12 Dec Crested Butte Wedding | Hillary and Dave
Hillary and Dave’s Crested Butte Wedding | Colorado Mountain Top Wedding
You never know who you’re going to meet, right?!
About two years ago I was photographing a wedding in Colorado and on the Southwest plane ride home sits next to me Dave. Dave went on and on about his recent adventure in Crested Butte with his girlfriend Hillary. We talked about our shared love of music, adventure, photography and he told me all about his life with his girlfriend as a travel partner and Florida dweller.
We chatted for hours on the plane and I told him that one day when he marries this amazing girl I am going to photograph their Crested Butte wedding in Colorado! Thanks to Instagram, we stayed connected and when Dave proposed to Hillary on the top of Mount Crested Butte I messaged wishing my congratulations and semi joked about when I was coming to photograph their wedding.
I love connections. Fast forward to how excited I was to be with Hillary and Dave during their Crested Butte wedding week with the sweetest friends and family from around the country! Hillary‘s family and friends were from Wisconsin, California and New Mexico. Dave’s family is spread out as well, from Philadelphia, Seattle and Nashville! I met so many fun new friends.
I arrived to meet everyone on Wednesday driving up from Colorado Springs after visiting my mom. The drive was incredible. I seem to say that every new place I visit is my favorite, but seriously if you haven’t done the 5 hour drive from Denver to Crested Butte, I recommend it highly! The 5 hour drive actually took me seven hours because I kept stopping along the road to introduce myself to horses and cows, as well as take photos of the most epic Colorado fall scenery that looked exactly like the thousand-piece puzzle I used to put together as a kid growing up in Minnesota.
The day I arrived in Crested Butte it was about 5pm and the sunlight was absolutely magical on the mountains. I think I might’ve taken 1000 photos just that day traveling! I was warmly welcomed by Dave and Hillary‘s family with a homemade meal by Dave’s mom and some pretty fabulous bourbon from Colorado! I’m telling you that Dave, Hillary and I were meant to be best friends! Fun fact – Hillary LOVES pink and sparkles like us, and Dave loves UNICORNS like us! Hillary was wearing all pink and we spent that evening getting to know each other better and laughing.
On Thursday, a few more of Dave and Hillary’s guests arrived so I made myself busy downtown in Crested Butte in the adorable little shops, taking lots of #DogsOfSaraKauss photos and soaking in the most gorgeous mountain side town. That evening we sat around the most picturesque fire pit with Crested Butte in the background and sipped on bourbon (a common theme here) and I got to know my new friends.
Friday was the day of their Crested Butte wedding rehearsal and we went to the top of the mountain where we were going to be the following day. Through all of this excitement, the amazingly strong, adorable and sweet Hillary is fighting back her exhaustion because of working through life with Lyme Disease. Hillary had shared with me about her struggles with Lyme Disease and mentioned that the weekend might be full of little rest stops for her so she could enjoy her wedding day. I was so impressed with how she never once complained and actually never took a rest. She’s so strong and I encourage you to follow her story by following her Instagram!
We took a truck up the mountain and drove to the top of Mount Crested Butte where Hillary and Dave’s ceremony would be. I was really filled with emotion on that drive. Filled with gratitude that fate had brought us together and they chose to have me as part of their day. As we got to the top and I saw all the chairs lined up ready for tomorrow guests to be seated I definitely was a little choked up listening to Dave’s cousin, who would be their officiant, talk about the stories and delivery of their ceremony he was going to give the next day. I really love when the officiant is connected to the couple.
Hillary and Dave’s Crested Butte wedding day started with the most glorious morning. We started as a group at camp for coffee. Quite a few people in the group were adventure seekers just like Hillary and Dave and ran the Emma Coburn’s 5K Elk Run in downtown Crested Butte. The girls in the group stayed behind for coffee and to prep for Hillary and Dave’s wedding day but we did stop by the start – finish line and had an opportunity to chat with Emma Coburn before her race and that was really fun!
After coffee and 5K shenanigans, Hillary went to have her hair and make up done at the Elevation Salon and Spa. Pat, Dave’s adorable mother, was crafting all of the wedding day flowers throughout the week and they turned out incredible! I did offer to help cut flowers but I’m sorry, Pat, I got sidetracked and never actually created any bouquets! Pat did a beautiful job and made the most gorgeous arrangement of wildflowers, daisies, and roses along with the cutest boutonnieres and flower girl flower crown that you ever saw! Hillary’s details were so well thought out and perfect for her Colorado mountain top wedding, even down to her perfect Kate Spade shoes! She and her parents rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain where they joined Dave and their guests for a beautiful, emotional mountain top ceremony overlooking Crested Butte. After Hillary walked down the aisle, Dave’s cousin told him to take a photo of Hillary! It was so sweet, and came out with a great iPhone photo. After they exchanged vows, in true adventurous fashion Hillary changed (behind a sheet on the mountain top) into a short white mountain biking dress and custom sparkly sneakers! The couple hopped on their bikes and rode down the mountain to share their first ride as husband and wife! It was so special and unique.
Hillary and Dave joined their guests for an intimate dinner reception at Secret Stash Pizzeria where they enjoyed all of the best things; pizza, ice cream, and bourbon! After a full day of getting married, riding down a mountain, and dancing the night away, I couldn’t let them fun end there! I asked if they would be up for a sunrise photo shoot, and they replied, “Sure! What time should we meet you?” After resting for a few hours, we hopped back into nature and did a day-after shoot on the mountain, riding up and down the ski lift overlook the incredible scenery of Crested Butte. The sunrise, golden leaves, and amazing new friends made for the most perfect morning.
Just a note to all adventurous couples out there looking to get married on the side of a mountain, on the tip of a glacier, or in Hawaii on the Blacksand beaches, please call me to photograph your wedding day! Or on a snowcapped hillside in Canada, or amongst the tulips in Holland, or in a sheep filled pasture in Ireland, or a vineyard in Napa. This world is beautiful, and I would love to capture it with you!
Now that you’ve heard my own dear memories of this epic Crested Butte wedding weekend, Hillary and Dave were kind enough to share their own stories below!
How did you two meet?
Tell us about the proposal!
What was your vision / theme for your wedding day?
Dave: I really didn’t have a vision other that it not be a stereotypical wedding. I just wanted to have a weekend-long party with our closest friends on our favorite mountain… and oh by the way we’re going to get married in the middle of it. I didn’t have an intentional theme, but if I had officially declared one, I suspect it would have been “go explore”. Hillary and I both love the outdoors. We love to hike, run, mountain bike, camp, snowshoe… if it’s outside, chances are we like it. I wanted a day without pretension and without the typical wedding weekend schedule that everyone has experienced. To that end we didn’t have a wedding party, because no bridesmaid dress is ever loved by the woman wearing it and no one has ever looked great in a rented tux. These types of things are just added expenses for people and in our opinion take away from the enjoyment of the weekend. We encouraged all of our guests to do as much on their own as they could find interest in doing and we also provided people with some fun options if they weren’t the best to self-motivate. Crested Butte is such an amazing place and most of our family and friends had never been there. We wanted them all to fall in love with the area as much as we have. Based on the feedback we have received I think our plan was a resounding success.
Why did you choose your venue?
Hillary: We wanted to get married in Crested Butte and we wanted to be able to ride our bikes down the mountain after the ceremony. We chose our reception venue because it is our favorite pizza place and who doesn’t love all you can eat extraordinary pizza?!
Dave: We wanted a view of the summit and we wanted to mountain bike after the ceremony. We were completely over the moon when we found out that the resort had a ceremony site at the top of the lift used for the mountain bike park. The views were amazing and we got to mountain bike down after the ceremony. We have some amazing photos from the ceremony and on our bikes thanks to Sara and the crew.
What were your most meaningful detail(s)?
Dave: There’s only one for me… that I got to marry my best friend and the woman I never thought I’d find with my closest family and friends as witnesses.
What traditions did you include?
Dave: I would classify our ceremony as pretty non-traditional. On the surface it probably resembled what people would think of as a traditional service, but there were so many little things that made it ours. We had flowers, but they were done by my mother. We had an officiant, but it was my cousin, who is more like my big brother. We wrote our own vows, but on custom note cards that I designed and printed. We had music, but it was electric guitar playing songs from Stevie Wonder, Queen, and others. We had a processional, but it was only Hillary with her mother and father and it was on a ski lift. We had an exit from the “venue”, but we were on mountain bikes bombing down the mountain in our wedding attire.
What was your favorite moment of your wedding day?
Dave: Mine was definitely seeing Hillary for the first time as she came up the mountain on the chair lift in her dress. Second to that would be mountain biking down to the base area in my tux.
Did you write your own vows?
Dave: Yes. Hillary and I decided that our own words would be far better than any that anyone before us had decided was important. Hillary was concerned I wouldn’t have mine finished early enough so we set a deadline about a month before the wedding. I did mine in less than 10 minutes about a week later. Hillary was still revising hers the night before, maybe even the morning of, the wedding. For me, the right words are almost always the correct words because they are the ones that come without my thinking about them too much and so they are the most accurate to how I truly feel.
What was your biggest challenge during planning, and what did you enjoy most?
Dave: If we had one, I am not recalling it. We didn’t do a lot of planning. We just made a list of things we needed to get done and took care of them one at a time. Deciding on which pizzas (yes, our main course was all you can eat gourmet pizza) took a long time, but only because they are all so delicious.
What advice would you give to brides planning their wedding?
Dave: You do you. Don’t over think it. Don’t let other people (parents or otherwise) dictate how you should live your life. Make decisions together with your future spouse and move on. Make your day an accurate reflection of who you are as a couple. These are all simple attitude and perspective adjustments. Just own it.
Why did you choose Sara Kauss Photography?
Dave: First, we didn’t chose Sara, she chose us. Sara is an absolutely amazing photographer. Anyone can take a photo. Lots of people can take great photos. That’s not a photographer in my mind. It takes a special person to be a true photographer… obviously you have to be great at taking photos, but you also have to have a special perspective and attitude that I don’t think can be taught. We are so fortunate that Sara agreed to fly to Colorado, drive 5 hours, and be our photographer. I can’t imagine having anyone else behind the lens. I met Sara on a plane about a year before we got engaged. I was really impressed with her photojournalistic style. It was so different than the typical wedding photographer. I showed Hillary her instagram account and she agreed with my assessment. Once we were engaged and started planning things, Sara was front and center for us. We knew that if she was available, there would be no better match for us. Working with Sara was a breeze. She is such a warm, loving, and fun person. We are truly thankful that we also now get to call her our friend.