I’ve had the pleasure to meet with and work with Laura Coulson, Jasper National Park’s most delightful and personable marriage commissioner! When it came time to add an officiant/marriage commissioner to the interview series, I knew I had to ask Laura! This interview is packed with informative tips for your own elopement or intimate wedding ceremony.
What are your best tips for a couple planning an elopement in the truest sense? Meaning they don’t have friends or family present.
Elopement ceremonies are so intimate and romantic and your chance to make it truly about you! Sometimes, it can be difficult to be vulnerable in front of a large crowd of guests, but during an elopement, it’s just you two. Take this moment to share you feelings and speak from the heart. Be goofy, be emotional, just be your authentic self!
What’s the advantage of hiring a commissioner vs asking a friend to marry you?
Marriage commissioners set the tone for your ceremony. They are there as a peaceful, calming presence on what can be a nerve-wracking day. We are professionals and have seen it all! We are able to guide your ceremony from start to finish and can anticipate any issues that may arise. We are able to take it all in stride. There are usually many moving parts to a ceremony and a commissioner knows where they fit and how to work with the other parts like vendors, venues. family members and the unexpected.
While having a friend or family member preside over your ceremony can be very special and meaningful, I recommend still working with a commissioner to perform the legal parts of the ceremony and offer guidance to the friend who may not have done this before. Speaking of legal, marriage is a legal process and there are aspects of the ceremony which must be completed correctly. Keep your peace of mind and let the professionals do what they do best!
What’s your process like? How do you work with your couples?
I work with each couple to make sure they are having the ceremony of the dreams! Since every couple is different, I like to offer options that will fit their vision. Some couples are happy to have a no-fuss ceremony, while others want to be more involved and personalize the script. I have a menu of readings and poetry that I present to each couple. This will get them thinking about the flow and tone of the ceremony. After that, we can incorporate more personal touches or favoured readings. Is “The Simpsons” your favourite show? Is the Princess Bride” one of your favourite movies? If your wish is the incorporate something like that, we will make it happen! After a couple has made their choices, I put it all into a final script. The couple will have the chance to see their script if they like, or they can keep it a surprise.
What is one thing you want every couple to know about choosing their wedding commissioner?
Find someone that fits your vibe and you feel comfortable with. No matter big or small , a wedding day is full of nerves and excitement. Your commissioner should be someone who you can relax with and laugh with.
You’re located in Jasper National Park. Do you have a favourite ceremony spot in the park? If so, where?
Jasper National Park is an amazing place with an endless amount of locations. Turquoise lakes, snow-covered mountain peaks, mossy green forests, and grand river views are the most stunning backdrops for your ceremony. For larger ceremonies, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers incredible views of Lac Beauvert and Whistlers Mountain. Just east of the townsite, you’ll also find the Athabasca Day Use area which sits on the Athabasca River and is great for privacy. For elopement locations, the choice is yours! We can go anywhere. My favourite spots are Edna’s Knoll near Jasper Lake, and Cottonwood Slough in the winter. Incredible mountain views! If you don’t mind a little effort, there are so many secret and private spots just a short hike or paddle away!
What was the most unique wedding ceremony you’ve ever presided over?
One of the most unique ceremonies was a helicopter elopement. We flew to a remote plateau on a lush green meadow overlooking a turquoise lake. The ceremony was just the couple with the pilot and photographer as the witnesses. It was very intimate and romantic and unlike any location that I’ve been to before!
One ceremony I am really looking forward to this year is a hindu-civil ceremony. I will work with a pandit to blend traditional Hinduism elements and a civil ceremony!
What inspires you everyday?
My couples! To see the love between two people on one of the most important days of their lives is so inspiring. It’s almost like a high and what keeps me coming back. There’s no greater joy and honor than to be standing with two people so in love. I also must say, that Jasper National Park inspires me every day. Each new view is a potential new ceremony location. Every wind song, bird song, or babbling creek is the soundtrack to the next elopement.
Anything else readers should know about you? Any secret talents?
I work full time for Parks Canada, so if there is something going on in the park that could potentially affect your special day, I’ll be sure to know about it! But, that also means that I have limited availability for ceremonies. I typically book a maximum of 6 months out, but it does leave room for last-minute elopements! I’m not sure if I have any secret talents, but being a marriage commissioner certainly feels like my calling!
See the full feature:
Vendors: Photographer: Janelle Dudzic Photography // Venue & Planning: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge // Officiant: Laura Coulson of Behitched // Stationery: Loft Designs Canada // Cake & Florals: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge // Hair: Sheena Rae Beauty // Makeup: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge // Bridal Gown: Urban Bride Delivered // Groom Attire: Milano for Men // Fur Shawl: Sissily Designs // Golden Hair Comb: Cinder & Sage
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Hi, my name is Janelle, I’m a photographer from Edmonton Alberta. I’m all about three things: celebration, connection and client education. My style is relaxed and romantic. I love intimate weddings, the kind where I get to know your family and friends. I thrive when meeting new people. My favourite moment of every wedding is right after the ceremony. This is when your friends and family smother or possibly crush you with either love or cheerful embrace. Bring on the epic dance parties.
I value connection and celebration of moments over a big production.