By: Charmaine Boudreaux, Event Coordinator at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa & Event Center
Congratulations! So you want to get married in the Colorado mountains…you and your love standing together with a picturesque view of majestic peaks in the background, while guests of friends, family and associates listen quietly to the sound of your vows, along with the chirping of the Yellow Warblers and Lark Buntings. Well hold on, let’s talk logistics of a mountain wedding. Sure, the reception space is reserved, invitations have been sent, the caterer has been procured and is preparing all your requested food, but what about Uncle Pete’s asthma or Aunt Lena’s hypertension? Will two of your favorite people be able to endure a couple of days at 7,000+ altitude? Will your guests be able to enjoy all the wedding activities responsibly? Let us share with you what we’ve learned about creating the wedding of your dreams in the mountains of Colorado.
Plan Ahead: The higher the Peak, the shorter the peak season
Getting married in the mountains is a great choice for anyone who loves the beauty of Colorado. Majestic, snow-covered peaks, fields of lush wildflowers, or quaking, gold and orange Aspen trees; each season offers its own, unique beauty. As you climb higher in elevation, the seasons get shorter, so if your ideal time is spring, summer, autumn or winter, reserve your dates early, because other couples will be doing the same.
Altitude: Acclimate, Acclimate, Acclimate – Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
At higher elevations, “the pressure of the air around you (barometric pressure) decreases so there is less oxygen in surrounding air.”1 The main cause of altitude sickness is ascending to a great height too rapidly. If your guests are coming in from anywhere below 4,000’, whenever possible, we encourage you to ask them to arrive in Denver a couple days prior to the wedding date, to adjust. When they arrive, they should plan to drink a great deal of water (coconut water and electrolyte drinks are also helpful alternatives) throughout the days. It is also important to eat light meals that include hydrating foods, like fruits and vegetables, and walk as much as possible. These tips will help your guests slowly acclimate to a higher altitude. Once they arrive at the wedding destination, they should continue to drink plenty of water. If a guest shows any of the below “Signs of Altitude sickness,” have them descend from the location as quickly and as comfortably as possible. If your guests are hesitant to follow these instructions, let them know you care deeply about their presence on your wedding day and their adherence to these protocols will allow you to relax and not be concerned about Aunt Lena’s health during your special celebration. And remember, the bride and groom should absolutely be drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to your nuptials. Hydrate!
Signs of Altitude sickness: nausea, headache, dizzy/lightheadedness, lethargy/fatigue. More severe symptoms can include a persistent dry cough, often with pinkish sputum, fever, panting, even while resting, a persistent headache that does not respond to painkillers, unsteady gait or clumsiness, increased vomiting, gradual loss of consciousness, numbness. If any of the above severe symptoms transpire, contact a doctor or health clinic. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/altitude-sickness-a-to-z
Weather: Have a Plan B and Remember Layers!
You’ve heard the saying” “If you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes.” Yes, Mother Nature provides us with these amazing, scenic places to say “I do” in Colorado, and she also provides a myriad of potential weather disruptions. As all Coloradoans can attest, we’ve used the heater in the mornings and the air conditioner a few hours later. We’ve driven through sun, rain, hail and snow in a matter of miles. Many of us have tent camped through a July snowstorm. If you are determined to have your wedding outdoors, the key is layers. Plan for a wrap to go over that sleeveless gown. Camisoles and slips help keep you warm in inclement weather (T-shirts for men) and will anyone even notice you are wearing long underwear under your dress? Renting heaters for your outdoor event is another reasonable decision. Settings Event Rental https://www.settingseventrental.com/rentals/offers many options for heating (or cooling) your event. If your wedding coordinator has spent any time in Colorado, he or she will recommend you have alternative, indoor plans if the weather turns. Don’t forget to tell your guests to bring layers: wraps, light jackets, parkas😊. And remember sunscreen! We burn quicker at higher altitudes. But, no matter the weather, plan for the best day ever!
Imbibing: Celebrate responsibly
Whenever I travel to lower elevations for a celebration, I’ve learned to stop after two drinks. If I don’t feel a buzz by then, it’s not happening. When I’m home in Colorado, I can have a glass of wine and be buzzed. This phenomenon is because of the altitude, oxygen and blood science. Be aware, your guests may get very tipsy, very easily. Add hot water (hot springs anyone?! http://joyfuljourneyhotsprings.com/pools/), wacky weed, or any other prescription medication, and things can go from fun to fatal quickly. Consider including a cautionary notice in your schedule of events. If you have an open bar, you will definitely want to hire professional bartenders and servers who are trained to watch for signs of excessive intake or just standard, altitude related reactions. Check out our Heart of the Rockies Wedding professionals at https://heartoftherockieswedding.com/alcohol-bartending/
Transportation: Keep it simple
A mountain wedding can be one of the most beautiful memories you will ever create and it can also be a logistical challenge getting everyone to the right location. Transporting people from the airport to the mountain town can be coordinated through airport arrivals and utilizing rental vans. It is an easy way for your guests to enjoy the majestic views as they travel to your mountain location. A Facebook page or carpooling app is a great option that allows people from both sides of the isle to get to know each other better. Once your guests arrive, Colorado Adventure Tours https://www.coloradoadventuretours.com/, can easily and comfortably carry your guests from mountain town to mountain peak, in a timely and orderly manner.
Accommodations: The Mountain Variety
Providing a list of hotels in the area is standard wedding protocol, along with setting aside a block of rooms at your preferred hotel, but many smaller, mountain communities don’t have a Hyatt or a Hilton. Most mountain towns do offer plenty of quaint Airbnb and comfortable VRBO options for your guests. Check out the local motor lodges to find out if their standards meet your standards for your wedding guests. For your friends who want to camp, include a list of the local BLM campgrounds. Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa offers a variety of accommodations (including tipis!) that allow your guests to choose their preferred comfort level. Grandma and grandpa will appreciate a comfortable lodge room, while your work friends might enjoy a scenic campsite. http://joyfuljourneyhotsprings.com/lodging/
Hire Local: Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable
Accessing local talent such as professional florists, makeup artists, and photographers will not only simplify the coordination of your day (are they here yet?) and decrease costs (you don’t have to pay for mileage or an overnight stay!), it also supports the local economy and small business owners. An even better reason to hire local is their fountain of useful tidbits about the area including wedding location, weather familiarity, lighting, and favorite local fare. The Heart of the Rockies Wedding Association https://heartoftherockieswedding.com/ offers numerous local, talented, passionate experts, who can guide you through it all with ease. With these professionals supporting you through your wedding event, you will have fewer things to concern yourself with on your special day. We want you to focus on more important matters, like how to get that garter over your long underwear!
For more information about your chosen location, visit your mountain town’s chamber of commerce or tourism board to learn about the area history. You may want to incorporate some of the historical aspects of your cool mountain town into your wedding theme!