If you are at the beginning stages of wedding planning or fully engulfed in the process unless you are a royal with an unlimited budget then you more than likely have some sort of budget in mind for your event. Some couples have a large 20,000+ budget, some have a modest 10,000+ budget and some are working with just a few thousand dollars. Did you know that the average price of a wedding in Colorado is now $30,000? The picturesque venues start at around $7000 for a weekend event and most caterers are charging $100+ a person per a meal. Those costs alone are going to add up quickly and with a very modest budget are not going to leave you much for extra for all the other vendors needed at a wedding. The best way to start figuring out your budget and how much to spend on each vendor is to prioritize what is most important to you.
If you have a $10,000 budget I highly suggest not blowing it all on the venue. There are options out there for couples with this minimal budget such as parks and recreation rentals or even churches offer a more affordable alternative to the high ticket wedding venue. If you have a $20,000+ budget then by all means book that amazing venue. A location with a beautiful view and lovely decor might even save you some money in decorating just because it may not need much more. The time of the year you host your event might also effect the pricing. Some venues even offer savings for hosting an off season event. Depending on the venue this time-frame in Colorado is typically November through March.
A trend in the wedding venue companies is to now offer all inclusive packages. These venues advertise as a one stop shop that is supposed to save couples money and the hassle of looking for all of their other vendors. I’ve worked at a few of these types of venues over the years and can see the advantages and disadvantages to them. The main benefit being that you will probably be able to host an event for under the cost of the average Colorado wedding (sometimes) if you use all of their vendors. The disadvantage of this concept will be that because vendors on these lists are often making their services available for under the market value they are also having to pay their employees under the market value for their work. For instance the DJ hired to fulfill these packages is often a college kid with maybe one or two events under his belt and you won’t be allowed to chat with him directly before your event. This person may not know how to keep a dance floor full, what announcements that need to be made or even how to handle a problem with equipment should it arise. My thoughts about this is to make sure you are able to vet all of the vendors they use. Make sure that you are able to replace vendors with your own when necessary and that it won’t cost you extra to use your own. There are still advantages to being able to create your event the way you want it to be even if it may cost a little more.
Some venues that do not provide food onsite might also require that you choose a caterer off their preferred list. Typically, there are reasons for this requirement. The main one being they’ve worked with these vendors a number of times already. The venue knows the quality of the service they provide and want to make sure that the same quality is provided to the guests they are hosting as it reflects poorly on the venue if the service is bad. If the venue you want to book has a list of caterers you must choose from then request a list of them before you book the venue so you can reach out them to figure out the average pricing. I’ve seen it a hundred times… couples book a venue because they are offering a great deal only to find out after the fact that the caterers on the venue’s list are all out of their price range! Ask questions!!!
After you list all of the items needed to service your wedding, rearrange them in order of importance and then research the average cost of each service and decide on how much you’d like to spend on each item. Leave a little wiggle room in your budget for services that are of the most important to you. For instance if photography is at the top of your list and you’ve budgeted $3000 for it but you found a photographer who’s work you love and personality clicks with yours but they charge $3500 don’t compromise on that service, instead take that $500 off your budget somewhere else. Maybe you had $500 earmarked for wedding favors, but do guests really need some tchotchke that will more than likely end up in the trash after the event? Probably not, but if your wedding photos get screwed up you will remember that forever! Don’t be afraid to ask vendors if they can work with your budget. The worse they can say is no.
Remember that there are also a lot of little items that add up quickly as well. I once covered a beautiful DIY wedding held in a tent on the property of the bride’s parents. The day of the event she told me that she thought they were going to save money by hosting it themselves, but by the time they rented everything they needed (including the porta potties, something they had forgotten about) they were at the cost of the most of the venues they toured, but had all of the hassle of having to set up everything themselves! Her biggest regret was not having researched the costs of everything that would be needed to do the event themselves and having to beg friends and family to do all the heavy lifting!
The biggest take away you should get from this article is to do the research. Ask questions from your top picked vendors, read reviews and research some more before you sign on the line. Prioritize what’s most important to you and understand that priorities are different for every couple. Just because your best friend dropped a ton of money on a band at her wedding doesn’t mean you have to if hiring a DJ will still fit within your vision and save you some dough.
Happy wedding planning!!! Reach out if you need some advice. We’ve worked at tons of venues throughout Colorado both big and small. We truly believe that every couple deserves to have the wedding of their dreams no matter what their budget!
November is becoming a more popular time of year to get married, due to it being a little bit off “wedding” season. There are usually savings to be had if a couple chooses a venue during their off peak times. And if you book around the Thanksgiving holiday you might still get a time when all your relatives are planning on gathering anyways! It’s typically not a great time to get married outdoors because the weather is hit or miss and the trees have lost all of their foliage, but with a beautiful venue with indoor photo options it can still be a wonderful event.
Ashlee and Jacob still wanted to host an outdoor ceremony, but provided blankets for guests to warm up. The ballroom at this venue is really close to the outdoor ceremony site so guests were able to view the quick outdoor ceremony and had straight up to the mansion to warm up and enjoy the cocktail hour while we finished up with a few more photos of this couple with their small wedding party. Check out some of our favorites from an awesome venue we love working at Willow Ridge Manor in Morrison, CO.
Venue: Willow Ridge Manor
Photography: Crystaline Photography and Video
Officiant: Rev. Scott Awbrey
Cake: Nothing Bundt Cakes
Caterer: Rocky Mountain Catering
Kerry & Augustus planned their big day for over two years due to Covid issues and because it was still a factor in 2021 they decided to host a very small event with just 40 of their closest friends and family at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado. Because it was such an intimate event I suggested taking a group photo of everyone present on the outside steps in front of the church. This is something that can’t always be done at large weddings, but will be a great way to document everyone who was able to be there. After their very traditional ceremony and formals in the church we stopped by Washington Park on our way to the reception to get some beautiful photos with the fall colors of just the two of them. Another idea came to mind when we passed by an ice cream truck because the couple had told me they were not doing a traditional cake cutting at the reception…. I said how about a shared ice cream! And an adorable relaxed photo of just the two of them resulted in this impromptu photo.
The reception at the newly remodeled Doubletree Hotel in Cherry Creek was a simple affair with heartfelt speeches in front of the traditional paper crane backdrop created by the bride who folded hundreds of paper cranes for the event! After dinner the entertainment for the evening was casino style gambling for all of their guests. A very unique and fun option for this amazing couple. Enjoy some of my favorite photos from the big day!
Another beautiful fall wedding from last season! This bed and breakfast is an amazing small venue to host weddings and events in the mountains, but just a short drive from Denver in Pine, Colorado. It’s especially beautiful in the fall because it has a meadow with aspen trees surrounding it! Marci & Eddie came to us via a referral from another couple who’s wedding we covered already almost a decade ago! It’s awesome when couples think so highly of us that they recommend us for friends and families’ events. This October wedding had our whole crew out again for it… Chris was filming their video, I was covering the photography and my husband, Michael was providing the entertainment with his company Digital DJ. Having the whole crew just makes the day so much easier for us to cover.
Check out their wedding highlight video above and some of my favorite photos from their event below! My favorite thing about this couple was Eddie’s boisterous laugh! These two envelope what love means and make us so very happy to just be there to capture it!
We just passed this couple’s first year anniversary at the beginning of October! Congratulations again to Pascal and Jennifer who celebrated their amazing DIY wedding at a close family member’s home out on the plains East of Denver. This home made for a perfect wedding venue! A large open back yard with rolling hills and horses in the background. A lovely waterfall feature and a great pole barn that worked out great for hosting the wedding reception and our photo-booth! As far as do-it-yourself weddings go this one was the tops!!! Every part of this special day was taken into account and turned out amazing! Check out some of my favorite photos below!
It’s the one year anniversary today of Daphnee & Jordan’s lovely simple wedding in Loveland, Colorado! If I were hosting a small wedding for close friends and family this is exactly how I would do it! The couple held a ceremony at the church they met at – Foundations Church in Loveland with a reception held in the pavilion at Benson Sculpture Garden which is a great location with lots of picturesque features. Take a journey through their special day in the photos we provided for them.
Vendors who made this day possible:
Ceremony Site – Foundations Church
Reception Site – Benson Sculpture Garden
Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video
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.