Destination Wedding, Estes National Park: Joe and Lauren

I rang in the New Year with Joe and Lauren in Colorado outside Estes National Park. It was an incredible experience working with these two. After a few minutes with everyone, you feel like you’re part of the family. The couple was married by Lauren’s brother Patrick, on a frozen lake, surrounded by their immediate family, in 8 degree weather, while it was snowing. Lauren even surprised Joe’s mom with a heart sewn into her dress made of Joe’s grandmother’s necklace. They followed up with a small reception at a local restaurant and a day later we went out for a few sunny and warm portraits! Here are some comments from Lauren about how it all came together.

– What lead you to have a wedding the way you did? Family, friends location etc?

Honestly, whenever I pictured my wedding, I could not see myself in front of a hundred people. Joey doesn’t really love big crowds either, especially when he needs to be affectionate. Joey’s best friend at work, another sergeant, mentioned his brother lives in Colorado and there is a beautiful area up in the mountains – exactly what we were looking for. We looked up the area the next week and pretty much decided that’s where we are going!

A big struggle we had was only inviting immediate family. Ultimately, we decided the smaller the better and next summer we will have a big summer party with both of our families. Also, it would keep our wedding day stress levels at a minimum. Luckily, we both have amazing and supportive friends and family who made this difficult decision easier.

– What were you most excited about before the wedding?

I think what I was most excited for was spending quality time with the family. We did a small, intimate wedding of 15 people, and it was just nice to spend time with everyone. I felt like the biggest complaint I heard from my friends who had already been married is you spend so much time going around greeting guests, you don’t get to enjoy the night as much. Luckily for us, our family was willing to fly out to Colorado, and spend a couple days there, and it meant the world to us.

Did anything surprise you, was anything unexpected?

The government shut down certainly surprised us! As we were planning to get married in a national park, that obviously put a halt in our plans -12 days before we were getting married. While we were in Estes Park, CO we looked at a couple of potential places to get married and the kind staff at Rocky Mountain National Park actually recommended Lily Lake. The day before our wedding, we went up with Joe’s parents and the wind would barely let us out of the car. The snow on the ground was pelting our faces and all I could think is man, we flew all the way out here to get married outside, and this weather is not going to work. The morning of the wedding, the hotel we were staying in told us we could have our private ceremony inside their hotel conference room. An hour before the wedding, Angie asked us where we were having there ceremony, outside or inside, and we still hadn’t decided. At this point I couldn’t make another decision – I just ask Angie “what should I do?” and Angie just said “you came out here to get married outside – get married outside. It’s snowing and your family made it out here, let’s just do it.”  It was exactly what I needed to hear. Joe drove up with his dad to Lily Lake and saw that while the snow was falling there was absolutely no wind. We made the call, we jumped in the limo, drove ten minutes to Lily Lake, and got married on a frozen lake in eight degree weather while snowing. It was breathtaking!

Which images did you love the most?

I absolutely loved all of my wedding pictures. I think the ones that stand out the most are the pictures of the whole family at our private dinner – I actually forgot that my brother and my 5 year old niece had a New Year’s ever horn blowing competition at dinner that was so hilarious, I was crying laughing. The other pictures that stand out to me are the ones where I actually forgot pictures were being taken and I felt in the moment with Joe. There is one of us holding hands walking off the frozen lake back to the limo that I didn’t realize that Angie was up higher and taking pictures of us – and I think that candid moment between the two of us of pure happiness and just in the moment with each other is incredible.

Any advice for couples going through this process or about to go through the process?

My biggest advice has to be don’t expect perfection for the big day. There will be some hiccups and the best thing you can do is be aware that things might not go as planned and just roll with the punches.

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