-AS SEEN IN BRIDAL GUIDE MAGAZINE-
"We spent the last year planning a large destination wedding with 200 of our friends and family,” explain Alexie née Soffer Wells and Jordan Wells. Instead, the Chicago couple swapped vows in an intimate affair where they were the only attendees. “When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, we postponed the party.” To honor their wedding date and the destination of one of their first getaways as a couple, Colorado, Alexie and Jordan wed at the exclusive — and wildly photogenic — Dunton Hot Springs, a ghost mining town that’s now the embodiment of rustic luxury, the romantic great outdoors and social distancing. The property offers an elopement package, which made the difficult decision of getting hitched without being surrounded by loved ones a bit easier. “It’s a reminder that the most important thing about our marriage is us committing to spending our lives together,” says Alexie.
Little Big Town
The resort, which is set across the valley from the famous ski town of Telluride, is rich with a unique history. It's one the couple didn't know before booking, but soon came to appreciate when they were holed up at the romantic mountain retreat. "Dunton is an old ghost town," they share. The expanse was also a mining camp first settled in the mid 1880s. Some say the property’s natural thermal waters were the reason for the area’s inhabitation. Today, some of the cabin accommodations have natural pools; all guests have access to the thermal waters via an extremely Instagrammable bathhouse. The equally photo-ready accommodations are a combination of refurbished and individually appointed historic cabins and a handful of luxury tents.
Here’s what the couple packed for their getaway: "Hiking boots to explore the area, swimsuits for endless hours in the hot springs, and layers of casual clothes. We love the relaxed nature of the resort."
The only thing that rivals the natural scenery and impeccable service here is the activity menu. Outdoor adventures include horseback riding (something the couple signed up for), fly fishing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking. Alexie and Jordan went for a hike in the morning before their ceremony. "There are fabulous trails right on the property," says Alexie. And it is so private, they encountered no other guests on their cinematic foray into the forest. "It was a great way to start the morning on our wedding day," she adds.
A stay at Dunton Hot Springs includes all meals, traditionally served family-style in the main dining room. To keep with social-distancing measures, the property also offers meals outdoors and in-cabin/tent. No matter where they're savored, dinners are lingering affairs featuring three courses and exquisite wine pairings. Evenings also welcome bespoke cocktail hours and hors d’oeuvres. After the ceremony, the couple toasted their union with champagne, and shared their dinner and wedding cake in a special setting — one of the property's teepees.
"I Do" for Two
The elopement package at Dunton made it extremely easy to plan the wedding, says Alexie, who after a year of putting together a different event welcomed the no-guesswork model. "They offered everything we needed — the ceremony location, officiant, bridal bouquet and groom boutonniere, wedding cake for two and champagne with branded flutes," she explains. The resort also included a photography session for the Big Day.
"Our ceremony took place at a small outdoor chapel on the edge of the property," says Alexie. Positioned in front of the wooded landscape and steps from a waterfall, the setting is a serene spot to swap vows. Since there were no guests, Alexie and Jordan were able to focus on themselves and the vows they had written for each other.
After the pretty ceremony — "it was short and sweet" — Alexie kicked off her heels and they posed for photos near the waterfall.
"The most romantic spot on property is the restored 19th-century bathhouse with a hot spring pool inside. There’s another one right outside the building with a view of the mountains. It was our favorite place to sit and see the most unbelievable stars."
Towering alpines and old-growth trees, riots of wildflowers with romance. and tall grasses all sit in the cradle of mountains, and at the heart is a collective of rustic cabins and white-sided tents. This is Dunton Hot Springs, an idyllic mountain hideaway set just across the valley from Colorado’s famous ski town, Telluride. An antique bathhouse that showcases the eponymous thermal waters both inside and outside is the most popular spot at the former mining camp.The library, which was a gift from the hotel’s owner to his wife, is a romantic favorite.
At the center of this picturesque resort property is an old-school Saloon (complete with a historic bar emblazoned with Butch Cassidy’s name carved into the wood) that doubles as the main dining room and gathering space for guests. Here, folks share stories of their adventurous days — hiking, biking and fly fishing are among the many excursions available — over hearty meals crafted from the finest local ingredients. And cocktails and coffee drinks are equally well-curated with a sense of service that’s at once pampering but also familiar. (Guests have been known to genuinely befriend the guides and bartenders).
And while a stay here is homey and like being with family, it’s also the perfect place to be completely — and blissfully — removed from it all. Some accommodations are housed in the old cabins, appointed with local art and antiques (room rates start at $730 a night and are all inclusive).
Licenses are required to marry in the state of Colorado. Both applicants must appear in person with proof of age and the $30 fee. There is no waiting period, nor are blood tests or witnesses required. The license, which is issued by the County Clerk’s office, is valid for 35 days.