Quirky Mid-Century Modern Wedding in Kirkwood

California skiers and Tahoe connoisseurs will recognize the name Kirkwood. This tiny little ski area, recently bought by Vali Corp, is a skiers mountain, with deep deposits of snow in the winter, powder that lasts all day long, and a remoteness that discourages mass visitation. Sharra and Ethan show it's just as gorgeous in the summer time. Look at those big skies and that high alpine feel that one only finds at an 8,000 altitude.

Shaara and ethan kirkwood wedding

Remote brides take note: Sharra has some great hindsight advice for finding the right vendors for a far-flung fete. Scroll down for the full story…

Pretty bridal flats with fabric flower outdoor mountain bride and 1000 origami paper cranes pretty orange and green rustic bouquet chalkboard ceremony program flashlight favors rustic wooden ceremony arch in Kirkwood mid-century modern mountain bride

vintage typewriter and vintage luggage card box lavender sugar wedding favors vintage biology books and antique bathtub drink cooler pretty rustic wedding reception tables chalkboard menu and rustic wedding cake with orange and yellow fondant leaves vintage mountain bride and groon

Why a Mountain Wedding?

Both Ethan and I love spending time in the mountains. While we were dating we enjoyed camping and hiking throughout the Sierra Nevadas; we couldn't think of a better place to celebrate our wedding.

Where did you find your inspiration?

We wanted the wedding to reflect our quirky personalities, and it was important to us to include details that personalized the ceremony and reception. We are both fisheries biologists and we are into mid-century retro. It seems like it would be an odd combination (retro naturalists?), but we've blended the two in our home and we wanted to bring some of that inspiration into the wedding decorations. That said, the mountains were our true inspiration. With the amazing scenery at our venue, the Hideout, we really didn't have to do much decorating.

What were some personal details you incorporated?

  • DIY I incorporated a bunch of DIY elements into the wedding, but the most important were the 1,000 origami cranes that I folded with the help of friends and family.
  • Each tabletop included a stack of old biology text books.
  • The centerpieces were flowers from a Capay Valley organic farm held in glass chemistry beakers and dried flowers in old Bunsen burners.
  • The escort cards were old playing cards with various animals on them.
  • People signed the guest book by typing notes on my grandfather's typewriter.
  • Ethan insisted on the old-fashioned glass bottles of coke to pair with the taco dinner, so we filled a bathtub with coke bottles.
  • We love craft beer and Ethan paired kegs of beer with various events. For example, we had 21st Amendments Bitter American with dinner, and Stone Brewing Co.'s American IPA for the post-dinner dancing.
  • The wines were selected by my father and came from Washington State, where I grew up.
  • A candy bar with retro candy. I'm well known for my slight candy obsession, so the candy bar with a given. It was also a huge hit and people enjoyed the fun of making their own goodie bags.
  • The favors were test tubes filled with lavender sugar.

Your favorite moment of the day.

I really don't think it is fair to ask for a favorite moment!! The whole day was a series of amazing events. If I had to pick I might say the moment when we walked back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony. Turning around and really seeing the faces of my friends and family for the first time that day was an incredibly powerful experience.

There was also a sweet moment when my family and good friend surprised Ethan and I with a special musical performance.

Three things you're glad you did.

  1. Got married!
  2. Got married at the Hideout: This venue was amazing. We still look back and think about how lucky we were to find the Hideout. The house and saloon were beautiful and cozy. The scenery was breathtaking, and the hot tub does in fact fit at least 32 people. Not only was the venue it self perfect, but also the owners, BJ and Tom, are wonderful and gracious hosts. They were so helpful and calm that they made us feel at home immediately, despite the chaos of the event.
  3. Hired a day-of-wedding-coordinator at the last moment (Thanks, Pam!!). We were on the fence about a day-of coordinator and we were concerned over the added cost, but she made everything go so much more smoothly and it allowed our families to relax (a bit!) and leave the organizing to the professional. It's a decision that depends on your particular situation, but we are very glad we did it.

Anything you wish you hadn't done?

  • Stressed the small stuff it's hard to know what is small stuff at the time, but it would have been nice to be a bit more relaxed leading up to the wedding
  • I wish that I had made a better list of photos that I wanted for our photographer, Kim. There were a couple shots with family members that I left off the list and immediately regretted. For example, I wish I had a shot with my Granny on my Dad's side.

What was the best piece of wedding advice you got?

My good friend told me to make sure that Ethan and I scheduled some alone time on the day of the wedding. I'm so glad that she said that. It seems obvious, since the whole day is about celebrating your love for each other. But, it is a very overwhelming day. We were surrounded by so many friends and family members, many of whom we don't see that often. We could have easily gone the whole day without having a private conversation between the two of us. I'm so glad that we had some time to spend together.

What piece of wedding planning advice do you wish you followed?

  • Buy lots of ice. We were having a wedding in a remote location at a warm time of the year. We had been warned to buy a lot of ice, and we did. But we still ran out of ice.

Anything you wish you hadn't worried about?

What a funny question. I am a worrier, so I default to worrying about things. I don't think I am capable of not worrying! Since our wedding turned out to be everything I had hoped for, I guess I shouldn't have been worried about anything at all. ; )

How did you choose your vendors?

Because of the remote location (the Hideout is about an hour from the nearest town and the last 1.5 miles is on a dirt road), we limited our vendors to those who had been to the Hideout previously. Luckily, that included some wonderful vendors. We had great experiences with all our vendors and we would definitely recommend them.

What is your very best advice to other mountain brides?

This is your wedding day. Get married somewhere special with the people you love and it will be an amazing experience. The rest of the details are the small stuff, so don't sweat them.

Kirkwood Wedding Vendors

  • Photographer: Kim J Martin Photography she is awesome, fun and a great photographer.
  • Venue: The Hide Out  Amazing. Thank you, BJ and Tom!!
  • Dress Designer: Dolly Couture The perfect retro dresses. I am so glad that someone still makes dresses like these. I had trouble choosing between so many great styles.
  • Floral Designer: Good Humus Farm we were glad to have these wonderful local flowers for our wedding
  • Cake Designer: Ingrid's Cakes Ingrid was great. She made a special dairy-free cake just for me!
  • Caterer: Motherlode Deli They made great food and were super laid back and easy to work with. Our guests enjoyed the low key taco bar, and it was accessible to people with various dietary restrictions (e.g., dairy-free, vegetarian, or gluten-free).
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