December 13, 2016
Mountain weddings come in all shapes and sizes for a timeless effect that balances more contemporary styles
The wedding decks atop Vail and Beaver Creek often take the cake when it comes to mountain venues, but creating a day around the area's backdrop doesn't have to be from the most prominent vista. Vail Valley weddings have their own charm, and balance mountain splendor with all the intangibles that make a wedding personal. Many amenities come naturally at some of the area's venues that aren't located at the top of the mountain.
JoAnn Moore, of JoAnn Moore Weddings, is a Certified Professional Wedding Consultant — the only planner of such credentials in the state of Colorado — and says that although mountain weddings tend to be timeless, there are ways to incorporate current trends into your day while still capturing the essence of the area.
"Tradition is coming back and it's coming back in a big way," she says. "What's old is new again; I think Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding had something to do with that, but also, a lot of couples have come here for years for ski trips with their families, and having a ceremony that honors family tradition is a way to bring those memories to life."
Church services, veils and other accouterments that make Grandma happy are back in style, and the interfaith chapels around the Vail Valley are perfect spots to take advantage of the trend. The Vail Interfaith Chapel welcomes all denominations, and is located along Gore Creek in Vail Village with views of the slopes. Similarly, Beaver Creek's Interfaith Chapel is located at the base of Beaver Creek, and is surrounded by aspens and equipped with big windows for supreme mountain panoramas and light.
If an outdoor wedding is a must for your special day, Moore suggests taking advantage of the big space — and big views — available at some of the private ranches around the area. Piney River Ranch is a favorite, and offers a spectacular lake-side backdrop of the Gore Range.
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"Piney has the space for a ceremony on the dock of the lake and then the reception in their open-air pavilion," she says. "Photo ops are endless."
The reception is another opportunity to mix a bit of current wedding style into a classic mountain-themed celebration; buffet style dinners are out, as Colorado flavor is working its way into the menu. The farm-to-table movement, in particular, has become more popular for couples looking to give their guests a taste of Colorado grown and raised staples. Some of the Vail area wedding venues are even getting in on the locally-grown fun to complement spaces drenched in big, Colorado vistas.
"Larkspur Restaurant in Vail Village has a lovely lawn with views of the Gore Range, and the venue also has a wonderful great room with a large fire place which works perfectly as the backup ceremony site for rain, or can be used as the ceremony site for your first choice," says Moore. "Chef customizes the menu with unique items and can make the food from local fare —beef, fish and Colorado fruits and vegetables."
Other local venue staples include Donovan Pavilion, located right on Gore Creek, as well as on-mountain cabins such as Beano's in Beaver Creek and Game Creek in Vail. And Vista Restaurant at the base of Arrowhead has a stellar menu to accompany the friendly atmosphere and great views.
And if a big wedding calls for a big party, Moore suggests using one of the area's ballrooms, which are easy to customize to meet the theme and décor of the wedding, without losing any of the natural aesthetics of the surrounding area.
"All the larger hotels have ballrooms," she says. "A great team can convert an elegant and simple ballroom into something extraordinary, and will never let you forget you are in a beautiful forest."
But if you're going for a much smaller ceremony, Moore's favorite spots include the Betty Ford Gardens, or booking a private suite or home for an intimate venue surrounded by sweeping views, friends and family.
— by Kirsten Dobroth
Out With The Old
Attention to detail can keep the most timeless ceremony up to date with current trends.
- Ditch the cake, and try cupcakes instead. The individual-sized desserts allow guests to customize their dining experience, and keep every palate happy.
- Champagne toasts are always in vogue, but try adding a Colorado whiskey or bourbon bar to the mix to keep things interesting.
- Handmade keepsakes are huge. Check out the local farmers' markets for locally made goodies — soaps, teas and honey are all memorable gifts that will keep guests thinking of your day.
- Brides aren't the only ones making a statement with their look; grooms are increasingly losing the tux for the after party. Find a look that complements your partner, and is comfortable for a night of celebrating with friends and family.
- If it works within the venue's space, bring in a food truck or food cart to keep guests nibbling throughout the night.
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