When Ray and I started planning our wedding, one thing became obvious to us from the very beginning. We, without a doubt, wanted our wedding to be a low key event full of fun. Thus, our wedding week events were born.
Rather than having a honeymoon, Ray and I decided that we preferred the idea of celebrating with our friends and family for a full week prior, culminating with our wedding celebration. With several people coming from out of town, we loved that this would put people more into a vacation mindset and that we’d have the opportunity to celebrate with everyone we loved for an extended period of time.
I asked Ray to take charge over planning the events across the week, and he did not disappoint. These events were challenging, rejuvenating, relaxing, and a whole lot of fun. Looking at this list of events now, I can’t believe how much we fit into one week, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Nathan & Ray relaxing outside of Garfinkles
I’m not sure what exactly is happening in this picture, but it’s probably the best I’ve taken (@SemiSweetTooth on snapchat)
Our good friend (and officiant) Nathan came into town on Saturday afternoon, allowing Ray and I to slowly pack up across the day. Somehow, some way we magically fit everything into the car and headed up to Vail / Lionshead to check into our condo. This was our one night where we knew we could sleep in the next day, so we hit the town and enjoyed some live music before calling it a night.
Part of the gorgeous hike Berry Picker up the mountain in Vail
Hanging out on the wedding deck, where we’d be getting married later in the week
Prepping for the hike we’d be doing the following day – Mt. of the Holy Cross
I’m not sure what compelled him to do this, but once we all woke up and had some breakfast, Nathan suggested that we may as well walk up the mountain to get to the top of the gondola. Albeit somewhat reluctantly, I finally agreed and we enjoyed a good 2.5 hour hike to the top. This was one of my favorite days, because it was so relaxed and everything happened on a whim. From there, we casually took the gondola back down to the bottom and popped into the grocery store. After a low key grill out of A1 burgers made by Nathan (perhaps making up for his suggestion earlier in the day?), we called it a night. I loved the relaxed atmosphere surrounding the whole day and loved being able to go whichever way the wind took us… and that we decided against sitting on our booties at home. May as well use the mountain while we’ve got it!
Struggling about 1/2 way to the top
Made it to the top (14,005 ft.)
We had a gorgeous view at the top!
This is where the planned intensity was meant to kick in. And it did with full force. We were planning to hike for about 6-7 hours to complete a 14er near Vail known as Mt. Holy Cross. But no… this hike took 10+ hours. On the way down, we hiked through rain, hail (we were well off the top of the mountain and were being safe) and I went through every emotion in the dictionary. I was proud that we accomplished such a feat, mad at whomever on tripadvisor had said it was a 6 hour hike, sad that it took me as long to get down the mountain as it did to get up, and just happy that we made it with no broken bones.
We walked a couple of steps that Monday
Nathan was all in, Americana style
Great view of the fireworks off of out balcony
Delirious once we got back to the condo, we put on our best 4th of July themed apparel and played a country power hour followed by a 90s power hour with our Boda Box vino – with an extra sip taken when you saw someone pass our balcony in Americana. (#vacation) Incredibly lucky for us, we were able to perfectly view the Vail fireworks from our balcony in Lionshead looking just over the village while we played stereotypical American themed music in the backgroun. It was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate the holiday.
Enjoying our day on the bikes
After waking up late and waiting out a bit of rain, Nathan, Ray, and I rented mountain bikes and did a bit of riding down the mountain. Mountain biking in Vail is a huge activity in the summer, and, even though none of us had participated prior, we decided that we had to give it a shot!
We shared a gondola with a guy who said he was a beginner and offered us some suggested routes. I took one look at the start of the route that was “beginner/intermediate,” laughed harder than I had laughed in a while, and turned back to go on the ultra-beginner trail. Good for me, because Ray and Nathan continued on that original trail and were freaking out about how tough it was until late in the evening. After safely making it to the bottom the first time, all three of us found a separate, long trail that was fun for all of us at our varying levels. It was a beautiful, winding trail that we stayed on until our rental bikes had to be returned late that afternoon.
Ray’s parents and my mom joined the three of us at our condo for another grill out at the house, followed by my mom and I working on escort cards / welcome bags and Ray and Nathan having almost too much fun watching “New Kids on the Block / Backstreet Boys Live in London.” This event may seem incredibly familiar if you follow me on Snapchat (@SemiSweetTooth), because Ray and Nathan’s love of Donny Wahlburg will forever be seared in my memory.
More people started slowly flowing in on Wednesday, and all of the action felt like it began incredibly quickly. Ray, Nathan, Ray’s brother (Austin), Ray’s father (big Ray), and I all hiked a trail just outside of Vail Village called Lake Deluge. This trail took us around 6 hours and led us to a gorgeous lake in the middle of the mountains. Even our friends that live in Vail Village hadn’t heard about this trail, but it was absolutely stunning. It was long, very long, but the lake was something straight out of Sound of Music. Absolutely beautiful and we felt surrounded by mountains on all sides, hundreds of miles away from it all.
Wednesday evening, we contacted everyone we knew in town and met up at a casual restaurant called Los Amigos in Vail Village. It was the perfect place to greet folks as they came in and to relax a bit with some guacamole and margaritas after a long few days.
Hiking with my mom
Getting wild with Nathan next to waterfalls
The gorgeous view at Piney River Ranch
With several more friends making their way to town on Thursday, we planned a hike at a spot 45 minutes down a dirt road called Piney River Ranch. Located in the middle of the mountains, we had to figure out rides on the top of a parking garage and pull one of our sedans onto the side of the road to leave it due to the road conditions, but we all got their happy, excited, and in one piece. Our hike around the area was perfect for our group of 10. It was tough enough for a bit of a challenge, but a perfect hike to allow us to catch up and get some time for our friends to get used to the altitude. It was the perfect opportunity for friends and family to experience just a bit of the beauty that is Colorado.
Friends hanging out next to the Piney River Ranch waterfalls
The whole crew!
In the evening, we planned another casual get together at a restaurant called Garfinkle’s in Lionshead Village. 30 friends from all over the nation coming together to chat and catch up felt like our wedding was starting out with a bang. Time seemed to fly way too quickly after this evening.
Our crew following yoga, including Sam, our instructor, on the far right
Brunch, sitting between my gorgeous Maid & Matron of Honor
Love my brunch crew
Friday morning started out with a fantastic, private yoga class led by a friend in town, while Ray was golfing with his buddies and my father. I was joined by all of my gorgeous bridesmaids, both mothers, a junior bridesmaid, a flower girl, Nathan, and a few other close friends. Relaxing and settling our minds was just what we needed leading into brunch with the girls on the top of the mountain with mimosas and catching up galore.
Just a sampling from our delicious rehearsal dinner
My crashing the groomsmen picture
With my stunning bridesmaids
After quickly getting ready and moving my stuff over to the hotel, we flew to get to our rehearsal in time at a restaurant in Vail Village called Larkspur.
Our rehearsal flew by in a flash, walking through everything in about 30 minutes. I was mentally freaking out and could not believe that we were already walking through our wedding day events. (Don’t you sometimes wish you could slow time down?) But everything went smoothly and led seamlessly into a delicious dinner for our bridal party and immediate family, and cocktails with all guests invited following.
My favorite part of the evening was two speeches that were shared by one groomsman (Joe) and one bridesmaid (Ashley.) Both Joe and Ashley have known us individually for years and are incredibly special to us. It meant a lot for them to be willing to speak on our behalf.
Next up… wedding day!
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Do you have any favorite hikes in your home town?
If you’re married, what did you do the week of your wedding?
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