Destination Wedding: Merlyn and Matt, Ridgway, Colorado

Merlyn and Matt's Southwestern Soiree

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At the Del Mar Horse Races back in 2008, Merlyn was standing in line to place a bet when the guy next to her struck up conversation about her betting strategy—which was based on the fondness of the horse's name. But the odds were definitely in her favor, when the guy, Matt, couldn't take his eyes off Merlyn all day, and asked her to dinner before they parted ways. That kicked off their romance, and they were engaged three years later. On September 29, 2012, they made it official with an "Indian Summer of Love" wedding that featured fall's all-natural color palette and Colorado's finest surroundings.

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The Location

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The couple and their 130 guests ventured to Chipeta Solar Springs Resort in Ridgway, Colorado, a 900-person town in the southwestern corner of the state. The venue (which is owned and operated by the bride's family) boasts views of the golden-hued Aspen trees and snow-capped peaks, as well as activities like fly fishing and yoga classes for guests to enjoy.

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All in the Family

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The bride's brother, a graphic designer, created the stationery, starting with the save-the-date featuring the couple's custom monogram with nesting M's.

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The Stationery

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The suite, which included a poster-sized invite with 50s-era type styles that hinted at the fun to come. Playful wording, like "It's Time to Break Out That Feather Headdress," was used throughout.

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The Fashions

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Merlyn donned a Temperley London gown with lace sleeves, Michael Kors shoes, and her Fiji pearl engagement ring from J. Hunter Pearls designed by the groom. Matt sported a Brooks Brothers three-piece suit and Magnanni shoes.

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Bright Bridesmaids

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Each member of the bridal party chose a different orange dress and wore custom turquoise necklaces, earrings, and bracelets made by a friend of the bride.

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The Bouquet

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Merlyn's bouquet consisted of roses, thistle, scabiosa, privet berries, and eucalyptus leaves. For touches of the southwest feathers were added and the stems were bound with twine.

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The Groomsmen

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The groomsmen and bridesmaids sat on hay bales covered with Indian blankets during the ceremony. A colorful pop of orange (courtesy of J.Crew socks and a tie) accented the groom's gray ensembles.

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The Ceremony

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In honor of Merlyn's Hawaiian upbringing, the Hawaiian Wedding Song was played during the outdoor service, which took place in an open field known as "Top of the Pines." A trio of ladies played Native American flutes for a touch of the Southwest. The duo exchanged vows they'd written themselves during a ceremony, crafted by the groom and led by his friend.

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Post-Ceremony Scenery

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After being declared husband and wife, Merlyn, Matt, and their photographer Jeffrey C. Gleason ventured up to Elm Meadows, a spot slightly above the ceremony location, to take portraits in a few picturesque locations.

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The Art of Sabrage

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The groom's best friend and groomsmen gifted the newlyweds an engraved saber with their wedding logo on it. They sliced open a 12-liter bottle of Veuve Clicquot for their guests to enjoy at the reception.

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Signature Sips

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Matt takes the role of bartender when he's at home, so he selected a few craft cocktails to serve. Recipe cards for each drink were designed to guide guests through the selection process and serve as keepsakes that guests could bring home.

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Hanging Loose

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Escort cards took form as hanging tags with letterpressed numbers for table assignments. They doubled as mini guest books with a section on the back for attendees to write well wishes with wood branch crayons set out on the tables, which were topped with butcher paper runners stamped with the corresponding numbers.

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The Feast

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Guests dined on spit-roasted lamb with coriander and cumin crust, beef with chimichurri sauces, sweet chili-glazed salmon, grilled Portobello mushrooms, roasted acorn squash with chipotle and cilantro, creamy polenta with green chilies and roasted corn, and a market salad.

For dessert, Lappert's Ice Cream was flown in from Hawaii and served alongside cupcakes, pies, and truffles.

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Perfectly Paired

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Grand River Vineyards, a vineyard in Colorado owned by a family friend, provided wines for the reception, which were dressed up with custom labels designed by Swell Creative. The vintages were dubbed "Monogamy Meritage" and "Savvy Spouse Sauv Blanc" with labels featuring the couple's names, wedding date, and likenesses.

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Pole Details

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To carry the Southwestern theme through to the reception, small teepees were constructed around the tent's central poles. The canvas accents were lit from within for a warm glow.

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Photography: Jeffrey C. Gleason Photography

Location and Catering: Chipeta Solar Springs Resort

Flowers: Willowcreek Floral

Stationery: Swell Creative

Cupcakes: Sweet Cakes

Hair and Makeup: Salon Envy

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