Taylor + Alex | Donovan Pavilion Vail Colorado Wedding Photos
I was seriously elated when Taylor reached out and gave me the opportunity to document their Donovan Pavilion Vail Colorado wedding photos for their Destination Wedding in Colorado. She and Alex live in Minnesota now, but both of them are CSU alumni and knew that they wanted Colorado as the backdrop for their stunning early fall wedding. They chose to get married at Donovan Pavilion in Vail Colorado and had their first look and bridal party portraits at the top of Lift 7 on Vail Mountain. My jaw hit the floor approximately 67,000 times on their stunning wedding day, because everything was beyond perfect; from the smallest details of the dress, decor and details to the biggest emotional moments of the bride’s reveal to her bridesmaids, the first look, the wedding ceremony and the spotlight dances. The bride and groom’s families truly poured their hearts in to the planning of this wedding and it shone through in so many ways. Taylor’s Mom isn’t a wedding planner by profession, but in any other life-time it is absolutely her calling because she did a spectacular job.
I started off with photographing the groom and his groomsmen getting ready at their condo in Vail Village. Beer in hand, sports on the TV, and man-flowers (boutonnieres); is there any other way?
After spending some time with the groom, groomsmen and the fathers of the bride and groom I teleported over to the bride’s condo in Vail Village and began photographing the bride’s details. Her dress was seriously amazing, the flowers were stunning and every single detail from her jewelry to her invitation suite was just perfect. The bride and her bridesmaids getting dolled up and then Taylor put her dress on. Her bridesmaid’s reactions to her reveal in her wedding dress was so beautiful and emotional that I couldn’t help but tear up myself. This is what a true circle of friends looks like. Such an amazing group of ladies!
I left the bride and her girls at their condo in Vail village and headed out to the gondola at Lift 7. The groom, groomsmen and I rode up to the top of Vail mountain to begin their groomsmen photos while we waited for the bride to make her appearance at the top of the mountain for their first look! The gondola ride is a little time intensive, but every level of worth it for those of you that are considering whether or not to do this on your own wedding day.
After the gentlemen were done strutting their stuff, showing me their best GJ and blue steel expressions, flaunting their suspenders and walking across Vail mountain like it was their runway the ladies arrived at the top of the mountain. I quickly whisked Alex down to a more secluded spot on the mountain for him to read a letter from his almost-wife before he saw her for the first time. Taylor arrived and they shared an intimate and emotional first look.
After Taylor and Alex shared their first look on top of Vail mountain, they eagerly greeted the rest of their wedding party to finish up bridal party photos. Yes, this was their real bridal party. Nope, I didn’t hire a flock of models to come stand in. They really do look like they could grace the pages of a magazine, am I right?
*P.S. you can never go wrong with bridesmaids dresses from Weddington Way, they’re always my absolute favorite.
Taylor + Alex’s couple’s portraits followed the bridal party photos. The men headed back down the mountain and the ladies waited in the wings for bridesmaids photos. Honestly, I was pretty tempted to just kidnap all of them and take photos up here for the rest of eternity, because the scenery combined with the weather combined with how beautiful of a group these guys are inside and out made it pretty darn tempting. But, the ceremony is a pretty necessary part of a wedding so no kidnapping took place; but these epic couples portraits sure did.
Shout out to one of the co-maid of honors for being a magical veil thrower and helping me create one of my favorite images I’ve ever taken. After we wrapped up the bride and groom photos I photographed the bridesmaids before we headed back down the mountain to Donovan Pavilion for the ceremony! Taylor had the world’s best maid of honors. Not only did they help her get her garter on in a moving gondola while going down a mountain, but they also had the absolute best toast at the reception (more on that later!)
and just like that, it was time for the festivities to begin, starting with a beautiful ceremony on the back patio at Donovan Pavilion.
Those of you that already know me, or have already read my bio listed here, know that I’m a pretty emotional person and I’m a boy-mom, so when I saw Alex’s Mom tearing up during the beginning of their ceremony it took every fiber in my being to hold it together and not cry right along with her. Their ceremony was so heart-felt and touching, it’s obvious these two were meant to be and it’s clear by their facial expressions during their walk back down the aisle that they’re both just overflowing with joy!
The ceremony ended and cocktail hour began! During cocktail hour I popped inside of the reception space to photograph the stunning details that filled the reception space at Donovan Pavilion. I’ve said and done a lot of weird things that don’t make sense to the normal human eye to get “the shot” but I’ve never asked the catering company to start a fire or burn all the food…..until now ;). Don’t worry, nothing was intentionally burned and no fire was started in the making of these photos, but when I stepped in to the Pavilion there was some smoke in the air and the late afternoon light was just beaming through the skylights. I’m pretty sure I screamed out loud. It was like something out of a movie and I got to take pictures of it! Taylor + Alex’s blush and gold wedding inspiration and decor was so classic and perfect. Their dessert station looked almost too beautiful to eat and the space was decorated in the perfect way.
After falling in love a million times over and over again with their reception space I headed back to the patio where cocktail hour was held and photographed the Mr. and Mrs signing their marriage license with the co-maid of honors and best man as their witnesses. Their officiant was a friend of the family, too! Like I said, so many awesome personal touches integrated in to their special day.
Now that things are officially official it’s time to party! The guests grabbed their last cocktail and headed inside the pavilion to let the reception begin! The bride, groom and wedding party were announced, the bride’s father made a blessing and the guests enjoyed their dinner before the special reception events began.
No sane human likes a photo of themselves with food in their mouth, so while the guests were enjoying their meal I headed outside and snapped some photos of the gift and guest book table and photographed the wedding rings.
As dinner wrapped up the best man took a swig of courage and made an awesome toast to the bride and groom, followed by the maid of honors channeling their inner Kanye West and spitting out a hand-written rap song dedicated to the bride and groom with a little help of Elite DJ dropping the beat in the background. One word: epic. Both toasts made a special mention to the mother of the bride, Kim, and I definitely need to as well. She is the driving force behind how beautifully their day came together and was responsible for the majority of the decor and set-up. Such a talented and amazing woman!
If you don’t already realize just how awesome Taylor and Alex are, their cake cutting is just another tribute to that. They headed to their dessert bar and there was no cutting knife on the table, so the bride and groom grabbed handfuls of cake with their fingers instead. I can’t love these two enough. Best people everrrr!
Next came the spotlight dances; the bride and groom’s first dance, the father daughter dance, the step-father daughter dance, the unexpected but super hilarious father of the bride and step father of the bride dance and the mother son dance.
The spotlight dances were followed by a surprise choreographed dance from a large group of guests, complete with two kiddos that could breakdance like pros, which was the perfect kick-off for a night filled with dancing and fun.
Donovan Pavilion Vail Colorado Wedding Photos by Sharee Davenport (yours truly)
Venue: Donovan Pavilion
First Look / Bridal Party Photo Location: Vail Mountain – Lift 7
Florist: Dashwood Floral
Hair + Makeup: Divine Beauty Artists (Mary Bradbury)
DJ: Elite DJ
Dress: Bridal Boutique in IA
Menswear: Men’s Warehouse