How to plan a small dream wedding in Summit County
Weddings have changed.
Before the pandemic hit in March, weddings were the ultimate large gathering. They were an excuse to bring the old and the young together to celebrate love and tradition.
Now, weddings look much different, but that doesn’t mean the charm isn’t there anymore. Couples who decided not to postpone their wedding amid the pandemic are now reimagining their big day to be a little smaller.
“Many couples have decided to do smaller, more intimate weddings,” said Christine Ashburn, owner of The Soiree Studio. “As long as they’re able to still have their wedding in the county in which it’s taking place and make it happen with current government regulations, they don’t want to wait. They want to celebrate their love.”
Smaller, more intimate weddings are nothing new. Wedding planners are accustomed to putting together events of all sizes.
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While many worry that the smaller wedding means fewer traditions and less fanfare, Ashburn said people should not be concerned.
“The biggest misconception that people have is that they can’t incorporate all the traditions they would in a bigger wedding,” she said.
Budgeting for a smaller wedding
First, couples should consider their budget. While a smaller wedding means fewer people to pay for, it doesn’t necessarily mean the event will be cheaper overall. Many couples still manage to use up a large budget on a small wedding because they end up paying for more features that might not be as affordable for a large wedding.
“People still have budgets for larger weddings,” said Elizabeth Long, owner of Distinctive Mountain Events. “Doing a smaller wedding, they can get everything they want.”
With fewer people to feed, couples who have smaller weddings are able to splurge on flowers, decorations, drinks and more.
“Even if they get married and their guest numbers are a lot smaller, they still want to put that effort into making it an incredible event,” said Samantha Robertson, lead planner at Go Bella. “They’re spending a lot more time and attention to creating a spectacular time for the guests that do come.”
For couples who are looking to cut costs on their big day, a smaller wedding can help. While a smaller wedding can allow for couples to spend more on the finer details, it also creates room for a couple to save some money.
“Just in terms of food and beverage, when you have a smaller guest count, your price per person can go down quite a bit,” Ashburn said. “You don’t have as many tables to decorate, as much to spend on florals without having a big bridal party.”
Couples who want to save should look into what they really need compared to what they want. Robertson said she’s seen many couples opt for a guitarist or live singer instead of a band or DJ, which would cost more.
“Things like, if you’re going to pay for the bridesmaid dresses,” she said. “If you just have the maid of honor, one person standing up with you versus eight bridesmaids, you can definitely cut there.”
Enjoying the day
At a typical wedding, couples can be so busy greeting guests and making sure everything goes smoothly that they lose sight of the true stars of the day: themselves.
With a small wedding, couples are given the opportunity to enjoy each other more and make the day about celebrating their love.
“It gives couples and their guests more time and space to share and enjoy with those they hold nearest and dearest to them,” Ashburn said. “When you have a small guest count, you have more time to have meaningful interactions with those you’re close to.”
Long said she often sees couples at larger weddings getting wrapped up in the needs of their parents or extended family. Smaller weddings provide the space to enjoy each other more.
“They get to spend more time with the people that are truly close to them,” she said. “Oftentimes, I have couples saying, ‘Oh, yeah, my parents have a guest list of 50, and I don’t even know them.’ So it brings it back to the couple and not just the parents having an event, as well.”
Couples shouldn’t be fooled, however. When it comes down to the details involved in a smaller wedding, there’s still a lot to be done.
“Some brides love it, running around with curlers in their hair with their finger on everything,” Robertson said. “Some brides, they want to have that date, especially in the mornings, to be pampered and enjoy the buildup to it, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. So I would still recommend getting a planner for the wedding just so they can enjoy the time with their family and friends.”
Small weddings in Summit County
There’s a host of venues in Summit County that are perfect for a small wedding.
Robertson said she loves to host weddings at the Breckenridge Nordic Center.
“It’s just such a pretty space with the open windows and colorful wood,” she said. “It’s lovely.”
Sapphire Point Overlook is another favorite location for small weddings, even in the winter. The backdrop of Dillon Reservoir and the mountains creates a romantic feel.
Ashburn said one of her favorite venues is Ten Mile Station at the Breckenridge Ski Resort, which can accommodate large and small parties. The size of a venue is a major factor when planning a small wedding, Ashburn said.
“You want to make sure that the space is not too big so that your smaller guest count isn’t going to get lost in the space,” she said. “You want something with a really romantic ambiance. And then, of course, all the typical things you look for in any venue: excellent food, excellent service.”
When couples plan a wedding in Summit County, they should be prepared for a unique experience.
For one, couples should be prepared for higher lodging prices during the ski season. They also should plan to have weddings later in the day if they’re looking for a venue at a ski area.
Couples who are from out of state should look into hiring a local wedding planner and local vendors, Ashburn said.
“Someone local is going to be able to help them navigate unique challenges in the mountains and a winter wedding,” she said.
This story previously published in the winter 2020-21 edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.
Even smaller weddings have a lot of details. Here’s some of what couples should think about before the big day:
Venue: Find a spot that is small enough so your guests don’t get lost but big enough to accommodate physical distancing.
Photographer and videographer: If there’s one thing a couple should splurge on, it’s a good videographer, Robertson said.
Food and drinks: Fewer guests means lower costs, so couples should look into having higher-quality food if they have the money in their budget.
Music: A large dance floor can be overwhelming at a small wedding. Instead of a full band or DJ, look into having one live musician instead.
Flowers and decorations: Fewer guests means more money for the little things. Don’t be afraid to splurge on a romantic ambiance.
Wedding parties: A small wedding shouldn’t be overloaded with a ton of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Look into possibly having just one or two people at the altar.
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