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
One way to have an Aspen wedding your guests will never forget is to hire a killer live band!
The best way to choose the right band for you is to know what questions to ask before booking.
Party Singers is here to help! Below we have listed the most popular and important questions to ask when booking a band.
The answers have been provided by us based on the answers we would give for our own vivacious variety dance band, Rockslide (Just named one of Denver’s Top 5 Cover Bands by CBS)!
Q: Where is Rockslide based? A: Denver, Colorado
Q: Does Rockslide travel? A: Yes! Rockslide travels all over Colorado, the United States and select international countries.
Q: How many pieces are in the band? A: TEN! Lead & Supporting Vocals- 1 Female and 2 Males, Keys, Guitar, Bass, Drum Set, and three-piece HORN section: Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone.
Q: Can I reduce this number? A: We like to keep the integrity of the sound of the band intact so we always keep Rockslide ten pieces for Saturday night bookings. Having an event on another night of the week? Let’s talk.
Q: Where has Rockslide played? A: At fine hotels and event venues across Colorado and the southwestern U.S. region. Aspen locations include: The Hotel Jerome and St. Regis. Q: Can I see them live? A: YES! You can see them live at our Think Pink event on October 1, 2014. Details here: ROCKSLIDE LIVE
Q: Does Rockslide perform at wedding ceremonies? A: Our incredible guitar player, Tim, is a classically trained guitarist and can perform at ceremonies solo or with a Rockslide vocalist.
Q: Will the band learn songs for me? A: YES! The band will learn up to three new songs for each wedding or event booking if they are not already on their extensive song list.
Q: How does pricing work? A: We offer competitive pricing for this 10-piece band. Rates also include EARLY ARRIVAL for sound check / set-up and professional SOUND ENGINEER and state-of-the-art SOUND EQUIPMENT.
Basic lighting is also included. Please contact us to find out more! Q: How do we make it look great? A: ADD LIGHTING! Here is a list of Aspen based companies on Aspen Wedding Guide
Q:What’s the communication like? A: The Party Singers office will take care of all contracting and get all important information to the band. Our clients also have the option to discuss details with our bandleader, Dave. These meetings, phone calls or Skype dates happen at Denver’s StudioWed or Trulife Studios three months prior to wedding or event and again four weeks prior.
Q: How will they know how to introduce my wedding party and which songs to play when? A: We request our clients to fill our ONLINE RECEPTION MUSIC FORM no later than four weeks before the wedding. All info needed is ultra-clear.
Q: What do I have to provide? A: ROCKSLIDE RIDER ITEMS
A safe, secure stage or performance space at least 20’ across X 16’ deep (20’ X 20’ is preferred.) A raised stage is ideal so your guests can see the band. A holding room or green room for Talent at Event Venue. Room will include: Private space for Talent to change into event dress and enjoy breaks Chair(s) for Talent for breaks Security to leave personal belongings Restrooms that must be relatively close to the holding room Sufficient amount of drinking water and non-alcoholic beverages. (Tea, coffee and/or cold sodas are much appreciated.) Power for sound and light equipment: Four (4) dedicated (not sharing with other elements) 20 amp circuits
*If event is outdoors, electrical generator may be necessary at Client’s cost.
Hot vendor meals for the band and sound engineer to be served after sound check and before their first set.
Gratuity is encouraged but in no way required.
Q: Are there travel fees within Colorado? A: Up to 49 miles from Denver is FREE!
The various details can be overwhelming when planning a wedding, as it is often unclear which vendors are supposed to be tipped and when. Keep in mind gratuity is optional, a tip should reflect the quality of service one provides and doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary.It is appropriate to tip anyone who went above and beyond to execute your event seamlessly.
Here you will find Gold Leaf Event Design & Production’s wedding gratuity guide:
Check your contracts! Some gratuities are already included. It’s likely the catering, floral, lighting and audiovisual companies have already built these charges into their proposals for you.
The contract will typically include gratuity. If it does not, it customary to tip 15-20% of the total catering costs.
Wedding planners do not expect gratuity.However, if your coordinator bent over backwards, beyond the scope of their contract to ensure your day was perfect, it is standard to give them up to $500 or a nice gift.
Some of the thoughtful gifts the Gold Leaf Event Design & Production team has received include:
·A one-year subscription to Birchbox or a Wine of the Month Club.
·A case of Veuve Clicquot
·Gift certificates to local Aspen restaurants
Hair and Makeup:
One should tip 20% for helping you look your best on such a special day. However, if the stylist or artist you’ve hired owns the company or salon, guidelines state tipping is not expected.
If gratuity is not included in the contract, tipping drivers 20% of the total cost (not including tax) is recommended.This is to be split evenly between the drivers.
It is appropriate to tip each musician $50 for ceremony and cocktail music, and $100 per musician for entertainment at the reception.
These vendors help provide the gift of reliving your special day over again as the years pass.Once the tent has been broken down and your bouquet has dried out, photos and videos will be there to help bring your memories back to life.A $50-$100 to per each photographer and videographer is highly recommended.
If a Pastor, Rabbi, Priest or member of a religious clergy is officiating the ceremony, a donation to their affiliated church or synagogue of $100+ is suggested. Whereas civil officiants’ receive a flat fee, and are not allowed to accept gratuities.If an officiant is traveling to a destination wedding, it is standard for the host to cover costs of their travel and lodging accommodations, invite he/she to the event and gift them with a non-monetary item.
Alternative ways to tip:
Gratuities are to be decided at the event’s completion.As we mentioned, perks don’t always have to be monetary.If the wedding budget doesn’t permit for monetary gratuities, we have additional ideas for you!
Send a thank you note with the following:
·A bottle of wine (left over from reception or purchased)
Aspen locals tie the knot at Hallam Lake. Congratulations to Haley and Jason.
Haley and Jason’s October 5th wedding proved to be an excellent time to capture the fall colors of Aspen Colorado.
Aspen wedding planner Windy Gillespie created a Victorian-rustic wedding theme and incorporated vibrant rich colors, real antlers, pine cones, vintage place settings, decorative mercury glass centerpieces and mismatched picture frames to compliment the natural elements of Hallam Lake and the rustic urban feel of the Elks Club Lodge.
How did he propose? Jason (the groom/husband) took me to Kenichi, favorite restaurant of ours where we had our first date in Aspen. We had an amazing meal, walked home and went to unlock the door. He started checking his pockets and told me he forgot something at the restaurant. When I asked him what he forgot, he said he forgot to ask me to marry him. And he popped the question right in front of our stoop! Perfectly simple yet perfectly us.
How did you decide on Aspen for your wedding location? Aspen is our home and one of the most beautiful places in the world. We wanted to share this special place with friends and family coming from around the country.
How did you choose your venue? We chose the ceremony venue (ACES at Hallam Lake) because it was so close to in town and easy to get to, but more importantly it was a gorgeous nature preserve with beautiful views. It was important to us to have our guests feel like they can see what Aspen had to offer! It was perfect with a small blanket of snow on the surrounding trees. We couldn’t have planned better. We picked Elks Club Lodge for our reception because it almost had “urban” Aspen feel since it was so close into town. We went from a meadow to a historic building!
Were there any special or unique details, entertainment or activities at the reception? The building has a roof, which was really fun to run up to and cool down, taking in all the views of downtown Aspen. We also had a photo booth with funny ski-related props and outfits. What really kicked up the party a notch was Windy bringing in light-up tambourines, hand held bubble machines, and other things people could play with while dancing. They were a hit with our guests and made the pictures look phenomenal!
What was the wedding cake flavor? We had three different flavors of cupcakes (we really aren’t wedding cake people) and they were Pina Colada, White Russian and Strawberry Daquiri. So fun and creative.
Favorite memories: “Jason and I did a first look and seeing him then was the best moment of my life.”
“Seeing my dad before the ceremony was our special time that I’ll never forget – he was so proud of me!”
Congratulations to Lauren and Florent de Goriaïnoff
January 9, 2014
How did you decide on Aspen Colorado for your destination wedding? For our Franco-American wedding, Florent and I worked together to create a week of parties in order to introduce our French contingent to the American one. Florent and I are “Winter” people and always knew we wanted a winter wedding. He grew up skiing in the Alpes twice a year and I also enjoy skiing. Being based in Paris, we thought about having the wedding in Méribel or Mergève in the French Alpes. After further discussion, we decided that my family was bigger and it would be easier for his family to make a trip to the States than mine to France. My father suggested Aspen during a conversation. Aspen seemed to us like the best choice as the village is accessible by foot so our guests would not need to rent cars and the fact that there are great restaurants, shops, and many things to do for the non-skiers helped. I had only been to Aspen once during the summer, so while I was back in the States for Christmas, my mother and I made a trip out there to see some venues and get a better feel for the town and atmosphere.
As soon as we entered town, I fell in love with the city. It is an old mining town and has managed to keep it’s charm and authenticity while at the same time integrating this very cosmopolitain aspect into the mix. We are huge foodies and really wanted the best food and wine for our reception, so we researched and made appointments with 3 places to visit while we were in Aspen. My criteria were the following: 1.) Had to have great wine and food. 2.) Had to allow us to go as late as possible for the reception, which is 2:00 am in Colorado. French weddings usually go until sunrise the next day, so this was a very important aspect…ending at midnight was not an option for us. 3.) Needed to be able to host the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in the same venue as we did not want guests to be bothered to move nor upset the “flow” of the evening. 4.) Needed to be able to host the reception and dancing in the same room the whole night as I find the best parties are always the ones where everything is centered in one room and around the dance floor instead of dancing in one room and having the bar/tables to sit in another.
Read Lauren’s helpful tips for brides below…
How did you choose your wedding ceremony and reception venue?
Out of the 3 venues we visited, the newly renovated Hotel Jerome just completely blew our minds! The deco was this eclectic mix of old and new that made you feel like you were in someone’s extremely stylish home for drinks instead of a hotel. I loved the double fireplace, the paintings, artifacts, the Chesterfield couches in the lobby…it just made us want to stay all day, read a magazine and sip tea! Christine Follin, their catering sales manager, met us and gave us the tour and talked us through everything including a tour of the ballroom, where the ceremony and reception could be held. I had a great feeling about The Jerome, but was not yet convinced. After visiting the other venues, we went back that evening to have a drink and discuss what we had seen. I decided to go take one last look at the ballroom while we were there. As I was walking down the breezeway, I felt like I was seeing everything differently this time, but could not understand why I felt like it was the first time I was seeing this venue. Maggie, who works at the Jerome, turned on the lights in the ballroom, opened the curtains, and it was pure magic!! Then I figured it out…I was seeing it all at night!! All the lighting, sconces, lit trees outside the windows, how the ballroom suddenly became this creamy, celestial, space! It suddenly felt romantic and intimate. I could envision us surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of candles and creamy flowers…it was that “awe” moment some brides experience, and I just knew. I walked back to my mother and told her to go have a look. She came back almost in tears after seeing everything at night like I did. From then on, my vision started taking shape. During our week in Aspen, we had a Colorado Micro Brew party, an Après Ski Party, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding, Brunch, and Farewell Dinner.
We chose not to have a wedding party because we just wanted it to be the two of us at the altar. We did have our brothers as ushers for the ceremony and my nieces and nephews as flowers girls and ring bearers. I decided I did not want the girls to carry flowers, but lanterns instead. Since our colors were cream/black/and touches of red, they carried red lanterns, wore black satin dresses, cream fur capes, and red scarves. A family friend came over and helped put Christmas greenery and berries around the base of the handles on the lanterns in order to soften up the metal look. The brothers wore winter plaid ties in the same colors and the little boys winter plaid bow ties.
I was a bit picky when it came to the deco. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look, but more importantly, how I wanted it to FEEL! I am a huge fan of candles for creating ambiance, intimacy, and romance. After having seen the ballroom at night, I wanted a candlelit ceremony and tons of candles on the tables at the cocktail hour and dinner. The only flowers present at our ceremony were the mothers’ posies, the petal covered aisle, and my red rose bouquet. I really wanted to respect the candles-only theme and, furthermore, did not want guests to get a hint of what type of flowers we would have for the reception. I guess you could say I wanted them to be surprised! One thing we did that was fun, was we had servers with trays of champagne and Perrier at the entrance to the ceremony so people could grab a glass (or 2!) and already start celebrating! We wanted to set the tone early in the evening and express to our guests that this was a party! Our order of ceremony cards read: “Music Starts, We Get Married, Everyone Parties”. This was the only idea I took off of the site Pinterest.
For the cocktail hour, we went with red roses and candles to match my bouquet and give a bit of color. We did not want to have any flowers that resembled the centerpieces for the reception, and red roses are so pretty in winter against a snowy back drop. One thing we added that was European and French was the use of a crier to call people to dinner. Our friend, Mathieu, who is perfectly bilingual played this role for us. He stood with a list and announced each persons name at for a table, then these people were escorted by servers to their tables. We thought it was a nice touch to have everyone’s name called and personally escorted to their tables…this also eliminated place cards!
As for the reception flowers, I really only found one centerpiece that I liked after months of researching. I only like centerpieces with one type of flower in them and I needed to have extremely tall, substantial vases in order to create height as the ballroom has tall ceilings. I also knew the vase had to be wide in the middle in order to be filled with water that would reflect the candlelight. I chose cream tulips because the ensemble of about one hundred tulips and their long leaves made for an ample and towering centerpiece that respected the black/cream/gold and touches of red color scheme, but added some nice green into the mix to make them stand out. Around the bottoms of the vases and in the center of the long head table, masses of candles were put.
We decided to create a memory table in order to have those who could not be with us, closer to us for our special day. Many people were moved to tears looking at the photos, including us.
We also found a skiing couple cake topper and thought that that added a bit of our fun-loving personalities to the night. Our favorite cake is red velvet cake, so we chose it for our cake. It also added that touch of red that was seen throughout the evening.
My brother is a graphic designer and designed the menu and order of ceremony cards for our wedding. We ordered the paper for these a few weeks before the wedding and because of huge snow storms in the midwest, it did not arrive until the night before we were to leave for Aspen! We got a bottle of wine and started printing at about 9:00 pm at night. All we could do was laugh and keep the wine flowing! They turned out beautifully and we had made a great memory. My brother also made a video of photos from both our lives set to music. We played it after everyone was seated for the reception. It was such a great moment filled with tons of laughs! Most of the people in the room had either not seen my childhood photos or Florent’s. As we are from different countries, it permitted people to discover a bit more about us and our families through this video.
My brother-in-law owns cocktail bars, wine bars, and restaurants in Europe and the US, so when it came time to pick a signature cocktail, we wanted to pay homage to him and the bar we met in. He and his partners created a cocktail in 2006 called the Experience #1 that was served at their first bar, Experimental Cocktail Club , in Paris. This is also the bar where Florent and I met. It just seemed natural to choose this cocktail to be served to our guests throughout the night. One of my brothers is also in the wine and spirit business, so when it came time to choose the wine, we relied on his advice and suggestions. Our family friend is doing some really great things out in California with wine and we tried a few of his wines and chose the Mordecai by Banshee red wine to serve at our wedding. We were happy we could serve a friend’s wine and showcase some of the good reds that are coming out of the USA to our French guests. For the white wine, we chose one from Burgundy to add the french touch to our Franco-American wedding.
For our menu, we served elk for an appetizer, lamb/trout for the main dish, a cheese plate, and then red velvet cake. We added the cheese plate in order to keep the French theme going. We also chose local cuisine by choosing the Colorado lamb, trout, and elk. If all these people were descending on Aspen from different countries, it seemed only logical to showcase the local meats, fish, and cheeses. It was all delicious and cooked perfectly. Often times wedding food is mediocre at best, but The Hotel Jerome knocked this one out of the park! We had guests telling us that it was one of the best meals they have had, period. That was nice to hear since we had put a lot of thought into it.
Best memories from your wedding day I borrowed my sister-in law’s veil for the big day. When it came time to put it on me, I enlisted her help. However, at that moment she was getting her hair curled and had to put the veil on with her hair in mini, separated pony tails, and half curled! The photos are hilarious of this moment. We were on the verge of crying because the moment was so special, yet also busting out laughing…a great moment for me.
I also LOVED the fact that everyone hit the dance floor while the appetizer was being served! I told the DJ to play music we wanted to dance to during dinner, to keep everyone’s toes tapping. The kids ran out to the dance floor and started dancing and singing to the music!! It was too tempting for the adults, as well. We all got up and joined the kids and ended up dancing in between the courses…we wanted a party, and WE GOT IT!!!!
I do have to mention that a plane crashed at the Aspen Airport 4 days before our wedding, which closed the airport for a few days. At that same time, a snowstorm hit the midwest and flights were all cancelled to the airports surrounding Aspen and eventually into Aspen once the airport finally opened! I went to the hospital 2 days before the wedding because I had staph infection in my throat as well as the flu. There were lots of things thrown into that week that were so unexpected and potentially disastrous for us and our wedding. Guests hopped into cars, carpooled, drove 15 hours to get to Aspen, waited in airports for days, drove 2 hours south of their hometowns just to hop a flight that was actually scheduled to leave for Colorado…we were moved beyond words to see the extreme measures our guests were going to just to simply be there for our day. The fact that every single one of them made it, was just amazing and so touching to us. Everyone in that room really did have something to celebrate and were ready to do it once they arrived.
Any advice for a bride planning a destination wedding? I would say that even before you visit venues, make a list of criteria that are a must for you or you are not flexible with. Call venues and ask about these things and see if your criteria can be met or not. I was thinking about doing my wedding in a state other than Colorado, until I found out that in this state, liquor could not be served after 11 pm and the venue had to be shut down at 11:30 due to a noise ordinance imposed…this was a deal breaker for me and we ended up completely taking a different turn with the location and state.
I would also say that hiring at least a day-of wedding planner is essential for a destination wedding. Jane Floyd of Jane Floyd and Associates and Christine Follin of The Hotel Jerome completely put it all together for me. I communicated my ideas and they made it happen along with my chosen florist. When you are a bride planning a destination event, there needs to be someone locally based that understands your vision and what you want and can tell you if that can happen or not with respect to your chosen location.
Enjoy your engagement, planning, and wedding week…it all goes by so fast!! In the blink of an eye, a year had passed and we were boarding a plane for our honeymoon. Savor every face in that room that night, every hug, every smile…because they all came to this destination wedding for YOU and to be a part of this huge moment in your lives. It was truly on honor to host our guests and it is a week we will never forget.
Wedding groups planning an Aspen, Colorado, wedding come in all shapes and sizes – from small, intimate gatherings to larger groups of 50+ people. Frias Properties of Aspen works with groups of all sizes and takes pride in helping assure that every wedding is an unforgettable success, no matter what time of year or what type of group wants to visit Aspen. Frias also hosts vow renewals, family reunions and business retreats/meetings at the Chateau Roaring Fork conference area located on the scenic Roaring Fork River. Frias Properties manages condominiums, townhouses and private homes ranging from studio condominiums to 7-bedroom townhouses – varying in price from economy to luxury. And for years Frias Properties has added a set of additional services, known as “The Frias Touch.”
Frias Properties Group Sales Manager Lisa Jennings helps engaged couples plan the perfect Aspen getaway wedding – everything from lodging accommodations to the welcome party/rehearsal dinner to the ceremony itself. Lisa works with couples to ensure everything is covered, including (but not limited to):
· Finding your group the right lodging location in town · Ensuring the entire group is lodged near each other · Personally doing a quality-control check of each room prior to the group arrival · Access to any of Frias’ three conference rooms – Chateau Roaring Fork, Fasching Haus and Silverglo · Access to private conference room for functions with cutting-edge audio and video equipment · Welcome party accommodations and catering · Rehearsal dinner accommodations and catering · Wedding ceremony accommodations · Wedding reception accommodations and catering · Honeymoon accommodations
This comes in addition to the number of services that Frias already includes with its rentals:
· Free Aspen airport transfers (*does not include the Independence Square) · Complimentary passes to the Aspen Club & Spa, the valley’s premier full-service spa and workout facility, offering everything from soothing massages to state-of-the-art exercise equipment. · Parking passes · Free Wi-Fi · Mountain views · Close to downtown
Since Lisa works so closely with wedding groups, we asked her for her Top 4 Aspen Wedding Tips:
· Plan at least a week so your group can receive the full Aspen experience. There are so many activities!
· Use the free Aspen airport transportation and book a location close to downtown. In Aspen, you can practically walk everywhere! A car is not necessary.
· Take advantage of our full line of concierge services. The Frias concierge desk can assist with everything from baby-sitting to outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and skiing.
· Work with Lisa to plan your catering or special events as early as possibly to ensure availability.
Next, we asked Lisa, “what’s your top summer lodging recommendations for weddings? Many couples love getting married in Aspen in the summer, when there’s great hiking, biking and scenery. Others love “getting hitched” during the color-change season that takes place usually in late-September and early-October.
“The Galena Street Neighborhood offers fantastic service and a wonderful location close to both Lift 1A and the Silver Queen Gondola,” Lisa said. “The Ritz-Carlton Club at Aspen Highlands is ski-in ski-out located at the base of Highlands, and the Independence Square hotel is a bed and breakfast located in the heart of downtown Aspen. The Silverglo offers a free ski shuttle downtown during season, and the condominiums there are very affordable for Aspen.”
For more information, contact Lisa! She’d love to talk with you and help you plan your most special day! Call her directly at (970) 429-2453 or e-mail Lisa@FriasProperties.com.
You never know what you will get when you have a wedding at the top of a mountain in Colorado. On this September wedding day in Aspen, we were engulfed in clouds, we had rain and we had full sunshine.
This was the perfect recipe for incredible pictures and a memorable wedding day for all.
Congratulations Andrea and Paul! September 14, 2013
From Andrea: We decided on the ceremony location because of the incredible scenery! Aspen was the perfect destination wedding spot for us. It gave us the beautiful mountain scenery that we really wanted, experienced and talented vendors, and amazing hotels and restaurants that everyone could walk to.
I think our wedding combined a lot of different elements. We really wanted to use some natural elements from the surrounding area so we incorporated birch bark vases and our guests threw aspen leaves around us as we left the reception. We got married in September so we also pulled in amazing fall colors in red, orange, and yellow. Our ceremony and reception had a lot of really bright colors, our runner was bright orange, our flowers a combination of red and orange, and we had our florist cut off the heads of sunflowers to lay on all of our reception tables. We really tried to make our choices meaningful and unique to us!
Andrea’s favorite memories:
Watching Paul get tears in his eyes as I walked down the aisle toward him. Saying our vows! (We wrote our own) Dancing with my mom at the reception.
Paul’s favorite memories:
Watching our guests in awe at the view from the top of Aspen mountain. Tourists taking their own pictures of the beautiful bride as she stood by the edge of the mountain. The first dance!
Any advice for a bride planning a destination wedding?
Book early! If you fall in love with ceremony or reception location, book it as early as you can. We booked our locations a year and a half in advance to make sure that we could get the vendors that we really liked. We also chose to focus most of our money on a few key pieces and save money on others. For example, photography was really important to us so we used a big part of our budget on that. To save money we hooked up an iPod to the sound system rather then hiring a DJ or band.