Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

wedding crasher

The deer walked casually up the stone steps onto the wide terrace like he owned the place. Looking like a Martha Stewart paint swatch, the pale green water of the mountain river below, flowed past unsuspectingly. The hotel terrace was filled with bridal party, family and wedding planner; all standing and listening, taking cues from the pastor. The wedding day was tomorrow, but tonight was the buck’s dinner party. We had not received the invitation.


The terrace overflowed with flowy, short dresses; pointy, high heels; sparkly, small handbags. The young men, all looking like they’ve just walked out of a Tommy Hilfiger ad, moved into their places, taking direction with a clinking cocktail in one hand while the other rested coolly casual in a pant pocket.

The wedding rehearsal ran smoothly, the bride’s black hair and bright smile matching her short, white, ruched strapless perfectly. Groom to match. The couple listened, the family waited, the wedding planner (yours truly) noted. We were all facing the valley in front of us. The buck munched.

His huge rack of antlers, like a kitschy western lampshade, weighed his head down as he ripped the blooming violets in mouthful chunks; petals dripping from his mouth.  I’m not sure why I all of a sudden turned around, but then I saw him. Shocked, I just stood there, staring at him. About four metres in front of me was a large wild animal….eating the wedding décor!

He munched away as if these rows of reds, purples and pinks were planted there for his personal dining pleasure. I didn’t know what to do. As the others on the terrace began to notice, the pastor became as important as day-old bread. The rehearsal was over. Cameras and cellphones came flying out; mothers swept their children up; restaurant and hotel guests peered over railings and through windows;  the daring walked closer. Imagine George Clooney strolling into your neighbourhood Keg, heading to the salad bar and loading up with veggies; same reaction.


I honestly had to fight the urge to grab the deer (in this case) by the horns and just lead it away, like a horse that has broken into the oat bin. But his head was full of sharp, pointy gouging tools, and we weren’t in a petting zoo. We were in Banff: no better example of mountain glam meeting mountain wild…and both parties owning it.

The next morning the sun rose early, the first wedding guest, eager to get a good seat. It was a balmy 29 degrees as the black, tuxedo-clad groom and groomsmen made their way to the Grill lounge to wait. First problem to be solved: how do you tie a bowtie? Go to Google. Second problem: where are the chiavari chairs coming from Calgary? Get on the phone, raise some hell.

The bride and bridesmaids, mothers and flower girls, with sparkling, bright eyes, were up in the bridal suite getting ringlets curled and updos pinned. Guests mingled and waited. Deer was nowhere in sight. I will admit that I spent a few sleepless moments trying to figure out how I would remove said buck if he again appeared on the same path as the bride and groom would be taking. One guest asked if I had cued it.  

Eventually bows were tied, chairs arrived and were setup (quickly, with half hour to spare); blush and cream-coloured roses cascaded from heavy urns, cellists strummed, and ushers took their places. Vintage linen handkerchiefs, a gift from the bride, were placed at her mother’s, soon-to-be mother-in-law’s, and grandmother’s seats.

The bridal party’s procession down the Persian rug-covered aisle, was completed by a scattering of rose petals enthusiastically tossed by the two flower girls. While the pint-sized ringbearer’s mad dash with the rings caused the best man to give chase, providing great entertainment for the sun-soaked guests.


After a tear-filled ceremony, from male and female participants, family and couple photos were taken with a background of pointed peaks and river-filled valleys. And the wedding planner set to work on the reception hall.


The Mt. Stephan’s hall at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel looks like it once held the Knights of the Round Table. Its medieval feeling, with low chandeliers, heavy oak tables, stone archways and a row of mountain-view windows dropping almost to the floor, gives one the impression of walking back in time. Tall, silver candlesticks stood at attention on each pale-gold, linen-covered, round guest table. With a silver julep cup of planted succulents, chunky rose floral arrangements, and Etsy-printed table numbers, the tables were ready for guests of a queen. The thin, gold chairs in circles of ten completed the perfect table.  


But, the true crown jewel of this room set-up, planned by the bride, was the head table. She had wanted a long row down the centre of the room, of heavy-footed, bare oak to seat the closest and dearest of her bridal party and family. At 28 it was the largest head table that I had seen….and set. Like a true royal affair in the middle ages, the guests rambunctiously laughed and greeted one another; toasted and drank the finest wines, and feasted on venison medallions, filet of beef in glacé of veal, and salmon steak.


The family members who flew in from Ontario, raved about the impressive Rocky Mountains and the generous Alberta hospitality. Heartfelt speeches sent more tissues around and guests amused themselves with selfies in the polaroid corner.


To the tunes of Billy Holiday, Michael Jackson and a smattering of country rock, the revellers partied and danced until one am. Tired smiles were worn by bride, groom, family and friends.  A perfect day.  Let the tear-down and clean-up now begin. Wedding planner on duty. No deer in sight.


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