Tradition is a fickle word. And life can deal us a handful if we let it. But not for Mark and Tammie. They didn’t give in to what society had planned and broke away from a traditional wedding. While they did exchange vows their marriage day was far from the usual.

Which is why when Tammie told me she was getting married I jumped at the chance to photograph their special day. In fact, I don’t really think I gave her an option once I realized that cell phone pics maybe used to record such an important event. Traditional or not, my goal was to create a series of images before, during and after the wedding that suited both their personalities and would give them long-lasting memories.

The wedding was to take place during The Seven Summits Trail Poker Ride on Sunday, September 6th near Rossland, BC. The Poker Ride is an annual event organized by Revolution Cycles using the Seven Summits Trail designated as an epic ride by IMBA. So I knew there was going to be a lot of technical climbing and tricky descents. Logistically, I just figured it was going to be a small wedding party as many could not travel to a remote area or ride this trail. Eight people surrounded Mark and Tammie – two sisters, two brother-in-laws, three friends, and one wedding commissioner – in single digit temperatures high on Granite Mountain in the Rossland Range of the West Kootenays.

The day began happily enough at 7:30 AM with the bride wearing a white tutu and lace stockings and the groom in a Lycra tuxedo jersey with a black top hat zip tied to his helmet. After a quick easy kilometer to warm us up the trail punched upwards. We climbed exquisite single track with gorgeous vistas and 360 degree views of the Monashee and Southern Selkirk Mountains. Following ridgelines, tacky dirt and pine-scented trails greeted us at every switchback. We climbed and climbed and climbed some more until we arrived at the first check point to play games and draw a few cards for the end-of-the-day Poker game and festivities. Another check point later, a few photo ops here and there and we reached Granite Mountain fashionably late. I think my pokey climbing legs had something to do with that.

I believe the only pressure at this point was that we, the riders, had to make a 1:30 PM cut-off time stipulated by the Poker Ride organizers. We still had a wedding, a lot of climbing, more fun-filled check points and a bunch of old-school wickedly fast and flowy downhills before reaching the end of the trail to grab the last shuttle back to Rossland.

This entire time the bride and groom seemed at ease and showed no stress. While most soon-to-be brides (and grooms) worry about flower arrangements, dresses, cute wedding invitations, and booking limos Tammie and Mark instead had their minds set on single track. There were no flowers, or the proverbial white dress, or rice (that would have been too heavy to carry) but they did have close friends and family, hand written vows, and helmets. All they had to do was pedal.

It seems that newlyweds often get hung-up keeping everyone happy and making sure everything is perfect that they frequently forget about themselves. An on-line search of what a ‘typical’ wedding day from a bride and grooms perspective is of no surprise why weddings can be stressful and downright tiring. To site a recent article posted by The Huffington Post (January 13, 2015) the following remarks were made by actual newlyweds on Reddit and HuffPost:

  • Having not eaten all day due to stress and nerves, we realized we were STARVING, and ordered Chinese food from the only place at 4AM’
  • ‘She sat on the floor in front of me. We watched TV while I took the 6000 hairpins out of her hair.”
  • My in-laws got us a hotel room for the night. The room was directly above theirs.”
  • We got back to the hotel, we began to consummate our vows and there’s a knock at the door. It’s my mom.”
  • ‘My wife was literally crying because I was taking too long to undo the 800 buttons on the back of her dress’

This isn’t to say that Tammie and Mark had no worries. In fact, a raging forest fire in nearby Washington State threatened to cancel the wedding as flames and smoke steadily creeped northward towards Rossland. Only a week before close to half of the Seven Summits Trail was closed. “We knew we would still get married regardless but if the ride was cancelled it would have really sucked” said Tammie. Having arrived in BC two weeks before and with no ‘plan-B’ they kept riding, exploring the area, and hoping that cooler temps and wetter days would come. As it happened, it rained and the trail re-opened. It was a dry and cooler day on the 6th but “better cooler than smokier”, remarked Tammie a fire-fighter (Acting Captain) with the City of Mississauga, Ontario.

With a trail 36 km in length and close to 900 meters of climbing the potential for a mechanical or injury could have easily occurred. One thing for sure…with only one trail in we knew neither the bride nor the groom could get cold feet. Escape was futile. There was nowhere to ‘run’!!

Now while ‘traditional’ wedding pressures and moments can be a normal part of the day I, for one, would not make it my preference. I’m not overly traditional. I much favour what my friends did – go for a ride, get hitched, ride some more, socialize, get back to the hotel, lube the bike chain, kick off the cycling shoes, wipe the face off from salt and mud, and have a nice quiet dinner with the friends and family. I don’t know about you but doing something that is a large part of my life and that of my partners’ sounds like a perfect wedding to me!

Congratulations Mark and Tammie! Here’s to being true to yourselves and having fun on your special day.

Author Bio

Cecile Gambin is a freelance Action and Portrait photographer living in North Vancouver, BC. Honing her skills from riding all sorts of bikes her photographs are a fusion of Fine Art and Action to create vivid, exciting and engaging images. Her work has been featured in exhibitions, and has been published in national magazines. For more of Cécile’s work please visit