Okay, I know that it wasn’t truly a destination wedding—given that both my now-husband and I live here in Park City-but with almost 85% of our guests traveling in for the wedding, (many were first-time visitors to Deer Valley Resort), we programmed a whole weekend of festivities to show off Park City and our favorite place in this town.
When we got married at Deer ValleyⓇ, both my husband and I had lived here for over a decade and we really wanted to show people why we made it our home and have no intention of “moving back.” We wanted a fall wedding because it’s a time of year that we consider underrated or most-surprising here in Utah, mainly because the fall colors are UNREAL. I’m from Michigan and my husband from New England, so that is really saying something…and a lot to prove to our family members. I’m obsessed with Aspen Trees (in any and all seasons) but hands-down, the gold color that Aspen leaves turn in the fall is something everyone should experience. (And if you’ve done any tree skiing at Deer Valley, you know there is no shortage of gorgeous Aspen Groves at the resort.) So we picked our date like most sane people do, on something completely in the hands of Mother Nature and settled on October 7, 2017, at Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon Lodge.
We got engaged on December 23, 2016, (where else than Deer Valley—we skied to the ‘beach’ at Silver Lake Lodge where Matt popped the question), so we had just barely 10 months to plan our event.
Our first step was to contact the banquet department at the resort; they have a team of on-site people who specialize in being your location contact for any big event. There are numerous wedding venues to choose from at Deer Valley; we were torn between Silver Lake Lodge and Empire Canyon Lodge and ultimately choose Empire due to the dates available.
Our banquet manager provided us with all kinds of resources and walked us through all the details. It’s very clear that the resort handles weddings and important events often. Remember when I said we programmed a whole weekend of activities for our guests? Well, our actual wedding was by far the easiest part of the entire weekend because it was at Deer Valley. I know that’s hard to believe but we felt so supported by the resort, they are very well connected to some amazing local vendors which makes it incredibly easy on the bride and groom, whether planning locally or using Deer Valley for a destination wedding.
Here’s a breakdown of each part of our wedding, including vendor information:
Venue: Empire Canyon Lodge
Empire Canyon Lodge is located at approximately 8,300 feet, but still very accessible and approximately 10 minutes to Park City’s Main Street. The venue includes tables, chairs, cutlery, neutral linens (we choose ivory), a professional service staff and dance floor. You can use other vendors for these but we opted for the options provided at the venue.
A wedding and reception at any Deer Valley venue comes with an incredible ease factor – and let’s be honest, that becomes the most important thing the closer you get to the big day! The venues are large and versatile—we ended up with 135 guests on our wedding day but could have invited many more! The ceremony was on the lawn, just steps from the cocktail reception (on the deck) and the reception (inside the lodge).
And since we can’t influence Mother Nature, it’s helpful that we could have moved our ceremony inside the lodge without too much trouble if needed. It’s a good thing too, because we were gambling on an outdoor wedding, way up in the mountains in October. It snowed a lot that fall but we were lucky to have a sunny day with temps at about 68 degrees for the 4 p.m. ceremony and those beautiful gold Aspen leaves showed up just in time.
Food: Deer Valley Resort
Being known as the resort that revolutionized ski area cuisine, I don’t need to say much here. They can do anything—we kept it at a pretty simple buffet (short ribs and shrimp) and we still hear about how great the food was from our guests. The buffet moved quickly, was well staffed and absolutely delicious.
We took the untraditional route and choose not to do a wedding cake. Although the Deer Valley Bakery makes incredible custom cakes, we both have a sweet tooth and love way too many of Deer Valley’s signature desserts to just choose one. So we did a dessert buffet of all of our favorites; salted caramel brownies, macaroons, carrot cake cupcakes, lemon bars, etc. I was having too much fun on the dance floor and almost missed out, but a thoughtful Deer Valley staff member packaged up each of the desserts for us to take with us at the end of the party.
Photography: Darryl Dobson Photography
We used a friend, Darryl Dobson, for our photos. Deer Valley also has a great list of preferred vendors including:
Darryl Dobson – www.Darryldobson.com
Pepper Nix – (801) 661-1106; www.peppernix.com
Erin Kate Photography- (801) 467-2468; www.erinkatephoto.com
Logan Walker- (801) 834-0404; www.loganwalkerphoto.com
Chad Braithwaite (801) 748-2283; www.faces-photo.com
Most important for us was the opportunity to do a “first look”- we did this with our bridal party before the ceremony on Guardsman’s pass – just a few minutes above Empire Canyon Lodge. It was one of my favorite moments of the day and the views were perfect – snow on the mountains and golden Aspen trees.
Florist: Native Flower Company
I was lucky enough to know my florist too, Pam Olson at Native Flower Company in Salt Lake City. I didn’t give her much direction because I know the names of approximately two flowers. I only told her, “make it like fall, but not red–fall, more like purple-and-gold-fall.” Thinking back on that, I wasn’t very helpful! She blew me away with her creations. The Aspen arch was provided by Deer Valley but she dressed it up perfectly. My table arrangements were simple, lovely and perfect for the venue. My favorite detail was the table numbers. I told Pam that I couldn’t figure out what to do there and asked her to incorporate it into the centerpieces. Well, we all know how much I love Aspens by now, but I also really love lavender. She used Aspen bark and lavender seeds to create our custom table numbers.
We didn’t do much décor in the lodge because the lodge itself is just stunning, with giant beams, natural woods, and five floor-to-ceiling fireplaces. But we did call in Nephi from Moonlight to do some “uplights” along the walls and string bistro lights (with a dimmer) over the dance floor.
Music/Sound: Local Band and Ceremony Package from Wasatch AV
We danced to a local blues band and followed up their set with a playlist. We used a ceremony sound package by Wasatch AV (that your Deer Valley banquet coordinator can add to your overall venue package) for our ceremony sound and reception speeches.
I used Haute Cars & Concierge service for myself and my bridesmaids to get to the “first look” location and then the wedding site. Kerri with Haute Cars made some of the most nerve-wracking minutes of the day as flawless and fun as possible. She picked us up at our hotel and had the car ready with cold waters and a special playlist. She kept us all calm and laughing while making sure our timing was perfect for the first look. Kerri’s help didn’t just stop at transportation. While we were there taking photos, she helped everyone by holding our sunglasses and the train of my dress. Kerri truly went above and beyond when she even grabbed our phones and took a bunch of behind the scenes photos that have been amazing to have!
Exclusive Excursions provided our guest shuttles; with multiple pick up and drop off locations, they had to work a very detailed loop for both arrivals and departures. They were so easy to work with, very cost-effective and provided a seamless operation.
Lodging: Deer Valley Resort
Don’t forget that another benefit of getting married at Deer Valley is that they also have an entire lodging inventory. You will be assigned to one of their on-site sales representatives to create your room block. The inventory ranges from deluxe hotel rooms to multi-room condos and large private homes. My guests stayed mostly at Silver Baron Lodge.
Our wedding is everything we could have hoped for in one of our favorite places on Earth. We hope you have the wedding of your dreams. To inquire about Deer Valley Resort venues, please call 435-645-6650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.