We asked Aspen wedding and event planner Suzanne Dupre – of An Aspen Affair, what outdoor activities her grooms have done with their groomsmen before the big wedding day and here is what she had to share.
Top 10 Pre-Wedding Activities for Groom and Groomsmen:
The mountain streams around Aspen are not only picturesque, but also offer some of the finest Fly Fishing in North America. (Contact Aspen Outfitting)
You probably have chosen flowers, food and music that you love, but what about the lighting? Wedding lighting has evolved from simply serving to illuminate a space, to being a main element of design. The type of lighting you use can completely transform a space and ambiance, setting the mood of your wedding.
From candles to up-lighting, the options can seem overwhelming. With help from lighting and design expert, Susan Peters, the Owner of Halcyon Productions, we have created a few tips for choosing the best lighting for your space, budget and style. Follow these tips and impress your wedding guests!
Tip 1: Work with a professional
Even if you are planning on doing DIY lighting projects, hiring a pro will ensure your lighting reflects the space and your needs. A lighting pro has experience making everything flow and creating moods throughout the event. They will ensure that you have all elements needed (switches, controllers, dimmers, etc.) to make everything work throughout the evening. They will work with your ideas and come up with solutions that fit your budget and your vision.
Susan Peters shares, “When a lighting professional is involved, color and the progression of the event is evaluated, controlled and adjusted the entire evening. Having an onsite technician who can make adjustments and read the crowd is every bit as important as having a DJ or band who can also read the crowd because the guests’ experience is guided by lighting almost as much as the music….
It’s all about group behavior. “I recently witnessed during a wedding reception how important dancefloor lighting is. During the reception, the dancefloor was absolutely packed with guests (I was running lights that night) and I was asked to stop the dancefloor lighting because the bride’s father had a health condition and the bride was concerned he would get dizzy. When I turned the dancefloor lighting off, the guests actually left the dancefloor and lost interest. The event planner and I immediately noticed this, talked and decided we had to bring the dancefloor lights back on and lo and behold, here come the guests back out to the dancefloor—packed again! Lively custom dancefloor lighting, at the appropriate time, ensures your guests have a great time and never want the party to end!”
Tip #2: Embrace your venue
Depending on the location of your wedding ceremony and reception, you will have different needs for lighting.
Susan advices, “Unless it is a daytime wedding, it is important to consider that a major portion of wedding receptions or rehearsal dinners happen after dark. I recommend that the couple see their event space after dark to assess how it looks. Assuming the venue has natural light the reception space changes during daylight hours, as the sun sets and gradually darkness falls. If the wedding is in a ballroom with no windows, then professional lighting is even more critical to transform a room and create a beautiful, memorable and magical ambiance. Literally, there is no space that cannot be improved with lighting—we have even lit restrooms. We have even used lighting at daytime luncheons in a tent to correct for gloomy weather and to create the look of daylight in a tent that was heavily draped with colored fabric.”
Tip #3: Use color
Color is a key aspect of lighting design. There are certain shades that are more flattering on skin- soft rose, amber, and magenta. Others, like green are not flattering. There are many ways to use colored lighting to reflect the mood or ambiance you are striving for. For example, pink represents romance and love, making it a great option for weddings.
Susan from Halcyon informed us,“The most recent development in lighting has been the advent of entertainment LED fixtures in the early 2000s and they continue to improve. Make sure your lighting company has the latest technology in this area, the cheaper/earlier LED fixtures do not have the ability to generate the refined and delicate colors and pastels that are used in many wedding reception color schemes. I see color schemes come and go and we have to be ready to complement the latest color trends.”
Susan advises the basics for wedding day lighting include: “The basic “layer” in event lighting is to begin by washing/highlighting all the architectural features of the space. Stage, upstage and dancefloor lighting is also very important. Next cake spots, bars and food station lighting if applicable. It is not uncommon for Halcyon to work on very detailed weddings so if ceiling height allows, pin spots are next to highlight the florals.”
Tip #4: Mix and match
Just like you choose different arrangements for flowers or tabletop décor, we recommend using different lighting elements throughout your wedding. Here are a few of the main types:
Candlelight: Candles are an easy, cost effective way to create a romantic glow. Use floating candles, glass globes hanging from the ceiling, different size vases lining the aisle with floating candles, colored candles of different sizes, or lanterns. If your venue doesn’t allow flames, you could use a flameless candle.
Up lighting: This technique can transform a space. These lights can turn an ordinary venue into something magical, dramatic or romantic. You can choose to incorporate your wedding colors or simply go for a soft glow.
Pin Spot lighting: This type of lighting is used to highlight a special area. It could be the wedding cake, centerpieces or your head/sweetheart table. This lighting style typically is in white but can also be one color.
Gobos/Monograms: If you want to project a design or monogram to a wall, ceiling or dance floor a “Gobo” (goes between the optics) is a great option. Having a special image or word projected is a way to make your event and design more personalized. Using a gobo pattern such as florals, lace, damask or leaves will add texture and break up space.
Tip #5: Bring your vision together
The options for lighting can be overwhelming. A lighting pro such as Halcyon Productions can help you choose the best lighting styles for the look you want. This can vary from a dance floor that feels like an elegant, romantic reception for dinner and toasts and a nightclub later in the evening.
Susan informs, “A company such as Halcyon can be an integral design team member and offer ideas to reinforce the floral and décor scheme and help bring it to life — that is IF we are allowed to participate. Brides and grooms will get the best results from us if they let us in on their vision—we are not at the table to dictate what the look should be but rather to listen and offer suggestions to create the look. Décor and floral are beautiful in and of themselves but when darkness falls, all that beautiful work and effort disappears unless it is enhanced properly with lighting….
We work with many event planners, in many venues, in many locations and have seen hundreds of events so we do have valuable insight into what does and does not work. Even if it means sending us the décor and floral proposal (without numbers) be sure to let us in on the full scope of the wedding design scheme so nothing is overlooked.”
Lighting can transform your wedding space, set the mood and compliment the design of your venue.
Susan agrees, “Lighting should not be just a line item that is checked off a list—it makes a huge impact on the look of the event and your guests’ experience, the photos and everyone’s memories of the reception that last a lifetime. This is why it is best to hire a lighting company rather than leave the lighting to a DJ or the band who will bring just a few lights and more than likely not have proper control over them.”
Winter weddings are always special but this one had even more meaning because of the unique story behind the day. This beautiful couple had been married once before and, after having three children, decided to divorce. After a few years of being apart they did what every child of a divorce dreams of …. they got back together! Their wedding was at the Aspen Chapel on a festive New Year’s Eve with just their immediate family. Although the freshness and joy of a new beginning was evident there was also a high level of comfort and ease between the couple that one doesn’t always see on the wedding day. The love between the bride and groom was tried and true and the children, once again, had their family together and whole.
Here is your guide to ensuring perfect audio for your wedding or event.
Capturing the speeches, wedding ceremony, and music is not always thought of as a priority for many brides and grooms during the planning process. However, audio is just as important as the images. Watching a video of your wedding ceremony would be disappointing if you cannot hear anything.
With the help of Eric Blomberg, Logistics Coordinator at Alchemy Concert Systems we have laid out a few of the most important details to consider when planning out Audio/Visual needs for your wedding.
Why should I hire a professional for audio/visual?
Hiring someone with technical knowledge and experience working weddings in the Aspen area is important. The details that go into planning the specifics for audio/visual can be complex. Having someone with experience in this area will ensure your wedding will run smoothly and that your vision will be executed flawlessly.
“When planning a wedding we obviously believe that hiring a professional AV company such as ourselves to operate the AV of a wedding is very important. This is the most important day of the Bride & Groom’s lives and hiring us to provide the audio and visual aspect of a wedding guarantees a professional and beautiful outcome that will not only be memorable for the Bride and Groom but also to all that attend the wedding.” (Eric Blomberg, ACS)
A professional AV can assist with many logistic details, including design, implementation and operation. No matter your budget or needs, a professional will help everything go smoothly.
Eric shares, “We have done everything from high-dollar elaborate weddings where we have used every piece of equipment that we own to events that have a smaller budget where we have made due with a few speakers and some lights and still managed to make it look fantastic.”
What do I need to consider regarding audio/visual for different aspects of the wedding?
The Ceremony: Everyone wants to hear the bride and groom during the ceremony. With no microphone, no matter how intimate your wedding is, even the loudest voice will be hard to hear and even harder to capture on camera. Wearing wireless microphones is important for anyone speaking during the ceremony. This can include the officiant, readers, and the bride and groom. As the bride will have no place to wear a microphone, the groom can wear one to pick up both of their voices.
It is important to have loud, clear voices for the video recording. One thing to consider is having the sound turn off from the Groom’s microphone after the “I Do’s” and before the first kiss. You won’t want to hear smooching on the wedding video!
If you have readers during your ceremony have them wear a wireless microphone, and then turn it on when it is their turn to speak. Another option would be to use a hand held microphone and have it ready where they will be standing.
Music: Hearing the sounds from your band or DJ is obviously important. For a live band make sure that people will be able to hear it. Always make sure your DJ/Band has tested their sound systems and equipment. Make sure microphones are working and that the speakers are positioned properly for the best sound. Having a backup in case of equipment problems is always a great idea.
If you are choosing to “DIY” the music, using a smartphone/MP3 device a professional technician can help you set up sound systems.
The Reception: There are many factors to consider for the reception portion of your wedding. If you are having toasts, you will need to plan on having microphones. Speakers will also need to set up in the areas where you want music. If you are choosing to show a slideshow with pictures or a video you will need to have sound and a screen set up for viewing.
Outdoor Weddings: Outdoor weddings can offer a challenge for wedding audio. With outdoor weddings comes background noise and wind. If you are in a public place, keep in mind that there could be young kids running or yelling, barking dogs, cars, birds, people talking etc. Make sure that even if there may be background noise that your sound system will allow all of your guests to hear what is going on.
Remote Locations: If you are getting married in a remote location or even a backyard wedding, one thing to consider is how to get enough power for the sound system, lights, DJ, etc. Make sure to plan for this, because without power the event will not run smoothly. Many times people may try to simply use the power from their home, but this can overload the system and cause safety issues, fire risk, and power failure.
Having a generator can help provide the power needed. However, many generators can be extremely loud, not exactly the sound you want to hear during the silence of the first kiss! A professional can help you with solutions that are perfect for weddings. They will have options for generators that can power up everything you need, but are quieter. Eric adds, “By hiring us the Bride and Groom will have no reason to worry about any issues regarding the AV portion of their special day; even if any issues occur we are quick, quiet and extremely competent making them relatively unnoticeable or concealing them all together.”
Venue Restrictions: Make sure to ask your venue manager what sound restrictions there are for your venue. There could be specifics including power supply, sound amplification, time restrictions (i.e. no music after 11pm), etc.
“An important aspect to consider when hiring us would definitely be location and timing. Due to the mountainous region that we live in some venues are definitely more difficult than others for us to work in. We will work together with the planner or Bride and Groom to make their dream reality however we need to. But certain venues have electricity constraints that make it more difficult and therefore sometimes more expensive to operate in.” (Eric Blomberg, ACS)
Hiring a professional AV company to help with these aspects of your wedding will help your wedding run smoothly. No matter if your wedding is large or small, high cost or low cost, indoor or outdoor, utilizing the skills of a professional AV will provide peace of mind. You will beautifully capture the most important parts of your wedding, (the vows, toasts, guest messages, dancing, music….) and be able to relive your day over and over again with a video that has captured the sounds and memories of your day.
Are you planning a wedding in Aspen or visiting the area? Planning recreation activities while you are here should be on your list! Enjoying some quality time together in the beautiful outdoors gives family and friends from both sides time to bond and can help relax and de-stress the bride and groom. From fishing to hiking to rafting there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Here are some ideas for fun activities you can plan for your family, friends or your wedding party.
For the adventurous: Raft down the river or take a jeep tour
Renée Fleisher, Director of Group Services from Blazing Adventures shares that “rafting and jeep rides are very popular with guests who come here to celebrate a wedding. It is a great opportunity for the two families to get to know each other.”
There are a variety of rafting trips and jeep tours for all levels of experience and interests.
For the explorer: Plan a guided fishing trip or horseback ride
If you are looking for a way to create amazing memories, plan a breakfast group horseback ride or enjoy a half or full day of fishing. Your group can enjoy the surroundings all year round, with beautiful snowcapped mountains in the winter, brilliant foliage in the fall, and wildflowers in the spring and summer.
For the outdoorsman: Take a scenic hike or bike ride
Enjoying a hike is a wonderful way for your guests to bond and also see the stunning views of Aspen. Matt Kuhn, Trails Manager for the City of Aspen tells us, “There are also many hiking opportunities around the area, and one of our favorites is the Ajax Trail. Hikers traverse the base of Aspen Mountain with great views of town and Smuggler Mountain. Those willing to venture out of a bit can explore trails around the Maroon Bells and other public lands in the valley.” These hikes are not for the faint of heart, with the Aspen Mountain hike taking about 2 hours and bringing you up to a height of 3,000+ vertical feet. Another trip up, Little Nell Run, takes hikers from the gondola to Spar Gulch at the top. This is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch on the sundeck and take in the breathtaking views.
(Aspen Mountain, 675 E. Durant Avenue call 970-925-1220 for more information)
Other beautiful hikes include American Lake and Cathedral Lake. These trails are difficult as well rising over 2,000 feet through groves, boulder fields and switchbacks. The trip will take you about 2-3 hours and is about 6 miles roundtrip. Pack water, snacks, layers and wear hiking shoes. After taking in the scenic views, your group can head to Pine Creek Cookhouse for lunch.
(Pine Creek Cookhouse, 11399 Castle Creek Road call 970-925-1044 for reservations)
For those that prefer biking, there are a number of trails for visitors to enjoy. Matt Kuhn shares, “One of the most popular bike rides in the valley is to rent a bicycle in Aspen and ride along the Rio Grande trail. Cyclists can ride from Aspen as far as they are comfortable, and one of the most popular destinations is to ride to the Woody Creek Tavern which is about 8 miles one way from Aspen.”
For the sports enthusiasts: Enjoy 18 holes Do you have golfers in your group? The semi-private, par-72 Snowmass Club golf course is a great place to play. Book tee times for your group and begin your day at the practice area. After tackling the bunkers, challenging greens and sculpted fairways, visit the Black Saddle Bar and Grille for something to eat.
(Snowmass Golf Club, 0239 Snowmass Club Circle, call 970-923-5600 for tee times)
For the fitness fanatic: Battle the stand up paddle board
Book an instruction class for the newest passion in Aspen, stand up paddle boarding (SUP). Whether you are looking for instruction on still water or the river, it is a great workout and thrilling activity to try. The Aspen Kayak and SUP academy offers full and half day lessons as well as kayak expeditions on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers for beginners and advanced paddlers.
For the foodie: Enjoy local cuisine
Foodies in the group will enjoy sampling local cuisines through a food tour or cooking class. Renée shares, “Another option for weddings is to take over either our small, less expensive Sunset Dinner at Burlingame Cabin or the version at the Lynn Britt Dinner that accommodate 60-65 (guests) and more with a tent. In the past many people have used these venues for their Rehearsal Dinners.”
At the Burlingame and Lynn Britt Cabin’s you can spend the evening by the campfire, enjoy conversation, live music, and s’mores under the stars. What a great way to kick-off your wedding weekend!
These are just a few of the many options for recreational activities those getting married in or visiting Aspen can participate in. Whether you choose rafting, hiking, biking or even a hot air balloon ride, any of these adventures will be an unforgettable experience and create great memories for everyone!
Congratulations to Cara and Austin! Married July 12, 2014 in Aspen Colorado.
Cara shares her wedding story and tips for a bride planning a destination wedding in Aspen.
Our Story: Austin and I met our freshman year of high school, started dating in college and after 8 years we got engaged on a trip to New York City.
How we decided on the Ceremony location: We took our time planning, even played around with the idea of a large, traditional wedding, but in the end we knew we wanted something less conventional. After a weekend vacation to Aspen, in particular Maroon Bells, we knew we had found the perfect place for an intimate mountain wedding. We invited 15 guests and it set the tone for the entire wedding process – everything felt very stress-free and comfortable.
Maroon Bells Amphitheatre is one of the most picturesque places we both have ever been. With snow still on the mountaintops, tons of wildlife (we even saw a moose) and a crystal clear lake, it was majestic and magical, the perfect location. During the months leading up to the wedding we worked with our amazing officiant to personalize the ceremony. It was a process we really enjoyed and we felt like in the end we were able to truly make it our own. One of the ideas we incorporated was a passing of the rings ceremony. Austin’s brother started the ring ceremony by sharing a blessing. We asked each of our guests to share a few words as the rings were passed from one person to the next and it was something we both will never forget as we laughed and cried with everyone’s sweet comments. We also incorporated a tree planting ceremonial, where we planted two Aspen trees after the ceremony to symbolize our growing relationship. It’s something we can always go back and visit during our future trips to Colorado.
Austin’s family lived in Colorado for many years and it’s a place that has a lot of meaning to him. We vacation there every year and always find ourselves wishing we were in the mountains. Having our destination wedding in Aspen was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made and everything else came easy after that. We also knew immediately that we wanted Stewart-Hunter Photography to be there. I’ve been a bridesmaid in weddings they have shot before and after seeing how beautiful their photographs were, I couldn’t wait to ask them to photograph our big day.
Our Reception: We decided on the Limelight Hotel because they had the perfect space for us – a balcony that seated 15 people perfectly. We wanted the reception to have a cozy, intimate feeling, which is why we all sat at one table together surrounded by candlelight. We had a fire pit nearby to sit by afterwards and lights strung around the balcony. The customer service at Limelight was amazing, which made it an easy decision.
I’m lucky to have a very creative family who helped with a lot of the decorations. My sister hand-made the napkins and herringbone table runner and my dad cut a tree down at the family farm to create the name card and candlestick holders. I was really excited about the calligraphy too. We incorporated it everywhere we could – name cards, menus, small and large signs, etc. And finally, I wanted the florals to look natural with extra foliage and wispy stems added in, almost as if you picked them there. I was thrilled with how it all came together and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setup.
Best Memory from the wedding day: During the months leading up to the wedding we worked with our amazing officiant to personalize the ceremony. It was a process we really enjoyed and we felt like in the end we were able to truly make it our own. One of the ideas we incorporated was a passing of the rings ceremony. Austin’s brother started the ring ceremony by sharing a blessing. We asked each of our guests to share a few words as the rings were passed from one person to the next and it was something we both will never forget as we laughed and cried with everyone’s sweet comments. Our second favorite memory would be having our first dance at the base of the mountain. A close friend played the guitar and we danced to Jack Johnson’s Better Together.
Advice for brides planning a destination wedding: We had quite the scare that bad weather would force us to move our reception location inside, but it missed us by an inch and left us with an amazing rainbow and even better sunset. The day went exactly how we had hoped – intimate and memorable. My advice to brides would be to have a plan B – just in case and to not overthink the weather. It’s out of your hands. Just enjoy your day and know everything will work itself out!
Ceremony Location: Maroon Bells Amphitheatre Reception Location: Limelight Hotel Cake: City Market Macarons: Franck Thirion Bakery Cookies: Paradise Bakery Flowers: Mountain Flowers of Aspen Photography: Stewart Hunter Photography Calligraphy/Invitations: Caitlin Welsh of Charlie Whiskey Bride’s Dress: Nicole Miller Bride’s Shoes: Anthropologie MOH’s Dress: Mod Cloth MOH’s Shoes: Anthropologie Groom’s Suit: Banana Republic Shirt, tie, tie clip: J. Crew Best Man’s Suit: Nordstrom
Aspen Weddings Liz & Chad Gardner’s Aspen Mountain I Do’s!
Liz shares her wedding story: We all know Colorado weather is unpredictable but as we all say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait 20 minutes.” Upon waking up the morning of our wedding to pouring rain, we were certain it would clear by 5 pm. Heading up the gondola in rain clouds at 4 p.m. we were starting to lose confidence our Wedding Deck ceremony would take place. But just in the nick of time and thanks to someone up above, the clouds finally started to part at 4:30 and with 170 guests wrapped in fleece blankets, we said our “I Do’s” with an incredible backdrop of clearing clouds and mountains behind us.
With the rain coming back in, we moved inside the Sundeck where the 11 piece band, Soul X, kept the party going and the dance floor packed the entire night. Guests noshed on late night sliders and fries, made their mark on our antique ski guestbook, and captured the evening in the photobooth.
Tips and Ideas from Liz:
How did you decide on your ceremony location?
We live in Denver but have spent a lot of time in the Aspen Valley over the years. Having exchanged our first “I love yous” in Aspen, the town has become very special to us and thus we knew we wanted to say our “I do’s” there. After looking at a number of the amazing Aspen venues, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to wed on the magical Aspen Mountain Wedding Deck. Anyone that steps foot up there knows how incredible and memorable of a spot it was for us and all of our guests.
How did you decide on your reception location?
With family and friends coming to Colorado from all over the country, we wanted to give them a one-of-a-kind reception experience. We knew that dancing the night away at 11,000 ft. would be unlike anything else people had experienced! Plus the service and quality of The Little Nell was truly second-to-none.
Little Nell, Hotel Aspen & Molly Gibson
What was the mood at the wedding?
We wanted our wedding to truly be an event full of love, joy, lots of laughter, and a whole lot of fun!! From starting the weekend off with a Mexican themed rehearsal dinner at El Rincon to our wedding ceremony officiated by our brother-in-law, the wedding was all about fun and family.
Any advice for a bride planning a destination wedding?
Work with great vendors. We absolutely loved working with The Little Nell, Robin Proctor, Full Circle, Harrington Smith Florals and Jane Floyd and Associates. They helped to make our vision a reality and were so calming throughout the entire wedding day, despite the weather challenges. We would also advise to pick and chose your priorities. You could go crazy and spend endless hours on detail after detail that no one might ever notice. Decide what is most important to you for your wedding day and make those items your planning priority!!
Best memory from the wedding day?
As we already heard the weather wasn’t exactly perfect for most of the day but just as we said our final “I dos”, kissed and made our way up the aisle to the sounds of cheers, for the very first time all day the sun broke through the clouds and beamed down on us. It was truly like our loved ones that could not be there with us in person were smiling down on us and giving us their blessing!!
We asked our local Aspen wedding florists what the winter wedding bouquet trends are for this winter, as well as helpful advice for a bride deciding on what to have for her winter wedding bouquet and how to care for it.
Winter Mountain Wedding Trend:
Here is what Beth Gill, owner of Aspen Branch Studio had to say . “For this upcoming wedding season, many bride’s are celebrating with an abundance of foliage vs an abundance of flowers. Garlands are very popular. Making the looks very much like a “Winter’s Night Dream”
Choosing flowers for a winter wedding bouquet:
Many brides see gorgeous wedding images and floral inspiration on Pinterest and other wedding magazines, but often, the bouquets you see were from summer or spring weddings. Those flowers may not be available during the winter months.
“Pick a color palette instead of a specific flower. The florist will know what is available at the time of your wedding and will be able to choose the best options available for your wedding”
“White and cream is popular as well as, blush, silver and gold with some added Dusty Miller foliage. Add special elements like white feathers, rhinestones, jewels, brooches, pins, or something sentimental. Frosted pine cones are a great touch for a mountain wedding.
For a “Green” winter wedding bouquet
If you want only locally grown Colorado flowers and greenery, here is an idea from Ashley Krest of Field Florals “Using dried material mixed with fresh evergreen and winterberry/rosehip is a nice way to try and stay local and in-season for a winter wedding!”
Image above shows lavender bouquets, the flowers in the next bouquet is all freeze dried with added pine cones and grass. Lavender image by www.thephotolove.com and freeze dried bouquet by Smoky Mtn Woodcrafts
How to care for your wedding bouquet:
Flowers are very delicate and don’t do well in the freezing cold. Whenever possible, keep bouquet indoors with the ends in water.
“For our brides that prefer beautiful seasonal blooms over foliage and berry bouquets, we recommend providing two bridal bouquets. If the ceremony or photos are to be outside during the winter, a second bouquet will remain fresh and beautiful when the event moves inside.”
Go west, young couple, for a perfectly cosmopolitan wedding in a stunning mountain setting
“There’s no sales pitch required for Aspen Wedding,” a friend says when I mention I’m writing a story on the picturesque mountain town. “It sells itself.”
They’re right, of course. What with the postcard-perfect 360 views, too-cute-to-be-true downtown, world-class year-round activities and—my personal favorite—some of the best food in the state, Aspen isn’t exactly an undiscovered destination.
But somehow, when it comes to weddings, it’s still overlooked.
Maybe it’s the distance; if you’re not one of the town’s 6,600 permanent residents, it’s likely going to be a destination wedding. Or the perceived cost; it’s true that Aspen isn’t going to crack any top 10 lists for budget vacations. In reality, planning a wedding in Aspen is a whole lot easier than you might expect. And with myriad options across a variety of price points, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Or it can—this is Aspen after all.
“Whether you want a wedding in a private club, at an elegant estate or with a mountain vista, Aspen has it all,” explains Jane Floyd, event planner and owner of Always Aspen. “There’s something here for everyone.”
JoLynelle Farina, a Texas-based bride, knew she wanted a destination wedding but wasn’t sure where to go. As soon as a friend mentioned Aspen, “I instantly knew that’s where we needed to have it.”
Location, location, location
Although the town itself is a mere 3.5 square miles, Aspen has wedding-day options ranging from rustic to extravagant. Farina chose the St. Regis, equally famous for its location at the base of Aspen Mountain as it is for its luxurious amenities.
“I love the entire hotel and the feeling of glamour and elegance,” Farina says. “I wanted a wedding outside, and being out in the tented courtyard with candlelight was so romantic and cozy. It was truly magical—the snow even began to fall as I walked down the aisle!”
From flowers to décor to guest amenities, the St. Regis leaves nothing to chance. Menu consultations are held with Executive Chef David Viviano to ensure the couple is completely satisfied with their dining decisions. Both the Mountain Plaza and the Fountain Courtyard (where Farina said ‘I Do’) are stunning outdoor venues, while the Grand Astor Ballroom is a stately indoor option capable of accommodating up to 500 guests.
Farina wanted a refined, elegant ambiance for her wedding, and the St. Regis gave her exactly what she was looking for.
“None of our guests had been to a wedding quite like ours,” she says. “There’s so much for your guests to do even when it’s not time for ‘wedding things.’ The town is so cozy, and you’re always just around the corner from someone else in the wedding party.”
Another posh option is the Little Nell, Aspen’s singular five-star, five-diamond hotel. As the only hotel with ski-in, ski-out access to Aspen Mountain’s 64 miles of trails, it’s the perfect choice for those looking to hit the slopes in between festivities.
The Little Nell also boasts exclusive access to the mountain’s summit—and its unparalleled views. An idyllic setting for an outdoor wedding, guests arrive by gondola and enjoy the ceremony on a terraced lawn at 11,212 feet. You can keep the party going on the summit or, for the altitude-averse, host your reception back in one of the Little Nell’s many indoor venues, with spaces designed to accommodate anywhere from fifty to five hundred guests.
Hotel Jerome is another upscale locale and one of the few Aspen venues on the National Register of Historic Places. Wanting to rival the luxury and hospitality of European hotels, Jerome Wheeler built his namesake hotel in 1889. Fully restored to its original splendor, this Victorian Eastlake-gothic design lays claim to the Grand Ballroom, which holds up to 500 guests, features16-foot ceilings and provides sweeping views of the Elk Mountain Range. The Jerome’s Wheeler Room and Antler Bar offer a taste of historic Aspen and also provide more views of the surrounding Rockies.
For the couple who’s a little more modern, the Aspen Meadows Resort has great style. Perched on 40 acres in Aspen’s West End, the Resort offers 22,000 square feet of event space and fourteen unique venues, including the al fresco Aspen Park and striking McNulty Room. Designed in the modernist Bauhaus style, the Resort features on-site art installations bathed in sunlight, fresh air and unassuming elegance. All 98 guest suites come equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows, meaning unfettered views of the mountains for everyone.
If environmental responsibility is a top priority, Aspen’s Limelight Hotel makes going green super chic. The Limelight prides itself on reducing its impact on the planet via eco-conscious projects like their restaurant composting program, photocell-controlled exterior lights and the use of local, organic ingredients whenever possible. Aspen’s “newest” hotel isn’t really so new – past incarnations include a rowdy dinner theater and nightclub in the 1950s. Razed and rebuilt in 2005, the Limelight now offers a contemporary but intimate setting for smaller weddings, with locales ranging from the lively lounge to a pool-side courtyard. Its central location makes it easy for everyone at the wedding to get around town.
Just three miles outside of Aspen’s city center is the T-Lazy-7 Ranch, the area’s oldest working ranch. Operated by the Deane family since 1938 and tucked away near the base of the Maroon Bells (North America’s most photographed peaks), the Ranch provides raw beauty in an intimate surrounding. The Wedding Meadow, the Ranch’s sprawling outdoor wedding venue, rests in a rolling, tree-lined pasture with an impressive view of Pyramid Peak – a 14,018-foot marvel.
The Deane family works with couples to create their dream weddings, from cozy, indoor spaces warmed by stone fireplaces to twinkle-lit outdoor galas. Guests love staying here for the plethora of year-round outdoor activities, including horseback riding and snowmobiling. A bonus: T-Lazy-7 is the only snowmobile operation permitted to offer rides in the White River National Forest right up to the Maroon Bells.
It’s the Little Things that Thrill
Of course, the ceremony and reception venues are just part of the equation. What about all the other details to which every diligent bride must attend?
“Don’t worry,” says Floyd. “Aspen really has it all. Every need will be met.”
For flowers, Harrington Smith offers designs and inspiration ranging from mountain chic to modern beauty, with everything else in between. Another option is the Aspen Branch, which not only provides beautiful blooms but also lighting, furniture and other props.
While most Denver-area photographers are willing to travel, Aspen-based Robin Proctor knows her home territory better than most, having photographed at all of the major (and not-so-major) venues.
Perhaps the best thing about Aspen—in addition to being one of the most scenic spots in America—is the food. Aspen has a big city restaurant scene in a cozy mountain town; their restaurants will impress even the most discerning foodies.
While the Caribou Club is known as Aspen’s exclusive, members-only dinner and evening club, it also offers full-service catering for non-members. And for those looking for a non-traditional, yet intimate, reception or rehearsal dinner, Matsuhisa—known for its fusion of South American and Japanese cuisine—has three private dining options for up to seventy guests.
Piñons, owned by Culinary Institute of America graduate Rob Mobilian, serves up locally-driven classic American fare with sophistication (think buffalo tenderloin with boursin potatoes and herb-crusted rack of Colorado lamb).
Also check out Mawa’s Kitchen. Whether you’re planning a casual bridesmaid luncheon or a formal wedding reception, their full range of catering services has got you covered. M&M also offers private jet catering for hungry jet-setters.
It’s as easy as, well, cake, to select an exquisite dessert.In addition to designing beautiful cakes, D’Elissious Cake Studio of Aspen uses wholesome, natural ingredients to remind its customers what a baked-from-scratch cake tastes like. Owner Elissa Buckley has impressive baking chops, having honed her skills at the Little Nell and Boulder’s Spruce Confections.
But back to my friend’s point: you don’t need a sales pitch. No matter that Aspen is chock-full of gorgeous hotels, mouthwatering food and everything you’ll need for unforgettable nuptials. It’s Aspen. It sells itself. – Jessica Lara