-AS SEEN IN BRIDAL GUIDE MAGAZINE-
"Aspen in our love spot," says Audrey Thompson, neé Neidenbach, about the four-season Rocky Mountain destination where she and husband Neil hosted friends and family for a wedding weekend. “I grew up skiing in Aspen,” explains Audrey. And when Neil proposed on top of Snowmass Mountain (one of the main attractions of the photogenic city), the couple, who had spent “every anniversary for the last 10 years” at the stunning city, just knew they’d get hitched there too.
Sure, “Aspen holds a magical place in our hearts,” but the couple also chose the stunning locale for its photo-ready setting — it’s especially photogenic in September when the leaves are golden — and awesome offerings.
Guests are able to explore the great outdoors — hiking (the picturesque Maroon Bells trek is a must), biking, horseback riding — and enjoy sophisticated amenities à go-go including fine dining, high-end shopping (hello, Prada), art galleries and cultural institutions (like the Aspen Art Museum, site of the couple’s reception). The museum hosts rotating singular contemporary exhibits with free admission. The views from the museum, which is positioned at the center of town, are unparalleled, especially from the expansive roof deck. Designed by a Pritzker Award winning architect, the building itself is an eco-cube enveloped in a woven wood-like material made of paper and resin.
Fantastic food is as much an Aspen marquee experience as spying celebs on the slopes. Every summer, the shimmering city hosts the Food & Wine Classic, a three-day celebration featuring celebrity chefs, innovative cooking demos, and a whole lot of sampling. Throughout the year, Audrey and Neil’s favorite spots include Steak House No. 316. “It has the best bar menu in town. You can get a fillet and frites for $23 — that’s a steal in Aspen.” At the White House Tavern, the crispy chicken and macho salad are the best bets. And Pine Creek is the most romantic restaurant. “Take a horse-drawn sleigh under the stars to the restaurant tucked into the mountain scenery,” advises Audrey. The cake created by the local bakery Sunshine & Moons.
Hickory House, a finger-lickin’-good rib joint set just outside of town and site of the couple’s welcome dinner, is a local favorite thanks to its vintage (some may say “dive-y”) mountain decor complete with old-school snowshoes, black-and-white photos and, of course, loads of wood. The food is so remarkable that many regulars have it shipped to their non-Aspen homes throughout the year.
Where to Wed
One of Aspen's most iconic and romantic places, the picturesque John Denver Sanctuary, is a four-acre garden robust with perennials, Aspen firs and rocky outcroppings with inscriptions by the eponymous — and prolific — singer/songwriter. The meditative spot, complete with loads of seating for reflective moments, is also where Audrey’s cousin, along with their family priest, presided over the ceremony surrounded by the foliage’s golden hues of September.
What to Pack
As a regular visitor to Aspen (she goes three to five times a year), Audrey has a list of must-packs for everyone. Her key items include sunscreen, layers of activewear and athleisure, mountain-chic accessories (boots and hats) and a bathing suit. Yes — even in winter, taking a dip in view of the mountains is a popular activity.
Where to Stay
The only ski-in/ski-out property on Aspen Mountain, the charming The Little Nell is a pampering enclave of 92 guest accommodations positioned at the base of the storied mountain. The bespoke rooms are as chic as the setting with plush decor touches, and soothing palettes of whites, greys and blues. All have fireplaces and oversize marble bathrooms with heated floors; most flaunt balconies. Original artwork is found throughout the pet-friendly resort. The pool and hot tub, both of which offer excellent views, are open all year. Spa treatments can be enjoyed in the expansive health center or in the comfort of your room. Other property standouts include the Sundeck—a gathering place positioned on the apex of the mountain and accessed only via gondola — and another peak amenity, the Aspen Mountain Club, which serves breakfast and lunch. The award-winning Element 47 restaurant with its expansive wine cellar and unparalleled contemporary presentations of local favorites is a culinary stalwart (room rates start at $1,200 a night).
Licenses are required to marry in the state of Colorado. 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.
- Wedding Planner: Calluna Events, Kristen Kennedy
- Ceremony Site: John Denver Sanctuary
- Reception Site: Aspen Art Museum
- Photography: Villani Photography
- Videographer: Wedding Videos Colorado
- Floral/Décor: Aspen Branch
- Catering: Epicure
- Cake: Sunshine & Moons Bakery
- DJ: A Great Time DJ
- Photo Booth: Social Light Aspen
- Hair & Makeup: Fluff Beauty Bar
- Rehearsal Dinner/Welcome Cocktails: Hickory House
- After Party: Silver City Aspen Mountain Saloon