Prom at Spruce Mountain Ranch ~ A Special Night Turned Magical~

Prom is a magical night for students. Not only is it a time to dress up and enjoy themselves, but it is also a time to connect with all their peers and share a special experience before graduation. Because of this, schools try to make prom as significant of an event as they can. An easy way to make prom magical is to host it at Spruce Mountain Ranch. Spruce Mountain Ranch’s prom package has much to offer, and is sure to be a success.

This year at Spruce Mountain, the month of April is dedicated to hosting proms. Both Albert’s Lodge and the Ponderosa rooms are used for these special occasions, based on the size of the group. While the space is already booked for the 2014 year, it’s not too late to book it for future proms! Questions about proms are addressed below, in addition to a few photos of prom at Spruce Mountain.

Brus Osborne of Spruce Mountain Ranch answers the following questions concerning booking a prom at the ranch:

1.  How much does it cost a school to host prom at Spruce Mountain?

-Brus explains that “The Spruce Mountain Ranch Prom package is $6,500.00” This package is all-inclusive.

2. What is included in the prom package?

-Spruce Mountain offers a wonderful package for schools wishing to host their prom at this location. “Our prom package is very inclusive. It includes parking attendants, tables and chairs, a large built in stage, 2 VIP areas, 17 restroom stalls, coat check space with racks and hangers, internet access, and 2 locations for royalty presentation to choose from.” In addition to this, Spruce Mountain allows schools to bring in entertainment for the VIP areas, including stations such as photo booths. Entertainment such as this is perfect for students who don’t wish to dance the entire time, and even for students who want to make fun memories together.

3. How many hours are included in the contract?

- “It (the prom package) includes 5 hours of set up from 8:00am – 1:00pm and Prom from 7:00pm – Midnight.” Therefore, the package purchases 10 total hours at Spruce Mountain Ranch: 5 for preparation, and 5 for the event.

4. What kind of safety precautions are taken to keep the kids safe?

-There are security and parking attendants on site for the duration of the event. For schools interested in even more security, police officers may be hired for the prom. Spruce Mountain Ranch prides itself in keeping events running smoothly and safely in addition to being a competitive venue. They will happily work with schools to ensure students’ security.

5. What kind of food is served at proms?

-Brus shares that “The student councils (from the schools) usually choose a dessert buffet, but we don’t require that food be served like most venues (require).” Food is a wonderful addition to any prom, but is not a required element. For those interested in adding refreshments to a prom package, chocolate fountains, snow cones, and mini desserts are very popular with the students.

6. What makes prom at Spruce Mountain Ranch better than it would be at other venues?

-There are so many components that give Spruce Mountain Ranch a cutting edge over other potential prom venues. Brus shares that “Most importantly, the Spruce Mountain Ranch Team loves having the students enjoy the space! We try to be on top of our customer service strength. I also think that the wide-open rooms and our indoor-outdoor options for prom are very appealing to the students. A ranch is a fun place to have prom, and opens up new and exciting prom themes.”

Pictures of The Classical Academy prom being set up this year in Albert’s Lodge (with the theme “Rio Carnaval”):

Photo Credit: Tonya Baldessari

*A warm, Spruce Mountain thanks to our very own Brus Osborne! –To contact her about booking an event with the ranch, please email her at

The Story of Spruce Mountain Ranch

Spruce Mountain Ranch is not only a functioning cattle ranch, but it is also a place where happy couples begin new lives together, and a place where communities can come together. However, before Spruce Mountain began hosting weddings, corporate events, cattle auctions and proms, the ranch went through several transformations. It changed its owners and purposes  multiple times, leading it to become the wonderful place that it is today. Since so many friends of the ranch want to know the story behind this great establishment, we bring you “The Story of Spruce Mountain Ranch”.

Spruce Mountain was not always owned by the Ames family. In fact, in 1871, it was part of the “Ben Lomond Ranch”. This ranch was the first official establishment on the property, although it had been part of the “Wild West” for many years prior. Now that it was no longer free grassland, the ranch was given a purpose. This several thousand acre ranch was a dairy and grain farm. Once the Lomond family found they were unable to properly farm it, the land was passed on to other owners.

In 1885, the “Ben Lomond Ranch” was re-named as the “Famous Daniels Ranch”, and was now owned by Judge Hiram P. Bennett, his son, his brother, and two local sawmill owners. These prominent members of Douglas County worked hard to keep the ranch functioning and profitable. Eventually though, the partners transitioned to other paths of life, and the ranch was sold again.

At the turn of the century in 1907, the ranch changed hands. Brothers Harold and Arthur Higginson bought 2,500 acres of what is now the Spruce Mountain Ranch property to raise cattle and to farm grain. While Arthur eventually sold his portion of the ranch and moved on, Harold and his wife remained. They built a home and a life on the ranch, and their house was still standing when the Ames family purchased Spruce Mountain just before the turn of the century.

In 1905, Harold sold the property to his son and daughter-in-law, Russell and Amelia Pearl. The couple faithfully farmed the land, even when Russell lost his arm in a tragic hay-baler accident. They learned to re-engineer equipment to make it more efficient for his disability. After the couple moved on, the ranch served many purposes and was owned by multiple people.

Tom and Lois Ames purchased the ranch in March of 1999. After allocating space for 100 houses to be developed, the remaining land was created into the cattle and event ranch that it is today. The family worked hard to build a beautiful family home, a lovely neighbor, and a functioning cattle and event ranch. They even named the buildings on the property after members of the Ames family. For example, the bridal cottage is named “Ruby’s Cottage” after Tom Ames’ mother. It is the personal touches such as this that make Spruce Mountain Ranch more than a ranch; they make it a home.

Today, Spruce Mountain Ranch is a home to the Ames family and a location where family and friends can come together. It is a site of beautiful weddings and memorable events. Without its unique history, it would never have become the beautiful place that it is today.

The ranch before the Ames bought it:

The old horse stables converted to the Colorado Room:

The barn renovated into Ruby’s Cottage:

*A Warm, Spruce Mountain Thanks to the Ames Family! For more information on Spruce Mountain Ranch history, please visit:

Wedding Entertainment -Your Guide on Keeping Guests Entertained-

Wedding entertainment is an ever-increasing part of the wedding industry. As weddings become more casual and intimate, versus feeling production-like, the idea of providing activities for guests has grown rapidly. Experts from All Digital Studios and Starkey Productions offer insight and tips for those seeking to provide wedding entertainment for their guests, including some revolutionary mediums of entertainment.
Entertainment in General:
Jake Beaber of Starkey Productions answers your questions about wedding entertainment.
- What is the importance of entertaining guests at a wedding?
  • Jake Beaber explains that “A wedding throughout time has always been a celebration. The entertainment- whether a DJ, band, or something                         simple such as a guitarist- is there not to be ‘the show’ but to heighten the experience.”

- How does entertainment change the atmosphere of an event?
  • He shares that “I believe the biggest effect on the atmosphere of an event, as far as entertainment goes, is not only that it is good, but also that it is               right for that particular event. The wrong entertainment is going to change the atmosphere in a negative way. This is an example of a great                               wedding experience that gets ruined by the cheesy DJ that stands on a speaker and tries to teach everyone the Macarena or attempts to roast the groom. Awkward!”
- What are some of the newest trends in guest entertainment?
  • Beaber explains that “One of the hottest and newest products we provide is the DJ/Live Music fusion product where the DJ is paired with live                         musicians. One product we have is Digital Pocket, which is a vinyl DJ with a guitarist and trumpeter. Or, we have “Spinphony”, which is a DJ with 3             violinists and a cellist.  It really brings the versatility of a DJ and experience of live music together without having the price tag of a full band.”
– Digital Pocket~
– Spinphony~
- What is the best way to hold the attention of an audience of all ages?
  • He states that “The quick answer is professional entertainment. From DJ to band, professional entertainers know how to ‘read a room’ and program their music or show flow to not only accommodate the group as a whole, but also doing this within the bride and groom’s vision.”
- What is the most cost-effective entertainment?
  • He explains that this is a “hard question to answer.  Cost has always been a major decision for wedding entertainment.  This is definitely something where you get what you pay for. The $500 you save by hiring a ‘cost effective’ DJ could be the difference between a great event and a nightmare horror story. Your entertainment can make or break your event. There are better places to save money than cutting corners on your entertainment.”
-Have photo booths been a popular form of entertainment?
  • “Photo booths have been very popular over the last few years. They are a lot of fun and give guests a fun ‘take home’ memory. The only tip I have as far as photo booths is to keep them in the room with the party. Nothing is worse than having your party divided up between photo booth in the foyer and dancing inside the event room.”
Introducing Slow Motion Video Booths:
A new and revolutionary idea formed by All Digital Studios is that of the slow motion video booth as a form of guest entertainment at weddings. Rather than simply taking photos at a photo booth, guests can pose with props and move around for 8 seconds. This clip is then put into slow motion video. All Digital Studios answers the questions below about their new idea.
- Why should a bride choose slow motion video booths over other ideas, such as a photo booth? What makes it stand out as different?
  • All Digital Studios offers this insight in response to this question. They explain that “The slow motion booth is a new twist on the standard photo booth. It has similar props but is more entertaining to all of the guests because of the instant video replay. Also, brides don’t want the same entertainment that was at their sister’s wedding or their best friend’s wedding.”
- How much does a booth cost to rent for a wedding? How many hours can it be used for?
  • All Digital Studios states that the cost to rent a slow motion video booth is “$1,195 for 3 hours.” The reason for this is that these booths require a very specialized and expensive camera.
- How do the videos get distributed? Is it all one video, or are they individual?
  • They explain that “Each guest gets a link with their clip. The hosts (bride and groom) will get a fully-edited 3-minute recap clip compiled from the 3 hour event.”
– Samples of slow motion videos, courtesy of All Digital Studios:

-  What inspired this new idea in wedding entertainment?
  • All Digital Studios answers that “We believe the idea began on the west coast. My own (the owner’s) son owns a company that provides booths not only to weddings but has done after-parties associated with the Grammys, Academy Awards and various television shows. We have developed and tweaked ideas together on the slow motion booth.”
- Have the booths been popular at weddings thus far?w
  • “We formed this late last year, so we haven’t done weddings yet (except in LA).  We can’t wait and are excited to have fun with wedding parties which have the right amount of ”fuel” and enthusiasm.”
- What else would you like brides to know about slow motion video booths, and why should they choose them for wedding entertainment?
  • “Video booths provide new and different entertainment, and a lifetime of memories preserved on video and social media.”
A Warm, Spruce Mountain Thanks to:
-Starkey Productions,
-All Digital Studios,

Wine and Nosh 2014

On February 9th, Spruce Mountain Ranch hosted a bridal show for future brides. This show included over 37 vendors, as well as a fashion show featuring the latest bridal and bridesmaid gowns from “Something New Boutique”. The show was put on by Sarah Viera of “Sarah Viera Event Planning and Design”. It was through the displays and fashion show that future brides were able to envision their weddings.

The Food:

The event was catered by Occasions Catering, which served tasty Hor d’oeuvres such as biscuits and gravy, fried chicken buckets, and “steak martinis”. These were not only delicious, but they were also very satisfying.

The Desserts-
There were several different vendors who displayed and offered samples of cakes and cupcakes. A few of these were The Makery and the Bundt Shoppe, as well as the Sugarplum Cake Shoppe.
The Bundt Shoppe showcased beautifully decorated Bundt cakes arranged on inviting displays. These cakes are perfect for the brides who want a cake with a new and feminine twist.

The Sugarplum Cake Shoppe and Bakery says that “If it’s cake, we do it!” They make not only cakes, but also dessert bars and desserts for those with dietary restrictions. One of their popular flavors include almond with raspberry filling.

The Makery prides themselves on being the most creative bakery. In some cupcake displays, they even utilize LED lights! In addition to being creative, this company aims to be creative, friendly, and affordable.

The Seating-

The seating for this event was provided by “Anna’s Custom Pews” and “Chairished Vintage Sales and Rentals”.

The Flowers-

The floral decorations were provided by “The Perfect Petal”, “Newberry Brothers”, and “The Garden Path”. “The Perfect Petal” provided more traditional and chic displays, whereas “The Garden Path” showcased some floral arrangements with a European Touch”.

The Garden Path:

The Perfect Petal:

The Dresses-

The bridal show gowns were provided by “Something New Boutique”, although “Anna Be Bridal Boutique” also showcased some of their gowns.

Something New Boutique:

Anna Be Bridal Boutique:

The Event Companies-

Several event and planning companies were present to show their packages to brides. Some of these include “Cloud 9 Events” and “JA Special Events”. These companies showcased past events.

Wine and Nosh at Spruce Mountain Ranch was a successful event which assisted brides in planning their special days and selecting vendors.

A Warm, Spruce Mountain Ranch thanks to:

-Sarah Viera, “Sarah Viera Event Planning and Design” –

-“Something New Boutique” –

-All Vendors represented at this bridal show:

Sugarplum Cake Shoppe
The Makery
The Bundt Shoppe
Captivate by Aleigha-provided hair for fashions show
Magnifica Bella- provided makeup for fashion show
Peak Beverage
Anna be
Something New Boutique-provided fashion show
Occasions Catering
Kat Peterson
Starkey Productions
Bare Root Flora
Newberry Bros
Twigs and Posies
Garden Path
Perfect Petal
Chairished Vintage Rentals
Anna’s Custom Pews
Sarah Viera Events
Jessica Adler
Snowshoe Photography
Amanda Lamb Photography
Bellamint Photography-provided pictures for event
Sarah Roshan
Reign Magazine
Rocky Mountain Bride
Event Rents
Cloud 9 Wedding and Paper
Pretty Writing
DDG Classic Limousines
Jays Valet-provided valet parking
Gretchen Lamberson
All Digitial Studios

How Much “Dough” to do “I do”? -The Cost of a Colorado Wedding-

In the excitement of planning a wedding, it can become easy to lose sight of a budget. However, planning a wedding is an event which requires not only having a budget, but sticking to one. Several wedding experts including Mark Paquette, Sarah Viera, Julie McKenney, and Jessica Adler offer insight on how to budget your special day.

Setting a Realistic Budget

Setting a realistic timeline and budget for a wedding is critical. Mark Paquette shares insight on how to set a budget, explaining that “With regard to budget, the average budget in Colorado for 100 guests is about $27,000 (or $270 per guest). Using that as the target point will help couples determine their own needs. While planning a wedding for less is doable, there are many factors that must be weighed by the couple when determining what they can, or cannot, afford.” By determining guest count, a budget will become easier to set.

Average Costs

Before a budget is set, it is helpful to be informed about the average costs of different wedding elements. Because of this, we have provided a breakdown of different price tags associated with various aspects of getting married. Keep in mind that these are simply average ranges for weddings in Colorado, and not fixed prices. The following prices are estimations based on a guest count of 125-150, but prices may vary depending on the venue and personal budget of the bride and groom.

  • Venue: Jessica Adler explains that “For an offsite venue that does not provide their own catering, $5000-12000 (is an average cost). For a more standard hotel or country club that does do in-house catering, (the cost is) generally waived or under $1000. For a premier venue or destination lodge or ranch that likely does in-house catering, $6000-12000 (can be an expected price).” Other experts estimate a range of $1,200 – $10,000.
  • Photography: Adler shares that for a “Denver area average without (an) album (is) $3500-4500. (A) Denver area average with (an) album (is around) $5500-6500. I feel 6 hours is a minimum amount of coverage needed 7-8 hours is best.”  Overall, an average is $4,000-$4,800.
  • Catering (food and beverage): This is hard to average, Adler explains, because it is “Really tough to answer as based on the style of service and preferences on food, this could vary tremendously.  At a hotel or country club, it will be higher as generally there is no site fee. For a higher end or premier hotel,(it may be) $70-200 per person, plus 20-24% service charges and taxes. For a more standard hotel or country club, $50-100 per person plus 20-24% service charges and taxes (is reasonable). For an offsite caterer, anywhere from $20-50 per person on food, (and) alcohol would be closer to $10-20 per person if the venue does not have a liquor license. If the venue does have a liquor license, depending on the venue, (it may be) $40-75 per person for alcohol based on the duration of the reception and kind of alcohol served. Staffing for an offsite caterer would run another $20-40 per person based on what is needed.” Julie McKenney estimates that $13,000 is a reasonably average for catering with 125-150 guests.
  • Videography: Ranges anywhere from $2500-5000.
  • Florist: Adler explains this is“ Really impossible to answer; so much depends on the size of the wedding party, seasonality of flowers, style of event, colors, number of tables and shape of tables, ceremony décor, added reception florals (… ) anywhere from $2500-8000 or higher.” Other planners estimated similar costs.
  • Décor: Adler asks of brides “Are you looking at fabric, lighting, props, chandeliers, lanterns, orbs, things hanging from the ceiling etc.? You could spend a few hundred dollars with your own special touches or reach toward $5K-10K.” Viera and McKenney estimated $500 to several thousand.
  • DJ: Adler states the “Average for a 4 hour minimum is $1200-1500 though you could go much lower or higher.” Sarah Viera and Julie Mckenny’s averages also fell into this range.
  • Live band: Depending on the experience of the band and time they are present, the cost could range from $4000-8000.
  • Wedding dress: A wedding gown can range from $1,500-6,000, depending on the bride’s style and budget.
  • Tuxedo: McKenney explains that “Tuxedo Groom’s suit or tux is usually free with the groomsmen order, which is typically about $100 each. Many grooms are opting to purchase tuxes, or suits for an average price of $300.” Adler adds that “Most grooms are doing suits nowadays and I see many purchasing over rentals. Rentals (are) $150-250; (purchasing one is) $500 and up.”
  • CO Marriage License: $30
  • Transportation: Julie McKenney estimates it will be “$2,000 depending on venue/hotel proximity.” Jessica Adler says it “Depends (…) is it a shuttle for a few guests or just the bride and groom?  Is it the wedding party?  Is it to and from a hotel to the offsite reception?  A town car or limo will run $150-500 based on what the bride and groom need and if it is one way or round trip.  Shuttles can vary from SUVs to 14 passenger vans to mini coaches and large buses.  Most have 3-5 hour minimums.  Rates can be from $100-300 per hour plus gratuity, sometimes higher.” Sarah Viera estimates that depending on how many people are being transported and the style of the vehicle, it may range from $800-$1,200.
  • Lodging: A “Bridal Suite (is) $400,” says McKenney. “For guests, it varies tremendously on location and time of year.  $90 – $350.  For bride and groom, a honeymoon suite is often included at a hotel or lodge.  Otherwise, often you can get an upgrade from a standard room to a suite if (you are) doing a room block with many other guests,” shares Adler.
  • Invitations: An average is $600. Jessica Adler explains it may range from “$5-7 per invitation ensemble for semi-custom; $9-15 per ensemble for custom. Postage runs about $1.25 per invitation to cover the RSVP stamp and outside envelope mailing.”
  • Cake: A cake is typically around $1,500. This will vary depending on the amount of servings, as well as whether or not other desserts are included.
  • Officiant: This is a wide range, depending on whether or not the person is ordained and if lodging is provided for them. An Officiant can range anywhere from $300-1,200.
  • Event insurance: This ranges from $175-300.
  • Wedding planner: This can greatly depend on the planner’s experience, company, and whether or not they are required to travel far to the destination. While it can range from $1,200-6000, an estimated cost is $3,500
  • Event rentals: This will vary based on guest count, venue, and what brides want. Julie McKenney says a reasonable price range is “$500 – $8,000, (but) most couples spend about $1,500.” Jessica Adler shares that “At a hotel or lodge or country club, this is included in the cost of food and beverage and service charge.  Some offsite venues include tables and chairs whereas others do not. Some caterers offer these items at a lower (or higher — be careful) rate than renting.  Some venues have exclusives with certain rental companies whereas others allow you (or your caterer and planner) to select the company of choice.  Linens could factor in here as well or be part of your décor budget.” She offers a basic breakdown below:

-Average per plate 60 cents to $1

-Per piece of silverware 60 cents to $1

-Glassware  75 cents to $2 based on the glass type

-Linens $15-20 for basic and way up from there for custom and fancier per tablecloth

-Cloth napkins  60-75 cents for basic and $1-2 for nicer fabric

-Tables $10-12 per table

-Chairs $3.50-11 (vintage, Chivari, folded padded, custom. (There are) so many options).”

No matter what your budget is in planning your special day, just remember to set an informed one based on average costs, and to stick to it!

A warm, Spruce Mountain thanks to:

-Mark Christopher, “Mark Christopher Weddings & Events”!/hi

-Sarah Viera, “Sarah Viera Event Planning & Design”

-Jessica Adler, “JA Special Events”

- Julie McKenney “Bliss Elevated”

Top Wedding Trends of 2014

As the prime wedding season for 2014 is fast-approaching, many new trends have surfaced. From bridesmaid gowns to softer color palettes, this year of weddings holds many new styles for brides to consider in preparing for their special day. Several experts in the field of event planning share their thoughts on what they think will be the top wedding trends of 2014. Their insight on these trends will make any bride’s planning job easier and guess-free.

Kim Forrest of “Wedding Wire” anticipates there will be new color schemes for this year. She explains that orchid, “a pretty pinky-purple that is a beautiful hue for wedding décor,” may be surfacing as a popular décor color. She also speculates that mint will be prominent in bridesmaid dresses when she states that “Pale green bridesmaid dresses were all over the runways at bridal market, so expect to see this minty fresh color at spring and summer weddings in 2014!” Lastly, she guesses that metallic colors will be seen in a large amount of color schemes this year, explaining that “From wedding dresses to stationery, linens to cakes, expect to see a lot of gold and silver next year!”

Mark Paquette offers insight into what he expects in the area of wedding trends for 2014. He says that “Some of the trends I see include: Sparkles! We’re seeing glittery table linens, stationery, cake décor, and dresses. I anticipate sparkles and bling to be top of mind…Return of the cake. While cupcakes and dessert bars continue, standard cakes are back in vogue…Enhanced décor. Couples are again spending money on altar backdrops, florals, elegant stationery, and upgraded linens…Rustic becomes Chic. There’s no doubt Colorado will likely be known for its ability to easily be a backdrop for rustic weddings. I anticipate seeing mason jars being replaced with antique bottles and containers or more traditional glassware. Jute, burlap, and twine will likely be replaced by many for lace, silk, and elegant ribbon materials.”

Ann Marlin of Cloud Nine Events has several ideas of what she thinks will become popular this season. First, she explains that the trendy, bold, and colorful weddings are slowly fading out of fashion. These bright palettes are being replaced by “romantic, neutral palettes” consisting of colors such as “white, cream, ivories, and blushes”. She explains that because of the changes in color trends, weddings will have a more “romantic and rustic chic” atmosphere to them. Marlin agrees with Forrest and Paquette when she explains that “metallics and gold in décor” are becoming vastly popular and will continue to expand in popularity this season. Lastly, Ann Marlin states that receptions are starting to focus on a comfortable, “dinner party” atmosphere for guests to relax and enjoy both the celebration and the company.

Debbie Orwat of Save the Date Events shares her thoughts on what the reception and atmosphere for 2014 weddings will feel like. First, she explains that she believes there will be “More “foodie” weddings with unique meals and entertainment catering.” This idea of receptions becoming more focused on the wedding meal corresponds with what Ann Marlin says about there being a “dinner party” atmosphere. Weddings are starting to stray from formal dinners to relaxed and entertaining eating environments. Lastly, Orwat explains that in lieu of the more entertaining atmospheres, she expects for there to be more “slow motion video booths” and such interactive activities for guests to enjoy themselves.

This wedding season, there are multiple new trends and styles to consider when planning. From metallics and glitter, to romantic color palettes, the décor of 2014 weddings is evolving from bright and bold to “rustic chic”. The receptions this year are more about the guests enjoying themselves and having a relaxing dinner environment. Whatever the trends a bride and groom decide to include in their special day, it is sure to be memorable.

A warm, Spruce Mountain thanks to:

-Mark Paquette, “Mark Christopher Weddings & Events”!/hi

-Ann Marlin, “Cloud Nine Weddings”

-Kim Forrest, “Wedding Wire”

-Debbie Orwat, “Save the Date Events”

-Tara Ames, “Spruce Mountain Ranch” for providing the pictures of her wedding

“Hits and Misses of becoming a Mrs.” -A guide to planning the perfect wedding-

Planning a wedding is a joyous event. However, such nuptials require certain preparations in order for the day be as smooth and stress-free as possible. Some local event and wedding coordinators have shared their thoughts and experiences on the “Hits and Misses” of planning a wedding. Mark Christopher of “Mark Christopher Weddings & Events” and Ann Marlin of “Cloud Nine Weddings” were generous enough to share advice with brides in planning stages of their weddings.

While planning may seem fairly simple, experts advise for certain elements to be present in planning. They also advise brides on what to avoid in weddings in order to make for a unique wedding. Lastly, these event experts express their thoughts on how to avoid clichés when planning.

“Hits” of Becoming Mrs.

After being asked “What are some “hits” of planning a wedding? What makes it successful?”, Mark Christopher of “Mark Christopher Weddings & Events” shares his thoughts, saying “Some hits of planning a wedding include setting a realistic budget that is appropriate for the guest size and the overall vision of the wedding from the start, hiring trained professionals, making educated decisions, hiring quality over “quantity (low-cost),” and communicating regularly with professionals. Additionally, if a planner is not included throughout the process, then one should be brought in to coordinate the wedding day to ensure everything comes together smoothly and as envisioned.”

Ann Marlin of “Cloud Nine Events” in Denver expresses her thoughts on what “hits” in weddings are. When asked what she defines as a successful wedding, she explains that the most important thing is to “make it about the bride and groom”, and to “make it about the guest experience from beginning to end”. She goes on to explain that while it may be easy to lose sight of what’s important, keeping the focus on the happy couple is critical. Also, she stresses the importance of making the guest experience intimate and enjoyable so that every guest leaves feeling that they took part in a wonderful celebration. Her last piece of advice for brides to have a fabulous day is to “get a fantastic wedding planner to make the whole thing easy!” A wedding planner is capable of making an occasion great, so finding the right one is important.

“Misses” of Becoming a Mrs.

Mark Christopher shares his thoughts on what “misses” in the wedding industry entail. He shares that “Misses include: Overspending — set a realistic budget upfront, allocate the budget to the various aspects of a wedding, and then stick to the figures. Having a professional planner can help manage the finances and, will offer the couple ways of cutting without impacting the look and feel of the day…Estimating time — when I hear individuals talk about weddings, they often complain about how late things ran or how disorganized the event was (usually a result of improper time management). Set a timeline, build in cushions, and take into account loading in, loading out, and general issues that may arise (and they always do).”

Ann Marlin offers advice on how to avoid “misses” in the wedding industry. She explains that brides and grooms often get caught up in the small details and lose sight of the big picture of the day: marrying their best friend. She advises for happy couples to “just be present in the day” and to “keep sight of what it’s really about”. Rather than worry about things that cannot be controlled, such as weather or delays, Marlin encourages couples to simply focus on marrying each other and to “overlook mishaps”.

Clichés to Avoid

When asked which elements to avoid when planning a wedding, Mark Christopher says “While there are many cliché trends, if the aspect works for a couple then we should be supporting them in their decisions. There are really only two things I truly despise and would attempt to talk any client into avoiding; tulle (on anything or used in any way) and fake flowers (unless they are doing very tall centerpieces where guests cannot touch the flowers).” Thus, staying with modern trends and avoiding over-used elements in weddings is critical.

Ann Marlin offers valuable insight into how to best avoid clichés in wedding planning. She shares that the most important step in planning is for the bride and groom to “make it about themselves and their future spouse”, as well as to “make it personal”. She shares that when a wedding is very personal and truly about the marriage of a happy couple, it is hard to be cliché. Thus, making a wedding personal and unique to the couple is the best way to avoid cliché elements in planning.

A Warm, Spruce Mountain thanks to:

Mark Christopher Paquette, “Mark Christopher Weddings & Events”!/hi

Ann Marlin, “Cloud Nine Weddings”

New Year’s Eve Nuptials at Spruce Mountain Ranch

The New Year is a time for celebration, resolutions, and fresh beginnings. What better time to ring in the new year than with a wedding? The marriage of Ms. Valerie Marshall and Mr. Juan Solano was a beautiful union to mark both a new year and a new season of life. This occasion took place on New Year’s Eve at Spruce Mountain Ranch. This wedding showed the spirit of the New Year, while maintaining a sense of style. This event also included several personal touches which reflected the bride and groom as a couple. The new Mr. and Mrs. Solano are both firefighters, and to illustrate this area of their life, they asked their coworkers to a drive a fire truck to the ranch as a prop for pictures. They also placed a firefighter sign on the guest table. It is personal details such as these which make weddings truly memorable.

The other decorative aspects of the wedding were suited to the date of this occasion. The colors for the occasion were gold, silver, and champagne. These shades were woven throughout the clothes, candles, table decorations, and other small details of the wedding. The tuxedos and bridesmaid gowns were a tasteful shade of champagne, reflecting the color palette of the day. The marriage ceremony, in Albert’s Lodge, shone with candles, sparkles, and metallic accents of gold and silver. The ceremony itself was also personal to the bride, groom, and their families, rather than being generic. From the ceiling hung large, paper snowflakes hand-cut by the bride and her friends. This was another detail to make this wedding memorable.

Bride Valerie Marshall’s bouquet was very beautiful and unique. It appeared to be crafted of glittery brooches, silk flowers, and feathers, and it shimmered stunningly in the light.

The wedding dinner of was catered by Tony Rosacci’s Fine Catering. It was a lovely meal with a beautifully decorated buffet table. The tablecloths, flowers, and decorative elements added to the relaxed, yet classy environment of the dinner.

The cakes, whose flavors were carrot, red velvet, and lemon, seemed to sparkle in the light with their festive stands.

After Dinner and toasting, the guests began the dancing portion of the evening. The dance floor was situated in front of the fireplace, and its soft light added to the ambiance of the evening.

The New Year’s Eve wedding of Ms. Valerie Marshall to Mr. Juan Solano was a beautiful and classy occasion. Both the wedding party and the guests enjoyed celebrating the newlyweds on this festive occasion which marked not only a new year on the calendar, but a new season in this couple’s life.

A Holiday at Spruce Mountain Ranch

The holidays are a magical time of year. They are a time to celebrate cherished traditions, relish time spent with loved ones, and to take a respite from hectic schedules to reflect on our blessings. Since this is the time of the year to celebrate, what better place to do so than Spruce Mountain Ranch? The ranch is an excellent venue both for holiday parties and for corporate events.

Why choose Spruce Mountain Ranch as a venue? Brus Osborne, Director of Business Development for Spruce Mountain Events, offers helpful insight into planning a holiday party at the ranch. She explains that “Spruce Mountain Ranch is a spectacular spot for your holiday party. We are a 400 acre gentleman’s Angus cattle ranch with event space on property. Our Ponderosa Room can seat up to 650, but it has great cocktail reception space with seating for a formal dinner for 450. The space comes with a beautiful stage, tables and chairs, in-house AV, and an AV manager.  We have onsite parking for up to 300, plus an event manager and staff. Albert’s Lodge has a similarly spectacular setting and is perfect for groups from 50 – 250 guests. Spruce Mountain Ranch is private and it is amazing for holiday parties! Even with the chilly temperatures in December, most holiday parties to date have included outdoor space as well. They roll in some lounge furniture and fire pits and it becomes a cozy respite with beautiful stars! An activity that compliments the evening and exemplifies the beauty of the ranch is a horse-drawn carriage ride around the lake. Your guests can bundle up in blankets and take a quick 15 minute ride under the stars.”

Brus also explains that “With an estimated guest count of 150, Albert’s Lodge and The Colorado Room would accommodate cocktails, dinner, and entertainment. With handcrafted walls and fireplace, Albert’s Lodge is the rustic yet elegant Colorado setting perfect for a holiday party. The Lower Ranch comes with The Colorado Room, Ames Patio, and Albert’s Lodge. Your guests can stroll between the spaces and take advantage of the beautiful sky, as well as the 3 roaring fireplaces. The Spruce Mountain Staff will be on hand to make the evening run smoothly, as will one of our preferred caterers. All of your tables and chairs are included, as is 4 hours of AV, event manager and staff, plenty of parking, coat check room and plenty of property for carriage rides or any other outside activity you might choose to include.” Thus, the ranch is able to accommodate a wide variety of party sizes and styles, in addition to being a unique and classy venue.

A holiday party in The Ponderosa

Those who have hosted a corporate event or holiday party at the ranch in the past would agree that it is an ideal location. Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman PC, who held an event for their staff at Spruce Mountain, state that “Spruce Mountain Ranch was such a great place to have our corporate event.  The size of the venue gave us lots of room to offer a variety of entertainment and the view was gorgeous.  The employees raved about the venue, which brought even more energy to the party. Even better than the venue, was the team of people we worked with. I have never had such service in my 15 years of event planning. They were so warm, kind, and accommodating. When a request was made by anyone at the event, the team jumped up and helped in every way they could – even getting a guest gas that had run out just as they parked the car. Now THAT is service! The team not only brings years of event planning expertise, but cared enough to check on our event, requesting details and adding fun suggestions and warnings along the way. I would recommend Spruce Mountain Ranch to everyone wanting to have a successful event and a really fun time!”

A holiday set up in the Ponderosa

Other individuals who hosted events at Spruce Mountain Ranch have had equally pleasant experiences. Upon being asked about her event at the ranch, Judy of Greenwood Pediatrics shares that “I know I have told you this many times but the ranch is amazing…it just blows me away! The ranch, the people…make the experience unparalleled. I will spread the word about the little slice of heaven I have found. We look forward to being one of your repeat customers.” Steve, from Guarantee Electric, was also thrilled with his experience, explaining that “When we were looking for a venue for our holiday party, we wanted to find a venue and create an event that let our employees know we appreciate them – mission accomplished! I would recommend Spruce Mountain Ranch to anyone. Their team pays incredible attention to detail – the ranch is a place that makes memories.”

Spruce Mountain Ranch is an esteemed venue, not only for weddings, but also for holiday parties and corporate events. It is able to accommodate various sizes of events, while maintaining the same standards of excellence, service, and beauty. For more information about planning a corporate or holiday event, please visit:, or see the Vendor List.

A special thanks to Brus Osborne for supplying information, pictures, and testimonials!

Happy Holidays!

A corporate set up in the Ponderosa

A holiday set up in Albert’s Lodge. Photo Credit: Jennifer Sasser

A holiday set up in Albert’s Lodge. Photo Credit: Jennifer Sasser

Finding “The Dress”: Tips for Purchasing a Wedding Gown

Image Credit: Tory Lea Photography

The word “wedding” strikes a different chord in each of us, and causes us to think of various aspects of romantic nuptials. This word, for some, conjures images of roses, stain-glassed chapels, and clever cake toppers. For the bride, however, one particular aspect of planning a wedding stands above the rest: the dress. Almost from the time a girl can talk, she dreams of her wedding dress, envisioning the day when she will wear the most wonderful, special gown of her life. A woman’s wedding dress is not merely a gown. It is a statement of her individuality, a declaration of who she is. Whether it be short and biker-chic, or a classic Cinderella ball gown, this is the piece of clothing that speaks to her personality. Thus, finding “the dress” is critical. Acquiring the perfect gown requires time, thought, and patience. Brides who have succeeded in their search would likely agree that the final outcome was well worth the work.  Along the way, however, several questions arise that brides are unsure of the answer to. How much time do I need? Who should I take with me? What styles fit who I am? Thankfully, Anna Walsh of Anna Be’s in Denver has plenty of insightful advice for searching brides.

The first thing to remember when looking for a gown is to have realistic expectations. While it’s easy to become carried away with emotions, it’s best to walk into an appointment relaxed. Anna advises brides “To have fun. To come in with an open mind. To be okay with letting herself fall in love with an unexpected choice – many brides surprise themselves with the dress that they end up selecting.” By being open-minded, brides may find that their perfect dress is one they would not have otherwise considered. Staying calm and enjoying the experience rather than stressing over it also make it easy to fall in love with the perfect gown. If a bride becomes anxious, it’s important to remember, says Anna, that finding “The dress is a process. When selecting your dress, recognize that it’s a relationship. When we work with brides, we’re there from the selection process all the way up to the wedding day! We can provide advice on styling the entire look, provide recommendations for alterations, and be the support that a bride so often needs.”

Image Credit: Chowen Photography

Allowing enough time to find the right dress is important and will reduce stress on the bride. When asked how much time to allow for purchasing a dress, Anna says “Once you find the dress that you love, I think it’s the right time to get the dress!” She also explains that “(it) will take about 3-5 months for production (each dress is only cut and sewn once it is ordered) and then once the dress arrives we recommend another 2 months for alterations… But if a bride has a compressed time frame there are definitely quicker options available: off-the-rack, rushing a dress, or buying a sample gown.” Thus, allowing for several months is ideal, but brides with a time limit have plenty of options.

Another of the many questions that surface when searching for “the dress”, is What if I don’t find “the one”? Anna, who has reassured countless brides as a professional in the industry, encourages brides to “To take a breath and think about what “the one” is for her. Often times once we know if there is an image in the bride’s head or a specific feel that she is going for, we can help the bride find the right dress for her vision.” Stress only makes it harder to find the perfect dress! If a bride is still unsure, bridal consultants are more than willing to offer advice, Anna explains. “We work with brides to help them figure out what they do desire in a dress. As the bride starts trying on dresses, it becomes pretty clear what she likes and what she feels good in. Once we start knowing that bit of information we can then help guide the bride to finding her dress!” Finding the perfect wedding gown may seem stressful and uncertain, but remaining calm, being patient, and enjoying the process make it worth every minute.

A special thanks to Anna Walsh of Anna Be’s! Anna is a close friend of Spruce Mountain Ranch, and owns the store where Tara Ames purchased her wedding gown. For more information about Anna’s store, visit

Tory Lea Photography