A Colorful Alternative Wedding at the Flying Horse Ranch in Jefferson, Colorado

Shauna Twardzik (34 and a high school ceramics and photography teacher) and Jason Heine (39 and a physician) met online. They took a vacation to Sri L

Shauna Twardzik (34 and a high school ceramics and photography teacher) and Jason Heine (39 and a physician) met online. They took a vacation to Sri Lanka where they hiked up a mountain called Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak, which is a sacred site for many religions. During the holy seasons thousands of people make the four-mile pilgrimage up the mountain. The goal is to be at the top to watch the sun rise and to take part in rituals welcoming the new dawn. “We left our hotel at 2:30 a.m. in the pitch black with flashlights,” Shauna says. “We saw the 5,200 steps snaking through the terrain to reach the summit. We reached the summit just before 6 a.m. Jason was standing behind me, and as the sun began to rise, he turned me around and pulled out three silver rings. Jason explained that each ring symbolizes past, present and future and you, me and us. On the rings a Robert Frost poem, quoted in the first email we exchanged, was engraved. ‘Two roads diverge in a wood, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.’ He asked me to spend the rest of our lives together, and I said yes.” The couple started their wedding day with an 8 a.m. yoga class with all their guests on the grass at the edge of the lake on the property at the Flying Horse Ranch. They then got ready and headed to the ceremony that was planned to be in a field with a 360 degree view of the mountains. But, as Shauna walked down the aisle to meet Jason, it started pouring rain, to a point where clothes became translucent. Guests, sitting on blankets on the ground, grabbed them up for shelter. The couple quickly chose the stable at the bottom of the hill, and everyone filtered in and created a half circle around the bride, groom and officiant. One of the bridesmaids sang “The Nearness of You” by Hoagy Carmichael, when Jason scooped up Shauna and started dancing. All rules were off for their untraditional romantic ceremony. “Since this was a marriage of not only two people, but of a whole community. Each guest was to be involved,” the bride says. “The parents and wedding party began by placing one of their hands on the bride and groom. The subsequent guests followed and radiated out from the center of the circle; each person was connected to the next by touch. The crowd declared their vows to the couple and the bride and groom finally kissed to seal the ceremony.” Shauna and Jason questioned every detail about their wedding, asking if it was important to them, which led to their alternative wedding. The bride wore a canary yellow Monique Lhuillier wedding dress. She hired one of her high school students to make the bridesmaid’s beaded flower bouquets. She planted and grew her own wildflowers in her front yard, which she picked on the morning of her wedding for her bouquet. The couple made origami boutonnieres out of collected currency from Sri Lanka, China, New Zealand, Malawi, South Africa, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom with bills for the flowers and coins for the center. Instead of wedding gifts, they chose to donate to Colorado Youth At Risk and The Dolores Project. The chose their caterer, Spice of Life, because of their health consciousness and positive environmental effect. “It offered local, organic, delicious foods where they compost while they prepare the food and all the disposable napkins and cups are compostable as well.” And at the end of the day, everyone, including the chefs, wait and bar staff joined the guests in a dancing train out and around the property.

Shauna Getting Ready
Untraditional Yellow Wedding Dress
Shauna and Jason First Look
“With the feeling of celebration leading our style choices, the bridesmaids were to choose their dress of fuchsia to red hues and the groomsmen wore gingham print button down shirts in vibrant shades of teal and blue topaz.”
“In the spirit of creating community and living consciously, we hired one of my high school students to make the beaded flowers that my bridesmaids carried,” Shauna says.
“We choose to grow our own wildflowers for the wedding in our front yard of our home,” Shauna says. “I picked all the flowers in my bouquet the sunny morning before we drove up to the ranch.”
Jason wore a taupe linen suit with a plaid tie in the same yellow as Shauna’s dress. “I used the leftover fabric from my altered gown to make the groom's pocket silk,” she says. “He did not know what color dress I was wearing until it was revealed on our wedding day. I wrapped up his tie, socks and pocket silk and had it delivered to his room before he got dressed. It was at that moment he discovered that I was wearing a yellow dress."
DIY Wood Ceremony Sign
Shauna and Jason wanted a location they could rent for the weekend so their family and friends could stay on the property. So, they booked a vacation rental instead of a wedding venue. It had a house, two cabins, horse stables and a luxurious lodge with a sweeping view of the mountains, lake and the 10,000 acres it sat on. “It was breathtaking inside and out, we were able to begin our ceremony on the hill with a panoramic view of the mountains and then a view of the rain," she says. "Luckily, there were also stables on the property where we had our full ceremony, with a magical intimacy that only the impromptu move due to the rain could have blessed us with."
Guests sat on blankets on the hill, which had a 360 degree view of the mountains.
Blanket Ceremony Seating in Colorado
"It was coming down in sheets to the point where clothes became translucent," Shauna says.
Shauna and Jason Raining Ceremony
Shauna and Jason Ceremony Relocation
Shauna and Jason in the Rain
Shauna and Jason Barn Ceremony
An Impromptu Indoor Ceremony
Traditional Ring Ceremony
After it started pouring rain in the middle of their ceremony, Shauna and Jason quickly chose the empty stable at bottom of the hill. “Everyone filtered into the stable and bit more wet, a bit more relaxed and a bit more close that at the previous location on the hill. The stables were dimly lit, grand and had cathedral like ceilings. Yet the setting felt intimate with the guests huddled in a half circle around the entrance where we, the officiant and wedding party were at the mouth of entrance. The ceremony then began. One of the bridesmaids, Ania, began to share her sultry voice with singing a capella, “The Nearness of You” by Hoagy Carmichael. Moments later Jason scooped me up and began dancing. Now that the rain had changed all plans, nothing was rehearsed or thought out, the act of Jason dancing with his soon-to-be bride was out of pure spontaneity and love.”
Flying Horse Ranch Wedding Venue
Flying Horse Ranch Reception
Colorful Linen Napkin Place Settings
DIY Drawing Place Settings
"All of the vases that held the flowers came from months of Jason and I recycling jars," Shauna says. "I embellished the jars with washi tape from Paper Source."
DIY Wildflower Centerpieces
Paper Straw Table Numbers
“We wanted an alternative to a wedding cake,” Shauna says. They offered three homemade pies: key line, chocolate silk and a fresh fruit tart. rn
Key Lime Pie
Chocolate Silk Pies
Shauna and Jason First Dance
“The remainder of the evening was dancing, even the chefs, wait and bar staff joined us in a dance train meandering through out the property,” Shauna says. rn