Magical Mountaintop WeddingWords by Lindsey McIntosh
Photos courtesy of Katie Corinne Photography
Jake and Kimmy always dreamed of having a magical wedding high on a mountaintop. They wanted their destination wedding to fit their adventurous personalities. After a friend of the couple mentioned an amazing spot in Vail, Colorado, they had a feeling it would be the perfect fit. “Kimmy looked up Piney River online and said ‘That’s it!’ and didn’t even look at other venues,” said the groom.
Their families are scattered all over the United States, so having a destination wedding was practical because the guests were traveling anyway. They booked the venue a year in advance without ever visiting the location. The couple wanted to keep their guest list on the smaller side, making it an imitate time with a few family and friends. The bride said, “I think our family expected us to do something out of the ordinary, Jake lived in the Bahamas and lived in Europe, so a ‘normal’ wedding really wasn’t in the cards.”
Some of their family members pushed through a 10-hour drive from Iowa, while others flew into Denver and rented cars for the drive up to Vail. “Jake’s grandpa did not like the 45-minute very bumpy ride to Piney River. It’s a slow 12 miles up a winding mountain road.” Most guests stayed in the Holiday Inn in Vail and the couple rented a shuttle from the hotel to Piney River Ranch to make it easier for those guests.
Planning a destination wedding in a location they had never been to was somewhat of a risk and the couple did run into some small problems. “An issue we had was when Jake’s sister was told by her doctor she wouldn’t be able to travel at 38 weeks pregnant to an elevation of 10,000 ft.,” says the bride. “Unfortunately that issue couldn’t be resolved [since] there was no moving the date of the wedding, so we had her record a reading for the ceremony so she could be a part of our wedding even if she couldn’t make it.” She also mentioned, “It was a ‘non-smoking venue’ due to the location in a national forest and my dad was going to want a cigar during the reception. But luckily we resolved that issue and Piney made a small ‘smoking area’ where people could enjoy cigars.”
The excited couple found all their vendors online, trusting the reviews. They also chose not to have a wedding planner, instead Jake’s cousin was the “day-of planner.” Kimmy says, “We read online to not even bother getting a wedding cake since the road to Piney River Ranch is a bit bumpy and lots of brides lost cakes along the way.” Skype and email were used frequently so the couple could express their vision to the photographer. Their family also helped with choosing the flowers and handling the business side of things. Kimmy added, “Jake and I had a new baby at home as well, so luckily planning the wedding somehow came together perfectly.”
The bride and groom were not shy when it came to creating their own decor for the ceremony and reception. They said, “We made a wooden sign that read ‘Love at 9,350 ft Elevation’ so everyone knew just how high up we actually were.” Comfortably spending their money without going overboard, the couple felt that having a wedding in their hometown would have cost the same amount. “We would have had more people at a wedding at home, but would not have to spend money on flights, hotels and other travel related expenses.”
We asked the newlyweds to give advice for future couples planning a destination wedding. “Don’t stress! It all works out perfectly in the end. Nobody will remember all the small details that didn’t go as planned, but they will remember how much love and magic there was between the bride and groom. All you need is love!”
Vendors: Photographer: Katie Corinne, Ceremony/Reception: Piney River Ranch, Florist: Petals & Pours, Stationery: Nesting Project, Hair & Makeup: W Salon, Gown Designer: Watters, Grooms Clothing: Jos. A. Bank.
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