The immaculate reception
So youve made the momentous decision to get married. Now the real decision-making begins: black-tie affair or a do-it-yourself backyard party? Heavy hors doeuvres or a sit-down meal? Invite kids or no kids? No wonder many couples scrap their dream of a local wedding and escape to some tropical locale for the nuptials (bare feet and a short, silky sundress, followed by a couple of Mai Tais on the beach at sunset sounds pretty nice!).But wait one minute: Isnt your Rocky Mountain backyard an ideal destination in and of itself? A place youd be proud to show off to family and friends?With that in mind, we asked area wedding planners to share a few hot spots to tie the knot from high-end (listed first) to more moderate in Summit County, Vail, Glenwood Springs and Aspen.Summit Countyn Keystone Resort. The top three choices here are the Keystone Ranch, the TimberRidge at the Outpost and the Ski Tip Lodge, and heres why, according to Angie Carlevato Vossler, owner of Rocky Mountain Celebrations in Breckenridge and publisher of Rocky Mountain Bride.Keystone Ranch is an award-winning, four-diamond restaurant with a spectacular setting, fantastic chef and excellent staff. Though expensive (the buyout for the 2004 season is a $13,000 food and beverage minimum, plus tax, surcharge and gratuity, plus site/set up fee), it can accommodate up to 180 people and says Vossler, Its well worth it! The TimberRidge, which, at 11,444-feet atop North Peak, offers breathtaking views as well as excellent food and service. The uniqueness about the TimberRidge is that the wedding party and all of their guests have to ride two gondolas to get there! notes Vossler.The Ski Tip Lodge, a charming bed and breakfast, is perfect for an intimate celebration (it can accommodate up to 70 people). Known for its historic nature, Vossler calls this a real gem with impeccable service all around. Ten Mile Station. Located on Peak 10 at the Breckenridge Ski Resort, this venue offers views of the Blue River Valley, Baldy Mountain and Mount Guyot and features mining-era architecture in a mountain formal atmosphere. Its high vaulted ceilings, large windows and oversized deck make it the ideal inside/outside mountain locale. Plus, room rental fees include china, silverware, crystal, linens and the dance floor, and in-house chefs are skilled in creating a variety of house and traditional favorites. As Ten Mile Station can accommodate about 175 guests, Vossler calls it the best deal in Summit County. Or, for the truly budget-conscious bride, Vossler suggests the Silverthorne Pavilion, which can accommodate groups of 100 guests or more. VailLinda Shafer of Edwards-based Veils & Vows Inc. offers these suggestions: The Bristol, Country Club of the Rockies. With exquisite cuisine and hospitality, as well as a lovely patio with sounds from a nearby waterfall, Shafer calls The Bristol very welcoming! Seasons on the Green. For a nonintimidating and just fun celebration, Shafer says the Seasons on the Green is the call. Plus a great view of the Gore Range and golf course, and sleigh rides in the winter, add to the experience.Aspen Elk Mountain Lodge. Nestled in the Castle Creek Valley, about 9.5 miles from the Aspen roundabout, the Elk Mountain Lodge (970-925-8825 or http://www.elkmountainlodge.com) is ideal for outdoor ceremonies and receptions especially in the month of September, when the local foliage turns bright colors.A patio overlooking a lake provides an outdoor setting with views of the mountains, and indoor spaces feature dining, dancing and cocktail hour spaces with high ceilings and a Rocky Mountain feel. While catering must be contracted out, the lodge will provide bar service. And its not a bad idea to provide shuttle transportation to and from the lodge.This is a spectacular lodge that just takes your breath away, concludes Marcy Kneiper, owner and principle coordinator for Aspen-based Creative Weddings.The Roaring Fork Club. Located just downvalley from Aspen in Basalt, this private golf clubs location on the banks of the Roaring Fork River make it a picturesque setting for a high-country wedding. Plus, the club offers comprehensive wedding services (We will assist in arranging the perfect photographer, florals, entertainment, specialty linens, and wedding cake designer all tailored to exceed your expectations.) as well as a host of venue and lodging options. Comments one happy couple, It was the most perfect setting, weather, food, drink and music it was magical.Glenwood SpringsJoyce Gornick of Glenwood Springs-based Joy-Ann Creations, Inc., likes these venues: Hotel Colorado or Aspen Glen. The historic Hotel Colorado is an elegant choice, especially if the bride is inclined to appreciate the age of the surroundings. At Aspen Glen, just upvalley from Glenwood Springs, couples can hold their celebration poolside or in the ballroom, depending on just how formal theyd like it to be.Sunlight Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast. Located at the Sunlight Ski Area, this moderately priced venue is rustic and quaint. With indoor facilities for 75, and more when the party is extended outdoors, Sunlight Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast offers wedding guests beautiful scenery and a truly great mountain experience.