OUR WEDDING DAY | Vail, Colorado Intimate Wedding

Wow – I honestly can’t believe it’s already come and gone. It felt like the biggest, craziest build-up to the fastest day ever. 

I honestly wish I would have started writing this a little closer to the wedding day – my memory isn’t the greatest. 😂 

But let’s say planning a wedding is stressful and overwhelming – and planning a wedding during a pandemic is a whole new level of crazy. But we did it. We rolled with the punches and pivoted more times than I can count. 

Our wedding venue cancelled on us 2 months before our wedding day. Our back up location closed a week later, and forest fires threatened to make us evacuate just days before the wedding. But never the less, we prevailed. 

I had always told my couples I like to do timeline talks a month away from their wedding date, so I don’t add extra stress to their plate a few weeks before, I had just figured that so many couples had said the weeks and days before were extra overwhelming. And let me tell ya, I get it now. 

2.5 weeks before our wedding, we moved across the country, moved in with my parents and adjusted to a new life. We prepped all of the decor, planned our meals, and we’ll pretty much did everything we needed to actually plan our wedding in 2 weeks. 

I also was stressing myself out as I hired associates to shoot weddings that were a little too close for comfort to our wedding. With covid, I didn’t want to risk a thing – I couldn’t bear the thought of potentially getting our families sick. 

My grandmother passed away 10 days before our wedding, and we’re all still grieving and trying to balance celebrating in that process. It still doesn’t seem real that she’s gone. 

It’s been a whirlwind few months, to say the least. And emotionally by the time we got to our wedding day I was feeling bittersweet. Sad that not everyone could be there to celebrate with us, happy that we finally made it to the day, excited for the future, emotional about the past and just overwhelmed. I always said I’ll either be completely stoic or a blubbering mess. I cry over the cute dog in the beer commercial on tv or the pregnancy announcement on Instagram. I cried on our wedding day for sure, but I think the stress leading up to the day had me more stoic than anything. 

So to our wedding day. 

Stephen and I checked into our hotel room so late the night before the wedding; I think it was almost midnight. Yes we stayed together the night before, we have lived together for almost 2 years, and it just didn’t seem right to spend the night apart. A friend of my parents had upgraded our room to a top floor suite, and we were just in awe of how big and beautiful the space was. I barely slept, I for one had eaten way too much and was filled with anticipation. 

The next morning we got up, picked up the room and stared out at the incredible view. We sat on the couch to watch Stephens fantasy football together – it wouldn’t be a normal day without some kind of football podcast. Stephens friend called to check-in to see how we were feeling, and we talked through our plan for the day. 

We then met my parents, brother and sister in law at the restaurant where we were having our reception to decorate the space. All that planning/creating for 20 minutes of set up seemed surreal. With covid regulations we weren’t able to have the big long table I had hoped for, instead, we were split up into 2 tables due to COVID regulations. Still kind of sad about that but oh well. 

We got the space arranged, put way too many decor pieces on the tables and called it good. My mom, sister and I headed back to the hotel to start hair and makeup, and Stephen went to spend the morning with his family at their air bnb. They went to a local art festival and wandered while we hung out at the hotel. 

Side note – I had always told myself that I wanted my wedding day to be a one-stop-shop situation. No getting ready at 2 different places, no ceremony and different reception location. Because I knew how much extra stress that caused vendors and couples. But we did just that, with covid changing our plans so much we honestly had to and it worked out just fine! 

Stephen came back to the hotel in the afternoon so we could get ready together. I swear the time from 10 am to 1 pm went by in like 2 seconds. It was all of a sudden time to get dressed, and I felt like I just woke up. 

Stephen and I certainly didn’t follow traditions, no big dress reveal or first look. We instead wanted to spend as much time with each other and family as possible on our wedding day, which meant getting ready together and riding to our ceremony together. 

After we got dressed and I had a chance to twirl around like a fairy princess – complete with hiking boots of course – we headed off to the ceremony. 

A 5 car caravan packed with all of “our people” headed up to the mountains. My dad in the front and Stephen and I in the back. We drove 45 minutes up a dirt road. It was no smooth ride to the ceremony site – rocks flew beside us as the white dust coated every exposed surface. Slow and steady we made it up the mountain – to a site we had never seen before. 

That’s right – we didn’t even know where we were getting married. 2 weeks prior we had visited the site, but the smoke from the forest fires had blanketed the area so densely you couldn’t even see the mountains. We honestly didn’t know mountains were in the background till we pulled up on our wedding day. The same day we visited someone had been camping in the spot we had envisioned our ceremony. With our wedding falling on Labor Day weekend we thought for sure someone would be there. The whole drive I prayed that we would have the space to ourselves, armed with cash to bribe campers to move their tents, I prayed. When we pulled around the corner, the smoke was completely clear, no campers, no tents – just mountains for miles. 

Grandma was looking out for us – saving the perfect spot to become one. 

That day is still the clearest day we’ve had in 2.5 months, thank you, Grandma. On our wedding day, it was 80 degrees and sunny – two days after our wedding it snowed. Thank you, Grandma. 

We had arrived at the ceremony site early enough to set up chairs and hangout. We all meandered down to the trees to wait in the shade and of course, take some tequila shots. And my sister in law had to help me pee in the woods as I swam through a sea of tulle and lace. 

Stephen and I took a moment to pray before we all started the trek back up to the site.

Let me tell you it was a trek. As dad and I got ready to walk, we took a moment to soak it all in; it still doesn’t seem real. We trekked up the hill – I swear that walk is a mile long. We got to the top of the aisle and took a moment to catch our breath. The air is a little thing when walking uphill at 10,000 feet. We walked down the aisle, dodging the giant boulder in the middle – it was the best spot to set up the ceremony, so we rolled with it. 

After grabbing on to Stephen’s hands, our officiant reminded us to take a deep breath and look around at the beautiful place and people that surrounded us. And that’s when I lost it. My parents had my childhood stuffed animals tucked in the arms of my soon to be nieces. It was such a sweet surprise and warmed my heart. 

We exchanged vows, battled against the wind, and I’m pretty sure Stephen went blind staring into the sun the whole time. A bug crawled up my dress, and our parents were plotting their plan of attack if it crept up any higher – they were on the ready.

We soaked up every second of our officiant Julie’s sweet words, and we united ourselves before God. 

It went by so quickly I can’t believe it. 

We celebrated with champagne and toasted to our new beginning. We brought sparkling apple cider to share with our nieces and nephews but forgot a bottle opener. Many tried whatever was possible to get it open with no avail. My poor brother bruised his hand, trying to bang it against a rock. With how much planning and organizing went into the day, I am honestly so surprised we didn’t think about a bottle opener. But that’s a wedding day for you; something is always forgotten. I also totally forgot to get our video camera out of the car, so we have no video of 90% of our day. 😂

After we said I do, we chose to exchange personal vows privately. Stephen and I knew that we didn’t want the pressure to perform in front of our guests when exchanging personal vows, our inside jokes are our inside jokes, no one else needed to hear them. Of course, I cried – Stephen opened his vows with our God orchestrated meeting at our apartment almost 4 years ago, jokes about our air filter turning on high after I let out a fart 😂, and how love is a choice. That was the theme of our vows, choice. Every day we wake up and choose to love one another even when we don’t feel like loving.

We popped a bottle of champagne and sipped it as we walked back to share our first dance. By the time we got back up the hill, our families had already put up all of the chairs, and only our rug remained. Stephen’s sister started our first dance song, and we wobbled and swayed on the rug overlooking the mountains. Our first dance was a mess, the rocks under us made it impossible to sway smoothly, and both Stephen and I don’t have any real dance moves and certainly don’t have rhythm, well I don’t anyway. We looked up in the middle of our dance to see my dad in full John Cusack style holding the speaker above his head. 

And just like that, we were married. It was surreal.

We headed back down the mountain to dinner at our favorite restaurant in the valley Vin 48. We lit all of the candles and sat down for a feast. When planning our wedding, our top priorities were spending time with family, having a relaxed day and enjoying good food. So we prioritized having great food, we stayed true to us, and that’s what was most important on our wedding day. 

Right before dinner got started, my dad stood up and started to say a small speech. He didn’t say much, just that someone else who he has known for 30 years could probably say it better. My mom then started playing a song over the speaker. At first, I was like wait I know this song – it sounded like the start of a David Wilcox song – the same musician my dad and I listened to on the way to school every single day for 10 + years. But then he said “Blessings on Sarah and Stephen…” and I lost it. My parents had David Wilcox himself write us a song about our relationship. It is by far the coolest and most personal gift I have ever received. I am still working on putting together a slide show with the song attached so it can be shared with the world – it is absolutely beautiful. 

The night was filled with good food, wine and laughter. We cut the cake and ended the evening early. There was no formal or informal dancing, no bouquet or garter toss, no need for tradition in our untraditional day. 

Stephen and I walked from dinner back to our hotel for the night, and by walk I mean waddle, we were so stuffed from dinner. 

Our wedding day was a true reflection of us and such a sweet start to our marriage. 

I can not begin to thank Lexie, our photographer enough for the way she told the story of our day so perfectly. I will let the images speak for themselves, but I am eternally grateful for her talents and her kindness. Check out her work!

Again, I can not begin to thank Lexie, our photographer enough for documenting our day. Please do yourself a favor and go check out more of here incredible work. Check out her work!

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