Wedding Planning in a Small Town: Fairbanks, Alaska

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to plan a wedding in a small town? Combine that with being in a state that might as well be considered a small town, and you’ve got Alaska. Narrow it down even more and you’ve got Fairbanks, Alaska.

Many people consider Alaska to be an amazing spot for a destination wedding. I would absolutely agree with you. We are SO excited to share our state and our town with our family and friends. But what brides who do no live in Alaska often end up doing is getting married in the very over-priced wedding destination known as Anchorage, Alaska. When we began looking around the state to decide where we wanted to get married, we couldn’t believe how much places charged for services.

We definitely wanted to be able to plan our wedding in our own comfy town but are definitely discovering the challenges of a small town. Here’s a few of our fun adventures.

  1. Most vendors come by word of mouth. Many people do not have websites (which I consider to make you a legitimate business and a very good, low-cost business investment) and depend on either word of mouth or social media (aka Facebook) for their incoming business.  This can also mean more legwork to find services you need.
  2. There aren’t a lot of options for each type of service. This often translates to “we don’t have to act professional or do that great of a job.”
  3. Response time is relative. Meaning many people in the wedding industry here also function on Alaska time. If you don’t know what Alaska time is, we are far behind and far slower than the rest of … well, anywhere. It typically doesn’t bother me much, but I feel like when you’re running a business, you shouldn’t be functioning on Alaska time.
  4. What’s a contract? Sometimes, it’s your job to make sure a vendor contract is in place. Many people are a little too “go with the flow.”
  5. You have to ASK. Things you think would come normal with working with a venue, may not. So you have to ask (“can we do a tasting, do you have a portfolio, can we have a tour…”. Its much like the contracts.
  6. Some people you will contact or work with are just..quirky. I feel like that doesn’t need a lot more explanation.
  7. Plan to have some meetings off the beaten path. Many vendors have shops out of their homes and their homes might just be in some sketchy places off the beaten path. Living here as long as we have, we are accustomed to this, but we occasionally giggle when we pull up somewhere and think “can you imagine if we didn’t live here?”
  8. Traveling is inevitable. Not everything I’ve needed has been in Fairbanks and the “big city” calls for some things like wedding and bridesmaid dresses.

Now for the things we appreciate (I might still be debating if the tradeoff is worth it):

  1. The quirky people (not the flakey) are indeed quirky but often wonderful at what they do and care about giving you great work.
  2. You can negotiate anything and everything.
  3. They are just as flexible with us. Sometimes weather doesn’t permit us making it out to a meeting to sign a contract, and they aren’t going to give away our date because of it.
  4. The people we work with are Alaskan and show it. They care about us and our special day because that’s how Alaskans are.
  5. We get to share our home with our friends and family! What is greater than that? It became a determining factor for us when we chose where we were going to get married. As weird and quirky as Fairbanks is, and as much of a pain it continues to be in planning a wedding, it is a our and we get to share that! Even the “rustic…” (when I say that, its kind of a stretch) feel of our venue truly is not just Alaskan – but very Fairbanksan and really, I just love it.



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