Just Say “I Do” to Northeastern Ontario

By Erin DowneyNovember 1, 2016

These days, destination weddings are all the rage. The Bahamas, Dominican and Jamaica all spring to mind. I recently went to one… wait for it… at Air Ivanhoe‘s fly-in fishing lodge near Foleyet in Northeastern Ontario.

Tying the Knot at a Fly-In Fishing Lodge

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Not knowing what to expect, my husband and I arrived at the Ivanhoe River Inn and were given the keys to our unit. The first thing I noticed was the doors were painted as if bear paws had walked across it. That was the last rustic thing I saw.

The agenda for the evening was an informal pre-wedding gathering for the 70 or so guests, followed by a fish fry, music and general revelry. I had pictures in my mind of a smoky fire and a kettle of oil but NO! The pre-flight lounge area was beautifully decorated with tables of appetizers, desserts, and heated servers awaiting the main attraction. The bar was fully stocked and guests milled about the lounge and the outdoor patio conversing and enjoying the early autumn beauty.

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When it came time to eat, the restaurant staff outdid themselves. Obviously local fish was the name of the game, and it was served fried up in various batters and seasonings along with REAL FRENCH FRIES, and all the other trimmings. But who cared about those…. the fish and chips was the real deal, and with so many guests experiencing northern cuisine for the first time it was amazing.

The day of the wedding dawned cool, wet and windy. However, being that a fly in fishing resort is weather dependent, we had up to date weather reports. It would get nice later in the day. The wedding was set for 4 pm, but since a small front was moving through we encountered a rain delay till the sun came out. No problem – there were food, appetizers, of course, cocktails to enjoy.

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As 4:30 pm approached, we all moved to the lakefront lawn where Muskoka chairs we arranged before the decorated gazebo area. A carpet was laid on the dock and at the appointed time Air Ivanhoe’s two DeHaviland Beavers did a fly over and landed on the lake, where each turned toward the dock in the opposite direction forming a heart.

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Once the planes were at the dock, the groom and his entourage disembarked and proceeded along the blue carpet to the official, followed by the bride and her mother who exited the second plane. The sky was clear and the wind non-existent as they exchanged their vows. After the ceremony we traipsed down the dock for a photo op with all of us nestled between the two planes.

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You would think a sit down dinner for a wedding party would be tight, but the 70 or so were comfortably seated in the dining room with Air Ivanhoe’s resident Moose lit up for the festivities. In keeping with the Northern theme, the centrepieces were of fragrant cedar boughs around miniature rose bushes, alternated with decorative candle jars, each placed on sawed rounds of birch tree.

A buffet dinner of filet mignon and chicken was served with plenty of side dishes, setting the tone for the evening. At dark, a ten-minute fireworks display was set off from an island a short distance away. Later as folks sat watching the sky, many were astounded by the brightness and sheer density of stars…not to mention the Milky Way which many city dwellers had never before seen.

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All in all it was a unique Northern experience that I, even as a native northerner, had never enjoyed. The icing on the cake, as it were, was a huge tree trunk sliced lengthwise with a smaller log plaque asking if we could ‘please sign our guest log.’

Crane’s Lochhaven Wilderness Resort

For those interested in a northern destination wedding, Air Ivanhoe is just one of several lodges that can accommodate small to medium sized events.

Crane’s Lochaven Wilderness Resort on the French River was host to a themed ‘Red and Blue Rustic Wedding’. The bride and groom decided to seal their vows at the resort where they had met when they were children. Being from Canada and the United States, the Red, Blue and antique white theme was a given, and the ‘rustic’ reflected the beautiful, remote Northern wilderness.

If you think a drive in lodge is an intriguing venue, try a boat-in! You will have a ‘captive’ audience for your special day, and the main lodge with its open-hearth fireplace and spacious dining area will be a warm and welcoming place to start any outdoor enthusiast’s life together.

Killarney Mountain Lodge

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Amid the rolling rocks and windswept pines, Killarney Mountain Lodge has also been known to host weddings with charm and grace, in conjunction with services more often seen in Southern Ontario. Your choice of accommodations runs between cabins and suites, pine lodge rooms and chalets. Nestled along the shores of Georgian Bay the lodge has a beautiful dining room, pool, sauna, tennis court, Carousel Lounge, cruise excursions and a full service marina. Your imagination can soar with so many options.

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Whether you choose a northern island, a remote inn or a bit of the south in the north, perhaps a new trend will be started — destination weddings, Northern Ontario style!

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