We initially had everything booked at Sylvan Dale Ranch, which was destroyed by the floods and will be unable to rebuild and host a wedding in that time. There were so many things we loved about that place that it seemed too good to be true! I have been hunting around since we received the news, but just cannot seem to get it together and time is running out! I know we will likely have to compromise on some things at a new location, but below I'll outline our "ideals." I'll welcome your suggestions that come close (or creative alternatives) with open arms!
General - Destination, Casual
We're very casual people and we want this vibe echoed throughout all of our events. This is also a destination wedding for most of our guests and we want to have as much "together/hangout" time as possible. This is why we initially chose to do a casual Welcome party instead of a traditional rehearsal dinner. For a Farewell breakfast we were in the process of hiring a food truck for coffee and breakfast burritos.
Currently we're at 70. We're still waiting to hear back from a couple groups, but even if all decided to come it wouldn't bring us over ~85 tops.
April 19th, 2014. Nothing was particularly special about this date for us. We chose it based on availability. However, since this is a destination wedding for most of our guests, we want to keep this date the same since they've known about it and could've made their travel plans already based on it.
Our target is everything for $10k. However, if we could just do the Ceremony/Reception events for that, we're open to nixing the Welcome and Farewell events, or maybe increasing the budget by $1k for each one.
All-in-one! At SDR once our guests arrived, they did not need to drive to any other location for any of the wedding events (Welcome party, Ceremony, Reception, Farewell breakfast). Lodging was on-site for the wedding events, as well as there were other options for things to do right there- horseback riding, fishing, hiking - or very close - Fort Collins for shopping, breweries, night life, etc.
To get the awesome outdoor/ranch experience in the Front Range without venturing west onto mountain roads was huge! We know there are absolutely lovely ranches all over, but we've heard about CO's unpredictable April weather and we don't want to risk a venue in the mountains where snow/weather might close the major/only access to it.
We also don't want folks to have to drive more than about an hour and a half outside of Denver.
We would love to have an outdoor ceremony (especially with that mountainous CO backdrop!), but with an indoor backup/plan due to CO's unpredictable weather in April. We will have something short and informal. We don't want to have this in any kind of church/temple/etc.
We're not set on indoor or outdoor, but since it can get chilly at night, indoor might just be easier in that regard. We plan to do this informal as well. No assigned seating. Probably either food stations or buffet-style. Very much a backyard or beach bbq vibe.
As a backup, I've been looking in more urban settings because I'd rather guests not have to drive around between the events and lodging, thus sacrificing the outdoorsy/ranch experience. Since into the mountains is out because of potential bad weather-related road closures and generally poor travel conditions, I've found that basically narrows it down to Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins. They are all great cities, with lots of options for things to do and lodging. Let me know if I may be missing a place, though.
I tried to be as thorough as possible, but let me know if some piece of information I might've missed will be helpful to you in making a suggestion. Any and all information would be so incredibly welcome, as basically planning two weddings for the price in the time of one is starting to really burn me out!