Situated one hour west of Calgary in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Canmore is a small mountain village just five minutes away from the entrance to Banff National Park. While it’s become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent decades, an increase in weddings in Canmore is really starting to put this small town on the map.
From destination weddings to elopements and surprise engagements, there’s a reason Canmore is starting to draw couples from all over the world. The romantic mountain setting, friendly locals, gorgeous food, and stunning photo opportunities are second to none. So you’ll be spoiled for choice when selecting venues, photo locations, and things to do in this beautiful mountain town.
Canmore was given its name in 1884 by Canadian Pacific Railway director Donald A. Smith. The name Canmore comes from the Gaelic word “Ceann Mhór”, a nickname for Malcolm III of Scotland meaning “Big Head.”
It started out as a humble mining town, but the mines closed down in the 1970s. During its subsequent struggle, it operated as a spillover town for the popular tourist town of Banff. However, in the 1980s the announcement came that Calgary would host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. Canmore was to host the Nordic events. This decision threw Canmore a lifeline in the form of tourism, an industry the town continues to grow today.
Today, the charm of Canmore lies in its easy access to Banff National Park, winter sports and recreational activities, and beautiful natural surroundings. While it’s seen as the quieter alternative to the busy hive of Banff, the town attracts a laid-back tourist crowd and destination wedding couples.
For those who enjoy a little hiking, the Grassi Lakes are accessible by a trail that passes around a waterfall to the two beautiful aquamarine lakes bordered by sheer snow-capped peaks. You can also brave Grotto Canyon’s narrow creek bed that leads to a cave just waiting for you to explore!
As the name suggests, Quarry Lake started out as a quarry. However, it was lined with clay and allowed to fill and become a lake. These days, families visit the lake for recreational activities like swimming in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Like many alpine ranges, the mountains surrounding Canmore are equally beautiful in summer or winter.
Visitors can enjoy incredible views of the famous Three Sisters peaks from many popular spots around Canmore. There are also plenty of trails around the mountains for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and horseriding. The Lady MacDonald trail running alongside Cougar Creek is also a popular challenge.
Because it sits beside a national park and protected wildlife corridors, much has been done to restrict development in the area. However, there have been some beautiful and environmentally sympathetic developments of local wedding venues in recent years. Couples who are planning their weddings in Canmore can find everything from luxury resorts to rustic mountain lodge charm when selecting a venue.
Popular venues include:
These venues all offer beautiful mountain views, luxury accommodations, and fabulous outdoor ceremony spots!
If you’re the adventurous type, Canmore is the place for you. What better way to celebrate saying “I do” than saying it at the top of a mountain overlooking the gorgeous landscape of the Bow Valley? Heli weddings, as they’ve become known, also attract couples every year to Canmore and Banff. Take to the skies for your ceremony or even just for your wedding photos and you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.
However, if you’re someone who prefers to keep two feet firmly on the ground, the hikes and lakes in Canmore provide ample opportunity to capture engagement, elopement and wedding photos in the pristine Canadian wilderness.
For folks planning a destination wedding in Canmore, you and your guests are likely to spend a few days in the area. And you couldn’t choose a better spot to have some free time! The list of things to do in Canmore is nearly endless, and there’s something for everyone. A few of the highlights include:
Originally constructed for the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Nordic Centre provides world-class trails for cross-country skiing, mountain biking, trail runners, hikers, and more.
This recreation centre opened in 2013 to replace the old community centre. It offers a swimming pool, climbing wall, premiere gym facilities, a community library, and an art gallery.
This popular craft distillery offers tours and tastings of their house-made spirits – a great way to spend an afternoon!
See some real-life fossils and learn about the millions of years it took to create their bright, beautiful colours. The Ammonite Factory combines history and art to present a unique Canmore experience.
Enjoy exquisite meals at some of Canmore’s finest establishments including the Stirling Grill & Lounge at the Malcolm Hotel, Tank310, the Communitea Cafe, and lots more.
If you want to celebrate your wedding in the snow-capped splendour of the Canadian Rockies, capture unique memories and photographs, and enjoy some warm hospitality, Canmore ticks all these boxes and more.
So check out some of the best wedding vendors Canmore has to offer and get planning!
All photographs by Twenty Twenty Photography.