Imagine whisking away to Austria with 5 of your closest friends and family to celebrate. That's exactly what this mountain-loving couple from Colorado did. Not only that, they pulled the whole thing off with only four weeks of planning–not an easy feat when you consider the required legal documentation for international weddings. Read all about how they did it below, but don;t rush through these gorgeous images by Cat Ekkelboom-White too fast!
Madeline + Dane
Ceremony on Feuerkogel mountain in Austria
Wedding day weather: Sunny, fall day with cloud cover at the top of the mountain!
Number of guests: 5
Your budget: $2500
Biggest splurge: Photographer
Biggest savings: Wedding dress! My best friend made it for me!
Why did you choose the Mountains for your wedding?
As Colorado natives, we have had the privilege of growing up with the mountains in our backyard! We consider ourselves non-traditional and have always known we wanted an outdoor wedding. Being outside with the crisp, fresh air, being able to look around and have the most amazing views all while standing amongst the tress and in the snow! Such a peaceful moment. Also the adventure of getting to the top of the mountain and the element of the unknown at what will be at the top. Just something about being on top of the world and being able to profess your love and bond to one another and then look out upon the world, seeing the lights gleaming in the distance and the hustle of life all around and know that you forever have someone to hold your hand and explore this world with!
Wedding day theme:
Our theme was just trying to stay expressive to us as a family! Laidback, flannels, earthy, light and flowing and of course adventurous! We did try to all match a color palette of deep red.
Where did you find your inspiration?
For the most part, our wedding fell together! For my dress, I used pinterest for my inspiration and also my love of crop tops to show my best friend, Julia at Julia Rhoden designs, what I would like my dress to be and she created it for me in about 2 weeks time. Again for hair I used Pinterest, as they say a picture speaks a thousand words and when your hair stylist and yourself do not speak the same language, pictures make it so much easier to communicate! Otherwise we used the allure of an international wedding for our inspiration, specifically knowing that it would be outside, on a snowy mountaintop along, which is how I chose white flowers in my hair, along with personal style!
How did you choose to personalize your wedding?
To personalize our wedding, we kind of mish-mashed all of our outfits together and would buy pieces that we just liked! We actually didn't find Danes wedding jacket until the night before we left for Europe! Our son picked out his own tie, he was told it had to be blue and so he picked out a lighting bolt printed bow tie. Dane also wore a belt that he has had for as long as I have known him (8 years!) and wears on a regular basis! I also chose to wear a clip in my hair that our son saved up his money for and picked out specifically for me. And of course, to personalize it we did write our own vows to each other. and also we had flowers picked out that were native and found on the mountain we got married on (except for the roses of course! those were just so beautiful and red!)
What was your favorite part of the reception?
We did not even plan a reception! It was very impromptu and the quaint little restaurant at the top of the mountain hosted us for dinner and drinks before Dane and I left to catch a train to Germany. From that, our favorite part was celebrating and prosting (toasting, but in Austria, they will clink the drinks and say, “prost” to one another) with our registrar, or wedding officiant, and family before we even said I do! Even our son took part with his favorite Austrian drink, Almdudler. It made the ceremony and entire experience feel so much more laid back, casual and celebratory!
What are three things you're super glad you did?
- Had family that spoke German! Also, so glad we utilized modern technology and we were able to live stream the wedding on Facebook so all of our family and friends back in the US could be a part of it and watch it!
- Found the most amazing photographer!
- Let the day play out and having very very loose plans or expectations and make the most of each moment! and of course, we are so glad that we got married in Austria on a mountain top!
Anything you wished you hadn't worried about?
- Wedding planner, it was beyond difficult to find a budget friendly planner and specifically for us, there was not much to plan because of the elopement style we went for and use of local services. For instance, we did not need someone to help coordinate flowers or hair or locations or anything because we went into it knowing we do not have specific expectations or dreams of it looking a certain way.
- Past that, the only other thing I think we both wish we had more of was planning more time to actually be up on the mountain and had more time to hike around it! Time has never flown by so fast!
What was the biggest challenge in planning your mountain wedding and how did you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge was we decided 4 weeks before our travel dates to get married in a foreign country. This revealed its own challenges, such as arranging all of the proper paperwork to ensure it was legal. We did not have all of our paperwork done until 2 days before we left, that was when it finally felt real! To overcome this I did so so much research on how/where to find forms, how to obtain certified copies and even reached out to my local Austrian Consulate for assistance. All of that stress was well worth it! The second challenge was abiding by Austrian regulations on who can marry you and where this can be done! Each town has a specific person or registrar and our preferred location would only let you get married in their office and not outside. We were very adamant about certifying our vows and I do on a mountain and not just a celebration ceremony. After more searching and countless translating, we found a nearby town that allowed for mountaintop I dos and we could not have been more happy with Klaus, our registrar, who made our wedding ceremony unforgettable!
How did you find and choose your vendors?
The only vendor we truly searched for was our photographer. To find her, I searched tirelessly for a photographer in Austria, who also matched our style, budget, and overall vibe! I used numerous google searches, including looking through blogs, and even searching Instagram with #austiraelopment, #austriawedding #Hallstattwedding hashtags! For flowers, we wanted to keep in local and used the local florist in our town. Same with hair stylist, our great aunt, who lives in Hallstatt, just called her and we went to her house, to get my hair done. As for the actual location of the wedding/reception, that was simply dictated by the registrar as discussed previously based on where he could legally perform the marriage.
What is your best piece of advice to other mountain brides who are planning their weddings?
Outline your top tree priorities or aspects that you do not want to compromise on. For us was location, photographer and that I wanted flowers. Then allow yourself to be flexible on the rest! Also, do not be afraid to reach for the stars and to voice what your dreams are! Just because they seem crazy does not mean they are impossible! Never did we ever think that we would really be able to pull off an international, mountaintop wedding in 4 weeks!