Montrose Botanic Gardens. Courtesy photo.
[Western Colo. | January 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Debra Lueck]
JANUARY IS THE TRADITIONAL MONTH to start planning a wedding—invitations, venue, flowers, food, photographer, parties, and reception. The colors and theme, the cake…and the dress, of course. You start with the “when and where”; what follows is the “how,” and that can get complicated. We’ve gathered some tips and advice from local wedding service providers and planners to help you navigate that bridal path. The sooner you contact them, the better, because those pros book up fast.
Before you make that first call, take a deep breath and sit down to discuss what each of you—prospective bride and groom—wants and expects from the “big day.” A bride-to-be may have girlhood dreams of a gown with a trail and 12 bridesmaids, while the groom may dread getting into a tux or having to dance in front of a crowd of people. She may envision a fairytale wedding with bowers of flowers; he may want to say “I do” at the golf course, with his groomsmen in polo shirts and carrying golf clubs. They both might want to skip it all and elope to an Elvis chapel in Vegas, and their collective parents are horrified, insisting on a formal church wedding with all the relatives coming for an entire week!
Coming to a basic agreement on what, where, and how big equates to “size” and that is the first big decision you’ll make together. And it’s likely to change as families and friends get involved.
The next big hurdle is budget: Size determines cost. If you’re planning on a “do-it-yourself” wedding to save money, you’ll likely wind up deeply disappointed and still spend too much money. Whatever the size, and therefore the budget, ask for professional help.
Wedding tent with dance floor for evening reception. Courtesy photo.
Most of our local service providers (catering, floral, photography, cakes, and formal wear rentals) can provide plenty of options, from opulent to affordable. They also know the other players in the bridal game, who’s good and who isn’t, so they can connect you with reliable resources. If you’re using a venue, such as The Bridges, Chipeta Solar Springs Resort, or Montrose Pavilion, their staff can help you do it all, within budget, from rehearsal dinner to ceremony and reception. If you’re holding your event at home or at a special location, one of our best local resources is Park Avenue Parties in Montrose, which specializes in wedding planning. They can provide everything from tents (with a dance floor) to tables and chairs and table settings. Working with others in the area, they can set you up with all the other services you’ll need, including catering, flowers, and photography. Best of all, they deliver, set up, and come take it away when the party’s over.
If you’re young and getting married for the first time, parents and family will probably be there to help financially. If this is a second marriage, you’re marrying later in life, or maybe you’re just renewing your vows, you’ll most likely be footing the bill yourselves. Either way, setting a budget and sticking to it is huge. It can also become a cause of stress between couples and even family members. And, as your photographer will tell you, stress shows in the pictures!
Don’t let it. You and your soon-to-be spouse are the ones who should ultimately be making that decision, unless you have a fairy godmother hiding in a closet somewhere. Think about what’s most important to you: the ceremony, the reception, before and after parties, the honeymoon…or is where you’ll live afterward a major financial factor? If you want a honeymoon in Fiji or are planning on buying a house, you might want to cut back on having a dozen bridesmaids, 200 guests (like friends of your parents you don’t even know), or a lavish sit-down dinner and five-piece band at the reception.
Rehearsal dinner at Chipeta. Courtesy photo.
Post wedding festivities at The Stone House. Courtesy photos.
If you can afford it, hire a wedding planner; they’re worth every penny and are there to make sure your special day goes off without a hitch, leaving you to do nothing but enjoy the moment. Like any contracted vendor, though, check references, get recommendations, and get specifics in writing: What’s covered and what’s not, the best service providers, reimbursable expenditures, and when and how payments are expected to be made for services rendered. If you go with a wedding package from someplace like The Bridges or Chipeta Solar Springs Resort, their staff take care of it all, although you can (and should be) still be involved in the planning.
Even if you’re doing most of it yourself, select several willing and reliable people outside of the wedding party to oversee certain specific areas, from set-up and decorating to returning rentals and cleaning up afterwards. (This is probably a budget item.) For pre-planning and preparations, it’s OK to ask family and friends to step in and help with behind-the-scenes chores. Check on the cake, pick up the tux, make sure flowers are ordered and delivered. Maybe help with hair and makeup. All this before the ceremony, however. You want those closest to you to be part of the whole event, not missing important parts because they’re on clean-up detail.
Winter wedding at lake overlooking mountains. Ridgway Reservoir. Courtesy photo.
Then there’s the destination wedding. Pre-party here, then have the nuptials elsewhere, with family and a small group of friends. Consider an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or Hawaii. Or maybe something more exotic, like Ireland or Scotland, or maybe a village in Tuscany, Italy. This limits the guest list and opens up some fun activity opportunities during your stay there. Wedding-honeymoon-vacation, all wrapped up in one package.
This also applies in the reverse. People come from all over the world to be married in Ouray. Some elect to travel to the high country by tour Jeep for the ceremony. Others choose an outdoor wedding with a scenic mountain backdrop. Lodging, hot springs, and spa services (several facilities provide both) add to the amenities, and the Victorian setting adds ambience. Colorado weather is notoriously capricious, though, so you definitely need to include shelter as part of your planning. (This is where those party rental tents come in handy!)
Wedding party at the Bridges. Groomsmen with putters. Courtesy photo.