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Joy, tears and crawfish at 9,000 feet

I just returned from my brother’s four-day wedding extravaganza at the Historic Pines Ranch in Westcliffe, CO and what a time it was. From the early days of planning his and Cathy’s vision was to have a wedding that reflected part of their lives they enjoy the most, multi-day music festivals. Rather than a rehearsal the night before and a ceremony the day of, followed by dancing, they imagined as many people as possible joining them from Thursday to Sunday in a quiet spot in which to spend quality time. As with all weddings, this one involved a lot of planning for the event itself but since it was taking place in a small mountain town almost everything: food, beverages, decor, and so much more (think 26 foot U-Haul truck more) had to be brought in to make it happen.

While nerves were frayed on more than one occasion, by the time people began arriving it felt so very Clayton and Cathy.

One of the staple events that they have enjoyed together for several years is the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. In an effort to recreate a small piece of that, their good friend Paul Campbell hosted a crawfish boil on Friday night. While it is the furthest thing from formal, the social nature of people crammed in around tables talking about how to properly crack open a crawfish, debates about the taste of shrimp brains and random conversations felt communal on a whole other level.

My father gave a heart-warming speech that evening about the four-maxims my brother lives by, most of importantly of which is, “too much fun is never enough”.

Not surprisingly they wrote their own vows, which brought the whole house down. Two moments stuck with me in particular. One in which my brother said that because he is so energetic and out there that he always feared he would have to change who he was to be accepted by someone but Cathy wanted him to be who he was. Following on that in her own remarks Cathy said to Clayton, “I vow to never let you go out in public in a onesie… alone”. While this closes my comments on the vows on a silly note, they were so heartfelt I couldn’t believe it.

After dinner Cathy’s sister Sarah and I were asked to speak and I delivered a speech I had worked on for a while about Clayton’s and my life growing up. Where we were then and where I see us now.

A couple months ago they were asked about first songs to dance to and that there would be only one. They would have the first song be “Circles around me” by Sam Bush, one of their favorite Bluegrass artists who wrote the song about Telluride and is the same song Clayton played when he surprised Cathy with the engagement. They requested that while it played everyone circle around them. It was magical.

The final moment of SO Cathy and Clayton was when Cathy organized a surprise onesie flashmob for Clayton. Some twenty-plus of us slowly made our way from the dance floor, leaving it noticeably empty to Clayton and he even remarked that the party had seemingly died. When we all returned dressed like hooligans, he laughed and cried because only true friends would get all dressed up like that for him on a wedding day.

I think it’s fair to say I am a person of strong opinions at times. When it comes to weddings, I can get a little soapboxy. While traditions are great I feel too often people do things at weddings they feel they are "supposed" to do rather than enjoy. What I witnessed in Westcliffe was a couple who built a ceremony that resonated with who they were and it was unforgettable.

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