Shonzilla: I’ve seen photos of the inside and outside of Ahwahnee Lodge (because it was also on our list of elopement locatins!) and I’m going to assume it’s more spectacular than Emerald Lake Lodge. Remember ELL is was build in 1903 or around that time, so it retains that old feeling to it and it’s on the smaller side (no rooms to rent inside). My husband has been at the Ahwahnee Lodge and it is much more impressive of a building. The location is totally differnet though – glacial lake versus towering granite cliffs.
We have not however been in Banff Hotel or Rim Rock all in Banff, AB (two other fancy ideas for Banff the town). Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are more stunning to look at in terms of mountains and granduer. Lake Louise is huge with the hanging glaciers in the background. They will just have more tourists milling around. Chateau Lake Louise is supposed to be very nice inside as well. Overall, those lodging options were too “big” for our tastes.
Here is an elopement for Yosemite – not sure if you’ve seen this one. [http://greenweddingshoes.com/an-elopement-at-yosemite-national-park-kristin-cody/] The environment is different. Yosemite will be drier climate with ponderosa pines and such.
As far as what to do for fun afterwards? Or what to do before the wedding? What are you looking for? Nightlife? Night on the town? We did all our hiking/sightseeing the morning/day of the wedding, then the getting ready/wedding/photos/dinner took up from 3:00pm-10:00pm so a nice chunk of time.
In the end these places you are thinking of are ALL gorgeous in their own way. You really cannot go wrong with any of them. I was so focused on what is the coolest location with the best views and I was really having a hard time narrowing it down. I had it narrowed down to 3 countries and 5 different US states! What if one place was more beautiful than the other??? It was so hard to choose!
Then my husband reminded me that 90% of it is just the awesomeness of us getting married. The other 10% are in the details (aka location). That help keep things in perspective and I let go of finding the perfect place. Just one that had the most of what we wanted.
See which places have the most amenities that you are wanting and go from there. Try to find as many photos online as you can to narrow it down. One of those links I posted featured several real weddings for those Canadian areas.
Here is a summary on what our 11 day road trip cost us if you want to get a ball park: [http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/our-dw-elopement-forecasted-vs-actual/#axzz32vk02i5t] (“note 3 nights at fancy lodge” – there aren’t rental rooms in ELL, we stayed at the condo like cabins around it).
We did 11 days/10 nights for $3700 total, so taking our daily average of $370/day for eating/sleeping/gas, 4 weeks would have costed us $8880 and 6 weeks at $13320 going by our rate.
However, we are fine with camping here and there, we did simple lunches on the trail (too far from any restaurant), and we did not have to buy any plane tickets or rent a car. That could certainly get you up to $20k.
Food/gas was slightly more expensive in Canada and certainly in Banff NP. However, it did not seem that noticeable to me in the end for 11 days. The wedding only portion was $3300 for us (see the budget post). My $400 dress probably kept it low on average.
ThisTimeRound another road tripping bride on here did several weeks in the US. Maybe she can give you her average cost/day.