When Shalaya and Stephen contacted me about their wedding at the Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder, I was pretty excited. I had photographed a wedding on Flagstaff Mountain before, but this time the wedding and reception would be up there. As a Boulder wedding photojournalist who likes to work with natural light, I was glad we would never have to leave the magical remove of the mountaintop. It was also a bit of a heads-up as to what kind of couple they were. Everything outdoors, on picnic tables, with a down-to-earth vibe it would be hard to replicate elsewhere. And the dress code was Mountain Casual. What in the world is that?

Preparing for Sunrise Amphitheater wedding reception

They decorated the place themselves, on a gorgeous afternoon. It can get a little breezy near dusk, so if you do this, be sure to keep the table decorations fairly low and secure everything to the tables. I helped them scrounge for rocks. There’s a number of covered or enclosed facilities up there you can reserve as a hedge against the weather, so long as your full guest count is under fifty.

Wedding decorations at Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder.

Groom waiting for wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater

It’s lonely at the top. But not for long.

Bride and her father at casual Colorado mountain wedding

Shalaya and her dad before the ceremony. My first hint of mountain casual: Father of the bride in cowboy boots, jeans, a Rolex and a bolo tie. Pretty standard fare, you know?

Bride and father entering wedding at Boulder's Sunrise Amphitheater

Wedding ceremony at Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder

Sunrise Amphitheater wedding in Boulder, Colorado

The platform at the amphitheater is pretty amazing. You’re at the top of a fairly steep hill. It seems like you can see all the way to Kansas, and if you fell, you’d land in the middle of downtown Boulder. Neither are remotely true, but if you want your wedding to be a mountaintop experience it fulfills the metaphor very well.

Bride taking ring at Sunrise Amphitheater wedding

Bride and groom at Sunrise Amphitheater wedding in Boulder

Wedding couple after ceremony at Boulder's Sunrise Amphitheater

Denver wedding photojournalist captures bride and groom riding on tandem bike through birdseed

You have to be fast with the birdseed. They came whipping around a corner on their tandem bike. Reflexes and timing being what they are, Shalaya got the brunt of it.

Bride with maid of honor on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

Bride and her father on Flagstaff mountain

Couple speaks in stone shelter near Sunrise Amphitheater

bride plucks birdseed from groom's hair

Like memories, birdseed stays with you awhile.

bride and groom at stone shelter near sunrise amphitheater

groom and bride at stone shelter near sunrise amphitheater

wedding guests play jenga near Sunrise Amphitheater

Jenga blocks collaspse at wedding reception by Denver wedding photojournalist

Dog licks bride's foot at wedding reception

It’s hard to say exactly what Mountain Casual means, but brides in Birkenstocks gets you in the zone.

bride whispers to groom in bowtie

groom and bride signing marriage license at Boulder wedding

Young girl with father.

Father holds daughter aloft at Sunrise Amphitheater by Denver wedding photojournalist

Woman photographs late afternoon near Sunrise Amphitheater.

Maid of honor toasts bride while standing atop a picnic table.

If you’ve got a table, you’ve got a stage.

Bride and groom hear toasts at outdoor wedding.

As it began to cool, Shalaya slipped into a mountain casual bride’s shawl, otherwise known as a white jean jacket. She looked great. As a Boulder wedding photojournalist, I have a lot of couples who love the mountains and try to keep it real.

Cutting cake at a mountain wedding.

Denver wedding photojournalist version of Colorado mountain wedding cake cutting.

Guests in boots at wedding by Denver wedding photographer

We are practical people here in Colorado.

bride and groom listen to toasts at outdoor wedding by Boulder wedding photojournalist

Bride and groom walk in the woods near Flagstaff Drive in Boulder

candid black and white image of wedding couple outdoors

Couple at reception by Denver wedding photojournalist

Couple at Colorado outdoor wedding by Denver wedding photojournalist

Mountaintop wedding by Denver wedding photojournalist

Boulder bride and groom watching sun set at Colorado mountain wedding

Colorado mountain wedding couple near Sunrise Amphitheater by Denver wedding photojournalist.