen some of the most amazing scenery in this provincial park, and I am really surprised more people don’t know about it. We ended up visiting for the first time on the way to Calgary airport from Banff, there are two routes back to Calgary. The first is on the trans Canada highway, which doesn’t take too long, but we were up for some adventure and thought we’d take a right turn and head into the park as we had some time. Best decision ever.

So how do we get there? Id recommend hiring a car from Calgary and driving. This is going to be your closest international airport, public transportation in the park is non existent, due to the low population of the region, which remember is working in our favour for our amazing secluded wedding day! You could always get the bus to Banff and rent a car there. But from our experience it’s a lot cheaper and easier to rent from Calgary.

Wedge Pond

When you picture a crystal clear blue lake with the most burnt orange autumn trees and snow capped mountains, this is what you picture. Wedge pond is anything but a pond, the lake is very impressive, the hike not too long. And the scenery will take your breath away. One thing we really like about Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and the kananaskis region in general, is how off road and rustic it all feels. Its like you are literally on the frontier, as someone from England, this is quite amazing for me. 

But what this location does have going for it, is its accessibility, its really not that far from Banff, 84km to be exact, thats about an hours drive. So for proximity, this is definitely the one to go for. You can get the bus from Calgary to Banff, then rent a car from there, using either private rentals, or Turo. These can also be done from Calgary directly.

There is also a flip side to accessibility, while its not too far from Banff, please take precautions in the winter. The road is not as well maintained as the trans Canada highway, we first visited in October and the road was completely snowed over, luckily the car we had could handle the conditions, but the weather is known to change rapidly up there so be prepared!

Upper Kananaskis Lake

This lake had to make the list, what we really love about this lake in the southern part of the park is the little almost island that sticks out from the mainland, its nice and forested but also overlooks the entire lake and the rockies in the background. What more could you want?

The lake is accessible from the road, and its not a far walk. We’d recommend going to the lake chimney section at the southern end of the lake for the best view of Mt Sarrail to the west.

For accommodation you’ve got the nearby William Watson Lodge which offers some really nice views of the nearby mountains and plenty of hikes and trails to fill your elopement time with. They’ve got a really nice log burning fire for those winter months, which we love!

Celine River

Our final pick is somewhere very special. I know we’ve spoken a lot about lakes here, so we’ve decided to throw in a river. For one reason, ambience. Anyone else love the sound of running water, this is something that really enriches the sense of adventure for us. And thats something you really get with the Celine river, the turquoise river flowing through those grey snow capped peaks is just incredible to witness. We’d recommend eloping here between early October to mid November for the best views. This is just our opinion though, it looks amazing in winter and summer as well!

For accommodation we would recommend Glacier View Lodge, which isn’t too far driving. They have some really nice airy rooms and amazing views of the mountains outside. There’s a huge viewing room with a fireplace which has an amazing view of the mountains outside. Perfect for your getting ready pictures.

Conclusion

This list isn’t supposed to put you off eloping or getting married in Banff National Park. Banff is an amazing place to get married, its just a little harder to get off the beaten bath and find spots without tourists. What this list is supposed to do, is show you that the possibilities are endless here in Canada. We have such a wonderful and vast country that has so many things to offer eloping couples. These are just our picks that will help you to have the most memorable day possible.

We tailor all of our photo and video packages to our couples. We help them settle on the location that is best suited to them. Is going to fulfill all of their goals and give them an experience they will never forget. We photograph weddings all over the world. 32 Countries so far (and counting!). But we always come back to our backyard, which is Canada. 

If you’re interested in having a unique and experience driven wedding day in the Canadian Rockies or anywhere else in the world. Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

We’re Tom and Emily. Your photo & Video elopement team! We encourage, help, explain and guide you through this whole process. We absolutely love travel and unique experiences!

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