‘Josh assured me that no matter the size or weight of the dress we would find a way to get it up the mountain. What we didn’t anticipate was being barefoot, in the snow, during the ceremony.’ In June this year, Susannah and Joshua Beckett were married at Birendra Lake, near Sama Gaun on the Manaslu Circuit and Tsum Valley Trek. Opting out of a big wedding in Canada, where the couple are from, Susannah and Joshua nevertheless wanted to have a day they would remember for the rest of their lives. The bride was stunning in a backless traditional white dress, while the groom looked the classic bridegroom in his black suit. What the stunning photographs don’t show however, is how the bride had to get into her dress behind a stone hut while trying hard not to step in yak dung or how they are both actually shoeless (Or hiking bootless) in many of the pictures!
While tourists do get married in Nepal not many opt to do so during a 22 day trek. So how did this idea come about? ‘We live in Whitehorse Yukon which is in the northern part of Canada and quite mountainous. We love the mountains, and spend almost every weekend in the Yukon mountains. What is great about Nepal is with teahouse treks you can have a long trek without having to worry about carrying food for the entire journey. We have both been to Nepal together before, and Josh has been on another occasion too.’
‘I wanted to have a big wedding with friends and family but Josh had the idea to elope! First we were going to get married on a mountain in the Yukon but the logistics of it didn’t work so well, so we thought we would go to Iceland. In the end however the beauty of Nepal won out. We both love being in the mountains so much it was an easy choice to go to Nepal once we had decided to elope and get married on a mountain somewhere. And it really didn’t take long to organise, because we had been to Nepal before and knew what we were getting into. In fact it was much easier to arrange than organising a traditional wedding in Canada,’ Susannah.
Having done their research, the couple met someone who had used Magical Nepal for their trek and on that recommendation we got in touch. With Magical Nepal being very helpful, the decision to go with them was easy to make. ‘Magical Nepal were amazing in helping us organise our wedding trek. They even sent a photographer at no extra charge. Originally we thought of doing our own photography with a tripod but instead we have stunning professional photographs taken by Jaya Photography from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to remind us of this time,’ Josh.
‘On the day we were both really excited, it was a beautiful location with amazing mountains all around us and we were marrying the person we love. Our guide, Deepak, was the one who suggested the spot we got married at, he even picked Susannah a bouquet of wildflowers on the way to the location. By chance we did actually have ‘guests’ at our wedding – another couple from Canada we had met earlier along the trail – who arrived just as Susannah was walking down the ‘aisle’. They even rescued Susannah’s dress when it got caught in a bush! A second group of ‘guests’ arrived with their guides, who were extremely excited to see us and asked if they could have a photograph taken with us. The guides picked some wild flowers for both of us and placed Khatas around our necks as a symbol of happiness. This was an amazing gesture and we have the Khatas hanging on our wall at home,’ Josh.
‘As for celebrating… we did take a bottle of champagne with us but in the end we didn’t drink it until the last day of the trip when we shared it with our guide, Deepak, the photographer, Jaya, and the two porters, Santos and Rohan. On the wedding day itself, we had a three hour hike to the wedding location, spent a couple of hours for the ceremony and photographs then make our way back to Sama Goan. At that point I realised I had left our phones and some other things at the wedding location so I had to sprint as fast as possible back up the mountain. So by the time I did that and got back there was just time for a quick meal and to send a few messages to family and friends before going to sleep. Hence keeping the champagne for the last day!’ Josh.
Would the happy couple recommend getting married on a mountain in Nepal to others? ‘It definitely wasn’t your traditional style wedding. For example, Josh hadn’t showered in 11 days! My hair and makeup wasn’t done and I had to dodge piles of dung while walking down the “aisle”. But, if there are others out there who love being in the mountains as much as us and don’t mind a very non-traditional wedding with no friends or family present then I would say do it as it was an amazing experience. We wrote our own vows, which we exchanged along with rings. It was perfect. Having a backdrop for our wedding like we did was amazing and we will definitely never forget it,’ Susannah.
Behind the scenes
Behind every successful wedding there is a wedding planner. And behind every successful trek there is a whole team of organisers, guides, porters, etc who are working on the logistics. But bringing a wedding and trek together is a mammoth task! For example, every couple wants good photographs to remember their special day and Magical Nepal made sure of that…
‘I started my career as a wedding photographer in 2010 and have been to many countries taking photos for wedding couples. Prior to my Nepal trip, I had been to Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, India and some European countries for work,’ states Jaya, the photographer who took the beautiful pictures for the wedding of Susannah and Joshua Beckett. ‘I accepted this invitation by Magical Nepal because I thought I might never have a second chance for such a special project again. I also wanted to challenge myself. Although I have been to many remote regions and some smaller mountains in Vietnam I had never been to such a place as Manaslu. I realized the trek would be difficult for me so I prepared, building my stamina, for a whole month before coming to Nepal.’
Wondering how someone from Vietnam which is mainly hot coped with the cold and mountainous trails, we asked Jaya if he found things difficult during this trip. ‘Certainly, there were many things which I could not even imagine – the beauty of the countryside, the cold, and the long distances travelled by foot. Since Susannah and Joshua are very experienced trekkers, I had a hard time keeping up with them. However, this trip will forever be a special memory for me. The stunning Himalayan ranges, the starry skies and endless cold nights. There was no basic necessities, only footsteps, deep breaths and genuine realization of life. The trip has triggered nostalgic emotions in me. It was about a secluded world I used to have back in the days when Internet was not even a thing. Emotions are still so vivid and real every time I close my eyes and reminisce about the trip.
Overall, it was a bold decision for me to leave my busy work schedule with tons of unanswered emails and lots of deadlines behind. I embarked on a surreal journey. Thank you Magical Nepal for the opportunity.’ And some final words on this epic adventure wedding from Pradeep Guragain, co-founder of Magical Nepal. ‘I have received lots of queries for trekking but none of them was quite as special as the one I got from Susannah and Joshua. They wanted to get married in the mountains during their trek. So without much hesitation I had a nice offer for them: a professional photographer to capture their once in a lifetime event, provided free by Magical Nepal. I approached some Nepali photographers to undertake this trip, but I also approached Jaya who I had met back in 2017 on a road trip across Vietnam. Jaya replied positively, and we soon arranged the schedule. During my years working as a trekking operator, this is the very first time I organised a special trek like this. It was challenging but fun at the same time. In the end, we are very happy with the outcome of the project. We would like to thank Jaya, and our guide Deepak who did an excellent job on being not only coordinator but also photographer’s assistant. Thank you Deepak and the rest of the crew. And a special thanks must go to Susannah and Joshua Beckett for entrusting their special day to Magical Nepal.’ Pradeep. Are you scrolling down for more pictures? A full album of this once of a lifetime trek can be viewed here:
|Canon EOS 5D mark IV|
|Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS|
|Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L II|
|Canon 17-40mm F4 L 5|
|Sigma 30mm f1.4 Art|
In Vietnamese: ĐÁM CƯỚI CHÂN TRẦN TRÊN DÃY MANASLU