If you've been following this blog at all over the last few months, you know I've been entirely immersed in my little sister's wedding. (Previous wedding posts: here and here for more Colorado trip photos, here for save-the-dates and programs, here for wedding invitations, here for engagement photos, here for bridal shower photos and here for a DIY travel journal.) Well here's my final related post: photos from the wedding weekend.
There are so many things I want to recount and remember about this event, but first things first. Let's set the scene.
Planning a wedding in the middle of the winter in the middle of the Rocky Mountains at 8,300 feet was a risky maneuver, but boy did it pay off. The ground was covered with four feet of snow, and it snowed lightly but consistently each day of the trip. The wind was gusting up to 80 miles per hour. But to the crew of 50 guests, mostly hailing from Minnesota, Wisconsin or Colorado, these conditions were nothing to write home about. They just provided a dream-like backdrop for the big day.
The wedding took place at the Wild Basin Lodge, which sits at a remote entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, along the St. Vrain River. Most of us stayed at the lodge or cabins within walking distance of the lodge.
Above: My immediate family has grown from 6 to 15 people in the last few years. I wonder what the next couple years will hold? (Thanks to my cousin, Katie, for taking this photo.)
Below: A stand of aspen in snowdrifts in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Here are a few winter scenes from in and around Rocky Mountain National Park's Wild Basin entrance. Oh, did I mention the wind was insane?
My mom took this photo of me held up by the wind in the park. Plenty of sledders hit the hill in the backyard of our cabin, including...the mother-of-the-bride (top center)!
The rehearsal dinner took place at a cute little Italian restaurant called Mama Rose's on the river in Estes Park. It was dusk and snowing as we drove down into the beautiful town (below top center). I'd love to explore that area more on my next trip.
My mom recently discovered an envelope that belonged to my great-grandmother, on which was written: "The ten (10) cent piece worn in my shoe when I was married. Aug. 24—1907.” Apparently it is a Scottish-Irish tradition for the bride's father to place a coin in the bride's shoe just before the ceremony. So my parents surprised my sister with this re-discovered tradition and my great-grandmother's coin from her wedding day more than 100 years ago.
Below right: Flower girls Cricket and Iris check out their dresses before go-time. They couldn't get over the fact that they all got to wear matching outfits.
The ceremony was supposed to happen outdoors with a view of the river and mountains, but it was too blustery and snowy. Instead it took place in the entryway of the lodge in front of a huge stone fireplace with a roaring fire. Life doesn't get more picturesque than that (though I don't actually have pictures, because I was busy being in the wedding). For official photos, you can check out a beautiful blog post by the wedding photographer, Meghan of Visual Poetry. You'll see the space was small—with just enough room for three or four rows of guest—which made it even more intimate and special.
To prepare for Mari's entrance, we were led outside and up the back stairway. I will never forget holding her train and helping her up those stairs as light snow was falling and landing on her amazing red hair. Yep, it was a fairytale from start to finish.
There were many moments from the ceremony I won't forget either, like watching Andy's expression when he saw Mari and when the flower girls walked down the aisle holding hands and Cricket stopped to hug her new uncle. Also: bagpipes! I know my Scottish grandpa was smiling from above.
We took bridal party photos in front of the frozen St. Vrain River, surrounded by aspen and foggy mountains.
Right middle: Sweet "Just Married" blanket, stitched by Andy's mom.
Bottom middle: My sisters and me. It's not often we're all lucky enough to be in the same place at the same time.
Bottom left: The flower girls (my girls and their cousins).
(Thanks again to Katie for taking those last two shots.)
The details and decorations at the reception were unbelievable. My sister is lucky to have crafty friends who were endlessly generous in giving their time to help with decor. (I should also note that when one friend, who played guitar and sang beautifully during the ceremony, found out the wedding was supposed to be outside, she began practicing in her backyard on cold nights to make sure her fingers were agile enough to play in adverse conditions. Now that is loyal friendship.)
One thoughtful detail was the canvas below (top center). Mari found wedding photos of Andy's and our parents and grandparents and had them printed to look like Polaroids. It was hard (for me) not to cry looking at all those beautiful images of lifelong commitment.
The floral arrangements by Floral Designs of Europe were incredible and unique.
Below right: I love the basket full of river stones and pine cones Mari and her friends devised to hold the wedding programs.
Below left: The flower girls couldn't keep themselves off the dance floor while watching Mari dance with my dad.
Below bottom center: The seating chart was adorable. Everyone's names and table assignments were written on little blocks of birch stuck to this board. Next to the board, you'll see canvases of the engagement photos we took in January.
Below right: Bride and groom pine cone cake toppers!
It should also be mentioned that my family has many wedding traditions. One is that the bride and groom drink champagne from a special double silver cup. Another is that toasts are a really big deal. My dad always gives a thoroughly researched, footnoted, intricate tear-jerker. And then my sisters and I do something ridiculous. And that ridiculous something might have been an ‘80s cover with words re-written for the happy couple. And that ‘80s cover might just be documented here. (Yes, I'm rocking a snowshoe guitar. And yes, I will probably receive many threats for sharing this footage.)
Not pictured: The girls fell asleep on our shoulders as we danced the night away at the reception. I will always remember bundling up their sleeping little bodies and walking them back to the cabin—just the four of us together in the pitch dark mountains. Fresh snow was falling. It was silent except for the sounds of our boots crunching on the snow-covered ground and coyotes howling in the distance (and by distance, I mean a few yards away...). My heart was full-up.
Below: This is how you leave the mountains: quite precariously with three men pushing your car out of a steep, snowy, icy driveway. And this (right), is a Rocky Mountain sunset send-off from the Denver airfield.
After four months of planning and preparing and traveling and photographing and blogging, I'm officially signing off from the coverage of the amazingly beautiful and unique wedding of Mari and Andy. Congratulations to them on the beginning of their new life together!
And just like that, my parents have married off the last of their four daughters!
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.