Imagine standing a top of a mountain peak, surrounded by snow-peaked mountains that appear through occasional breaks in the clouds. The wind is furiously trying to unravel your hair and the cold stings your hands, but none of that matters. You are holding the hands of the love of your life, looking into their tear-filled eyes as they say their vows to you, promising to love you for the rest of their lives.
When we met Sam and Patria, their mountain-top wedding was still a dream in its infancy stage. Little did they know, Diego and I also had a similar dream, to be a part of and capture a wedding on top of the Whistler Mountains. We wanted Whistler’s snow-peaked mountains in the background, a billowing dress, and a couple with deep love for each other and for creating memorable experiences together. Sam and Patria gave us just that this past July with their private Whistler, British Columbia wedding.
Sam and Patria got ready together at Nita Lake Lodge, a contemporary ski-lodge only 5 minutes away from Whistler village. Their room was a cozy, yet spacious, suite, with that iconic mountain lodge feel. When Diego and I arrived, we immediately noticed the fabulous bathroom and the double soaker tub - the perfect scenario for a combined shower shot. With Patria in a bubble-filled tub and Sam enjoying a long shower, Diego and I had an absolute field day playing with light and reflections in such a beautiful space.
Sam was just finishing up his shower when Patria’s hair and make-up artist arrived at the room. Sitting in the main room of their suite, looking out at the mountain views, natural light flooded in and cast a warm glow around Patria as she was getting her hair and make-up done. Sam joined Patria in the main space soon after, and quietly admired her as Diego and I worked around them, capturing the sweet looks and serene moments shared between the two of them . Before heading out to make the trip up to the mountain top, Sam helped Patria zip up her wedding dress, while Patria helped Sam put on his tie and his jacket. You could definitely feel the buzz of excitement and their giddiness as they stepped outside to live-out their dream together.
It had been raining all morning while they were getting ready. The rain was threatening to ruin their plans for an outdoor ceremony, but just as it came time to ascend Blackcomb Mountain, the rain stopped. Patria had never been to Whistler before, and her excitement visibly grew as the gondola slowly climbed up the mountain and into the clouds. Watching them approach the Inukshuk, hand in hand, with Patria’s dress billowing in the wind, it was clear why they chose the Whistler Mountains as the backdrop for their private mountain wedding ceremony. The views are absolutely breathtaking from the peak of the Blackcomb Mountain – exactly what Sam and Patria dreamt of, and exactly what Diego and I dreamt of.
Standing on top of the mountain peak, surrounded by snow-peaked mountains that appeared through the occasional breaks in the clouds with streaks of sunlight beaming down, the wind furiously tried to unravel Patria’s hair. And while we could feel the cold stinging our hands, it was clear that Sam and Patria didn’t notice the cold as they held each other’s hands, eyes welling up with tears, promising to love each other for the rest of their lives.
Once the documents were signed, and glasses of champagne were raised, we said goodbye to our lovely officiant and to Rachael, the fabulous planner behind this amazing day and the founder of Sea to Sky Celebrations. We hurried to catch the chair lift to the Top of the World Summit where we wanted to cross the Cloudraker Skybridge suspension bridge. True to its name, the bridge was completely surrounded by heavy clouds, so much so that we could barely see anything in front of us – while a little eery, the thick clouds gave us the opportunity to create phenomenal portraits of Sam and Patria walking right into the clouds hand in hand and with Patria`s dress flying high up in the wind. Coming off of the bridge marked the end of day 1 of our adventure with Sam and Patria, as they had a private wedding dinner waiting for them and we need to rest as day 2 involved a lot of hiking.
Day 2 of our adventure started bright and early. We met with Sam and Patria and headed straight for the gondolas. They were both back in their wedding clothes, bouquet in hand, and ready to hike and explore the mountains. We returned to Blackcomb Mountain peak again as the weather was a little kinder than the previous day and we wanted to take advantage of the view and the terrain, which is starkly different than the Whistler terrain. Blackcomb is mostly rock and snow, a little desolate feeling at times. The rough terrain contrasted beautifully with the flowing dress and delicate flowers and Sam`s formal attire, and when we thought the views couldn`t get any better, we got lucky with a bright and pronounced rainbow stretching across the sky. It took us a couple of hours to complete the hike route on Blackcomb Mountain, during which we were graced with wildly changing weather. By the time we reached the Peak-to-Peak Gondola that was to take us to Whistler Mountain, we were quite exhausted and in need of hot food and warmth.
Rested and warm again, we climbed into a Peak-to-Peak gondola – everyone excited, and perhaps a little nervous as the gondola crossed between Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain at a height of 1,430 feet. The experience and the views are both breathtaking – looking from one mountain to the other, it`s mind blowing to see how different the two are. We left Blackcomb Mountain – a rocky and colourless mountain with winter weather – and arrived at Whistler Mountain – a green mountain in full spring-like bloom.
For the next few hours, we explored Whistler Mountain, enjoying the green and inviting terrain, the small flower blossoms sprinkled all over the mountain, and the warmth of the sun, even choosing to take off a couple of layers of clothing, and at times even all of the layers for some of us. After 8 hours of hiking through Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, we finally had to stop taking photos – and not by choice, the mountain gondolas and lifts were actually closing. How often does one get to have such a life changing experience? Not often, so you bet we took advantage of every moment. We were in wedding photography paradise.
Now, just as we thought this whole experience couldn’t get better, Day 3 of our adventure with Sam and Patria arrived – it was the cherry on top. We joined them on a helicopter tour to explore glacier ice caves. Yep. That happened! Neither Diego nor I have been in a helicopter before, nor did we have any idea of what to expect from glacier ice caves, but we simply could not pass up such a cool opportunity to capture and create these memories for our newlyweds. The 20 minute helicopter flight was insanely beautiful, and not at all scary as I thought it would be. The biggest surprise came when we landed on top of the glacier. It was HOT. The glacier was slowly melting and revealing its ever changing ice caves.
Dressed in their full wedding attire again, our bride and groom quickly posed for us inside the ice caves with the ice-blue walls of the caves glowing around them. We had to do those shots as quickly as possible as it is not safe to be in the caves without helmets – the caves are constantly melting and shifting, and with that rocks become dislodged. Just as we finished everything and the helmets were back on, from deep inside the cave we heard a loud thud. It was time to head out and wait for the helicopter to take us back. As a last and final hoorah to an unforgettable experience in the mountains, Sam and Patria climbed up the rock cliff on the edge of the glacier – one final portrait to soak it all in.