The Morris’s Wedding at Banff’s Moraine Lake

Eloping on the Edge of the Lake

The Story of Elaine and Ryan

Twelve years ago, before online dating went mainstream, Elaine and Ryan met on Myspace. At the time, she was living in Utah as an art major studying film. He was in Florida, living with his grandmother and pursuing a degree in microbiology.

It began innocently enough, chatting back and forth and developing a friendship. But it was just that. A friendship. Or so Elaine wanted to believe.

That was winter, and by the time summer came around, Ryan decided to fly out to meet her. She thought it was crazy, but because she wasn’t about to hop on a plane to Florida, he took the leap.

On one of their first outings together, they went canoeing. Just as friends. Out on the water, Ryan ended up tipping the canoe, and he had to swim them back to shore. After the episode, he was certain he’d messed everything up between them.

Once the summer had come to a close, they had cemented their friendship, and over the years they took a few trips together, visited one another, and stayed in contact. After he graduated, his grandmother sold her house to move in with her daughter, leaving Ryan to make his own way.

He chose to move to Utah. This not only took him within 6 hours of where his grandmother had relocated but also brought him closer to Elaine. After he’d been there for about a month, it was clear that they cared deeply for one another, and they quickly found themselves in a relationship. They were no longer ‘just friends.’

At first, Elaine and Ryan were embarrassed to admit they’d met online. But, as online dating became more mainstream, they grew proud of it! They were pioneers!

Having known each other for ten years, Ryan concluded that it was time to propose. Elaine is really into a sport called Skijoring, in which a cross-country skier is guided by horses, dogs, or motor vehicles. The word comes from the Norwegian term meaning ski driving.

Out in the mountainous valley during the winter, several trails are groomed for the sport. Elaine takes her dogs out with her and meets a small group of people who regularly join her for skijoring. Ryan is more of a downhill skiing enthusiast, but one evening he asked Elaine if she wanted to attend a moonlight meetup of the group. She agreed.

They rode down one of the trails, through pathways lined with lanterns and moonlight. When they were alone down one of the paths, he dropped to one knee and proposed. Elaine, who isn’t normally an emotional person, was so surprised that a few tears fell down her cheeks. Here they were, in her favorite spot with their dogs, doing her favorite sport, underneath moonlight and lanterns. It was perfect.

Of course she said yes.

The Wedding at Moraine Lake Lodge

Ryan and Elaine love the mountains, and out of their shared passion grew the idea to get married in the majestic Rockies. Moraine Lake is arguably one of the most picturesque spots in the mountains, so the decision was made. They would elope to Canada.

They landed in Calgary the day before the wedding, and after arriving they stopped in at our studio to go over the plan for the next day. They then made their way out to Canmore where they met their wedding guests in the cabin they’d rented.

Their wedding was an intimate affair, with no more than 14 people in attendance. These included her parents, brother, and workmates, and his sister Jamie, his aunt and uncle, and cousins.

The First Look

Elaine started her day at Vermelho Hair in Canmore, and we stopped at Kake by Darci to chat with the talented baker about her cakes. It also gave us the chance to photograph Elaine and Ryan’s wedding cake before the actual wedding!

When we had finished with the cakes, we headed out to Moraine Lake, meeting the couple as they were checking into the Moraine Lake Lodge. The lodge is one of the most impressive in the Rockies, perched on the edge of the impossibly blue lake under the Ten Peaks mountain range. Since the discovery of the lake in 1899, the area has been a huge draw because of its wild and impressive beauty. The lodge reflects that in its design. Wood and river rock make up many features of the hotel, and it blends seamlessly into the landscape like it was meant to be there.

Together we headed up to Ryan and Elaine’s room, where the groom quickly got ready. We left Elaine to prepare while we scouted out a location for the First Look.

Initially, we had hoped the sun would peek out on the day of the wedding, but at our meeting the day before, it was evident we could expect rain. With a 70% chance of showers, it was smart to bring a few umbrellas along. By the time they’d checked into the lodge, it was pouring.

Even though most couples don’t want a rainy wedding day, we chose to look on the bright side. Not only do clouds make for excellent drama and lighting in the sky, but it quelled the smoke that had covered the valley, drifting in from the many forest fires in the region. Off and on throughout the shoot, we were treated to some fantastic natural conditions that were only available in the rain.

It rained the hardest at the outset of the session, so we used a tree covered pathway for their first look, hiding Ryan underneath an umbrella. We ran back to grab Elaine, who was just having the final touches put on by Ryan’s sister Jamie. Walking her out onto the beautiful pathway amongst the cabins at the Moraine Lake Lodge, and she started toward her future husband.
When he turned around, it was clear to see the love and appreciation this couple has for one another. They are both kind, respectful, polite, and grateful, and it shows. They were also game for our crazy ideas and got some truly unique images as a result.

The Creative Formals at Moraine Lake

From the cobblestone path, we moved into the forest. With the rain still coming down, we backlit the couple with flash and a few more lights, which highlighted the huge raindrops that fell around them. Through it all in the background, the glacier blue Moraine Lake pierced the gaps in the trees.

Once we came out of the forest, we moved out to the piers where the canoes are stored. We ran into another photographer in the midst of an engagement session, using the boats as props. Immediately we knew we needed them for the shoot. It harkened back to that first date when Ryan tipped them into the lake! We couldn’t take the canoes out onto the water because of the rain, but beside the shore, we were able to capture the feel we wanted for the photos. The nostalgia of their first date was palpable in the shots.

Once we’d finished in the canoe, we had time for one more staging. Ryan and Elaine decided they wanted to climb a giant pile of rocks at the base of the lake, so we went for it! Our first set was on the way up the stairs, and it looked incredible. A misty cloud had drifted into the valley, and it floated up around the mountain peaks. The stairs upon which the couple stood disappeared behind the craggy outcroppings, making it seem like they were standing amongst the stones. We hid a few flashes behind some of the rocks for additional light. Once they had climbed to the top of the rock formation, it was easy to get an epic long shot of the mountain range, the glacial lake, and the bride and groom. The shot was breathtaking, and we couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop.

When they crawled down from the top, it was time to get married!

Their Ceremony at the Edge of Moraine Lake

As a testament to Elaine and Ryan’s sense of adventure, they let us choose the spot where for the ceremony. We found a breathtaking shoreline to fit all their guests, and even though it was a little precarious, everyone braved it. Because of that, Elaine and Ryan had a jaw dropping backdrop for their nuptials.

We met their officiant, Julie Anne Derer of Weddings to Bragg About, who put on a fantastic service. She was personable, kind, and gave a heartfelt ceremony with poise. On top of having a great officiant and a fabulous location, Elaine and Ryan completed a hand fasting ceremony. Hand fasting is a Celtic tradition, in which the couple’s hands are symbolically bound with a cord to declare their union. Julie Anne talked about the history of the ceremony, wherein the hand fasting acted more like a trial marriage, or engagement. Couples would be figuratively bound together for a year and a day, and by the end of the term they would know whether they wanted to continue with the marriage.

Ryan’s cousin Hunter then presented them with a love letter box – each year, they will open it, reread their letters, and write new ones to each other.

When everything wrapped up, Julie Anne pronounced Elaine and Ryan husband and wife. Their guests showered them with rose petals as they walked back along the path. While the bride and groom were signing their documents, we grabbed a few family photos while we still had some daylight. Before we ended our day, the newlyweds joined us for a few group shots, and headed off with their guests to spend the rest of their evening in merriment!

We spent an amazing few hours with Elaine and Ryan, and we hope they are as thrilled with their images as we are. We had a great time, and wish them heartfelt congratulations!

Online Gallery

An online gallery of all their images is available for the next 90 days. From the online gallery you are able to favourite images, order prints and share the gallery with your family and friends. The gallery can be accessed via the link below and you can contact the couple directly for their secure password.

We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to share this special day with them and all their family and friends. We wish them many years of happiness together.

Want to share in the experience? Contact us today for a free consultation or click here to book a portrait session! We also have a wickedly fun Calgary Photo Booth that is great for any event as well as Corporate and Event Photography for all sorts of events and corporate functions.

Calgary Wedding Photographers – JM Photography © 2017

A Couple of my Favourite Photos from Elaine and Ryan’s Wedding

The Morris Wedding Credits

Date | 9.9.17
Officiant – Julie Ann Derer with Weddings to Bragg About
Hair and Makeup – Stephanie with Vermelho Hair
Wedding Cake – Darci with Kake by Darci
Florist – Songs From The Garden
Photography by Jeremy Martel

Learn more about our studio

JM Photography offers Calgary brides the very best in wedding photography! Our unique style and best in class experience is one of a kind. Each wedding is treated with the greatest of care and creativity, resulting in breathtaking imagery. We also offer Calgary newborn photography, capture maternity sessions as well as family portraits.

We are one of the top studios in Western Canada, servicing the Calgary area, including but not limited to, Canmore, Banff, Cochrane, Chestermere, Airdrie, Lethbridge, and Red Deer. We also offer coverage in Edmonton, Vancouver and to destinations worldwide.

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