Mallory Munson Photography
How couples can navigate planning a wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic
Denver couple Tassi Herrick, 33, and Justin Keith, 37, have been engaged for nine months and planned to get married in Belize on May 1, 2020. They’d booked a catamaran tour, a crab shack rehearsal dinner and a private beach for their ceremony with family and friends.But as their date approached, COVID-19 revealed itself as a serious threat to public health. “I think it was that week of St. Patty’s Day when everything got a lot more serious,” Herrick says. “It was becoming very apparent that [our wedding] probably wasn’t going to happen.”
Herrick and Keith are just one of many couples in Colorado and around the country facing the uncertainty of a wedding during a pandemic. With many venues still closed and travel restrictions still enforced in many cities and counties, it can be difficult for engaged couples to know what to do if they must change their plans.
Luckily, several hotels, venues and vendors in Colorado are working with couples who may have had to change their plans and still want to get married this summer. Here, experienced professionals share their thoughts about the special day.
Wedding photographer Jennie Crate offers new options and alternatives for engaged couples. She’s noticed a wide variety of reactions from couples who had planned to get married this year.“Some really want to have the celebration they were hoping for,” Crate says. Those couples, she explains, are waiting until next year and hoping things look different in 2021. On the other hand, the couples who really want to get married this year might be choosing to significantly decrease their guest count — or might even choose to elope on or near their chosen date.
“For couples, it comes down to what their priorities are,” Crate says. “There’s no right answer,” she says, but adds that “the elopement option is safer right now for people who really want to get married this year.”
In terms of silver linings, Crate has seen that this time forces people to think about what’s really important to them, “so they can design a celebration that can encapsulate what matters to them the most.”
Leslie Heins of Affair with Flair — which she began with business partner Lisa Cook 36 years ago — has thrown elaborate events for small groups as well as big weddings of 500 or more people. “We’re the grandmothers of this industry,” Heins says. “We’ve done it all.”
Yet they’ve never encountered anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. “This has decimated the event industry,” Heins says. Every one of their 2020 weddings has been rescheduled to 2021. “Most of the [couples] we know doing this are waiting a year and will have a wonderful party then,” she adds.
Trudy Lundberg of Design Works Denver is another industry professional who typically schedules four or five weddings a month in the summer, working with planners as well as brides and grooms directly.
“Ninety percent of our brides are all postponing until next year,” Lundberg says, while others are hoping to do small, intimate, socially distant dinners instead. “Our hearts go out to these brides,” she adds.
Design Works is working with brides who want to postpone their weddings to figure out the same season, the same flowers and the same experience they’d hoped for, or as near as possible. This involves making sure all the vendors, from entertainment to caterers to venues, are on the same page. “It’s a team effort to get a wedding going,” Lundberg says.
And while it’s certainly sad to have to cancel a wedding celebration, love itself cannot be canceled.
“In our industry, it’s all about how you look at things. It’s all about perspective,” Heins says.
Engaged couple Herrick and Keith take a similar stance. “We still have each other, we still have our house, we have our friends and family,” Herrick says, “and we know they’re ready for Keith wedding 2.0, so hopefully we get to have it.”
Saying I Do This Summer
Still getting married this year and wondering about options? Here are some venues in Colorado where couples can enjoy a small group gathering and still celebrate their nuptials. Plus, you’ll always have great stories about how you got hitched in a pandemic.
At The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, staff have stepped up sanitation and safety measures and gatherings are currently limited to no more than 50 people. This month, that number may increase to as many as 250 people. Either way, wedding guests have plenty of room to spread out on the property’s 4,000-square-foot lawn, with views of Beaver Creek Mountain and the soothing babble of the Eagle River.Couples can take advantage of new summer catering menus at The Westin, including a taco stand on the Maya Terrace ($25/person) with an optional Mexican tequila bar and live acoustic music, or a BBQ and Bluegrass gathering on the Wedding Lawn ($35pp) with live music by The Riverfront Ramblers and optional Colorado Craft Brew beer sampling stations. The Garden Party on the elegant Riverside Terrace ($65/person) features a chef demo, a welcome cocktail and a plated three-course dinner with an optional classical guitar performance.
The Maven Hotel at the Dairy Block is a prime choice for celebrating in an urban industrial environment. The hotel has enhanced its safety and cleanliness protocols, including increased cleaning of high-touch areas, hand sanitizer stations throughout Dairy Block, and extended room vacancies between reservations.The Maven recently rolled out an offer for couples to hold an intimate ceremony in the Windsor event space, free of charge. The offer began on May 15th and has been extended through the end of July. Each bridal party will be limited to nine people total (including an officiant, photographer, and family and friends). Post-ceremony, couples can order to-go food and drink, or plan to take advantage of the “Suite Life” package: a hotel suite for $269/night complete with wet bar and balcony views of downtown Denver, plus complimentary parking, early check-in and late check-out.
“We wanted to focus on something positive like celebrating love while also activating our gorgeous Windsor Room and Alley this summer,” says General Manager Gerry Link. “The response has been incredible — we were thrilled to expand the offer to give even more couples the chance to officially start their lives together.”
The Broadmoor — Colorado Springs’ most elegant hotel and resort — is closely monitoring the pandemic situation and following all federal, state and local mandates. When it comes to wedding ceremony and receptions, they’re extending their 2020 wedding package pricing into 2021 to provide some relief to any couples who must pivot from their original wedding plans.
Yet, the “Intimate Celebration” offers a way for couples to celebrate their day with up to eight friends and family while the Broadmoor takes care of all the details — a lovely option for executing a smaller 2020 wedding.
“The Broadmoor has always been a full-scale resort that can keep guests entertained for days on end,” says Katie Hogan, Catering Sales Manager for The Broadmoor. “With no reason to leave the resort, our couples can be sure that they are providing their guests with a fun-filled wedding weekend experience without the stress of continued weekend travel. We continue to offer the level of service on which we built our reputation, all while keeping our guests’ safety and comfort front-of-mind.”
In Tabernash, Devil’s Thumb Ranch has remained committed to upholding high standards of cleanliness to provide a safe environment for guests and staff. The 6,500 acres of open spaces and outdoor activities help guests to easily and naturally stay safely distanced.For weddings, Devil’s Thumb Ranch offered a unique opportunity on June 27 known as Micro Weddings. The one-time exclusive, curated celebration to be married at Devil’s Thumb Ranch offered three spots, booked on a first-come, first-served basis.
Additionally, Devil’s Thumb offers a Mountain Elopement package and a Small Wedding package. Elopements include a mountain-view ceremony, four-hour private dining experience and two nights in a lodge room. The Small Wedding expands the gathering to up to 10 people (including the officiant) and includes discounted lodging for all parties. As state restrictions loosen, the guest count could increase to up to 50.
Celebrate Wherever … and Whenever … You Want
Still not sure where you want to hold your special day? Close your eyes and think about that special place, that picturesque setting or unique venue that evokes a feeling of joy. Got it? Good. Now think about getting married in that setting. Yes, gather your family and friends, and Peak Beverage Catering will do the rest. They’ll bring the wedding to you.Already this summer, the nimble beverage catering company has done several impromptu weddings and events, all in accordance with state and local mandates. Each wedding is guaranteed to bring on the fun and bring out the originality of the happy couple. Peak specializes in spaces that have no onsite catering, so a wedding can be held in your venue of choice. The team has strong ties to other vendors, from food to décor to florists, meaning one-stop shopping for allyour wedding needs.
Peak Beverage owns a liquor store as well as a catering company, providing fun opportunities to create a unique and memorable wedding experience. “Everyone who works in our liquor store is a bartender, so they are all very familiar with an array of cool products that make a signature drink unique and delicious. Our mixologists will help couples design and create a signature cocktail, complete with all ingredients. This really is a cocktail concierge service, and a turnkey way to get the party started,” says Adam Douglas, partner in Peak Beverage Catering.
Many couples order cocktail kits to enhance the experience, creating a do-it-yourself theme that guests love. The ready-to-go cocktail kit is complete with alcohol, mixers, bitters and every ingredient needed for a backyard wedding. The kits are available as a single-serving option or in larger format. For more elaborate offerings, a similar kit includes all equipment found in an actual bar, including cocktail shakers and more. Partnerships with local distilleries and vendors enables Peak to deliver the works, from ice to equipment and everything in between – and best of all, delivery is free.
If you prefer more emphasis on a catered theme, Peak will step in to handle the details. “The fun part of this type of event is we can create a batch cocktail that is unique for the couple. The cocktail is premade in our facility in a sterilized, safe environment and brought to the event. This limits contact and cocktails can be served from a station for the cocktail hour. The bar is always a popular go-to at weddings, and here again guests can feel confident ordering a beverage from a bartender ensconced behind a plexiglass shield.”