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
Released Alexie’s Quincenera Video from this past May today! What an amazing event. A church ceremony in the morning followed by an evening full of fun for all the guests! There was a party bus and horse carriage rides for the court, photo-booth for all the guests, multiple food stations with donuts, popcorn and a taco truck. Dancing went late into the evening with special dances performed by the court and an appearance by juggler entertainers. This event had it all! Check it out!
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!
I was just given the opportunity to choose an item from an online shopping site that has a ton of gift ideas for bridesmaids and other important women in your life! Groovy Girl Gifts has a ton of items that can be personalized with names, sayings, and more. I chose this bag with my initials because I thought it would be the perfect beach bag for summer outings! The item arrived quickly and in excellent condition. It’s well made and I can see it lasting many seasons. The embroidery is also really professional looking and is a nice touch to the overall appearance of the bag. I’m really looking forward to using it! If you would like to check out this specific item please follow this link: https://www.groovygirlgifts.com/collections/handbags-women or check out one of their many other items available.
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Again I am a bit behind on my blog posting for 2020. The end of the year was a whirlwind… wedding date changes, venue changes and more kept us quite busy! Hailey and Andrew’s wedding was supposed to take place at Boettcher Mansion in September, but because that venue is ran by the county when Covid hit it was also one of the last venues to open back up. Couples with plans at any government ran facility were the hardest hit due to mandates that regulated the amount of guests that could be had at smaller venues. I was willing to change things around for them, but they really wanted to host their event on their planned date and because I knew Willow Ridge Manor had been able to stay open I sent them over to Gregory and Lawrence. Luckily, there had been another couple that canceled on their date and they were able to move their event one town over to this facility. It ended up being a beautiful day with special touches that really personalized the event. The couple’s grandparents were musicians so they provided a song during the ceremony and also performed during the cocktail hour. The couple even rented a classic white Ford Mustang for the day which was a great addition to their wedding photos and a lot of fun! Having the car all day also made it easier to do more photos with the vehicle throughout the day instead of just at the end during the send off. It was a pleasure working with you both! Best wishes. ~Jamie
Vendors who made this day possible:
Venue – Willow Ridge Manor
Caterer – Colorado Catering Company
Alcohol Provider – Applejack Liquor
Ceremony Music – Pianist – Jimmy West
Reception Music – Guitarist – Jeff Matchette
Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video
Video – Miranda Adame Productions
When two people are really in love it’s hard to not to enjoy photographing them because the chemistry just smolders in camera! Taylor and Sam both said they felt like they weren’t super photogenic. I said hogwash! We got some beautiful rustic mountain photos at one of my favorite locations to do photos at and the rest they say is history! After spending the morning with them I’m really looking forward to their fall wedding this year! it’s going to be a blast!
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
Carly and Matt were one of those couples that just rolled with the punches in 2020! We were all set to take photos at their wedding in April and then Covid hit! Putting a complete hold on to their celebration…. The couple decided to elope in their backyard on their original date, but then still were able to hold their celebration in September with a small selection of guests and wedding party. Luckily, everything worked out and I was still able to capture their beautiful event at Willow Ridge Manor. I’m excited to share some of my favorite images from their event below! Enjoy!
Vendors who made this day possible:
Ceremony & Reception Venue – Willow Ridge Manor
Caterer – Occasions Catering
Bakery – Das Meyer
Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video