Arapahoe Basin Wedding | Classic DIY Details + Real Hindsight Advice

Gretchen + Nathan 
Arapahoe Basin
August 5th, 2012

Sometimes simpler is better in the mountains. Gretchen, a classically down-to-earth bride (and owner/founder of The Happy Couple, a small business in Denver that offers premarital workshops for happily engaged and newlywed couples) took her inspiration from everyday objects and a desire not to upstage the awesome beauty of the great continental divide. Gretchen was overall happy with the way her wedding turned out, and her advice is largely about how she avoided common pitfalls. Scroll past the pictures to read more…

wedding dress and autumn bouquet black and white groomsmen in front of mountain mason jar centerpieces at Arapahoe Basin river rock escort cards bridesmaids in mountains wooden round ring holder

mason jar and zinnia centerpiece bride and dad riding a chairlift Arapahoe basic wedding ceremony grooms men with go pros fruit and cheese platter and bride and groom in a meadow rustic wedding cake with fresh red and purple flowers mason jar vases hanging from vintage wall hooks arapahoe wedding basin wedding reception arapahoe wedding basin wedding dance bride and groom in a meadow near arapahoe basin

Why a Mountain Wedding?

The mountains are where Nate and I fell in love, and where we have had many of our best moments and greatest adventures. We wanted to give our closest friends and family, many of whom live out of state, the full Colorado experience!

Where did you find your inspiration?

The inspiration for our wedding came from the everyday things that we enjoy and value as a couple. As my husband put it, our wedding was “us just being us, but in a big way.”

When I was envisioning a look for the wedding, I imagined my mom’s homegrown zinnia garden from my childhood in rural Ohio set against the dramatic backdrop of the continental divide and endless mountain meadows. We didn’t want to distract from the awesomeness of the mountains themselves, so we kept the decor pretty simple and in tune with the natural surroundings.

Three things you wish you had done?

  • During the planning process, we put a lot of thought and discussion into decisions about what to include in our big day and what we felt OK about skipping. I can honestly say that there is nothing that I regret not doing.
  • However, there is one thing that we almost didn’t do that ended up being hugely important. We almost didn’t arrange for any videography, but at the last minute we decided to rent 4 GoPro HD video cameras for $150, set them up around the venue, and give two of the ushers borrowed GoPros with head and chest mounts. The footage is priceless and we absolutely treasure it. It’s crazy to think how close we were to missing out on that!

Three things you wish you hadn’t done?

I am really happy with the decisions we that we made. We stuck to our budget, our priorities, and our values. We avoided the common traps of overspending, trying to make everyone happy, losing perspective on what is and is not important, etc. We were extremely detailed and organized in our planning, but we were never aiming for perfection. We kept our expectations loose enough to be able to appreciate the unexpected and beautifully imperfect aspects of the day.

Three things you wish you hadn’t worried about?

  • One of my biggest worries in the weeks leading up to the wedding was that, after looking forward to it for so long, I would feel sad when it was all over. But, as it turned out, the post-wedding blues never hit me. In fact, I kind of floated on a cloud for a couple of weeks, when I think back on the day now, I feel fulfilled, grateful, and in awe of how lucky I am to have such great friends and family.
  • Speaking of my great friends and family, I wish I hadn’t worried so much about asking for help. In talking to my aunts, uncles, and family friends who helped with everything from setting up the venue to driving 3 hours to the flower farm, they really enjoyed it and had fun with their tasks.
  • Finally, I wish that I could go back in time to the moment I left for the wedding and tell myself that it didn’t matter that I was running 10 minutes late. I would take a deep breath and really be in that moment to enjoy the ride with my Dad and my Maid of Honor.

What is your very best hindsight advice?

  • If possible, make a week of it! I am glad that so many of my friends and family were able to come out to Colorado early for a weeklong celebration/vacation/reunion. Some of my favorite “wedding” memories are actually from the days leading up to the wedding. I think that it took some of the pressure off those 5 or 6 hours of the actual wedding and I didn’t have that “It flew by and it was over before I knew it!” feeling that so many brides and grooms seem to have.
  • Get a photographer that you genuinely enjoy being around; you will be spending the whole day with this person! Our photographer, Ashleigh, is obviously talented but, just as importantly, I loved having her by my side all day.
  • Don’t lose sight of the importance of the marriage ceremony; it is the centerpiece of the day, the centerpieces are not. The process of writing every word of our entire 30-minute ceremony was certainly not easy, but it was a great experience for the two of us to create something that represented our relationship, our values, and our commitments to one another.

Team Wedding

Team DIY

  • Flowers: Zinnias were purchased in bulk by the bucketful from two small sustainable farms in Lyons, CO– The Lyons Farmette ( and Aspen Moon Farm (
  • Save the Dates, Invitations, Programs, Table Numbers, Guest Book
  • River rock escort “cards”
  • Hanging mason jars
  • Centerpieces
  • Videography with rented GoPro cameras
  • My dad cut, sanded, drilled, and finished the slice of wood for the ring bearer to carry the rings on.
  • The groom’s sister was our master of ceremonies and we technically/legally married ourselves under CO’s marriage law that allows the parties to the marriage to solemnize their own marriage.

Submitted via Two Bright Lights