Intimate Elk Mountains wedding in Aspen, Colorado
Shelly and Lauren had an intimate bohemian elopement at Maroon Bells, two peaks in the Elk Mountains (Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak) in Aspen, Colorado.
Tell us the best part of the wedding planning process.
Shelly: We were engaged for a year and a half, so we had a lot of time to be excited and think about exactly how we wanted our wedding day/week to be. One of the best moments happened early on in the process. We were riding in Lauren’s car and we got a call from the park ranger at Maroon Bells. Lauren immediately pulled to the side of the road and put her flashers on because we both wanted to be completely in-tune with the call. The ranger let us know that the date we chose was available and that we lucked out because it is the most beautiful time of the year. It was the first of many: “Oh my gosh! This is really happening!” kind of moments!
Lauren: We decided to set up a wedding website, which also served as our invitation. Once we finished designing the site, it was awesome to see all the details of our special day (and week) laid out. We were so excited, and we couldn’t wait to share this with our family and friends.
Tell us about how you met.
Lauren: The day was Friday, May 30, 2014. We met at a fun little dive bar in Dallas, Texas, called The Grapevine. Shelly was there for an HRC event with some friends and I randomly chose this bar to meet up with a friend on a Friday night completely clueless that I was at a women’s mixer.
In an effort to get her out of her shell, Shelly’s friends asked her if she thought anyone at the bar was cute. After a few, “No, I’m not here for that. I just came to have a drink with you guys” responses, Shelly finally came to her senses and admitted there was one girl she thought was really pretty, but she might be too young. Luckily for both of us, Shelly’s friend knew my friend and immediately grabbed her arm and dragged her to my table.
We all sat around and chatted for a while. We talked about how I was from Little Rock and I showed her how to rep the 5-0-1 turkey (it’s a silly hand gesture). Shelly talked about the world’s recent fascination with red Solo cups (I’m not sure why that part of the conversation stuck out in my head, but it did). I also spent the entire night thinking Shelly’s name was Kellie (turned out that was her friend). Whoops! They were sitting right next to each other, so it was an honest mistake.
Towards the end of the night, I tried to rally the troops to go to another bar, but the ladies weren’t having it and were ready to go home. As I got up and started to leave, one of Shelly’s friends yelled at me, “Hey, how old are you?” I turned around and yelled back with a smile, “25!” I could hear the table giving Shelly a hard time as I walked away. The next day, I got a message from Shelly. It took me a minute to realize who it was because I thought her name was Kellie. Once we cleared up the confusion, we continued to chat and got to know a little more about each other. We decided to meet up for dinner a few days later and the rest is history.
Tell us why you chose the stunning maroon bells venue.
We both knew from the start that we wanted a small outdoor venue, either in the mountains or on the beach. When we stumbled upon photos of Maroon Bells, we instantly fell in love. We explored some other options in Colorado, but nothing compared to the beauty of Maroon Bells. We just kept going back to it. Once we learned we could reserve the amphitheater, we realized this couldn’t be more perfect for how we envisioned our wedding day. To be in such a beautiful outdoor setting, but still have an intimate feel with our small group was exactly what we were looking for.
Any special stories for us about the day?
Lauren: Shelly and I wrote letters to each other as we were getting ready the morning of our ceremony, and we exchanged them during our first look. Shelly then handed me a gift and as soon as I saw the designer’s name, I was 99 percent certain what was inside. I immediately got a huge smile on my face and started laughing. Once I opened the gift, my suspicions were confirmed! It was a beautiful bracelet with our wedding date engraved on the toggle. I then handed Shelly the gift I wanted to surprise her with. By this point, she was wondering why I kept laughing until she opened her gift and saw the exact same bracelet in a different color. This is so typical of us, but we love it!
Shelly: One of the most special moments of the day was when Lauren and I were walking hand-in-hand down the path to the amphitheater. We came around the corner to see the breathtaking view of Maroon Bells and our family and friends anxiously waiting there to watch us “walk down the aisle.” Remember that, “Oh my gosh! This is really happening!” moment I mentioned earlier? It happened again. My heart was full of so much love, for Lauren and for everyone who was there to share this moment with us.
What are the best decisions you made for your day?
Keeping it small and intimate. We knew from the start that we wanted to keep our wedding as simple as possible so we could focus on our love for each other, without getting caught up in the chaos that a wedding day can bring.
Deciding to hire a wedding coordinator. Since we were having such a small elopement, we originally did not think we would need to have a planner, but we quickly became overwhelmed. From our first call with Lilli at Sweetly Paired, we felt more at ease and like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders. She guided us through the process flawlessly and helped with so many details that we may not have even considered on our own. Weeks before our wedding, we had a little catering snafu, but Lilli swooped in and saved the day by finding us a caterer who went above and beyond to make our reception even better than we could have imagined (thank you, Chef Lana). Looking back on the day of our ceremony, we can’t imagine how things would have gone without having someone there to make sure everything ran smoothly. Knowing all the details were taken care of, allowed us to truly be in the moment and enjoy our special day together.
Hiring a great photographer (shout out to Erin Witt!). Erin’s personality and humor complimented ours so perfectly. She made us feel comfortable and at ease in front of the camera, which for us was no small feat! She was able to capture all of our intimate moments in a way that allows us to relive that day each time we look at them.
Renting a house that served as both a basecamp for us and our guests, as well as a beautiful venue for our reception. We knew from day one that we wanted to find a place big enough to hold our friends and family. We were asking people to travel across multiple states for a mid-week wedding, so we didn’t want our guests to worry about lodging. One of our favorite parts of the day was when we returned to the house after the ceremony and our family and friends were waiting on the upstairs balcony to welcome us as newlyweds.
Anything you’d have done differently?
Extended our stay or immediately gone on our honeymoon. We made the decision early on to hold off on a honeymoon since we did a destination wedding. From the second we arrived in Denver, it felt like everything happened so fast. The week went by in the blink of an eye! We were left wishing we had a few more days together to really soak everything in.
Booked a longer block with our photographer (even though she gave us more time than she was supposed to). She did such a beautiful job on our wedding photos, we wish we would have had her there to capture the moments of our reception as well.
Practiced our kiss. Lauren: Who knew this was going to be so important? Shelly suggested we practice this, but I thought, how silly! We know how to kiss. Turns out when you’re up in front of each other’s family, it might not play out as natural as you thought. Shelly: Luckily, Lauren came back in for a second kiss, which was picture perfect.
Chose more comfortable shoes. By the end of our photo shoot, we had to kick off our shoes and walk barefoot on the pathway back to the car.
Photographer: Erin Witt Photography
Venue: Maroon Bells
Planner: Sweetly Paired
Officiant: Wedlock Officiants
Florist: The Olive & Poppy
Catering: Sava Catering
Dessert: Yours Truly Cupcake
Linens: La Tavola
Alaina Leary Lavoie
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