10 tips for planning a mountain wedding
Laughing All the Way to the Altar
You’re engaged — congratulations. Your vision is to have an amazing wedding celebration in the mountain of Colorado, a great choice. As a local wedding planner, allow me to provide a few tips that will assist you with planning your wedding adventure for you, your family and your guests.
Location: Mountain weddings are like no other, from resort hotel venues to elegant chapels and mountain top wedding decks. The venue choice should express who you are and your theme for your wedding day. What experience do you want to give your guests? What photos are most important to you at your chosen location, backdrop of an endless view? A beautiful lake? A romantic meadow surrounded by aspen trees and evergreens?
Budget: Many mountain venues are in resort towns, so you may find yourself paying resort prices. For example, a ski resort town during peak ski season can cost you twice as much as off-season dates. Summer accommodations are less expensive than the winter months and will allow for your guests to explore and enjoy the great outdoors.
Guest lists: I encourage you to consider your guests traveling to the mountains and educate them before they get there as to the effects of the higher elevation, high altitude sun exposure and the importance of hydration so they come prepared. Also be aware, your guests will travel to a destination wedding and stay longer than a weekend if it is a location they have not been to previously. Why not make it a vacation? Provide your guests with a few suggestions of places to go and things to do while they are in town.
Weather: This can be a huge factor when considering an outside wedding site in the mountains. The weather at high altitude can change quickly, so you must have a plan B. Your plan B can be transforming your reception site into your ceremony site. If your ceremony venue is not time constrained, waiting out the storm might be an option as well. Your wedding planner can assist you with your plan B options — they are a must.
Transportation: Curvy mountainous roads can be challenging at times. Your guests will appreciate a prearranged shuttle service to get them from the airport to your mountain location. Also, providing transportation to pick up and take your guests around during the various wedding festivities.
Time of year: When determining the time of the year for your wedding, consider exposing your guests to something they don’t normally see or experience. If they live where they don’t have abundance of winter activities—snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding — consider a magical winter wonderland location, for example. A summer celebration will allow your guests to hike incredible mountain trails, mountain bike up and down some of the best bike routes, attend kayak lessons, go fly-fishing and play golf. The Colorado mountains have it all for you and your guests to enjoy, so make use of the time of year and many of the fun seasonal activities available to them.
Vendors: Trust reputable vendors from the area to avoid paying transportation and accommodation fees. Mountain passes close at times due to weather, sometimes preventing vendors from out of the area to arrive on time. Local vendors know the regulations and hazards, and have the needed permits and insurance many venues require. They are aware of their surroundings, which is extremely helpful and are a wealth of insight and information for you. An outside photographer, for example, might not know of the sweet little bridge over the Gore Creek in Vail which is stunning for a quiet moment together and romantic photos. You will appreciate local vendors knowledge of the area and any issues that may arise.
Lodging: You will appreciate centralized lodging that is close to a variety of shopping, entertainment and restaurants, as well as wedding and reception venues. A Spa within the hotel is great for getting the girls ready on wedding day for hair and makeup needs. A couple’s massage for after the busy wedding day is always something a couple looks forward to. Consider condo options for those guests that wish to stay longer. Many of the mountain venues have their own shuttles to assist your guests with getting to other locations close by.
Activities: Since this might be the first time for many of your guests to come to the mountains, provide suggestions for various activities for all ages and providing them with maps and other information. Hiking trails, golfing, rafting, fly fishing with a guide and ATVs in the backcountry, to name a few for warmer weather activities. For winter, consider horse-drawn sleigh rides to a mountain dinner venue, ski or snowboarding lessons and snowmobile tours.
Hire a professional wedding planner: Wedding consultants familiar with the many challenges of mountain weddings will lessen the stress. When it comes to hiring your vendors and designing your mountain elegant wedding with all the special touches that will make a mountain wedding unique and unforgettable, your professional wedding planner is worth the knowledge, experience, vendor and venue connections and inside information you need and will appreciate. Keep your sanity without any regrets with planning the most amazing mountain wedding celebration you and your guests will ever experience.
JoAnn Moore, MWP, CWC, CGWP, CSS, is a professional wedding planner with JoAnn Moore Weddings, specializing in weddings based in Vail and Lake Tahoe, California. She can be reached at http://www.joannmooreweddings.com, and more information can be found at joann@joannmoore weddings.com.