The wedding of Annika and John will go down as one of the most heartfelt wedding’s we’ve ever been a part of. This winter wedding just days before Christmas, was filled to the brim with nostalgia, joy and love. From twinkling Christmas tree’s to holiday cookies, this wedding was exactly what one would hope to find at a winter celebration in Colorado.
Annika and John are both graduates from the Air Force Academy and met during their time there. So it seemed only fitting that the Academy was just within sight of their wedding day location.
If you’d like to read the couple’s entire love story, be sure to jump over to their engagement blog.
However, Colorado Springs wasn’t actually their original plan. It’s actually kind of crazy that after all the craziness of 2020, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a couple that doesn’t have a catch phrase like, “well, our original plan was _____.” But there wasn’t a curveball thrown at this couple that they couldn’t take.
Armed with new marching orders, Annika took every cancelled vendor, closed venue and new restriction in stride, fully prepared to take on Plan’s B, C and D. With less than a month from the wedding, Annika and John learned that their wedding venue they had booked had been closed due to current restrictions. So, planning their day from out-of-state, these two gathered their families together and began replanning everything at John’s family home in Colorado Springs.
As you probably know by now, I’m a total hopeless romantic and find such joy in weddings that pay honor to their heritage. So, I was thrilled to take part in a wedding during the holidays, certain to include loads of family traditions, and Annika and John’s Christmas Wedding did not disappoint, making my Hallmark Heart nearly exploded.
With incredibly thoughtful gifts for everyone that day, Annika was able to slow down and share in moments with those that meant the most to her. For her mother, she kept the surprise of her wedding veil, custom made from the wedding dress her mother wore. It wasn’t until Annika was fully dressed, that she shared this meaningful gift with her.
For her father, she had a photo of the two of them on the backside of his necktie. On her bouquet she had a necklace and broach from her grandmother. Annika borrowed a fur coat and wore blue shoes. Honestly, I’m not sure there was any tradition left unturned.
The couple did “break” with one tradition and opted to share in a first look before the ceremony. But to make this moment extra meaningful, the two stood back to back and read letter’s to one another. With tears pouring down their cheeks, they then spread apart for their first look with a truly breathtaking view. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a more postcard worthy backdrop for photos, with blankets of snow covering the foothills and mountaintops. We all just kept saying how magical this location was and truly a moment everyone will not soon forget.
After the first look and portraits, we all headed to the Sim’s family home which was remarkably transformed into a Christmasy mountain retreat. It was truly stunning to see all the hard work that family and friends put in to create such a gorgeous venue for the couple to share their vows.
And for the reception, tall hand-painted sheets donned the walls to transform a racquetball court into romantic candlelit dinner for guests. Another family tradition that Annika’s family shares together each Christmas is Brazilian food. So who better to host this delicious affair, than FOGO de CHAO, a Brazilian Steak House in the springs.
The wedding day was filled with other food traditions as well. Like the Scandinavian tradition of 7 cookies for Christmas to signify luck for the new year.
And we can’t forget to share one of John’s family traditions of singing together at Christmas. So during the reception, just before dinner, everyone was reminded of the reason for the season, singing together by candlelight the bride’s favorite carol, “Silent Night.” This beautiful moment brought tears to nearly everyone’s eyes, as Annika’s Uncle, who was unable to attend, then called in and led everyone in prayer.
I remember when we were initially chatting with Annika and John about their wedding day timeline and they really tried to emphasize the “largeness” of John’s family. But it wasn’t until I was able to meet them all after the ceremony, that I realized almost ALL of the guests were family. With 30 cousins alone, this was a wedding centered around the importance of family. And not to mention good manners. Amongst those cousins were young boys varying in age, but every time I passed one during the reception, they made a point to stop me and say thank you. The gratitude this family passes on to everyone they come into contact with is something I will forever remember.
And one of MY favorite new traditions of 2020, has become the Last Dance. A moment when all guests are heading outside to send the couple off, that the dance floor is cleared and left with just the bride and groom. There was something so fitting for Annika and John to be sharing a final dance on their wedding day in front of the fireplace of his childhood home. A place where his parent’s built into him faith, loyalty and commitment.
Ending the day where it all began, I had a smile on my face and tears in my eyes as I saw this beautiful couple begin a lifelong journey together, there in front of the family fireplace.
And as they made their way to the door, they were greeted as any Air Force Couple should be, with a saber arch. This popular military wedding tradition was almost skipped with the chapel being under construction currently. But with total joy in their eyes, they paused for a kiss at each arch and went running under a sea of paper airplanes towards their getaway car.
To see photos from Annika and John’s Engagement in Fort Collins jump to their BLOG HERE. Are you looking for a photography team for your upcoming wedding? Let’s chat and see if we’re a good fit for each other!
Photographer | Britni Girard of Britni Girard Photography
Videographers | Abel McBride and Jeremy Girard of Girard Films
Live-streaming | Girard Films
Venue | Private Residence in Colorado Springs, CO
Cake Artist | King Soopers Bakery
Caterer | FOGO de CHAO
Bridesmaids Dresses | Azazie
Hair | Tangles Hair by Stacy
Makeup | Kiss and Makeup by Katie Komloski