Let’s talk about eloping in Colorado and using our epic views to your advantage! Taylor & Nathan were another one of my couples who were victims of Covid! They planned a beautiful wedding to take place at a resort just outside of Gunnison, Colorado and then the pandemic hit… and after two postponements they gave up on their big celebration. But I was not discouraged, they had already paid their deposits with me and I still wanted to give them some lovely photos to remember the day, so we hatched a plan…. and you know what? I think the plan came out better than we could’ve ever imagined! We looked at a time-frame that was light on our wedding schedule during the summer and my family and I planned a camping trip to Taylor Reservoir just outside of Gunnison. I met the couple just outside of our camping spot and spent two hours photographing them in all the beautiful scenery! It was a win for both them and us! We got to enjoy a little family time in the wilderness and Nathan & Taylor ended up with some epic photographs!
Enjoy this selection of some of my favorites! If you’re up for an adventure please reach out to me, as we’re always up for an experience!!!
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.
We covered quite a few elopements again this year. I think some couples were just done dealing with Covid and wanted to get married. Ashley & Nicholas came all the way from Florida to tie the knot in April. They found us and all of their vendors online for their simple elopement at Legacy Ridge Golf Course in Westminster, Colorado. This public golf course has some amazing views of the mountains from within the suburbs of Denver and was the perfect place for their quick ceremony with a handful of friends. Ashley had never seen snow in person so it was a real treat to still have some peaking through on the mountains behind them. Mike and I were there to capture the event on both photo and video for those that could not attend. It ended up being the perfect day for the both of them!
Vendors who made this day possible:
Venue – Legacy Ridge Golf Course
Florist – Mossholders Floral
Photo & Video – Crystaline Photography and Video
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.
Whether you love all the group photos taken at a wedding with friends and family or would prefer to spend more time smoozing with your guests the reality is that the only way to guarantee a photo with grandma is to plan to take one. These type of photos are the formal portraits at a wedding and I’m going to chat a little bit about how to do them quickly and efficiently so you can get on to the partying!
There’s been a trend in the last couple decades of couples wanting to have more of a photo-journalistic style of wedding coverage. A true photo-journalist should never stage a photo as they are there mainly to document the event. While this can often times capture some of the most emotional and memorable moments at a wedding, choosing a photographer who only offers this type of photography can often mean you miss getting photos with a lot of the people who are important to you that a traditional portrait photographer will take. You can have both styles of photography and the best wedding photographers will offer both!
I started out assisting my mother with weddings back in the nineties during the days of film when each wedding you photographed had a limited amount of film to shoot for each event. Photographers had to choose their frames very deliberately. In those days you took maybe 2-3 frames of each group shot and just hoped someone didn’t blink. You took one shot of the cake and maybe 2-3 of the cake cutting. Delivering 300-500 images back then was considered a lot! I’m thankful to have learned photography during that time period because not only does it make me appreciate the ability to take as many photos as I want at an event, but also it did teach me a lot of skills that I still use today to help with facilitating the formal portrait session quickly. Here are some tips for couples planning a wedding:
1.) First, if at all possible find a photographer that has a portfolio that includes group portraits and speaks about the importance of taking these types of photos at a wedding. This will ensure that you get a photographer that will be proactive in making sure the photos you want with others get completed and not missed.
2.) Ask the photographer to walk you through their process of doing group portraits. Each photographer will probably have a way of doing things that works the best for them. This way you can hear about any potential “red flags” they may state like “I really hate taking group photos, so I do the bare minimum” or “I’ll do group photos if you really want me to” or my favorite “Just grab me whenever you want a photo” That last statement is fine in conjunction with a well laid out plan for how and when you will be doing the bulk of the portrait photos and should be in addition to those photos not in lieu of a planned group formal photography time. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is being in charge of grabbing all the people you want to take photos with, this is the photographer’s job.
3.) Most couples utilize the cocktail hour immediately following the ceremony for the time period to take these group photos. I am starting to hear more often that couples would prefer to enjoy some of that time-frame to meet and greet guests and are opting to do some if not all of the group formals before the wedding. If you are planning on doing this it’s imperative that everyone you’d like to be in these photos knows the time-frame that you will be starting the photos. I also suggest telling them a start time 30 minutes prior to the actual start time to make time for late comers (especially if you know you will have a few of these). Even if you plan to do all of the group photos before the ceremony leave some time directly following the ceremony to do just a few more in case someone doesn’t get the memo or you run out of time before the ceremony. If you don’t need the time it will just give you some extra moments with your new spouse and maybe some extra time for more relaxed photos of just the two of you which really are the most important photos you’ll want from the day!
4.) Utilize your wedding officiant or DJ/MC to make announcements for photos. Simply stated, if you plan to have the officiant tell the guests where they are supposed to go following the ceremony recessional, it’s a great idea to also have him/her mention that the couple has requested that immediate or all of the family of the couple should stay behind for a few moments for some family photos. This tells Uncle John that he can’t make a B-line to the bar just yet! And saves a lot of time looking for the family members needed for the group photos. Less time taking photos means more time to hang out with friends after wards. Family photos can be done as quickly as 15-20 minutes if everyone is present. The overtime comes when a photographer or another person has to go and look for someone who is missing.
5.) Start with the largest family first or with the side that has the most jobs to still do if they are helping out with the reception set-up or meal. Do the extended family photos first if you are doing them and whittle them down to smaller groupings and complete one side (if at all possible) before moving on to the other spouse’s family. If you have any specific groupings you’d like to have photographed give a list to your photographer. Every photographer should have a basic list of what they usually cover to show or tell you about (if you’ve been doing this for 20 years like me then your list can be in your head, but they should easily be able to tell you what their normal groupings are) and then you can decide if there are special groupings you want that are not on that list for instance: generation groupings, just cousins, just aunts and uncles, etc. This will ensure that the photographer knows what’s important to you.
6.) A loud boisterous photographer who is willing to direct people will get things done a lot quicker than a timid person waiting for groups to arrange themselves. If you get the feeling that your photographer is not going to be good at this, but still really like their work then utilizing a family member who can help with this is really recommended. A loud Aunt or Uncle who knows all the key family members and that wants to help is a great person for this role! You can also ask them to keep an eye on your dress and/or other things as the photos are being taken. A detail orientated photographer is great, but an extra pair of eyes is also helpful.
7.) Put the kibosh to others wanting to take photos while the photographer is doing formal portraits. I can’t stress this enough! I know the urge for the mother of the bride to want to take a duplicate photo of every photo the photographer is taking, I really do, but every time the photographer has to stop in the middle of their group arrangements to allow someone else to take photos it adds on to how long it takes to do the group photos. This also results in photos with people looking everywhere, but at the paid photographer’s camera. The couple is going to get a high quality large resolution digital images back from the photographer that they can share with everyone so why would they want a dark, crooked underexposed low quality cellphone picture of the exact same thing? The shocking answer is they won’t want them. Half the time they won’t even see those images as they will get forgotten about and never downloaded from the person’s phone. The best thing a couple can do is set expectations before the wedding by telling everyone that they think will want to take photos that it’s best to let the photographer do their job so that they can get through the photos quickly. This always sounds better coming from the couple rather than the photographer.
Sometimes there’s a real shutter bug in the family as well that likes to bring his/her DSLR which is great, but can also sometimes become an issue. For example if they are taking key members of the wedding party away to do photos of their own while the contracted photographer is trying to get their shots. This has happened to me on more than one occasion and it’s really not helpful and again makes the portrait session take longer. I think it’s great when another photographer comes up and introduces themselves to the photographer and asks permission to take photos. When this occasionally happens I can tell them exactly what they should and should not do. The most beneficial way to take additional photos is to get photos of things the contracted photographer can’t take. Examples of this would be photos of the guests at cocktail hour and dinner or even covering the rehearsal the day before. If someone in your family has expressed interest in taking photos at your wedding it’s imperative to chat with the photographer you have hired beforehand to discuss what this might look like. Most photographers have clauses in their contracts that won’t allow a second professional unless they are hired by them and this is to ensure another photographer is not impeding their job. Having an extra person covering stuff that contracted photographer can’t cover is a great way to utilize someone else with a camera.
8.) Overall, if you really feel like group portraits are not for you, at least consider doing photos with your immediate family with you and your new spouse in them immediately following the ceremony. A few frames of each side of the family should at least be enough to appease mom and dad. These can take as little as ten minutes. If you are worried about it turning into a long session tell the photographer up front that you only want “X” photos. This will let them take control of the situation should more group photo requests come up on the day and allow you an easy way to escape the multiple groupings if you don’t want to do them.
Fall has got me thinking about this beautiful church wedding Chris photographed last year. I was already booked for two weddings on the most popular date to get married on in 2020 which was 10-10-20. Leia and Zach had put off booking their photographer due to the pandemic and not knowing if they were going to be able to host their event, but luckily Chris was available to cover it for us! This poor couple like many last year had many hurdles to overcome for throwing a wedding. The golf course that they had planned to host their ceremony at was not allowing events during the pandemic so the couple opted to move their reception to their parent’s back yard. It ended up being very lovely and the perfect wedding that suited their personalities! Their indoor catholic ceremony was beautiful with all the colors of fall and all the important people attending! And the bride and groom were even able to swing by the golf course that was supposed to be were their reception was going to be to do some photos of just the two of them before heading on to the backyard reception. Check out more of the photos below!
It’s just a testament to “love conquering all” because in the end it’s not about the fancy party, but about the person you are deciding to share forever with… Here’s to all the 2020 and 2021 couples still navigating a worldwide pandemic! I didn’t think we’d still be dealing with whether or not to host a wedding one year later, but here we are! Whatever you decide to do just know your true friends and family will back you up!
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
In honor of pride month I thought I would post this beautiful elopement of two ladies from out of state. Covid wasn’t going to stop them from their union and neither was a pandemic! When they reached out to me they originally were looking at exchanging vows at park in Boulder, but then Boulder had just stopped issuing permits for everything due to the pandemic. I suggested this location and the rest fell into place. We met the morning of Halloween on a mountain top near Denver. The couple exchanged vows and spent a couple hours taking photos. It was a great day to see love prevail!
Zach & Megan originally had a big event planned for their wedding in Estes Park this past year and then Covid happened! Ugh! A familiar story in 2020, but despite having to postpone their event they still wanted to get married! So Megan’s mom booked the Historic Morrison Church down the road from her home for their original date of 10-10-2020! And the couple along with the bride’s immediate family held a small ceremony here. Due to the date being a special one – 10+10 = 20 it was also the busiest wedding day of the year. Our company covered three events in one day! Not something we typically do either, but because two of the events were very small and located just a few miles from each other and also because the timing worked out Mike and I were able to handle them both and Chris covered another one for us in Lafayette! It ended up being a beautiful Fall day and just as memorable for these couples even though all three ended up being greatly downsized.
Here are some of my favorite photos and the downloaded ceremony only video from this first wedding on 10/10/2020. Enjoy!
I just really love this little chapel! It’s the perfect place to hold a small gathering or to elope at. It’s non-denominational so you are welcome to bring in your own officiant or self-solemnize (which is legal in Colorado). It’s also located downtown Morrison where there’s a beautiful bike path along a creek for photo opportunities and some amazing restaurants to hold a little reception at. Not to mention it’s just a few minutes down the road from the amazing Red Rocks Amphitheater and a couple other amazing parks such as: Matthews Winters Park & Mount Falcon which also have amazing views that you can only get in our state! The church also makes a perfect back-up plan for weather issues for someone planning an outdoor wedding in the area because the price is very affordable to reserve. Check out the ceremony only video below.
Vendors who made this day possible:
Venue – Historic Morrison Church
Wedding Planner – Pink Diamond Events
Photo & Video – Crystaline Photography & Video