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Blue Coyote Field Guide

Blue Coyote Ranch: Salida's
modern ranch-style hotel

  • Writer's pictureSara

5 Questions to Ask an Outdoor Wedding Venue

Outdoor weddings have become extremely popular in recent years - especially in Colorado! Because of the unique nature of an outdoor venue, the facilities of each one is totally unique in what they provide.

Mountain view outdoor ceremony

Gotta love a moody mountain backdrop! Photo from a wedding at Blue Coyote earlier this year.

If you’re a mountain girl through and through and can’t imagine anything but the perfect outdoor wedding, be sure to ask these questions when touring venues.

1. Does the venue have bathrooms?

Toilets probably aren’t the first thing you think of when you start planning your wedding, but they are something you absolutely need to consider at the beginning of your planning process.

Ask the outdoor wedding venues you tour if they have toilets available – many do not and will require you to rent these later on. The real bummer? Those luxury port-a-potties with running water can run you almost $3,000 for a one night rental! Yikes! That really changes your venue budget!

Of course you can always rent a traditional port-a-potty for less, but if you are planning on a formal dress code you may find your guests are a bit grumpy lifting their chiffon skirts over a plastic potty.

We include a luxury restroom rental in most of our wedding packages so you can budget more accurately. Planning the financials of a big wedding can be intimidating and we want you to have a clear understanding of what it costs to host a wedding at our ranch!

2. Is there a catering kitchen or food prep area?

A rustic barn looks great in photos, but without a kitchen, your catering options may be limited. Ask the venue if they have a dedicated kitchen and be sure to snap a few photos of what’s included to show your caterer. Certainly, the lack of a kitchen doesn’t mean you won’t be able to have an awesome meal! It’s just something to know before you reach out to caterers.

At Blue Coyote, we have a kitchen located in our lodge building – right next to our reception site. Caterers breathe a breath of relief when they see our counter space, storage shelves and double oven. We also have a large propane grill.

Colorado wedding venue

Fancy plates are easier to arrange when you have counter space!

3. Electricity

There are few things as pretty as a mountain backdrop for a wedding ceremony. While they are perfection in photos, rustic mountain ceremony sites often do not have electrical hookups.

If you’re planning a 200 person wedding and are writing your own vows, you might be pretty bummed to realize only your front row will hear your beautiful ceremony. At our mountain ceremony site, we are able to run an extension cord (tastefully concealed!) to a professional speaker so your ceremony can be heard crystal clear by your guests.

4. Music

And while we are talking electrical, are you hoping to have a band at your outdoor reception? Electrical capabilities is first of several things the band will need to know.

Stage in our outdoor reception area

Our stage was built for a 7-piece band specifically for our own wedding! The stage comes fully lit.

You will want to ask your venue how many electrical hookups the stage has. A large professional band is not going to be interested in plugging into a single circuit. Ask your band how many separate circuits they need – there can only be a few outlets used on each circuit or the fuse will blow.

Alternatively, confirm with the venue what types of bands they have had in the past – how many band members were there?

It's also useful to know how many band members your stage can accommodate. Our stage is 20' x 20' and comfortably fits a 7-piece band; there is probably a little wiggle room for some extra musicians if needed.

Your band will also want to know how their instruments will be protected during your outdoor reception. Is there some kind of roof in the event of rain? It also helps to provide some shade so they can deliver a top notch performance.

We love live music at the Blue Coyote so we have really pimped out our stage! With many dedicated outlets on three separate circuits, you can rock out - with full lighting and instruments. Bands can pull right up to the stage and unload directly from their trucks. And we always make sure band members know where they can get a cold drink, have a quiet bite to eat and where the bathrooms are.

5. What does the ground look like?

As you tour outdoor venues you will probably be looking up – up at the gorgeous mountain ranges, up at the hand hewn wood rafters, and up into the eyes of your fiancée.

But make sure you pause for a moment and look down! I didn’t remember to look down - even getting married on my own property! By the end of the night I’d collected enough twigs in my dress to start a small boy scout fire.

Actual footage of my dress post-reception. My mom, a miracle-worker, somehow managed to completely remove the branches and return the dress to its original splendor!

A majority of modern wedding dresses have at least a small train - look carefully at what that train will go through during a ceremony. Gravel, dust and dirt aren’t anything to worry about (you’re a mountain gal so we are guessing you don’t mind a little dirt on your hem).

What you want to look for are stiff grasses, loose sticks, weeds or other debris. These can snag in lacy trains and they can be hard to shake. If your dream wedding venue has a number of areas with this type of terrain, opt either for a dress without a train, or try to select a dress whose train is made from a smoother, sturdier fabric – lace, chiffon, or other dainty materials on a dress train aren’t a great fit for ranch wedding.

After my wedding I vowed that no bride would have to drag a small forest around her reception again! Blue Coyote has a long aisle paved with a gravel that is designed to pack down solid, like a rustic sidewalk!

This means that for the ceremony, your dress will not snag on the aisle and it also won’t kick up dust. After the ceremony, we have a dirt road that leads to the mulched reception area. While your dress may not be tide-commercial white at the end of dancing the night away, it hopefully won’t get snagged and will wash up easily to store for the next lucky bride!

That being said, no warranties if you decide to frolic through our pine forests - something we absolutely encourage!

Mountain wedding ceremony outdoor

Before (above): We used rug runners for the aisle at our wedding. My dad decided to weigh them down with CORN HOLE BAGS. Not exactly the aesthetic I was going for, but it's the thought that counts ;)

After (below): Our hard pack "rustic sidewalk" is lined in natural rocks. Click here to see more photos from this gorgeous wedding!

Outdoor ceremony Colorado

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