A Wedding Celebration at River Bend Ranch

Ellie & Andy


From the bride: I have always dreamed of an outdoor wedding with the San Juan Mountains as a backdrop. Durango have some of the most breathtaking views in the world! Your guests have the opportunity to make a real vacation with their trip and enjoy all the activities that the Durango area has to offer. Our guests rafted the Animas River, rode the Alpine Slide at Purgatory, visited Mesa Verde National Park, went on hikes in the mountains and enjoyed the shops and restaurants on historic Main Street.


Shoes | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango


The Durango Weddings Magazine was one of the first things my mother and I looked at when we began planning. It was a great tool to help us get over the initial overwhelming hurdle of planning a wedding. It listed many venues that we looked into, as well as the one we finally settled on. It gave great resources for food, music, flowers, and everything else you need. My mother attended the Durango Wedding Expo twice, our 18 month engagement allowing for plenty of planning.


Invitations | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango Bridesmaids | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango Puppies | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



Most of the ceremony Andy and I were just giddy and ready to be married already, we actually started 7 minutes early because I was tired of waiting. At one point, Andy eagerly interrupted my dad before he finished reciting vows for him to repeat. The crowd had a good laugh and it was nice to know that he was just as excited and impatient as I was. My dad reminded him to slow down and that we had our whole lives ahead of us to be together.


Ceremony | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango Ceremony | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



I was so adamant that I didn’t want to see Andy until I was walking down the aisle. In hindsight, I wish we had done a private first look, it would have been nice to have some quiet time with Andy before the festivities. Also, I would have taken the wedding party photos before the ceremony. It took a lot of time away from our time with our guests during the reception.


Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



The reception was just a few feet away from the ceremony in the barn style hall. The guests enjoyed lawn games and a fun photo booth during cocktail hour.


Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



Andy and I had a private dinner on the deck away from the reception area. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole day; with all of the craziness of the wedding, it was refreshing to slow down, gaze into each other’s eyes, and enjoy the moment.


Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



My mother and I cut and sewed the 300 feet of bunting flags that hung throughout the venue. The back wall of the barn was covered in twinkle lights. They made a beautiful backdrop for great photos and the flags added dimension, color, and a sense of joy to the space. We wanted the wedding to be a big celebration of love. The lights, dancing and festive bunting flags just added to the celebratory aspect of the day!


Centerpiece | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango Kids Table | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango Photo backdrop | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



We started off the dancing with “Hava Nagila”. The groomsmen and my brothers hoisted Andy and I up in chairs while our guests sang and danced around us. The rest of the evening was a blur of loved ones, dancing, and ended with a sparkler send off.


Dance | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango Reception | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



When it comes to the big day, give yourself lots of extra time. Take the time to relax and talk to your guests. Most of all, plan to do a private dinner! Having even a few quiet moments with your new husband is so very special.


Dance | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango


Walking through a tunnel of  lights and smiling faces was a wonderful way to make our exit. The greatest joy was driving away with my new husband holding my hand.


Exit | Weddings at River Bend Ranch, Durango



Venue: River Bend Ranch. Not only does the venue offer beautiful views, Dave, the host, and caretaker was our hero. He allowed us to visit the venue for planning and brainstorming numerous times and was ready and willing to do anything to assist us!

Favors: We ordered honey sticks from Honeyville to share some local sweetness with our guests. The ordering process was simple and easy. The favors inspired some guests to visit Honeyville and enjoy all the other products they have to offer!

Napkins: Durango Party Rental made renting easy.

Photographer: Allison Ragsdale Photography



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Durango Weddings Magazine is a curated event planning resource guide, print magazine, wedding blog, and producer of the annual Durango Wedding Expo.