Wedding with a view: Couple braves weather to get hitched on Gros Morne
Hurdles upon hurdles were no issue for Alex Antle and Tyler Bennett
There was nothing going to stop the marriage of Alex Antle and Tyler Bennett on a foggy day in early September.
Not the four-hour climb to the top of Gros Morne. Not the hurricane-like winds.
Not the piercing hail or the frigid cold that came with it.
Not the downpour of rain.
The wedding date was set. That was it.
"When we started the hike it was a bit foggy, but we said that will clear up by the time we get up there. But it ended up getting really — really worse," said Antle, a Grand Falls-Windsor woman now living in Corner Brook.
The couple began planning their wedding last summer. As nature lovers, they knew their big day would be one of adventure, and they also knew they wanted to incorporate their Mi'kmaq culture.
What they didn't know was that a pandemic was about to sweep the globe, and it would lead to some changes to the wedding plans.
The couple first intended to get married on the trail at Western Brook Pond. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of the touring boat, those plans were shelved.
A few days before the wedding, the plan was to hike to the top of Gros Morne with a small wedding party and their photographer.
They started the hike with plans intact, but knew low cloud cover blanketed the top of the mountain. Their hope was to change into their wedding attire at the summit and change back into their hiking gear for the descent.
However, Mother Nature foiled those plans.
They decided to start the trek back down and made the decision to stop at the first available spot. On the southeast side of the mountain, near Ferry Gulch, the skies started to open up and they quickly changed into their wedding clothes.
"We thought, 'All right, this is our chance. Let's everyone change really fast,'" Antle said. "By the time we got changed, it was a sunny, beautiful day."
Not knowing if the weather would turn again, Antle said, she cut some corners on personal appearance to save time.
"I was like, 'I just walked through a hurricane, I'm not redoing my hair. It is what it is at this point.'"
Honouring her heritage
While hairstyle may have been flexible, maintaining the aspects of the ceremony dedicated to their Mi'kmaq culture was non-negotiable.
The formal wedding vows were preceded by a smudging ceremony, which involves the wafting of smoke over someone for purification.
"That was the first thing we did because smudging kind of brings you into something with a clear mind and an open heart," said Antle.
Her attire was also inspired by culture. Antle's multicoloured dress, made by Mi'kmaq textile artist Jennifer Brake Strickland, was inspired by ribbon skirts worn by Indigenous women. Antle, herself an artist, made beaded earrings out of moose antlers, and she wore a moosehide belt.
The ceremony also had some unexpected visitors, as other hikers were on the hill. Antle said some passed through, while others stayed to watch. None seemed frustrated their trail was being blocked by a wedding, she said.
Following the ceremony, the wedding party changed back into their cold, wet hiking clothes and finished the descent.
"No matter what happened, we were like, 'OK, we're still doing it.' Nothing was going to stop us. Even if we ended up having to get married in the parking lot, we would have done it," Antle said. "No matter what went wrong, it was going to happen that day."
While Antle says the day far exceeded their expectations, the honeymoon they had planned will have to wait. She said they were hoping to book a three-week backpacking trip to Europe. However, that has to be shelved until conditions allow.