An Elegant and Organic Wedding on a Mountain in Colorado
Charlotte Mitchell and Blake Riley may have met in New York City, but the mountains of Colorado have always held a special place in their hearts. After meeting through friends in 2015, the two spent a lot of time there together. âI grew up going to Vail and knew that I wanted to get married there well before Blake and I got engaged,â says Charlotte, who works in American art at Sothebyâs. So when Blake, who works for a real estate private equity firm, dropped to one knee on an unusually quiet and cold Tribeca street in February 2019, there wasnât a question in either of their minds about where to hold the ceremony.
Of course, their original wedding date of July 2020 got sidetracked by the pandemic. But, Charlotte and Blake took it in stride. They had a small wedding then with immediate family only, and postponed their big celebration for a year. When another snag hit, the couple chalked it up to good luck.
âWe had originally committed to a different ranch in the area which fell through, and I canât help to think that it was the best thing that happened to us during the planning process,â says Charlotte. âOur wedding planner then showed us Eaton Ranch and introduced us to the owner, Mike Eaton, who we immediately connected with.â
The private ranch was the setting of their dreams, with a secluded aspen grove for the ceremony and a lush meadow below for the reception. They let its Aspen trees, bright blue sky, and wild aster, larkspur, and daisies inspire the celebration from the decor to the food. âWe kept coming back to the notion of âmountain elegant,ââ says Charlotte. âWe wanted to complement the natural beauty of the ranch as much as possible.â
Charlotte Mitchell and Blake Riley's Real Wedding Video
A stationery suite by Sweet Zion Paperie introduced the eveningâs lush botanical theme and green and natural palette. The company also created the escort cards and place cards as well as the table numbers which, like the invitations, were personalized with a wax seal.
âI loved getting ready with my bridesmaids at my parentâs house,â says Charlotte. âWe had such a fun, relaxed day, and it really set the tone for the celebration. My parents, who Iâm very close with, were a big part of it, too, so it was nice to all spend time together before the festivities.â
Charlotte wore a Mira Zwillinger fitted V-neck lace dress embellished with unique 3D elements. Funny enough, it wasnât the first one she picked out. âI originally selected a different Mira Zwillinger dress but had second thoughts a few months after purchasing it,â she says. âLuckily, the designer hadnât started to make the dress yet and was incredibly flexible and let me try on some of their other designs, which is when I discovered the one.â
The bridesmaids chose their own light blue dresses, with the only guideline being that they pick out something theyâd love to wear again. âWe ended up with a wonderful mix of prints, silhouettes, and textures that complemented each other well,â says Charlotte.
I donât wear much makeup normally and wanted to be sure I looked like myself.
The bride wore her motherâs diamond earrings and bracelet and a veil made by her tailor in New York. She kept the makeup natural and glowyââI donât wear much makeup normally and wanted to be sure I looked like myself,â she saysâwith a simple chignon that showed off the back of her dress. Lily of the valley, her great-grandmotherâs favorite flower, created her bouquet.
Blake complemented his blue Ermenegildo Zegna suit with a green Salvatore Ferragamo tie and a watch that Charlotte gave him for his 30th birthday. His boutonniere of babyâs breath and greenery also had thistle accents.
There were no rules or expectations about what should or should not be included.
Before the ceremony, the couple decided to take photos throughout the natural landscape of the property. Eaton Ranchâs towering aspens and meadows set a beautiful backdrop.
âThe most fun part about planning a one-year anniversary celebration rather than a traditional wedding was that there were no rules or expectations about what should or should not be included,â says Charlotte. âBlake and I had a lot of fun brainstorming the structure of the ceremony and tailoring it to reflect us as a couple. We were already married, so definitely less stressed!â
The aspen grove at the ceremony site created a gorgeous outdoor cathedral and natural photo booth for the wedding party and Charlotte and Blakeâs families. Event designer Enjoue Studio accented the setting with naturalistic fresh and dried arrangements.
The groomsmen also wore blue. However, they all wore "matching blue suits and bolo ties, as a small homage to the American West," notes the bride. "The bolo ties were designed by our close friend who is an incredibly talented jewelry designer based in Vailâshe sourced all of the stones and each one was a little bit different."
Natural beauty shined through at the ceremony. Green and white flowers lined the center aisle, creating the illusion that they were growing from the ground. The guestsâ ghost chairs disappeared into the woodland setting. At the front, a horseshoe-shaped altar made of a variety of green and white florals mixed with dried pampas grass created an ethereal outdoor sanctuary.
Clear bubble umbrellasâtranslucent like the guestsâ ghost chairsâsaw the gathered crowd through a brief pre-ceremony shower.
The couple's parents and wedding party processed to âFields of Goldâ by Sting. Blake and Charlotte then followed, walking down the aisle together to a rendition of the Rolling Stonesâ classic âWild Horsesâ played by a live violinist and cellist. âMy dad walked me down the aisle last year for our intimate wedding, and we liked the idea of doing something different,â says Charlotte.
"Because we got married last year, we wanted the ceremony to feel like a celebration of our marriage rather than a wedding ceremony," shares Charlotte. A friend of the couple Justin kept things lighthearted while officiating the celebration, in which they read each other a brief reflection on their first year of marriage along with a short favorite quote and reaffirmed their vows. Charlotte skewed serious with an excerpt from a letter that Georgia OâKeeffe, one of her favorite artists, wrote to Alfred Stieglitz the year before they married. Blake kept it light with an Adam Sandler quote from The Wedding Singer.
They recessed to the reception site in the meadow below to a live rendition of the upbeat U2 hit âBeautiful Day.â Charlotte adds, "I loved our music selection for the ceremony. It was a little bit different but very us."
Additional sailcloth teloungents from Sperry Tents housed the reception, while a teepee tent from Under the Sky Teepee Tents sheltered an outdoor cocktail bar. Enjoue Studio also set up spaces with modern Scandinavian furniture and soft fur pillows for guests to enjoy.
"I loved our escort card table, which was covered with blooms, greenery, moss, and varied height stumps with the place cards sticking out like flowers,â shares Charlotte. Enjoue Studio created this âtable gardenâ by styling a blonde wood table with birch risers, moss, and soft blooms that looked as if they were growing up from its surface, then suspended the Sweet Zion Paperie escort cards above for guests to find.
Choosing the largest size double-pole tent allowed Enjoue Studio to create a feature lighting element in the center of its ceiling. Over 40 natural-weave pendant lights were suspended to float over the dance floor, which was framed by a 42-foot farm table.
The tabletop palette of blonde wood, light blue, white, cream, and sandy blush played off the natural surroundings. Blue and white runners from La Tavola Fine Linen Rentals were topped by low, full arrangements of fresh and dried flowers, including garden roses, delphinium, ranunculus, bleached ruscus, dried scabiosa pods, blue thistle, greenery, and mosses, designed by Vintage Magnolia. Each place setting was completed with a gray-blue hand-glazed charger and matte gold Scandinavian flatware from Enjoue Studio and a celadon menu card created by Sweet Zion Paperie.
As the sun went down, lanterns and pinspot lighting illuminated the tentâs entrance marquee, which was framed with live trees, as well as a path to an outdoor fire pit lounge. There, guests could bundle up in cozy throws and sink into Adirondack chairs to hang out and take in the bright starlight night.
As the reception went into full swing, guests dined on a menu featuring many locally sourced foods like peaches and Colorado trout. Charlotte adds that she loved the speeches during dinner. âMy dad, matron of honor, Laura, and Blakeâs two best men all knocked it out of the park. They managed to both make me laugh out loud and bring me to tears," she recalls.
âThe dance floor was electric,â says Charlotte. âI donât think it was ever empty." She and Blake shared a first dance to the live band the Sultansâ rendition of âThis Must Be the Place (NaĂŻve Melody),â by The Talking Heads. The bride danced with her father to the Led Zeppelin tune âThank You.â The groom and his mother chose the Guns ânâ Roses classic âSweet Child O Mine.â
This moment on the dance floor was one of Charlotteâs most memorable of the night. âI donât know who coordinated itâand I need to thank them if I ever find out!âbut all of a sudden a group of people lifted Blake and me into the air and we basically crowd surfed," she says.
Charlotte's advice for anyone planning a wedding? âFor starters, I would advise against planning a wedding during a global pandemic!â says Charlotte, joking. More seriously: âIâd heard this from several friends, but itâs definitely true that the bride and groom set the tone for the weekend. If youâre stressed and anxious, guests will pick up on it, whereas if youâre having the time of your life they will too.â After a year of waiting to celebrate, she and Blake led the crowd in kicking back and enjoying the day to the fullest.