A Black-Tie Wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado

Ashley Steitz (30 and a head of university talent acquisition) and Neil Plamp (32 and an operations analyst) decided on a destination wedding to simpl

Ashley Steitz (30 and a head of university talent acquisition) and Neil Plamp (32 and an operations analyst) decided on a destination wedding to simplify the planning (she’s originally from Michigan; he’s originally from Kentucky). “Our guests were going to travel to our wedding no matter what,” Ashley says. “And we liked the idea of having extra time with them.” They chose Colorado in winter because they both love to ski, it inspired sentimental memories (Ashley spent many Christmas holidays at her grandparents’ home in Vail Valley, the same area where her parents had met and fallen in love), and Neil liked the idea of introducing his loved ones to the mountains. “It was important to us to showcase the beauty of the Rocky Mountains from the traditional log cabin resort,” Ashley says. The couple hosted a memorable four-day celebration, complete with an apres-ski party, a rehearsal dinner at Mirabelle, a Catholic ceremony at the Chapel at Beaver Creek, a reception at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, and a postwedding Super Bowl get-together “to recover.” From the bride’s vintage stole and elegant Vera Wang gown and the groom’s custom midnight navy tux to their custom crest and colors of navy blue, gold and ivory, white floral arrangements, trees around the head table, chandeliers draped in greenery and mixed eucalyptus and bay leaf garlands, the wedding was the epitome of elegance. After the ceremony, guests moved to the classy Ritz-Carlton ballroom, where they sipped on prosecco and old-fashioneds during the cocktail hour, then enjoyed appetizers of Kentucky hot browns (hot turkey over hot toast, smothered in a buttery sauce—in honor of Neil’s Kentucky upbringing) and Colorado lamb chops before moving on to soup and traditional Colorado cuisine of Rocky Mountain trout and braised bison short ribs. Cake was a delectable light-as-air coconut cake. Once the dance began, guests either joined the couple on the dance floor or watched from navy velvet couches—complete with custom pillows monogrammed with the couple’s initials, wedding date and last name—set up as mini lounges so everyone could be close to the action. Late-night snacks included warm chocolate chip cookies with a shot of milk and mini grilled cheese sandwiches with a shot of tomato soup. As the night wound down, the couple made their exit under a tunnel of glow wands. “We had the best wedding day we could have imagined,” Ashley says. “All we had to focus on was our love for each other.” —Chrissy Sorenson

Ashley and Neil’s custom watercolor crest included a fleur-de-lis, depicted on the city flags of both Louisville (for Neil) and Detroit (for Ashley), and incorporated the stars of Chicago, where the couple met and fell in love. “Lastly, we had elements of the Rocky Mountains, where our wedding was held,” Ashley says. A lush navy velvet band was added to their invitations, to “make it cozy for winter.” The crest was carried throughout the wedding, from monograms to beverage trays—even on the inside of Neil’s tuxedo.
Ashley added a silver belt to her dress, then matched her shoes and clutch.
The flowers were romantic, lush and organic combinations of ranunculus, garden roses, hellebores and veronica, finished with smilax, seeded eucalyptus and bay leaves.
Wreaths outside the church doors featured laser-cut wooden monograms that replicated the letters on the couple’s save-the-dates, created by Ashley's father. Her mother played a role too, needlepointing a picture of the chapel on the ring bearer’s pillow.
Mini wreaths on the pews during the church ceremony were transferred to the reception site, where they decorated the head table.
A large mirror with an elegant vinyl applique helped guests find their tables. “It was another opportunity to showcase a beautiful garland,” Ashley says. It was also in one large piece, eliminating the need to keep track of individual escort cards.
Navy was incorporated in the winter wedding through taper candles, goblets, menus and napkins.
The light-as-air coconut cake was a recipe from the couple’s favorite Chicago spot, Oyster Bah, re-created by the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado.
One of the first things Neil said to Ashley after they got engaged is that he always imagined seeing her walk through church doors on their wedding day. “It was so sweet,” she says. They exchanged vows in front of an expansive window at the Chapel at Beaver Creek in Avon, Colorado, at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain. “Skiers were swooshing down, and the sun was shining in on a beautiful Colorado day,” Ashley says. After the ceremony, Ashley surprised Neil with a traditional Austrian horn blower “to keep a little mountain flair.”
The bridesmaids wore dresses in different colors and styles, with a romantic tulle fabric serving as the common thread between them. Ashley gifted her bridesmaids faux-fur stoles from Restoration Hardware. “They were a hit,” she says.
“Assemble a vendor team you trust, who treat your wedding day as if it were their own,” Ashley says. “Don’t fool yourself. Planning a wedding, especially out of state, is a full-time job. If you want to remember the time fondly—and with limited stress—assembling a trusted team is key.”
When Ashley first went dress shopping, she was adamant about not wanting a strapless gown. “My main concern was how well I could dance all night without tugging at it,” she says. She fell in love with the second dress she tried on—a strapless form-fitting mermaid-style gown. “I definitely felt like a bride,” she says.
The groom designed his midnight navy tux, selecting everything from the fabric to the buttons. The wedding date was monogrammed on the back of his collar, and the couple’s crest was added to the lining. He added velvet shoes and fleur-de-lis socks in honor of his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The groomsmen wore their own traditional black tuxes.

Chocolate chip cookies with shots of milk and mini grilled cheese sandwiches with shots of tomato soup were the late-night snacks. “To me, there is nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie to cap off a great night,” Ashley says.
Navy velvet couches flanked the dance floor, complete with custom pillows monogrammed with the couple’s initials, wedding date and last name. The “mini lounges” around the dance floor allowed everyone to be close to the action.