I live for creating and capturing epic wedding moments, especially for adventurous couples like Jake and Leah. Their outdoor wedding at Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin was nothing short of extraordinary. Imagine – an epic celebration, set 11,500 feet above sea level in the heart of Colorado’s ski country. Despite a little rain, the day unfolded beautifully, radiating a deeply personal connection and an unbridled love for the great outdoors.
Let’s start with this remarkable couple. Their love story spans over a decade, beginning as high school sweethearts. Jake and Leah share an unwavering passion for skiing and snowboarding, with Jake even popping the question during a backcountry skiing adventure, accompanied by their pup, Bonnie. Their profound affection for one another and their shared love for the great outdoors infused every aspect of their special day with genuine authenticity.
The weather on their wedding day didn’t exactly follow the script, but here in Colorado, it rarely does. While sporadic rain is a common occurrence at this altitude, we were in for a surprise with hours of rain and unexpected lightning, presenting us with some unique challenges. However, in the true spirit of adventurous Colorado souls, Jake and Leah remained remarkably composed and adaptable, simply embracing the unpredictability of nature.
While Jake was at the top of the mountain, eagerly awaiting his first look with Leah, an unexpected twist occurred: lightning struck, temporarily halting the chairlift with Leah left at the bottom of the mountain. Fortunately, their careful planning, including backup rain plans, came to the rescue. With the couple’s unwavering spirit and adaptability, they quickly dispatched a car to transport Leah to the summit. It’s moments like these that serve as a gentle reminder to all soon-to-be-weds: always have backup plans and rain contingencies in place when planning your best day in the great outdoors.
Once Jake and Leah were both at the top of the mountain for their precious first look, we ventured into the meadow near Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin for an absolutely stunning portrait session. This location is breathtaking, framed by the majestic 13,000-foot peaks of the Continental Divide. My trusty clear umbrellas came in use, ensuring we were prepared to create stunning portraits despite the few lingering raindrops.
It makes such a difference when everyone remains understanding and relaxed, even in the face of inclement weather. Given that both families are avid skiers, their composure in the face of changing conditions was truly commendable. The relaxed atmosphere that they preserved made for an enjoyable and memorable experience.
One of the most unique features of this venue is its one-of-a-kind processional, which takes place via the ski chairlift. How cool is that? Fortunately, by this point, the weather had cleared, and the chairlift was back in operation, ensuring that the bride and her guests could ascend the mountain via chairlift for their outdoor ceremony.
The sight of everyone, especially the bride, arriving on the ski lift added a delightful touch of excitement and novelty to this ski mountain wedding. It perfectly encapsulated the spirit of ski enthusiasts and added a fun and unforgettable element to the day.
The ceremony was stunning, taking place on the expansive deck with breathtaking views of the towering rocky cliffsides. As you ascended the steps to the deck, another heartwarming personal touch of the wedding welcomed you – a customized welcome sign designed to resemble a National Park sign. I couldn’t help but adore it; it was such a fantastic idea.
In the field behind the ceremony, the most adorable family of moose made an appearance and decided to hang around for most of the day. It was as if they could sense the love and celebration in the air, and they wanted to be a part of it. This was a truly unforgettable moment, not just for me but for the venue staff as well. It added an extra layer of meaning to an already remarkable day!
After their ceremony, Leah and Jake took part in the venue’s heartwarming tradition of enjoying a “sweetheart loop” on the chairlift. It’s a cherished and enjoyable moment that allows the newlyweds to take a quiet break together and fully soak in the magic of what just transpired.
The cocktail hour and reception were an absolute blast and perfectly reflected their authenticity, shared passions, and vibrant personalities. They left no stone unturned when it came to infusing their personal touch into every aspect of the celebration, right down to the wooden mountain table markers.
One standout feature that truly captured my heart was their creative use of ski boots as vases for their florals. It was a brilliant idea that added a unique and charming touch to the decor. In fact, Leah’s adoration for wildflowers shone brightly throughout the day, from her elegantly adorned dress and beautiful bridal bouquet, to the whimsical wildflowers tucked into those cozy ski boot vases. It was an extra special touch because the wildflowers were in full bloom on their wedding day, as if nature itself was celebrating their love story.
When it comes to catering, Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin knows what they are doing. Their in-house catering not only makes the entire process easy and stress-free, but the food itself is a true culinary delight. While their specialty is BBQ, they excel in catering to diverse tastes and restrictions, offering a wonderful selection of gluten-free and vegan options as well.
One standout dish that left a lasting impression was their smoked vegetable antipasti board, served with delectable hummus. It was an absolute delight for the taste buds.
Following a delightful meal, heartfelt toasts, the unforgettable first dance, and the time-honored cake-cutting ceremony, we stepped outside to capture some alpenglow sunset portraits. The field, adorned with a rich display of wildflowers, provided a picturesque backdrop. We then wrapped up the night with an evening filled with lively dancing in the reception space at Black Mountain Lodge. It was a fantastic conclusion to an unforgettable day.
This marked my third time as a wedding photographer at Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin, and it never ceases to amaze me. Perched at a breathtaking altitude of 11,500 feet above sea level, this mountain wedding venue offers a picturesque, intimate, and truly unforgettable setting for your special day. Whether you’re an enthusiastic skier or snowboarder or simply seeking a unique Colorado mountain wedding experience, this venue has it all. And one of the best parts? The ski lift! It adds an element of fun, not only for the ceremony, but also for capturing unique wedding party photographs.
The expansive and beautiful back deck, where ceremonies are held, is surrounded by towering 13,000-foot peaks and fields of vibrant wildflowers. This creates the perfect backdrop for capturing those stunning alpenglow sunset photos.
The interior of the venue is perfect for a mountain wedding. It features a hall adorned with charming string lights, vaulted ceilings, rustic timber and stone design elements, and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views of the mountainside. Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin is thoughtfully designed, providing convenient spaces for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, with the capacity to accommodate up to 200 guests.
The property isn’t just abundant in beautiful and awe-inspiring photo opportunities; it also boasts a fantastic feature – its proximity to other stunning locations for first looks and portraits. Among these, my personal favorite is Loveland Pass Lake. I love the idea of adding a touch of variety to your wedding day and photo gallery by incorporating a second location for portraits. Having your mountain wedding at Black Mountain Lodge offers the convenience of a quick and easy stop at Loveland Pass Lake on your way to the venue.
Now, with this mountain wedding venue located at such a high elevation, it’s essential to make some preparations for yourselves and your guests. If you or your guests are not accustomed to high altitudes, doing some research and taking appropriate measures is crucial. Here are some tips for a high-altitude ski mountain wedding that can assist you in your wedding planning:
While a difficult-to-access location may offer the seclusion you long for on your perfect day, it’s essential to consider the potential challenges it might pose for both you and your guests. It’s crucial to assess whether all your guests can comfortably and safely navigate the venue’s high altitude of 11,500 feet and whether they can safely utilize the chairlift for transportation.
Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin, along with other resort towns such as Aspen, Breckenridge, and Vail, offers an ideal backdrop for a Colorado mountain wedding. These towns provide a plethora of outdoor activities, spa experiences, and dining options, ensuring your guests have a multitude of entertainment choices. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that resort town prices can catch some guests by surprise.
To make your wedding more budget-friendly for your loved ones, consider scheduling it during the off-season, avoiding festival weekends and early-season ski dates. This strategic timing can significantly reduce accommodation costs, as peak ski season rates can be more than double those of the lower-season summer dates.
Navigating mountainous terrain can be daunting due to winding roads and abundant wildlife. To alleviate concerns for guests less accustomed to these unique challenges, consider providing transportation to and from your mountain wedding venue.
Jake and Leah’s wedding is a perfect example; they thoughtfully informed their guests about the option to catch a bus from downtown Frisco to the lodge, ensuring a hassle-free journey to the celebration. This simple gesture can make a significant difference in your guests’ overall experience.
As Jake and Leah’s wedding day at Black Mountain Lodge demonstrated, mountain weather can change quickly. While it’s wise to bring an extra layer to stay warm during cooler evening temperatures, having a solid “Plan B” for potential wedding day weather challenges is absolutely crucial.
This proactive approach can include arranging for backup transportation if the chairlift isn’t operational, waiting out a passing shower, relocating your ceremony to an alternative indoor or covered location, or even embracing the rain with some clear umbrellas. Having contingency plans in case of inclement weather will not only keep stress levels low but also ensure your vendors are well-prepared to adapt to sudden weather changes.
One aspect that is often overlooked but can have significant consequences, especially at high altitudes, is hydration. At elevated locations, your body can lose water more than twice as quickly as it does at sea level. This rapid loss of water can lead to altitude sickness, resulting in symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and nausea for you and your guests. To avoid such misery, it’s essential to allocate a few days for acclimatization before your special day. Make sure your guests are aware of the importance of staying well-hydrated in the lead-up to the wedding and encourage them to keep their caffeine and alcohol consumption modest.
Leah and Jake had an ingenious idea to assist with the high elevation during their wedding by having Summit Oxygen set up a flavored oxygen bar. While it adds a unique and enjoyable element to the celebration, it can also be beneficial for those experiencing mild altitude sickness symptoms.
Leah and Jake’s mountain wedding at Black Mountain Lodge at Arapahoe Basin was a ski lover’s dream come true. Their journey from high school sweethearts to adventurous partners in love was beautifully reflected in every aspect of their special day. As a wedding photographer, I wholeheartedly recommend that all couples infuse their weddings with the kind of personal touches and authenticity that Leah and Jake embraced.
If you’re considering a mountain wedding on a picturesque ski mountain, I can’t encourage you enough. The breathtaking views, the alpine serenity, and the chance to create cherished memories amidst Colorado’s pristine nature make it an unforgettable choice. Even when nature throws its surprises, as it did with a bit of rain on Leah and Jake’s day, the love and connection between a couple shine even brighter.
Whether your day unfolds under clear skies or a gentle mountain rain, know that I’m here, ready to capture your unique love story, surrounded by the unparalleled beauty of Colorado’s majestic landscape. Your mountain wedding, rain or shine, will be a tale of love, adventure, and the enduring power of two wild souls uniting in one of the most awe-inspiring settings nature has to offer.
Photographed for https://dbkphotos.com/