The Wedding Day Canoe Trip

wedding couple in canoe

A canoe trip on your wedding day? Why not! Bailey and Eric saw no reason why paddling a canoe to their wedding wasn’t the perfect mode of transportation.

We asked Bailey to let us in on the story behind their decision and how it helped make their big day so memorable:

BENDING BRANCHES: Why did you choose a canoe trip for your wedding day?

BAILEY: Eric and I met when we were both sea kayak guides in northern Minnesota. We spent the summer paddling, and fell in love with both each other and the wilderness that surrounded us. The white pines, countless lakes, and stillness of northern Minnesota feel like home to both of us, and we wanted our wedding ceremony to be authentically “us."

We also had been searching for a way to get our family and friends to join us in our favorite place, and what better excuse than a wedding?

Eric and I have spent so much time paddling together that the idea of canoeing to our wedding felt natural, and we both wanted to add a bit of adventure to the day! We also both loved the idea of taking photos in a canoe, but if we were going to paddle, we wanted to have a destination, not just paddle for photos!

wedding couple with canoe

We put Bending Branches canoe paddles on our wedding registry in preparation for the event along with a fund for a canoe of our own! We knew of an island on Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail that had a large clearing surrounded by pines and blueberry bushes, so we selected this as our goal.

Poplar Lake also allows motorboats, so our parents, grandparents, dog and our wedding arch were able to take a pontoon boat out to the ceremony site. We knew that weather would ultimately decide if we would be able to paddle or not, but we were willing to take the risk.

The thought of paddling to our wedding on a pristine lake, engulfed in the Boreal forest, was a dream we were determined to make a realty.

We knew paddling would take some time and require quite a bit of flexibility, so we decided to have our ceremony on Saturday on the island and the reception the following day, on Sunday.

Because of this, we were able to have our entire wedding party stay at the Hungry Hippie Hostel in Grand Marais for the weekend. After we paddled, we returned to the hostel for an intimate dinner in a tent overlooking Lake Superior. It was a day full of lakes, both big and small, and we couldn't have asked for anything more.

canoe trip wedding

BB: Was it just the two of you, or did your wedding party join you on the water?

BAILEY: We had our wedding party join us! We had warned them in advance that the method of transportation to the ceremony would be a bit, um, untraditional, and everyone was excited and perhaps a bit nervous.

About half of our wedding party were not experienced paddlers, but we knew we had enough people to steer our troupe of six canoes.

It ended up being a very windy day with gusts over 20mph, so we were thankful for the effort our bridesmaids and groomsmen put into their paddle strokes!

Between the wedding party, our parents, the photographer and our officiant, the total on the island was 26 people, plus our dog, Lana.

BB: Would you recommend this adventure to other couples?

BAILEY: We 100% would recommend paddling, hiking or rappelling to your wedding! Canoeing to our ceremony made the entire day much more memorable for us and our wedding party, and it allowed us to share an activity and place that we love with the people we love the most.

bride with groomsmen

BB: What are your best tips for others who want to canoe to their wedding venue, too?

BAILEY: You must be willing to go with the flow! The weather forecast was predicating wind and rain for the entire week leading up to our ceremony, so we were mentally ready to have to scratch the paddling part of our day. A back-up location that doesn't involve risking your life on dangerous water is a must.

We both had to let go of any hope of having a schedule for the day, too, as it was impossible to predict how long it would take our entire wedding party to paddle. We made sure our vendors were aware of the possible complications with the day, and we were very lucky they were all flexible. Our photographer, Laura Muus, had the best attitude and was willing to stay late if necessary!

As long as you are willing to change plans the day of, have VERY windswept hair, and have parents and a wedding party willing to adventure with you, it is quite doable.

I would recommend not spending a lot of money on your hair and makeup, as I looked quite different by the time I arrived on the island compared to when I left, thanks to the wind and waves! 

BB: Anything else you'd like to share with our readers!

BAILEY: We would love to thank the people and businesses that made our day possible, particularly Laura Muus (@laura.muus), Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters, Terra Bella Floral, Rebel Girls Catering and the Hungry Hippie Hostel.

And of course, Bending Branches, for creating the paddles that powered our wedding day canoe trip!

wedding couple canoeing

(All photos courtesy of Laura Muus, @laura.muus)

What paddle questions can we help you with? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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