Vail Wedding PhotographerMountain Wedding Photography in the Rockies
The mountains of Vail, Colorado call to all types of couples every year, and the variety of landscapes, activities and wedding styles make it super fun to shoot there.
Vail has become my second home, since I photograph 85% of my weddings there, and I’m one of the original members of the Vail Wedding Association.
Over my career I’ve forged deep relationships with many of Vail’s incredible vendors, and am happy to make referrals or offer suggestions as you plan your big day.
I’ve come to know the area intimately, learned to understand the area’s varying weather and lighting conditions, and become super familiar with tons of venues — how they’re lit, how many people they can actually accommodate, and when the best time of year and even best time of day is to shoot there.
Vail isn’t just a skiing playground; It is a top resort filled with gorgeous locations that make a great backdrop for a celebration.
There’s the bustling Vail Village, with outdoor markets and festivals all summer long; there’s a gorgeous creek running through town, which I often take bridal parties to for photography sessions; and of course, there are five star hotels and dining experiences and many of Colorado’s finest venues.
Places to Get Married
Here’s my short list for the best places to get married in Vail. I love these wedding venues, and the staff that operates them are top notch.
- Sonnenalp Hotel: The Sonnenalp is awesome. The rooms are nice, and they’re only a short walk from the ceremony site and the reception area. Wedding photography at Vail Sonnenalp is pretty stress free thanks to the proximity of all the facilities. Most couples get married on a back lawn at the edge of the creek running through the property, though some opt for a photographs at the Vail Wedding Chapel across the street. The reception venue is 10 feet away, with a large dance floor and ample space for extra seating inside. The dance floor is covered by glass, so you can look up and see the stars. Great food, too!
- Donovan Pavillion: You’re in for a treat with a Donovan Pavillion wedding. The Pavillion has high vaulted ceilings and a great outdoor patio for cocktailing. It too is on the edge of the creek, and I like to take couples down to the bank for their couples portrait session. You’ll probably want to find a hotel nearby to get ready in, though, as it’s strictly a reception venue. The ceremony site on the back porch is right up against a lush forested backdrop.
- Four Seasons Vail: I love, love, love the reception ballrooms at the Four Seasons. They are huge, and there’s a lot of light inside as well. Some couples have turned the patio on the outside of the ballroom into a super funky outdoor lounge area, with hundreds of candles lighting the area up. The rooms are super nice as well. One of the best combinations you an choose if you’re opting for a Vail wedding is to get married at the Vail wedding deck, and then follow up with cocktails and a reception at the Four Seasons.
- Vail Wedding Deck: Yes this is it. The Vail Wedding Deck is an awesome amphitheater at the top of Vail Mountain, looking across to Mount of the Holy Cross. You and your wedding guests will ride a gondola to the top of Vail Mountain, which takes 10-15 minutes. The weather is fairly mild, but if a front does blow in, it will blow away in a few short minutes. The views here are probably the best in the state.
- The Lodge at Vail: Another iconic Vail property, this one just down the road from the Vail Chapel. Great rooms to get ready in make this a fantastic option, especially if you’re planning a ceremony and reception at Larkspur or Donovan. I really like it here. One of the classic photographs is of the bride walking out the grand front doors en route to her ceremony.
- Vail Chapel: For a wedding photographer, Vail Chapel is super cool. The architecture is really, really awesome. I love shooting group shots on the front steps and on the side of the chapel next to the creek. There’s easy access to a second floor where I can shoot grand, sweep wide angle shots of the whole building, with the cool lights hanging from the ceiling. In winter, try to schedule your ceremony later in the day, as the lighting can be a bit funky earlier.
- Larkspur Restaurant: Larkspur is very, very cool. It’s a great restaurant on the east side of the downtown area with a huge, huge lawn looking straight up to the Gore Range. There are no better mountain views from down in the valley than at Larkspur, so if you don’t want to risk the gondola ride or feel like it could stress things, or worry about the altitude on older guests, Larkspur Restaurant can’t be beat. The food is great, there’s a pretty big dance hall, and a nice outdoor patio for cocktailing.
- The 10th Restaurant: Another super cool venue, this one is relatively new. You’ll take a gondola up the mountain to a modern, luxury cabin with space for 150ish people. The windows here are enormous, with fantastic views down the slopes. I love it at dusk, when the bright blue hues of the night sky filter in through the windows, contrasting with the cozy orange glow inside. Big dance floor, nice huge fire place. Win, win, win.
Best Wedding Vendors
Here are a number of awesome wedding vendors I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years.
- I Do Wedding Services: Jen Hammond has lived in Vail for a while and operates one of the town’s top planning companies.
- Artisan Events: Another fantastic planning company in Vail, run by Carolyn Moorman.
- Bella Design and Planning: Emily is based in nearby Summit County but works here constantly. I love shooting Emily’s weddings.
- Frosted Pink Weddings: Kelly and her team put on amazing weddings!
- A Great Time DJ: Vail’s most trusted DJ service, run by Erik and Fred.
- Pink Monkey Solutions: Please get ahold of Pink Monkey Solutions. They do fantastic lighting and event design and add a very special flair to the weddings they collaborate on.