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 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.