The Best Day of My Life: Our Winter Mountain Wedding

So, I have a confession.

I was one of those girls.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones with the secret Pinterest boards. The ones who binge watch all the wedding reality shows on TV. The ones who dream about their wedding – the dress, the setting, the ring, the guy – their whole lives.

I know it’s very cliche and unoriginal, but it was me.

When we got engaged, I kicked into full gear almost immediately. We had a date set just a few weeks after Tom popped the question. We started booking our vendors not long after. I had always looked forward to this moment in my life and always envisioned myself as someone who would love wedding planning.

Well, here’s the truth single reader: I hated it.

I hated planning my wedding so much that in the final months I often dreamed of a courthouse elopement.

I got decision-ed out quickly, and I was obsessed with making everyone happy. Even after years of reading wedding blogs I still did not realize all the moving pieces that go into a party like this. I don’t know how professional event planners do it, and I owe 100% all of the gorgeousness of the day to our wedding planner – Abbey Hoefling at Purple Summer Events – for pulling it off and keeping us all sane. I also had a lot of help in my amazing parents and bridesmaids – who in addition to helping out with the typical cake-testing, dress trying-on duties, also talked me off more ledges than I’d like to admit.

I was so stressed out in the days leading up to the wedding that I got sick with a nasty gastro-bug and cried pretty much every day. But it all came together as our guests began arriving, and I started to enjoy what we had worked so hard for a year to create.

In the end, I woke up on my wedding day feeling very calm. The entire day from beginning to end felt like a dream. And every time I look back at the pictures, I pinch myself. I can’t believe it happened. I can’t believe how beautiful it all was.

We had a first look which was perfect for us. I loved that it got to be an intimate moment because we were both very emotional at the time and are very private in general, so it was nice not to do that in front of a big crowd.

We knew we wanted to get married someplace grounded by natural beauty. We also knew that due to our schedules the wedding would have to be in early January. We looked at a lot of beach locations first, but ultimately Colorado is what turned out to be the most accessible and affordable place for the majority of our guests.

We were worried about the cold, but my girls were so amazing. They took pictures in the snow in their dresses with no complaints! We did all wear snowboots to keep our feet warm, and we had some furs that we had planned to use at least in between takes and possibly for pictures as well. But on the day we were running late and didn’t have time to pull them out. I don’t remember particularly feeling the cold and everyone at least looked comfortable in the pictures!

I had 3 bridesmaids and a bridesman, and the 3 girls picked their own dresses. I just gave them a general palate, and I felt like each girl really got to feel represented and that was important to me. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I love how much fun Tom and his guys had with their pictures. It captures them perfectly.

We had originally really wanted an outdoor ceremony, but for obvious reasons it was way too cold. So we got married in a barn instead, but I tried everything I could to steer away from the ‘rustic’ theme… which is really hard when you’re getting married in a barn! We were going for elegant and modern, and were trying to bring the outdoors in with the floral. We blew our budget on the hanging candle/fern installations, but it was worth it… it looked incredible and reminded us of Tom’s native New Zealand with all of the ferns.

The ceremony was officiated by my mom and his dad, which made it so special. After, we went out for one more round of pictures just the two of us. We didn’t get much of a sunset due to overcast, but it was still perfect. We even had a waiter from our cocktail hour jump out into knee-deep snow to bring us appetizers and champagne! This time around, with the sun down, we definitely did feel the cold. But the pictures were worth it.

We did cocktail hour and toasts in a stunning timber house with windowed walls overlooking the mountains. Then we moved back into the barn, where Abbey and her crew had reset our ceremony space for dinner. To see the transformation was honestly a fairytale moment for me. I had obsessed over the aesthetics of the evening, and could not believe how well it all came together.

Anyone who knows me well knows how obsessed I am with cake, and ours turned out so beautifully! We opted for a smaller cake with a cupcake selection because our venue had an absolutely ridiculous $4 per slice cake-cutting fee. We offered to cut the cake ourselves, but that was a no-go according to the venue, so we opted for cupcakes instead. It turned out to be a blessing – we got many more flavors that way! Fun fact – the flowers on our cake were real, but the ferns were made out of wafer paper by hand by our amazing pastry chef/cake designer Sam Keith. She’s based out of Denver, but is actually moving to New Zealand at the end of the year. Those Kiwis are so lucky to have her!

If I have any advice for future brides it’s this: surround yourself with good people, and don’t try to do it by yourself. My most stressed moments were those where I had convinced myself that I was the only one who could get something done. But once I let the ones I love and trust help, there was much less to stress about. There were many things that went wrong the day-of, but I was none the wiser because the people I kept close intercepted and problem solved spectacularly.

This advice extends to vendors. I felt so taken care of all day by my incredible vendor team. They checked in with me all day and night while still being self-sufficient. After months of planning and correspondence I felt that I knew them well enough to trust them with our special day. Every penny spent on them was worth it.

If you’re planning a wedding in Colorado, I cannot recommend highly enough Purple Summer Events, Emily Elizabeth Photography (who shot all of the gorgeous photos above), Sam Keith Cakes, Colorado Party Rentals, Lale Florals (who designed and installed all of our florals – including those stunning hanging candle and fern installations), Elite Entertainment (DJ, uplighting, and photobooth), and Kelsey Luciano Productions, our videographer, who shot the stunning video below.

I am so glad I did not give into the stress and elope. It was so special to share the day with my family and friends. It was worth every second of planning to have so many people I love in one room. I will cherish the memories of that day forever.

7 thoughts on “The Best Day of My Life: Our Winter Mountain Wedding

  1. Mariana, I could not have imagined a more perfect outcome for your and Tom’s special day. Unfortunately, I could only experience it in pictures, but everything I saw took my breath away. You looked stunning – and exceedingly happy. You are a wonderful couple deserving of a future yielding unlimited possibilities and joy. Much love – Deb

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