J + TJ’s Rustic Handmade Colorado Ranch Wedding (With Rainbows and a Rodeo Arena Reception)!

08 | 03 | 2011

Now, finally on to Jess and TJ’s actual wedding day!  By the morning of the wedding, it really did feel—as Jess and TJ had so hoped and schemed—like everyone there was one big family.   We woke before dawn to take in the “jingle” with some of TJ’s cousins.  Then, everybody else began readying themselves for the day.  I’m not sure what I could really say to do this wedding justice, so I’m keeping my notes uncharacteristically brief.

Jess and TJ saw each other for the first time in a wide open field, a couple of hours before the ceremony was scheduled to start.  We had planned to make a bunch of portraits during that time … but it started to rain just as they finished with that first quiet moment, so we retreated to stay dry.  Wedding party and immediate family portraits were made in the little sliver of shelter under the eaves of the barn.

Jess’s grandfather was quite the photographer in his day, and he even used to make carbro prints (the vintage photographic process on which I have the second biggest crush).  So when he asked me to make a portrait of him (with his bow tie!), I obliged using one of my favorite vintage cameras.

Jess and TJ’s wedding ceremony was perhaps my favorite part of the whole weekend.  It took place atop a cliff overlooking an incredible valley.  We loved how they made the ceremony so, so personal … and got everybody involved!  One friend officiated, others did readings, or sang songs.  Their dog, Midas, was the ring bearer (bearing the real rings). And Jess and TJ’s guests had sent them pieces of fabric with their reply cards to make a quilt that was incorporated into the ceremony.  Here’s what Jess says:

“I wrote the ceremony (which I would also recommend since it made it sooo personal for us) and as part of that, we did a “community blessing” where everyone in the audience held hands and connected all the way to us—as we were wrapped in the quilt with pieces of them all around us. It was one of my favorite moments of the ceremony, and maybe one of my favorite pics from the entire wedding (maybe also because this was when it started to pour rain!). We then used the quilt as a backdrop for our photo booth which was fun because people got to go up and pick out where their piece was on the quilt. TJ and I now have the quilt on our bed and it’s an awesome reminder of that amazing moment.”

I did my best to hide under an umbrella while the rain pour downed and keep my cameras (more or less) dryish while I was shooting (although I was more conspicuous than I would have wanted to be for sure).  But I love the photos from the recessional, with light reflecting through raindrops on my lens glass.  By then, I think I’d dashed out from under the umbrella!

Guests moved to the indoor rodeo arena for dinner, dancing, and bull-riding.  Despite the enormity of the space or the fact that it was really (really!) just a barn, Jess and TJ made it feel cozy, welcoming and even (kind of, but not too) fancy.  The warm happy color palette seemed especially appropriate after a day that had gone from clear and beautiful, to dark and stormy, to rainbows …

Below: Jess and TJ’s first dance and the beginnings of a long, happy night of dancing.

The photo booth was so fun!  You might recognize the quilt, re-purposed …

Maybe the best thing, though, was the mechanical bull!  I loved seeing everybody’s best wild west moves!  Jess made the operator buck her off (although she really, really didn’t want to buck the bride).  It was so funny!

The wedding is featured {here} today on 100 Layer Cake (hooray!).  Be sure to stop back tomorrow and Friday for photographs from Jess’s bridal session and Jess and TJ’s post-wedding love shoot, plus a peek at some of their paper goods …

photographs: Gia Canali

wedding planning: Stacy McCain; wedding design, Duet Events (the bride and her friend’s design company); florals, Sweet Pea Flowers, Denver; lighting & other magic tricks, Pink Monkey Solutions; dj: DJ Smiles Davis; dessert buffet, Tee and Cakes; venue and catering: C Lazy U Ranch

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6 Notes on “J + TJ’s Rustic Handmade Colorado Ranch Wedding (With Rainbows and a Rodeo Arena Reception)!

  1. canon reed

    just caught this on 100 layer cake. just wanted you to know this post just rocked my world. I think i just became president of your fan club!

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