An Intimate Woodland Wedding at Paradise Ranch

Erin & James | July 31st



We live in Texas but have always loved Colorado. We tell everyone that Colorado brings out the best in everything and we feel at home there. We were fine getting married anywhere in Colorado but chose Pagosa Springs because my family vacationed there, knew it was gorgeous, and that it had tons of hiking.


Ceremony site at Paradise Ranch, Pagosa Springs Colorado



Paradise Ranch Events is the most beautiful and accommodating wedding venue. The owners were so helpful throughout the entire process, and getting married there was a breeze. Not only did we have our wedding and reception at Paradise Ranch Events, but we also booked the main cabin and bunkhouse for us and our guests for the week of our wedding. The bridal suite is so large and planned well to accommodate large parties; we had so much fun getting ready up there all day long. The best part about the venue is that they have a “something borrowed” garage full of decor items, games, flowers and garlands, and all sorts of things you can use from past weddings. I’ve never seen such a big selection of items to use at a venue before.  I am still so thankful that I found Paradise Ranch!




For our wedding, we envisioned a laid-back, intimate affair. Because we only had about 20 of our closest family and friends with us for the week, James and I joked it was like a family “union” because we were bringing our two families together for the first time and leaving as one. We normally stick to ourselves and a few of our closest family and friends, so having a small intimate wedding was perfect for us.




Because our colors were navy and burgundy, James and I wore navy accents with hints of burgundy in our flowers. Our bridal party matched each other in burgundy with blue accents in their flowers and the girls’ shoes. Our bridesmaids wore gorgeous burgundy off the shoulder gowns, and our groomsmen wore black suits with burgundy ties and handkerchiefs. We all looked so good!

James wore a grey suit with a blue tie and handkerchief. I wore a Rara Avis dress named Darlin’. Rara Avis is a European designer that can only be found in a handful of bridal stores nationwide–luckily, Texas had one (now two.) The dress is custom made to your measurements and takes 6-8 months to make. The dress was everything I had ever dreamed of and more–a beautiful sleeveless mermaid lace dress with a long train that was covered in beading. I had never worn anything so beautiful or flashy before in my life, and I still want to put it on again to this day! I definitely felt like a princess.

My veil was made by me, and it was adorned with pearls from the first necklace James had bought me which broke and I wore navy shoes and had blue in my flowers! Since it gets chilly at night during the summer, I painted a denim jacket that had our wedding date and “Mrs. Butcher” on it as well as some floral designs on the back. It was perfect, and I wear it all the time now!


Walking down the aisle


James’s favorite ceremony memory was watching me walk down the aisle and I loved it too. I thought I would be nervous about everyone looking at me or that I’d trip in my heels but I could only focus on him. Our photographer captured me wiping the tear from his eye before him lifting my veil and it’s a picture I will cherish for the rest of my life.


Outdoor Colorado ranch ceremony



Surrounded by mountains and nestled in the pines, our ceremony couldn’t have been more breathtaking and picturesque. Paradise Ranch has a beautiful floral arch that we used and decorated with a few of our own flowers to add our colors. They also made wooden benches for our wedding, and that just shows how amazing the owners are. They were gorgeous and fit the venue beautifully. ‘Lady May’ by Tyler Childers played as I walked down the aisle, and I couldn’t help but have the biggest smile on my face as I saw James waiting for me. He cried, which made me cry, and then we cried almost the entirety of our ceremony. It was so moving. Having our family surrounding us and having both of our grandfathers up there with us was so special. James’ grandpa was his best man, and mine was our officiant.


Outdoor Colorado ranch ceremony


My grandpa got choked up quite a bit talking about the love we have for each other and our families. You could feel the love in the air and it was magical. We wrote our own vows and they were incredibly personal to James and I. They were so raw and real and I will always be glad that we wrote our own.


Newly married in Pagosa Springs, Colorado


Being pronounced man and wife was amazing and we were showered with lavender from our guests as we exited. It was such a beautiful ceremony.


Newly married in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Newly married in Pagosa

Bride & Groom by the river



We held our reception under the pavilion of Paradise Ranch Events. Since our wedding was small, we all fit under it to protect us from the rain. James and I are not big “party people,” so our reception was very laid back. We had our table set up family-style with one large table. It felt so intimate that way. For food, we had a taco bar! Our favorite food is tacos, so of course, that’s what we had! With the help of my mom and other family and friends, we were able to get all of the food prepped and cooked for the wedding ourselves! The shredded chicken tacos and homemade salsa that I made were so good! We spent the evening being loved on by our family members, talking and laughing with everyone around the table, bonfire, and cornhole, and just enjoying everyone’s company. It was just as I imagined when we were planning our wedding, if not better.



Bride & Groom


I would have put way less stress on myself. I put a lot of time into worrying about our guests and if they would be happy rather than doing that for us, and all that did was cause me to stress out and forget the whole point of the wedding. To celebrate our love–us!

I would have also wanted to do an adventure elopement where we hiked somewhere really cool to get married and enjoy the celebratory day together without the stress of a traditional wedding.


Bride & Groom


The best advice we can give is to figure out exactly what you want and then do it. Do not let other people’s expectations or opinions change your day. After all, this day is to celebrate your relationship and the love you have for each other! The day is about you, so do what makes the two of you feel good and happy.

Also, don’t forget to say “I love you” about 1,000 times a day!


Kiss by the river


Venue: Paradise Ranch Events. Absolutely the best wedding venue/guest lodging! The owners are so kind and helpful. The property could not be any more beautiful, and neither could the views!

Photographer: Taylor Salerno Photography

Cake: Sweet Cakes Bakery