A Woodsy Mountaintop Wedding in Crested Butte, Colorado
When Molly McNerney and Frank Swain met at a friend's wine and cheese tasting party in Denver, Colorado, in 2016, he made a strong first impression: "He had a beer in one hand and a puppy in the other," says Molly. "Frank will say that I fell in love with the puppy, who happened to be with some mediocre dude. That is absolutely not true, because all I remember is being immediately attracted to Frank from the moment we met. We hit it off instantly and I never wanted the conversation to end." As they chatted, Molly and Frank realized they both hailed from near Washington, D.C., and had several close mutual friends, and the week after the party they met up for their first date. "I still remember the feeling of sitting across from Frank at that Mexican restaurant," says Molly. "I knew then that we had something special, and so did he."
Over Christmas three years later, the couple planned a ski trip to Crested Butte, Colorado, a place they had visited together once before. "That first Crested Butte trip really was a turning point in our relationship, because it’s when we knew this was the real deal," says Molly. On their second trip, Frank suggested they take their dog for a walk, and when Molly paused to take in the scenery, he dropped to his knee. "It was so romantic to have such a special moment, with nobody else around, in one of our favorite mountain towns on a cold, snowy walk," says Molly.
When Molly and Frank began planning their wedding, they knew they wanted to highlight their love of nature with an outdoor event and the history of their relationship with a venue in Colorado. After considering several other towns, they decided to return to their favorite spot. "We loved the idea of introducing our family and friends to the mountains of Colorado in Crested Butte," says Molly.
On September 28, 2019, Molly and Frank said "I do" in front of 200 guests at Ten Peaks at Crested Butte in a personalized ceremony officiated by her uncle. A "mountain chic" theme, green-and-white color palette, and woodsy florals highlighted the stunning autumn colors and endless mountain views of the location. "The outdoor, rustic Colorado setting reflects our love and passion for the outdoors," says Molly. "Couple that with the elegant tent and lighting and that sums us up: two mid-Atlantic East Coasters who made a home out of the Colorado mountains."
Molly turned to her friend Lana Effron of Lana's Shop for one-of-a-kind illustrations that personalized their suite's details card, local map, and invitation. "Everything about them was custom," says Molly, including envelope liners showing off the couple's dog, Otis, and a wildflower theme that recurred throughout the big-day décor. "This wasn't a black-tie, formal wedding, so the invitation didn't reflect that. We wanted the invitations to feel wild, organic, and reflective of the landscape of Crested Butte with a truly authentic touch."
Welcome Draw Strings
The same floral motif was repeated on the couple's welcome bags.
Mother and Daughter
Molly had expected to choose a "fun, fringey, bohemian" wedding dress, but couldn't find one that suited her. "They all felt like something I would wear to a show or music festival, and I didn’t want that vibe," she says. A tulle Mira Zwillinger gown with floral embellishments had the natural, organic style she envisioned. "I loved the ethereal feel of the dress; it felt easy, but very bridal," she says. "The dress was easy to wear and dance in." Her mother helped her get dressed—one of the bride's favorite moments of the day. "Getting ready that day with my mom was such a special experience," she says. "I'm the only girl in my family, with four brothers, so my mom and I are very close and I feel so lucky to have such a loving, supportive mother like her who's been by me every step of the way."
Floral designers from Yonder House created a bouquet of white-and-cream flowers and autumnal tan accents, backed by green foliage in varying shapes, sizes, and shades, to meet Molly's request for something "asymmetrical, twiggy, wild, [and] organic."
Molly chose a deep forest green shade for her bridesmaids. "I love that fall color and I thought it blended perfectly with the outdoors landscape that we would be in all day," she says. But instead of having the women in matching gowns, she opted for separates from Revelry. "Traditional, long bridesmaids dresses felt too formal to me. The two-piece look had a more casual feel, and the girls were able to choose their own tops—whatever felt most comfortable."
Their First Look
Molly and Frank embraced during their first look in a grove of Aspen trees near their ceremony site, taking advantage of the leaves that changed the week of their wedding. "I still remember the butterflies and nerves I had before our first look," says Molly. "Once we saw each other, all the nerves went away. Between the release of all those nerves, the shimmering Aspens, and seeing each other for the first time that day, it was a moment we'll never forget. After that, we were ready to roll and get hitched!"
A Date to Remember
Frank ordered a custom suit from Bespoke Edge in a deep shade of cobalt blue with a patterned lining, pairing it with a white shirt and tie. "The suit was pretty special," says Frank. "The date was sewn into the inside left pocket."
He and his groomsmen each wore a different boutonnière with flowers in shades of deep reddish brown, gold, and white. "The boutonnières felt fun, organic, and wildflower-y, with twine wrapped around them," says Molly.
Hand in Hand
Dried fall grass and soaring mountains offered a pretty backdrop for portraits with the bridal party before the ceremony. The groomsmen wore navy blue suits and gray wool ties for a tailored but unfussy look. "We wanted the groomsmen suits to be sharp, but simple," says the couple.
The outdoor ceremony Molly and Frank envisioned came to life on a paved terrace nestled in the mountains. "We loved the idea of framing the aisle with some wild greenery and flowers to set the tone of the ceremony and rest of the day," says Molly. "Having big blooms or bouquets didn't feel right since we wanted the décor to match the wild and free outdoorsy-ness of the ceremony."
After vetoing a handful of ring bearer outfits—"One of them felt like Downton Abbey meets mountain chic," laughs Molly—the couple settled on blue jackets and shorts for their nephews, who carried a needlepointed ring pillow designed by Frank's sister. "Our youngest nephew, Hayes, cried the whole way down the aisle," says Molly. "Being three and having such an important job is hard!"
The couple asked two of their friends to perform acoustic versions of their favorite songs for the processional and recessional. "Live music is a big part of our lives," says Molly. "We love seeing live music and we have quite a few friends who are musicians, so naturally that had to be part of our ceremony!" Molly's father escorted her down the aisle to "Wild Horses." "That is such a beautiful song, especially when it's played acoustically," she says. "Makes me cry just thinking about it!" After the ceremony, Molly and Frank exited to "Here Comes the Sun." "That felt fun and light and airy—and a nod to our surroundings as well," she says.
Saying "I Do"
Molly's uncle Pat officiated the couple's ceremony, opening with a quote from John Muir and creating a ceremony text based on questionnaires he asked the couple to complete in advance. "He is like a second dad to me," says Molly. "We worked closely with him for a couple months to put something together that felt personal to us and to our story. It felt sweet and special, and very unique to us." Molly and Frank exchanged rings and said "I do" following the classic format. "We stuck with traditional vows," says Molly. "Honestly, it felt a little too personal to read our own vows in front of everyone, so we wrote letters to each other, which we read in private."
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
In addition to signature drinks—which included a Manhattan and a Moscow mule—the couple offered elk meatballs, ahi poke, and an East Coast-inspired raw bar during their cocktail hour. "We spent more time thinking about the cocktail hour than the seated dinner," says Molly. "We wanted it to reflect us as a couple and wanted it to be a fun way to visit with our friends and family after the ceremony."
The Party, Rejoined
After a few family portraits, they joined their guests to mingle—and eat. "Besides marrying me," says Molly, "I think Frank was most excited about the raw bar."
For the bridesmaids—and herself—Molly ordered custom denim jackets emblazoned with the wildflower image from the couple's invitations.
The couple planned to serve dinner at long tables under a clear tent, allowing guests to experience the views without risking bad weather. "We wanted to feel as outdoor as possible throughout the whole evening and this was the most practical and comfortable way to do so being on top of the mountain," says Molly. "We opted for a clear tent with a lot of twinkle lights, some soft sheer draping, and lots of hanging greenery—made it feel so romantic and welcoming."
Low floral arrangements and taupe pillar candles alternated on gauzy white runners down the length of the couple's wooden tables. "I love the mountain farmhouse look of wooden chairs and tables," says Molly. "It's a casual, less formal look that seemed fitting for our wedding setting."
Personalized menus on emerald green stock popped against simple white plates. The couple's custom linens—reading M or S for their initials—incorporated another floral motif created by their invitation designer.
A table of treats from Wildflour Sweets offered a white-frosted cake topped with fresh flowers and bite-sized cookies and pastries.
Plenty of Sweets
"The dessert was the star of the show in terms of dinner," says Molly. "We worked with a local baker who made our cake and lots of small dessert bites, including oatmeal creme pies."
On the Dance Floor
After the couple's first dance—to "Beyond" by Leon Bridges—their band, Funkiphino, kept the dance floor full. "If you want a fun jam-band for your wedding, this is the band for you," says Molly. "They were great at reading the crowd and played a perfect blend of jammy music, pop, and the classics."
Photography, Sara Corona
Venue and Catering, Crested Butte Resorts
Event Planning, Laurel & Rose
Flowers, Yonder House
Videography, Forget Me Not Media
Stationery, Lana's Shop
Cake, Wildflour Sweets
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linens; Pink Monkey Solutions; Premier Party Rentals; Yonder House
Bride's Gown, Mira Zwillinger
Bride's Earrings, Kate Spade
Hair, Brittani Estes
Makeup, Natalie Vierling Makeup
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Revelry
Groom's Suit, Bespoke Edge
Menswear, Suit Supply
Lighting, Pink Monkey Solutions
Transportation, Alpine Express; Hermes Worldwide