Mountain Magic

Weddings on the Mountain…

Volcanoes exude a force that has the power to change the landscape and lives. So perhaps there’s no better way to express the passion of saying “I do” than on the slopes of one. On Mt. Shasta, that’s possible. “The most popular option for weddings at the Ski Park is to hold the ceremony at the top of Douglas [chairlift] with an amazing view of Mt. Shasta in the background, then head back to the lodge for the reception. This allows guests to have a memorable ride on the chairlift up and down the mountain. And, once the party is over, folks are welcome to camp out in the parking lots to avoid a drive back to town. It’s really a super fun and unique place to say ‘I do,’” explains Grace Hornbeak, marketing director for the Mt. Shasta Ski Park. And Hornbeak would know. “I held my wedding here in May 2022, and it was a great experience.”

Photo courtesy of Grace Hornbeak.

For Hornbeak, getting married on the summit was a natural choice. “When we told friends and family, most folks’ responses were something along the lines of ‘OMG, that is too perfect!’ as my husband and I are very outdoorsy people and really enjoy skiing.” Now that Hornbeak works at the Ski Park, it makes for a strong connection with customers. “When folks find out I was recently married on the mountain, they realize how much I really love it here, and it goes to show how special of a place this mountain can be.” One of Hornbeak’s favorite parts of getting married at the park was the unexpected nature of navigating the terrain as a bride. “I love the surprise some people get about the concept of riding the chair lift in a wedding dress.”

The drama of the backdrop provides a stunning venue. “I know when my now-husband and I were planning our wedding, a view of the mountain was one of our few non-negotiables. Mt. Shasta is an extremely beautiful mountain and the view of it from the top of Douglas is hard to beat. It’s a very romantic setting and being up there with just your loved ones makes the whole experience very personal and private.” Hornbeak also notes Shasta’s spiritual significance. “To many, the mountain also holds a lot of spiritual significance, so it serves as their altar or their version of church.”

Photo courtesy of Grace Hornbeak.

But planning a mountaintop wedding can also come with its share of surprises. “We did not get the weather we were hoping for. It was freezing and raining sideways the day before when we were setting up. Of course, we knew that was a possibility when we started, but usually the weather at the end of May is about 75 or 80 degrees, and we got about 50 degrees. It did clear up just in time for our ceremony, though, which was amazing.”

Hornbeak also notes several improvements to the park this year that add to its value as a mountaintop destination. “The biggest and most exciting thing at the Ski Park right now is our new Gray Butte Lift. It accesses over 200 acres of new skiing terrain, including our first double black diamond. We also have a lot of new rental equipment,” Hornbeak says. The food options have also gotten an upgrade since Hornbeak’s wedding. “We’ve hired new food and beverage staff that are going to be available for event catering and honestly, they’re amazing.”

Photo courtesy of Grace Hornbeak.

Booking the experience does require advance planning. “The best time is between the end of May and September, and there’s always the potential for cold or hot weather, as it is on a mountain. It’s also best to reach out as soon as possible, at least a year to 18 months in advance, but sometimes shorter notice can be accommodated. People who are interested in getting more information can contact me,” Hornbeak says. But she insists the experience is worth it. “Mount Shasta is magical. Regardless of what your spiritual beliefs are, you can feel the power of the mountain and recognize it as a very special place.”•

About Megan Peterson

Megan Peterson is a freelance storyteller who loves her family, her pets, and Northern California. Her favorite part of writing is finding flow, and she always relishes a touching human story. Aside from Enjoy, she’s typically busy writing and producing for television, having created more than 220 hours of on-air content on networks ranging from National Geographic to Netflix.

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