Icing on the cake: couples head to Alaska to marry

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The Independent US

Suzanne Redford needn't have bothered with the natty white shoes she chose to match her wedding dress, because in the end she donned a pair of boots with a good grip on the soles. They were inelegant but sensible, not least because the ceremony was held on sheet ice on an Alaskan glacier.

Suzanne Redford needn't have bothered with the natty white shoes she chose to match her wedding dress, because in the end she donned a pair of boots with a good grip on the soles. They were inelegant but sensible, not least because the ceremony was held on sheet ice on an Alaskan glacier.

Ms Redford, an equine dentist from West Sussex, belongs to a growing band of adventurers choosing the majestic glacier fields above Juneau in Alaska as the locale for their nuptials. Her wedding was last June; this season begins this weekend and is set to be busier than ever.

"I had a 40 per cent increase in these weddings last year and this year the bookings are strong again," said Tom Stewart, whose company, Weddings on Ice, is one of a handful offering the service to couples out of Juneau. He organised and officiated at the wedding of Suzanne and her husband, Martin.

For travel industry experts, finding the most exotic locations for weddings is becoming a fraught challenge. A quickie service on a beach in the Caribbean is so yesterday. And while Las Vegas has its enduring appeal, its chapels are a little short on, well, class.

But glacier weddings are taking off. The companies arrange everything for the couples, including accommodation in Juneau, helicopters to whisk them and their guests to the ice fields, and, of course, the all-important footwear.

"You never tell a bride what to wear, but we do advise against stilettos," says Mr Stewart, who sent Suzanne and Martin on a honeymoon in Canada after their service. Otherwise, he says, the weather can be surprisingly mild in the Alaskan summer.

While Alaska was a long way to go from England, it offered the kind of remoteness Suzanne, 30, and her groom were looking for, not to mention sheer novelty. "We wanted something a bit different and we wanted quite a private affair," she explained. "We didn't want the Caribbean thing with all the passers-by looking on." Little danger of that on the glacier, of course. But she and Martin were surprised when many more of their relatives expressed a readiness to come along.

Another of the busiest operators in Juneau is Diane Pearson, who did her first ice wedding five years ago. "I know people try to outdo each other on how much they can spend on their weddings," said Ms Pearson, whose packagesstart at about £1,200. "But for my couples it's more about the romanceand the incredible views."

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