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Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, Diane Pearson, travel expert on Alaska.

Diane is a certified wedding planner from Juneau, Alaska and is the owner of Pearson's Pond Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa.

This inn is the ranked number four in the world as the most romantic destination according to MSN.COM. It is also a Top 100 Best Wedding Destination in the USA,. and has been featured in various media outlets as the Fine Living Network and Voice of America.

In addition, Diane performs about 50 weddings per year in Juneau, Alaska and is very well-experienced in arranging wedding packages.

Good day Diane and thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Norm:

Diane, could you tell our audience how long you have been a wedding planner and what made you want to become one?

Diane:

I have been planning and performing intimate weddings since about 1995. I am certified by ACWC (Association of Certified Wedding Consultants), a national educational group. I also perform the wedding ceremony for nearly all weddings I plan, as well as a few weddings that I don't plan, since I am appointed annually by the courts to legally solemnize marriages. This came about by having several of our inn guests that had enjoyed romantic retreats at our Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa wanting to marry at our facility and for me to perform the wedding for them.

I am passionate about creating a carefree wedding experience for the bridal couple and family. Through my customizable wedding packages, knowledge and compassion, I help provide a unique and intimate wedding experience. With the busy schedules of bridal couples nowadays any wedding, especially traditional ones with many guests, can be stressful. I delight in simplifying this process and helping the couple truly enjoy their special day as a moment in time along their relationship journey.

Norm:

Where is Juneau, Alaska and why would couples choose this city as a romantic destination?

Diane:

Juneau is Alaska's capital city and is situated along Alaska's Inside Passage where the mountains meet the sea. It is often referred to as the little San Francisco of the North, as it has spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife, and diverse activities, attractions, outdoor adventures and culture. Juneau is named #11 in the U.S. Best Places to Live in 2005, primarily because of its easy access to recreation, scenery, clean air, short drive times, low crime, high education levels and good economy according to the report. Life is care-free here and moves at a relaxed pace, allowing time and space for couples to bond with each other.

Destination Weddings and Weddingmoons in Juneau are a perfect way for couples to create the wedding and honeymoon experience they want and to easily control their budget and their guest list. Juneau is home to Mendenhall Glacier, Tongass National Forest, and #4 World's Most Romantic Destination: Pearson's Pond Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa. These combine to provide unlimited wedding venues and honeymoon activities via land, air and water. Nearby communities and attractions include Glacier Bay, Admiralty National Monument, Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway, Sitka and more. Because Alaska is so immense, we simplify your planning by doing it for you and providing sample packages for exploring the region. We also book all your activities as well as your wedding details.

Norm:

What is a glacier wedding? Why is it romantic?

Diane:

Getting married on the Glacier is, by far, my favorite wedding venue. The natural cathedral created by the mountains flanking the glacier is spectacular. The venue is very private, unique and exciting. Though adventurous, folks from 20 to 75 have enjoyed their weddings atop the glacier.

Imagine!


  • The wedding planner arranges a care-free wedding in Juneau via phone while you are living and working in Colorado. You help select and customize the wedding details from suggested venues and sample vows, floral bouquet, cake, music, photography, etc. Glacier weddings are typically intimate with bride and groom where we provide the witnesses though we can arrange for up to 30 guests to participate in the wedding and reception. You can plan to dress as you like whether a strapless gown and tux, hiking gear or anything in between.

  • On the wedding day, the limo picks you up in your wedding attire, stops by the government office for you to pick up your marriage license, then brings you to the heliport to join with the wedding planner, marriage officiant, photographer and any witnesses.


  • The helicopter tour crew provides you with outer gear, glacier boots and crampons to make walking on the ice more comfortable.

  • We take a spectacular flightseeing tour via 4 to 6 passenger helicopter of the ice fields and the many glaciers flowing from it, then land on a safe and fairly level area on the glacier, often by a glacial lake or waterfall. During pre-wedding photographs, the mini-reception is typically set up.

  • You walk down the aisle and share vows and rings during the ceremony with joyous emotion. Congratulations and photography abound.

  • Nearby, the elegant mini-reception table is set and the reception includes a champagne toast, cake cutting ceremony, and even a first dance to romantic CD music (yes, in boots with crampons the first dance can resemble the monster mash, and is still fun). Large receptions are typically held back on land.


  • You can choose an optional guided walk, hiking trek or dog mushing on the glacier after the wedding.

  • Afterwards, the helicopter whisks you back to the heliport and the limo returns you to the in cruise after an optional land tour of Juneau.


  • It is fun to get photos from in front of the glacier to get the perspective of where you were atop the glacier during the ceremony.

This is a truly unique adventure, with high value, reasonable cost, and can be enjoyed by all ages and fitness levels.

Norm:

If you had to choose 6 of the most romantic venues in Juneau, which ones would you choose and why?

Diane


* As previously mentioned, Glacier Wedding: A wedding atop the glacier is the most scenic and unique. It exceeds all expectations and provides memories to last a lifetime.


* Pearson's Pond Luxury Inn and Adventure Spa You have easy access to the stunning Waterfall Gazebo above the waterfall that has spectacular views of the gardens, the lake and Mt. McGinnis. It is reached via a small arched bridge over a creek beyond the garden arbor and through the forest path to the gazebo smothered in flowers. (Completed fall 2005)

You also have access to the rustic Wedding Arch on the Waterfront Dock that is a nice venue on a sunny day with wild ducks playing in the sparkling fountain and wild lily pads. The lush baskets provide a colorful setting on the water.

*Skaters Cabin on the west side of Mendenhall Lake in front of the Mendenhall Glacier is a scenic and rustic wedding venue. This is especially pretty in fall when the deciduous trees are changing color. It is also has great glacier views which is important for guests wanting a glacier-type wedding without a flight.

*An Island Wedding is fun. We take a boat to a remote island and have an elegant and informal wedding on land, along with a whale watch or sightseeing cruise to a glacier or fjord, or on a kayaking trip.

*Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure is a beautiful location. This is one of the more popular tours in Juneau. During the day while tours of the garden and forest are being conducted, we can slip off to a quiet corner for the ceremony and mini-reception. Afterwards, you can take a guided tour via golf cart through the forest to the top of the mountain. The unique upside-down trees tamped in the forest roots reaching to the sky and filled to the brim overflowing with colorful flowers, beautiful waterfalls and streams and nature abound. In the evening, you can rent the entire facility for a more private venue.

*Mt. Roberts Tramway is also a scenic venue. We take an aerial tram near the top of Mt. Roberts from downtown Juneau and find a quiet corner, along the trail, or rent the outdoor deck for an intimate ceremony. A portion of the restaurant can be rented for the reception. While this is fairly public place, the views along Alaska's Inside Passage are truly beautiful.

Norm:

When is the best time to travel to Juneau for a wedding celebration and why? How easy or difficult is it to travel to Juneau?

Diane:

Best time is mid May through early September because the weather is best for an outdoor wedding with an average temperature of 68 degrees. Additionally, the gardens are beautiful at that time and there are many dozens of activities to enjoy while you are visiting, like whale watching, bear viewing, fishing, biking, hiking, glacier cruises, trekking on the glacier, dog mushing on the glacier, flightseeing, kayaking, rafting as well as attractions like museums, aquarium, shopping, festivals and much more. Most folks average stay is 10 days, though there is plenty to do for several weeks. Then again, you want to save some for the anniversary trip later.

Winter weddings are also beautiful, especially when the grounds are covered with fresh snow. Average winter temperatures are about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter provides a quiet time to cuddle next to the fireplace in your canopy bed or soak in your Jacuzzi or in the hot tub after an intimate wedding.

Juneau is a 1 to 2 hour jet flight from Seattle, Washington, Anchorage, Alaska or Whitehorse, Yukon. Alaska Airlines is the most popular method. You can also take a cruise ship (small or large) which includes Juneau as a destination or port of call.

Norm:

What should couples keep in mind when they are celebrating a marriage in Juneau?

Diane:

Mother nature is the Queen. Keep it simple, follow nature's lead and go with the flow. The Last Frontier is the last place to seek the most exotic flowers, 7-star silver and similar ultra-fancy items. The feel here is relaxed, close to nature and focused on the beauty of nature and celebrating your relationship in a majestic setting Also, if you will be getting married on the glacier, it is best to select a dress without a large hoop (otherwise you can.t see out the window)

Norm

What are the marriage regulations for a couple contemplating exchanging vows in Alaska?

Diane:

A simple notarized application received by the state 3 days in advance, $40 and proper ID is all that is required. Then pick it up during any State workday (excludes weekends though you can usually arrange alternative arrangements with them if needed.) You can use the link from our site or the State of Alaska Vital Statistics site, print out the simple application form and mail it in a few weeks ahead of time if you are from out of town. No blood test or copies of prior marriages are required.

Norm:

Have you had any unusual experiences or requests as a wedding planner?

Diane:

Many, though I don't want to talk out of school.

Examples include: the request for the boat captain and photographer to dress as Elvis: bringing a grand piano to the top of the glacier: the bride planning to dog mush with her bridal dress train flowing in the breeze behind the dog sled: the wedding celebration that included everything except the legal document signing: where we hiked in hiking gear about 45 minutes atop the glacier to a remote lake and the bride hid behind a hill, changed into wedding gear and surprised the weeping husband: a request to marry the 74 and 69 year old couple who had been dating 27 years atop the glacier: and where a couple were from Scotland and he was wearing a kilt, and a bit tipsy before the wedding and, well, that is enough said&

The most heartening experience is that of the wedding and honeymoon guests who express their gratitude so eloquently through follow up cards, emails, calls and returning stays, thanking us profusely for being warmhearted, taking special care, making the experience beautiful and memorable and especially for making a positive difference in their lives. It is quite touching. I am touched often by the kind generosity and thoughtfulness of our wonderful guests and feel truly blessed to be a part of their wedding and lives.

Norm

Is there anything else you wish to add?

Diane

Remember, this is a day of celebration along the long journey of your loving relationship. Stay focused on the love you share, leave the rest to me.

To read more about Diane CLICK HERE

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