Weddings, Vail style: Bring a taste of the mountains to decor, cakes, photos and flowers |

Weddings, Vail style: Bring a taste of the mountains to decor, cakes, photos and flowers

Jennifer Geisman
Special to the Daily
Cornerstone Confections | Special to the Daily
Cornerstone Confections | Special to the Daily |

Tips for the bride and groom

• Party favors: When it comes to adding the couple’s individual style, party favors with a Vail-inspired, locally sourced theme give guests a keepsake item to bring home. These favors can range from the conventional Vail T-shirt from one of the shops in the village or framed EpicMix photos from a day on the mountain to a Golden Bear key chain from Vail’s iconic Golden Bear store.

• First dance songs: Amanda Gonzalez from Alpine Party Rentals, who is also a member of the local Vail band First Chair, said the most popular wedding song requests are “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, “Me and Mrs. You” by Michael Buble and “All of Me” by John Legend. Of course, you can never go wrong with classic Frank Sinatra ballads such as “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

• Staying on schedule: Work with your wedding planner and photographer to create a realistic timeline, one that allows you to feel relaxed on your wedding day and not stressed about being behind schedule.

• Best spots for engagement photos: Megan Wynn, from Megan W Photography, loves engagement photos shoots on the slopes or tucked away in the aspens in East Vail. She is also a big fan of shooting couples anywhere along Gore Creek or strolling around Vail Village.

Exchanging vows while flawless snowflakes dust an alpine backdrop. Delighting guests with the option for a few runs before the ceremony. A sleigh-drawn entrance highlighting the bride and her bridesmaids in winter wonderland whites.

Sound like the perfect wedding day? Saying “I do” shouldn’t be about your mother’s long-winded, must-invite guest list or the venue your mother-in-law “kindly” requests. Planning your magical nuptials should feature your signature style, as well as unique elements that will give you and your guests a winter weekend to remember.

Winter wedding trends

Whether Vail is your home or your wedding destination, adding your personal style is key to a successful event.

According to Kelly Karli, wedding planner and founder of Kelly Karli Weddings and Events in Edwards, made-to-order weddings with the couple’s personal touch are the big trend right now.

“Brides want to create a very distinctive wedding that is their own, making sure there are many components to the wedding that are unique, detailed and not something that has been plastered all over Pinterest,” Karli said. “Another favorite trend this wedding season, especially here in the mountains, is brides wanting more formal affairs, bringing black tie to the mountains.”

Karli is also seeing the use of drones by videographers and guests bringing GoPros and selfie sticks to weddings. For more traditional mountain-style weddings, Beth Morrison, from Alpine Party Rentals, said the rustic look from the fall season continues through the winter.

“Couples are requesting farm tables and cross-back chairs, unique decor items such as copper bars and wine barrels for cocktail tables or cake display tables,” Morrison said.

For budget-conscious brides and grooms, Morrison said that do-it-yourself decorations are very popular.

“Using local aspen branches and bark placed in simple mason jars or blue tin miner’s ware coffee pots make great centerpieces on a budget,” Morrison said. “Whites, ivory, silver and gold are the color palette trends for winter weddings, and sequins are also still a trend that we see brides using on the cake table, head table or sweetheart table.”

Wedding cakes

The traditional white-tiered wedding cake gets a makeover this wedding season, as couples are adding their own panache to create one-of-a-kind desserts that will delight the eyes and taste buds of their guests.

With more than 50 wedding events this year, Tom Puntel, director of sales, marketing and events at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, said the most significant way to personalize your wedding is through dessert.

“It is not about tradition; it is about personalization,” Puntel said. “Our amazing pastry chef, Jackie Lopez, has been a leader in personalizing the traditional wedding cake. One of our grooms was a graduate of Texas Christian University. To put his personal touch on the weekend, he wanted a horned frog cake, and Jackie made it for him.”

Felicia Kalaluhi, owner of Cornerstone Chocolates and Confections in Edwards, creates wedding cakes that fuse together the sweet and savory flavors of the fall and winter seasons. Kalaluhi combines carrot with cream-cheese buttercream filling, pumpkin with spiced cream cheese filling, red velvet, chocolate sponge cake with orange hazelnut crunch and milk-chocolate mousse.

For cake decor, Kalaluhi uses a color palette that depicts Vail’s winter surroundings and the rich hues of the season such as plum and eggplant, crimson and burgundy, gold and brown and sage green and evergreen. Kalaluhi also plays up the winter season with custom cake decorations.

“We’re always making delicate snowflakes that adorn our winter cakes. Custom skier and snowboarder decorations are also really popular,” Kalaluhi said.

Wedding photos

The old cliche “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings true when it comes to wedding photos. For winter 2016, Kelly Lemon, of Kelly Lemon Photography, is seeing a shift from the country, mountain trend to more of a rustic, glam style that incorporates the couple’s adventurous nature with a splash of elegance.

“Think of a beautiful mountain setting with glamorous details, such as fur, rich jewel tones, mismatched flower vases, antlers and, of course, gold is still a huge trend this year,” Lemon said. “For 2016 winter weddings, I think we will see more couples wanting chandeliers in barns or rustic lodges with elegant and glamorous details, but with a definite emphasis on the majestic, unique outdoor setting.”

Engagement photos are still very popular and an opportunity for a photographer to learn more about the couple and their style. Phrank Mallal, from Denver, who married Elizabeth Mallal at the Donovan Pavilion in Vail, felt that having an engagement photo session made a significant difference on his wedding day.

“After spending some time not only taking what we now know are some incredible engagement photos, and talking to and getting to know Kelly, I would say that it made our wedding day more fun and much more comfortable,” Mallal said.

Lemon’s outdoor photo shoots focus on the style of the couple, and she finds many of her brides happily wearing snow boots under their wedding gowns. Many couples incorporate their pets into both engagement and wedding-day photos sessions. For bridal-party photos, Lemon likes to create a keepsake opportunity and will photograph individual bridesmaids with the bride and groomsmen with the groom.

“I think this is a very sweet gesture that is catching on, and I know those individual images will mean a lot to not only the wedding couple but also to their wedding party,” she said.

Wedding flowers

The winter season opens opportunity to incorporate rich, deep hues into wedding decor, and your flowers will enhance and reflect the color scheme and be an integral part of your day.

Winter whites are always a popular choice for weddings in Vail. According to, a stark-white bouquet is modern and sophisticated, while ivory tones give a more antique or vintage feel to your floral arrangements. White flowers such as white amaryllis, astilbe and jasmine are available this time of year and can withstand the chilly temperatures in Vail.

Mono-floral arrangements are also favored for winter weddings. says luxurious reds are classic and romantic for bridal bouquets, and are especially popular for weddings taking place in December and February. Red winter blossoms include roses, red amaryllis, red orchids and calla lilies.

Give your winter wedding theme a natural, non-floral element by using the woodsy pussy willow. This downy-soft willow is perfect for table centerpieces and will complement your rustic, mountain backdrop.

Make sure you meet with a florist in the Vail Valley to discuss which flower varieties and colors go best with your wedding theme. Florists including Cedars Flower Shop and Vintage Magnolia and Petals and Pours can help you decide on picture-perfect flowers for your big day.

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