A Charming Elopement in the Colorado Mountains

Betsy Blanche, a childcare caregiver, and Shawna Rae, a pre-med student, always knew they wanted an intimate elopement when they tied the knot. So, they had scheduled a small ceremony in the Pacific Northwest for family and a few friends to take place in July 2020. "That quickly fizzled out with COVID,” share the couple, who live together in Charlotte, North Carolina. “With statewide stay-at-home orders coming about and the news that the elderly were more susceptible to falling severely ill, we just weren’t willing to chance it with our parents. We weren’t sure how long we would have to wait after cancelling our initial plans with there being so much uncertainty.”

While the pair may have had to postpone, they proved to have quite the lucky 2020 after all. After hiring Keely Flatness of Keely AF Events to plan their eventual nuptials, they won a giveaway that covered the costs of their planner, florals, and photography for their elopement! “We originally met Keely when she was a bridal stylist with Lovely Bride Denver," explains Betsy. "We immediately clicked and fell in love with her vibe. We found out through Keely that she, a florist Alex Fairchild, and a photographer Hailey Pierce were partnering together to do an elopement giveaway. Shawna and I both entered, and we couldn’t believe we actually won. It was a dream come true.”

So, the couple quickly pivoted, setting a date for October 15, 2020, and started planning an elopement for just the two of them in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado. The natural beauty of the mountains and lake backdrop served as inspiration for their warm yet neutral color scheme and décor.

Betsy and Shawna won the perfect team to help them craft the wedding of their dreams. “From the start, all three ladies were giving us tips and ideas for our elopement,” Betsy says. “We sent them some photos for inspiration we had found that we really liked, and from there they sent back a vision board with florals, tablescape, and décor. They hit the nail on the head and made everything so effortless for us that we didn’t need to make any changes at all. We just had to give the go-ahead!”

Keep reading for all the details on Shawna and Betsy's beautiful day in the mountains, as photographed by Hailey Pierce and planned by Keely AF Events.

While Betsy and Shawna had a great trio to help them with day-of festivities, the pair decided to DIY their wedding invitation suite. “There was no point in having numerous custom invitations made professionally when it was only the two of us, but we still wanted a keepsake to remember the day,” share the couple. "We found some templates on Etsy we loved that went well with our simple modern, earthy vibe. We customized the color scheme, went to our local paper shop in Charlotte, and found envelopes and a matching fern liner to tie it all together with our Colorado elopement in the mountains.”

Betsy and Shawna decided to spend the day of their elopement getting ready together. Each wore dresses that they knew were the ones as soon as they tried them on. As for accessories? “I kept everything extremely simple,” notes Betsy. “The most meaningful accessory I wore on my day was my Mother’s gold signet ring with her initials monogrammed on it. She passed two years prior.”

"When we won the elopement package, we decided it would just be easier and in everyone’s best interest for the elopement to be kept between [us]," share the couple. "It killed Betsy to not have her father there on her day, but Shawna made sure to surprise her with a Facetime with him before the ceremony. When he answered the phone, he was all dressed up in his best tux to support her even though he couldn’t be there in person.”

Shawna and I both have a big love for nature and adventure.

“Shawna and I both have a big love for nature and adventure,” says Betsy. “When narrowing down our locations in Colorado, our photographer, Hailey, recommended Sapphire Point. Instead of using the heavily trafficked overlook on the trail, our team ventured off the beaten path and found us the most beautiful spot overlooking the lake in a secluded area that made our elopement feel even that much more intimate.”

A peaked arch adorned with anthuriums, orchids, roses, and dried palms set the stage for the ceremony. "While working with our planner, she suggested she really wanted it to reflect our love for travel, and, more specifically, the favorite places we have been together, Switzerland and Bali,” says Betsy. “We focused on a warm color palette, island-inspired blooms, and modern mountain details.”

It's no surprise that Betsy and Shawna both wrote their own vows for the ceremony. Based on their proposals, the couple clearly love creative and romantic moments. Shawna popped the question first at a Christmas tree farm by surprising Betsy with a decorated tree complete with a sign and lights. Months later, Betsy proposed after their engagement shoot while they danced together beneath the California redwood trees. "I had melted down her grandfather’s wedding ring who is no longer with us, and had a special engagement ring made out of it just for her," she says.

While the vows were sincere, the day was also full of laughter. “Our videographer made a blooper reel of our vows that happened to go viral on TikTok,” share the couple. “The weather had been so beautiful in Breckenridge leading up to our ceremony…until our wedding day. It dropped down to the 30s, it was extremely windy, and felt more like -10 degrees up there. We accidentally blurted out a few things we shouldn’t have that the mic picked up on, but it turned out to be a funny moment!"

After they said "I do," the newlyweds popped some bubbly to celebrate the moment.

We feel most at home when in nature, which is why we chose a ceremony site on a mountain overlooking a lake.

We feel most at home when in nature, which is why we chose a ceremony site on a mountain overlooking a lake,” says the couple. “We like to keep things clean and minimal, so we made sure nothing was over the top.”

Alex Fairchild of Urban Canyon Floristry made a pair of bouquets for the brides filled with lush and neutral blooms.

After the ceremony, Betsy and Shawna returned to a reception for two in a gorgeous space that evoked their ceremony's palette and décor.

Topped with blooms, a single-tier chocolate cake with raspberry filling was ready for the newlyweds to perform that classic wedding tradition.

Like their elopement, the pair's postponed honeymoon was also worth the wait. "During the lockdown, we converted a tiny school bus," the couple shares. "We will be traveling the country for six months starting this summer as our honeymoon to make up for lost time!”

Wedding Team

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