Although Alexa Wisz and David Pass overlapped for a year at Vanderbilt and even shared a ton of mutual friends, the two didn’t formally meet until April of 2011. But, as Alexa says, it was fate that they were introduced at just the right point in their lives. “We were both in the perfect places to start a relationship and fall in love,” she remembers. And that they did. Almost five years later, the couple was vacationing in Santa Barbara with their families for Thanksgiving when David popped the question. “He caught me totally off guard, to the point where I could barely answer the question, even though the answer was obvious! I couldn’t believe how perfect the ring was.”
As the New York City-based couple began planning their wedding, Vail, Colorado, the bride’s favorite place in the world, became the clear front-runner. “I love the mountains and the sense of community that the magical village offers,” she says. “It was so special having nearly 300 of our closest friends and family all in that one little place to celebrate me and David.” They set the date for August 6, 2016, and worked with Kelly Karli to plan an elegant yet effortless black-tie wedding in the mountains. KT Merry was there to capture every moment of this couple’s alpine-inspired celebration—read on to see how it all came together!
Alexa and David planned their wedding in just nine months, which meant they had to be judicious about making decisions. “In general, I have a pretty good idea of what I like or don’t like,” the bride says. “We didn’t waste a ton of time wavering between small details or nitpicking. I think we were very efficient in prioritizing and executing the major tasks and then moving on to the next thing.” The couple drew inspiration from European gardens for their outdoor ceremony, and then thought of the vibe for their ballroom reception as an elegant manor house. In keeping with those styles, stationer Blacker and Kooby created this ultra-elegant invitation suite, complete with the couple’s new monogram.
Since many guests were traveling to Colorado for the wedding, Alexa and David thoughtfully supplied everyone with luxe welcome bags created by Bundles Colorado. Snacks and drinks, along with a rundown of the weekend’s events and a map of the area, kept everyone comfortable during the duration of their stay.
The bride looked picture-perfect in her Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, which just so happened to be one of only three that she had tried on. “I knew the minute it touched my body that I was buying this dress,” she says. “It combined everything I wanted. Lace, tulle, an illusion neckline, a stunning back, and the chance to have two looks in one.” Torn between a glamorous ball gown and a more fitted silhouette, Alexa was happily surprised when she realized this dress could give her both thanks to the flowing tulle overskirt.
On the morning of her wedding, Alexa realized the shoes she had initially planned to wear weren’t the most practical choice for Vail’s terrain, so she traded her stilettos for a pair of (equally-gorgeous but infinitely more practical) heels from Jimmy Choo. “They couldn’t have been more perfect in terms of height and comfort, and were great for all the off-roading we had to do for photos with KT,” she says. She finished her look with a custom pair of diamond and aquamarine earrings, a diamond necklace borrowed from her mother, and two stacked gold rings, a birthday gift from David.
As her something borrowed, David’s aunt gifted the bride-to-be a vintage monogrammed handkerchief, which Alexa had wrapped around her bouquet. It was the perfect finishing touch for an already stunning arrangement of southern hydrangea, garden roses, ranunculus, clematis, jasmine vine, peonies, and scabiosa.
David matched his bride’s formality in a tailored Ralph Lauren Black Label tuxedo. With a boutonniere of majolica spray roses and seeded eucalyptus, he totally nailed the couple’s vision elevated, effortless vision.
The couple and many of their guests arrived in Vail three days before the wedding, and were treated to a gamut of unpredictable weather. “Our wedding day started out gray and rainy, but I tried not to think about what would happen when it was time for our first look and outdoor portraits in the beautiful locations we had selected,” the bride says. “By some miracle, not only did the rain complete clear, but the clouds parted and revealed a beautiful blue and sunny sky. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect summer day in the mountains if I tried.”
Alexa and David were able to share a first look in a nearby meadow, and then rounded up their wedding party for formal portraits. Bridesmaids wore champagne-hued Jenny Yoo gowns with convertible necklines, allowing each woman to style her dress the way she liked. Like Alexa, each ‘maid carried a blush toned bouquet with a mix of roses, hydrangea, ranunculus, and greenery. David’s groomsmen looked sharp in their tuxedos.
The ceremony was held on Lion Square Lodge Lawn, just along the Eagle River. The couple’s team created a clear tent draped with ivory fabric, creating a shaded space for guests with just the right amount of sunlight shining through. “To keep the ceremony décor very light and airy, we also had the tent perimeter poles draped with ivory voile fabric accented with white and blush garden rose tiebacks,” says Alexa.
As beautiful as the tent itself was, the real focal point was the couple’s dramatic Aspen branch chuppah. “We had it draped with soft, billowy panels of ivory fabric at the top and large cascading floral arrangements on all four corners,” the bride says. “It was breathtakingly beautiful.” In honor of David’s Jewish background, the pair chose to exchange their vows beneath the same tallit that the groom’s parents were married under many years before.
Guests looked on as Alexa walked down a custom elevated aisle with both her father and stepfather by her sides. Since the couple comes from a mixed religious background, it was important that they celebrated both the bride’s Episcopalian faith and the groom’s Jewish faith in their ceremony. “We had the chuppah, of course, and we also broke the glass. We honored my Christian background through some readings from the Bible and blending of sand tradition.”
Deciding it would be too emotional to write and read their own vows in front of their many guests, the bride and groom chose to exchange traditional vows and personalize their ceremony through specifically chosen prayers and readings. One of their best friends read an excerpt from “From Beginning to End” by Robert Fulghum, a special moment neither the bride nor groom will forget.
While the couple slipped away for mountaintop portraits, guests moved to The Four Seasons for a poolside cocktail hour, followed by an indoor reception. With mountain views behind them, friends and family sipped the couple’s signature cocktail, aptly named “Pink Drink.” The colorful concoction was a mix of raspberry cordial, lemon juice, local Breckenridge gin, and processo, all topped with a lemon twist and edible pansies.
Inside, everyone found their seating assignments pinned to lattice pergolas. “It was one of the first things our guests experienced as they entered the ballroom,” Alexa says. “This was a small interlude to the garden pergolas they would find woven in between dining tables and lounge vignettes in the main reception space.” A mix of different tables, included round ones topped with natural linens and long, bare farm tables, filled the ballroom. Tall and short floral arrangements adorned each table, while a mix of different chairs gave the room a more modern feel.
To further keep the space feeling interesting, each table had its own style dinnerware: Some featured vintage floral china while others had clear, gold-rimmed plates.
Since the couple wanted to bring a garden vibe into their reception, the full bar was decorated with trailing greenery and fresh flowers.
Alexa and David’s five-tiered wedding cake was a sight to behold: Layers of vanilla cake with vanilla cream filling and red velvet cake with cream cheese filling were all topped with vanilla buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.
The newlyweds celebrated well into the night with their guests, and then set off on a honeymoon in Bali and Sumba Island. “It sounds cliché, but don’t lose sight of what the occasion is really about: Celebrating the love and lifelong union between you and your partner,” Alexa advises future couples. “Keep an open mind and be willing to compromise on aspects of the planning.”
Ceremony Venue: Lion Square Lodge
Reception Venue, Catering & Cake: The Four Seasons, Vail
Wedding Planner: Kelly Karli Weddings and Events
Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Hair: Kacee Picot
Makeup: Michele McKamie
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren Black Label
Flowers & Rentals: Design Works
Invitations: Blacker and Kooby
Other Paper Products: Richard's Notebook
Welcome Bags: Bundles Colorado
Videographer: Velare Imaginarium
Photographer: KT Merry