When most people leave for a destination wedding, what gets left behind at home usually stays behind. If you’re Paul Moreira, however, you simply have a guest spring into action on your behalf. “I bought Taylor a surprise wedding gift which I entrusted to her mother,” he confides, “and her mom forgot the present!” The gift of pearl earrings and necklace was an eight-hour drive from the couple’s wedding location, but the groom’s heart was set on surprising his bride on their big day. “One of our guests is a pilot who had flown himself [to Dunton]. He got in his plane, flew over the Rockies halfway across Colorado, grabbed the gift, and flew back. We were able to get the present to Taylor 30 minutes before the ceremony.” When the bride walked down the aisle, her husband’s gift was glowing against her skin – and the pilot who saved the day was an absolute hero.

A wedding weekend at the spectacular Dunton Hot Springs Resort & Spa was well worth the planning challenges the couple had faced. The historic town of Dunton is a beautifully restored mountain retreat set in a picturesque alpine valley that provides an enchanting setting for events. “Since Dunton is fairly remote, there were numerous logistics that needed to be worked through,” Taylor explains. “Not only were we planning a wedding long distance, our vendors were all long distance as well.” Someone to serve as a coordinator and trusted liaison was an absolute must, and Taylor and Paul found exactly what they needed in consultant Julie Gambrell. “Julie was instrumental in helping us make decisions,” says Taylor. “She has an incredible amount of experience and helped us communicate to our vendors what we wanted.” The couple found that employing flexible wedding professionals with warm personalities was also enormously helpful, especially since the hot-springs setting was intimate. “Everyone became a part of the event, including our vendors who were there,” declares Taylor. “Our cake lady Jan Kish was such an addition to the party, we ended up flying her out from Ohio to do the cake. And our minister Patty even brought her husband!”

Dunton’s rustic open-air chapel near a 40-foot waterfall served as the couple’s ceremony site, with Taylor and Paul exchanging vows beneath bunches of white flowers strung from an overhead beam. Coordinating bouquets of orchids, calla lilies, and roses decorated the seating along a delicate aisle of rose petals. For a personal touch, an excerpt from a treasured book by Shel Silverstein was incorporated into the ceremony. “Taylor gave me a copy of The Giving Tree for my birthday a year after we started dating,” says Paul. “It’s very special for both of us.”

Rich, earthy colors that echoed the surrounding San Juan Mountains were utilized in the reception décor at the resort’s storied Dance Hall. White orchids arranged in vases filled with vibrant red apples served as centerpieces, and chocolate-colored runners dressed up aged wooden tables. During dinner, Portuguese cheese as well as wine from Northern Portugal was served as a nod to Paul’s heritage, while the couple’s wedding cake was an ode to their historic surroundings. “It looked like a western saddle tooled of beautiful leather,” Taylor describes. The wedding’s unique backdrop resonated with the charm of a bygone era while providing a lovely setting for an intimate affair. “Even though it was a black-tie wedding, it had such a relaxed, family vibe,” Taylor recalls. Paul sums the experience up perfectly: “Dunton Hot Springs is a magical place.”