How to Plan the Perfect Summer Wedding in Aspen, Colorado
The summer wedding season is coming in hot and we’ve got what you need most right now – advice, tips, and ideas – as you plan your big day in Aspen! We sat down with two talented and well connected local wedding planning experts – Jen Hartley of Aspen Event Solutions and Juls Sharpley of Bubbles and Bowties – to help us lay out some key points to keep in mind.
It’s Summer Wedding season! What is your #1 piece of advice to make sure things stay on track and planning goes smoothly?
“Hire a planner! Seriously, there’s no better way to stay on track,” says Juls. A planner will give you the confidence that things are being taken care of correctly and eliminate the stress of taking care of every little detail. To Jen, “the Summer Wedding Season is four months of wonderful craziness.” The quiet months leading up to your big summer day are really the keys to success – April and May in particular are imperative planning months for a successful summer wedding in Aspen, so hiring a planner ensures everything stays on schedule.
What are the most important details (that often go overlooked) to guarantee a successful Summer Wedding in Aspen?
Lighting: Lighting is so important! Jen stresses the importance of lighting in every detail “Lighting a pathway, a food station, the dance floor, the trees, the cake, the Father of the Bride giving his toast – lighting is often overlooked and can make all the difference in the world. The colors, tones, and brightness all play a role and create an atmosphere, vibe and mood. Changing this lighting as the evening progresses will transition your guests and the mood throughout the night.”
Tenting: Other than having the obvious reception tent, don’t forget about ceremony tents. While you may have open sky seating, one main detail that goes overlooked is tenting for the ceremony musicians. A great reminder from Juls! “Don’t forget a small tent to protect both the musicians and their very delicate instruments. They should tell you what they require, but you may need to request this information. It would be heartbreaking for them to refuse to play because they aren’t protected/covered from the sun and/or weather.”
Weather: Juls also reminds us to “have a weather back-up plan – you are in the mountains where the weather isn’t always perfect.” You need a great solution for your guests in the event that your planned outdoor elements go awry, so be sure to arrange a weather back up plan with your event planner.
Do you have any tips on how to choose a Summer Wedding venue in the Aspen area?
There are so many wonderful venues, and choosing one can feel like as big of a decision as buying a house! You have to visit each site and you must have a connection with it. Here are some tips from Juls Sharpley of Bubbles and Bowties on how to pick the perfect venue:
- Make sure that the venue really fits your budget. Your venue plus catering should be no more than 50% of your budget. If it’s even lower than that, it just means you have that much more room to do what you want.
- The venue should fit your max anticipated guest count PLUS whatever other elements are very important to you (band and stage with an appropriately sized dance floor, lounge areas, photobooth, dessert station, oxygen bar, custom hat making, balloon installations, etc).
- Venue curfew and anticipated schedule including any band or DJ time allotments. You want to make sure that you get the full bang for your buck out of your entertainment for the evening!
What are your favorite venues for a Summer Wedding in the Aspen area?
Jen Hartley from Aspen Event Solutions shares why these venues made the top of her list for hosting a summer wedding.
This gem is absolutely pristine with exquisite grounds. A ceremony and cocktails in front of the pond and barn is perfection. The green grass, reflection from the water, and rolling mountains create a magical “golden hour!” When the ceremony and cocktail hour is over, open the doors into the arena where you can take your guests into another world. The sky is the limit, as this is the largest indoor venue in the Valley. Cocktails can be served in one area, dinner in another. Then, create a late night unveiling of the after party, all in one space. Bring in your choice of caterer, bar service, entertainment and décor, creating your entire vision from beginning to end.
T Lazy 7
The meadow at T Lazy 7 has the most incredible views of the Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed mountains in the world and a must see in the Valley. Getting married with this as your backdrop is another level! You can host the ceremony, reception, and tented dinner with dancing all right there. The lodge has a commercial kitchen on site, so you do not have to build out a kitchen. You can bring your own caterer in, and T Lazy 7 handles the bar. The property is very beautiful and historic, and also close to town and the National Forest.
Top of Ajax Mountain
When in Aspen you should definitely go to the “top of the (our) world” and take it all in: it’s surreal! The wedding deck has an insane view, making for the perfect ceremony spot that will most definitely impress guests. Following a picturesque ceremony, the wedding reception afterwards can be held at The Little Nell‘s Aspen Mountain Club and Lodge at 11,212 feet, where guests ride up and down the gondola. The folks at The Little Nell can cater your event and take care of important details – they have seen it all and understand luxury at its finest.
Summer Weddings in Aspen can get hot! Any tips to make sure heat is not an issue at a Summer Wedding?
Plan your ceremony time accordingly. “The later in the day, the lower the sun, and the better for everyone.” Juls recommends.
The Colorado sun can be intense in the summer. Provide shade for your guests and get creative with a beautifully tented event and keep everyone comfortable while outdoors. Jen makes a great point that “during the hot months of July and August, avoid clear top tents. The sun can beat down and heat the tent up to uncomfortable temperatures on a hot day.” If you really want to have a clear top tent in those months, ask your rental company to tarp the roof until right before guest arrival. For any non-tented outdoor portion of the day, Jen added a fun tip to “think about giving guests a nice looking, hand held umbrella or fan to hold.” Juls adds the suggestion to incorporate one of her personal favorite vendors, Aspen Event Imprints, who offers on-demand, custom hat printing at your event. Not only will it keep guests’ heads covered from the sun, it’s also “so much fun and a HUGE hit with guests!!”
Make sure there are cold water stations everywhere! Hydration is so important in the mountains, especially for guests who aren’t used to the elevation. If you are hosting guests outside for any amount of time, it is a good idea to have plenty of water available. Jen suggests to “infuse it with something refreshing like cucumber and mint, or try the unexpected like basil, lavender or thyme.”
What are some unique local activities to offer wedding guests during their stay?
Created by local yoga instructor Courtney Smith, Thug Yoga is designed to bridge the gap between intense yogis and those who just want a great stretch. According to Juls, what makes this yoga so thug is “the classes have hilarious user friendly names such as Snoop Downward Facing Dogg; and, the best part is that students are offered an Aspen Brewing Company beer to sip on as they stretch!”
Aspen Music Festival and School
For something a little less thug and a little more classic, check out the Aspen Music Festival and School. During the summer months, students come from all over the world to the Summer campus for learning, musical events and concerts. Jen boasts “they have a renowned alumnus and help to create some of the best classical musicians in the world.” The students often play on the mall outside in the early evenings and you can book them for your events through the school.
What’s new in the Aspen/Roaring Fork Valley to keep in mind when planning a Summer Weddings?
Jen’s own Aspen Event Solutions is a new luxury staffing and production partnership company that offers knowledge and connections to vendors and venues. Think of AES as a concierge to event producers in Aspen – whether you are a bride and groom doing it yourself, a vendor, or a planner/event producer creating your event in Aspen, Jen is here, “on the ground,” to help you navigate Aspen.
Jen Hartley, Aspen Event Solutions
Jen Hartley has been in the event, food and beverage industry over 30 years, where she worked her way up to Director of Marketing, Catering and Events at the Caribou Club. Jen has a love for luxury, fine dining, and a great party – and her role in Aspen as an event planner couldn’t be more perfect! And so, she started her own event company, Aspen Event Solutions. Jen finds her career as more of a passion that is “awesome and rewarding.” Her favorite part of it all is the people. “I love, love, love making people happy!” She takes pride in being a small part in helping two people celebrate an important life moment. She also loves the perk of “getting to eat the leftover cake.” 🙂
Juls Sharpley, Bubbles and Bowties
Juls Sharpley has been working in the event planning industry for 3 years. Prior to that, she was a ski pro where she found herself an integral part of making family vacations the best they can be. On this career path, Juls learned that “the most important part of my job is making sure that each member of the family has the best vacation ever.” This translates really well to weddings, where Juls founded her event company, Bubbles and Bowties to truly make each person’s wedding the best day of their lives. She keeps this thought as her focus throughout planning, execution, and problem solving day-of, always having the client’s best interest in mind: “I love at the end of the day when couples tell me everything was PERFECT. Because, it should be!”