Della Terra Mountain Chateau Wedding PhotographyPhotos of one of Estes Park's best wedding venues
I’ve shot a LOT at Della Terra, and here is my review of the venue.
Della Terra Mountain Chateau fundamentally changed the wedding industry in the Front Range when it was built in the late 2000’s, and I can safely say it is on the of the best things that’s happened in Estes Park since I moved here in 2006. The property is one of the best places to get married in Estes Park and, truly, in all of Colorado. Despite its grandeur, it is a small family business, and clients will get an extremely personal touch when working with the staff at Della Terra. I can’t say enough good things about this place: I absolutely love photographing weddings at Della Terra.
The venue is just outside of Estes Park’s downtown area, with its driveway about a 1 minute walk from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. I can think of very few wedding venues in the country that border a national park. The venue used to be a campground until the owners bought the land and redeveloped into the Chateau, which is built to resemble a European chateau. It’s got a gorgeous sandstone facade, tall picture windows on the main floor, ample parking, guest rooms for the VIPs, and a number of smaller studio apartment style buildings for the rest of the guests.
Wedding photographers working at Della Terra have it pretty easy. There are countless areas to create beautiful pictures, and the outside grounds are spectacular. I particularly like shooting getting ready photos in the rooms at Della Terra — they are quite colorful and there is a lot of interesting architectural features to take advantage of: big arches, cool picture windows, high ceilings, etc. By selectively turning on and off various lights in the room, I can make some dramatic wedding photos.
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Brides typically get their makeup and hair done upstairs in the private area on the top floor of the venue, which guests aren’t really allowed in. So hair and makeup is either in front of a huge set of picture windows looking out into a forest, or in a salon specifically made for wedding clients. Grooms and their groomsmen get ready in a movie theater downstairs. Wedding photographers at Della Terra can literally be in two places at once (almost!) because they can get from the bride to the groom in less than a minute. I like this a lot.
On the walls and hallways throughout the building are lots of interesting pieces of art, some of which is for sale. There’s also a central atrium with a 15 foot waterfall that creates really cool reflections in photos if lit properly, as well as an interesting staircase. Both of these features can make for interesting bride/groom or bridal portraits.
Wedding ceremonies at Della Terra are generally held in two locations: their outdoor ceremony site during the summer, and inside the great room during the winter.
Della Terra has dubbed their outdoor ceremony site the “Devotion Place,” which sits in a meadow on a hillside, surrounded by pine and aspen groves. To the right is a long winding walkway that leads down from the Chateau, and to the left is a big pine forest. Behind the ceremony site sits the huge granite McGregor Slab, which towers hundreds of feet above the meadow. Wild turkey are often seen, as are herds of deer or elk.
I can remember one wedding that was delayed because a huge elk herd came in and began to eat the aspen trees around the ceremony site. They were eventually shooed away while the guests looked on in awe, and the wedding continued with elk bugling in the background a hundred feet away.
For wedding photographers, Della Terra Mountain Chateau’s Devotion Place is a great place to shoot. I particularly like the length of the walkway because the groom can see the bride for an awfully long time before she arrives. This means it’s pretty easy to get lots of reaction shots from the groom, the parents and the guests as the bride makes her entrance. I love the anticipation during the first look, and that moment stretches on for a while. This gives grooms a long time to get sort of emotional!
Right before a bride enters the ceremony site itself, she crosses a bridge, which is perfectly shaded by the giant pine trees overhead. The even and flattering light makes for a dramatic bridal portriat.
Photographing wedding ceremonies at Della Terra’s outdoor site is also made easy by the fact that guests sit on a huge stone amphitheater with 10 or 15 rows. Each row is higher than the last, so everyone gets a good view, and as a photographer, I can climb up the back side of the amphitheater and shoot wide angle overview shots without anyone even noticing. Of course, the background is of that huge rock face towering above.
Afterwards, brides and grooms tend to do a toast and sign a certificate in an outdoor gazebo, and then, since the walkway is so long, guests can line it and couples run along it as guests throw flowers. And it’s always fun to photograph wedding couples as they’re whisked away in a horse drawn carriage.
Photographing weddings indoors at Della Terra is much more common in the winter, especially from January to March when it’s colder. Due to its higher elevation and the fact that it’s in a narrower canyon, Della Terra can be a little snowier than the rest of Estes Park, making it a great place for snowy, winter weddings.
There are several benefits to having a winter wedding at Della Terra as opposed to other wedding venues in Colorado. First of all, brides and grooms don’t have to walk very far to get into the middle of a forest, which means it’s pretty easy to get cool snowy pictures without having everyone get miserable and freezing cold. Second, it’s super easy to get to in the winter and there’s almost no chance that the road into Estes Park will get shut down. The road from DIA to Vail does close on occasion, but I can’t recall it closing into Estes Park.
When couples choose an indoor ceremony at Della Terra, they can either get married in front of the great picture windows, or they can get married with nearby Deer Mountain in the backdrop (which happens when a band needs to set up in front of the picture windows). Guests spend cocktail hour at a balcony looking over the main room while the staff moves tables and chairs around, and then they can move downstairs for the reception.
The main ballroom can accommodate 150 or more guests, and the facility has a full kitchen that caterers can use to prep food. There is a great upstairs area overlooking the main room that works great for a photo booth or just for a place for guests and photographers to get a birds eye view of dancing. The main room also has a huge platform in front of the giant picture windows for the bridal party head table or a band; it’s got a full bar; and it’s got an alcove for a DJ. All sorts of pendant lights hang from the ceiling. It’s an absolutely stunning place.
But, as I mentioned earlier, aside form the beautiful venue and grounds, wedding clients will probably enjoy the personalized service from the staff best of all. You will work with the same person from beginning to end of your wedding planning process, and the consistency and coherence is really vital to a smooth wedding day. I heartily endorse Della Terra for your wedding!
Get in touch with Della Terra at http://www.dellaterramountainchateau.com
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