National parks in Cape Breton touted as wedding venues by Parks Canada
Fortress of Louisbourg, Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, Cape Breton Highlands among options
Looking for a little Canadiana for your special day?
You might consider an 18th century fortification as a backdrop or the breathtaking beauty of the Cape Breton Highlands — as Parks Canada starts to promote its historic sites and natural parks as wedding venues.
Lester Marchand, the visitor experience manager for Parks Canada in Cape Breton — and informal part-time wedding planner — says using the sites for weddings generates revenue and helps fulfil the agency's mandate.
"The more awareness that we have, the more able we are to create more programs and different ways for people to connect," he said.
Marchand said the idea of using national parks as wedding venues came from Canadians. He says Parks Canada is doing its best to accommodate.
"We are providing a whole variety of opportunities for Canadians to connect with their special places," he said.
A fortress wedding
Alison Giovannetti and Darren Gallop were married at the Fortress of Louisbourg on June 28, 2014. Giovannetti wanted an outdoor wedding, so their nuptials were held in the garden behind the engineer's house.
"There were lots of green chives and we had a perfect blue sky," Giovanetti recalled. "It was the best day."
The bride and groom chose Louisbourg because Gallop had fond memories of working there as an animator and the couple had been there often when they were dating. They thought those good memories made it the perfect place for their wedding.
It's that kind of nostalgia that Parks Canada hopes to capitalize on.
"We are not a business in that sense," said Marchand. "The bottom line certainly helps us when we are able to get that awareness because we don't have those kinds of dollars to promote or develop product."
Happy couples have several options in Cape Breton including the fortress, the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
It could cost thousands of dollars for authentic 18th century fireworks and a fife and drum parade, or as little as the price of admission.