Written by: Aubree Taylor

That would be me! Aubree, currently the intern at Willie Ripple Events until December. September 14-16th I had the joy of getting to work my first event at Willie’s daughter’s wedding in Vail. What better way of getting a taste of the event planning industry then working a four-day wedding weekend for your boss’s daughter, right? (The wedding weekend included four days but I was only able to work three days.) Before I get into the details of the wedding weekend through my eyes I’ll fill you in with a little info about myself.

Unlike most of Willie’s previous interns I am from the great Midwest! Where you might ask? The only state that is known for the great amount of corn we produce, Iowa. I grew up with my family of four in a very small town that has a blinking red spot light and a Casey General store. What more can a girl want when growing up? I am currently a third-year college student at Wartburg College which is located in Northern Iowa. At Wartburg I run track and I will be getting my bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communication Arts with an emphasis in Organizational Public Relations. I will also have a double minor in Leadership and Business Marketing. Part of my college experience at Wartburg has been the opportunity to live in Denver, while taking classes and completing an internship. After my internship and classes are completed in December I will be returning to Wartburg to continue my education.

Okay, so enough about me and now onto more exciting things like the experience of a picture perfect wedding in Vail, CO. Where do I even start to begin? From the stunning views of the wedding ceremony on top of Vail Mountain to a BBQ and brunch there was never a dull moment! Let’s start from the beginning of my time with Willie, which started about a month and a half ago. On the first day with Willie she welcomed me into her company with open arms and a mighty list of jobs for me to complete over the next couple of months. Though some people may get nervous and turned away by a big list of jobs to accomplish I was more than excited to get a taste of the event planning industry! In preparation for the wedding weekend in September, Willie and I have been finalizing the many logistics, and organizational details that go along with any event. One of the décor elements used for the BBQ and brunch included a family tree that I got to design. The family tree (was displayed on three trees in the backyard of the families Vail home) included pictures of family members attending the wedding weekend. Make sure to check out Willie Ripple Event Facebook page to see photos!

As an intern I have loved how much trust Willie has put in me when she needs help making decisions and getting very tedious tasks accomplished. Rather than putting me in the corner to make copies of papers and running pointless errands, she is putting me to work with multiple projects, design elements and much more. This did not only apply to pre-wedding planning but throughout the entire weekend she made sure that I was a part of it all.

Now for the fun part, the wedding weekend celebration! My first day started Friday morning meeting Stacy Horn in Vail. Stacy is an awesome event planner who owns her own event planning company called Juniper and Lace Events in Michigan. Willie brought Stacy in for the weekend to run the wedding weekend so she could relax enjoy being the mother of the bride. I worked as Stacy’s assistant throughout the weekend celebrations. Friday’s agenda included a dress rehearsal at the mountain ceremony and a BBQ dinner. As Stacy and I rode the gondola up the mountain we were greeted by rain, hail and snow. Here I learned lesson #1: How to deal with Mother Nature. As an event planner one must always have a plan B, C, D and maybe even E. There are two different mentalities that one can go into a situation like this; fight or flight. Always choose fight, try to get your wedding party on board to make the most of the crazy weather you were given.

After the wedding rehearsal was completed Stacy and I moved quickly to the family’s home to set up for the BBQ dinner. Here I learned lesson #2: How to get a lot accomplished in a very small time frame. By the time we rode the gondola down Vail Mountain and walked back to the house we were running behind schedule. The backyard needed to be filled with décor, tables, chairs, a bar, tents, and an area for the caterers. Due to the cold and rainy weather guests congregated around four different fireplaces inside eating, drinking and laughing. From the moment we started set-up to clean-up I was doing a wide variety of tasks and jobs. That’s the beauty of event planning and my internship that I love. I love the constant change and variety. Yes, there were times where I was needed to accomplish five different tasks at one time but I would not have wanted it any other way. This was a great way for me to experience all the work that must be done during an event.

Onto the biggest day, WEDDING DAY!! Going into the day I didn’t really know what to expect. I did have a little behind the scenes experience with weddings but nothing compared to the day ahead. After about two hours of walking around and decorating I learned lesson #3: Always wear comfy shoes (which I believe is the most important lesson I learned all weekend). I know what you are thinking “what a rookie move” and yes it was but I was determined that morning to fight the stigma of wearing heels all day. I did to an extent, but the heels won the battle around five o’clock that evening I got a five-minute break to sit down and take my shoes off for a couple minutes. It was one of my favorite parts of the night.

Back to the wedding day. Everything about the day was absolutely stunning. Willie’s daughter, Michelle, was gorgeous in a wedding gown designed by Victoria Sdoukos, owner of (Chicago) West Loop’s Victoria Sdoukos Couture. We were blessed to get breathtaking views of Vail Valley, Mount of the Holy Cross Range, Gore Mountain Range and the colorful aspen tree during the ceremony.

I got to experience my first panic moment during the ceremony. I stood stage left of the ceremony deck with the groom, his parents, grandma and groomsmen. Willie, the flower girl, ring bearer, bridesmaids, the bride and her father were stage right and would meet at the ceremony deck. The design of the procession was created and I was in charge of sending everyone down the isle who was with me at the necessary time. In my eyes it was the one job that I could not mess up. However, a miss interpretation of hand signals created a little chaos which was easily corrected when I got Stacy’s attention. To some this sounds silly to stress about, but as an intern the last thing I want to be known for is messing up. As Willie and I were talking about the wedding weekend the week after I realized lesson #4: Even when making a mistake more than likely you are the only one to notice. It’s a great blessing.

At the reception which was held at Cucina Rustica-Lodge of Vail, I believe that I experienced my “Ah Ha” moment when event-planners are reminded why we put in the late nights and tedious planning over the past months. Stacy and I were able to have some downtime while everyone was dancing and having a blast on the dance floor. Looking around and seeing how happy the bride, groom, family and guests were made all the hard work “worth it” (Wartburg #worthit).

Sunday’s Brunch was very similar to the BBQ setup and decorations. One added bonus was that we had sun and 70-degree weather. It was the best way to celebrate the bride and grooms first day as husband and wife. As we tore down the brunch and all items from the home I learned my final lesson #5: Packing is not fun but it must be done.

Though the rain, hail and snow was not “ideal” weather it’s the memories and great laughs that Willie, the bridal party and guests can share. Looking back on the wedding weekend I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity Willie Ripple Events gave me to be apart of this event and for Stacy Horn for letting a complete stranger tag along with her as she worked on the weekend events. The lessons I learned from Stacy and Willie will be applied as I move forward in my internship and future.

Currently Willie and I are creating a 52-page magazine for a previous event. The magazine will be filled with pictures and historic articles of Albert Reed, born in 1868, an influential man in Denver and Boulder. We plan on creating another magazine about Willie and her company within the next couple of months so make sure to stay tuned!