Fall ’16: Armed DJs?

A couple of months ago I hopped a flight to Tennessee to attend a DJ conference known as ARMDJS, which stands for Appalachian Regional Mobile DJ Symposium. On the flight over, I sat next to lady who was asking me questions about where I was heading. When I mentioned the name of conference, she politely said in her southern accent, “Armed DJs?…So y’all are a bunch of DJs with guns?…My son would just LOVE that.”  No ma’am. Let me explain….

13406858_1340937675921725_7337176861720332298_nThat was the start of a fun week. This was my fourth time attending ARMDJs.  The conference is a bit of logistical issue to get there as I needed to fly to Nashville, then rent a car and drive 4 hours across the state to the small town of Greeneville at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.  Greeneville’s population is just 15,000, but its claim to fame is that it the childhood home of the 17th president of the United States Andrew Johnson.  The area is also a hotbed for Civil War buffs, as there are several battlefields in the area.


Attendees of The Professional Process pose for a group shot with our completion certificates at the conclusion of the workshop.

The 2-day conference was bookended by a 2-day workshop called The Professional Process – an intensive 16-hour marathon training event featuring tons of information on wedding structure and planning hosted by Peter Merry, author of the book “The Best Wedding Reception…Ever”. When all paired together it was 4 days of DJ panels, workshops, seminars, and networking. This was the fourth time I’ve taken this workshop, and amazingly each time I walk away with pages of notes and new ideas. Check out the photo of the attendees with their certificates.

I’m featuring two different guest wedding blogs in this issue.  The first is an article I wrote for Adore Photography’s blog a few months ago entitled “Selecting A DJ For Your Wedding”. Thanks to Shannon for including me in her post.

The second Guest Wedding Blog is an informative look at some new wedding design trends for 2016 from award-winning DJ / Wellness Coach, Marcello Pedalino from MMP Productions in New Jersey. Marcello’s new book “Celebrate Life” is available at http://www.celebratelifebook.com

Summer ’16: Brides Talk

On February 20th, I attended a bridal panel discussion hosted by the Northern Colorado Wedding & Event Professionals at The Agave Room in Fort Collins. Four recently married couples answered questions from a roomful of local wedding professionals regarding their decisions about their who they hired, why they hired them, and if they had to do it all over again……what would they do differently. It was an insightful evening of information.

View More: http://kjandrob.pass.us/nocowep-bridal-panel







Here are my Top 10 Takeaways (in no particular order):

  1. At least half of all wedding planning research is done online. Social media plays a key role, but few couples initially find their professionals via social. Most are found from word-of-mouth, venue referral lists, or online review sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot.
  2. Online reviews are huge.  Most couples are very aware of Wedding Wire and The Knot and realize these review site are legit, and the reviews can not be altered by the vendor.
  3. The top 3 things couples would have spent less on if they had to do it over again are: Food…Dress…Flowers.
  4. Other things that they would have done differently included: Having more time with guests (longer reception / rehearsal dinner / cocktail hour)…Having a weather backup plan for the outdoor ceremony….Spending more time writing their individual vows for the ceremony…and the ever-popular “Should have hired a professional DJ”.
  5. Most couples were limited by their parent’s allocated budget which seemed to be split evenly among brides and grooms parents.
  6. The top 4 reasons for hiring a particular wedding professional was: Price / Value…Reputation…Familiarization with the venue….First impressions when meeting them.
  7. Almost all couples liked the idea of all inclusive package pricing vs. an ‘Ala Carte’ style pricing structure, mainly due to a concern for hidden charges and extras.
  8. Recent photo trends that couples like: ‘The First Look’ and the photojournalistic / candid style wedding photography.  Photo booths are also still hot.
  9. Their wedding budgets ranged from $10,000 to $30,000 and guest lists ranged from 130 to 190.
  10. Speaking of budgets, their top 4 budget items included: Photography…Food / Bar…Venue…Entertainment (DJ/MC, Photo Booth)

View More: http://kjandrob.pass.us/nocowep-bridal-panel

Spring ’16: MBLV & CSES

20160320_172915Last month I attended two great conferences during the same week in Las Vegas.  The first was the Catersource / Event Solutions (CSES) conference, a wedding professionals conference that “catered” (no pun intended) to catering and wedding service professionals.  This show was attended by thousands from around the world, and was the first time I attended.  You certainly didn’t have to be a caterer to get benefit from the show as there were lots of learning opportunities for anyone in the event production field. The second was the annual Mobile Beat Las Vegas (MBLV) DJ conference at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino.  This was my 20th consecutive year attending this conference…yes I’ve managed to attend ever one they’ve put on since 1997.  I’ve watch this show grow from its humble beginnings in a small, cramped hotel lobby to a massive contingent of DJs from across the nation and as far away as Australia. It was great catching up with my DJ friends from across the nation, checking out the latest gear, and learning the latest tips from the experts. Here’s more:

One of the attractions of the Mobile Beat conference are the evening festivities. This year, they brought in Redfoo from LMFAO to "Party Rock" the crowd.

One of the attractions of the Mobile Beat conference are the evening festivities. This year, they brought in Redfoo from LMFAO to “Party Rock” the crowd.

The banner was up to greet the multitudes on opening day at the annual Catersource Event Solutions conference at the Mirage.

The banner was up to greet the multitudes on opening day at the annual Catersource Event Solutions conference at the Mirage.

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of "Celebrate Life", written by my friend, New Jersey-based DJ Entertainer and DJ Of The Year winner, Marcello Pedalino. His book describes "how to live it up, discover fulfillment, and experience the joy you deserve. Look for it in bookstores soon.

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of “Celebrate Life”, written by my friend, New Jersey-based DJ Entertainer and DJ Of The Year winner, Marcello Pedalino. His book describes “how to live it up, discover fulfillment, and experience the joy you deserve. Look for it in bookstores soon.

Wedding Wire's marketing expert Alan Berg gave an informative seminar at about social media at the Event Solutions conference.

Wedding Wire’s marketing expert Alan Berg gave an informative seminar at about social media at the Event Solutions conference.

Winter ’16: Budgeting

What would seem to be a fairly straightforward way of going about coming up with a realistic wedding budget, many couples get sidetracked due to other people’s expectations and media manipulation.  What should be an enjoyable process is sometimes very stressful. Some couples end up with their wedding budget depleted before they’ve even hired all their vendors. The problem ultimately lies NOT with the actual budget dollar amount itself, but in the allocation of where the money is spent.

wedding-budget-pie-chart[1]More specifically, the problem lies with the source of where this wedding budget information is coming from.  It’s no surprise that couples use wedding budget pie charts and suggested budget breakdowns.  They’re all over the internet and the percentage numbers vary widely.  You’ve seen them (like the one shown here) in wedding books, websites, and other media. They list the percentages of various wedding services that couples “should” be spending their money on. As ridiculous as it sounds, these lists and pie charts are suggesting the percentage that couples should spend on each category like every wedding and every couple has similar preferences.  This kind of logic isn’t used in any other type of major lifetime expenditure. Can you imagine buying a car or a house and the sales person hands you a pie chart with pre-determined categories and preferences that they think you should have?  Of course not.

So how does a newly-engaged couple juggle this jungle of wedding hi-jinx, and come up with a reasonable budget that doesn’t bankrupt them while having the wedding day of their dreams?

The answer is MUCH simpler than you may think….

Spend money in direct proportion to the importance that you place on each service.

First, come up with a reasonable wedding budget amount that you can afford and is not going to put you or your parents (if they are paying for it) in debt.

Second, come up with a realistic allocation plan. Here’s how to do it…

On two sheets of paper, the bride and groom should write their “Wedding Top 3”. This can be a combination of various things such as…

  • What you want the most important part(s) of the wedding to be
  • What you want your guests to remember most about your wedding
  • What you dream about most for your wedding day

You should each come up with a Top 3 but it’s important to write these down separately so you’re not influenced by the other’s answers. Come together, and compare your Top 3’s and rank them in order (3 points for #1, 2 points for #2, 1 point for #3), and combine points for items that are on both Top 3’s. Add up the numbers, tabulate into an overall Top 5, and correlate each item to their respective vendors that represent that service. These are the Top 5 items, in rank order, that you should spend your money on. Hire the best vendors you can find for anything in the top half of the Top 5.  Whatever money is left over after you’ve reserved your Top 5 services, should be spent on anything else you may need, but shouldn’t exceed your overall budget.

Warning… this method goes against the typical wedding budget philosophy, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It requires most couples to develop a different way of thinking about their wedding, but it pretty much guarantees that a couple will have the wedding of their dreams while keeping their budget in check. Most couples can save thousands of dollars by sticking to this plan.

Fall ’15: Year In Review

thM74UV7NRNormally, this year-end recap is about recent trends and “What’s Hot” and “What’s Not” as well as the top requests of the year.  Since I covered the non-music items a couple of months ago, this month is all about the music….my top requests at my 2015 weddings. By far, the top new songs were Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” also the most popular first dance at my weddings this year, and the Bruno Mars / Mark Ronson collaboration “Uptown Funk”.  The usual group dances and classic floor-packers were popular, as well. Love them, or hate them, here a rundown of the most popular:


  1. Cupid Shuffle – Cupid

2.  Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars

3.  Watch Me (Hip Nae Nae) – Silento

4.  The Wobble – VIC

5.  Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon

6.  Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

7.  Shout – Various Artists

8.  Cha Cha Slide – Mr. C

9.  Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

10.  Shake it Off – Taylor Swift


  1.  Michael Jackson

2.  Bruno Mars

3.  Journey

4.  Beatles

5.  Taylor Swift

6.  Maroon 5

7.  Ed Sheeran

8.  Tim McGraw

9.  Bob Seger

10.  Pitbull

If you want more charts, here’s a listing of the top 200 most requested songs at weddings across the nation put together by the DJ software company DJ Intellegence.  In addition, there are charts for each decade, as well as wedding specific music charts.


Summer ’15: WMBA 4.0

Wedding Wire's social media expert Sonny Ganguly addresses the masses on Day 1.

Wedding Wire’s social media expert Sonny Ganguly addresses the masses on Day 1.

It’s been 3 years since I last attended the WMBA conference in Las Vegas (WMBA stands for “Wedding Merchants Business Association”) and my 4th time overall.  This is the top wedding professionals conference in the US, attended by well over 1,000 photographers, planners, caterers, venue owners, DJs, and others that service the wedding industry to learn the latest and greatest in all things wedding.  This year had the largest turnout in the event’s decade-plus history (over 1,600), and the best of the four that I’ve attended. The three-day conference is held at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. There was certainly no need for me to do my regular daily workout or run as I probably logged 3 or 4 miles just walking around the cavernous confines each day.

One of the highlights of the conference was a group photo with all the other Knot "Best Of Weddings" winners for 2015.

One of the highlights of the conference was a group photo with other 2015 Knot “Best Of Weddings” winners.

Dozens of wedding experts covered every topic from legalities  to social media to customer service to what’s hot / what’s not.  The topics were great and it was great to connect with wedding industry friends from around the country that I haven’t seen in an awhile.  As an added bonus, Wedding Wire and The Knot hosted some great evening parties at two of the hottest clubs in town – one in the Bellagio with an incredible view of the world-famous water show. So here’s some information that both brides and grooms who are reading this as well as wedding pros may find interesting. My Top 15:

  1. Average wedding guest count is 136 (down 10% in 3 years).
  2. Average engagement: 16 months
  3. June is still the #1 wedding month.
  4. December is still the #1 engagement month.
  5. 91% of wedding pros serve LGBT couples.
  6. 62% of couples want their wedding published in a major wedding magazine.
  7. 96% of couples use mobile devices for online wedding searches.
  8. Cake is still tops, cupcakes are peaking, designer upscale donuts may be the next “big thing”.
  9. Wine and beer blendings are becoming a popular alternative to the sand blending at ceremonies.
  10. The Knot & Wedding Wire are still the top 2 wedding search engines.
  11. Periscope (a live video streaming app) could be the next big social media craze.
  12. Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are still the top 3 social media sites used by couples.
  13. 50% of all couples are using an Instagram hashtag for guests to post their wedding photos from their mobile device (#weddingname).
  14. Signature cocktails still very popular…now at up to 30% of weddings.
  15. Gender-blended wedding parties are the rage (Best Woman, Man Of Honor, Bridesman, Groomswoman).


Spring ’15: Fab Photogs

For this quarter’s blog I’m featuring some of my favorite photographers doing what they do best at the weddings we worked together this year. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so I should be set for a few months.

Photos listed chronologically from most recent:

Amanda & Stewart alpandisle.com

Amanda & Stewart

Chelsea & Larry September 6 www.kimballnelson.com

Chelsea & Larry
September 6

Jennifer & Andrew September 7 www.tomkphoto.com

Jennifer & Andrew
September 7

Courtney & Anthony August 22 www.joeandrobin.com

Courtney & Anthony
August 22

Holly & Jordan August 15 www.kjanrob.com

Holly & Jordan
August 15

Rachel & Brad August 8 www.kbdigitaldesigns.com

Rachel & Brad
August 8

Krista & Mike August 7 www.daylenewilson.com

Krista & Mike
August 7

Lindsay & Jeff August 1 www.bluehausstudios.com

Lindsay & Jeff
August 1

Marianne & Kyle July 25 www.adore-photography.com

Marianne & Kyle
July 25

Joni & Kris June 26 www.kellykasper.com

Joni & Kris
June 26

Winter ’15: Indian Weddings

India is a diverse country of more than 1 billion people, and is the world’s most densely populated country and second most populous. It’s also about as far away geographically from the United States but in many ways it’s much like the US. This former British colony is made up of more than 30 states and territories. It’s climate ranges from the humid tropics of the south to the hot and dry western deserts all the way to the snowcapped high Himalayas. It’s also a melting pot of culture and religion. Though Hindu dominates, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sihkism is also prevalent.

blog indian 3

Devi and Matthew share a dance.

Last year I had the opportunity to work not one, but two Indian-style weddings here in Colorado.  This is pretty amazing because the Indian population in Colorado is relatively small. The chance that I would have two within four months is quite unusual. What’s even more amazing is that they were both at the same venue – the Fort Collins Country Club. What’s the chance of that happening? The June wedding featured Devi & Matthew. Much of Devi’s family came over from India for the occasion and it was quite the family reunion. The one thing I’ll always remember about this couple is that she never stopped smiling from the time I met her months before the wedding right up until the last dance. The September wedding featured Sumanth & Cynthia.  This time, the groom was from India. Cynthia & Sumanth had a big traditional wedding in India a couple of months before the Colorado festivities, yet some of Sumanth’s family still made the multi-day flight to the US. They had a really fun crowd with lots of dancing.  They even had Bollywood style dancers entertain their guests after dinner.  Truly one of my favorite weddings of the year. While both weddings incorporated Indian traditions in both the ceremony and reception, they were predominately Western in style.

A post-reception photo with Sumanth and Cynthia.

A post-reception photo with Sumanth and Cynthia.

Weddings in India, are of course, a bit different.  In general they tend to be multi-day events.  Depending on the family’s budget and social class, they can also be quite opulent and grandiose. It’s not unusual to have 200 to 500 guests attend with lots of food, music, and celebration. As with most Asian weddings, Indians celebrate with color as the wedding garments that both the bride and groom wear are colorful and most change attire between the ceremony and reception. Though there is plenty of dancing at the reception, there is also much time spent visiting with friends and family. Since the celebration usually lasts for at least a couple of days, there is plenty of time to mingle as opposed to most American weddings where the couple sometimes seemed overwhelmed and rushed with the limited time factor. Since there are so many regions, religions, and cultures in India there are no set traditions but many include a Henna Party, the Baraat (the men’s party), the Pheras or Saptpadi fire ceremonies, and the very popular Vidai or Rukhsati ceremony where the bride finally says goodbye to her family to be with her new husband.



Fall ’14: Year In Review

th[5]Happy New Year! 2014 is in the books. It was another great year with some fabulous couples to work with.  I’m not quite sure what is going on, but as of New Year’s Day, I’ve got a record number of weddings reserved for the new year. The recession is most definitely over, or it may just be that “Love Is In Air” (somebody cue up that classic hit from John Paul Young from 1978, please!). Speaking of music, this was the year of Pharrell’s “Happy”. It not only was the biggest year on the charts, with a whopping 10 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but was also the most requested new song at weddings across the nation. Although Mr. Williams has been a household name as a producer, songwriter, and collaborator with just about every artist on the planet, it was his first huge hit as a solo artist. In case you’re interested, the top new first dance song was “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri.  The ballad was released in late 2013, though really became popular at weddings this past year.  I also played various instrumental versions of it as a ceremony processional.  More on that later…

estespark-colorado-wedding-photographer-photography-cakeknife-bride-groom-outside-rockies-portraits-lighting-professional-celebration-party-happy-love-cute-unique-marys-lake-lodge-[1]Other new dance floor faves included Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”, Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll”, and the Pitbull / Kesha collaboration “Timber”.  In addition to the Christina Perri song mentioned above, the John Legend ballad “All Of Me” was one of the year’s best new slow songs. It’s no surprise that line-dance songs like “The Wobble”, “Cha Cha Slide” and “The Cupid Shuffle” still garnered lots of requests throughout the year.

364On to what’s hot and what’s not. Here are a few of the trends that were getting popular this year. Some couples have decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake for pies or dessert bars. Some have even added a late-night dessert bar or hot chocolate / coffee station.  Family-style dinners are more the norm than ever before.  Instead of the traditional buffet or served meal, the wait staff brings out large plates of food for each table to share. I’ve also been seeing food trucks used for cocktail hour.  Obviously, you need the right outdoor venue for this, but it seems to work well at most venues. Instead of the traditional wedding gift, I’ve seen an increasing number of couples give their guests an alternative option to donate to the couple’s favorite charity.  And finally, since Instagram is now so popular, couples are requesting guests to send them their wedding day photos via this burgeoning social media platform via hashtags.

estespark-colorado-wedding-photographer-photography-cakeknife-bride-groom-outside-rockies-portraits-lighting-professional-celebration-party-happy-love-cute-unique-ourladyofthemount[2]What’s not…The photo booth trend may have peaked. In 2013, almost half of my weddings of my weddings had photo booths.  This year I can think of maybe half a dozen. What I am seeing more of is a scaled-down version of this with just a backdrop instead of a booth (provided by the photographer).  This is certainly more cost-effective and requires less setup time and area. Nonetheless, I would imagine that within the next few years, photo booths will probably be delegated to the “Remember When Bin” along with chocolate fountains and disposable cameras….remember those?  Also noticeably absent from wedding ceremonies this year was traditional classical music.  Processionals like Pachibel’s “Canon In D” are out, and instrumental acoustic / string covers of love songs by artists like Vitamin String Quartet, the Piano Guys, and Boyce Avenue are all the rage. I honestly can’t remember the last time I played the traditional Wedding March.

Special thanks to Marla with CakeKnife Photography for the two black and white photos above from Lori & Sam’s reception at Mary’s Lake Lodge in Estes Park…one of my favorite weddings of 2014.

Speaking of awesome wedding photographers, I just got word that one of my weddings from this past summer, Kassi and Justin’s at Taharaa Mountain Lodge, was featured in Rocky Mountain Bride magazine, and it was photographed by Meghan Ritchey-Wilson with Visual Poetry.  Here’s the link.

Summer ’14: The ‘Boat

thALN2BPIOThe year was 1825.  A group of three French trappers were hunting in what is now known as the Yampa River Valley in western Colorado.  They heard what sounded like the chugging sound of a steamboat engine.  Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a natural mineral hot springs. It would be named Steamboat Spring.

By the late 1800s families were homesteading in the area, and the turn of the century saw a railroad being built and several businesses were established.  Carl Howelsen built a ski jumping facility here in 1915 that would become one of the first ski areas in the country.  The rest is history.  Over the next 100 years, the area has turned into one of Colorado’s premier resort locations with world class skiing in the winter and countless outdoor recreational activities in the summer.

412It’s always a pleasure to travel to the ‘Boat (as the locals call it).  This month I had a wedding here, so I decided to spend the entire weekend.  I drove up on Friday afternoon to attend the ceremony rehearsal (photo left), Saturday was the wedding, and I stayed an extra day to enjoy some outdoor activities.  Chassity & Jeff really went out of their way to create an incredible weekend for their guests, almost all of which spent the entire weekend in town as well.

411 Chassity & JeffThey picked Bella Vista as their venue, a beautiful hilltop location overlooking Lake Catamount just east of town on the main road up Rabbit Ears Pass.  A tent was set up for the reception’s 100+ guests on Saturday.  These guests loved to party…and so did the bride and groom.  What began as a late afternoon ceremony ended 7 hours later at midnight with a full dance floor and a great sparkler exit of the bride and groom.  Wisely, Chassity & Jeff provided shuttle buses for their guests to get back into town to the Sheraton as they had a hosted bar and frankly, many guests had a few too many drinks to be driving back to town on a winding mountain road.  Definitely a good move!  Overall it was one of my favorite weddings of the year.

As a side note, a wedding that I was hired for last summer was recently featured in the latest edition of Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine.  Christina & Jason’s wedding took place at the Black Canyon Inn.  This was another really fun couple.  Here’s the featured link:


Spring ’14: Highest Ever

This month features a wedding at the dramatically beautiful but oxygen-deprived Arapahoe Basin Ski Area back in August.  Next month we’ll journey south to some incredible Douglas County wedding venues.

251By “highest ever”, I mean the highest altitude I’ve ever DJed a wedding.  To be exact 11,550 feet above sea level is the elevation of Arapahoe Basin’s Black Mountain Lodge.  This lodge is well known with skiers and is used as a cafeteria / restaurant during ski season.  To be honest, I’ve skied at A-Basin many times and have had many a midday lunch break inside the Black Mountain Lodge, and never really thought of it as a wedding venue.  I guess it’s hard to imagine these things when there is four feet of snow on the ground and sub-zero wind chills.  But no doubt, this is an awesome place to get married.

252Emmy & Grant are certainly the outdoor types.  They enjoy skiing (they had skis as part of their centerpieces), and wanted to show their guests some amazing Colorado scenery.  I’ve known Emmy’s mother Rhonda for many years as she is one of Northern Colorado’s top floral designers (Florals By Rhonda), and the flowers she did for her daughter’s wedding were pretty incredible. After the ceremony on the south-facing deck overlooking the world famous cirque A-Basin is known for (above), guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the west-facing patio (at left) before moving inside for dinner.  I had music going in all three locations, so it was a busy afternoon.

257Guests arrived and departed the lodge via the nearby chairlift as the lodge was half up the mountain, and the only road up is a two-mile, boulder-strewn 4WD adventure reserved for employees and service vehicles. The reception, which lasted well into the evening (here’s Emmy and her father David enjoying a dance together) was inside thankfully, as it got quite chilly after sunset with rain mixing with snow by the time I was loading out.  Snow was even dusting the higher peaks which is not unusual at this altitude in August.

100_2607The only two weddings that I’ve done recently that come close to this as far as altitude is concerned are Mark & Lindsay’s 2010 wedding on the Vail Wedding Deck (at left) and John & Angela’s 2007 celebration at Winter Park’s Sunspot Lodge (below).  Both are in the 10,600-foot range. At these altitudes, you need to take precautions, such as providing your guests with plenty of bottled water during the ceremony, possibly having an oxygen tank handy for some of the older folks from lower altitudes, and going easy on the alcohol.  Remember one beer at sea level has the effect of two at 5,000 feet and three at 10,000 feet.


Winter ’14: Estes Flood


059 Becky & Beau Sep 14Rebecca & Beau’s wedding at the Stanley Hotel was scheduled for the Saturday after the flood – literally 48 hours after all hell broke loose in Estes Park. Although the Stanley was high and dry, and the waters that flooded downtown had receded, all roads were closed from the east and guests would have had a long 4 hour drive up Trail Ridge Road to get into town that day.  They wisely decided to change venues, and they chose the Magnolia Hotel in Denver, a great boutique hotel a block off the 16th Street Mall.  The staff accommodated the last minute changes, and it turned out to be an amazing evening with guests dancing an hour later than planned.

309 Andrea & KyleTwo weeks later, on the 27th, Andrea & Kyle’s decided to keep their wedding plans intact and have their wedding in Estes Park at Black Canyon / Twin Owls.  They loved the venue so much and truly wanted a Colorado setting, they couldn’t imagine changing plans.  In the week after the flood, the Peak To Peak Highway opened so guests were able to make the drive. Since the majority of guests were coming from Illinois and were planning on spending the entire weekend in Estes anyway, all plans were “a go”.  In the end, almost all their original 100 people on the guest list showed up, enjoyed the changing aspens, and partied like crazy.  What a night!!

331Brandon & Jacque were from New Mexico and planned their entire dream Colorado wedding almost exclusively by e-mail, phone and Skype (the first time I met them face to face was at the ceremony rehearsal the day before the wedding) from their home in Albuquerque.  Ironically, their wedding was also at Black Canyon / Twin Owls just two days after Andrea & Kyle’s.  In the days right after the flood, they decided to move the wedding closer to Denver as they realized most of their guests will be staying in the metro area and didn’t want to worry about road closures and extra driving times.  The Deer Creek Valley Ranch graciously accommodated the couple and although the reception room was a bit of a tight fit, everything went perfectly. At the rehearsal the day before, Jacque gave t-shirts to the families and wedding party (above) that read “Keep Calm & Marry On”, a mantra that was certainly true at most Colorado weddings last month.

332 Sept 30 EstesAs of early October, repairs to Colorado’s mountain highways are going on almost 24/7.  As of yesterday afternoon, Boulder Canyon opened up to Nederland, shortening the current Estes Park trip by about an hour.  Highway 36 from Lyons to Estes is expected to be mostly repaired by December. Like Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park’s roads, businesses and campgrounds should be totally repaired and back to normal by next spring and summer’s tourist season.  In the meantime, we can enjoy the foliage, like this photo taken October 1st just outside the park.