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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Colorado Destination Wedding Goodies

Words by Courtney Kellar

It’s day two of our Destination: Colorado week and today we’re sharing lots of destination wedding goodies – from an epic wedding package in Denver and a Colorado wedding planner's expert advice, to world-class wedding photographers’ Rocky Mountain recommendations.

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Destination Wedding Photographers’ Colorado Favorites

James + Schulze is one of our favorite photographing dynamic duos within the destination wedding industry – and they also happen to be based out of Colorado. We’ve featured several of Otto Schulze’s (the Schulze in James + Schulze) real destination weddings over the years and to say we trust his opinion is an understatement. So, when we were after a wedding photographer/Colorado expert, this duo was the first that came to mind. We asked James + Schulze to weigh-in on their favorite Colorado mountain towns and venues for destination weddings: 

James + Schulze each have over 20 years of photography experience and have captured weddings the world-over – from New York to the Great Wall of China. For more information about them or to view more of their real destination wedding work, visit jamesandschulze.com or check out their Instagram. We at DID would like to extend a tremendous “thank you” to them for sharing their favorite Colorado wedding destinations.

A Hip Hotel & Wedding Package in Denver

The Cherry Creek neighborhood in Denver, Colorado is a hot and happening area that includes the HALCYON, a Hotel in Cherry Creek. It’s a new hotel that’s breaking the typical hotel mold with its super-cool rooftop pool, high-end kitsch and “homey comforts.” It would make a great setting for a couple looking to have unique and edgy urban “I do’s” in Denver. Venues include the 3,500 sq. ft. Halcyon Ballroom with its modern décor and floor-to-ceiling windows or the rooftop with stunning skyline views.

To pay homepage to the classic W-Day phrase, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” the HALCYON recently introduced the Happily Ever Halcyon wedding package. The package includes:

  • Something Old - A Bottle of Halcyon Rum
    The best distiller in town, Laws Whiskey House, curated a signature aged Halcyon Rum. The Halcyon Rum is hyper-exclusive and can only be found at the hotel, a perfect treat to toast after the ceremony. 
  • Something New – Shoes from Neiman Marcus Denver 
    The hotel has partnered with Neiman Marcus to provide the perfect shoes for the couples' special day. Use the $300 gift certificate to Neiman Marcus to select the perfect pair of pumps to walk down the isle in. 
  • Something Borrowed – Bridal Jewelry Loaned from Gnat Jewelry
    Complete her bridal look with jewelry loaned from Gnat Jewelry up to $10,000. With a wide range of custom jewelry, diamonds, precious metals and stones, Gnat Jewelry is the perfect finishing touch.
  • Something Blue – Poolside Cabana Rental
    Sit back and relax in one of the poolside cabanas with a bottle of Champagne. Whether the bride and groom decide to find calm the morning of their wedding for the first look or spend time celebrating with close family the morning after, the poolside cabana is their very own oasis in the heart of Cherry Creek.

The Happily Ever Halcyon package is eligible for weddings valued at $30,000 or more and must be booked by December 31, 2017. It’s also based on availability. To request a proposal, email sales@halcyonhotelcherrycreek.com with subject line “Happily Ever Halcyon” or visit halcyonhotelcherrycreek.com.

A Colorado Wedding Planner's Expert Advice

Aimee Monihan is a seasoned destination wedding planner and owner of both Mountain Occasions and Tropical Occasions. She also calls Colorado home, so we asked her to share some of her insider advice. For more information on Aimee and her Colorado weddings, visit mountainoccasions.com.

1. What are the pros and cons of hosting a destination wedding in a more popular mountain town like Vail or Aspen?

Pros: These are truly two of the most beautiful destinations found in the USA! They offer panoramic mountain views that give you a feeling of being on top of the world and towns and villages that have a plethora of activities and high-end to affordable lodging. Above all, these are the locations where there is something for everyone – activities galore for the nature enthusiasts, high-end spas and amazing food and wine scenes. 

Cons: The only one that comes to mind is to book early! If you don't book room blocks and venues 12 months out, you can be fighting for space with summer tourist crowds or ski crowds. 

2. What is your favorite and least favorite season for weddings in Colorado and why? 

What we call shoulder seasons (late October-early December, then April-early June), as it’s either the time of year right before the snow begins or “mud season.” Right before ski season, there’s not much to do, as snow sports and activities have yet to begin and it is sometimes too cold for summer activities. Mud season is when the snow melts and the ground is not ready to be walked on. 

However, the perk of these times is you can get great lodging rates and even F & B breaks in pricing as hotels are running at low occupancy. If you hire a great planner, we will always find a way to plan and design around the complications of Mother Nature!

3. What are the pros and cons of hosting a destination wedding at a private home or untraditional venue rather than a resort?

Pros: The complete exclusivity of the property is the biggest perk for sure! If your wedding is smaller in size (less the 80) we always suggest a private estate or special events center that rents to just events and doesn’t offer lodging! With a private estate or non-lodging venue, you are no longer the minority group in a large resort with possible hotel guests meandering through hotel grounds where events may take place. You also have more flexibility in regards to food and beverage and so many amazing caterers to choose from at typically better rates than what hotels charge.

Cons: For private estate weddings, it can be difficult in regards to the lodging. My clients have told me it is hard to figure out who will stay on-site and making sure everyone can stay the same amount of nights. Asking their guests to pay them back is their biggest concern. I always suggest that they treat the estates like a B&B and to set up a Pay Pal account.

4.  Is there a destination in Colorado that you feel is perfect for weddings, but flies under the radar?

Ranches have really made a comeback. Everyone thinks Colorado is only ski towns, which are amazing destinations, but there are fabulous private and event-specialized ranches that are just as magical for that special day. We have amazing horse farms, food farms that do great farm-to-table catering and luxury ranches all over the state of Colorado available for amazing events.

5.  What is the #1 piece of advice you would offer a couple considering a destination wedding in Colorado?

If your guests are coming from sea level to party in towns like Denver or ski towns with event spaces at elevations as high as 11,000 ft., make sure you take altitude sickness into account. We always suggest our clients order oxygen lounges – where guests are able to connect to oxygen as they lounge or enjoy a cocktail! You can create a comfortable and stylish setting in which to keep guests oxygenated against Colorado’s high altitudes! The cost for this is also affordable…around $2,000 to provide the oxygen and then to add décor (it all depends on your budget). We work these into existing venue spaces using house furniture all the time. 

6. Can you give an example or two of how a wedding planner might be especially necessary for a Colorado destination wedding?

I think a planner is necessary for a wedding anywhere, but if I had to pinpoint a few things Colorado planners bring to the table, it is knowing the crazy weather patterns and being ready with that plan B for our clients should we get a crazy summer rain storm. Also, the logistics of a winter wedding and guests being guided with grace from a church in a ski village, to a cocktail party in a sculpture garden, on to the gondola, to a snow cat awaiting them off the gondola, to a mountain top lodge for dinner and dancing. You just might want a planner to help make sure that goes smoothly!

Stay tuned later today and the rest of this week for more Destination: Colorado insight and inspiration.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): James + Schulze (1st-11th) & HALCYON, a Hotel in Cherry Creek (12th-20th).

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