Weddings are meant to be a personal reflection of the bride and groom.
Kayla Whalen loves to snowboard. Neil Fleming loves to ski.
On Saturday, the couple combined their love of the sport, with their love for each other, and were married at an outdoor wedding, at the top of Laurentian Ski Hill in North Bay.
“It had always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. It was something that I didn’t think would actually happen, but it was a dream and we started looking into it after Neil proposed,” said Whalen.
“I’ve been skiing since I was probably five or six years old. Some of the first dates we went on were skiing. Since then we’ve gone on lots of skiing trips. We’ve been across Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario, out east, and to Vermont, so it’s one of our passions."
The couple is from the small community of Dowling, in Greater Sudbury.
“All the hills around where we live are owned by the city, so due to different liability issues, they weren’t able to host it. So, we started looking in the outlying areas and we found Laurentian. They were more than pleased to do what we wanted, and we started planning from there,” explained Whalen.
The bridal party made an impressive sight, riding the ski lift in formal tuxes and gowns.
The reality of the situation set in for the bride-to-be, when she and her father looked out at the guests gathered below.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking. It looked like the crowd of people was double the amount I invited, but they were all cheering, and they made us laugh, so it was all pretty good," said Whalen.
“Everyone was telling me I was crazy. I kept thinking that I wasn’t, that it was kind of a sane idea. Coming up the chairlift I realized, yeah, I’m pretty crazy for doing this,” she laughed.
Fleming was filled with emotion as he watched his fiancée, and soon-to-be wife, fulfill her dream.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget. It was fantastic. It was like a movie,” explained Fleming.
“Every good emotion you can possibly think of was going through my mind. I was happy, excited. She was just beautiful.”
Luckily, the weather cooperated.
Wearing a traditional white wedding gown, and wrapped in a long cape, the bride didn’t feel the cold until she removed her cape to exchange vows.
“That part was probably not the smartest move. I froze a little bit there, but adrenaline kicked in and I made it through,” she laughed.
“My hands were a little chilly. They were definitely shaking when I tried to sign my name afterwards, but it wasn’t too bad.”
Fleming admits that growing up, this wasn’t quite how he envisioned his wedding day.
“Never. Until I met Kayla I’ve never thought of this, ever. We didn’t meet at a ski hill, but our first date was pretty much at a ski hill. She’s always loved skiing, and the outdoors and she wanted to do this, so we did. We made it happen.”
And he admits, he would not have had it any other way.
“I’m more than happy that we did this. It’s out of the box, and that’s Kayla in a nutshell, always thinking outside the box. It was fantastic. Memories, that’s what it is all about.”
“I would recommend it to anyone giving it some thought,” said Whalen.
“Definitely go for it, if it’s something you want to do. It’s your wedding. It’s your day. Do what you want.”
Just before leaving the hill, Whalen jumped on her snowboard, and Fleming threw on his skis, and both still in their wedding clothes, headed down the hill for the first time as Mr. and Mrs.