Although Lindsey Hajduk and Jed Smith hailed from different corners of the country and met in Alaska, they always found common ground in the mountains. So, when the couple got engaged, they knew a wedding in Hillside, Colorado, would make for a perfect destination.

“Jed and I knew we needed our wedding to provide a loving space for our families to get to know each other better,” Lindsey said, explaining the event would be the first meeting for their New Mexico- and Illinois-based families. “We wanted to bring our dear families and friends together from near and far to weave our shared histories and supports together.”

The couple had visited Hillside years before the recent renovations—and soon realized it was even more accommodating for a mountain wedding than they remembered. As Lindsey said, “Hillside struck me as a hidden gem where you can’t help but be happy surrounded by its beauty.”

After an unforgettable day, we had the chance to talk with Lindsey about their Hillside nuptials experience.

What were some unexpected perks to getting married at Hillside?

We invited our guests to join us over the course of four days. The Lamp Post Lodge was the perfect place for a big family BBQ and gatherings because it felt like being in someone’s home. People were also able to build their own adventures throughout the day—from horseback riding, walking in the Royal Gorge or hiking in the national forests—so no one was bored. It helped to relieve stress on Jed and me so we didn’t have to worry about everyone’s every move.

What was the day of your wedding like?

It was the best! Everyone says it will be, but spending a sunny day under the yellow leaves of 100-year-old willows with the best people was unbelievable. Jed got to spend the morning with his best men at Bishop’s Castle—so I didn’t have to hear about teetering at the edge of the castle until after it all happened. I got to spend the morning with my best ladies getting pretty for the wedding. Then we got to the Hillside cottages, which were the perfect place to get ready one wall apart.

What was the setting for your ceremony like?

The September sun passed through the yellow leaves of the willow trees. We had benches gathered near the base of the willows. Our good friend Dave played guitar and sang as our wedding party walked out over the small bridge over the creek and down the field. The fall weather was amazingly warm—a hot summer day by Alaska standards—and we were all enjoying ourselves.

What did you love about the setting for your reception?

The character and charm of the Hillside Hall can’t be overstated. When I walked into the Hall I couldn’t believe its transformation once it included my favorite people inside. We had a local, three-piece bluegrass band playing on the stage setting the scene. The arrangement of the space also brought everyone together while allowing plenty of room for the buffet tables, bar area and dessert table, and the half-wall separating the spaces helped connect the space overall.

What is something about getting married at Hillside you’ll never forget?

The mountain surrounds of the Wet Mountain Valley create a gorgeous space. We got married under a full moon, so watching the moon rise and set over the mountains was a unique treat.

How did it help to have lodging options for your guests at Hillside and the Lamp Post Lodge?

It was great! We used the Lamp Post Lodge as the gathering space for all our guests, including folks staying in other nearby places. Our wedding party stayed at the Hillside Cottages—though I was jealous and wanted to stay there, too! That allowed the cottages to be a convenient staging area for the wedding preparations.

What do you think your guests liked most about Hillside and the Westcliffe area?

We loved that this was a unique space for us to all meet, get to know and support each other. The unbelievably beautiful and remote setting created this magical atmosphere that permeated every activity we did. The charm of the town and the beauty of the area helped us all be present and connect with each other at a deep level.

If you’re planning a mountain wedding, be sure to learn more about Willow Vale Events!