An Elegant Fall Wedding at Surf Hotel with Sweeping Views of Colorado's Rocky Mountains
Matthew Breest and Katie Dabbs first met when they worked together at an international architecture firm in Denver. Katie was the publicist for the firm, Matt was the rising design star. Working in different buildings, they rarely bumped into one another but remained friendly colleagues over the years. Matthew went off to work in the company’s Shanghai office and Katie was recruited for a job in New York. She quickly packed her bags for her dream job and moved to a city the 5th-generation Colorado native had only envisioned living in.
Years later, Matthew reached out to Katie. He was trying to find an architectural designer job in New York and was interviewing. He wanted Katie’s “boots-on-the-ground perspective” on good studios to work for. Katie quickly ushered him through the doors of her firm, Gensler, introducing him to key leaders and hoping he would land there. The Alaska-native was exactly what New York needed. Matthew was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, enthralled with a city that is so much bigger than anyone living there. Katie knew that her same optimism had landed her a job at the firm, and she thought Matthew would be a great fit. Not to mention the recruiting fee from her company could help her cover that month’s rent.
The two continued to get together for coffee and meet when Matthew was in the city, or when Katie was back home in Denver, but it wasn’t until Matthew pit-stopped in New York on his way back to Colorado from a three-week adventure with his closest friends that the relationship took a step forward. Matt and his two best friends were on their way home from a trip to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Finland, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Norway, and Reykjavik. The group was exhausted by the time they landed at LaGuardia, but Matthew talked his friends into coming out to meet up with Katie at the rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. Katie promised that the evening would be worth it, and it was. Everyone was having a great time throwing back French 75’s and Sazeracs. The July heat was simmering off the streets. The group continued to pop around Williamsburg bars, sweating and laughing the whole way. It wasn’t long after that, that Katie and Matthew peeled off for a nightcap at Extra Fancy and got to talking.
Katie had lost her father in January and her only brother 10-years prior. There was a bubbling desire for her to be closer to her family back in Colorado. The loss had sunk in and she couldn’t stop turning around this idea of, “What is home?” Was she going to continue to sink roots into New York, a city where she seemingly could only live month-by-month? Or should she move back to Colorado? Or perhaps, somewhere else altogether? It was at that moment that a veil lifted. Matthew was newly single, so was Katie. Had they been looking past each other all these years when we were right in front of one another all along? “I’m pretty sure that my father tilted my hand that night,” says Katie about the encounter. “My dad was an architect too. And Matt had all of the qualities that my dad would have wanted me to have in a husband. It felt like divine intervention.”
Matthew went back to Colorado the next morning. Jetlagged, hungover, and in love. Katie immediately texted her friends. “Found the one.” That night jump-started nine months of long-distance. Matt would fly from Denver to New York every other weekend, and Katie would fly to Colorado once a month. In total, they racked up more than 60,000 airline miles traveling to see each other during that season of the relationship.
Matt invited Katie to Alaska to meet his family during the holidays. That’s when Katie knew, Colorado was where they needed to be. She quit her job, with no new job on the line (note: this is very unlike her “always with a plan” personality). They threw a Wild West-themed going away party with 40 of her closest friends in her then-apartment in Harlem. They sipped “Miss You Manhattans” and “Mountain Mules” and toasted the city Matthew and Katie had fallen in love in.
Colorado was a new chapter: professionally and otherwise. Katie launched her PR firm, Agency PR, dedicated to serving the design, real estate, hospitality and travel industries. Matthew took a new job as a senior designer for a growing architecture firm that specializes in stadiums and civic centers. They bought a mid-century home in the Denver neighborhood, Harvey Park, and added an adorable Siberian Husky, Ava, to their family.
Matthew asked Katie to marry him in his family’s ski condo in Girdwood, Alaska, in December 2018. Girdwood, a small artist enclave just outside of Anchorage, is a sentimental place for the Breest family that symbolizes the meaning of family. Katie, 30 at the time, and Matt, 34, recognized the importance of finding the right person to create “family” with. The Breest family is tight-knit and Katie, with just her and her mom, sought to be invited into a warm and welcoming family-like Matthew's. The engagement was not just a gesture to get married, but also an invitation for Katie to be a part of his family. “As I was going down on one knee she grabbed my shoulders and asked if I was alright. She thought I was falling down. When she realized what was happening she started sobbing and didn’t respond to my proposition but rather just continued, sobbing. I had to ask her again to make sure that the tears meant “yes,” and not “no,” said Matthew.
Matthew and Katie originally planned their wedding as a 150-person summer affair in Fort Collins, Colorado, but as the pandemic took hold, they shifted their date to September 5th and ultimately canceled the original venue opting instead for a more intimate affair with just immediate family and their closest friends.
The third time was a charm. Matthew and Katie, both keen on design, fixated their sites on the Buena Vista Surf Hotel + Chateau for their new date and for both the ceremony and reception. The bride says about the venue, “At Surf Hotel, it's as though the Rocky Mountains met up with New Orleans’ swagger."
The venue is a perfect mix of what Katie and Matthew love most: great design, divine food, New York-style cocktails, the Rocky Mountains in a charming, yet energetic, small town. It’s instantaneously a magnet for adventure seekers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Denver. Buena Vista is renowned for its Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area, much of which lies within the San Isabel National Forest. This wilderness area holds a collection of Sawatch Range Mountains and is set in the Buena Vista Valley. The Sawatch Range contains some of Colorado’s highest peaks and provides magnificent views that inspire both visitors and local residents every day. Many of these peaks are named after universities, such as Mount Princeton, Mount Harvard, and Mount Yale, earning the title “Collegiate Peaks”. The couple worked with Perfect Petal to arrive at a color palette of blushes, marigolds, mochas, and whites that showcased the beauty of fall in Colorado and complimented the natural beauty of Buena Vista’s aspens which change to gold in October.
To pull off their vision, they sought out the expertise of wedding planner Alisha Rodrigues of ANA Trio Solutions, whom Katie says made the entire replanning process, "a breeze." The couple got to focus on ways to bring their family and friends together over a weekend of events, some of which included hikes and hot springs hoping, while the ANA Trio team took the Colorado landscape-inspired decor ideas to the next level. For Katie, it was about finding the right vendors that understood the vision but felt inspired to use their own creativity to make something first-of-its-kind and magical.
Matthew and Katie tied the knot on October 17, 2020, during a global pandemic that shifted their original wedding date twice. 40 of their immediate family and closest friends helped them tie the knot, and took COVID tests ahead of the wedding to mitigate risk. "The sacrifices and COVID-gymnastics of guests are undoubtedly what made the day so special," says Katie. "Friends from New York, Alaska, Arizona and California road-tripped or flew with as few touch-points as possible, all after quarantining, taking COVID tests and making sure that the event was as low-risk as possible. 2020 had its own plans but we were able to pull off an amazing micro wedding with just our closest friends and family in beautiful Buena Vista."
After shifting venues and dates twice, the couple chose to accordingly shift their color palette to better fit the new occasion. "Our original palette was whites and greens to pair with our summer wedding, but given that we shifted our date to a fall wedding, we had to reselect a color palette with some of the items we had already purchased (i.e. white bridesmaid dresses, etc.). We decided on a palette of marigolds, blushes, mochas, and whites to pair with the natural beauty of the aspens turning gold in the Rocky Mountains," shares Katie. "Lucky for us, the venue and setting did most of the decorating for us and really let us shine and sit center stage. To complement it we worked with Hazel Grove Rentals to select a lounge palette of blushes, marigolds, and whites along with giant lanterns, coffee tables, and pillows to encourage people to make s'mores in the fireplace, lounge, and enjoy the crisp Colorado air. For the table setting, we selected unique bud vases with our amazing florist Kendall Davila at Perfect Petal and accompanied them with an ombre design that mixed our palette together along with pillar candles of blush and marigold."
Looking back on the ceremony itself, Katie recalls being, "so nervous to walk down the aisle by myself - it was something I had a ton of anxiety about as I had always pictured my dad walking me down the aisle. I knew that no one could have taken his place, and I opted to go on my own. At first, I was nervous, but standing at the top of the aisle about to walk down, I immediately felt a sensation of empowerment flood over me. Several of my friends had told me to be on the lookout for "signs" throughout the day that he was with me, and I didn't really find one until I was able to go through the wedding photos. The way the breeze caught my veil at the moment we were kissing at the altar, oh that was definitely my Dad!
To current to-be-weds still in the midst of wedding planning, the couple has this important advice to impart: "Hire a videographer. I can't recommend this enough! The day goes by so quickly and the next morning Matthew and I just couldn't believe it had happened and it was over. The video allowed us to recount the day and see the party the way a guest may have. It captured moments that I never saw that day and is something we will watch every year on our anniversary."