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Destination Wedding Vail CO: Marisa and Mitch Sklawer

Destination Wedding Vail, CO:  When this gorgeous Miami bride-to-be contacted me nearly a year ago to talk about her wedding that was being planned in the Colorado mountains I was all ears!  There is something really special about working with a couple and their friends and families for several days in a row. First of all, I am the kind of photographer that takes a vested interest in getting to know my couples as much as possible before their big day.  This helps me to understand who they are as individuals, as a couple, and what kinds of images are going to be the most important to them.  Besides that, I believe that I do my best work when I feel connected to my subjects.  And, it’s not always possible given that many of my couples hire me sight unseen from other states, as in this instance.  But even when that is the case, I ask a lot of questions to help me get to know them ahead of time.  When Marisa and I spoke on the phone it was immediately clear to me that she was my ideal bride.  She was sweet and spunky; she knew what she wanted, but was open to suggestions; she loved my work and was trusting of my advice about which parts of the weekend should be documented.  We had an instant rapport on the phone and she hired me after only a couple of conversations.  When I was finally able to meet her in person, along with her darling parents, Ruth and Steve, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the wedding was going to be off the charts fun!  I LOVED them!  And apparently the feeling was mutual because when I saw them all again the weekend of the wedding, they welcomed me with open arms and treated me like part of the family.  The groom, Mitch, and his family, though we hadn’t met prior to the weekend, were equally warm and inviting.

I arrived on Friday afternoon to get checked into my room and had a welcome bag full of goodies waiting for me in a very plush king-deluxe room at the Vail Lodge only a minutes walk away from the center of the village. Sa-weet! The first event was the welcome party at the Shakedown bar that night.  Everyone was SO excited about being in Colorado and for the weekend ahead.  There was a live band, the drinks flowed liberally, and there wasn’t a single face without a smile on it.  It was so much fun to meet everyone and to get charged with amazing energy that was consistent among friends and family alike.  The next morning I met the ladies on the lawn next to the Eagle Bahn gondola for a sunny group yoga class.  It was a gorgeous blue-sky day and I felt the love and support for Marisa literally vibrating like waves of light around the group.  I didn’t even need to participate in the yoga work to be enveloped by the serenity that was emanating in all directions from this gorgeous group of women.  With every photo I snapped I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into the Zen.  Mmmmmm.  Afterwards, I hoped in my car and drove over to the Eagle golf course about 20 minutes away to meet up with the groom and his posse of golfers.  He had a golf cart waiting for me and I zoomed around the gorgeous course to capture each of the six teams getting their game on.  I don’t personally play golf, but I can appreciate a gorgeous course when I see one, and gorgeous it was!

Saturday night I met the group once again at the Blue Moose Pizza joint just around the corner from the Arabelle Hotel where more drinks, more food, and more fun was had by all!  Again, I was invited to eat and drink like one of the guests and I loved the easy going vibe as many of the guests gathered around the bar TV’s to watch the Miami Heat game and root for their home-town basketball heroes!

When I woke up on Sunday morning, the day of the wedding, the skies looked ominous, the temperature had dropped, and the rain was already coming down.  I knew that Marisa had her heart set on having their wedding ceremony outside, so I started my visualization process immediately.  The rain will pass, the rain will pass, the rain will pass…  Ohm.  :-)  And miraculously, right about the time we had scheduled for the first look, the clouds lifted, the rain stopped, and Marisa and Mitch had a magical first look outside!  I’m a BIG fan of the first look, and this one didn’t disappoint in the slightest.  As the wedding party looked on through the windows of the hotel, the smiles on Marisa and Mitch’s faces said it all.  And not only that, but the rain actually held off long enough for us to take wedding party photos outside next to the river AND to have the ceremony outside at the Donovan Pavilion, as planned!  What luck!!

The reception was flawless too.  Between the hilarious speeches, the delicious meal, and the rocking band, a fantastic time was had by all.  I honestly didn’t want to go home!  It’s amazing how quickly you can get to know a couple just by spending time with them on their wedding day, much less spending three days with them though various wedding festivities!  I got lots of hugs goodbye and even took a selfie with Marisa’s dad!  Ha!

Thank you SO MUCH to the Marcus family, to all of the Sklawlers, and to everyone involved in this deliciously fab weekend.  It was one of the most fun weekends I have had in a while, and what was supposed to be “work,” sure felt like play-time. Lucky me!  Thank you also to Sarah Fischer, my wonderful second shooter for the wedding day.  You killed it as usual and I appreciate your talent and energy more than you know!

And finally…. The emails I got from Marisa and her mom after I released her photos just made my day. Marisa said: “OMG!!!!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!”  And from her mother, Ruth: ” Hi Frances, I absolutely  love the pictures!! You captured the emotion, fun and the events in such a fantastic way!!!  WOW!  I just start to cry when I see how happy Marisa and Mitch were that week-end. Marisa was absolutely beautiful and your pictures really emphasized it.  THANK YOU so much!”

It’s probably pretty easy to see why I love what I do….

Wedding Photography Four Seasons Denver: Kelly and Wade Fletcher

Wedding Photography Four Seasons Denver: The Four Seasons has become one of my favorite hotels in Denver to photograph weddings.  Beyond it’s supremely chic and modern atmosphere (which is right up my own personal alley), I love the location right in the heart of downtown.  It’s within walking distance to the Denver Performing Arts Complex as well as Larimer Square.  Given the gorgeous day we had for Kelly and Wade’s wedding, we took advantage of this for the first look as well as photos with their large wedding party and their families.  It was pure magic!  We did the first look at the DCPA (which was perfect) and then we took the wedding party for a stroll down Larimer (and yes, I did stop traffic- as I am known to do on occasion!) and then back to the DCPA for family formals in the beautiful soft light that the covered ceiling provides, even in broad daylight.  I am in LOVE with this couple, these photos, and everything about this wedding.

For starters, Kelly and Wade are my ideal couple!  Not only do they both look like models, they both love being outdoors and participating in many of the fun activities that our fabulous state provides: hiking, skiing, golfing, running, live music, golf, volleyball (to name a few).  They both love to read and travel and have a long list of countries they want to visit.  They are adventurous and silly, fun-loving and absolutely darling to the core of their beings.  They trusted me implicitly to “do my thing” (which I LOVE) and the images I was able to capture for them are a true reflection of their personalities and the love they have for each other.  THANK YOU KELLY AND WADE for being so awesome in every way!  Couples like you make me LOVE what I do so very much!

They had their ceremony on the pool deck and the afternoon rain shower held itself back until the couple literally walked down the aisle.  It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.  When the rain did decide to fall, Heather and Jenna (the fab planners from Table 6 Productions) were quick on their feet to move cocktail hour down to the space outside the main ballroom and not a beat was missed.  It anything, it gave Kelly and Wade a moment to revel in their amazing good luck and grab a few more photos outside before joining the party.  And what a party it was!  Between the beautiful and heartfelt speeches from Kelly’s father, the best man and the maid of honor, their band, Groove Nation, kept the party rocking all night long. I swear they had literally EVERYONE on the dance floor.

Thank you again to Kelly and Wade, Heather and Jenna, the staff at the Four Seasons, and last but not least, to my wonderful second shooter, Sarah Box.  It was a A-team effort and I am incredibly proud to have been a part of such a gorgeous wedding!

Villa Parker Wedding: Megan and Teddy Smith

Villa Parker Wedding: There’s a history here.  And I’m not talking about the Villa, although I’m sure there is history there too.   I’m talking about the beautiful bride, Megan, who is, in a sense, like a little sister to me.  I first met the beautiful Silkman sisters at Erin and Sean’s wedding in Beaver Creek in 2008 when I was hired to photograph their gorgeous wedding at Beano’s Cabin.  It was a perfect wedding weekend and I will never forget meeting the sisters and thinking that they reminded me so much of my own family, except, instead of three girls, there were four!

About a year or so after the wedding, I got a message from the youngest sister, Bonnie, who was interested in coming to CO to be my intern for the summer between her junior and senior year of college.  I thought it seemed like a great idea and we made arrangements for her to come.  As we got closer and were working out the details, we decided the best option was for her to live with me so that she wouldn’t have to pay rent and seeing as how my home had just gotten a whole lot quieter, it was perfect timing for us both.

We bonded immediately and had a fabulous summer together!  I loved having her near me and we both cried when she said goodbye to go back to school.  When she was getting ready to graduate I got a call that she wanted to come back to Denver and wondered if she could live with me again…  it was an ecstatic YES!!  And so began the second chapter of a beautiful sisterhood/internship relationship.

As Bonnie and I continued to get closer, I got to know more and more about her family and her sisters, and she about mine.  In the end it was like we really were sisters and her sisters, mine, and my sisters, hers.  It was a beautiful and serendipitous time in both of our lives.  But as life does, things shifted for us both and eventually Bonnie moved on to a fabulous career as a TV news anchor.  Go Bonnie!

When I found out that Megan was engaged, I was beyond thrilled for her and had no doubt in my mind that I needed to be her and Teddy’s photographer.  It was a decision I will never regret as their wedding was as sweet as sweet gets, and it meant the world to me to be there for a family I have grown to love and cherish and to document yet another beautiful love story for their family history.

It was an intimate wedding with only their closest friends and family and even though it started out as a pretty cold day in April, the trees were at the peak of their bloom and we all braved a little cold weather in order to capture the magnificence of spring in Colorado.  Megan and Teddy couldn’t have been more in love or happier to be getting married, and I will forever hold the memory of their glowing smiles in my mind.  It was a perfect wedding day and a perfect opportunity to reconnect with a family that I will always adore.

Thank you Megan and Teddy!  Thank you to the wonderful people at Villa Parker!  And thank you to the Silkman family, the Smith family, and of course the Benderly family for bring us all together.  I love you ALL! Now and always.

Bonnie, you are next sister!  ;-)

Denver Wedding Photographer: Fallon and Carl Tie the Knot

I love being a Denver Wedding Photographer!  My 2014 wedding season kicked off  on April 26th with Fallon and Carl Koelbel.  They had their wedding ceremony at Bethany Lutheran Church and their reception under a “starry sky” in the Chambers Grant Salon, inside Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House, in the DCPA.  Besides having a fantastic group of friends and family to work with, absolutely gorgeous weather, and an amazing venue and decor (by Newberry Brothers), I was also fortunate enough to have the fabulous team from Colorado Wedding Company along side of me and my second shooter, helping with all of the details and timeline throughout the day.  In fact, Fallon and Carl found us on the recommendation of Kelsey from Colorado Wedding Company!  Thank you Kelsey!  We LOVE working with your team!

Fallon and Carl had a traditional ceremony and didn’t want to see each other before the wedding so I got ready with the girls at the Denver Ritz-Carlton.  Carl got ready with his groomsmen at his house with Julie, my second shooter for the day (and my amazing production manager for the past 5 years!), behind the lens.

After the ceremony I took a ride with the wedding party down to the DCPA where we did all of the wedding party and bridal portraits. And after that, it was time to party!  There was a beautiful dinner served to all of the guests, great speeches by the parents, the maid of honor and the two best men, (bringing both tears and laughter), and then a fabulous dance party to the Jerry Barnett Orchestra Band.

It was a wonderful start to a very busy wedding season and I want to shout out a huge thank you to Fallon, Carl, and to all of their friends and their families for being so much fun to photograph!  Another thanks to Julia, my rock solid sidekick! Thank you to the staff at Kevin Taylor’s, you were amazing.  And finally, thank you again to the Colorado Wedding Company team.  You were perfection, as always!