Lake Louise. Image by Mr Houndstooth

Lake Louise. Image by Mr Houndstooth

Oh Canada, you have my heart. If you’re looking for unique yet beautiful honeymoon destination, you can’t go past the Great White North. This country features the place which has put me the closest I’ve ever come to describing something out loud as ‘magical’. You know, beyond a Disney movie. You may not have heard of the Canadian province of Alberta.

And if you aren’t into the ski scene, you may not have even heard of Banff, which is located in Alberta. But regardless of your recreational proclivities, you need to know about Lake Louise – which lies in Banff National Park. Nestled amongst soaring snow-capped mountain peaks, Lake Louise is one of those emerald coloured lakes you see on your Insta feed which forces you to cock your head to one side and ask: is that even real? It’s real, my friends, and here are a few things you need to consider when planning your honeymoon there.

Where to stay

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever stayed. Located in Alberta’s Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it was originally built as a base for hikers and skiers more than 100 years ago. From the Chateau, you can go on guided mountain tours, world-class skiing in the winter, scenic hiking – not to mention canoeing on the lake. You’re going to want to splash out for the lake view rooms but fair warning, this might be one of the most amazing places I’ve ever stayed, but it’s also one of the most expensive!

Nevertheless, waking up to the view of the emerald-coloured lake was truly unforgettable. Pro-tip: room service poutine for dinner is also not a bad way to take in the view.

We stayed during the Canadian autumn (Mr and Mrs Houndstooth are not skiers), so we were able to enjoy the lake and the hiking with relative comfort (jackets were still required). However, if you visit in the winter, the lake will be frozen and the mountains will be a rich white – it’s arguably more beautiful.



How to be romantic

The crazy thing about Banff National Park is that Lake Louise cannot lay claim to being the most beautiful lake in the area, at least not without a strong debate. Meet Moraine Lake. Yes, the turquoise waters are back and the mountains surrounding are also snow-capped (Valley of the Ten Peaks).

There’s a few hikes and trails, but we loved climbing to the top of the rugged rocks of the natural dam to take in the full view of the lake – this view is known as the “Twenty Dollar View”, as it’s the scene featured on the back of the old Canadian twenty dollar note.

Bring a backpack with some snacks and a cheeky whisky or two and you’re set for the afternoon. As a bonus, the two of you can do a spot of people watching as everyone clamours for the ultimate selfie. If you’re staying at the Chateau mentioned above, it’s a short ride on the courtesy bus. Apparently, the amazing colours peak in late June but I get the feeling it’s amazing all year round.


Moraine Lake. Image by Mr Houndstooth

Lake Moraine. Image by Mr Houndstooth.

What to eat

Travelling to relatively remote or rural destinations can be a bit of a double-edged sword. You might discover unmatched natural beauty but you also might be limited in your dining options. Fortunately, this is not the case at the Chateau. There are a few other hotels and restaurants in the vicinity but we couldn’t go past the Walliser Stube, located inside the Chateau.

With options for classic Swiss, German and Alpine dishes, including an authentic Swiss Fondue, you can’t go wrong. The décor is vintage and comforting, and the vibe is relaxed luxury. The restaurant is open to the public but priority is given to guests. My tip: Go for the Classic Vienna Pork Schnitzel pork shoulder with duck fat coined potatoes. For $49 Canadian, you won’t be disappointed.



Where to drink

Usually, I fill the ‘where to drink’ section with an array of cocktail or whisky selections (stick with what you know, right?) but at Lake Louise, there’s a different type of beverage you need to get your hands on: tea. The Solake Agnes teahouse was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901 as a refuge for hikers. Located high up in the mountains, the family-run tea house has no electricity or running water, receiving helicopter shipments a few times a year, and relying on other supplies to be hiked up the mountain.

We hiked for a few hours (including plenty of breaks) and spent the afternoon kicking back on the top of the mountain overlooking Lake Louise with a cup of tea in hand – a memory I’ll never forget. Wear comfy shoes though, it’s literally a bit of a hike.

Lake Louise in the winter. Photo: Whitney Arnott.

Lake Louise in the winter. Image by Whitney Arnott.

Ms Zebra: As a bit of a skier myself, this sounds incredibly magical – Summer or Winter! The colour looks like nothing else you’d see. A definite destination to put on the list!

About the author Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Aside from the concierge, it’s the divine scent of lemongrass-brewed tea and Thai Jasmine fashioned into Phuang malai (floral garlands) for your wrists that greets you upon entrance to Trisara. With such an enticing fragrance – as well as acres upon acres of magically-manicured jungle landscape – it is little wonder the resort’s name translates to ‘The Garden of the Third Heaven’.

Based in the north-west of Phuket in Thailand and overlooking the Andaman Sea, Trisara feels like a hidden sanctuary away from the rest of the world. As a fully-fledged honeymoon destination, you never even have to venture outside the gates if you so wish. And we certainly do so wish!

The rooms can’t help but be romantic. With unobscured ocean views, even Trisara’s standard villas and suites boast at least one pool, outdoor rainfall showers and complete greenery-shrouded privacy; which is fiercely guarded by the angel statue at your gate denoting occupants are in utter ‘do not disturb’ mode.

It’s tempting to languish in your own pool and watch the squirrels commute up and down the trees, listen out for the conversing tree frogs and play spot-the-gecko all day. Yet there are two types of honeymooners that Trisara is particularly adept at satisfying: the foodies and the fitness fans! Here’s how we’d find the balance on honeymoon at Trisara (marriage is all about compromise after all…)!

Take the Plunge

Food: Your introduction to Thai cuisine starts at the Seafood restaurant. Don’t be fooled by the simple name, the local ‘mama’ style of cooking served here sees heirloom recipes like addictive elevated to new heights by the chefs. Curry pastes are all made in-house. Luxurious produce such as just-hauled-in-from-the-sea lobster, black crab, Phuket oysters and plump prawns are anointed with exotic tamarind, Dhala flower and galangal.

Fitness: Never mind the old wives tales of waiting at least an hour after eating. Work it all off with a post-feast dip. Trisara is not one to rest on its laurels. Even the most basic rooms have their own private pool, while some of the grander residences have multiple(!) full sized versions. There’s the option of lazing by the resort’s pristine communal saltwater pool for a change of scenery. And of course there’s also much paddling in the azure Andaman Sea to be done. The beachfront here is virtually inaccessible to the public unless they are in possession of a yacht or a jet ski.

A Little Luxury

Food: Rivalling any degustation restaurant in Sydney or Melbourne, PRU (which stands for ‘plant, raise, understand’) brings world class farm-to-table dining to Phuket. The resort is blessed with its very own sustainable, organic farm dubbed ‘Pru Jampa’, from which it derives herbs, flowers and earthy veggies. The rest of chef Jimmy Ophorst’s delicate menu comes from foraging for goodies like seaweed, sea grapes and mushrooms, and from partnerships with local farmers and fisher people. It’s the only Michelin starred eatery in Phuket!

Fitness: For a different kind of luxury, Trisara’s yogi Khun Miw offers private, custom yoga sessions for one or two people. Naturally your work out “studio” here is nothing so common as a gym. Instead you’ll bend and stretch within the shade of lush vegetation in an open air pavilion overlooking the waves. The only hard part is deciding whether to book an Ashtanga session before dinner to work up an appetite or a Vinyasa the next day to kick-start the metabolism.

An Exploration

Food: Trisara doesn’t offer basic food tours.  Oh no. They prefer multi-day “culinary foraging experiences” involving private yachts, intimate cooking classes out at sea, tasting menus and wine matching. Honeymooners will get the chance to visit their farm and meet and greet with local ‘mamas’ – the keepers of authentic Thai food heritage – at home.

Fitness: Leaving from the Trisara’s exclusive jetty (the only one on the West Coast), private seafaring charters and snorkelling tours are available upon request. The most accessible under-the-sea destination near the resort surrounds Koh Waeo – a tiny island you can spy from your villa. It’s a national park under the sea.

The Couple who Learns Together…

Food: Sure Trisara’s chefs are world class, but there’s nothing quite as nurturing as feeding the one you love yourself. Private cooking classes are on offer at the resort under the watchful eye of the kitchen team. Select which local dishes you’d like to try, whip them up from a bounty of fresh, locally-sourced and exotic produce and then dine on one of your first truly memorable meals as a married couple.

Fitness: Part of any marriage with longevity is understanding how to fight in a healthy way. But I don’t think this is what the experts mean. You’ve got the ring so get in the ring and try a little Muay Thai lesson with you own professional trainer. That’s Thai Kick Boxing, a discipline that’s been around since the 18th century and is a work out and a half for honeymooners.

Hungry or game for even more?

For the foodies there are private in-villa barbeques cooked by your own chef, breakfasts dripping with fresh honeycomb straight from the hive, lazy weekend jazz brunches plus addictive Tom Yam Goong and zesty Pomelo Salad to feast on al fresco underneath swaying palm trees. Who needs room service?

For the fitness fans the benefit of the location is a myriad of water sports at your doorstep. Trisara offers sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boards and there are sports cruisers available for fishing expeditions too. Can you hear the Andaman sea (and exercise-driven endorphins) calling to you yet?

Consider honeymoon heaven found!

Photography courtesy Trisara, DDEN & Andrew Maccoll.

Ms Zebra Says: Ohhhh wow! What a resort? Such an incredible line up of food, activites and pure relaxtion. I’ll be on the next flight!

About Ms Fleur De Lys: Aside from being Ms Polka’s Editorial Assistant, Ms Fleur de Lys is also Polka Dot Bride’s Melbourne correspondent so you’ll see her running all over town finding wedding inspiration. As both a lifestyle journalist and cocktail aficionado, Fleur appreciates the power of words whipped up as deftly as a good martini.

Ashley & Terrence

If you’re a lover of the beautiful boho styling of much acclaimed bridal gown design house  Daughters Of Simone then you’re going to love today’s magic Lake Como wedding because it’s the wedding of the co-designer herself! And if you thought this occasion was going to be understated, it’s what destination dreams are made of. From the Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired reception (with hidden tequila bar) to the nuptials themselves on the mountains overlooking the lake. Luckily for us, Elisabetta Redaelli captured every single moment in motion!

It was a far cry from Europe when these fell in love, but in equally as cool and fashion filled place! Ashley shares “My husband Terrence and I are from the same hometown, Fresno, California. We went to the same schools growing up together. I may have even had a crush on him at the young age of 11. We didn’t have mutual friends or really know much of each other but reconnected 8+ years ago while living in San Francisco. Our first date was a 12-hour car ride from San Francisco to Indio for the Coachella Music Festival in 2010. Our mutual love of music must’ve been pretty strong because we’ve been inseparable ever since.”

Terrence and his groomsmen kept with the fashion-forward theme of the day, working with  El Patcha Ashleigh explains “My husband Terrence kept the fashion-forward theme going by designing dark burgundy embroidered tuxedos, with embroidery by El Patcha Embroidery. He was inspired by a Valentino collection a few years back and incorporated nature-inspired details and southwestern symbols. He’s always had a unique sense of style and the tux’s complimented him and his crew beautifully.”


The couple chose the beautiful Giardino del Merlo and Villa Camilla on Lake Como for their day, noting “Ever since that first summer in Europe with Terrence, I had envisioned getting married in Lugano, Switzerland. So once he proposed I was determined to make it happen. We made a few trips to Europe to seek out our wedding venue and found a beautiful villa on Lake Como, Italy (only 45 minutes from Lugano). We combined our history in Lugano and the epic venue in Lake Como to host wedding festivities in both countries, Switzerland and Italy.”

The bride and her bridesmaids walked down the aisle to Fleet Foxes “Cascades”, Bob Dylan “Shelter from the Storm”.

Of their ceremony at Giardino del Merlo overlooking the lake, Ashley tells “We knew that whatever theme we would decide on would be unique and nontraditional. Most of the creativity evolved over time but we knew one of the main things we wanted to highlight was our shared love of fashion. We asked our guests to dress in their finest “runway attire”. I even put a link to the Met Gala coverage for inspiration. We set our ceremony up as though the guests were seated for a runway show and had our bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle one-by-one so they could have their individual runway moment.”

Ashley dressed her bridesmaids in capes and crowns, remarking “I had a fantasy of my bridesmaids donning gold crowns, long pearled capes and luscious silks with flowing trains. I don’t know if it was from obsessing over too many Elie Saab runway shows or binging on Game of Thrones but these were looks I pulled together, and they looked marvellous.”

And what does a wedding gown designer wear for her own day? She designs her own of course! “My wedding gown was comprised of 100% ivory silk, I’ve always been a sucker for vintage silk pieces so I knew right away this would be the fabric of choice. I had always envisioned wearing an off-the-shoulder gown, as my mother had, but I wanted to put a unique spin on it by developing these large billowy sleeves. In designing my own gown, I knew I wanted floral embroidery to be a feature, and after scouring the fabric markets I finally found a floral embroidered trim (of course it was vintage), so I had it recreated and customized for my gown. You can see subtle hints of it throughout the gown and all along the ridiculously long train. I wanted a gown that made me feel like I was floating while standing still.”

Guests celebrated the newlyweds with a garden reception at Villa Camilla “There was a moment of awe as I walked up the steps to our reception area. The pool had been completely converted into a midsummers night’ dreamland. ” remembers the bride. “We had gone for a nonconventional seating arrangement by having only lounge areas comprised of vintage furniture, along with a few tables scattered about. Everywhere you looked were larger-than-life florals, sparkling string lights and drippy candles.”

Guests were made to feel special at every turn. “We wrote haikus for each of our wedding guests. These were displayed on little cards on a welcome table as they arrived at the reception. It was a nice personal touch as we wanted to reiterate to our family and friends how much we appreciated each and everyone one of them making the trip across the world (literally!) for us.”

Beautiful blooms by Christine Cater were a highlight of the day says Ashley. “I had been a big fan of our florist/designer Christine Cater for a while. And, knowing her work I pretty much gave her free reign to do whatever she was inspired to do. She did not disappoint. She created larger-than-life florals for both the ceremony and the reception. Her intentions were to use flowers that were more heat resistant such as straw and wax flowers and proteas, while keeping in mind my request for wild flowers mixed with more formal blooms. She blended these with anthuriums, garden roses, magnolias and many more.”

The reception was filled with surprises and secrets to enchant Ashley and Terrence’s guests.  “We had a secret tequila bar, there were no signs leading to it which made it fun for the guests who were curious enough to wander the property and find it. It was located on the opposite side of the reception area under a beautiful lit up tree – you really had to seek it out. Throughout the night, one friend would tell another and it was such a delight to watch their excitement when they found out about it.”

The surprises kept coming- even for the newlyweds! “My family is really into speeches, and there were so many wonderful ones throughout the wedding festivities. My two sisters, Courtney and Brittany, took it over the top by surprising us with a song. They passed out their edited version of the lyrics to, “Don’t let the Kids Win” by Julia Jacklin, and performed the melody while Court played the ukulele. The whole crowd sang along and I quickly fell into happy tears.”

The newlyweds didn’t completely ditch tradition, especially for the dancing (to Old Crow Medicine Show “Wagon Wheel” & George Benson “Give me the Night”)! Ashley says “Although most of our wedding could be perceived as very non-traditional, I still wanted the special dances to occur: father-daughter, mother-son, and bride-groom first dance. To put our own spin on this aspect we had a slideshow with video clips and images playing on a screen in the background while we danced. During Terrence’s mother-son dance the imagery playing was of his childhood and family, same went for imagery during my father-daughter dance. Imagery of us as a couple played during Terrence and my first dance. It was a nice personal touch that brought everyone back to the reason why we were all there.”

A big congratulations to the newlyweds! Thank you for sharing the beauty of your day with us. Thank you also to  Elisabetta Redaelli or today’s beautiful images.


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