Our Backyard Wedding Weekend Extravaganza

Our Story began 20 years ago….Mike and I met in high school, dated, moved out to Colorado, and he asked me to marry him on the back bowls of Breckenridge. Ok, there has been quite a lot more than that, but it’s our life in the tiniest of nutshells and brings me to our Wedding Extravaganza!

I never thought I’d enjoy planning a wedding as I’ve always known the big wedding was not for me. The stress, planning, money, poofy dress, 18 bridesmaids, money, Bridezilla, money…..ok, the money thing was really a huge block in my getting pumped about the whole wedding thing. But, Mike and I have such a great vibe and once we started talking about what we wanted and what we didn’t….I knew we would plan a wedding that incorporated all we love, with happiness through every turn.

First thing we had to decide once we got over celebrating….where to have our fabulous affair. After taking a look at a ranch that was 45 minutes from our house (had several guest houses, but only slept about 8 people comfortably – how do you decide which of your family stays!? – and was $4,856 which didn’t include a caterer/food) we decided it was too far and not exactly what we had envisioned.

So how about a barn!? Super rustic, laid back, outside. Perfect, right? And how much could a barn at a local park be!? I looked at Evergreen, in the mountains, to host our low key affair. For 6 hours, not including ANYTHING else, the venue was $4,640.00 – it was a holiday weekend, hence the inflated price. YIKES!

Some of you may think that I’m being a little cheap…yes, yes I am. Why does one afternoon of joining two people, who love each other regardless of the venue, extravagant flowers, fancy place settings, who are preparing for a lifetime of amazing adventures, why does that one afternoon need to cost so much!? In my very humble, personal opinion, it doesn’t and shouldn’t.

So the backyard extravaganza took shape!

Here are a few things we did that were totally us, totally cost efficient and made the day amazing. Your wedding should have your stamp on it, shouldn’t be stressful, and should feel like an extension of your love for each other. That’s the vibe we wanted to create and looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Decorations

A few months before our wedding weekend, I invited my local friends and family over to help with decorations. Homemade signs, rolled napkins and silverware, seating tags….it was a total DIY approach, but made it a fun activity for those we love to be apart of. There was a Welcome Sign, a Beer Sign, a Smore’s Sign, a Food Truck Sign, and of course, the Colorado flag!

DIY Wedding Signs

 

DIY Wedding Smore's Sign

In total, I spent $318 on decorations including: mums, paint for the homemade signs, water pitchers for the tables, a large glass pitcher for water, a small water dispenser for our beer station,  lights to string up, name tags for seating assignments, favors (envelopes full of wild flowers) cloth for the table settings (my mom sewed all of the table runners and bought the table clothes for me, so that was awesome and an expense she took care of) and a love grows here sign for our garden. An old pallet acted as the perfect seating chart holder!

DIY Wedding Name tags

DIY Colorado Flag

DIY Wedding TableFlowers, Table Settings

Sunflowers grow wild in our backyard, so not only did they serve as the backdrop for our ceremony, they were my flower of choice! I told my sister she had $100 to use for the flowers (and she wouldn’t take a check!) and she did great! That amount of money bought the perfect amount to decorate the 6 tables we had, plus the other tables we were using to put food, wine and beverages. Using old beer bottles (we LOVE beer, so had a number of them for the table settings) and vases we had, there were sunflowers everywhere you turned! The bio-degradable silverware was wrapped in a napkin, tied with twine and the mason jars acted as my guests beer mug/water glass. I had additional wine/water glasses near the wine station as well. All in all, I spent $106 on utensils, napkins, and glassware.

DIY wedding

Lights, Doors, Windows & Booze

I’m a huge fan of using what you have on hand, so with our love of beer, we incorporated bottles, caps and of course, actual beer in our special day. Being fans of the good stuff, we spent $1,153.06 on the booze for the wedding, including the day before (we went to Ratio, where we had some snacks and bought everyone a few rounds to celebrate and welcome our friends and family who had traveled to be here). We wanted our friends to have a good variety and taste the flavors of Denver, so had a tasting station with a number of Sours, IPA’s, Porters, Imperials, and a few others! Complete with a washing station, this acted as the hangout spot for most of our friends.

DIY Beer Tasting Station

With Mike being a carpenter, we had tons of wood to use for the signs, in all shapes and sizes. With a bit of sanding, paint and creativity, the signs turned out perfect! We also had a number of old doors, windows, pallets, and even an old tables that we put to good use. The backyard was truly transformed! The old doors we had lying around acted as a beautiful backdrop for pictures and led the way out to our food truck, with strung lights illuminating the path.

DIY wedding

DIY Wedding decorations

Tables, Chairs, Tents & Potties

Although we knew we didn’t want a big wedding, our guest list reached almost 50 – a perfect amount of people, but how would we seat everyone!? And WHAT IF IT RAINED!? Colorado weather is quite unpredictable, so that was definitely a consideration. Tents were really a must! A local party rental store had a great price (I called/quoted 3 companies) and for a small fee, they’d even set it up for us! So, the tables, chairs and tents (one large one for the lower half of the yard and one for over the upper deck area) came to a total of $349.

DIY wedding

 

DIY backyard wedding

DIY Backyard Wedding

 

Now, we needed to take care of the business of taking care of business. I hadn’t even considered outsourcing the bathrooms – we have 2 of them! But, when my mom asked if I wanted 50 people using my bathroom….I slowly realized it would be a good idea to have an alternative. The Lavish Loo came to the rescue! A local business, who gave me a great price for a 2-stall, portable bathroom. In total, I spent $500 to have my guests take care of their needs in style. In my driveway!

DIY WeddingFood!

The afternoon of the rehearsal dinner was spent putting together flower arrangements, setting tables, and hanging with family. I ordered lunch for everyone so we wouldn’t have to worry about stopping to eat. Lori’s Wraps hit the spot and for only $218 we had fresh food, salads, and lemon squares that fed 17 people! The day of the wedding, we had shopped around quite a bit to find the right fit for our backyard extravaganza. Catering was several thousands of dollars, so we looked at a few food trucks. Wong Way Veg hit it out the park!  Not only did she have amazingly fresh, vegetarian cuisine, she was a true advocate for the cause, donating her whole deposit to local animal sanctuaries. I loved her! And so did our guests. We gave our guests several options to choose from: a Philly Cheesesteak made with portabello mushrooms, a Bajan BBQ burger, or sweet potato tacos – all coming with veggie tots. On the side, we had three spring salads to choose from for that fresh flavor. For our appetizers, she made BLT skewers with mushrooms instead of bacon, veggie spring rolls with dipping sauce, and a goat cheese spread from the local animal sanctuary. Everything was delicious – and people didn’t miss the meat! Including a huge tip and the deposit, I spent $1,367.50 on the food for our wedding!

DIY Wedding Food Truck

 

DIY Wedding Food Truck

DIY Wedding Food Truck

The Cake & Dessert

I looked into special bakeries to make our cake – and Mike even said that he’d order one or two from Clint’s (a bakery up in Breckenridge) – but knowing we wanted a carrot cake made me turn once again to my mom. She makes The. Best. Carrot. Cake. Ever. And holy smokes did she go above and beyond! She made our mountain cake from scratch and even had rocks, a river, trees, and the Colorado flag! It was by far the coolest cake I had ever seen. And again, because she made it, we saved tons! Our lower yard area served as a Smore’s bar as the night went on and the lights dimmed. We lit a fire in our fire pit and had a ton of gourmet chocolate and vegan marshmallows for people to make their own smores. I think it was a hit!

DIY Cake

DIY Smores

The Dress, Shoes, Makeup and Hair

Call me odd, but I really didn’t even consider the dress being that big of a deal, so ordered one I saw online for $50. I ordered two pairs of sandals totaling $34 and my sister did my hair and makeup. I thought I looked amazing, the best I’ve ever looked, but that was probably due to the fact I was marrying my best friend and about to have a kick ass party! Mike spent $32 on a new shirt too – we clean up nice!

DIY Wedding

DIY Wedding Hair

Entertainment

My good friend Ryan plays the guitar, so I asked him if he’d sing me down the isle. I picked ‘Wildflowers’ by Tom Petty – this was the first concert Mike and I went to back in high school and I just love that song. He did an amazing job and really set the tone for the night! After the ceremony, the spotify playlist I made hit the speakers and we danced the night away.

DIY Wedding

Before the sun went down, we had corn-hole set up on the side yard – a homemade set Mike made and I painted. The mountains of Colorado faced us and my niece and nephew played and had a blast!

DIY Wedding

To commemorate the event, I had made a homemade Guest Book sign with the mountains painted on it – people signed all over the peaks to remind us that they had traveled so far to wish us well. The day before the wedding we climbed Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s 14’ers. Mike’s group traveled one route and my group traveled another, meeting at the top with a dedication ceremony. The mountains are a major part of our lives here in Colorado, so to have our friends and family get to experience them with us meant the world.

DIY Wedding

Our backyard wedding extravaganza is a weekend I will never forget – not only did we have our friends and family surround us before and during the most important day of our lives, each step of the way was truly us. Our wedding truly reflected our style, our personality, our love for the outdoors, our home, and our lives here in Colorado. And to share that with those we love most was priceless. From soup to nuts, our wedding cost $4,064.00 – and was worth every penny!

If you’re planning a wedding, remember to be true to you and yours – for the day is meant to be happy, stress-free and surrounded by love. If you have any questions about our wedding, feel free to reach out.

Cheers!

Plant-Based Soup Swap: 2nd Annual

Plant-based cooking seems to leave a lot of people perplexed – what is plant-based cooking? How boring is a soup with just plants in it!? What about THE MEAT!?!?!?!?!

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Well, let me tell you, plants and veggies are so much more than boring! Vibrant, nutritious, scrumptious, spicy, crunchy, flavorful, bright, tasty…I could go on and on.

My girlfriend invited me to a soup swap a few years back, where people brought homemade soup, told a bit about how they made it, then exchanged them with friends. Brilliant! Last year, I put my own veggie twist on it and held my first plant-based soup swap.

Last year’s Plant-Based Soup swap was such a hit, I knew I had to have another one. This year I threw the invite out to new friends, family and I myself whipped up two delicious soups for the occasion.

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This year, we had 4 beautiful ladies, 5 beautiful, home-made, plant-based soups. Below are the recipes. Enjoy!

4 Bean Veggie Chili

1 onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
Saute’ olive oil till onions are are clear

4 cans trio of kidney beans
2 LG cans roasted tomatoes
2 caned green chilies
2 cans drained black beans
1 can chick peas
2 tabs dark chili powder
1 can diced tomatoes
Heat and enjoy!

Chunky Tomato Soup

I used this recipe – but altered it to make it plant-based by using homegrown tomatoes, coconut milk and veggie broth.

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Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

This soup turned out great, just not as thick as I thought. I bet if you added another can of coconut milk with some sriracha,  it would pop! It was still delicious though – only thing I altered was not adding the sprouts.

Quinoa Peanut Soup

Ingredients

2 tsp canola oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of quinoa
4 cups of veggie broth
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup of natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Tabasco
Ground pepper to taste

Preperation

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook, stirring until soft. Stir in garlic & cook for 30 seconds. Stir in carrots, potatoes, and quinoa, then add broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa is cooked and the veggies are tender (about 18 minutes). Stir in red pepper and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Stir in peanut butter until it is combined into the broth. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, hot sauce and pepper.

 

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Chick Pea & Cauliflower Masala

Happy November!!!

Meal prep

I’ve been ramping up my work-out game in preparation for ski season, so have been in a healthy mindset lately and have been better at meal prepping on the weekends. This past weekend was extremely busy – last week was nuts at work, we went on a big hike, had a Halloween party to go to, and went down to Colorado Springs to visit a girlfriend and watch the Broncos. Not a ton of time to prep for the week!

When you don’t have a ton of time, use it effectively and realistically – and soup, chili or stews are great ways to maximize the food prep! While Mike made chili (he makes the best chili!), I  made a Chick Pea & Cauliflower Masala. We had a ton of garden grown tomatoes to use up too, so it was a win win!

Both chili and masala can be slow cooked, allowing for other chores around the house to be done while you wait. Below is the recipe I used for the masala – super easy, super delicious – and I actually prepped this for a weeknight meal, allowing the flavors to marinate before diving in. We ate this last night and it was amazing – so much so, I didn’t even get a picture of the finished product!

Enjoy!

Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons Curry Powder
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of minced ginger (fresh)
1 teaspoon of paprika
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1 handful of small tomatoes & two medium tomatoes, blended together (I used a little mixer with an immersion blender attachment – Cuisinart or a blender would work too!)

1 onion cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 small head of cauliflower
1 can of chick peas
1/2 cup of water

1 can coconut milk (I used a can of Sprouts organic full fat)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Directions

  1. Add oil to a big pot, heat, then add onion. Saute on medium heat for 5-8 minutes
  2. Mix first 7 ingredients in a bowl, making sure it’s mixed as a paste.
  3. Add chickpeas to the paste, coating thoroughly.
  4. Add the cauliflower into the pot with the sauteed onions, mix thoroughly and cook for 2-4 minutes.
  5. Add the chickpea mixture to the pot. Stir so onions and cauliflower are coated. Cover and cook for another 5-8 minutes.
  6. Mix together the can of coconut milk with the tablespoon of cornstarch. Then add to the vegetable mixture.
  7. Stir the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Serve over rice!

I meal prepped this on a Sunday, then re-heated and ate on a Tuesday night. The flavors were amazing, having soaked for two nights, so I recommend prepping and letting sit for sure!

 

Happy Cooking!