Bride: Erin, 24 – Dance Instructor | Groom: James, 23 – Worship Pastor
Date: January 25, 2015
Location: Denver First Baptist Church (Ceremony) and Grant-Humphreys Mansion (Reception)
The beautiful Grant-Humphreys Mansion is a Denver historical and architectural gem. It exudes early 20th Century elegance and is the perfect spot for a trip back in time with this 1920’s theme wedding. Erin and James had a flapper-inspired event with tons of sparkle and feathery goodness. Silver and gold dominate in beaded gowns, metallic accessories, and gold polka-dot linens. The wedding as a whole looks like an old Hollywood movie; but their proposal story felt a little more like a fairy tale:
James and I met at a kids camp where we worked together to create elaborate set pieces and classroom designs for the kids. We started dating at the end of the summer. After dating for a year, James popped the question by sending me on a fairy tale themed scavenger hunt. Each clue I received came from a dear friend or family member who were stationed at a meaningful landmark in James and my relationship. At the end of the scavenger hunt I found my prince in a beautiful flower garden where asked me to marry him. James also gave me a hard-back storybook that he created that told the story of the proposal day in a classic, fairy tale theme that I was able to keep to remind me of that day forever. – Erin
- The beautiful feather-laden bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and centerpieces were made by the bride and her mother.
- The beautiful theme-appropriate china used at the wedding was all heirloom – belonging to Erin’s mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. (Such a meaningful touch!)
- I like that the beautifully beaded, flapper-inspired gowns were also worn by the matrons of the family.
- An acoustic guitar served as the guestbook.
- Rather than doing a “first look”, the couple opted to do a “first touch” on opposite sides of the door from each other. They calmed each other’s fears and shared a prayer before the big moment.
- The wedding music consisted of big band swing music to fit the theme of the day.
- A dance instruction group called 23 Skidoo taught reception-goers how to swing dance!
Venue: Grant-Humphreys Mansion | Photographer: Bullfrogs and Butterflies | Second Shooter: Emily Marie Photography | Bride’s Gown: Maggie Sottero via Dora Grace Bridal | Veil: Encore Bridal | Bridesmaid’s Dresses: The GatsbyLady | Groom(smen) Attire: BLACK by Vera Wang | Hair and Makeup: Merrit Dupon | Rings: Darvier Jewelry | Cake: Whole Foods | Caterer: Macaroni Grill | Additional Catering: Bartenders and More | Florist: Nature’s Grace | Officiate: Kelly Williams | DJ: T.J. Fasco
No doubt you have perused countless wedding magazines and websites and drooled at the incredible weddings cakes – both because they are beautiful and, frankly, because you want to eat them in their entirety. Just me? Fine. Of course, when you priced out that 15 tiered cake shaped like you in your wedding dress, you no doubt fainted like a Southern Belle on a hot day. I have heard so many people say things like, “It’s just cake! WHY would it cost so much!?!” and, “Fine then. Surely a PLAIN 15 tiered cake would cost like 1/100th the price right?” But my favorite confused confectionery customer’s comment is, “I’ve made a birthday cake. It only cost like $5! It’s just flour and eggs.” Well be prepared to have your mind blown…or at least expanded. Yes, cakes can cost craploads (I am ON it with the alliteration tonight). The real cost of a wedding cake is in its size, structural complexity, premium ingredients, and of course the small fact that it’s edible art! Still not with me? Let’s break it down the value of a wedding cake.
As part of my ongoing series about the value of weddings, I interviewed Kelley Prather of Kelley Kakes in Denver. She has been creating custom cakes for 13 years and boasts many industry awards from the likes of The Knot, Wedding Wire, and Denver A-List. Kelley Kakes has been featured in 12 issues of The Knot and “some times they even spelled [her] name right,” according to Kelley. She is an incredibly talented cake artist with a fresh, funny personality. Her comments are used below to augment my analysis of why a wedding cake costs what it does – and why that’s a reasonable thing. As always, I’m not trying to convince you to take out a second mortgage on your home to pay for your wedding. The idea is to make sure that you are an educated consumer with a deeper appreciation for the hard work that goes into wedding purchases. Hopefully there will be more constructive and realistic conversations between bakers and clients if both sides understand each other’s needs and you can prioritize your wedding vendor list to reflect that.
The Cost of Business:
If you want your cake to look like something you would see in Martha Stewart Weddings, chances are you aren’t working with your basic hand mixer and a butter knife at home folks. Kelley estimate that she’s in about $8000 deep at any point in time for the tools of her trade. As a person who enjoys baking myself, I can say that getting good results requires a ton of specialty equipment. Moving up to a commercial capacity would be quite an investment. Large mixers, ovens, and fridges that can accommodate a huge cake are not exactly cheap. Then you have things like spatulas, lazy susans, piping and fondant accessories, and sculpting tools. And if you’ve ever watched one of those cake reality shows, you know that they get pretty creative when it’s needed. Kelley elaborates, “One cannot purchase all things needed for a cake in one place. Also, frequently I’ll need to build a custom stand. This requires tools and tool skills. This means the husband becomes my employee.” You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that your baker had to run by Home Depot or an art store while working on your cake. Finally, you have to consider the basics of running a business like insurance, delivery costs, etc.
Kelley identifies as primarily self-taught but has studied art history and fine art. She has become the incredible baker that she is through reading, online coursework, and approximately 15 hands-on classes. She said that a typical in-person course runs about $300 a pop. But it is through this dedicated improvement of skills that professional bakers learn the intricacies of their art and keep abreast of the current trends in products and design. Years of experience mean that she can tell you how to make a cake survive a move to the mountains in a way that a rookie never could. This incredible wealth of knowledge results in a high quality product.
As I’ve mentioned in previous For What It’s Worth posts, most wedding related vendors are artists. Even if a methodical lay-person could negotiate the structural challenges of a complex cake, they likely would not be able to create realistic flowers out of sugar or sculpt it into a spaceship. (Seriously, I dare you to pipe a rose out of frosting and not have it look like a swirly mess. I’ve tried and failed. And I’m not completely hopeless at cake decorating even.) If it were easy to make attractive cakes, there wouldn’t be an entire website dedicated to those “professionals” who failed miserably. A good cake artist can create something that is beautiful, sturdy, and tasty to boot. That takes a knowledge of art, chemistry/culinary concepts, a keen sense of taste, and the know-how to move the cake safely (and fix the inevitable blunders). Your aunt’s friend from church, however, will probably deliver you a saggy, melty mess and hide the cracks with flowers plundered from your centerpieces. ;)
How is my time spent— half of it is spent on the details that happen prior to putting anything in the oven. Design, shopping for supplies, etc. There is a lot that goes in to the days before it goes in to a pan. Ingredients must be fresh. Fresh butter, cream, fruits. While it’s baking, I’m making cake boards and fresh icing. I’m sterilizing work surfaces. I’m listening to a lot of 80’s music. – Kelley Prather, Kelley Kakes
The average Kelley Kake takes about 12-14 hours to make. “If sculpting is involved, add another two to three full days [of work],” explained Kelley. Add to that 40-80 hours of additional work per cake in the form of client meetings, baking sample cakes, email and phone correspondence, sketching and design work, purchasing materials, sourcing unique supplies, delivery and setup, etc. A big, cool cake is A LOT of work! Real bakers make their cakes, frosting, fondant, and so forth from scratch. Quality results require chilling the cake between coats of coverings, drying time on detail work, etc. It’s like being a sculptor who has to make her own clay.
Why Wedding Cakes “Cost More”:
The average Kelley Kake will run you about $500-$600. That, frankly, is a steal! I know of one local baker who won’t take orders of less than $2000 anymore. To that end, I hear a lot of smack being talked about how things cost more “simply because they are related to weddings”. That is almost never true. Professionals charge a certain amount for a wedding cake because they are kind of a colossal undertaking. What makes a wedding cake different from your run of the mill boxed birthday cake…on steroids? Or from another cake that a baker makes for that matter?
First of all, it’s big. Have you ever baked a cake that can feed 200 people? It’s a lot of ingredients. And quality ingredients like fresh fruit fillings on a cake that large necessarily come at a premium. That much food actually becomes VERY heavy so you are paying for the structure too. There is literally non-edible architecture in a cake that keeps it upright, un-saggy, and looking spiffy. Knowing how to create that is where a professional earns their salt. Some of this is achieved by dowels and cardboard rounds between tiers. But also, wedding cake is denser than the stuff from a box because it needs to hold up a lot of other cake and decor elements. Take my word for it, a soft cake, when weighted down with icing and fondant details, will sag and crack like an elephant’s skin. Would you want to have a novice find that out on your wedding cake?
Now, have you ever moved a cake? I’ve white knuckled it with a single tier birthday cake all the way to work a function on many occasions. Every bump in the road or short stop at a light made my heart skip about 12 beats and the sweat pour. The mere thought of transporting a 150 lb cake on mountain roads for 60 miles in the blazing heat of summer is the stuff of nightmares. Especially since someone’s wedding of all things is counting on it and fixing a damaged cake is nearly impossible. (Note: Fondant is completely ruined if it cracks and even buttercream forms an exterior crust that is NOT easy to patch without looking dreadful. It’s serious business!) A seasoned vet knows how to move them or assemble them on site and that can prevent whatever friend or relative you would have used to make your cake from having a heart attack because they had to go over train tracks.
But more than just the fact that wedding cakes are large, use premium ingredients, and require a certain level of ninja to transport; there is an artistry that goes into them that is unlike a typical cake at a bakery. It takes a lot of practice just to stack tiers so that they are perfectly centered. It’s a one-shot thing. The amount of detail on even a simple wedding cake is greater than that of a birthday cake because large surfaces are notoriously difficult to ice or roll fondant onto in a smooth way. Even and consistent piping of details like a ribbon around the base of a large tier is laborious and requires a ton of honing as a skill. If you want edible flowers, sculpting, or something else outside of the box, you are paying for an artist to create something magical for you and ensure that it survives through your wedding day. That is a lot to ask of one cake – of one baker. Add to that the stress of knowing that this behemoth of a pastry is one element at the center of a couple’s dream wedding day and you have a product that is worth more. Simply put, these cakes are a huge, sugary pains in the ass with a lot riding on them.
ACC Tip: Wedding cakes are so heavy that they can crush a flimsy cake stand like a beer can. Lots of couples want to make their own stands. (“Oh look, Pinterest showed me how to make one out of a candle stick, a pie tin, and a dream!”) Make sure you check with your baker to ensure that whatever stand you choose can not only hold up the weight, but not become precariously balanced when you are cutting it. You don’t want that adorable stacked tree sections cake of yours to topple. Timber!
Why It’s Worth It:
Well, if a custom cake is important, then I feel it is important to have a professional create it for you. One cannot get a custom cake at Target or Costco. I think a custom cake is a showpiece. A piece of the overall picture that is your celebration. It should also be freshly made and taste amazing. It should reflect your vision/personality/style. I want people to walk up to it, and be wowed by the appearance, and want to stick their face in it, because it smells so good. […] I do not think purchasing a custom cake should be something filled with stress. I keep things light- no nit-picky order forms where I up-charge for every little thing that goes into a cake. I want people to have fun, and feel relaxed when they meet me. I’m frequently told I need to charge more… maybe I do, I don’t know?? I think it’s important to be realistic, though. One needs to understand that we are not the East coast here, and charging a minimum of a grand for a simple wedding cake is just silly. – Kelley Prather, Kelley Kakes
I realize that a really cool cake is not on the top of everyone’s must have list for their wedding. And that’s okay. There are options! But if you are a person who really values the beauty of a custom cake, you should prioritize your baker in your budget to reflect that appreciation. You need to understand that, as with anything, you get what you pay for when it comes to cakes. You are paying an artist to create something special for you out of a very difficult medium. You are paying for an edible undertaking. A great cake is equal parts decor and food. If you play your cards right, you may end up with a major talking point at your reception that tastes like heaven. Plus, this may be your only chance to commission one of these crazy work of art for yourself! To many, that is worth the splurge. I would also add that the taste of a professional cake is simply different…better. I have tasted more cakes than 100 average couples planning their wedding (for research of course). There is a marked difference in the flavor and quality of a “real” cake versus the chemical laden, previously frozen cake you get at a grocery store. I have tasted cakes that make my toes curl. I’d rather give that to my guests than a piece of cake where they have to scrape off an inch of bad icing.
This is the part where everyone seems to have advice, but not all of it is good. Here are some solid pieces of advice:
- “Want to cut costs? Don’t invite 200 people! If you must, get a smaller main cake and a sheet cake…from the same baker,” urges Kelley. “Do NOT try to save a few bucks by getting a slab of gross cake from Costco. There is no comparison!” (And the cost should be similar for sheet cakes across the board anyway. Might as well get a tasty one and not have to involve more than one vendor.)
- Use fresh flowers instead of sugar flowers. Edible flowers are very labor-intensive and exacting work for a really skilled artist. You’re going to pay for that. (It’s only fair.)
- Fondant cakes cost more. Kelly suggests, “Use buttercream icing instead of fondant. It tastes better anyway and a pro knows how to smooth it perfectly.”
- Avoid pricey embellishments like edible gold leaf, lustre, or pearls. Not only are the supplies expensive, application is time consuming.
- With some bakers, certain ingredients are seasonal and can command a higher price at different times of the year. (They may also not be as tasty.)
- Let your cake topper command the attention if a lot of embellishment isn’t in your budget. Or, consider sugared fruit or real flowers for a colorful way to include edible details without having them sculpted of gum paste or marzipan.
ACC Tip: If you are going to use fresh flowers on your cake, make sure to discuss that with both your florist and your cake designer to determine what will need to be done and by whom on the day of the wedding. Your florist knows that some blooms are naturally poisonous and most flowers sold for bouquets are laden with pesticides. A good bet is always an edible grade flower. Another consideration is the water needs of some blooms. For those, you will have to have special vials or other containers to supply them with hydration. If the two vendors work together, they can ensure that you get the look you want safely and with minimal damage to the cake.
The reason I created this editorial series is because so many people have champagne taste on a beer budget. Pinterest in particular is leading us to believe that every bride or groom can have it all and have it all dirt cheap. But when you approach a vendor who makes the equivalent of minimum wage or less at their small wedding business and try to work them down, it’s offensive. These artists’ labors of love should not be met with cutthroat haggling. As you can see from this article, so much goes into a wedding cake and that’s why they command a hefty price in some cases. Rest assured that your bakery is not trying to screw you over and you should return the favor. While cakes in particular are not at the top of everyone’s list, for those that prioritize a killer cake for their big day the end result is worth it.
This post is part of a series:
For What It’s Worth: Letterpress
For What It’s Worth: Photography
For What It’s Worth: Flowers
For What It’s Worth: The Dress
For What It’s Worth: Cakes
Something I’ve always loved about Denver is that it has a rich history with intriguing back stories to the beautiful buildings and parks. The Brown Palace sits high atop the list of landmarks here that seem larger than life and almost eternal. With a presence like that, you know there are some good stories. The hotel has slept nearly every sitting president since 1905, been the scene of sordid affairs and murders, and sits on top of an artesian well. One area of the hotel, The Brown Palace Club, has served as the campaign headquarters for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidential election, been home to a private gentlemen-only club for high brow Denverites, and is the most haunted room of the hotel. It is this club room that provides the setting for today’s Brown Palace wedding styled shoot. Mark Christopher Weddings and Events created a dramatic wedding story that plays upon its history as a private club. Aptly named “Keys to the Palace”, this shoot’s lock and key theme is represented throughout. The masculine and historical feeling club provides a handsome backdrop for these gentlemen’s vows and intimate reception. The tone is set with one of the most amazing invitation suites I’ve seen. Bearing the couple’s coat of arms and key insignia, the invites are housed in an exquisite wooden box. That old world feel continues into the ceremony space which is decorated with lush florals, books, and candles against stained glass and wood panels. After the nuptials, guests find their seats with a very cool seating chart made of keys and locks with embroidered ribbons. The reception is again very regal and masculine (yes folks, flowers can be a great compliment to masculine vignettes) with subtle nods to the theme. The couple imbibes on Irish whiskey and rich chocolate desserts. Then the newlyweds take to the atrium of the hotel and out into the street for portraits. The overall effect is a very sophisticated celebration of love.
“The Key to My Heart”
Late at night when I’m sound asleep,
Into my heart you softly creep.
I sit and wonder how it could be,
But you must have stumbled across the key.
This key holds the secret to true love and more,
So take it now and unlock the door.
And I pray that we will never part,
Now that you have the key to my heart.
– Nicole C. Moore
Venue: The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa | Photographer: Frances Photography | Event Planner: Mark Christopher Weddings and Events | Stationery: Platypus Papers | Floral Design: Bella Calla | Rentals: Allwell Rents and Linen Hero | Attire: Wedding Treasures | Makeup: Bronze and Beautiful | Desserts: Yours Truly Cupcake
Bride: Kerry, 29 – Teacher, 4th Grade | Groom: Billy, 31 – Teacher, 3rd Grade
Date: July 17, 2015 | Location: Crooked Willow Farms, Larkspur
This wedding is good til the last shot. No really. Go look at that last shot! I went way beyond my normal allotment of photos this time because there is so much to appreciate in each image that shrinking them seemed criminal. It’s not enough to get the gist this time; you have to really take in the facial expressions. This wedding is emotional – beautifully so and captured in time by Aldabella Photography. An abundance of tears were shed as a little girl and a best friend became a bride and a wife. Then an overwhelming air of giddiness hovers above Kerry and Billy when they are together that really conveys the excitement that they are feeling. And of course there is the completely uninhibited dance party. All around, this barn wedding at Crooked Willow Farms is a heartwarming story told so well through pictures. And if that wasn’t enough, the bride herself weaves a beautiful tale in words as well:
Billy and I met after spring break my senior year of college. I was a waitress at a local bar/restaurant, Stuff Yer Face, and he had just moved back home to the next town over after his graduation. He started checking IDs at the bar and I was just gushing over him. So much so that I didn’t think I had a shot in hell at dating him. So I decided to make a fool of myself and go for it, but he got my number first. We both played hooky from our minimal college responsibilities one gorgeous spring day and played baseball in the park before throwing back a few beers and talking like we had known each other our whole lives. Four months after we met, he moved to Denver (I was in NJ) for a teaching program. After two years of crossing time zones with texts, calls and planes, I moved to Denver to pursue the same career path. Three apartments, two schools and one dog later, Billy got down on one knee in front of everyone we loved and asked me to spend the rest of his life with him. It’s crazy how speechless I was to a question I had known the answer to from the very first day I met him. – Kerry
- The bride wore her great grandmother’s earrings. Kerry’s ring set was an heirloom from Billy’s grandmother. (WOW!)
- The ring bearers wore wooden badges with their names and “title” burned into them. (i.e. “Ring Security Sgt. Luke”)
- The small red velvet cutting cake was topped with a homemade South Park cake topper of Stan and Wendy.
- Kerry’s cousin became ordained to officiate the wedding.
- All the arrangements on the reception tables were created by the bride from wholesale flowers and glassware that she collected from thrift shops and half off coupons at Michaels. She also created the ceremony arrangements that hung from the aisles and pergola/altar from miniature mason jars and sunflowers/baby’s breath or sunflowers/aster.
- The guestbook was an old copy of Winnie the Pooh that guests signed with colorful markers among the pages. A reading during the ceremony was also from A. A. Milne (“Us Two”).
- Kerry also created the old window panel seating charts and a distressed card box.
- The tree rings used as centerpiece bases and wood-burned table numbers were made by an individual they found on Craigslist and then they preserved them.
The Best Part:
Hands down the first look I had with my dad and with Billy. The photographers did a nice job of building it up and the photos reveal the most incredible emotions. My first look with Billy felt like a dream among all those flowers, and even though I knew there were people spying on us, I couldn’t have told you any other soul in the world existed at that moment but his.
- Wedding Party Processional: “I Will Wait” – 2Cellos
- Bride’s Processional: “Gold” – Interference
- Bride & Groom Recessional: “I’ve Just Seen a Face” – The Beatles
- Bridal Party Entrance: Love of an Orchestra” – Noah and the Whale
- Bride & Groom Entrance: “High on Love” (at min. 2:50) – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
- First Dance: “I’ll Keep it With Mine” – Bod Dylan
- Father/Daughter Dance: “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
- Mother/Son Dance: “Long May You Run” – Neil Young
- Anniversary Dance: “Summer Wind” – Frank Sinatra
- Last Dance: “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” – Flogging Molly
If you love this couple, there are tons more great pics on the photographer’s site here.
Venue: Crooked Willow Farms | Photographer: Aldabella Photography | Planner: Jen Miller | Bridal Gown: Bijou Bridal Boutique (NJ) | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bill Levkoff | Groom(smen) Attire: BLACK by Vera Wang | Hair: Jennifer Goodrich | Makeup: Vicky Arias | Rings: Heirloom (hers) and Hyde Park Jewelers (his) | Cake: Happy Bakeshop | Caterer: Three Tomatoes Catering | Florist: Lehrer’s Flowers
Usually when I see an all white bouquet it is pretty basic with predominantly roses or peonies. Today’s Floral Friday shows that there is a lot of room for play in the white bouquet. Described as “Mountain Elegance” by its creator, this bouquet combines “elegant and casual flowers”. The roses give the traditional and regal feel while a variety of other dreamy blooms add texture, depth, and wildness! I am so totally in love with the white scabiosa in this bouquet and think the cream roses were a smart choice to bring depth and interest.
A.K.A. – “The Bonds of Matrimony – A 007 Wedding” (I have more of these but I’ll leave it with that.) Fortunately, the creators of this glamorous styled shoot will pick up where I left off and throw down with the puns. The great thing about theme shoots and weddings are that they are designed to be lighthearted and inspire discourse. There are moments of “ooooh I get it!” And that makes it something everyone can relate to and enjoy. Study the details of this fun James Bond theme wedding shoot (and there are LOTS) and you will find many things that make you smile. My favorites are the menu items, “Bond Girls”, the silhouettes of both bride and groom in the emblem where normally James stands alone, and little green button mums arranged in the martini glasses to look like floral olives. (That’s just genius right?) But even among all the cute kitsch that styled shoots can get away with, there is a lot of very real wedding inspiration here. I’m all about the bride’s unique styling. Bridal separates are so chic and unexpected twists like the floral arm band and crimson ring are delightful. The groom is similarly unexpected in a white suit and traditional pleated shirt that somehow doesn’t seem retro so much as couture. The cake is flawless with its single, spectacular, crimson flower and smooth as a baby’s bottom fondant! The lighting makes the gold and ruby elements seem to glow on the tables. The use of a mirror and envelopes for the seating cards was brilliant and slick looking. And I’m quite pleased at how the gold leaves were used throughout without seeming at all cheap. THAT, folks, is how you rock unusual floral elements. So much take away from this one! But really, it’s just a pleasure to get lost in the beautiful photography, perfect lighting, and endless little details to examine. And you gotta love the car! (Chicks dig the car. I know that’s Batman but he’s totally right!)
From the Photographer – Ashley Kidder, Urban Safari Photography:
This styled shoot took place at Vehicle Vault, a vintage car museum in Parker, Colorado. We chose to center our vignette around a 1954 Mercedes Gullwing, which had this untouchable aura to it that reminded us of James Bond. My team and I decided on a glam James Bond theme for our shoot, a throwback to Sean Connery’s glory days as 007. Our color palette included striking reds, glittering gold, and classic black + white.In addition to our glam bride (who wore a non-traditional two-piece gown) + groom (handsome in a timeless white tux), we had two bangin’ Bond Girls who had fabulous gold body painting done, coupled with their glitzy gold dresses. For the set design, we incorporated some casino touches, vintage red + gold brandy glasses and escort cards anchored by gold bullets. We loved that this shoot was equal parts brazen + fearless female and badass + sexy masculinity.
Venue: Vehicle Vault | Photography: Urban Safari Photography | Event Planner: Rachel Austin Events | Gowns: The Bridal Collection | Tux: Denver Tux | Rentals: Event Rents, Vintage Rentals Denver, Yonder Floral + Decor House | Floral Design: Bella Lu Floral | Cake: Astonishing Cakes | Stationery: Sweet Zion Paperie | Hair and Makeup: Jaded Beauty | Body Paint: Snappy Face Painting | Food: Occasions Catering Denver | Lighting: Skyline Productions | Other: Masterful Musicians
I felt compelled to add these images for you to click and see enlarged because you really have to appreciate the details!
Bride: Lydia, 24 – Fundraising Project Manager | Groom: MJ, 25 – Oil and Gas Contractor
Date: June 20, 2015 | Location: Granby Ranch, Grandby
Sadly, my only prior knowledge of Granby was that a disgruntled individual drove an armored bulldozer through town and took out some buildings. After seeing this wedding, however, I think I need to go check it out! That view could easily erase even the most sensationalized backstory. With the mountain vista backdrop, the glowing couple, and the bride’s veil hovering lightly in the breeze, they seem as though they could quite literally be floating on air. Most people are “on top of the world” on their wedding days but Lydia and MJ’s Granby Ranch wedding feels like it exists on a pinnacle in the sky. They carry the Rocky Mountain love throughout the wedding with wildflowers, wooden elements, and cowboy boots. The overall effect is effortlessly beautiful with refined rustic details on a neutral backdrop. What a lovely day!
MJ and I were both athletes at Colorado State University. He will tell you that he tried to make his move early on in the hallway outside of a lecture hall my freshman year, but I don’t quite recall that situation :) We were acquaintances for the next few years until his roommates started having mine over for a weekly fire pit in their backyard. From there we began an amazing friendship that eventually turned into more. The rest is history!
We got engaged at the top of Harney Peak in South Dakota. MJ took me on a road trip to see his Grandma in the Black Hills and demanded we go on this hike. 3.5 sweaty miles later he popped the question and it could not have been more perfect. – Lydia
- Lydia’s dad cut and polished the wood slabs that are used throughout the reception from trees on his property in Kentucky. He also used pieces of his horse fence to make the seating card display.
- The headboard/chalkboard that welcomed people to the wedding originally belonged to her great-grandparents an was upcycled with chalkboard paint.
- They used Lydia’s grandparent’s cake topper from 1956 on their cake.
- Their first dance was to Brett Eldredge’s “Mean to Me”.
- I believe they gave their mothers and grandmothers nosegay bouquets at the ceremony. <3
The Best Part:
The setting. We were so blessed to be surrounded by the most amazing friends and family in front of a Rocky Mountain backdrop. Every single detail from the day was absolutely perfect for us and we would not change a thing. – Lydia
Venue: Grandby Ranch | Photography: Melissa Yocum Photography | Event Coordinator: Amy Buzhardt, Grandby Ranch | Bride’s Dress: Martina Liana via The Bridal Collection | Boots: Frye | Groom(smen) Attire: Jos A. Bank | Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew | Ring Bearer: Janie & Jack | Makeup: Lori Allred | Hair: Hayley Thompson | Rings: Biondi Jewelers | Cake: Frost Custom Bakery | Florist: Alicia Hauer | Officiant: Reza Zadeh | DJ: Chaz Miles | Videographer: Cayve Branding and Video
Bride: Stacy – Pharmaceutical Sales Rep.
Groom: Eric – Firefighter
Date: May 15, 2015
Location: Cielo at Castle Pines, Castle Rock
Mrs. Right meets Mr. February. Now that’s a take on a classic. ;) Today’s cobalt blue wedding at Cielo at Castle Pines is a contemporary fairy tale visually with a gown worthy of a princess (a little sparkle on the the top of her head as well) and flowers that look like they were created in the minds of Disney Imagineers. Tie dye dendrobium orchids and other touches of the tropics give a nod to Stacy’s Hawaiian heritage. They also help pay homage to an important guest whose absence was very much felt that day – Stacy’s Father. A clean, contemporary wedding with pops of bold color and carefully placed bling!
Eric and I met through mutual friends at Sledge Fitness. This was 2 years before Eric decided to finally ask me out on what was the most amazing first date! Our first date was so unforgettable walking the Trail of Christmas Lights, writing in the snow, and…”kissing on every bridge.” These moments will always hold a special place in our hearts. But “kissing on the bridge” has been the most significant in our relationship! There’s not one bridge that we have crossed that we don’t get to re-live that kiss and special first date for the rest of our lives. I thought things couldn’t get any better…..until Eric proposed!!! Our Engagement… “Simply Beautiful, Surprising, Thoughtful, Romantic and filled with LOVE!!” It was the evening of December 7, 2014 in Central Park of New York City. What I thought was going to be just a first time experience for both of us to go ice skating in the middle of Central Park, drinking hot cocoa, and just enjoying each other on our last night in New York. After having so much fun ice skating, even though I couldn’t feel my toes from it being so cold, we started walking to dinner and of course came across the most beautiful bridge that we couldn’t leave without kissing at the top! Well, this was all a part of Eric’s plan. As we walked up the bridge that sat on a pond, with all the beautiful city lights and the ice rink in the background, was the biggest surprise yet and one that melts my heart! A Hawaiian musician playing the ukulele and singing “Over the Rainbow,” which was a song played at my father’s and Eric’s grandfather’s funerals….a very special song to both of us. Eric stopped me at the top of the bridge, told me he wanted tonight to be so special, how much he loved me, wanted to have my dad be apart of this special moment, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me! He got down on one knee and proposed…. Of course I said yes!!! A night I will never forget and brings tears to my eyes every time I tell the story! So blessed to spend the rest of our lives together!! – Stacy
- Eric was “Mr. February” in the 2011 Colorado Firefighter Calendar. This fact could not go un-celebrated at the wedding and became fodder for the Best Man’s speech.
- The thing that draws your eye over and over again in this wedding’s decor and accessories is the use of the fantastical looking blue and purple tie dye dendrobium orchids. They were a nod to the islands and Stacy’s father.
- The couple also had leis and white orchids sent from Hawaii to honor her Hawaiian father who, sadly, passed 2 years prior to the wedding.
- Stacy’s father’s picture was also in a locket attached to her bouquet so that he could walk her down the aisle.
- Something Old: Shoes | Something New: Gown | Something Borrowed: Her mother’s gold cross was pinned to the inside of her gown | Something Blue: Ribbon on her garter.
The Best Part:
Seeing each other for the first time as I walked down the aisle and feeling a sense of calmness the moment our eyes met! – Stacy
- Processional: “Look at Me – Carrie Underwood
- First Dance: “If I Didn’t Have You” – Thompson Square
If you want to see more of this couple, check out their engagement session on the photographer’s site.
Venue: Cielo at Castle Pines | Photographer: Infinite Pixels by Angel Photography | Bride’s Dress: Katherine Elizabeth (Style Johanna) via The Bridal Collection | Groom(smen) Attire: Black by Vera Wang via Men’s Wearhouse | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom | Hair and Makeup: Peacock Vanity by Shume | Rings: A. Jaffe via Ben Bridge Jeweler | Cake: Das Meyer Pastry Chalet | Caterer: Three Tomatoes Catering | Florist: A Florae
Rentals: Event Rents | DJ/Lighting: Elite Entertainment
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