Archive for Large Events

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.

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

Bride at Willow Ridge Manor Willow Ridge Manor - Groom Willow Ridge Manor - Pocket Squares Willow Ridge Manor -  Bride in the mirror with her gals Willow Ridge Manor - Groom and Ford Mustang Willow Ridge Manor - Groom in a Mustang Willow Ridge Manor - Fun group shot  Willow Ridge Manor - Bride and Groom Portrait Willow Ridge Manor - Bride and groom with Mustang  Willow Ridge Manor - Presenting the bride Willow Ridge Manor - Veil Shot  Willow Ridge Manor - CeremonyWillow Ridge Manor - Romatic photo Willow Ridge Manor - Marriage License Willow Ridge Manor - Grandparents perform Willow Ridge Manor -  Toasts

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

 

Beautiful early Fall wedding at Willow Ridge Manor with Kayla & Devin’s friends and family. Another event that we were so lucky to have happen before the Covid cases started to go up again. The weather was amazing; so a lot of time was spent outdoors just enjoying the warm amazing day. Lots of love and joy for these two! It was a pleasure capturing your special day!

I also have to give props to the amazing job Rocky Mountain Catering has been doing all Summer with the pandemic concerns. They showed up to every event with their masks on and got the job done! Their food was still amazing in the middle of all of this what an awesome company!

 

Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer: Rocky Mountain Catering

Disc Jockey: Digital DJ

Photography: Crystaline Photography & Video

 

I’ve been a bit behind on my blog posts again due to a crazy end of Summer and Fall wedding season. A lot of couples from the 2020 early season had to push their events back to this time period this year due to Covid… so busy, busy, busy and now finally getting caught up on the little things like blog posting. Charlotte & Drew planned their whole event from out of state so they booked me just from a few emails and a couple phone conversations. Covering a wedding at Copper Leaf Event Center after having it been numerous years since I’ve been here was a real treat. I started out my career taking photos at this venue over 20 years ago and to see how much it has changed under new ownership was awesome. A lot of work has gone into making this venue a great little venue in a city location with amazing food. The owners who also own The Gourmet Kitchen Catering for many years prior to purchasing this venue have done a lot of work to update the getting ready rooms, the gardens and more! So not only are you getting a beautiful and affordable venue to host your event, but you are also getting their award winning food and service as well! I can’t say enough great things about this place!

And what to say about this amazing day! This couple was what I’m calling the quintessential millennium couple! They were low fuss, simple and just wanted to have fun with friends and family. They incorporated their quirky favorite music, had a lovely personalized ceremony Because of their good nature and ability to just go with the flow they had a wonderful heart felt event that incorporated some of the most important people in their lives. You could just feel the love oozing out of everyone for this event which is just easy to capture in photographs!

Again, thank you for having me document your special day! I highly recommend this venue for the food, service and beautiful surroundings! What a special day!

Vendors who made this day possible:

Venue: Copper Leaf Event Center

Caterer: The Gourmet Kitchen

Photographer: Crystaline Photography & Video

 

 

We were so grateful to be able to cover the amount of weddings that we could this year with the Covid pandemic going on. The cases were really down over the Summer and with all of Colorado’s beautiful outdoor venues we had a great time capturing the day of many happy couples! Since a bunch of Spring/Early Summer weddings were postponed the past few months have been a whirlwind for me… lots of events and lots of editing. I guess I will be busy updating my blog over the late Fall and Winter months for your enjoyment!

Ashlyn and Zach were able to still have a pretty great shindig! They came all the way from Nebraska to host their destination wedding. Beautiful pastel pinks were a great choice for this venue and their carnation flower curtain hung on the arch was over the top! I understand it was a labor of love created by Ashlyn’s mother! What an amazing day for an amazing couple! Check out their getaway vehicle! Awesome!

Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer: Rocky Mountain Catering

Disc Jockey: Digital DJ

Officiant: Jane’s Personalized Weddings

Florist: Sara Mica Design

Bakery: Das Meyer

Dress: Blue Bridal Boutique

Make-Up: Faced by Ariel

Hair: Michael Jay Hair

Photography: Crystaline Photography & Video

 

Here’s our first and now our only Spring wedding of 2020! Mandy & Kaleb were so lucky to be able to have their Willow Ridge Manor event in March before all of the Corona Virus Social Distancing Orders starting coming down. It was the best and amazing day for it as well! It was close to 70 degrees on their big day, but still snow peaking through on the mountain backdrops behind them. We had a few firsts for this wedding as well… first time the groomsmen got in a little fun by giving the bride a prop “ball & chain” to pin on her husband after they said their vows and also the first time I’ve ever seen a man in a bunny suit give a toast! You can tell this couple both have a very light hear-ted attitude about life and it was just a great environment to be in! Thanks again for having us be such an important part of your day! A lot of love was shared and captured for years to come!

For all of you folks out there worried about your upcoming 2020 event or  those already planning a post-postponement we feel your pain. This is going to be hard for all of us! We had two events in March cancel, four events in April cancel and so far four weddings altogether postpone with May events in jeopardy as well. The canceled events will not be re-booked so we’re out all the income that those would’ve generated for our business. The saving grace has been the fact that people still want to get married and don’t want to lose all of the money they have already invested in their big events. There are still options to postpone until a later date in 2020 and postponements instead of cancellations are what’s going to save a lot of small businesses. The talk about this lingering on for quite a while has people concerned about their Summer plans as well. We are encouraging all couples to take a wait and see attitude with all Summer dates with the hopes that our self isolation measures will kill this virus off before June.  Stay safe Colorado and the rest of the world, we’re all counting on all of you to become couch potatoes for the next couple months! We’ll be back soon and better than ever!

 

Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer: Rocky Mountain Catering

Disc Jockey: Digital DJ

Officiant: CoCreative Journeys – Paul Paiva

Photography & Video: Crystaline Photography & Video

 

I know Amanda, Alec and their families have been waiting patiently for me to finish their wedding video! And the time has come to release their highlight clip and get their photos and images back to them! This was an amazing wedding with a lot of moving parts to it and also not without it’s challenges, which makes me even happier to see the final results of their photos and video. Having a Winter event is always a bit of gamble especially if you are planning it the mountains of Colorado. Taking a chance on this Silverthorne Pavilion wedding was well worth it for them and even though the Eisenhower tunnel closed for a period of time on this day, almost all of the guests were able to make it to the ceremony on time! The couple notified their guests through their personalized website that due to the ski traffic and unforeseen weather issues that people should allow extra time for travel. That warning seemed to pay off for them! I would highly recommend that any couple planning an event do a little research on the area they plan on getting married at for what’s going on around the time of year they schedule it. Many times I’ve seen couples run into things like a festival being scheduled in the town at the same time as their event so accommodations for rooms being scarce, or unforeseen road closures due to construction or weather. If you know about these types of issues beforehand and let your guests know this can help them prepare for traveling and an on-time arrival for your event as much as as they can!

This venue boasts beautiful mountain and creek-side views, but because the sun goes down quicker in the Winter months we had to plan to do all of their formal portraits prior to the ceremony. This lead to a decision to do a “first look “between the bride and groom so that we could get their formal portraits out of the way before the ceremony. It ended up being a really touching intimate moment that they shared on the bridge. It was completely magical which fits in with their magical Disney themed wedding! Loved the romantic photos in the snow. And all of the children that participated in the ceremony singing songs was adorable!

The reception had a lot of unique elements as well. First, the bridesmaids did double duty as bartenders for the cocktail hour where the couple served their guests “Mocktails” which were non-alcoholic fun fruity drinks. This is a great idea for someone either looking to save money on their bar tab or for couples with religious or other reasons for not drinking. In Amanda and Alec’s situation they still served alcoholic drinks they just opted to wait to open the liquor bar until after dinner when the paid bar staff took over.  It was so cute seeing all the bridesmaids wearing rain smocks over their beautiful dresses to prevent them from getting dirty and I think it also gave another level of entertainment to the many young guests both attending and in their wedding.

Amanda’s brother was the DJ/MC for their event. In most cases I would also try to dissuade couples from using a family member for this important service, but in this case her brother had a background in entertainment having worked for a company that hosts parties and provides games and more for their clients. He did an amazing job not only running games that were entertaining for both the kids and adults, but also keeping the dance floor full.  The reception was also very unique in having a line up of different performers that were chosen from their friends and family who sang at different points in the evening. Amanda and her dad even chose to do a duet instead of a typical father and daughter dance. It really put a personal stamp on the event by including guests that were near and dear to them in the festivities.

We had a ton of fun doing the photography and video for this fairy tale event! I hope it will be a moment that they cherish forever!

Vendors who made this day possible:

Venue: Silverthorne Pavilion

Caterer: A Perfect Bite

Photography & Video: Crystaline Photography & Video

Destination weddings in Colorado have become big business in the wedding industry. Couples from all over the world are imagining themselves saying their nuptials with majestic peaks in the background. Maybe the couples has previously vacationed here and fallen in love with the state or perhaps like one of the couples I photographed a couple years ago the bride had never seen snow before and had always wanted to get married on a snow covered mountain top! Whatever your reason for getting married in Colorado it’s now easier than ever to do! The internet has given everyone the key to searching out thousands of venues and vendors. Couples can check out photos and videos of properties, search by price point and even view reviews from others who have used the vendors in the past. Tools like email, FaceTime and Skype make is easier to do virtual meetings to discuss your needs and concerns that some couples choose to book some or even all their wedding vendors without ever meeting in person! If this is something you plan on doing here is some tips to help you navigate choosing the best vendors!

1.) Consider hiring a Wedding Planner – I’m all for do it “yourselfers” that want to save money, but sometimes a planner is a huge help in facilitating the wedding of your dreams; especially if you don’t live or know anyone where you plan on hosting your event. A planner can have more insight on particular venues and vendors and can even in some cases save couples money by helping them find the best value for what they want to spend. If hiring a planner isn’t in your budget, look for venues with amazing on-site coordinators. When booking a site that includes an on-site coordinator make sure you get a list of their duties so you know what you’re getting. Some venues provide a coordinator purely to  protect their own interests. The coordinator is just there to turn on and off the lights, show you what you can and can not do and make sure guests don’t destroy the property. Others offer full on planning services as well. They help with decorating, organizing guests and the wedding party and more. Just make sure you are aware of what they will and will not do especially if you are paying extra for them.

2.) Hiring Pros…when to choose someone from home and when to go with someone locally – Hiring some local vendors are much more obvious. Hiring a caterer from home and expecting them to haul out all of their gear etc. can become very cost prohibitive. So looking at local caterers is probably recommended. Others might not be so cut and dry… not to shoot myself in the foot, as I would love your photo and video business, but sometimes you have built a repertoire with a photographer who lives near you and you really want to use them. I completely get that! I myself have covered a number of destination weddings for people who have grown to love my work. I’ve covered weddings in Florida, the Virgin Islands and even Costa Rica! But sometimes choosing a photographer who lives and works in the area you’re getting married in can be very beneficial. They might work at your venue on a regular basis or know some amazing off the beaten path spots to take photographs. Consider the travel costs you might have to cover when bringing a vendor with you. Sometimes these costs can double the cost of the service they provide.

3.) Do your research and set a budget in advance – Talk with all the parties involved to set-up realistic budgets for each service you are looking for prior to meeting with venues and vendors.  In your research don’t be afraid to ask the business what their starting prices are and a rough estimate of what their services would cost for what you need. Caterers this might go off of an estimated guest count and food preference. Photographers and videographers might charge for how much time you want them to document your event and whether or not you want more than one cameraman present. Disc Jockeys and musicians usually start with the time-frame they will be playing music and then add-on for things like extra lighting. Once you have found a few vendors in your price range only set-up meetings (whether they are on the phone or in person) with vendors who are in the range of your budget.

4.) Visit your Destination Location – If at all possible schedule a scouting trip to the area you are looking to getting married at during the time of year that you plan on hosting your event. Photos of a property are great, but we all know that photographers have ways to take the photos showing the venue off in it’s best light and can doctor the images using Photoshop! It’s good to see and meet vendor in person whenever possible. Remember that great venues and vendors book up quickly so while I recommend doing your due diligence with all services, if you have a particular date in mind it might be wise to do this sooner than later because for most vendors once they are booked they’re no longer available to take on more work.  Don’t be afraid to ask for past client referrals!

5.) Get it in writing! – Make sure the vendors you hire always use a contract and be sure to review the contracts before signing. Bring up any concerns to the vendor before you sign and give them a deposit. If the vendor doesn’t provide it for you, ask them for an itemized list of everything that is included in the quoted price. At a destination wedding, it’s especially important to make sure things like pick up and drop off of items are being handled by the vendor and everyone is on the same page of timing and what’s included. Be sure to think about things that make it easier for guests traveling to your destination like room blocking at hotels and shuttle service to and from ceremony and reception locations.

6.) Go with your Gut – If after meeting with a vendor for any service something feels “off”, but you can’t put your finger on it listen to what your subconscious is trying to tell you.  Some red flags to consider: disparaging talk about a current or past clients (unless it’s to explain how they handled a challenging situation without naming the clients), how quickly they return emails and phone calls (sometimes with emails it’s just technology failing, don’t hesitate to pick up a phone and call them), trying to strong arm you into features or add-ons that you might not need or judgemental comments about your budget and an unwillingness to work within it. While vendors all understand budgets please don’t call a vendor that says their prices start at “X” price expecting them to do basically the same service they are advertising for at a 1/3 of the price! There may be a little wiggle room in some vendors prices, but don’t expect over a 5-10% difference.

The beautiful early fall wedding of Frank & Kayla’s Willow Ridge Manor event is featured below along with their highlight video. My crew and I had a wonderful time covering this event. This couple with their little baby girl was the sweetest couple ever, so much love and admiration between the two of them made it an extremely easy wedding to photograph.

I really don’t know how we avoided the rain on this event, but working quickly and saying a few prayers we were able to do just that. One of the amazing things I want to point out about this venue is Lawrence and Gregory’s attention to detail. When those storm clouds started rolling in the two of them were right there handing out umbrellas for all the guests to use and even though they didn’t end up needing them, they were there and ready just in case! Just par for the course with this amazing wedding venue!

Enjoy the photos and the video and congrats again you two! ~Jamie

 

       

Vendors who made this day possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer: Occasions Catering

Disc Jockey: Digital DJ

Florist: Flowerama

Photography: Crystaline Photography & Video

 

We finally had a hot Summer day at this August wedding at Willow Ridge Manor! After multiple rainy and cloudy events this Summer this was a welcomed change. Kori and Chris had a pretty decent sized wedding party as well, but everyone was having such a great time that they were pretty easy to manage! I also really liked the red, white and blue theme. When I asked one of the bridesmaids if there was a significance to why they chose this color pallet I was told Kori is a die hard “Patriots” fan. (Sorry Broncos fans!) I thought the colors worked really well on the red rocks. I also loved that the bride got all of the ladies tennis shoes to wear for later in the evening when their feet would be hurting. It was a thoughtful and cute idea!

Another amazing day that seemed to pass too quickly! But that’s how I know it was an awesome event when everything turns out perfect and almost effortlessly after all of the hard work of putting it together you can’t ask for much more! Congrats again you two! ~Jamie

    

Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer: Rocky Mountain Catering

Disc Jockey: Digital DJ

Photography & Video: Crystaline Photography & Video