Welcome to Part 1 of the Carter Wedding series, this blog focuses on how we pivoted for the perfect pandemic wedding. The majority of brands and businesses mentioned in this article were generous enough to gift me services and products in order to make my wedding extra special. I was not paid for any of the services or products but am grateful to have been gifted their time, labor and products. I want to thank Ashley Johnson (@balaygedbyash), Kambri (@BringMeBronze,) Nari Ro (@skinbynari,) Redstone Meadery (@readstonemeadery,) and Weatherford 1814 (@weatherford1814) for their contributions! Without these businesses, our Old Fulford pandemic wedding would not have been as magical.
Winter 2019, Before We Knew
When my sister and her family came home (home being the U.S.) from Hong Kong for Christmas last year, COVID-19 was just a whisper in the U.S. It had begun picking up steam over in China, but we weren’t talking about that. It was the 2nd Christmas without my Dad and we were focused on trying to figure out what the new normal for holidays looked like. Ollie was just happy to be with his Grandmom for the week. She and I chatted about the wedding a bit, but at this point, I had decided we were moving it to 10/3/2020 and was pretty content on it.
I remember less than a month later I received an e-mail from a team member on the Proven Repellent team with concerns about this “coronavirus.” You see, Proven is an insect repellent brand, and anything that might be spread by mosquitoes, ticks and otherwise we tend to have tapped in. Luckily, coronavirus is not spread by bug bites. However, I remember more specifically when we received this e-mail I thought very little of it. Now I look back on it and laugh, Wilma is so on top of her sh*t.
Fast forward to March
Our president and many others are saying “this will be over by summer.” Drew and I discussed it a handful of times. We knew there was a very solid chance the pandemic could be at its height by October based on how the U.S. was handling things. Especially when we’re watching my sister and her family through a digital lens in Hong Kong which took a vastly different approach to COVID-19.
People would ask us, “when’s the wedding? are you changing your plans due to COVID?” We’d laugh and tell them it’s planned for 10/3/2020, even if the world comes crumbling. Colorado allows you to self-solemnize, meaning you don’t need anyone else present to get married. As the pandemic started taking hold of our state, our country and our family’s lives we quietly continued planning for 10/3/2020. Even if that was just us dropping off the certificate at the courthouse that day.
Landing All the Details
So, to get things started – we got to skip a lot of the bull due to us having already rescheduled our wedding 2x before. I already had my dress, photographer picked, chef sourced, bridesmaids waiting for the cue to order their dresses, etc. We were always planning on having the ceremony outside in an epic setting, so not having a venue secured was no issue either. The major things I needed to sort out were flowers, cake, our reception venue, my insane amount of hair, and what weed to bring. Of course, there are 100 other details to iron out but in my mind, if I can pin these down everything else will fall into place.
Given we had changed our wedding date for the 3rd time, it should be no surprise that I bought my dress in May of 2019. We tried on several styles at multiple locations, but Rhapsody by Watters gown I tried on at Emma & Grace in Denver was hands down the most gorgeous. I felt beautiful, loved the color, loved the lace design. It was by no means the stunning Oksana gown I was originally pining over, but it had all the same cuts and vibes.
I had started looking at flower options back in 2018, which quickly turned into 2019..and then somehow 2020. And then it was August and I still didn’t have my flowers sorted out. I knew what I wanted them to look like but was incredibly torn and had so many questions. Should I DIY? Should I do fake? If doing real where do I get them? Or do I just do wood!? After scouring the internet for DAYS and filling up my shopping cart on probably 3 different websites, I thought I had finally figured it out. I was going to do fake florals for everything but me, the cake and the centerpiece.
Then I found this on Etsy, designer Kochetova makes the most beautiful faux floral arrangements in Ukraine and the color palettes are GORGEOUS. I had stressed myself beyond belief for days only to see this and know immediately it was perfect. I promptly ordered $450 worth of florals including our arch piece, 4 bouquets and 2 boutonnieres. The owner assured me they would arrive on time and they did! I placed the order and less than 2 weeks later had them in my hands. Success!
Food, Food, Food
One of the ways we eliminated a LOT of the stress around getting ready for and having a pandemic wedding was deciding early on we wanted a chef for the weekend in lieu of trying to order out or order catering. This really helped for a number of reasons, 1.) we cut out all of the per-person costs and just had the labor + supplies cost. 2.) October and early November are the off-season for Vail, so even if we wanted to order food we’d have super limited options at Vail prices. 3.) It’s a PANDEMIC and we wanted to limit the amount of people/vendors coming through as well as the number of times we would venture out as well.
Originally, my uncle was supposed to cook for the weekend but due to a number of unfortunate accidents, he couldn’t join us in Colorado. So, we ended up hiring our family friend Coria instead. Coria did our engagement party as well, delivering a delicious table of crawfish. You can read my Part 2 blog on her menu and how she did a fantastic job of pulling it all together for our big day and beyond. When planning our menu in general, we worked with Coria and my sister for about 3 weeks fine-tuning the big day menu. Drew and I knew we wanted rich, fall feeling flavors and colors which were all executed beautifully. We rounded the entire dining experience out with delicious mead from Redstone Meadery.
In case you didn’t see it, our cake was freakin’ divine. Let’s talk a little bit about how we got there. I found this photo on Instagram and felt like it matched the vibe perfectly. We went back and forth on having two tiers and eventually decided to make the bottom fake and the top real. Great idea right? A month or so before the wedding we picked up our tasting box which included 4 delicious flavor combos. Drew and I died eating all of them. Yes, you read that right. We are ghosts. They were all DELICIOUS. So good in fact we quickly decided to say f*ck it and do two tiers: one chocolate with chai spice buttercream and the other white chocolate raspberry with vanilla buttercream.
Our cake, created by Ty’s Treat’s by the way, was adorned with flowers from Stems in Evergreen and Leann’s delicious macaroons. It really was a sight to behold and we had no idea how to cut into it/didn’t want to cut into it! Check it out below.
A Place for Everyone
The other piece of planning this pandemic wedding that was next level stressful was trying to find a house near Old Fulford that was big enough to hold the majority of us and nice enough to have dinner at with our 10 guests. Wasn’t looking for anything out of this world, but ya know, nice. Vail being one of the most beautiful and expensive places in the country, figured something had to exist.
It’s hilarious, when I am not traveling Airbnb delivers me non-stop hidden gems and perfect places. Finding our base camp for the wedding felt like pulling teeth. We looked at maybe a dozen different properties, none of which really worked. Then, like a majestic being in the night, this chateau in Vail pops up. We were bringing both dogs, so the idea of there being no fenced in yard was a little unnerving but the house was simply gorgeous. Like, way way gorgeous. After some discussion, we booked it (thanks Mom!!). Things were becoming really real at this point. We’d found the perfect base camp.
My Hair Journey
One thing I knew even before Drew proposed was that I was going to do the MOST with my hair. As wedding planning progressed, I quickly realized there’s a lot out of my control. Like, so much. But one thing I could have some control over was how I look. This included transforming my head into the blonde look of my dreams. I had connected with Ashley Johnson before the pandemic, we were going to do some fun collaborations and then all the salons were shut down. So when things began relaxing again, I couldn’t wait to hit her up about potentially getting my covid color corrected into a bridal blonde. Lucky for me, she was down!
Now here’s the deal, I’ve had many a balayage. Typically any color service I sign up for I know I’m signing up for 8 hours of sitting in their chair cause I have a LOT, I repeat, a LOT of hair. It’s both long and thick. I have to give mad props to Ashley for knocking this gorgeous lookout in 6 hours. She’s not only fantastic to hang out with, but she did a killer job and I couldn’t be happier. Give her a follow, here:
Another piece of the hair puzzle was adding length. Got to shout it out to my friend Samira Jackson, owner of Casamira Wig Collection, for custom coloring and installing my extensions. I haven’t had extensions since I was 14 and I was more than thrilled.
Dress? Check. Hair? Check. Nails? Check. All I had left to complete my look was to make sure my skin looked flawless. To achieve this, I worked with two fantastic babes in Denver: Kambri and Nari! Kambri owns Bring Me Bronze, a mobile spray tan and teeth-whitening business. Nari owns Skin by Nari, she’s an esthetician giving babes that natural glow!
In my partnership with Kambri, we met up about a month before the big day to do a trial run. We went for a natural bronze and she used her rapid drying formula, which means I didn’t have to sleep in it! Instead, I went home and washed off about 4 hours later leaving my skin clean, smooth and a beautiful bronze. I knew I wanted to get a tan before the wedding and tried pretty hard to do it the “natural” (aka damaging!) way as I was walking outside 30-35 miles a week outside all summer.
But instead of my skin turning golden, as I’ve gotten older my skin turns red. Just all over, splotchy red. No, I’m not getting sunburnt – it’s just the way it is. I knew a spray tan would ensure we could even things out and make me look gorgeous! Kambri succeeded, we went a little darker the next round and I was so happy with it.
Skin Care Plan
In my partnership with Nari, about 4 weeks before the wedding we began doing treatments on my face to help even out my tone and clear out a year+ of disrespect. Yes, I say disrespect because my skin deserves better lol. Here’s all the stuff we did to my face in order:
- Week One: Infused hydration facial with dermaplane
- By dermaplaning my skin, Nari was able to get the ridiculously deep layer of dead skin and velum off my face before diving in with a super hydrating mask to help with my dry areas
- Week Two: DMK Enzyme Therapy
- DMK Enzyme Therapy is a relatively new treatment and something you can only get done by Nari in the Denver Metro.
- Week Three: DMK Enzyme Therapy pt.2 but this time more intense!
- Week Four: DMK Enzyme w/ Hydration + Dermaplane
Together, we got my skin looking and feeling silky smooth. Nari was able to help turn my dull, lifeless looking skin and make it more even in tone and texture which is exactly what I was looking for. Every time we did DMK, I couldn’t believe the way my skin looked after. I think at one point I said, “she’s not taking years off my skin…this is like NEW SKIN.” I can’t recall a time my skin looked better post-puberty – so basically in 15+ years.
Services Timeline (for All the Planners)
At one point during all this, Drew got upset with me because I had SO MANY beauty appointments every week leading up to the wedding. Of course, in the end, it was all totally worth it. He loved it! Here’s a quick rundown of my getting ready timeline. This doesn’t include trials but when you’re juggling as much as I am, it’s imperative to schedule ahead and with COVID, even more so:
- Two Weekends before the Wedding: Hair color with Balayaged by Ash
- Friday before: Nails from Nails with Ashleigh
- Sunday before: extensions installed by Samira Jackson
- Tuesday: final facial from Skin by Nari
- Wednesday: final tan from Bring Me Bronze followed by lash fill at Deka Lash
- Thursday: scoot off to Vail to get married!
Last but Not Least
As anyone close to me knows, this was what I like to call and ~infused~ wedding. When I first announced that I was engaged, I can’t count the number of people that shared this viral post of a “weed wedding” with me. Loved the love, but cannabis is by no means that important to us. We love it, we use it – but it’s not really our identity. That being said, neither of us drink much so we knew this pandemic wedding would be covid & 420-friendly.
From the bachelorette and bridal shower to Day Of, we had a little bit of infusion everywhere. Our bachelorette party was fully stocked with delicious Sweet Grass chocolate chip & double chocolate cookies. They were divine and even better when paired with a THC:CBD infused latte. My bridal shower was lovingly hosted by friends and family who were quick to hop on 2 different mocktail recipes (sangria and mojitos) which were dosed with some fun THC tinctures as well.
Day Of, we sipped on Bordello – an indica leaning strain in vape form from Select. We had distillate infused escargot and desserts as well! It was all perfectly divine and kept me and Drew feeling comfortable the entire weekend. As a parting gift, we gave each of our guests these beautiful CBD joints from Weatherford 1814 – a brand I came across randomly, that surprisingly has our ancestor’s name! Everyone loved the CBD joints and it was great to have a covid-friendly smokable.
Calling Our Pandemic Wedding a Success!
All in all, we had a fabulous time. Planning this pandemic wedding had its stressful moments, but for the most part, we landed right where we wanted and had a fantastic day. Nearly every detail was perfect even if we were missing some of our dearest friends and close family. If we had to do it over, we’d still do it again just like this!