Mountain Style: Planning a winter wedding in Colorado’s high country
Special to the Free Press
Freshly fallen snow on white satin. Bridesmaids wrapped in fur. Vows exchanged beneath twinkling lights. Getting a few runs in before saying “I do.” For couples who opt for a winter ceremony in Beaver Creek or Vail, this is their idea of a perfect wedding day. While summer is still considered the peak of wedding season, many are choosing a winter wedding instead, for reasons both magical and practical. A few years ago Sandals Resorts coined the term Weddingmoon, as in a ceremony and destination vacation in one. Many who decide on a winter wedding in the mountains do so because they can spend the week here skiing and also get married in a picturesque setting at the same time.
“If they’re doing a winter wedding (in Vail or Beaver Creek), it’s because they want their family to enjoy what else is around here,” said Mindy McNitt, event coordinator for Donovan Pavilion. “They’re usually big skiers and it’s not just a one-day thing. They’re up here to ski (for a few) days and also do all the other fun stuff.”
Emily Price, who currently lives in Chicago with her now-husband Tim, said they wanted a December wedding at Beaver Creek because they are avid skiers and see Colorado as “a very spiritual place” to have a ceremony. Emily and Tim got engaged at the top of Snowmass in Aspen, but chose Beaver Creek because it offers so many activities for both skiers and those who just enjoying sitting outside sipping hot cocoa. The morning before they headed to the chapel, Emily and Tim even skied together down a few groomed trails.
“We wanted to get in a good ski on our wedding day, so that we did,” Price said. “My parents were like, ‘What are you doing? This is so crazy.’ Everyone was like, ‘We hope to see you at your own wedding.’”
A TRUE WHITE WEDDING
JoAnn Moore, wedding planner and owner of Mountains and Meadows Weddings and Events in Edwards, said many couples who decide on a winter wedding want to incorporate the natural elements of their surroundings as much as possible. Using evergreen branches and pinecones instead of tropical flowers and selecting colors that reflect the season, like white and frosted blue, can bring the outside in. Moore said this season she has a couple who are using heavy flannel blankets as table settings to make their reception feel even more warm and cozy.
“We’re not trying to disguise that we’re in Colorado in the winter,” Moore said. “Many of their guests may have never been to Vail, so (couples want) to show what they love about the mountains.”
Denver resident Nadia Westra always knew she wanted a “sparkly, white wedding” as opposed to sweating in a huge dress in the summer, she said.
Westra and her now-husband Josh met in college and both love to snowboard, so a Beaver Creek wedding was a bit of a no-brainer. Westra opted for a white and silver brooch bouquet to carry down the aisle in place of fresh flowers, and decorated the reception with twinkling christmas lights and antique-like lanterns as place settings.
PLANNING FOR AND ENJOYING THE WEATHER
Westra wanted her wedding to look “timeless,” but what she didn’t plan on was how long it would take some of her guests to get from Denver to Vail on a day with heavy snow.
“About 30 percent didn’t make it to the actual ceremony,” Westra said. “I walked out and saw nobody in the chapel. I thought, ‘Alright, let’s get this done.’ But all the people made it to the reception and we had a great time.”
Moore said when planning a winter wedding, always factor in weather and extra travel time. She recommends picking local vendors who are prepared for snowstorms and icy conditions on the big day. Moore also said winter weddings tend to be smaller, more intimate affairs, especially because prices for hotel and lodging rentals are higher during peak season. However, cost and the weather shouldn’t outweigh one’s dream to get married in a winter wonderland.
“A winter (wedding) has its challenges, but they are just so beautiful and like no other,” Moore said. “Who doesn’t want sweet memories of everybody sitting around the fireplace drinking a hot beverage with the anticipation of a big wedding celebration coming on?”
The stunning peaks that surround us set a scene that’s hard to beat elsewhere.
“We had such a perfect weekend,” Price said. “If someone wants to have a winter wedding, take advantage of all fun activities the mountains have to offer for skiers and non skiers alike.”
Price and her husband are expecting their first child this month. Sounds like a winter-themed christening might be next.
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