Archive for Preparation

Here’s another early fall wedding at the fabulous Willow Ridge Manor. We can never get enough weddings from this venue! It’s an amazing place to tie the knot. And with getting ready areas for both the bride and groom on site, gorgeous views and a place for both the ceremony and the reception without having to leave the venue who needs to look further!

Taylor and Sam were just two of the nicest people you could ever meet. I see many many years of marriage for these two. I can’t wait to see what the future will hold for them.

Check out some of my favorite photos from their event last September!

Vendors who made this day possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Catering: Rocky Mountain Catering

DJ: Digital DJ

Florist: Hawk Flowers & Gifts

Cake & Desert: Little Man Ice Cream

Bridal Wear: David’s Bridal

Tuxedo Rental: Men’s Wearhouse

Jeweler: Trice Jewelers

 

 

I have just one more couple from last year to finish up on their wedding album and that couple’s wedding is being featured on my blog today! The day started out with our associate photographer, Chris going to the couple’s apartment to get photos of the guys getting ready and I went to the mother of the bride’s home to get pictures of the ladies. After that we traveled to Genesee Mountain Park to do a “first look” of the groom seeing his bride and wedding party photos before the ceremony being held at Christies of Genesee. We had some lost wedding party members, but we persevered and were able to get just a few photos of the large wedding party completed before the rain started to come down. After a mad dash back to everyone’s vehicles we continued on to the venue to prepare for the ceremony and moved the rest of the formal portraits to after the ceremony. The day just flew by! Before I knew it we were staging the requested night shots with the full moon in view and seeing the couple out the door for the end of their evening. Sometimes weddings just go so quickly you barely get a chance to take it all in and today was certainly one of those days.

Large wedding parties can always be challenging (especially when you lose a few members). I always recommend booking a package with at least two photographers if you are planning on having more than four bridesmaids or groomsmen and/or if you are getting ready at different locations or even if you can’t utilize the venue for your preparation space. Christies of Genesee is a wonderful venue, but it only has a very small dressing room that can only really accommodate 2-3 people, thus the reason for the separate preparation quarters on this event. Having two photographers ensured that every aspect of this couple’s big day was captured.

Reasons we love this venue: 1.) Close proximity to Denver 2.) Mountain and city views 3.) Affordable price range for couple on a budget 4.) Outdoor and indoor space 5.) Gorgeous picturesque views nearby 6.) Friendly and courteous staff

 

 

Vendors who Made this Day Possible:

Venue, Catering & DJ: Christies of Genesee

Photography: Crystaline Photography & Video

Bride’s Dress: The Bridal Collection

Groomsmen’s Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

Bridemaid’s Dresses: Birdy Grey

 

Sanaz and James were a couple that had to postpone their event multiple times due to Covid. Luckily, we were able to accommodate them all along the way and we were able to finally see them through to a fabulous 2021 summer event at Willow Ridge Manor. I know this one was a particularly challenging wedding for my husband to DJ due to the Persian music Sanaz and her side of the family requested, but Mike was a champ. I watched him go through their special requests for days on end prior to the event and it paid off big time! I saw him receive high fives from some of the guests and was told what an amazing job he did. Most of the bride’s family didn’t think that hiring a DJ that doesn’t specialize in Persian events was a good idea, but they were wrong. He did an excellent job of blending classic American tunes with the fun energetic cultural music that the bride’s family loved. That’s what makes him a great Disc Jockey… a personal desire to make an enjoyable event for all the guests! It was an amazing day with lots of love, laughter and dancing!

We even got to see a wedding tradition that neither one of us has ever seen even in our over twenty years of covering weddings. It’s called a Persian Wedding Knife Dance…. The dance begins with one person performing a typical Persian dance, holding a knife and asking the couple for money. The couple is expected to give money to the dancer in return for the knife. Once the dancer gets the money she passes the knife on to the next dancer. This little game is played in good humor for some time until one of the dancers decide that they have been won over by the given money and will give the bride and groom their cake knife in exchange so that they may cut their cake. It was a cool tradition that honored the bride’s family heritage.

Check out some of my favorite photos below.

       

Vendors who made this day possible:

Venue – Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer – Rocky Mountain Catering 

Disc Jockey – Digital DJ

Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video

As a wedding photographer/videographer I see a lot of wedding trends come and go. Some of the classics stick around for a good while, but even some of the die hard wedding traditions are starting to move their way out of the limelight. I thought I’d take a peek at the fun trends that are making their way to couples this year and with a mention of the ones on their way out. Let’s see if you agree…

TRENDS ON THEIR WAY IN

1.) Weekday Weddings – We saw quite a few of these over the last year just due to couples needing to work within venue’s availability after they had to postpone their 2020 event. Don’t expect them to go away. Lots of venues offer special savings when a couple is willing to host their event mid-week. Almost everyone has a limited budget, so couples all over have found this is a great way to save big on their wedding!

2.) Customized Weddings – These have already been really popular. Engaged couples want to do something different that stands out and makes their event more memorable. I see a lot more couples wanting to do their wedding “their” way instead of the “traditional” way. This can mean having a food truck instead of a sit down dinner, having a cocktail hour before the vows,  coming up with their own unity ceremony instead of a candle, etc. I already have two “brunch” weddings booked in 2022 for breakfast lovers everywhere! Anywhere a couple can put their personal stamp on their event they will be doing it!

3.) Electronic Invitations – The pandemic made electronic ways to stay in touch with your guests more acceptable due to all the postponements and reschedules. And now they are here to stay. Electronic save-the-dates, invites, RSVPs are a great way for couples to save money, even if you just use a wedding website to get all that extra information out for instance like where to stay, and how to get there. A small QR code placed on a physical invite even gives your guests a quick way to go to your wedding website.

4.) Destination Weddings and Elopements – We’ve covered a lot of these in the past few years and when Covid lockdowns happened couples still wanted to get married, so they chose the most exotic place they could get to within the US borders. We had quite a few couples coming from areas without snow, or from the flat plains to Colorado just because they wanted to get married on a mountain top. And in reverse a lot of couples in Colorado going to locations with beaches!

5.) Renting a Vacation Home for Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties – People looking for ways to avoid crowded clubs and bars are looking into staying with their close friends at a large home they can rent through sites like Vrbo.com and Air BnB. And then they are even hiring a photographer to come out and document it! This can be a long golf or ski weekend or  maybe a great location like Nashville or Las Vegas for fun shows and gambling!

 

TRENDS ON THEIR WAY OUT

1.) Bouquet and garter toss… Many, many couples today are deciding to drop this steadfast tradition. Some of the reasons are because couples are waiting to get married later in life and it just doesn’t seem right singling out  one or two of your last unattached friends. Also your dance floor is rocking, who wants to slow down a party for this out dated tradition.

2.) Things on Guest Registries – Also a sign of the times with couples waiting until later in life to tie the knot; a lot of couples are already in a co-habitating scenario and don’t need stuff.  I see a lot of couple’s that have honeymoon registries or a site for saving for a down payment on a home. Young couples today are not interested in china patterns. Some are even asking for donations to charities in lieu of a wedding gift.

3.) Wedding Favors – Most couples are ditching the wedding favors in order to afford other items like a video record of their event, or higher end entertainment. Over the years I have found that the largest waste of money goes to wedding favors. People often forget the trinkets given to them by the couple leaving most items behind. The exception to this rule is if you give them something you know they will use like food or drink. I remember one couple that provided a bottle of wine to each family on their way home from their family owned vineyard. Now this is something we all know will get used! Photo-booths have also become a popular favor replacement because it gives guests a memorable experience and a memento that you know they will save and cherish.

4.) Extra Large Bridal Parties – While couples have a lot of friends many are opting to go with small 1-2 attendants or none at all. It gets really hard trying to coordinate schedules of a lot of people for dress fittings, parties, and more. Couples are finding that they’d rather have their guests be guests instead of having them full-fill the obligations of a wedding party. Not to mention how you’ll need a larger alter space in the ceremony to fit a large bridal party. Group photos also take twice as long to do with large entourages.

5.) Receiving Lines – I will go as far as to say this one is pretty much already gone. When I ask couples if they are going to have a “receiving line” I often get a blank stare followed up with the question of “what is that?” A lot of today’s couples have never even seen one unless they’ve been to a very traditional church ceremony. If you’ve never seen one  here’s a brief explanation: it’s where the couple and their parents stand in a line to greet and shake the hands of each and every guest after the ceremony and it can take 30-60 minutes depending the amount of guests you have invited. One of the main reasons this one has disappeared is because of the amount of time couples have to do their formal group photos after the ceremony. Most of the time the photos take precedence over a receiving line. Covid pretty much put a complete kibosh to this tradition. A lot of couples now greet their guests while dinner is going on at the reception after they have eaten.

 

 

I always love covering a classic wedding for a young couple in love. A simple ceremony at the couple’s hometown church with a reception held at the same location proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune on your event to have a beautiful heartfelt wedding. Corinne’s mom reached out to me only a couple months leading up to their big day in Strasburg, Colorado and the rest they say is history. The plan originally had been to host the ceremony outdoors in a field near the church, but the weather had other plans that day, so with storm clouds gathering the ceremony moved indoors and we opted to do most of the photos inside as well. We were able to step outside to get a few photos of the wedding party and the couple alone, but luckily the church still offered a beautiful backdrop for their event.

It was wonderful seeing their faith brought to the forefront of their wedding and all of the friends and family that came to celebrate. It was a lovely day that will be full of memories in the years to come for this couple. Enjoy some of my favorite photos and the highlight video below.

Check out the highlight video from our video services for their event:

Vendors who Made this Day Possible:

Venue – Mountain View Fellowship Church

Photography & Video – Crystaline Photography & Video

Another beautiful summer wedding at Willow Ridge Manor with just the cutest couple ever! Kelly and Matthew bonded over their love of adventure and bicycling which also made for a very cute an adorable wedding theme. Our team had a great time capturing both photo and video for this couple for many years of enjoyment to come.  When couples host their event during the Summer at Willow Ridge they can have a grand affair utilizing the outside deck for seating with still more room inside for all of their guests. This beautiful venue looks great anytime of year, but  it’s especially beautiful when the grass is green and the flowers are in bloom. Just perfect with the black and white color scheme with green accent colors! Enjoy the highlight video above and some of my favorite photos below!

 

Vendors who made this day possible:

Venue – Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer – Rocky Mountain Catering 

Disc Jockey – Digital DJ

Photography & Video – Crystaline Photography & Video

 

Pinning the boutinear on the groom Bride with her dress Unique ring photo on an ornament

Stolen kisses

bridesmaids All family photo

Winter is on it’s way and so is a magical time to get married! Emily and Luke like most couples who got married in 2020 had to face a multitude of challenges including closed wedding venue, losing their caterer to the business going under and more! Their wedding date changed with us no less than three times! The last time I got notice a couple weeks before they decided to tie the knot. After everything the couple just wanted to say “I Do” and they exchanged their elaborate mansion wedding for a quaint wedding in the living room of the bride’s parents’ home with just immediate family and a few close friends. I was still privileged for to get the opportunity to document their special holiday themed event.
Luke apparently spent hours setting up the decor in the home and making it look lovely. We were also able to go to nearby 17 Mile Farmhouse Park to get some beautiful photos in the snow. It ended up being a really beautiful day and I’m so excited that I got to be there for them.

wedding party intimate photo on the farm Living room ceremony Exchange of vows first kiss Photos with holiday lights

Highlight video from this all outdoor event held at Willow Ridge Manor in Morrison, Colorado. Covid kept the guests mostly outdoors for this event with the couple choosing to host their whole event outside with this incredible view! Check it out!

I’m going to start off by saying that I am not a wedding planner, but as a wedding photographer who has been covering weddings and events for over 23 years I have a unique perspective on planning weddings… what works and what doesn’t. I’m also going to say that a wedding planner is almost always worth the investment even if you can only afford the “day of coordination” services. I always remember the story about a mother of the bride that came up to me after the event. I told her it was an amazing day and she had done such a good job setting everything up and coordinating with all of the vendors and then she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “I feel like I missed my daughter’s wedding because all I was doing was taking care of everything so that she could have a perfect day!” After that day I started looking at wedding planners as more of a necessity than a luxury, especially if you want your friends and family to enjoy the event instead of spending all their time working.

We still do work with tons of couples who decide to do it all them selves whether that’s because they don’t have a budget for a coordinator or because they really, really enjoy the planning aspects of party planning. Sometimes it’s because the venue or the caterer also offers some sort of set-up and/or breakdown service for the event. And when this happens we often run into no concrete plan on how things for the day are going to go and I find myself helping the couple come up with a timeline that not only makes sure there’s enough time planned for all the special events, but also enough time to get all those posed photos that they want too! Because of this background I thought I would share some helpful tips for planning your wedding timeline especially if you are going to host an event in Colorado. Because of our beautiful scenery a lot of Colorado weddings are held outdoors (at least for a portion of the event). Outdoors can bring a whole extra set of challenges that you need to consider such as time of year, weather, location and guests’ comfort. I’ve seen it all – Winter weddings held outside with a snowy landscape to Church weddings on one side of town and a reception over an hour away. All of these things can effect a timeline. So here are some things to consider when you start planning out your timeline.

1.) Are you hosting the ceremony and reception at the same location?

If your ceremony and reception are being held at completely different locations then you have to remember to include drive time between the two venues in your timing. Make sure to leave in extra time for things like traffic problems and construction. If you are having a shuttle bus take guests between the two locations or from accommodations to the venues make sure you find out if they need multiple trips or if a large bus can be used to take all the guests who would be using it. Again make sure you have extra time planned in the timeline for things that come up.

2.) What time of the year are you getting married?

Sure there are savings to be had for couple willing to brave hosting a wedding in the middle of Winter, but it’s also not without risk. Colorado ski towns are notorious for getting blocked in with snow that close down roads in the Wintertime. If you are having a mountain wedding in November-March you should prepare for all scenarios with the worst being yourself, guests and vendors unable to make it to your venue. I highly suggest that you plan an extra day for arrivals prior to the wedding to ensure that yourself, vendors and others can at least be able to get to town prior to the wedding date. We covered a wedding in Silverthorne in 2019 where the bride mentioned frequent tunnel closures and ski traffic in her invitations. She suggested that guests give themselves an extra hour to get to the venue and because of that all of her guests were able to make it just before the ceremony started because the Eisenhower Tunnel had a closure. It’s a good idea to see if there are any festivals, planned road closures, or other travel issues in the area during your planned wedding date and take all of that into consideration when planning a timeline. And offer up alternate routes than what the map on your phone will give or suggestions for time management.

Next, the time of year can most definitely effect when you should plan an outdoor ceremony. The sun starts to go down earlier in the Fall and because of the mountains you may loose light for photos even sooner than other locations. If you are planning a sunset ceremony than you should plan to do the bulk of your formal portraits prior to the ceremony because once it’s dark out a photographer can use flash, but no amount of flash will bring those beautiful backgrounds back into the light and all that money you spent on a venue with views is wasted for your photos.

3.) Start your timeline early… from when you are planning on getting ready.

When you choose hair and make-up artists tell them the time that every person in your wedding party must be done for photos starting plus half an hour to an hour. The artists should know how long it takes for themselves and/or a team of stylists to complete the job and they will tell you what time you need to start getting ready. I’ve been to many weddings where someone from a stylist’s team doesn’t show which puts everyone behind or one of the bridesmaids hates their hair and they have to start over. Having that extra wiggle room for time will either be needed or it will give you some time to just relax.

If you are planning on doing any of the decorating yourself utilizing family and wedding party members then I highly suggest doing all of this either the day before your event (if at all possible) or plan on it being completed by the time you need to get ready as you can’t do both at the same time. Couples often forget that a lot of the wedding portraits can be done before the wedding as well and if you are too busy setting up instead of taking photos then you are just paying your photographer to stand around until you are ready. Also you probably don’t need the photographer there for all of the 3-4 hours of the wedding party is getting ready. One to two hours before the ceremony should be sufficient to capture the last minute touch ups and getting dressed. The photographer and videographer’s start time will depend on whether or not you are doing a “First Look” and how many portraits you plan on doing before the ceremony.

4.) Utilize the experts in the industry.

Talk to the owner or coordinator of the venue and ask them what timelines work the best for the time of year you are getting married. Chat with the caterer to find out what order for service works the best for them because if they have a way that they normally do things sometimes if you change anything up it can also affect the level of service they can provide you. Take into consideration time for things like “room flipping” which is when the same room the ceremony is held in is switched during the cocktail hour to a reception set-up. If you have to do this at the venue you have chosen then plan a little bit extra time for your cocktail hour in case things take longer to do. Of course talk to your photographer and videographer about the important things you want to make sure are covered from your day so that you can utilize their coverage time the best.

5.) Distribute your written timeline widely.

You should have a nicely typed out timeline that is given out to all of your vendors, as well as anyone in the bridal party and important family members. This way everyone knows where they are supposed to be and when. Having to look for a missing groomsmen or waiting on a family member to arrive can not always be prevented, but it’s a lot less likely to happen when everyone knows when and and where they are supposed to be. It can also take some of the stress off of everyone involved.  Make sure your venue and/or a trusted wedding party member has a copy of it so they can help keep you on track if you are not using a wedding planner.

Weddings come in all shapes and sizes and some of the most unique are quaint small affairs that couples host with family and close friends like this even held last October in Colorado Springs at the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort. Another event that just goes to show you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a beautiful Colorado wedding. This historic roadside motel has been fixed up with bicycle themes to cater to those that love to get on two wheels. The resort even provides an assortment of bicycles for people to ride on in the area. It’s located just minutes down the road from the Garden of the gods which is one of the premier tourist destinations in Colorado Springs.

The pavilion by the pool made a lovely ceremony and reception spot for this very much “in love” couple. We utilized all of the fun bicycle themed elements to get some amazing photos on property, but were still able to get some majestic mountain backdrop photos of just the two of them! It tourned out to be an amazing Fall day and I would come back here in a heartbeat!

 

Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:

Ceremony, Reception and On Site Accommodations – Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort

Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video