Where do I start?! This day was INCREDIBLE!!! It was full of laughs, tears, anticipation, unplanned road closures, and definitely unexpected HURRICANE force WINDS that froze Savannah to the core!! But with every snag in our plans, we pivoted and found something that worked and now there are amazing photos of such an awesome day, so I don’t think anyone regrets it!
I also learned a TON of information about the logistics of heli elopements and being prepared for the weather conditions atop a mountain versus shooting at ground level next to a lake; I know am armed with this knowledge so I can plan my clients’ heli elopements and provide them with everything they need to know to be prepared!
I will include the talented list of vendors involved in this shoot (because I would highly recommend them to ANYONE eloping in Alberta, at the bottom of this post so please check it out! 😉
UPDATE: This incredible Big Bend Elopement was also just featured on Wandering Weddings, one of my favorite Elopement Blogs!! Check it out HERE!
I rented an adorable little chalet at Castle Mountain Chalets on the Bow Valley Parkway, nestled at the foot of its namesake (and my FAVORITE mountain in the Alberta Rockies) for getting ready before we headed off on the adventure of the day. We started off the morning with Savannah & Tanner in the kitchen feeding each other breakfast, after Savannah had her makeup completed by Cheryce, of Bellamona Beauty! They were so adorable and I love to see how Tanner is so gentle with Savannah as well as how often he makes her laugh or smile! <3
One of my favorite things about elopements is couples choosing to get ready together and help each other. I do love first looks as well, but there is something so sweet and endearing about watching a couple about to say “I Do”, with their whispered words and little smiles helping their partner into their wedding finery before heading off on an adventure!
Although this was a styled heli elopement for my portfolio, and to learn all that I needed to know about heli elopements in the Canadian Rockies, so that I can be a better guide and photographer/planner for my elopement couples; Savannah & Tanner asked if they could actually write vows to say to each other, rather than faking it for the “story”. I said HELL YES. and I think for a couple that is not engaged yet, it was super sweet to watch them write these out…stay tuned for the tears later 😉 *foreshadowing*
This was when things started to go off the rails a little…
I planned the timeline for the whole day so we could be at Cline River Heli Base on time for our flight and for the couple to say their vows atop a mountain just before sunset. So on the way from the chalets to the heli base, we had to drive up the Icefields Parkway, past Peyto Lake, and we were going to stop and have a picnic there and some photos above the lake. Mother Nature and Parks Canada had other plans for us though! The road to the parking lot, a short walk from the viewpoint at Peyto Lake, was closed and the hike from the main parking lot was 30min each way in BLOWING COLD AF snowy conditions; not only was there not time for an hour of hiking, but the weather was absolutely miserable there and we wouldn’t have seen Peyto Lake, definitely did not have a picnic! *facepalm*
So here’s where my go-with-the-flow nature kicks in…I just said “well scratch that plan, let’s just drive out of this crap weather continuing on to our final destination and we’ll pull over if I see something cool!”! And I did…..
The wind was totally insane and brutally cold here at the southern end of Abraham Lake but Savannah was a real champ in that thin lace dress from Reclamation Design company and never quit! It did also provide lots of snuggle moments as Tanner tried to keep her warm! <3
Weather-wise we were not prepared for when we got to Rockies Heli at the Cline River Heli Base along Abraham Lake. Not only was that wind an issue, but the elevation we were going to with the helicopter, for vows and still attempting a picnic, was much colder and the wind even sharper. We had brought what we thought were warm clothes but were promptly educated by our 40+ year veteran pilot that we needed more. We had to put ski pants on Savannah and borrow some heavy coats for her as well as an extra for Tanner. Matti (my second shooter and friend who came along) and I needed to borrow ski pants to put over the very thin leggings we were wearing! OOPS!! (I am now armed with long johns and proper hiking/ski pants for my next winter adventure!). Once we all got properly suited up for the weather we got to board the helicopter….A HUGE DREAM COME TRUE FOR ME!!
These pictures just show how incredible this whole elopement was and watch out for the pics where Savannah & Tanner had to bundle up every few minutes because it was closer to -20 with the Windchill at that elevation!
Creative Director & Photographer: Kelly Szott Photography @kellyszottphoto
Getting Ready Venue: Castle Mountain Chalets @castlemountain
Bouquet/Boutonniere: Hue Florals @hue.florals
Helicopter Company: Rockies Heli Canada @rockiesheli
Makeup Artist: Cheryce Lauren @bellamona_beauty
Rings: EvStenroos @evstenroos
Jewelry: Joanna Bisley Designs @joannabisleydesigns
Vow Books: Holly Loves Paper @hollylovespaper
Dress: Revive Yo Soul @reviveyosoul & Reclamation Design Company @reclamationdesigncompany
Suit: Ed Williams Menswear @ewmenswear
Couple: Savannah Allain – @savannahlallain & Tanner Clarke