* updated in April 2022
Destination weddings. It’s the hot new thing and frankly, they are amazing. If you’re looking for something a little more low key, different and maybe cheaper. As a wedding photographer in a destination, ski resort town, I’ve learned all the ins and outs to destination weddings.
Here we go..
1. Hire local vendors!
Or at least someone who knows the area very well. Locals will be able to point you in the right direction for anything and everything about your wedding day. From favorite vendors they’ve worked with, the best areas for photos and lets be real — we want a personal locals tour guide for hikes, favorite restaurants (hello South Ridge Seafood) and the best drinks in town. Sometimes Google isn’t as personable as we want it to be.
2. Having your timing right
One thing most couples don’t realize is that Colorado is SUPER seasonal. At least in the mountains. May is known for ‘mud season.’ A good portion of the town shuts down and the weather is all over the place. Holidays are also super busy and hotels book up fast. For summer weddings look into July, August or September. For winter destination weddings, March is busy with spring break, but January, early February and April are great times that aren’t as busy. If your destination wedding is on the beach, make sure it’s not hurricane season or that it’s so hot your makeup is dripping off. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Do your research and look up the weather history on the date and location you’re looking for. Make sure it’s something you’re okay with. Most people don’t realize how cold most months of Colorado are or how hot southern places are and as long as you’re prepared, you’re golden!
3. Take a trip!
Take a trip, but do your research before! Set up coffee dates with your vendors to pick their brain, schedule your engagement session with your photographer and set up a trial for your hair and makeup. Get to know the town and enjoy why it’s so special to you.
4. Check out the local marriage laws
In Colorado, no need for an officiant! You can self-solemnize meaning you can marry yourself! If hiking to the top of a mountain just the two of you is you’re thing. DO IT. Just don’t forget me. 😉
5. Hire a wedding planner!
They. will. save. your. life. Even a day of coordinator helps so much. Being across the country, world or state you won’t regret having someone there to help piece together the day. Sometimes you don’t realize how much stuff you have to do. Like who wants to clean up after your wedding?
6. Do your research
Most likely, guests won’t be familiar with the area either. Have some things mapped out for them. Breckenridge is two hours away from the airport so – Airport shuttles, hotels, top things to do in Breckenridge. Make sure your guests know about the elevation if they’re coming from sea level. 9000ft is no joke! If you can, stay in Denver a few days and then make your way up.
7. Get there early
You’re officially on vacation and you’re getting married. Time to celebrate! Experience the town you choose to start your life in. Get happy hour at Blue River Bistro, Learn to fly fish on the Colorado River, sit on the patio at RMU and drink a g&t. ALSO. Elevation. Ya never know who it’s going to hit. Give yourself a few days to get your body adjusted to the elevation gain. Stay a night or two in Denver. Drink lots of water! Most importantly, RELAX. Chances are the hard part is over and now it’s time to take it all in.
8. Plan something low key with your friends and family
You’re already paying for the wedding so no need to plan something extravagant, but a majority of my couples LOVE destination weddings for this reason. You’re on vacation with your closest friends and family. Doesn’t get better than that. Do a group hike, snowmobile or tubing, pontoon boat on Lake Dillon, meet everyone in the hotel lobby bar, host a brunch at an Airbnb.
9. Wedding weekend photos
Some really fun candid moments come from everything leading up to the day and after. Bring your photographer along for the weekend to capture everything. Girls night? Group activity?
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