Keystone Ski Resort is an incredible place to host your destination Colorado mountain wedding!
I’ve photographed nearly 200 beautiful weddings during my wedding photography career here in Colorado. There are so many lovely places to tie the knot in this huge state that I’ve always known I’m just scratching the surface when it comes to seeing all of the incredible wedding venues out there. I think the views are always one of the most important things to consider, particularly for a destination wedding. Since family and friends are traveling so far, it’s nice to have a place to gather that is really going to wow them. Last Friday was actually my first time photographing a wedding celebration on top of the mountain at Keystone Resort and boy, did it deliver!
Double the amount of Gondolas!
One of the coolest parts about hosting a destination wedding at a ski resort in Colorado is getting to ride a lift or a gondola up the mountain. It may seem like old hat for the locals, but there is something really special about taking a serene ride up the mountain soaking up the gorgeous views. (Actually, I grew up here and no, it doesn’t seem like old hat. Not even for us!) For a lot of guests, this might be their first time getting to experience this most basic part of mountain culture and they don’t even have to strap on skis to do it. It’s a sure-fire way to impress them from the very start of your wedding day. What I like about getting married at the Alpenglow Stube or Timber Ridge at Keystone is that you get to ride not just one gondola, but two! At the base of the mountain you’ll hop onto the River Run Gondola and once you reach Summit House and Schoolmarm run you’ll take a short little walk over to the Outpost Gondola for another ride up to the top of North Peak.
Your bar tab might go further here!
At the top of North Peak where Alpenglow Stube and Timber Ridge are located, it’s a whopping 11,444 feet in elevation. Guests coming to Colorado from sea level might need a couple days to acclimate but the views from up here are one of a kind. Plus, that open bar will hit them harder and faster so be sure they’re taking in lots of water with those drinks. The food at Alpenglow Stube is seriously gourmet so getting enough food in your guests at dinner will be no problem at all.
Colorado winter weddings are even more magical!
I mostly photograph summer weddings at ski resorts, but I find that a winter wedding on top of the mountain has a certain je ne sais quoi. The weather most certainly becomes a key player in the day, but it turns an already special event into something seriously otherworldly. This was the atmosphere we encountered at Chandler and Nick’s wedding on Friday. Their wedding day was the first day of what basically turned into snowpocalypse here in Colorado. (Seriously, I have lived here my whole life and have never seen avalanches like we’ve seen this past week and a half!) Luckily for them, because it was the first day of tons of snow falling, it didn’t impact the travel conditions too much and everyone arrived safe and sound for their wedding. I admit, when I arrived in Keystone, I was a little disappointed for Chandler and Nick and their families because there were ZERO views when we first started photographing. We made it through all of their pre-ceremony portraits with a gorgeous snowy winter wonderland as their backdrop. But, I know the views are a huge plus when photographing at a ski resort.
Consider hosting your winter wedding outside, even if it’s snowing.
Chandler and Nick are total badasses and decided they were going to do their ceremony outside despite the chilly weather. Afterall, they traveled long distances to celebrate and a short amount of minutes of discomfort would be worth the pretty pictures.
They had planned ahead with custom printed fuzzy blankets with their names and wedding date on them as a gift for their guests. So everyone gamely bundled up and marched outside to Anticipation run where the chairs had been set up by the Keystone Resort staff. They all settled in and snuggled up with each other while they waited for the ceremony to begin.
My assistant and I had privately lamented about how sad it was that the views were so obscured. But wouldn’t you know it, as the ceremony went on, the sky miraculously started to clear and the majestic mountain views off in the distance started to show up! I seriously wanted to jump in the air when I saw that (both because I was freezing and needed to keep warm and because I was excited that their wedding pictures would have some mountains in them!) I had three spare camera batteries tucked away in my bra to keep them warm in case of the cold weather sucking all of the power out of my cameras and I am still shocked to report that not a single one of them died on me! That’s just one little anecdote for how wonderful their outdoor wedding ended up being!
There’s nothing quite like a cozy mountain cabin wedding reception.
I have a theory that the best wedding receptions are those where your guests are a little bit trapped there with you. Ok, maybe “trapped” is a bit of a harsh way to say that. But what I mean is, making it a bit of a destination to both arrive and leave your wedding is a good thing. It makes it easy for guests to go all in on a celebration. They’re more prepared to stick it out longer and really party with you. Often times, there is very little cell phone reception on a mountain too. I know this makes some people really antsy, but I personally love that. It provides an even better atmosphere to allow people to let go and truly enjoy the moments they are in rather than burying their noses in their little pocket computers. And they can’t just run off and uber their way back to the hotel on a whim. As much as I’m a fan of a good Irish Goodbye, I don’t love them at weddings. Part of the charm of a wedding on top of a Colorado mountain is that it really becomes a true escape and hopefully becomes a beautiful memory for everyone involved.
Be sure to check out my favorite highlight photos from Chandler & Nick’s beautiful wedding day below!
Be sure to check out the Colorado Mountain Venue section of my site for more Colorado mountain destination wedding venue ideas for your wedding!