In a restaurant nestled in the mountains above Beaver Creek, Colorado, Jake Perry asked Hilary Lefebvre to be his wife. Before the weekend was even over, the couple decided that they would return to the resort town for their wedding, and booked a spot at SaddleRidge lodge for a little over a year from their engagement. The couple fell in love with the rustic elegance of the venue and thought the availability of "late March seemed the perfect time for decent weather and spring skiing," features that were very important to the winter sport-loving couple.
With SaddleRidge secured, Hilary and Jake needed only to take their cues from the natural beauty of the environment to decide on the wedding's decor. Surrounded by breathtaking views of snowy hills and evergreen forests framed by the majestic wood construction of the lodge, the couple decided to employ a color palette of whites and greens, subtle wooden accents, and a profusion of candlelight to authentically emphasize the setting.
Before the ceremony commenced, a relaxing "Groom's Reception" featuring cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres was held at the lodge to allow everyone time to find the remote location and mingle before being seated for the ceremony. Hilary and Jake designed the ceremony themselves, incorporating aspects of both their Christian and Jewish backgrounds. Jake's childhood best friend read a passage from the Torah and Hilary's best friend from college read from the New Testament. The entire group also observed a moment of silence for those friends and family members who were unable to attend the wedding, including Jake's father who passed away several years earlier.
After the ceremony, all eighty-two guests were asked to assemble outside the lodge to pose for a memorable group photo. "We wanted to have a record of every person who had made the trip to share this day with us," says Hilary. (The photo currently hangs in the entryway of the couple's home.)
The tables in the reception room were covered in two layers of white linens, the overlay done in lace to mimic the texture of a delicate snowfall. Sage green menus were placed at each setting, and centerpieces of white and green foliage were accented by blooming quince branches that drew from the room's wooden structure and gave the refined arrangements a freshly gathered feel. From every surface possible, candles and floating tea lights sent a cozy glow flickering up toward the rafters.
As foodies, Hilary and Jake considered the menu at their wedding to be as important as all the other details. "At some weddings we've been to, the food seems to be more of an afterthought than anything else. We were determined for ours to be memorable," explains the bride. They worked closely with the lodge's chef to create an innovative meal that showcased their personal tastes as well as locally found ingredients. The dinner started off with the couple's favorite -- cream of wild mushroom soup -- served with parmesan croutons and sherry syrup. It was followed by a spring Bibb lettuce salad with Colorado goat cheese, and a choice between smoked tenderloin of beef, butternut squash pasta with sage brown butter, or grilled duck. Each entree was served with a variety of sides such as wild grains, cheddar grits, braised greens, and huckleberry sauce. The meal culminated with a dual-flavored wedding cake covered in white chocolate buttercream frosting and decorated with green fondant ribbon and fresh flowers. Keeping with the overall decor, the cake was cleverly presented on a tree stump.
In lieu of throwing her bouquet of Casablanca lilies, roses, and snowberries into a throng of single ladies, Hilary and Jake decided to give the flowers to the couple who was married the longest. The invited all married couples to take to the floor in an "anniversary dance," and eliminated them one by one based on their length of time together until the pair with the longest history was left. It turned out to be Hilary's step-grandparents, and her grandmother was touched to receive the bouquet. "Jake and I hope that we have the opportunity to be as happy as they are for as long as they have been," says Hilary.
When guests finally departed the reception, they were given custom-made CDs stocked with songs significant to the bride and groom. Each compilation was presented in a case emblazoned with the newlyweds' new monogram and tied with white and green ribbon.
For Hilary, a producer for Nightline, planning their destination wedding was not unlike producing her television segments. "I had to think of all the angles and try to think outside the box while staying true to the format," she explains. Jake and their guests agreed that Hilary's approach was hugely successful. "Everyone commented on how it felt like a really great vacation with a wedding thrown in. We wanted this weekend to mean something to everyone, not just us. I think we pulled off a great event."