In a room full of Vice Presidents, Directors, and other representatives from across the Winter Park Resort, there is one Department Leader that is nearly glowing. I don’t think Emily was actually bouncing in her seat during my first Operations Meeting, but that’s how I remember her, a presence of joyful energy. As each business unit gave their update, no one else quite fit their role as much as Emily. It reminded me of the scene in 101 Dalmations when people look like their dog. Emily embodies the joy, warmth, and you think of when you imagine a fairytale wedding.
As the tone of the meeting continued with its typical serious nature, Emily reminded the room that there is more to our work than going through the motions. She didn’t have a lengthy update, but she instantly lit up talking about the upcoming Winter Park Resort Wedding schedule. Even in those brief moments, anyone could see her excitement. But this isn’t just a one-time deal. This is Emily EVERY week. All summer long. The connection she has with the brides and grooms she works with is evident and endearing.
Meet Emily Jackson. She is basically a real life Pinterest Board, a bride’s guardian angel, the girl-crush brunch date you’ve been dying to find, AND she is the face of Winter Park Resort Weddings. We sat down for coffee last week and I got to pick her brain about what it is like to work in the mountain wedding venue world, and what it was like having her own wedding here at Winter Park Resort last summer.
As I said, talking about weddings with Emily is NOT your typical listen to a girlfriend vent about work. A conversation with Emily feels like catching up with an old friend, where you can comfortably glide into chit-chat. Add in getting to chat with her about work, and she basically starts radiating beams of sunshine. It takes no time for Emily to settle in for our interview, as she is in her old stomping grounds -the Starbucks in the Winter Park Resort Village. Although I have no doubts that Emily could make a flawless latte, she has truly found her calling in wedding planning.
“I’m a very start to finish kind of person,” She explained when I asked about how she felt coming into her current role at Winter Park Resort. “I love that I get to see the complete wedding. And if I see the bride the next day—it’s like ‘How did it go? How was your day?'” She is invested in every couple she works with, and getting to spend months getting to know the bride and groom, standing backstage at the finished product is beyond rewarding.
Being a bride-to-be myself, what I find most appealing is listening to Emily talk about each wedding as a project that she is excited to execute. My bridesmaids could take a few notes.
Aside from having a personality tailored to her role, the relationships she builds with her brides and grooms are really important to her. The Winter Park Resort Weddings’ division caterers to an intimate wedding setting, and supports Emily’s favorite part of the job, “getting to know the couples.”
“This will be my 5th summer, and I can still name the couple from that first summer, from my first wedding, and that just feels really special. Maybe I don’t know what they are doing, but I can remember their faces, and I know their names, and that is just awesome to think about,” She says, glowing again as she reminisces. She laughs saying she loves being the one who can say, “You want to get married in the mountains, let me help you with that.”
If Emily wasn’t already the wedding planner dreams are made of, she also recently had her own wedding at Winter Park Resort, making her the expert’s expert around these parts. Get to know even more about Emily, from the rest of our interview:
Q: What would you say is your motivation every day?
A: To make people happy. Also, I really love planning and details and organizing. I’d be a really good personal assistant!
Just keeping things on track, and knowing the questions to ask and I feel like I end up with a lot of brides, who are like “I think I want to get married, but this is my first time, I don’t know.” And are just doe-eyed.
Feedback is definitely a big motivator. Knowing that weddings at Sunspot are some of the best weddings people have ever attended and I was part of that. Helping with that has been a really big thing to sustain the motivation.
I also just LOVE, showing the beauty of the resort. Hearing couples catch their breath when I take them up to Sunspot on site tours on a clear day. Winter Park Resort Weddings are for outdoor-minded, adventurous couples. We offer a place where couples can feel like they are on top of the world and make their day so personalized. In the mountains, it is so untraditional, and once you’re up there, you can just look out and there it is. There are the mountains, the valley, and that’s what this is about. That’s what Sunspot gives to you.
Q: So was it a no-brainer to get married at Winter Park Resort?
A: I feel like in the grand scheme of it, it was a no-brainer it was going to happen.
Ben loves to snowboard, loves the outdoors, loves winter. We got engaged in November 2015, [and] I didn’t want to wait long—so getting married in Sept 2016 felt like the normal thing. And then, it was honestly my trust in my team at Sunspot. I believe in [them], I believe [they] are going to make this happen for me. Like, that’s the team I’m going to put my trust in. [For me] it was definitely a personal thing to get married at Sunspot. For [Ben] it was just that he loves the mountains.
Q: What were other contributing factors that made it special to choose Winter Park for your big day?
A: The ease of the Resort. Once you get here you can stay here. It just works. You can do all of the things here in a close enough space. Plus the variety of lodging was here for our families.
September is usually pretty. So it just felt like a good time to bring people to Winter Park. For me, I live here because of the summer. It is really neat to say, “Okay family, it’s not just skiing and lots of snow- this is summer.”
Q: Winter Park Resort Weddings are known for their chairlift ride up to Sunspot, what was that experience like for you?
It was pretty unreal. It had snowed the 2 days prior to our wedding. And not snow by any means winter snow, but an inch on the ground. But on the day of our wedding, it was a blue bird 60 degree day. Someone told me afterward it was karma…which just made me feel so special.
We got so lucky with our day. Ben and I saw each other at the base, so that we could ride the chairlift up—which I definitely encourage. [We] had a great little first look moment, and took some photos down here, and then it was like, okay it’s time to ride the chairlift. It was funny because I do it all of the time, but this time I was in a dress. I had to figure out what to do with my flowers, and it was FUN. It was really cool to just take it all in, and be with him, and it was just us.
The chairlift is also a cool way to enter into a venue space. My brides who walk in who don’t do a first look with their groom and who just walk into the ceremony—it is so fun to see their faces, and to see them get off the chairlift with their dads or with their escorts, and that’s it, that’s their thing, that’s how they are getting married.
And that makes us different. There are plenty of mountain venues you get to by car. Even in Evergreen, for instance, you have the vistas around you but you’re at your venue, not getting to it by chairlift.
Q: Did you take your own advice and not stress about your own wedding?
A: I did. I really did. I got to a point where I was like, “Okay, this is all that can happen. I can’t do anything more, I did the best I could.” Then just enjoy it. I had a friend who pulled me aside a couple of times who just said, “Look at what’s happening; look at who is all here; just take it all in.” And that was huge. She was the guardian angel of my wedding of sorts because she kept reminding me to not forget this. That’s BIG advice that I learned going through a wedding.
Q: What special wedding memories, from yours or anyone else’s really stand out to you- those sentimental moments you get a sneak peek into?
A: It was cool for me to personally experience was the time before the wedding and being with my girlfriends. I see that moment for other brides. I sit in the wedding center all summer and see that happen. But to feel that personally, changed how I see that; I get it now. This is what this special moment is, and the people who support me in my life are here with me getting ready. It is going to be cool now, this summer, being in the wedding center and watching this for other brides.
Q: Now that you’ve been a Winter Park Resort Bride, will anything else change this summer?
A: I think if I’m close enough with a bride, and have created a relationship with her I’m going to point those [special] moments out. Or I’m going to grab the maid of honor and say, make sure she notices this. Make sure someone pulls her aside to take it all in. I feel like that is going to be a piece of advice that I can now give. That, and it is going to go by really fast. That statement is so true.
Q: Why Winter Park over other mountain venues?
A: We’re as inclusive as inclusive can be. We brand ourselves as having a day of coordinator. We are here to make sure you are on the chairlift when you are supposed to be, and that photographer is where they are supposed to be, and your band is set up, and we provide that service and almost no other venue in the mountains does. We make it the best.
We have excellent food, [made by a] high-class executive chef who does it all. I think that is a big one, people walk away saying this is the best wedding food they’ve ever had. That is amazing to me because wedding food traditionally is awful. That was one of Ben’s things, he was like, “I love the food. The food is AH-MAY-ZING.”
Really though, a mountaintop venue is a mountain top venue. You are gonna get your views, etc. from a lot of other spaces, but it is special here because it is not a factory. We do one wedding a day, and it is really your day. You’re never going to see another bride wandering around. It feels really special. A dozen resort staff have their full attention on making your day happen. Your lifty is gonna stop the chair lift for you. There is signage around saying it’s “So and Sos Wedding” and it really feels like YOU have the resort. That experience can speak to a couple of venues, but especially here.
So what do you get with a Winter Park Resort Wedding? The resort is a special place for people to partake in their nuptials. Whether they learned how to ski here, enjoy summers exploring the Continental Divide, or just are looking for a specialized venue that fits their adventurous spirit, WPR offers that. Views, delicious food, a unique chairlift ride, and the opportunity to work with Emily. A mountain venue may be a mountain venue, but not all of them come with someone as talented as Emily.
Interested in working with Emily or getting married at Winter Park Resort. Find more information here. Or get in touch now
Venue Winter Park Resort | Photographer Sarah Christine Photography | Floral Margaret’s Garden | Décor and Lighting: remakethat designs | Entertainment Diamond Empire Band | Hair/Makeup Winter Park Salon | Dress Emma & Grace Bridal Studio |Formal Menswear Men’s Warehouse | Dessert/Donuts Rise and Shine Bakery