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Tips From Couples Planning a Destination Wedding by Durango Photographers

Destination weddings to Durango CO are a big part of my business (as well as other photographers in town).  Most of us also do a lot of elopements here, but those aren’t included in this article. This is more about couples who have arranged weddings with guests and wedding parties.  I’ll talk about elopements that couples have arranged in Durango in another post. These are the tips from brides and grooms in their own words:

Lizzy and Richard Moore – They had just recently moved to Durango when they called us about photographing their upcoming wedding. We were extremely delighted that they chose us and have since become friends – they actually moved to a house last spring that is right up the road from us.  Their wedding was held at Antlers on the Creek Bed and Breakfast in Durango.  Susan is the owner and proprietor and does a fabulous job of taking care of her guests.  It was a small wedding with around 25 guests, with a maid of honor and a best man.

Lizzy’s tips are to delegate, delegate, delegate (at least as much as you’re comfortable with), so you can focus on enjoying the experience. The day of, keep it low key with the only priority being getting ready and saying “I Do”.  Don’t try to do too much.  Eat!  Don’t forget to eat breakfast and make time at the reception to eat.  It will help with nerves and absorb alcohol.  I (Karen) would add that you should also drink water all day long.

Have a plan for the day after:  If you need to return rentals or drop off the marriage license, make sure those things are planned for.  Let things roll off your back. If someone cancels at the last minute, or family is being family, don’t get caught up in the drama that will take away from having a perfect day.

Lizzy’s dress came from Occasions Bridal in Durango (I love Donna, the owner – she has the most amazingly beautiful dresses), and her officiant was Chessa Gill.

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Bride and Groom arm in arm walking away


Maggie and Nick Kusmit –  They came to Colorado from Georgia where they were living at the time.  Nick was in the military and stationed in South Carolina, just across the border from Georgia. He wore his gorgeous military blues for the wedding.

Maggie says that arranging a destination wedding has its challenges.  Finding a local caterer and baker who can understand your vision took some work, and then there are the climate differences (they were married on New Years Eve, so it was cold and they weren’t used to that). But, with patience and perseverance, it can be the most wonderful outcome and truly amazing day. Photographers can be hard as well. It took me 3-4 calls to other photographers in Durango before I found Karen Skelly Photography.

Near the end of their wedding, we went outside with their bottle of champagne.  I had Nick shake the bottle just a little, and when he opened it, champagne spray went everywhere. I just love that shot.

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Groom pops champagne and spray goes everywhere 



Lisa and Jon Peterson – They came from California to get married at Silverpick Lodge in Durango CO.  Lisa is a special needs teacher, so it’s a given that the has lots of patience. Jon works in IT and is an army reservist. They’re both funny and fun to be around.

They had around 100 guests at their wedding, as well as 3 bridesmaids, 3 groomsmen, 3 flower girls, and 3 ring bearers (including their dog, Siren). I designed a 10×10 hard paged wedding album for them that they absolutely love and will cherish forever, and pass down to their children and grand children. Since the wedding, they’ve had a baby and adopted another fur baby.

Lisa’s tip is to stay on top of the wedding day timeline (so all of the vendors are in sync), and keep open lines of communications. It helps to take suggestions from vendors you are working with to find other vendors you need for the wedding. Take trips to visit the location, twice if you can. Keep an open mind and try not to get worried about small stuff.

Her flowers were designed by Cindy at Wildwoods Fine Flowers, the DJ was Steve from Mr Soul Entertainment, and the cake was made by Jocelyn at Skillfully Decadent.

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Bride and Groom dancing in the dark

Christine and Rosie – They came from Texas and knew they wanted to get married and share their love with family and friends in Durango CO. After searching for wedding venues, they found Silverpick Lodge in Durango CO.  Chris at Silverpick Lodge is a friend and colleague, so we trust and refer each other to clients.  That’s how Christine and Rosie found Karen Skelly Photography. Both Chris and I helped them find other vendors like Steve at Mr Soul Entertainment for their DJ, Cindy at Wildwoods Fine Flowers, and Luda who is a cake artist.

Christine said she had been looking for a photographer in Durango and after chatting with me, she knew they were in good hands.  Her tip is to talk to people and you’ll find what you’re looking for.  Also, go with the flow because if you worry about every little thing, you’ll miss your perfect day.

There was a blizzard the morning of their wedding day, so the ceremony was moved in doors – you never know what might happen around here.

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Newly married Christine and Rosie

I hope these tips and ideas help other couples who are planning a wedding here in Durango. If you need help or other information, please let me know.


Thanks, Karen

Karen Skelly Photography









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