Planning for a destination wedding, and particularly one in the dead of winter, was challenging, admits Melissa Blanco and Jason Fitzsimmons, but the vision of a dreamy escape along with 40 of their closest friends and family planned by KA Mariage was well worth the effort. “Jason and I have always wanted to have an intimate destination wedding, and we have always found winter weddings to be some of the most enchanting,” confides the bride. “Destination weddings offer a unique adventure and provide some of the most stunning locations.”

The New Jersey couple’s magical ceremony took place in a gorgeously crafted chapel made entirely from carved ice and snow in Quebec City – a majestic town filled with Old World, European charm. The theme of the celebration, “Song of Ice and Fire,” was greatly inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s film Romeo + Juliet, though there were also touches from Disney movies and Game of Thrones incorporated into the décor scheme. The altar and the lectern of the sanctuary were formed from ice, while the aisle was covered in snow, and the pews – made from blocks of ice – were cloaked in plush faux fur for guests to sit. Lilac lighting blended beautifully with the glow of hundreds of candles along the altar, and candelabras and tea lights bedecked unoccupied pews.

The wedding party lined up outside the fur-wrapped wooden doors, awaiting their entrance. As the doors began to slowly open for Jason, snow began to fall. “It was perfect, like we were in a snow globe,” remembers Melissa. Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” played as they processed. The best man carried an icy blue book down the aisle titled “The Snow Queen,” which contained a heart-shaped hollow inside, where the rings were kept. The sole bridesmaid, Melissa’s little sister, carried a small bouquet of cream roses and dusty miller; attached was a silver charm with a photo of their late mother and grandmother.

Melissa looked like royalty as she walked down the aisle with her father to the powerful song “Everybody’s Free” by Quindon Tarver. In lieu of a wedding bouquet, she carried a faux fur ivory hand muff – custom-made to match her long sheer cape – to protect her hands from the cold, as it was 23-degrees Fahrenheit inside of the ice chapel. The service was sentimental with both Jason and Melissa reading aloud their personally written vows. Upon their exit, every guest was given a small lantern to hold up in the darkness as they lined up on each side of the red carpet laid outside of the igloo.

A former Catholic chapel from the 1900s – deconsecrated in 1992 – served as the venue for the reception. “I was raised Roman Catholic,” explains the bride. “Although my current relationship with Catholicism has changed, it cast an enduring influence on my thoughts on love, beauty, and romanticism.” The vibrantly colored stained-glass windows and other celestial imagery was the ideal setting for the evening festivities.

“I wanted the reception to be dramatically lit in rich, deep colors not typically seen in weddings, starting with a deep reddish pink at its base, changing into purple as it moved upwards, and then into a blue ceiling dotted with stars,” illustrates Melissa. “The effect was otherworldly.” Scarlet floral arrangements decorated tables covered in royal-blue velvet linens. Gilt candelabras and additional candles provided the dimly lit room with a deeply romantic, opulent scene, just like the couple had always desired. 

“Once Upon a Dream” by Lana Del Rey from the film Maleficent played as guests shuffled into the room. The song created a hazy dream-like atmosphere that was both eerie and magical. Then, a special performance of “Ave Maria” was played live by electric violinist Dr. Draw and singer/DJ Sandy Duperval: “Their talent added a lush, theatrical, and vibrant aspect to the reception that our guests continue to rave about,” shares Jason of their entertainment choice. “When they were finished, we were announced as husband and wife and entered from behind the large majestic altar to perform our first dance on the altar itself,” describes Melissa. “It was a beautiful moment I could never have imagined.”

The newlyweds and their loved ones celebrated until the wee hours of the morning and vacationed a few additional days, enjoying the snowy streets of the picturesque town.