After four years of dating, Moses Taylor knew that Ali Smith, who he met at Colorado College, was the One. In July of 2014, he asked Ali to join him on a hike at Rabbit Ears Pass in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and when the pair reached the summit, he popped the question. So when they started planning their August 15, 2015, wedding, it seemed only natural to return to the mountain town they love to tie the knot. So they planned a mountaintop reception followed by a reception 9,080 feet above sea level.
With stunning Steamboat and the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop for their big day, Ali and Moses knew they wanted the wedding to be casual yet elegant with a romantic mountain theme. "The view from the top of the mountain is unbeatable and we wanted to share this special place and its natural beauty with our guests," Ali says. So, with 210 guests in tow, the couple rode the gondola to the very top of the mountain — seriously! — and exchanged vows while taking in near panoramic-views of the surrounding mountains. Keep reading to see all of the breathtaking photos that Andy Barnhart Photography captured throughout the day.
The bride, a graphic designer by trade, created the couple's wedding invitations. Their gray and white suite featured a mountain motif, which she carried over into other elements used during the day, including labels for bottles of beer that Moses brewed for the couple's welcome bags.
Ali wanted a wedding dress that felt different and unique, and she found just what she was looking for in the second dress she tired on: an embroidered silk charmeuse Claire Pettibone gown. "It was so me," she says. "My mom agreed. I just stopped looking after that because I knew the more dresses I tried on the more confused I would get." The bride admits she cried when she purchased the stunning style, but not out of joy. "I didn't cry because I was so happy, but because I spent so much money! That being said, it was worth it. I felt like a million bucks in that dress."
Looking back, she has no regrets about the figure-flattering gown. She accessorized with vintage white cowboy boots, her sister's sapphire ring and matching drop earrings, and a bracelet her mother made out of pearls and charms from jewelry that had belonged to both of the bride's grandmothers. Her bouquet was the perfect fit for the natural terrain around their ceremony and reception. The semi-cascading arrangement was packed with succulents, butterfly bush sprigs, eucalyptus, and garden roses.
Moses wore a blue three-piece suit and a boutonniere of ranunculus and evergreen springs.
"My bridesmaids wore different dresses in neutral shades like champagne, blush, light tan, and some had gold accents," Ali says. "They chose their own dresses based on the colors I gave them." Their bouquets were similar to the bride's, but on a smaller scale and with a somewhat more wild shape.
The groomsmen wore three-piece gray suits, which they paired with ties the couple had custom made by the Knotty Tie in Denver. "They were custom made to match the bridesmaids' dresses," Ali says.
Ali and Moses had smaller attendants, too. Their two junior bridesmaids wore white dresses while their flower girl donned a tiered blush dress. The couple's bulldog, Zeus, served as the ring bearer and walked down the aisle in a bowtie. While he was an adorable addition to the wedding, Zeus was not the most cooperative ring bearer. "He ate all of the petals that our flower girl dropped as he walked behind her down the aisle," the bride says.
The only way to the ceremony site was by riding the gondola to the mountain's summit, where the bride and groom exchanged vows on the Thunderhead Lodge. Ali wasn't afraid of taking on DIY projects for her big day. For their ceremony, she created a vintage-inspired sign to welcome their guests to the wedding.
"My dad built our ceremony arch out of birch trees that came from Wisconsin, where I'm originally from," Ali says of their décor. "We decorated it with a spray of flowers." The couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves, and further personalized the ceremony by selecting music that spoke to their relationship.
The bride walked down the aisle with her mother and father as musicians performed Iron and Wine's "Flightless Bird," and the couple recessed to Dave Matthews Band's "Ants Marching." "We spent a lot of time working on our ceremony to give it a personal feel," the bride says. "We wanted all of our guests to understand our past and why were getting married. We broke all the 'rules' that didn't have significance to us."
The couple's reception was held in the nearby Champagne Powder room, where guests were treated to stunning views of the Yampa Valley below. Tables were decorated with white linens and textural arrangements, including roses, forget me not, and greenery. "We picked local and seasonal foliage and grasses, which were draped onto the table," Ali says. "We also had uprooted succulents, figs and kiwi fruits."
Ali and Moses served a gluten-free dinner, which included locally sourced meat dishes like lamb, steak, and chicken served with seasonal roasted vegetables, risotto cakes, and polenta. Guests also sipped a selection of drinks, along with the couple's signature cocktails. Ali picked a spicy margarita while Moses went for a classic old fashioned.
The bride and groom shared their first dance to Ray LaMontagne's "You Are the Best Thing." "We took four dance lessons and were both so nervous," Ali admits, "but we got right up there and crushed it!"
For dessert, everyone enjoyed a gluten-free vanilla wedding cake, as well an assortment of cupcakes in tasty flavors like salted caramel, chocolate peanut butter, chai latte, and raspberry cream.
At the end of the evening, Moses and Ali offered guests two thoughtful favors: Herb-infused honey and rosemary sea salt, both made by the bride!
"Just have run planning your wedding and don't feel like you have to follow the rules if it's not your personality," Ali says. "Remember to take in every moment of the day and days leading up to it. It goes by so fast, so just be present and revel in the moment."
Venue & Catering: Steamboat Ski Resort || Wedding Coordinators: Kevin Lang and Chris Vasquez || Bride's Wedding Dress: Claire Pettibone || Shoes: Kowboyz || Hair & Makeup: Waterside Day Spa || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss || Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Flower Girl Attire: BHLDN || Engagement Ring: Croghan's Jewel Box || Wedding Bands: Fifth Avenue Designs; Larry Berk || Florist: Lalé Florals || Calligraphy: Myrtle and Lloyd || Music: Jerry and Joy; Thumpin || Cake: Steamboat Baker || Photographer: Andy Barnhart Photography
Want to see more outdoor celebrations? Then check out another couple's open-air bash in the video below.