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Aspen Ranch Wedding by Olivia Rae James

We’re so grateful for our sweet brides & grooms who shared their stories with us. Our BEST OF 2016 .

If you’re thinking New Year’s resolutions are a silly tradition, you might think again once you hear this delightful story from the groom in today’s wedding…
In January 2011, Kate made two New Years resolutions: 1. To dress more ladylike and 2. To adopt a No Fear mentality for that year. It was Resolution #2 that prompted Kate to ask me on our first date. Kate arrived at the agreed Brooklyn restaurant in a Ford pick up truck, with a can of Budweiser in the cup holder playing Bruce Springsteen—for a boy from England, that was it. Continuing with the No Fear theme, date two was a trip to visit Kate in Aspen, where she was working at the time. A few days turned into a week with convenient snow storms stopping all flights; it was during this week that our love for each other began.”

What was the best advice you received as a bride? Take time to step away with your groom and admire the moment. You’ve created the most unbelievable day; you’ve brought your favorite people together in one place for the best party of your life! The perfect wedding gown is a mix of elegance and comfort.

“Our wedding was inspired by our annual trip to the Wilderness Music Festival that is a wonderful celebration of arts, music, food, and wildlife in the majestic woods of a stately home in the Cotswolds. The wonderfully decorated tents and costumes are mind blowing—as is the music, food trucks and pop-up restaurants. We even rented festival flags from a man in Cornwall, England—Ben’s home town—who supplies the flags for Glastonbury Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in the UK. Ben’s brother brought them over in his suitcase!”

 We had great wedding planners—Gold Leaf Event Design—and our best friend Phil is an event designer who helped us with a lot of playful details too. Most important was it felt more like a festival of love than a wedding, and the location really solidified that—a big open ranch with mountains all around. Those mountains are magic and everyone felt the love.

Our dear dear friend Nigel Winser. He is a world renowned explorer and conservationist and speaks so beautifully. He knew exactly what we wanted.

We surprised our guests with a reading that turned into a song—the band popped out of the trees! Our very talented and wild friend Jamie, our official MC, lead the crowd in “When I’m 64” by the Beatles. Such great lyrics. It was priceless.

The location. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. My father and I hid in a teepee a few hundred yards away and walked a very long beautiful walk to the altar. I wanted to have this long walk to slow down the moment and really remember it.

 Very sadly, Ben’s stepfather Charles could not be there, as he was very ill back in England. To include him in the ceremony, we had a friend holding her cell phone with Charles on FaceTime. We even sent him a cowboy hat to don during the ceremony. He passed away a few months after the ceremony. We were happy he was able to see us marry, and now he will always be with us in spirit.

Music and food is most important. Keep both simple and quality. The songs people want to sing to, the food people want to eat. Nothing fancy. Always buy more booze than you think! Also, if you want to save a few bucks, e-mailed Save The Dates are just fine and the welcome bag is overrated in my eyes. An itinerary of the weekend at the hotel for each guest is fine enough—make sure to have all info online too.

“We found the most beautiful ranch land for our wedding. There was a ranch hand on the property that became our great friend, Arturo, and he helped us build the festival. For the structure we were married under, he found us fallen Aspen trees and we all built it together. My favorite part was Tipi Village. We drove two hours away for the tipis to a small village in the mountains. It took us two days to work out how to get those things up – the top knot was very challenging!”

Blow up more 6 foot helium balloons. They took way longer than we thought! And were the coolest things ever. So basically, nothing.

As the night picked up, our guests began getting into costume and suddenly I saw a rabbit head and giant carrot dancing with a galaxy girl. Benj is a big fan of “fancy dress” as he calls it – it makes everyone let go of all inhibitions. We have a Fancy Dress Box in our parlor at home. It’s very important to never take yourself too seriously.