A whimsical start to Vail’s wedding season

Traci J. Macnamara
Special to the Daily
Destination weddings in the Vail Valley are big business during the spring, summer and fall.
Shane Macomber, Gemini Event Planning | Daily file photo

With wildflowers bursting open in high-alpine meadows and hummingbirds fluttering around in the air, the summer season showcases the best of Vail’s natural beauty. And summertime’s also a time when romance blooms in the air. A cool breeze invites couples to linger in the awe of mountain sunsets, and ideas for dating en plein air abound: jazz concerts on the lawn, picnics at the park, waterfall hikes.

What gets summer romance stirring for locals also makes the Vail area attractive as a wedding destination with growing popularity. Ease of transportation access for guests, a wide variety of accommodation options, and plenty of exciting things to do while in town are all common reasons why couples choose Vail as their wedding location. But opportunities for mountain adventure and the chance to connect with Vail’s scenic surroundings are the top reasons why Vail is on the rise as a highly sought-after wedding destination for those living within the state of Colorado, and far beyond.


“When people come to Vail for a wedding, they’re looking for an experience that extends beyond the ceremony and reception,” says Jennifer Leach-Pletcher, of Gemini Event Planning and Design, a long-standing local and award-winning event company. “A Vail wedding often becomes a weekend filled with adventure or a multi-day celebration that’s a vacation for guests as much as it’s a wedding for the couple getting married.”

A Vail native, Pletcher leverages her local knowledge to plan weddings that include events and activities encompassing anything from spa sessions and hiking outings to scenic gondola rides.

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But the main attraction at a Vail wedding, she notes, isn’t much different from what keeps permanent residents happily put: the mountains.

“The majority of people who plan Vail weddings want to get married outside,” Pletcher explains. “Maybe they’ve seen amazing images of a mountaintop wedding, and that has inspired them to want outdoor beauty as a part of their ceremony. Of if they choose to have an indoor ceremony, the outdoors will often factor into another aspect of the celebration.”

Being creative, in general, is a current wedding trend that shows up more specifically in vibrant, nontraditional floral arrangements, unexpected party themes, and colors that pop way beyond pastel. And choosing a location that’s unique also plays into this trend.

Pletcher estimates that 70 percent of the weddings she plans are Vail destination weddings. Of these, most draw active-minded, adventurous couples who want to share their love — and their love of the outdoors — with guests. One wedding that Pletcher with Gemini Event Planning and Design coordinated already this summer connected with many of these Vail wedding trends — and expanded on them in a big way.


June marks the beginning of the Vail wedding season, and the wedding celebration of Lindsey Barari and Kevin Simmonds — the new Mr. and Mrs. Simmonds — lovingly embraced the whimsy that’s possible with a Vail destination wedding. For some alignment with tradition, the couple chose to hold their wedding ceremony at Vail Interfaith Chapel. But as soon as the chapel doors cracked open following the ceremony, the festivities got underway with an air of unchecked creativity. Acrobatic performers, including a beautifully costumed woman on stilts, met the 115 guests at the chapel and then led them along Gore Creek to The Arrabelle at Vail Square — juggling and cartwheeling along the way — for an open-air reception that featured live music and even more unique entertainment, including fire dancers after sunset.

“Growing up, both of our families vacationed in Colorado, so we both have special memories from those times,” said Lindsey Simmonds, who lived in a house on the same street as Kevin while growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, where the couple now lives.

When they got engaged after going separate ways for their careers and reconnecting back in Omaha in 2014, they got excited about the idea of a mountain wedding.

“Vail is the place we both had in common. It’s our playground, and we wanted to have our guests come here to play and celebrate with us,” she said.

The Simmonds’ weekend wedding, which was coordinated by Pletcher, included activities such as whitewater rafting, biking, and bowling at Bol in Vail Village with guests. It was an action-packed, playful and fun celebration highlighted by the chapel wedding and the outdoor tent reception featuring live music from the Boulder-based band Funkiphino. With so many events, activities, and vendors involved, Lindsey Simmonds can’t imagine coordinating the weekend without professional help.

Pletcher, she says, “is the most astronomical, committed hustler of a wedding planner I’ve ever seen, and I can’t imagine planning this wedding — or now, my life — without her.”

When it was time to unveil the reception tent on the evening of the Simmonds’ wedding, golden light was already flooding over mountain peaks in the distance. The lady on stilts walked over and lifted the tent’s flaps to reveal a reception venue strung with jewel-toned floral garlands and chandeliers. The band struck up as wide-eyed guests entered the space, and when the lead singer belted out, “I got a feeling that tonight’s going to be a good night, that tonight’s going to be a good good night,” no one celebrating the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Simmonds could have anticipated otherwise.

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