Samantha & Dustin’s romantic Banff wedding

S+D wedding - blondewalk

S + D are the cutest couple and have such a sweet story. They are not only beautiful to look at; they both are practicing lawyers – talk about a power couple. With an inseparable bond and after a few years of dating, Dustin proposed on the beach in Maui.

To tie the knot, Sam and Dustin blended their regal style and traditional ceremony with a seriously incredible space (and views) at the Fairmont Banff Springs. With 120 guests traveling to one of Canada’s most coveted locations to participate in their special day. Every one of Mark Derry Photography’s images is pure magic! Take a look.

  • S+D wedding - blondewalk

Bride: Samantha Gillanders (formally MacKinnon)
Location: Banff, SK, Canada
Date: July 16, 2016

What was the most enjoyable part of the planning?
We loved it all! We had an incredible wedding planner, Callandra Caufield of Postcard Weddings, to assist us throughout the process so that it was (almost) completely stress-free. Meeting with vendors and selecting florals, the menu, décor, etc. – it was so incredible to see our vision come together. Our goal was to have a romantic, elegant, and personal day with our closest friends and family. 

One weekend in particular stands out in terms of our planning experience. We travelled to Banff in February 2016 to meet with our planner and several other vendors (think cupcake sampling – yum!). During that trip, we met with our marriage commissioner, Barbara Parker of Threshold Ceremonies, who took the time to get to know us and create a personal ceremony that told our story and truly reflected us as a couple. We spent two hours with her talking about us, our goals in life, both individually and as a couple, our families, our pasts, our dreams, etc.  We laughed, and cried, and developed a deeper sense of meaning as a couple. That day was so special for us because it reinforced why we were getting married – weddings are so much fun to plan and experience, but ultimately, they are about two people making a commitment to each other. It sounds cliché, but we truly feel so lucky to have one another because we really are best friends. Everything about planning a day to celebrate that was enjoyable!

How did you decide on the location?
In 2013, my best friend was married in a beautiful meadow in Banff. As we were off taking photos, Dustin went to explore Banff.  He discovered the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and, that same day, said something to the effect of “we’re going to get married here one day”… I laughed it off at the time. After we got engaged, we knew we wanted a destination wedding. Having played hockey in the U.S., many of Dustin’s friends had not experienced Canada before and, given that my family is spread across North America and many of our guests were travelling to attend our big day anyway, we figured we should give them a real “taste of Canada” and what better place to do so than in the stunning Canadian Rockies? We chose the Banff Springs because it is simply breathtaking – you can’t help but feel a little magical when you walk in!

What was the most important aspect of the wedding – the three things you knew you had to splurge on?
We wanted our wedding to be an incredible experience for our guests, so the venue, food, drinks and all those “experience” related items were important. We wanted our wedding to feel elegant, but personal, and we’d be lying if we didn’t tell you we wanted to “wow” our guests just a little. Ultimately, if we have to choose the top three big ticket items that were totally worth it, they are:

  1. The venue;
  2. The dress; and
  3. The videographer (check out our video by HelloTomorrow Films).

How did you decide on the bridesmaid/groomsmen attire?
We wanted the day to feel romantic and timeless and we had a vision of soft neutral tones for our wedding party. Bridesmaid’s dresses can be tough because you want your nearest and dearest to be comfortable and confident on your wedding day. I chose full-length gowns and provided a colour palette and let them choose their own dresses. We had a shopping weekend at Nordstrom in Calgary and after two bridesmaids had selected their dresses, the rest just sort of fell into place. Two wore Adrianna Papell and two wore Aiden Mattox.

For the groomsmen, we wanted a classic, polished black look. The guys each had custom suits tailor-made by Eph Apparel.

What process did you go through in deciding which music to incorporate?
Ultimately, we avoided anything too emotional (because we wanted to avoid crying throughout the entire affair), but chose songs that felt meaningful to us.

For the ceremony, we chose the following songs:

  • “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Golding
  • “A Thousand Years” covered by the Piano Guys
  • “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
  • “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne

Our first dance was “Mean to Me” by Brett Eldredge, because we had to incorporate some of Dustin’s farm-boy country roots and because the lyrics really resonated with us. 

For the reception, we knew we wanted a DJ because we enjoy, and wanted to incorporate, so many different styles of music.

Looking back at the day, would you change anything?
To be completely honest, there’s nothing we would change. Unless we could somehow make it last longer! Dustin says he wouldn’t have minded having more sliders and poutine at the midnight lunch… okay, so I guess there is one thing we would change.

What is some advice you can give blondewalk readers who are in the midst of planning their wedding?

First of all, Congratulations!

From a practical perspective, we cannot say enough how helpful it was to have a wedding planner. She not only made the planning process a total breeze and ensured our vision for our big day came together flawlessly, but on the wedding day itself, she oversaw and coordinated e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g so that we did not have to lift a finger, nor did any of our guests. 

The last bit of advice is something we are sure you’ve all heard before – the day goes by so quickly! Take a moment to sit back and take it all in and if it’s in your budget, hire a videographer! Dustin was not happy about the added expense at first, but now our wedding video is probably our most special keepsake of the day – we can hear our vows, see our reactions as well as our guests’ and watch our dance in real time – I can’t watch it without either crying or smiling so wide it hurts.

Last, but not least – enjoy the planning process! It can be stressful, but try not to lose sight of the fact that it’s all about celebrating something pretty great – your marriage!

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Bride’s attire – dress: Inbal Dror, shoes: Badgley MischkaGroom’s tux: Hugo Boss | Bridesmaid attire: Adrianna Papell and Aiden Mattox | Groomsmen attire: Eph Apparel | Wedding Planner: Postcard Weddings | Florist: Lyn Chapman of Flower ArtistryPhotographer: Mark Derry Photography | Videographer: HelloTomorrow Films | Wedding day beauty: Mountain Beauties | Marriage Commissioner: Threshold Ceremonies | Venue: Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel | Transportation: Highland Limousine | Wedding cupcakes: Kake by Darci, Canmore, AB