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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mountaintop Destination Weddings

Words by Roger Sands

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High altitude weddings are on the rise and ski resorts are many things to many people. For families, ski resorts can be a winter sanctuary where they get to spend some quality time together while enjoying outdoor activities. For youngsters, ski resorts are adventurous winter wonderlands that provide the thrills and excitement of half-pipes, bump-filled trails and cruising terrain. For couples, ski resorts can be the perfect destination wedding venue. And with 486 ski areas scattered throughout the country, couples have plenty of options from which to choose.

People may be surprised to learn that New York, with 52 places to ski, followed by Michigan with 43, are home to the most ski areas. Even Alabama and Tennessee each have a ski area, so it's not a difficult task for couples to find a ski resort for their wedding. In fact, ski resort weddings are becoming increasingly popular and can result in a truly memorable experience for everyone involved. Those couples who want to add a little spice and adventure to their ceremony will recite vows on a snow-covered slope during the ski season.

When planning a ski resort destination wedding, couples need to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, how accessible is the ski resort? Some ski resorts are quite easy to get to, while others require an expert map reader or perhaps even a pioneer trailblazer from the days of old because their remote location doesn't even register on a GPS. Guests don't want the hassle of traveling through thick and thin in order to attend a wedding. Even your closest relatives will bristle at that. In other words, it may not be the best decision to get married on a glacier in British Columbia where you happened to heli-ski last year if you want your elderly relatives to attend.

Of course, your biggest decision will be in which season should the wedding be held? Despite the allure of a winter ski resort wedding, with its snow covered ambiance and pristine scenery, the majority of ski resort weddings are held in the summer or fall, when the mountain is resplendent with colorful foliage and the sounds of nature echo in the background. Such settings, coupled with rustic lodges and ballrooms, provide the ideal venue for both the wedding and reception.

An added advantage of a summer or fall destination wedding at a ski resort is the fact that accommodations will be plentiful and guests will be able to select from on-mountain luxurious hotels, ski chalets, quaint country inns or nearby bed and breakfasts. The majority of ski resorts that host weddings will bend over backwards to ensure that everyone in the wedding party and their guests receive the red carpet treatment.

Also, ski resorts exude a special charm that can only be found within a mountain setting where vistas and nature abound. The majority of ski destination weddings will offer panoramic views that will embed themselves into everyone's mental notebooks. Guests will always recall the wedding that provided such wonderful backdrops.

Mount Snow ski resort in southern Vermont now hosts about 20 weddings each year, a number that has grown over the past few years. The majority of couples come from the greater Boston area or throughout Connecticut. Many have a personal tie to Mount Snow, whether their family owns a second home in the area, they skied Mount Snow as a youth, met their partner here or were engaged here. The Green Mountain National Forest, in all its splendor, offers an amazing natural backdrop and most wedding parties will take a chairlift to the summit with their photographer and wedding coordinator for photos before or after the ceremony.

Despite summer being the most requested time for weddings, Mount Snow held a Could Nine Nuptials event this winter. Sixteen couples renewed their vows and one couple in wedding dress, tux and snowboards tied the knot for the first time. Also, someone surprised his girlfriend with a proposal on the slopes. 

With enough space to accommodate large groups, Mount Snow's Somerset Ballroom is a recently renovated ballroom featuring Vermont hand forged, wrought iron chandeliers, permanently inlaid solid hardwood dance floors and flexible space for 75 to 500 guests. The wedding garden is a beautifully landscaped area with a ceremony pergola and hand laid stone steps, perfect for photo ops.

The culinary options are unique for each wedding, and the chef enjoys working with couples during their menu tasting to pinpoint their desires. Local items are always on the menu whenever possible and dinner options range from a casual barbecue to the finest beef and seafood pairings. Weddings at Mount Snow include several extras such as floor length linens, upgraded metal Chiavari chairs, the services of a personal wedding coordinator and valet parking.

Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah is another great option and is the setting for upwards of 30 weddings each year, normally held from June through September. Couples can choose an outdoor wedding set among wild flowers or fall foliage, or the elegance and charm of a rustic lodge. The Inn Lawn's manicured lawn provides a picturesque wedding setting and is within earshot of the running stream and steps away from the Inn at Solitude. Solitude offers a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities and accommodations.

Catering options feature local, gourmet ingredients and an extensive wine list. Solitude can provide an intimate wedding reception or the Last Chance Lodge is a great location for large groups and can accommodate up to 350 seated guests. Solitude’s premier dining facility, St. Bernard’s, is an elegant place to hold your reception. Featuring fire-side dining with incredible views, St. Bernard’s can provide your guests with a gourmet buffet or full-service dinner for up to 50 guests

No matter the ski resort, a destination wedding in the mountains will provide couples and their guests with a "high altitude" experience that is second to none.

Photos courtesy of: Erin Kate Photography (1st) &  Mount Snow ski resort (2nd & 3rd).

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