Feeling romantic? The wedding venues are here
They held the ceremony at the train station, then walked through the construction zone, across the Colorado River, and had the reception at an art gallery.
It was far from your standard wedding, but for Tim and Alisha Wenger, it was perfect.
“We wanted something really unique and nontraditional and historic,” Alisha said of the wedding last month. “The train station and the art center were kind of representations of us as a couple. We travel and like to stay off the beaten path. Every time we’re in Glenwood now we will have this amazing memory that we’ll never forget.”
The Lakewood couple opted for a winter wedding to get some skiing in and avoid the summer wedding crunch, and found Glenwood Springs to be a good central location for friends and family from all over the state.
“We’re both outdoorsy people that love to ski and camp and hike,” Tim explained. “We wanted to embrace that culture and that feeling.”
“There’s nothing like being in the mountains, and we wanted all our friends and family to experience that,” Alisha agreed. “Nobody wanted to leave. A lot of people called in sick after.”
The town has a fair number of venues for a community its size – enough that the Glenwood Springs Chamber and Resort Association keeps a list at visitglenwood.com/weddings. Overall, the area, from Marble to Rifle, offers plenty of out-of-the-way venues.
Eschewing some of the more popular venues like the Glenwood Canyon Resort or the Hotel Colorado, the Wengers nevertheless made use of an array of the town’s offerings, including Hotel Denver’s loft for brunch and The Pullman for the rehearsal dinner. For the main event, they were obliged to work around the train schedule. The station doesn’t market itself as an event venue, and this exception proved the rule. The train was delayed and stranded passengers turned into spectators.
The Wengers, who live by Hunter S. Thompson’s mantra of “buy the ticket, take the ride,” didn’t mind.
“It was sort of like a flash mob wedding,” Alisha said. “We didn’t do any decorations. We didn’t need to. The building is so beautiful.”
After a short and sweet ceremony, the party crossed the river on the pedestrian bridge to the Glenwood Springs Center of the Arts. While the gallery and former hydroelectric plant may seem like an unusual choice, it has been putting itself on the map in recent years.
The 3,000-square-foot space comes with the center’s tables, chairs, sound system and plenty of dedication from the staff.
“We meet community need with art as the answer. A place that once brought energy brings new energy,” said center Director Christina Brusig. “It’s a blank canvas for each person to paint.”
The Wengers aren’t alone in wanting something out of the ordinary.
In September 2011, Iowans Meagan Flynn Bickel and Brian Bickel chose Marble for a small, private wedding.
“We’d been to Colorado a couple times before and absolutely loved it,” Meagan said.
Although they had never been to Marble, they found a rental to be their home base and took a Jeep tour to scout locations. With Meagan in a purple dress and hiking boots, they tied the knot on a rainy day with just the Jeep driver, a photographer and some hikers who happened by. Colorado law doesn’t even require an officiant.
“It was really special. We would never change it,” Meagan said. “It was more about the marriage and not so much about the pomp and circumstance.”
It also hooked the couple on the community.
“There’s something really magical about the area,” she said. “We fell in love with the place and we’ve been back many times.”
Of course, many people fall somewhere between the Hotel Colorado and Lizard Lake on the wedding spectrum, and the resources are in place to accommodate them, too.
Coulter Lake Guest Ranch near Rifle Mountain Park gets a few weddings every summer.
“They’re looking for a more casual wedding in a unique and natural setting,” owner Jack Allard observed.
The ranch has room for around 30 people to stay the night, but almost unlimited outdoor space.
“It plays well to small or large groups,” Allard said. “Usually we can accommodate the family and the wedding party, and the others will come up just for that day.”
Those who want an outdoor wedding but fear rain often enlist Bethel Party Rentals. The company can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 1,000 people but, according to president Martin Herrara, there’s still plenty of unmet demand.
“Right now there’s a lot of need for venues, especially for big events,” he said.
“We don’t advertise the weddings real hard, so it tends to be more word of mouth,” he said. “If we really pushed that, I feel like we could do quite a few more.”
As the area continues to grow in population and reputation, it’s likely to see more couples like the Wengers and Bickels.
“We would absolutely recommend it to anyone,” Tim Wenger said.
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Over 75,000 hikers visited Hanging Lake during this year’s peak season. Via signage, the city hopes to point more of those hikers also in the direction of downtown Glenwood Springs.