Planning an Off-the-Grid Wedding in a National Park
Everyone's dream wedding day is unique, and Meredith & Tobias' wedding was no exception. M&T envisioned a day that truly reflected their adventurous nature. To make this happen, they contacted Lee Ramsay Events five (5!) weeks before their wedding date looking for someone to plan their wedding…in an abandoned mining town in Alaska.
Read on to see how we made this happen for this lovely couple, as well as a few tips for those brave enough to plan a remote and adventurous wedding.
This couple had a strong vision for their elopement – a weekend full of their closest friends and family, a bit of adventure vis-à-vis a glacier hike, a beautiful reception, local food, and fun storytelling. The operational aspect of making this happen was our main challenge and what truly brings us joy at Lee Ramsay Events.
In planning a remote or adventurous wedding like Meredith and Tobias', we suggest taking the following considerations:
1. Get to know the local community.
When planning a event (even just 20 guests) in a small town like McCarthy, Alaska, the first step is to understand and connect with the local community. Remote areas like McCarthy operate as a delicate ecosystem. A large event brings in more people, food, and trash than this ecosystem typically manages. It is so important to honor, respect, and work with the local community so that an event like this is embraced (and successful).
Lee Ramsay Events got to work in building relationships and trust with the lodging, venue, and catering providers. Taking the time to get to know your local community, plus managing and maintaining those relationships, is absolutely essential to bringing an event to a remote area.
2. Bring in adventurous, trusted vendors.
If you want to get married on a glacier, make sure you have a photographer who is adventurous enough to capture it! It takes a lot of courage for a photographer to bring their camera equipment onto a slippery glacier (not to mention the 7 mile roundtrip hike). Cherise from Denaa Photography was up for the challenge – she already knows to bring crampons on a glacier hike!
3. Honor the beauty of the local area.
Speaking of vendors, it was important to work with local floral artists and honor the local flora. Due to its remote and arctic location, fresh flowers were neither feasible nor the responsible choice. We opted for dried florals, arranged by a local florist – Glacier Valley Blooms. They not only held up to the 7 hour drive, but also fit the copper mining town aesthetic perfectly. If planning a wedding in a remote location, it’s best to honor the location’s aesthetic rather than mask it with imported florals and décor.
4. Take a good look at your guest list.
A remote event is not for the faint of heart. You are asking a lot of your guests to travel great lengths for your event, and you want them to feel comfortable. If your grandparents or friends aren’t up for a 9 hour flight, 7 hour drive, lots of walking, non-accessible accommodations, and spotty electricity, consider hosting a separate celebration closer to home. The key to a good party is making your guests feel at ease – if someone won’t be comfortable with your remote destination, consider several smaller events, maybe closer to home.
5. Capitalize on the photo opportunities.
You may be the first person in the world to get married in your remote location - you will have some truly unique wedding photos. Get to know the remote location and photo opportunities in advance so you make the most of your time on your wedding weekend. Think through a plan for your special photo moments, or send your planner on a scouting trip to do this for you. For example, in our McCarthy wedding, we planned a whole day around the various glacier shots we wanted to capture.
If everything goes right, you’re rewarded with a spectacular show of aurora borealis (northern lights). It was a planner’s dream come true!
In summary, planning a remote destination wedding is one of the most rewarding, unique experiences you can have, as long as you plan ahead and plan correctly. You’ll want to think through your guest list, itinerary, and photo plan with a seasoned planner in order to host a safe and celebratory wedding.