Erin & Mark
November 03, 2012
Estes Park, Colorado
This gorgeous budget wedding has classic rustic elements that will stand the test of time. Classic pine and wood elements mix with romantic roses and a vintage glam wedding gown to create this gorgeous rustic chic wedding. Find out how the bride got this look for $10,000 and find out why she wished she had hired a wedding planner! Scroll down to read more…
Why a Mountain Wedding?
To be perfectly honest, Mark’s parents live on a gorgeous lake in Minnesota 3 hours from Minneapolis and we had originally wanted to have our wedding there. When reality set in however, we realized that it was way too far to ask most of our guests (especially my family in California) to travel. Colorado is the in between point for both families. Since we we live in Denver, we knew planning a Colorado wedding would be a lot easier because it was close to our home.
If people were going to travel all that way to come to our wedding we wanted to give them an authentic Colorado experience, so holding it in a destination town like Estes Park was an obvious choice. Also the mountains have always been a kind of magical place for both of us. Even though I grew up near the ocean, I have always been a mountain girl. My family regularly vacationed in the Sierra Nevadas in California while I was growing up and I actually moved to Colorado from South Lake Tahoe. Mark’s favorite places are cold outside and cozy inside so he naturally loves mountain settings as well.
Finally, for us there is nothing more beautiful and dramatic than a mountain backdrop for the most romantic day (or days in our case) of our lives.
Where did you find your inspiration?
Like many brides I started with popular wedding blogs and of course Pinterest. I bought some magazines too. I just liked having them around and I knew this would be the only time in my life I could buy them! But our main source of inspiration for our decor came from my cousin and his wife, Pedro and Jill Caceres. They also just happen to be my only family members who live in Colorado. Jill is an incredibly talented visual designer by trade and has been professionally designing spaces for over a decade. You might recognize her work from Anthropologie where she has designed for them on the national and local levels for years. Pedro is the Preparator at the CU Art Museum and he is skilled carpenter. So we definitely got very lucky to have them on our team. We designed and made almost everything ourselves.
What were some personal details you incorporated?
Almost everything! I do graphic design so I designed a kind of mountain scene with our initials and used it throughout most of the printed materials including:
- beer koozie favors,
- a map and schedule that we tied to water bottles for guests when they checked in,
- favor tags (we put the koozies in burlap bags),
- and our programs.
We are also both writers so I designed our programs to look like library cards and we put them in old library card sleeves.
There were two different photo displays: one that contained photos of Mark and I growing up and the other was wedding pictures from our parents, grandparents, and the wedding party. We were actually able to find corresponding pictures from each other’s lives (ie. we both had sports team photos, pictures from the beach, graduation etc.) for the childhood photo wall which made it even more special.
I was very close to my grandmother and she passed away a few years ago so I pinned her lace handkerchief to my bouquet.
Your favorite moment of the day.
At the end of our dancing portion of the reception, our friends lifted us up and danced around with us even though that isn’t a cultural tradition for either of us. Right after that, we all gathered in a large circle with arms around one another singing the last song and dancing. We felt so much love and support–our friends and family are amazing.
Unfortunately our photographers left about 10 minutes before that happened but we have great memories of it and that wasn’t the only group swaying dance circle of the night.
Three things you’re glad you did.
- Chose a fantastic venue where all guests could stay on-site. our wedding was more like a 4-day event. Plus it was great that nobody had to drink and drive.
- Got donuts from a local donut shop instead of wedding cake. They were amazing, every single one was eaten and the whole thing cost about $70.
- Hired a florist. Bouquets, bouties, and corsages were some of the only things we didn’t do ourselves and it was such a relief to just know that it would be done right. Our florist also let us order wholesale flowers through her that we used for the centerpieces that we assembled ourselves.
Anything you wish you had done?
We just has a lady of honor (we didn’t really like the word “matron”) and a best man. Neither of us was into the whole matchy-dress-30-person-entourage thing. But the truth is, I wish I had chosen one or two more bridesmaids.
I needed help that week and had to depend on people who probably should have been in the wedding with how much work they put in. My sister was my lady of honor and she was amazing but she also had a four week old baby and a two year old to handle at the time. Our best man’s wife probably should have been named an honorary bridesmaid for how much she helped us.
What was the best piece of wedding advice you got?
Don’t ask for anyone’s opinion about anything unless you are absolutely positive that you really want it. If you’re mind is made up about something, you’ll just get resentful when you ask someone’s opinion and find out that they disagree.
What piece of wedding planing advice do you wish you followed?
Get a wedding planner! Our whole wedding came in at about $10,000 which is actually very low and we wanted to keep it that way because we were saving to buy a house (which we just did by the way!) so we didn’t want to pay to have a wedding planner. Even though we had a ton of help from friends and family, even a day-of wedding planner would have allowed me be a little more relaxed. It’s such an emotionally draining day without the added stress of planning every minute of the event and basically being the only one who knows what’s going on.
Anything you wish you hadn’t worried about?
Everyone else so much. I felt responsible for how much fun everyone was having because most of them traveled so far to get there. Luckily everyone had a blast and so did we!
Anything You wish you had known about sooner rather than later?
Besides the forecast? I wish I had known that RSVPing is something of a lost art. I always RSVP so I had no idea that a lot of people don’t realize how important it is to the planning process of a wedding. I think had I known from the get go what the RSVP reality was, it would have stressed me out less. I have since talked to many brides who also had a hard time getting people to RSVP.
How did you choose your vendors?
As I mentioned, we were determined to keep our budget around $10K with about 100 guests so price was a large factor for every vendor. We knew that the bulk of the cost of our wedding would be food and drink so when we found Estes Park Center (the Y) and saw how affordable the food was (it was really good too!), that we provided the alcohol (which is cheaper), it was gorgeous, and had tons of on-site lodging, we knew it was a perfect fit.
There were unique considerations for other vendors. For example, I know some couples want the photographer to run the whole day but it was crucial to us that they would not do that during our day. We met with Stacy and Kara and knew that they were the professional yet laid back people we needed on our day. We wanted to be mindfully present for every moment our day and spent around 20 minutes total posing for pictures and they still turned out amazing. I credit Stacy and Kara for that because were somewhat illusive subjects!
What is your very best advice to other mountain brides?
If you have an outdoor wedding, have an indoor backup because your piece of mind is priority number 1. If it costs more, spend less on flowers to make it up. We got married in November and the weather was great but we had everything inside anyway. Make sure your guests are very clear about altitude sickness. On the schedule and map we attached to water bottles, we included a note about altitude sickness and how to prevent it.
Estes Park Wedding Vendors
- Photography: Stacy Keck or Kara Gwynn I found Stacy and Kara through Yellow Paddle Photography. The value of our photography package was truly unbelievable.
- Venue: YMCA of the Rockies
- Flowers: Kim and Company. Kim puts you at ease with her friendliness and professionalism and the flowers were gorgeous
- Dress: Amanda’s Bridal in Arvada (I don’t necessarily recommend the alterations dept.)
- Officiant: Rev. Jillian H. Freeman of Sky’s the Limit Ceremonies. We wanted to completely write our whole ceremony and she was so supportive. She’s amazing.
- Invitations: Vistaprint + Groupon/Living Social…Groupon/Living Social have deals like $10 for $50 worth of product from Vistaprint every few months or so. I used these deals and was able to print beautiful thank yous, invitations, and save the dates for under $100. Choose the linen finish for the letterpress-like look. I’m not kidding about the price.
- Hair/Make-up: Angelina Caceres (of Deeda Salon in Sacramento, CA) Sorry Colorado brides, Angelina is another talented wife of a cousin and lives in California. But she was amazing as usual.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for part 2!