What to Pack for a Mountain Wedding

Depending on the season, your packing list will vary quite a bit

Even within any particular season your bag will need to contain a variety of items so you’ll be prepared: weather in the mountains can change quickly and dramatically. A warm summer day can change with the sudden clap of thunder and become chilly and rainy, and 25 minutes later be warm and sunny again. Winter days can be sunny and (relatively) warm, then overcast as a snowstorm approaches accompanied by a drop in the temperature.

Besides all of the items you’ll need for the wedding, be sure to bring a variety of clothing and toiletry items so you’ll be prepared for whatever weather mother nature sends your way. Consider the suggestions below.

What to pack for a mountain wedding

Winter/Spring

  • Warm coats. Yes, coats, plural. If you have them, consider bringing a heavier snow coat and a lighter jacket. Oftentimes, at least in the Rocky Mountains, there will be snow on the ground but the shining sun will be warm enough to render a snow coat too hot, especially in the spring. You’ll want to have the snow coat incase the temperature does drop, which it is likely to do even on sunny days, but for the warmer sunny days usually a light jacket over a sweatshirt is more than enough and you’ll be glad not to have the extra bulk of your snow coat to lug around. Consider a windbreaker if the wedding is in the spring – it’s windy in the Rockies in the spring and it’ll cut right through you!
  • Knit hat, gloves, scarf/neck warmer. Having these items will save you on the coldest days and be helpful on the warmer days too. Pair them with your sweatshirt and lightweight jacket and you’ll really have no need for that snow coat.
  • Snow boots. Cold and/or wet feet can make your day uncomfortable so bring boots along with your normal shoes. You’ll have plenty of traction and warm feet when walking through the snow, which makes all the difference.
  • Clothing layers. As mentioned above, the weather will go from warm to cold quickly so wear layers you can easily take off or put back on as the weather changes. Nothing is worse than being too cold or too warm all day, or having to wear a big, bulky snow coat all day because you’re too cold in your lightweight shirt.
  • Chapstick and lotion. It is very dry in the Rocky Mountains and you’re going to feel dry very soon after you’re arrival. These items are nice to have on hand instead of having to wait until you’re in town to buy them.

 

Summer/Fall

  • Warm coats. Yes, this item belongs in this list too. Days and nights can be chilly in the mountains, but especially the nights, and especially if you’re from a warmer climate. You’ll want a lightweight jacket for the evenings and nighttime.
  • Clothing layers. Same as above here…weather changes so quickly in the mountains!
  • Pants. It can be cooler than you’d expect during the day if it is overcast or rainy, and you may want them in the evenings when it will certainly be cooler.
  • Rain coat. Summers, at least in the Rocky Mountains, are rainy season. Most afternoons there will be rain showers. Although they’ll only last for a short time, maybe 15 – 25 minutes at a time, it’s good to have one in case you’re out in it or they last longer.
  • Closed-toed shoes. You’ll appreciate having the option to wear them in the evenings and if it rains. Slip-slidding around in flip-flops can get old in wet weather and having cold toes is so distracting!
  • Hiking boots and loose fitting pants. Just in case you decide to take a quick hike!
  • Sunscreen/insect repellent/lotion/chapstick. All nice-to-have items on hand in case you need them. You don’t want to be sunburned/bitten/dry for the wedding photos!
  • Hat and sunglasses. You’ll be at high elevation and the sun shines brightly up here. Even if you don’t usually use them or don’t like them, it’s nice to have just in case if you’re not used to being in the mountains.

Check the weather a few days before you leave to get an idea of what it will be like while you’re at the wedding, but try to include the listed items anyway. The mountains don’t like to play by the weather-forecast rules!

Wedding Items

  • Your rehearsal dinner outfit.
  • Your outfit for the wedding and any accessories – shoes, jewelry/cufflinks, pantyhose/socks, etc. Make a list of all accessories you’ll need ahead of time.
  • Something warm/waterproof, depending on the season, that matches with your rehearsal dinner and wedding outfits. You might need it and you want to look nice.
  • If you’re the one getting married:
    • Your marriage license!
    • Seating arrangements, guest book, decorations you’ve made or purchased, wedding guest favors. Or, pre-arrange who is bringing what in case you don’t have room for everything.
    • The rings!
    • Your passport, if you plan on traveling out of the county for your honeymoon.

 

What to leave at home

  • Illegal substances
  • Alcohol, if your venue has a liquor license. Many state’s liquor laws prohibit outside liquor on the premises if the facility has a liquor license. Check with the facility to find out whether you are allowed to bring alcohol onsite.
  • Food items that you were planning to leave in your car. High country is bear country! Bears know how to open car doors, and can break into them if they smell food inside; even mostly empty packaging can be enough to tempt bears to break in and have a look. Under no circumstances leave food in your vehicle, and beware of leaving empty food packaging inside. Lock your car doors at all times – bears have been known to open them up and crawl around in the off-chance food was left inside, even if they can’t smell anything. It’s a little eerie to walk up to your car in the morning and find the doors open and dusty paw prints throughout the interior.

Couture Wedding Vendors in Colorado

Hello, my friends! I hope you’re all looking forward to your weekend! I was fortunate to get to attend a networking event hosted by COUTURE Colorado on Tuesday in Denver. As you may know, COUTURE Colorado is one of my favorite online wedding planning resources for Colorado brides seeking innovative local vendors and fabulous wedding fashion trends. I met a lot of new faces and many well-established professionals at the event, which took place at Goldyn, a boutique clothing shop in Denver. I was extremely impressed with Michaela Joy Photography, Ladybird Poppy Floral Designs, and Jessica from This Modern Life Photography. I also met Rae Ann from Bella Bridesmaid, a shop that features bridesmaid gowns, and I’m looking forward to checking out Rae Ann’s Denver-based store in the near future! I think it’s a great idea to have a shop dedicated to bridesmaid fashion because there are so many fun colors, trends, and new styles to choose for bridesmaids. If you’re planning a Colorado wedding with a large bridal party, I’ll bet that you could organize a fun shopping day with your bridesmaids at Bella!

I was particularly excited to meet Erin and Brent from Shutterbliss Cinema and Photo. The talented photography and videography team has some incredible wedding videos on their website, and they continually impress their clients by capturing emotional moments in a truly artistic and beautiful way. Warning: I spent WAY too much time drooling over their website videos this week! Hopefully, you have more willpower then I do and will be able to peel yourself away!

Thanks to Laura from COUTURE Colorado for hosting the event and all the hard work on her wonderful website!

Halloween Weddings

We’ve had a high amount of interest in Halloween Weddings on our Facebook page, and since it’s so close to the holiday and every channel on TV is running some kind of Halloween special (check out our friends at Intricate Icings who recently won the Food Network‘s ghost story cake challenge which will run on cable TV throughout the weekend!), I thought I’d post a little information about planning a Halloween-themed or costume-inspired wedding in the Estes Park area during the fall season. Who says Colorado mountain weddings are all the same?

A favorite wedding show of mine recently featured a Halloween wedding that utilized scary aspects such as the words “RSVP or RIP” on the invitations and creepy skeletons decorating the ceremony and reception rooms. The couple at this wedding also had guests and actors dress up in Halloween costumes for the reception. Unfortunately, this wasn’t very well-received by the guests judging this wedding because it distracted attention away from the bride and the meaning of the day. If you’re thinking about holding a Halloween wedding and you’re concerned about the day being too much about Halloween rather than your wedding, I’ve got a few tips for how to design your special day with the holiday in mind:

  • Consider a masquerade or themed reception: If the only request you make from your guests is to dress in costume, some guests may go with an over-the-top costume that distracts attention away from the bride and wedding. I like the 1940’s Zoot Suit theme and the Old West theme for Wild Basin and Rocky Mountain wedding receptions because those themes fit extremely well into the design of the lodge and mountain surroundings in Colorado. Masquerades are great party additions at receptions because guests don’t need to change their attire, they may take the masks home as favors, and the couple can make their masks unique from the others to ensure that they will stand out at their own reception.
  • Look into doing a Halloween “Trick-or-Treat” Candy Bar for your guests as favors: Candy Bars at weddings are such a fantastic wedding favor idea, and if you have any kids coming to your wedding reception, they will appreciate that they still get to receive traditional Halloween candy.
  • Check out unique gown accessories to add for your reception or the entire day: I love seeing black or red sashes, birdcage veils, and bold color choices in bridal attire to make the day unique. This isn’t just reserved for the ladies; I’ve seen grooms wear ten-gallon hats, specially-decorated sneakers, top hats, capes, and vibrant colors to pump up the volume for their wedding reception. Halloween is a great opportunity for unique couples to host an incredible celebration, and fun, formal accessories are a perfect way to suggest that you’re having a party, and it’s also your wedding.
  • Utilize pumpkin decorations and autumn colors for decorations: Blair and A-Jay did an excellent job of creating pumpkin and Thanksgiving-themed decorations for their September wedding, and why not integrate that into a Halloween wedding? Pumpkin decorations are affordable, attractive, and also make good favors for reception guests. You can even make special requests from Chef Brent Lewis to add pumpkin flavors into your reception menu.
  • Name signature drinks and your reception menu with Halloween-inspired ideas: I know that this Halloween, I’ll be enjoying a Bloody Mary, and why not integrate that into your Halloween open bar? It may be a bit tricky to name your menu options after super scary Halloween themes because no one wants to eat “Eyeballs with Blood Sauce” at a wedding, but you can add little hints of the holiday to your menu. Why not choose shots of our cold seasonal melon soup and call it “Witches Broth”? Or select the mashed potatoes and call it “The Monster Mash“? You could even have our chef add garlic to a dish and write into the menu that, “With fresh garlic from our cheeky chef, this dish will ward off any vampire!” Too cheesy? I think not! I love to encourage couples to have fun with the reception; those little accents will show guests that you thought about it and encourage them to let loose when it’s time to boogie on the dance floor.
  • Ask your reception vendors what they can do for you: I’ve seen florists integrate cornucopia into centerpieces, I’ve seen bakeries make incredible designs with themed cakes, and any worthwhile DJ won’t have a problem “Dressing to Impress” for your themed reception. Ask our preferred vendors about their Halloween wedding ideas; they will be willing to lend a hand and happy to think outside the box for your event.

 

How to Budget for Your Wedding

Weddings can be expensive – making the prospect of planning one daunting

In the United States, couples spend between $19K and $33K on their wedding – on average $26,444 – while most couples spend less than $10,000 and some spend more than even seems possible. Budgeting for your dream wedding is possible, despite any initial sticker shock you’re likely to experience. However, it is a good idea to due some exploratory work prior to deciding on a budget so when it comes down to how much you can spend your vision does not exceed your wallet. Consider the following recommendations to help create a workable budget for your wedding.

Where to start?

Before you overwhelm yourselves with dollar signs it is a good idea to do your due diligence; it’s important to know what you both want and what that means in the context of what is available. Is your vision similar to your partner’s? What compromises might you need to make? Are there options in your area that provide what you’re looking for?

Discuss your vision

Let’s be honest – some of us have been thinking about the details of our wedding since we were young kids, others haven’t given it more than a passing thought. Either way, it is important to know what each other’s vision is, and to discuss them, compromising if necessary to devise a wedding vision that makes you both happy.

Do your research

With a clear vision of what you both want you can more effectively research venues and vendors, and present a united front when meeting with them. Come up with a vendor list that meets your criteria and schedule tours and tastings. While interviewing potential vendors ask probing questions to get the best idea possible of what your wedding would look like working with them. No question is a silly or dumb question – gathering as much information as you can to form a clear idea of what they offer will help you later when trying to decide who to move forward with.

Compare apples to apples

Once you’re done touring and tasting go through all of the service and pricing information you received and take the time to put it together into a comprehensive format that makes sense to you. Whether that is a spreadsheet or a handwritten table it is very helpful to have all of the information in one place so you can compare all of it at a glance. Set it up item by item so that you’re comparing apples to apples. For example, if one venue offers a per-person package and another offers the space plus an la carte option, add up the space/a la carte option to arrive at a per-person price that includes the same services as the package to see how it compares. Often venues that offer a per-person package will bundle discounted services together making it a more affordable option; it’s worth it to delve into pricing, not taking anything at face value to make sure you are getting the most for each dollar.

Along those lines – be sure to ask each vendor if service charges and tax are already included in their pricing or if it will be added on later. Those additional costs can be between 20% and 30%, seriously increasing your total cost and causing quite a shock when you realize you need to add a lot more money to your budget.

Discuss your vision again

Armed with your newfound knowledge of wedding vendors and supported by spreadsheets and brochures, discuss your vision with your partner again. Your idea of a perfect wedding very well could have changed with the process of learning what holding a wedding entails. Maybe those must-have special touches don’t seem so important anymore after learning how much they cost. Maybe after touring venues you prefer a mountain venue rather than urban one, having previously been set on a downtown venue. Overall, this is a good opportunity to make sure your visions still align.

Consider concessions

You’ve agreed on the what, where, when and how, but the final number is causing you to second guess everything you’ve worked so hard to decide on. Many vendors have a pricing structure meant to address different budgets. If the final number is scary but you’re in love with your venue, ask them if their pricing varies at all. Many have different pricing that depends on whether you marry in-season or in the off-season, and the day of the week. If your dream wedding occurs on a Saturday, but your newfound dream venue is too expensive on a Saturday, consider a Friday or Sunday wedding, or even marrying during the week. There are pros and cons to moving your wedding to a day other than a Saturday – make a list of them to help you visualize the implications. You’ll be surprised – often after going through this exercise it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal to move the date if you get your dream venue. Read more about planning a Sunday wedding to help you start your pros/cons list.

It’s budget time!

Agree how to save

Now that you have a final number build a detailed budget and agree on how you will save for it. Not sure how to build a detailed budget, or does the idea give you hives? Use this online budget calculator. Make sure you are clear on your vendor’s payment policies and work those requirements into your plan. Some vendors require a deposit up front then a lump sum payment closer to your wedding date, some require installments, knowing this information up front will help you devise a plan. Chat with your partner about how he or she is comfortable saving the money. If your ideas of saving are different it could be a source of tension once you’re trying to save; it’s best to know ahead of time so that you can work out any differences in ideology so that you’re on the same page and can meet your goals with the least amount of stress possible.

Make sacrifices if necessary

If it is going to be hard to save then consider making small, temporary sacrifices until after the wedding. Make a list of all of the disposable income purchases you each make, noting how much each is worth, then add it up to see how much money you would have if you gave them up until after the wedding. We all love specialty coffee and happy hour drinks, but man can they add up fast! If your average coffee is $3.50 and your average cocktail is $8, and you are buying a coffee every weekday morning and two drinks every Friday, that adds up to close to $34 dollars a week. Doesn’t sound like much until you consider you’re spending that much every week: if there is a year until your wedding date that is $1,768 you could have to spend on your dream wedding. If you both make similar sacrifices you could have $3,536. Hello dream wedding!

Payments

Regarding knowing your vendor’s payment policies, if they don’t work for you, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re willing to work with you. Most venues have a policy but are willing to work with couples if they ask. Before you ask them be sure to clearly work out what terms would work for you so that you have something to propose when you speak with them. That way they have a concrete idea of what your needs and abilities are; it will make it easier for them to consider the proposal and will be more well received.

Use online tools

No matter which way you look at budgeting, there are a lot of variables to consider and keep track of. There are a multitude of tools on the web that aim to help you with just that. Take a look at this wedding cost estimator that takes you through a detailed list of typical wedding services and purchases and then gives you an estimated costs complete with a graph of cost broken out by category. If you’re more the pencil and paper type, check out this PDF worksheet you can print out and fill in. The Knot and Wedding Wire have budget calculators as well.

Wedding Etiquette for Parents

Misbehaving parents can be a source of stress

Are you afraid your parents might behave poorly on your big day? Whether they’re divorced, getting divorced, or simply don’t get along the thought of them misbehaving can be a major source of stress prior to your wedding, and the day of. And not just for you – you want them to have a good time at your wedding too. Consider the following preventative measures to make sure that your wedding day won’t be overshadowed by mom and dad’s attitude toward each other; a quick lesson in wedding etiquette for parents will go a long way.

Every situation should be dealt with on a case by case basis

If your wedding is scheduled for a year out, give it a few months to see if the situation alleviates itself before speaking with family members. If you’re 3-6 months out before the wedding date, it may be a good time to sit down and discuss the situation. You can choose whether it’s best to talk to them individually or schedule a group discussion to express your concern about behavior at the wedding.

When you speak to your parents, make them aware of how their behavior affects you and how it is perceived by others. They honestly may not be aware that their squabbles are noticed by others, that they effect those around them negatively, or may be so used to interacting poorly that bad behavior is normal to them.

Use neutral, factual, unemotional language

Keeping it cool will help you to avoid inadvertently causing them to feel defensive and so will be more productive; the conversation will go a lot farther if they are thinking clearly and without emotion. And now for the hard part – try not to get emotional yourself. Parenting your parents isn’t what you signed up for and it’s not easy, but staying calm will help your cause.

They may listen to what you say, but not hear what you say

If that’s the case and you suspect someone will be on their worst behavior at your wedding, then try again. Thank them for your previous conversation but tell them you don’t feel like they heard you, or at least haven’t been acting as though they did. Take the time to reiterate the points you made and remind them of how important it is to you that they behave at your wedding. Remind them that their behavior would cause an embarrassing distraction to you and your guests, and that the day is about you and your fiancé, not them.

When there is no solution

If push comes to shove and it’s clear there is no chance of good behavior you can suggest counseling or you can tell them in no uncertain terms that they can “shape up or ship out”. This is extreme, but uninviting guests and family members does occasionally happen. This would be a terrible decision to have to make, but ultimately, you must weigh the stress of having them misbehave at your wedding versus the stress of uninviting them and then not having them present on your wedding day.

Everyone will come up with a different answer…in the end it’s up to you – it’s your day!