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How We Pulled It Off: A Snowy Aspen Wedding Outdoors

Paula B Photography

As business consultants, Tyler Betz and Tim Gao spend more of their days on the road than off, and more nights in hotels than in their home base of Dallas. The two share fairly nomadic upbringings, too: Tyler grew up across six states, while Tim was born in China and raised in Canada and the US.

“A destination wedding was very much up our alley, given how much we love to travel,” says Tyler, who met her husband through work. “We don't really have [one] place that we call home.”

Their families and friends were more than on board; Tim’s actually pushed for it. “My family is from China, and I'm the youngest of a group of cousins,” he explains. “It's been a dream for years that they come and see what an American wedding is like.” Though they briefly considered celebrating in Mexico or Europe, the couple decided to stick with a cool location within the US for Tim’s family to experience.

Because the couple skis in Aspen together every December—occasionally with friends—they came to the idea of an Aspen winter wedding pretty quickly, and thought it would make a lovely way to kick off the holiday season. The navigability of the city was also a draw, says Tyler: “We wanted an intimate wedding, and the idea that we could run into [our guests] going to breakfast or shopping around town was really special to us, too.” The couple wed before 100 guests in the renowned ski town on December 9, 2023. Here, they share how they pulled it off despite a snowstorm, and with the help of some hand warmers and a champagne saber.

Tyler and Tim wed outdoors in December, 2023—a time of year they typically visit Aspen for skiing

Tim & Tyler

Tyler and Tim wed outdoors in December, 2023—a time of year they typically visit Aspen for skiing
Paula B Photography
The courtyard of the St. Regis Aspen, at the base of Aspen Mountain, hosted the couple's nuptials

Tim & Tyler

The courtyard of the St. Regis Aspen, at the base of Aspen Mountain, hosted the couple's nuptials
Paula B Photography

Follow your heart to the right venue—and aesthetic

At the beginning of the planning process, Tyler and Tim spent a week in Aspen walking through possible spaces.”We went into every other venue visit being very open, trying to imagine what our wedding would be like,” says Tyler. “I think, deep down, we both knew we loved the St. Regis Aspen.” As regular jet setters, they believed the five-star hotel located at the bottom of Aspen Mountain to offer among the highest standard of service they’d ever seen, and it was newly renovated. “It’s really remarkable how much they pay attention to you as an individual,” says Tim. Add in reasonable room blocks that allowed the vast majority of their guests to stay on property, and a stockpile of key items (like outdoor heaters) that they wouldn’t have to rent, and locking in was a no-brainer.

Once the venue was locked in, the couple considered the available spaces and their desired aesthetic, ultimately deciding to go with a simple, elegant black-and-white color palette. “We wanted the backdrop of the mountains to really be the star of the show,” Tyler says. To that end, they also aimed to hold their ceremony outdoors in the hotel’s courtyard with an imposing redstone fountain and spectacular mountain views.

“Sticking to our guns was a big thing. A handful of people we were working with recommended bringing the ceremony inside because the guests would be cold,” the bride continues. But the stunning visual was important to the pair, and ultimately their loved ones seemed thrilled. “They said, ‘When do we get to be in the mountains at a wedding? We can be outside for 20 minutes,’” she recalls. To keep guests warm, plush white blankets were draped on the ceremony chairs, standing heaters were brought in, and invitations suggested a warm coat.

A snow storm brought in fresh powder for the event; all guests but one made it despite the weather.

Tim & Tyler

A snow storm brought in fresh powder for the event; all guests but one made it despite the weather.
Paula B Photography
The couple incorporated outdoor activities into the weekend—and their wedding photos, like this one taken on the Aspen Mountain Gondola.

Tim & Tyler

The couple incorporated outdoor activities into the weekend—and their wedding photos, like this one taken on the Aspen Mountain Gondola.
Paula B Photography

Concede to the cold, and book early

Some desired aspects of their event simply couldn’t adapt to the temperatures, though. While they’d hoped for strings or live music during the ceremony, they quickly learned it was an impossibility, as musicians couldn’t play with chilly fingers and instruments could be damaged. The couple also had to choose flowers that could withstand the temperatures, opting for sturdy greenery for outdoor decor, and a silk-flower bouquet for their photo session atop the mountain.

Despite its eminence among winter sports lovers, Aspen is ultimately a small town that's far from any major city, because of which the couple ran into trouble trying to rent certain materials for their wedding. “We ran into a few instances where we were talking to a vendor and wanted to reserve some decor, and since there’s not a lot of options, they sold out quickly,” Tyler says.

Winter is low season for weddings in the area, but Tim and Tyler found themselves competing with folks throwing extravagant holiday parties. Their photographer, florist, and band were relatively easy to book, but securing items like table linens and chairs were more difficult; they had to get chairs from two different vendors in order to secure enough.

Blankets were set out for guests, who also wore coats

Tim & Tyler

Blankets were set out for guests, who also wore coats
Paula B Photography
The snowfall stopped in time for the ceremony

Tim & Tyler

The snowfall stopped in time for the ceremony
Paula B Photography

Incorporate activities, and a touch of home

Aside from providing a list of their favorite Aspen bars, restaurants, and activities, the couple also negotiated discounts for their guests to take part in winter sports in their free time around the weekend. Given the Saturday wedding, they also arranged a snowmobiling tour with their immediate families on Thursday, and went skiing with friends on Sunday. They wisely avoided skiing themselves before the ceremony, says Tim: “We did not want the bride or groom going down the aisle on crutches.”

Though their wedding was a celebration of all things frosty, Tyler and Tim honored their home base of Texas with a rehearsal dinner held at a Mexican restaurant, Mi Chola, on Friday night of their wedding weekend. “We did a cowboy theme, where everyone was wearing cowboy hats or a western look,” says Tim. For their own outfits, the couple found the perfect pieces to connect them to both places, having hats made at Aspen’s legendary Kemo Sabe store—and printed with their wedding date.

At the indoor reception, Tyler traded snow boots for dancing shoes

Tim & Tyler

At the indoor reception, Tyler traded snow boots for dancing shoes
Paula B Photography
After the chilly ceremony, guests warmed up with cocktails and butternut squash soup

Tim & Tyler

After the chilly ceremony, guests warmed up with cocktails and butternut squash soup
Paula B Photography

Accept the possibility of a snowstorm, and buy insurance

Protecting the considerable expenditure of a single-day celebration is a solid idea for any wedding, but the couple found it particularly wise for their chosen destination's weather. “There’s a provision you can add about cancellations and delays, which we definitely bought to cover us,” says Tim. “Lucky for us, we didn't have to exercise that one, but it was certainly a concern for us in a place like Aspen, where snow storms could ruin the weekend.” Their weekend wasn’t shielded entirely from the impact of Mother Nature, however…

Choosing to get married in a remote location known for its frosty winters is not for the faint of heart. “We had our eyes glued to the weather every day, and it’s such a crapshoot for the weather in the mountains—there’d been a big storm the week before,” Tyler says. They watched a storm roll in on Thursday as they snowmobiled, then “We got really nervous and went back to the hotel to make contingency plans.”

Cowboy-themed fun carried over from the welcome drinks into the wedding reception

Tim & Tyler

Cowboy-themed fun carried over from the welcome drinks into the wedding reception
Paula B Photography
The bride and groom's families all made it into Aspen by car despite some canceled flights

Tim & Tyler

The bride and groom's families all made it into Aspen by car despite some canceled flights
Paula B Photography

The St. Regis’ event team were accustomed to such interruptions. In addition to keeping the couple apprised of each guest’s arrival, they also had back-up plans in place if the ceremony needed to be moved. The worst of the storm hit on Friday afternoon, but the majority of guests had opted to make a longer weekend of the wedding by arriving that morning or the day before. A handful had to get creative, though. “My family from California had their flight canceled out of Denver. They ended up making friends with someone at the airport and driving together on Friday night,” Tim says. “We had numbers for car services to help take people in the worst-case scenario.”

All in all, just one guest wasn’t able to make it due to weather-related issues. But the snow made the wedding visuals even more stunning. “Saturday, we woke up and it was clear, with the most fresh, beautiful powder we’ve ever seen.”

The couple donned hats—from famed Aspen retailer Kemo Sabe—inscribed with their wedding date

Tim & Tyler

The couple donned hats—from famed Aspen retailer Kemo Sabe—inscribed with their wedding date
Paula B Photography
The winter wedding's black-and-white color palette was brightened with subdued florals and greenery

Tim & Tyler

The winter wedding's black-and-white color palette was brightened with subdued florals and greenery
Paula B Photography

Embrace the charm

Taking risks (and planning ahead for them) paid off, and the couple made sure to highlight the allure of the setting and season with several delightful touches: A hot chocolate station greeted guests as they walked onto the ceremony space, and hand warmers were distributed. Butternut squash soup was dramatically poured into guests’ bowls as soon as they sat down for dinner, which was a “wow moment” and a “great transition from being outside,” the couple say.

To kick off the party, too, they partook in an evening ritual that's common across all St. Regis properties—each sabered a bottle of champagne. “We both got it on the first try,” says the bride. “I have a handful of pictures that show my excitement.”

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler