Ally & Jake's quirky, rainy-day wedding and barn party in the mountains

Updated Oct 12 2015
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Photos courtesy of Sarah Lee Welch Photography

The offbeat bride: Ally, Grad Student

Her offbeat partner: Jake, Engine Mechanic

Location & date of wedding: Three Sisters Park, an outdoor meadow in Evergreen, CO and then a local barn for the reception — June 13, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We did things our way, and man, we caught some flack for it! But, we pulled off exactly what we wanted and couldn't be happier. We are outdoorsy, snowboarders who got engaged on the slopes, so we wanted to keep everything laid back and fun in the beauty of the mountains. AJ Wedding-166

We got married in the middle of June, but the weather was typical of the Rocky Mountains- unpredictable! The temperature stayed below fifty degrees and it was raining off and on throughout the day. Because it was so chilly, I wore a green sweater that matched my bright green shoes perfectly (my mom thought it was appalling). We kept the ceremony family only (except for our four-person wedding party) and walked out to a field without music, chairs, or props. AJ Wedding-479

We had a simple, short, heart-felt ceremony. Then it was off to party! We found a nearby barn that the owner had built and turned into an event center, so we created our own barn-party. We served BBQ and a dessert buffet (no cake for us). We didn't want the garter toss, bouquet toss or cake cutting, but we did want to dance! We spent most of our time dancing and it was awesome.
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I DIYed everything: I bought all of the blue/green/white old-fashioned vase centerpieces from thrift stores, picked the flowers from a green-thumb friend, painted signs, created scrabble eye-candy, found quirky frames from thrift stores and printed off pictures to fill them, and put my brothers in charge of the DJing the playlist we selected for the reception. AJ Wedding-344

All in all, we spent $9,000 on the wedding, which left us plenty of money to party in Costa Rica for the following two weeks! I would not change a thing about how I did my wedding.

Our biggest challenge: My parents are very traditional and paid for the wedding, which resulted in many "discussions" about how I wanted to plan my wedding vs. what they were/were not paying for. As a student, I have very limited financial freedom, so their support was much appreciated, although their input was rarely needed.
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My favorite moment: I was humbled at the amount of support and love from those who know Jake and I. It was extremely intimidating to see everyone who surrounded us, to support our marriage and wish us well in our new lives together. But, I think my favorite moment was walking down the aisle, seeing Jake waiting for me and noticing him crying… a lot. He was really emotional and I was just beaming. It was precious. AJ Wedding-692

My funniest moment: When I was walking down the "aisle" (a hiking trail that led to the meadow), my family was trying to get everyone to quiet down. Because there was no music, every spoken word could be heard. My stubborn grandma is not one to be told what to do, so she yelled, "I will NOT be quiet!!!!" So much for serenity. πŸ™‚

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I really wasn't sure how our MC would do; he is Jake's crazy uncle, who is very unpredictable and outrageous. Aside from bringing his bird along with him to the wedding and reception, he pulled off the role remarkably smoothly! AJ Wedding-24

My advice for offbeat brides: Choose your battles. As much as I did not want my family or friends dictating how I planned my wedding, their opinions still carried enough weight to make me reconsider some of my ideas. I had to decided what I really cared about and what I was willing to let slide for the sake of personal sanity.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Keeping it simple doesn't always mean low stress.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Saphire Pebble Set rings: Etsy from SingleBBeautiful
  • Dress: Amanda's Bridal in Arvada, CO
  • Hair pieces: H&M
  • Green cardigan: Target
  • My green ceremony shoes: Miz Mooz from Nordstrom
  • My fancy reception shoes: Bandalino from Macy's.
  • Picked my flowers from a good friend's backyard
  • Made the rest of the decorations from many thrift store trips.
  • Photographer: Sarah Lee Welch Photography, she was awesome and she really captured the feel of the whole day.
  • Venue: The barn that we used was the perfect venue and the owner was incredibly kind and warm, which was refreshing to find after dealing with many money-hungry event centers.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Can I just say that I LOVE your green sweater (and shoes). Totally making me rethink my purple shoes/outfit, since my favorite colour is green (although my wedding is two weeks away)!
    Beautiful simple ceremony outdoors! Many congrats on your wedding (and I can only hope mine will be as beautiful as yours).

  2. That photo of you with the big black umbrella is just stunning!! my gosh your wedding was beautiful… well done for sticking to your guns and congrats!

  3. SO pretty. Love the idea of having the ceremony out in the midst of the beauty of nature… congratulations!

  4. Yay–AND hell yeah–to being reminded while walking down the aisle to "NOT be quiet!" by a feisty lady! Serenity is best tempered by moxy πŸ˜‰ Best of all? Looks like you got both!

  5. I know it might have been a surprise (and maybe even an unpleasant one), but the picture of the bird at the end is all kinds of awesome.

    It looks like you were surrounded by such love and joy at the wedding! Congratulations!

  6. I'm interested in the small ceremony/big party idea. Can I ask how you phrased your invites, and whether it took a lot of explaining?

    (I have a huge family, and want all my cousins to come and help me celebrate — but the thought of letting them invite guests, then having to say vows in front of a huge crowd of strangers, makes me want to elope!!!)

    • I felt the same way! I hated the idea of sharing such an intimate moment with a crowd. I do have to warn you that this is the area I caught the most flack for, though. I don't regret it and wouldn't change a thing, but it disrupted the traditional thinking associated with weddings.
      As for the invitations, I sent out a general reception invitation worded as follows:
      X and Y
      Invite you to share in celebration of their love and lifelong commitment at their reception. Food and merriment to accompany the festivities.

      I clearly stated word reception in the invitation so no one would have to guess. As for those invited to the ceremony, I told them. I made a very clear line with family only for inviting people to my ceremony. The arbitrary lines can cause hurt feelings.

      Good luck with planning!

  7. I love your shoes, the colour, style and Ohh I want a pair, I think your wedding looked just perfect and Im glad you could stick to your guns even under pressure from your parents, thats hard to do, well done and congrats!

  8. I have that same off-white flower from H&M, and I wore it on the day I became legally common-law married πŸ™‚

  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!!!! We're doing green, too! It's both my and my FH's favorite color, so it's perfect for us. FH thinks it's funny how insanely excited I am about my green shoes, though. I get really, really giddy about them!

  10. Holy cow I almost died when I read this! Your wedding looks like it was AMAZING! I just got engaged and have been trying and trying to find a barn for the reception that isn't a million dollars that will let me do my own thing (which, oddly enough, is very similar to what you did!). Any chance you'll share where this barn is/who it belongs to/are they still booking weddings? I understand if not, but I thought I'd give it a whirl!

    • Hi Ally, I've seen A LOT of negative reviews on the barn's staff in several different sites. Some could just be bridezillas, but other issues such as communication, lack of respect for appointment scheduling, and rude staff really turned me off. But I LOVE the photos of the venue! What was your experience like, smooth or bumpy? And do you think having a planner would be helpful for this venue?

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