Though Bre Ladd and Luke Walton met as varsity athletes at the University of Arizona in 2002 (he played basketball, she played volleyball), they didn't start dating until 3 years later — and were together for another seven before Luke proposed on Christmas Eve. "He put a jewelry box inside of a really big box, and I assumed he'd gotten me the earrings I'd asked for," says Bre. "I opened the box and saw my ring, and was so genuinely shocked, even after all that time."
When they set August 17th, 2013, as the date, the couple decided to bring their 225 guests out west to The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado to watch them say "I do" with the Rockies in the background. "We wanted to go somewhere where our guests would enjoy spending a few days — and where it wouldn't be too hot in black tie attire!" says Bre.
Bre and Luke were lucky to have some incredibly capable vendors close at hand to take care of the wedding start-to-finish, thanks to Luke's cousin, Harmony Walton of The Bridal Bar. "She offered to help us immediately after we got engaged," says Bre. "She's the one who recommended our planner, Brooke Keegan. Between the two of them, I was probably the least stressed bride of all time!"
Guests were invited out west with a classic gold-and-cream invitation suite, accented with aspen leaves. After getting ready at the base of the mountain, everyone (including Luke and groomsman Richard Jefferson) hopped on gondolas to head up to the summit.
Bre accented her 6' frame with a figure-flattering gown with a ruffled ombré skirt by Hayley Paige. And the statuesque bride went for comfort when it came to shoes. "I wore flat Giuseppe Zanotti sandals instead of heels. No need to be uncomfortable for no reason!" she says. The groom wore a custom suit by Tom James.
The ceremony took place overlooking the Rockies. The couple's planner and floral designer had to make the altar extra-tall to accommodate the former NBA-player's height — Luke is 6'8"!
The bride and groom asked one of Bre's late father's closest friends to officiate. "We wrote him emails about our relationship, our history, and our future together, and he read them as part of our ceremony," says the bride.
During cocktail hour, Luke and Bre hired musician Kelley James to perform a mix of acoustic soft rock and rap. Says Bre, "Kelley is hysterical and so talented. He was having guests throw out topics for him to freestyle about, including a whole song about basketball and our bulldog, Gus."
Guests moved indoors for the reception, in the Little Nell's Sundeck. Draped fabric and chandeliers hung from the ceiling, adding a glamorous touch to the western-inspired space.
Pops of gold ran throughout the space, from the chairs and flatware to the ink on the menus. All-white arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, and dahlias added texture to the tables without taking away from the view.
For dessert, the newlyweds cut into a four-tiered cake that included layers of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries. But the real highlight for Bre was the candy bar. "It was the perfect late-night snack, and we had bags so guests could take some with them for the gondola ride back down the mountain," she says.
The party went on until the very last minute, when the lights came on and guests boarded the gondolas. After a few more days in Aspen, Bre and Luke headed to Santorini, Crete, and Lake Como for their honeymoon. "Our goal was to keep the wedding simple, so that it was formal but not too stuffy. We wanted our guests to cut loose, even in their tuxes, and they did!"
Ceremony Venue: The Little Nell Wedding Deck || Reception Venue: The Little Nell Sundeck || Wedding Planner: Brooke Keegan || Wedding Resource: The Bridal Bar || Bride's Wedding Dress: Hayley Paige || Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti || Jewelry: The Dina Collection || Hair: Full Circle || Makeup: Suzanne Barnes || Groom's Attire: Tom James || Wedding Bands: The Dina Collection || Floral Design: The Aspen Branch || Invitations & Paper Goods: Laura Hooper Calligraphy || Music: ceremony - Elan Artists, cocktail hour - Kelley James, reception - Platinum Productions, (970) 544-4959 || Catering: The Little Nell || Cake: d'Elissious Cake Studio || Rentals: Bethel Party Rentals, Wildflower Linen || Favors: Candy Warehouse || Videography: Cloud Nine Creative || Photography: Laura and Gennia of Docuvitae