This Couple Downsized Their Colorado Wedding's Guest List to Ensure That the Bride's Dad Could Attend
Caitlin and PJ connected on Bumble and went on their first date on August 28, 2018. The following year, on PJ's birthday, the couple shared a private dinner on the beach in Cabo, Mexico; PJ took that romantic moment to propose. In their excitement, they immediately began planning a destination wedding for June 11, 2020, complete with 70 guests at Camp Hale in Red Cliff, Colorado. When speaking about the venue's breathtaking mountain views, Caitlin says, "It was love at first sight."
When COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at-home mandates became law across the United States, the couple made the difficult decision to postpone their wedding to August 27, 2020 (almost exactly two years after their first date!). "Then the real bombshell hit," Caitlin says. "My dad is considered high risk for COVID-19, and his doctor very strongly advised that he not attend a 70-plus person wedding." Caitlin couldn't fathom not having her dad at her wedding, so she and PJ decided to downsize to just 10 attendees, to ensure he could celebrate safely.
The bride admits it was hard to let go of some of the visions she had for her full-scale event, but in the end, the couple feels they had the micro wedding they never knew they wanted. Their venue was able to accommodate every change but one—there's no cell or WiFi service onsite, so having virtual guests wasn't possible. They worked with a wedding planner from Revel & Bloom to fulfill their vision of an intimate, elegant dinner with a lot of flowers and candles. "Our vendor team totally delivered!" Caitlin says. They went with a white, gold, green, and mauve color palette for their nuptials, which took place entirely outdoors against the epic mountain backdrop.
The couple used Minted for their invitation suite, which featured their names in a calligraphy font with coordinating envelopes lined in gold foil. The cards were covered in an illustration of ivory florals—punctuated with yellow—and greenery and included a timeline of events for guests to reference. "The florals and greenery hinted towards what we would actually have at the wedding," Caitlin says.
Simple in a Sheath
On the big day, the bride stepped into the Winnie Couture sheath wedding dress, complete with a sweetheart neckline and embellished lace details, she'd planned on wearing all along. The gown was unlike any she had already flagged online before shopping—but she cried when she first tried it on, and knew it was the one. "The dress totally chose me!" Caitlin says. She initially paired it with a rhinestone belt and detachable sleeves, but in the end, she removed both and embraced the original design.
She completed her look with her sister-in-law's veil, also from Winnie Couture, which was her "something borrowed."
A Bumblebee in the Bouquet
Caitlin held a lush bouquet that included white ranunculus, hydrangeas, scabiosa, peonies, majolica spray roses, and blue nigella. A friendly bumblebee spent the majority of the day in the arrangement—a fun touch, considering the couple met on Bumble. "There were also tons of hummingbirds around the reception!" the bride says. "Hummingbirds are uncommon where we all live, so this felt like a really magical touch to our day. Our families also felt like they represented family members who had passed away."
Although the couple didn't have a wedding party as originally planned, all the men in attendance donned the same tuxedo as the groom for a cohesive touch.
The couple shared their first look in a grassy meadow at their venue, Camp Hale. "We were both nervous and excited for our first look—but so much more relaxed afterward," the bride says. The moment broke the ice, they say, before they took photos with their photographer.
Their ceremony took place in front of the mountains and treetops in the distance. Guests were seated on wooden benches; thanks to Sugar n' Stems, the aisle was lined with arrangements of pampas grass and florals including scabiosa, majolica spray roses, blue nigella, and white veronica. A semi-circle arch defined the altar.
Here Comes the Bride
After PJ and the duo's families walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of Dan + Shay's "Speechless," Caitlin's father escorted her towards the aisle as "100 Years" by The Piano Guys played in the background.
During the ceremony, Caitlin's father gave a blessing and read Corinthians 13; her younger brother was the officiant. The couple recited their own vows, which brought on plenty of tears. "I felt like PJ and I were the only people on that mountain while we read our vows," Caitlin says. "It was such a beautiful moment—we didn't even notice that it had started raining. I've never felt more love nor been more in love with PJ than in that moment."
Passed Hor D'oeuvres
PJ and Caitlin hired a DJ to play during the cocktail hour and reception, which took place on the deck of the lodge. The couple's florist embellished the banister and sides of the deck with greenery. Before sitting down for dinner, the couple mingled with their loved ones and enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres, including crab cakes, Caprese skewers, and mini meatballs.
The Reception Setup
The smaller guest count allowed the newlyweds and their guests to sit at a single long table. Bistro lights were hung around the station, which was topped with a gauzy mauve table runner. "I feel like we designed every aspect of our wedding day and were so excited to share the final product in the most beautiful setting with our family," the bride says.
Custom Marble Escort Tiles
Although Caitlin had to let go of her dream escort display, she and PJ decided to order custom marble tiles calligraphed in gold with each guest's name. The tiles were placed on top of gold-rimmed white plates paired with gold cutlery, gold-rimmed glasses, and a mauve linen napkin that matched the runner.
Small flower arrangements, which included mostly white florals with pops of blush and blue, punctuated the table, as did taper candles in glass votives and small tea lights.
For dinner, the celebrants chose between a seared tenderloin with merlot demi-glace or a baked wild salmon with lemon dill butter sauce; Caitlin's father, who is a vegetarian, enjoyed roasted portobello with poblano Yukon gold mashed potatoes. "It was all delicious!" the bride says. During dinner, guests listened to heartfelt speeches.
The First Dance
Caitlin and PJ shared their first dance to "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain. "I actually asked PJ to choose our first dance song and let it be a surprise!" Caitlin says.
The couple's confection from Cornerstone Chocolates featured two tiers of red velvet cake covered in white frosting and accented with deckled ruffles edged in gold.
To other couples currently reevaluating or replanning their big days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Caitlin offers this advice: "It's okay to laugh or cry or be discouraged—but at the end of the day the most important thing is marrying your best friend. Don't sweat the small stuff and control what you can control."
Photography, Amanda Berube Photography
Videography, Christian DaCosta
Venue, Lighting and Transportation, Camp Hale
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Revel & Bloom
Flowers, Sugar n' Stems
Bride's Gown and Veil, Winnie Couture
Hair and Makeup, Liana Kathryn
Groom's Attire, Generation Tux
Music, Aaron Markham of Elevated DJ's
Catering, Vail Catering Concepts
Cake, Cornerstone Chocolates
Rentals, Colorado Party Rentals; La Tavola Linen