A Sledding Wedding!
By Heather Gould
It’s 2018, my wedding dress is bought. My fiancé Steve and I are talking about setting the date next year to get married. We wanted to plan a fun day for family and friends at a favorite place. A destination wedding…Maybe? We are “snow” people, so going south wasn’t even on our radar. In winter we love exploring the magnificent back country around us. The beautiful Gros Morne National Park is in our back yard and our regular winter sled trips to the “gorge” (Western Brook Gorge) is our happy place. The beauty of that area is well known and in winter it’s magical. I’ve thought that it would be such a spectacular place to get married. Could we make one of our spring “Gorge adventures” a wedding adventure? A destination like no other! A view like no other!
We discussed this idea with our families. Would the winter be appropriate for sledding? Safety, snow conditions and weather had to be considered. By December, we felt that planning could begin. First the date…March 30, 2019. I felt confident that once we selected it, all would fall into place. “You bring about what you think about”.
Next step was approval from Parks Canada and park passes. One challenge was to find an officiant and a photographer that had experience with sledding in the backcountry. Would they willingly to be a part of our special day? Scott Grant (RONiN photography) was my first choice and he didn’t let me down. At a Christmas party, a friend suggested that a young Pastor in Hawk’s Bay, was an avid snowmobiler. Pastor Jeremy Mitchell was just the pastor we needed and he was available. His personality and experience in Gros Morne proved invaluable. He was instrumental in having the trails groomed the night before by the Junction Trailblazers.
I knew a traditional wedding dress was not going to work for this wedding. I was driving my own machine. A white snowsuit was my “dress” of choice and Steve’s black snow suit, his tuxedo! Finding that white suit took more time than finding a perfect dress. Like the rest of the plans, the perfect suit fell into place. I couldn’t find a white hat, but a friend showed up with the perfect veil. Whatever I desired, there was always someone to help make it happen. There was no wedding stress, just great karma.
Backcountry snowmobile adventures can be a dangerous sport. We embraced safety first as an important aspect of this journey. No two days are the same on the top of the Gorge and the weather can be so unpredictable. We set up a Facebook Page for people taking the ride. We listed items for taking, especially extra gas.
We had our wedding license. The week of March 24th showed promise for great weather. If only it would last till Saturday! Steve spent all week tied to the Weather Channel App on his phone. If there were changes forecasted, he wanted to be the first to know. There was a plan B for either Friday or Sunday but I knew in my heart that Saturday would be a go.
March 30th, 2019 arrived with warm temperatures and slight drizzle, but with promise of a better day. Prayers, messages well-wishes and comments were pouring in on our phones and social media. Our precious Arctic Cats were secured on the trailer adorned with new snow flaps, titled Bride and Groom. As with any bride, my day started with preparations for my perfect wedding day. Because of the time, 6 AM, I was doing my own hair and makeup instead of spending time at a salon. As my legs slipped into the warm white pants and I slipped on my jacket, I knew this day would be perfect. Our last selfie in the truck as singles and we were off!
As we were off loading the machines on Cormack Road (typical staging area to access the Gorge from White River Road), the sun peaked through and before we knew it, the sky was clear and blue! Forty plus machines were off loaded. Prayers, karma and positive thoughts all made this day happen. By 9 AM, we were off, leading our family and friends to Western Brook Gorge, to attend our amazing wedding. The groomed trail was impeccable and made for a comfortable ride at a good speed. The sun continued to shine and the morning sledding was fantastic. We made stop at the warm up shack. The day was like any other Saturday with our riding friends and family. As we attempted to approach the “Gorge” near noon, the sun disappeared and immediately you could not see the machine in front of you! Snow and blowing snow! A heavy cloud of weather hung over the gorge! We returned to the bottom of the hill where the sky was still clear and another 40 – 50 machines were waiting as well. I wasn’t concerned. We were here with family and friends and we were getting married today! A bit of snow wasn’t stopping us, even if we couldn’t get to the sweet spot! We spent an hour having lunch, conversations and of course hearty laughter.
Just after 1 PM, as if by request, our prayers were answered. The sky above the Western Brook Gorge cleared, the winds died down and the temperature climbed to 15 C. It’s wedding time in the Gorge as we make our way to the top. Before I knew it, my helmet is off and final preparations are being made. My make-up is freshened and a friend is fixing my hair and attaching my veil. Our felines (Arctic Cats) are positioned in the sweet spot and Pastor Mitchell is waiting for Steve and I. The full wedding service was perfect. Everything was exactly as I had pictured it. Dreams do come true!
As we turned to face our families, I noticed that we had attracted quite an audience. Close to 200 people including our crew. Nobody but us, had expected a wedding at the top of the Gorge. And we hadn’t expected such a big audience. People were congratulating us, taking pictures, and even wanting to be in our pictures. People we never saw before! Our pictures were being shared and showed up on social media everywhere. It was a little unnerving as we are both private individuals and had just planned a simple wedding in our favourite place. We were so pleased with how everything fell into place, that we decided to just go with the flow.
Our wedding has taken on a life of its own. A beautiful YouTube video posted by Janet Jardine has amassed over 46,000 views as I write this. People everywhere seem to be talking about it. After the weekend was over, we did an interview on CBC radio’s Morning Show, an interview with Corner Brook’s newspaper Western Star and had a short clip aired on NTV evening news. According to friends away, we even made the Edmonton CTV news. A week later, we are still getting messages and comments about it.
It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words, but even a picture of the amazing Western Brook Gorge does not come close to being there.
My Mom always said I always did things my way. This time We Did it Our Way! My wedding dreams did come true.
Heather and Steve Gould