Wedding Recaps: The 10 Best Decisions We Made

I knew from the very start that hubby and I would end up having a unique wedding, void of many traditions. Initially we thought we would have a camping wedding, and although this idea did not pan out, we still ended up making a lot of big decisions that made our wedding very different from most.

It was tough at times reading wedding posts of brides following all the traditions that we decided to skip, but in the end, I was glad we changed it up and our wedding was not so cookie-cutter. These are some of the big decisions we had to make that we were glad we made!

1. Having a Destination Wedding

This was our first and easiest decision. Hubby and I are outdoorsy people and have always been captivated by the mountains, winding streams, and piney woods of Colorado. We find ourselves camping in Colorado quite a bit so we knew that no venue in our current state of New Mexico would hold the outdoor beauty we were looking for, so we immediately turned to Colorado.

Most of hubby’s family lives in Colorado and we do not have many close friends in Albuquerque. By having a destination wedding in Colorado, we didn’t feel obligated to invite not-so-close friends in Albuquerque and we were more likely to have his family in Colorado, that was important to us, attend! We knew that even if we had invited acquaintances from Albuquerque, they were not likely to travel to a wedding 350 miles away. Call us horrible people, but we wanted a small, intimate wedding where we only had to invite and feed people that we were close to.

While planning a wedding in a state different from which the one we lived in was a bit challenging at times, for the most part we found we could do all our research on the internet. It also helped that we hired a wedding planning from Colorado that had a great list of vendor recommendations. We only traveled out of town twice to go dress shopping (I didn’t like any of our dress shops in town), meet with our wedding planner to tour our venue, do our cupcake tasting, and meet with our photographers for our engagement shoot. We made sure to combine a lot of the stuff we needed to get done in these two trips. This required a lot of planning and sticking to schedule, but also helped us knock out a lot of things at once.

In the end, our destination wedding ended up being exactly what we wanted to achieve — intimate, small, and representing our love of the outdoors.

Our small Colorado destination wedding. Less than 50 of our closest friends and family.

Our small Colorado destination wedding. Less than 50 of our closest friends and family.

2. Not Choosing a Cliche Wedding Venue

Rustic venues seem to be very trendy right now and Colorado is the definition of rustic, so it was no surprise that when we started looking at wedding venues, we found plenty of well-known, gorgeous, rustic sites for holding a wedding. Unfortunately and fortunately, 90% of these gorgeous ranches and barns were out of our price range. Unfortunately — because look at these amazing venues we could not afford!

Dunton Hot Springs is a restored ghost town tucked deep in a wooded valley, far from civilization. For a whopping $27,000 you can rent this entire town and invite 40 of your most favorite people to celebrate a wedding weekend.

Dunton Hot Springs

Who wouldn’t want to get married under this adorable rustic gazebo at Dunton Hot Springs with that kick-ass waterfall in the background?

Telluride's San Sophia Overlook boasts some pretty darn amazing views. Of course it would - the ceremony site sits at an elevation of 10,500 ft and comes with a huge price tag! And after you're done getting married, you skip off to this incredible cabin on the mountains for your reception.

Telluride’s San Sophia Overlook boasts some pretty darn amazing views. Of course it would – the ceremony site sits at an elevation of 10,500 ft and comes with a huge price tag!

And when you’re done getting hitched at the San Sophia Overlook, you can skip off for a lovely reception on the deck of Gorrono Ranch, which is typically a skier’s mountainside lunch stop during the winter season.

Devil's Thumb Ranch

Ok, seriously. Who wouldn’t want to take pictures in this gorgeous green meadow at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash?

Devil's Thumb Ranch

And then why not finish off your fabulous wedding in a field with a reception in this amazing rustic Broad Axe Barn at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. I dare you to resist having a wedding here!

But fortunately — because these venues were out of our price range, this forced us to think outside of the box and look for venues that were just as amazing, but didn’t come with such a hefty price tag.

Lucky for us, our wedding planner found us a large house in Breckenridge that had only only held a few weddings previously and was exactly what we were looking for without the ridiculous price tag. I fell in love immediately with the views and the gorgeous house and the simple idea that we would be one of the first to do a wedding there. My wedding planner sealed the deal by convincing me we would make this place famous after our wedding.

While it was still not incredibly cheap to rent the house for the required 4-day minimum, in the end we saved a lot of money by going with an unconventional venue that did not come with a lot of rules the popular venues did. The house served as lodging for us and some of our closest friends and family for the entire weekend, so we did not have to pay additional money for lodging or rooms for the bride and groom to get ready in. We were able to bring our own alcohol which saved us tons of money. We were able to set up early and not worry about other weddings being held before or after us. We were able to party as late into the night as we wanted and didn’t have a time restriction for how long we were allowed at the venue. And we were able to hire our own vendors instead of being restricted to a preferred caterer or other vendors the venue preferred.

While we still drooled over having our wedding at one of the above locations, in the end I was so glad that we went with a venue that had not had a million weddings done there before. To this day, I still see wedding after wedding photographed at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, and while they are indeed beautiful, it gets a little boring seeing yet another wedding take place at Wedding Central. When people see photos of our wedding, they are truly seeing one of a kind.

3. Dress Shopping Alone

I have already dedicated an entire post to this topic here. While dress shopping with a huge posse of ten women seems to be the norm these days, I was glad that I did not have this option available to me. Dress shopping alone allowed me to pick the dress I loved without being swayed by others’ opinions and criticisms.

It also allowed me to keep the dress a surprise to not just to my hubby, but everyone that was attending the wedding (okay, so I showed the dress to a few friends, but that’s it!). It meant a lot to me that everyone would be seeing me for the first time in a wedding dress on my wedding day and I was so happy that I had done my dress shopping solo.

4. Getting an Expensive Dress

Yep, you read that right! I bought an budget-buster dress and I have no regrets about it. When I began my dress shopping adventure ten months in advance of my wedding my first thought was, “How in the world am I going to find something I will still like ten months from now!”

You see, I am a bulimic shopper. I buy stuff and return it soon afterwards because I change my mind and regret the purchase. If I can’t even be satisfied with a purchase I have made after a week, I didn’t know how I was going to be satisfied with a dress I had picked ten months prior.

The only way I could possibly assure that I would not have dress regret was to buy a dress that I was completely in love with. Easy enough, right? Not. The dress I ended up falling in love with was twice the original budget I was given by hubby. Luckily, hubby allowed me to get the dress I fell in love with and ten months later I was still in love with that dress and to this day I still can’t help sneaking glimpses of it in photos and in my closet.

While I can’t lie, I did find myself sometimes straying from my dress and feeling twangs of regret, I would always remind myself that I picked my dress for a reason — whether it be that my dress was classic and timeless or that I would not have looked good in a ruffles or that I would not have liked wearing a heavy, grand dress — and I would fall in love with my dress all over again.

Here and there, I also had feelings of regret for purchasing such an expensive dress when I would read some brides saying, in the end, they wish they had just gone with a less expensive dress because on the wedding day, the dress didn’t matter that much and they were in and out of the dress so quickly. But I did not find this to be the case at all. I loved every minute in my dress and the memories I had wearing it will be relived over and over again in photos. Plus, I must have tried my dress on at least a dozen times before the wedding so it wasn’t like I was buying a dress that I only wore one day. I wore that sucker quite a bit. And hey, maybe I’ll still slip into it again later.

My gorgeous lacy Modern Trousseau dress. Worth every penny for that amazing detail.

5. Going Sans-Veil

I knew from the very start that I was not the type of sophisticated bride that would wear a veil. I toyed with the idea of doing a birdcage veil, but even the birdcage veil was too classy and not “fun” enough for my personality. I loooo-ove putting flowers in my hair so, naturally, I was super excited to find an elegant white flower to adorn my hair in lieu of a veil. While some brides don’t feel bridal without the veil, I was ecstatic to skip the veil and look more down-to-earth with a flower. I also saved so much money by skipping a veil that would only be worn for 30 minutes for the ceremony and pictures. My flower was only $48 from Etsy.

I loved my fun hair accessory, and I got to wear it all night, unlike a veil.

5. Not Having a Wedding Party

The first big decision we made was not having a bridal party, including a maid of honor or best man. This decision took a little convincing at first to get hubby on-board since he was a best man for his best friend’s wedding and wanted to “return the favor”.

Hubby and I do not have a lot of close friends in our life that live within a reasonable distance. It seemed unreasonable for us to expect a couple of friends who didn’t live in the same city to try to help out with wedding planning. Besides, we had hired a wedding planner for that purpose anyway.

Other than helping out with the wedding, we couldn’t figure out what other purpose having a bridal party served. We didn’t see the point in having a bunch of our friends parade down the aisle in expensive outfits they would never wear again, and stand at the altar with us while we got married. Although I have never been a bridesmaid myself, I tried to put myself in their shoes and decided if I was a friend, I would much rather be sitting down enjoying the wedding ceremony rather than standing next to the bride and groom the entire time. I loved the idea of just hubby and I standing up front saying our vows and being the center of attention.

By not having a wedding party we were able to save a lot of money on flowers, outfits, and unnecessary gifts. And guess what! Our friends still remained our friends despite the fact that we didn’t give them titles of groomsmen and bridesmaids. And they were still there by our sides while we got ready for our big day!

As far as not designating a best man or maid of honor in order to have witnesses for the wedding, we got lucky there. Colorado does not require witnesses for a marriage license.

See, our friends don't look angry that we didn't make them bridesmaids and groomsmen.

See, our friends don’t look angry that we didn’t make them bridesmaids and groomsmen.

6. Not Having a Registry

One of the things I was adamant about from the start was not having a registry. Before I was engaged I always imagined having a wedding registry would be like Christmas, only 100x better, because we could make a list of all the cool grown-up things we have always wanted for our house and we would actually get everything! I was even more excited at the idea of doing a registry at an outdoor store because it was way more practical for hubby and I to get camping items that we could both use, rather than a cool baking pan that only I would use.

But my mindset changed when I started planning a wedding. After I began reading many wedding blogs and forums, I found that it is more common nowadays for the couple to skip doing the registry since more and more couples are asking their guests to attend expensive destination weddings. Other couples find that they already have everything they could ever need for a house, times two, since they have combined two households, so there is no use in adding more clutter to their house.

Hubby and I fell into both these categories. I felt like we were asking a lot out of our guests to travel and spend the weekend with us for our destination wedding. Most of all though, I wanted to avoid our guests getting us a bunch of unwanted gifts that would only cause more clutter in our already-cluttered home.

Oddly enough, if your reason for not doing a gift registry is to avoid getting unwanted gifts, many wedding forums actually recommend just doing the registry after all. Some say that guests will get you a gift no matter what you tell them and at least it should be a gift that you chose, rather than something you don’t want. But I was convinced that guests would comply with my request for no gifts and understand that there company on our special day, was truly the only gift we wanted.

We ended up still getting a few gifts but fortunately, most gifts were in the form of cash or gift cards. And among the “real” gifts we received, they were mostly unique items that we ended up loving. All in all, I’m glad that we skipped the gift registry.

My favorite wedding gift from hubby’s friends Doug and Jess. A ceramic fish from Mexico. I had eyed a similar one of these in their house several months prior to the wedding and somehow they remembered how much I loved their fish and asked a relative to find one in Mexico for us. Sooo incredibly thoughtful! Much better than plates or a new coffee pot!

7. Sleeping Together the Night Before

Gasp! Yes, I know! We totally broke tradition on this one and slept in the same room the night before the wedding.

When we told hubby’s dad that we would be sharing the same room the night before the wedding, he was quite a bit surprised by this decision. While it might have been fun to stay up late the night before partying and talking with each of our friends and sleep in separate bedrooms, this just wasn’t a practical idea for us. We had rented a large home that doubled as our venue and trying to rearrange sleeping arrangements for that one night would have been a mess.

Getting another hotel room would not have been an ideal option either because we had already shoveled out big bucks for the venue with the thought that it would include cost of lodging so we didn’t want to shovel out even more money for separate hotel rooms the night before.

I did worry that sleeping with hubby the night before the wedding would make it feel less special and not build up the excitement of seeing him on the wedding day, but by the time the wedding came, I was running around so much in the days leading up to the wedding that I ended up being way too exhausted to care about sleeping in separate bedrooms the night before. I was looking forward to finally having a quiet moment alone with hubby at the end of the day! And anyway, it sure was nice also waking up to my soon-to-be hubby next to me on our wedding day with this gorgeous view of the mountains!

8. Doing a First Look

I have already talked about this here and my waffling decision to do a first look, but I definitely don’t regret doing a first look and was glad I got some extra time to spend with my hubby before we got married. In fact, I wish we had had more alone time to ourselves without the cameras there, because once the wedding started, we never had any other intimate moment alone with each other.

And as far as having that special moment seeing each other during the ceremony, hubby was still touched seeing me walk down the aisle. And me…. I bawled my eyes out walking down the aisle!

Hubby wiping away tears. You’d think he’s never seen a girl in a pretty white dress before or something!

9. Walking Down the Aisle Alone

This is another topic I spoke about previously here. Walking down the aisle alone was one of my favorite decisions I made! While I was nervous about walking down the aisle alone, on the day of the wedding, all this anxiety disappeared! I was so touched seeing everyone stand for me (just for me!!!!) when I approached the aisle. I loved being the center of attention and walking myself down the aisle.

Walking down the aisle alone. I'm the star of the show!

Walking down the aisle alone. I’m the star of the show!

10. Wedding Favors and Candy Bars

We I was on the fence about doing wedding favors. While I’m sure that hubby did not want to spend any more money than we were already spending on the wedding, I couldn’t help get carried away with all the cute ideas out there for wedding favors. I have always found candy bars to be silly and a waste of money because in my opinion, most adults do not binge eat candy, especially after eating a huge wedding dinner and having wedding cake. So a candy bar was out of the question.

Fancy wedding candy bar… who could eat all that sugar?! Not me! And not our 30 adult guests either!

I knew I didn’t want anything monogrammed with our names because that was definitely old school and a waste of money.

When we asked our wedding planner on advice about favors she flat out told us not to do them. While there are cute ideas, inevitably, the bride, groom, and wedding planner will end up with a huge load of leftover favors after the party is over. So, as hard as it was to resist doing some of the cute ideas out there, we knew guests would not miss the wedding favors.

We did end up doing mini succulents as our escort cards, so these doubled as wedding favors that guests could take home. At the end of the night, even some of these were left over but we were happy to give them a home! I’m so glad we didn’t waste money on favors we would have had to throw away!

Our succulent escort "cards" that guests could take home.

Our succulent escort “cards” that guests could take home.

11. Getting Cupcakes vs. Cake

Okay, I lied. I couldn’t just narrow it down to “10 best decisions” because I was thrilled with a lot of wedding decisions we made! There was still one more decision I’m glad we made that I just had to mention.

Having the iconic, grand wedding cake seemed like such a great idea until I realized how much of a pain it would be to transport a cake and cut it into 50 pieces! While some people might think that cupcakes don’t scream wedding and make it feel like a birthday party, I was way too excited to do our wood slice cupcake tier to care.

I loved the idea of doing cupcakes that guests could easily pick up from our dessert table if they had room for dessert. Having cupcakes also allowed us to choose a variety of flavors. We choose two fun flavors and one simple flavor. And at the end of the night, we were able to easily store away any extra cupcakes!

I don’t know if the cost was any cheaper doing cupcakes versus a cake, but we like to think we saved money. We had 40 guests and choose to get 60 cupcakes, which were $3 a piece. At the end of the night we only had a handful of cupcakes leftover which we were glad to devour ourselves! YUM!

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