outdoor weddings

Getting hitched in the great outdoors

Colorado couples gravitate toward nature for their big day


A reoccurring theme for people who live in Colorado is that they love being outside and active in nature. So it’s only natural a classic Colorado wedding is often centered around an outdoor ceremony.

Sharing Colorado’s beautiful scenery with guests was one of Sarah and Allen Griffith’s top priorities when looking for a wedding venue.

“Allen and I both share a love for the outdoors and natural landscapes, so it was really important to us to have that be a part of our wedding,” said Sarah Griffith, a Colorado native and former Centennial resident. “We chose Cherokee Ranch and Castle because it was so close to downtown Denver, so our guests could enjoy both the urban charm of the city as well as share Colorado’s incredible scenery with us for our wedding.”

After touring the historic castle in Sedalia, the couple — who met after “swiping right” on Tinder — knew it was the place for them.

“It was the first and only venue we looked at,” Griffith said. “We loved it so much we booked on the spot.”

Sarah and Allen said “I do” at the Castle July 30 and, because of Allen’s position with the United States Army, moved to New York two weeks after the wedding.

Like many brides and grooms, their day was a “complete blur and went by way too fast,” Sarah said. “But the weather was perfect, our guests were so incredible and fun, and the venue was a complete fairy tale.”

Another rustic venue with a view can be found atop Lookout Mountain in Golden.

Atop the mountain sits Boettcher Mansion, which hosts about 300 events a year including weddings. Built in 1917 as a summer home and seasonal hunting lodge for Charles Boettcher, the former Lorraine Lodge was donated to Jefferson County in the 1970s for public use and enjoyment. The mansion is operated by Jefferson County Open Space.

The history and the view are what special events coordinator Megan Kreutzer said draws couples to the mansion.

“We have a mountain view without the mountain drive,” Kreutzer said, adding that the character in the historic building allows for minimal decorations.

But some Colorado couples are choosing to make their wedding even more nature-centric and adventure focused.

Westminster-based wedding photographer Rayna McGinnis specializes in photographing weddings for active couples.

“It’s mostly people who are more experience-focused and want to be out in nature,” McGinnis said. “They are not necessarily athletic, but like being in the great outdoors.”

McGinnis has photographed couples on their wedding days on mountain bikes, mountain climbing, hiking and enjoying a glass of wine in nature.

“The trend is more couples doing what they want versus what the traditional wedding was 30 or 40 years ago,” she said. “I feel like it’s just couples taking a piece of who they are and putting that into their wedding.”

The weddings McGinnis photographs tend to be shorter and with a smaller guest list.

While she’s not sure if active weddings have their own culture, like adventure sports do, McGinnis said she does see couples leaning toward more intimate nuptials.

“My couples tend to want to see each other,” she said. “It’s a small intimate thing, where they want to remember their wedding day and who they spent their day with.”

classic Colorado wedding, outdoor ceremony


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