We love the outdoors and we love each other, so it seemed logical to have a camping wedding. Over the past year we have been planning a three-day wedding celebration near Maroon Bells and Aspen, Colorado. Two days before our guests were due to arrive, we loaded up a big rental cargo van with all sorts of camping equipment and wedding items we had carefully collected from thrift stores, consignment stores, and Craigslist. Our drive to Aspen took us through some stunning mountains. We were tired when we arrived so we set up camp, ate a quick dinner, and fell fast asleep.
The next morning, still groggy, we heard a deep voice outside our tent say “Anna and Chris.” Anna started to unzip the tent, dreading that a ranger would bring us some sort of bad news about the group of campsites we’d reserved months ago. “Anna and Chris” came the call again just as she tossed the rain fly to the side. It was Mags and Stu! They had also come up a few days early to do some backpacking in the area and had decided to see if we had arrived yet. So wonderful to wake to old friends smiling down on you.
Soon we were up and running errands: securing additional campsites, buying groceries, ordering flowers, etc. At the grocery store, we (Cheep Cheep too!) were thrilled to meet Smokey Bear. We think he was excited to learn about our camping wedding too, though he is a pretty chill sort of bear, so it’s hard to tell.
On Thursday afternoon our friends and family started arriving and setting up camp at the Silver Queen Campground in White River National Forest. It’s a spectacular car camping site with Maroon Creek rushing past a few steps from the campsites, towering red-hued cliffs, aspens quaking in the breeze, and the Maroon Bell peaks visible in the distance if you stand in the right spot.
We really enjoyed each other’s company. Even rain couldn’t stop us from having a good time.
The rain let up after dinner, and we decided to try our hand at a campfire. The wood was soaked so we had quite a time getting it going, but we did eventually succeed. Good conversation, s’mores, and laughter followed.
It rained off and on throughout the night. Clouds still lingered as we woke the next morning. The creek was flowing strong with all the recent showers.
Each day we paid close attention to the weather at 11 AM, since our wedding ceremony would occur on Saturday at that time. And every day, no matter how much rain fell overnight and in the afternoon, the weather was perfect at 11 AM. Today day was no different: the sun came out around 10 AM. We crossed our fingers and hoped this pattern would continue.
Once everyone had breakfast, we headed into Aspen to ride the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain. On the short drive, we spotted 2 marmots and a moose! It was some people’s first time seeing these creatures!
We gathered at the base of Aspen Mountain, ready to ride the gondola to the top. Everyone was in good spirits.
As the gondola pulled us upwards, the town of Aspen receded to Lego size, dwarfed by the mountains surrounding it. At the top, dramatic clouds framed the powerful peaks.
It felt great to share this beautiful place with friends and family — and of course, with each other.
We couldn’t wait to play some disc golf on the highest (and no doubt one of the prettiest) disc golf courses in the world.
Unfortunately thunder rumbled ominously right after we started the 2nd hole so we headed into the lodge to grab lunch and watch the storm through the big windows. Undeterred by the rain, Mags spotted a pile of hula hoops outside and treated us to a short hula hoop dancing performance.
Eventually we took the gondola back down. We hadn’t showered since Tuesday and several other campers were keen on looking fresh for the ceremony the next morning, so we all took turns rotating through the showers at a nearby hotel. Afterwards everyone headed back up Maroon Canyon to the campground.
While most of the group started prepping dinner, five of us continued farther uphill to the Maroon Bells Amphitheater where the ceremony would be held. We had a great rehearsal with Noah, our good friend and officiant. This was our chance to work out all the little questions we hadn’t yet resolved.
Dinner was ready when we arrived back at the campsite. It sure was tasty. Many thanks to everyone for prepping meals and cleaning dishes throughout the festivities.
Each night after dinner we had a campfire. Those were some of our favorite parts of the whole gathering, just sitting and chatting around the fire roasting marshmallows and passing around Grandma Patsy’s nut rolls and apricot rolls.
We went to sleep nervous and excited: tomorrow we would be wed! Watch for our next post, coming soon, where we’ll share our wedding day, with plenty of photos!