Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Tamaya
One thing is certain: Brides and grooms want their weddings to be different from all the other weddings they've attended — and hot air balloon weddings are a surefire way to accomplish this. There are a handful of different options for couples interested in saying "I do" to a hot air balloon.
Inside the Actual Balloon
Yes, I said INSIDE a hot air balloon. Once the balloon is inflated with the cool air, before they heat the air to make it rise, the inside of a partially-inflated balloon is absolutely gorgeous. The entire backdrop is the colorful whirl — and yes, with many hot air balloon companies, you do have some choices about the color or design on your balloon for something as special as a wedding. Imagine your wedding photos — they'd be stunning on the group and in the air.
Photo: Courtesy of Rainbow Ryders
I recently visited the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, located on the sacred Native American lands of the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico, about halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. In my quest to identify the best activities to plan for a destination wedding on their property, I couldn't skip a trip 3,000 feet above the ground (already 5,000 feet above sea level) in a colorful hot air balloon. It's wildly popular with wedding guests. Albuquerque is home to the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and internationally recognized as one of the most amazing places to try hot air ballooning in the United States.
At 3,000 Feet
You can also get married up in the air, in the basket of the hot air balloon, according to Troy Bradley, our balloon pilot from Rainbow Ryders, and the holder of 64 international balloon records (he's crossed the Atlantic and Pacific in a balloon, twice!). You'll need to bring your own minister along to do the actual ceremony, and there's room for a few wedding guests in the balloon, too. Some baskets are bigger than others, but most can easily accommodate your witnesses. Some balloon baskets are big enough for your entire immediate family.
Make It Part of Your Weekend
If you're fascinated by the prospect of ballooning during your destination wedding weekend, but not into actually getting married in the sky, a fabulous early morning trip with your wedding party or family may be the most exciting wedding guest activity ever. It definitely beats the heck out of the traditional golfing for the gentlemen on the wedding day. And for the ladies, most commercial trips are done early in the day while the winds are still gentle, so you'll have plenty of time to return to your hotel and nap before you turn yourself over to the skilled hands of the stylists tackling your wedding hair and makeup.
Despite the fact I was scared when we first got into the balloon's basket, I couldn't even feel a change when we left the ground. The trip is so smooth that you really can have a ceremony while floating high above your destination. But you may want to wait to begin things until the balloon has reached the maximum height desired for the trip so that your wedding ceremony won't be interrupted by the sound of the burner flame heating the air to make the balloon rise. Just a tip from me to you!
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.