After we had narrowed the list down, deciding that a cafe with restrictions and a venue with alcohol limitations but an abundance of dead animals didn’t quite meet our vision…we drove to Vallecito Lake to check out the Community Center. I’m going to go ahead and say, at the risk of sounding snobby, that I’m not too fond of the generic “Community Center” name. From here on out, the venue will be referred to as simply Vallecito Lake or Vallecito Lake Events Center. Don’t judge.
While I’m being honest with you, hive, I’m also going to show you the picture that I came across in our venue search that quickly deterred me from considering it:
Image via Vallecito Lake Chamber
The decoration, in my opinion, doesn’t do the room justice. However, being taught not to judge a book by its cover, I wanted to check it out myself. The only other picture the website offers is the one below of the outside of the building, and while it still isn’t the most flattering picture of a wedding venue, we saw potential.
Image via Vallecito Lake Chamber
Vallecito Lake should sound familiar because it is where we got engaged on our sailboat. The lake is positioned 18 miles northeast of Durango and sits at 8,000 feet above sea level. Vallecito, meaning “little valley” in Spanish, has a small community surrounding the shoreline, which has only about 400 to 500 residents year round. (This number jumps to around 2,000 in the summer months.) The lake and community represent Colorado to a “T”—just what we were looking for.
We visited in early fall, so the colors were vibrant and the air was crisp, but things were starting to hibernate for the winter. We were OK with that because we know that aspens are bare in winter, so we had a better idea of what it would look like without the foilage. The outside of the building is really great in person; it fits the little rustic community of Vallecito. When we entered the space, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. Without the clustered tables, it is a blank slate. The most decoration they had was antler-shaped chandeliers, which we can totally handle. This building is fairly new, being constructed after a devastating fire destroyed 70,000+ acres in 2002, much of it in the Vallecito Lake area.
There is a fully covered wraparound deck, an industrial self-serve kitchen, plenty of parking, and a couple potential OUTDOOR ceremony locations. It comes with tables (round or rectangle) and chairs. Plus, since we are very much getting married in the off-season, they are totally relaxed. And the price? Ridiculously affordable. Score, score, and score.
The one downfall catch is that Vallecito is a good 30 minutes from Durango. And the roads are curvy mountain roads. And in January there is a good chance for blizzards. We want everyone to be safe heading to and from our wedding, so we had to make sure we could offer some places to stay. In the summertime, the lake is speckled with RVers from all over the country…in the wintertime majority of the population close up shop and winterize their buildings.
While we were at Vallecito, we drove around the lake and stopped in many of the little “resorts” they have. Most of them are combo RV/resorts, with the resort portion offering charming mountain cabins. We confirmed that there would be about ten one-, two-, and three-bedroom cabins available in the winter months, along with a few larger homes. We knew that not all 150ish guests would be staying the night at Vallecito, so we felt that what was offered seemed to be plenty.
Image via Lone Wolf Lodge
We were set on booking this venue. It has sentimental meaning. It fits our charming/rustic/whimsical vision. There’s so much potential to make it our own. We signed on the dotted line and handed over the deposit check.
We drove back up to Vallecito Lake in early December to cut down our Christmas tree, and so we made a pit stop at the venue and I snapped a few pictures:ï»¿
Rustic little building
Showcasing the covered porch
So, hive, tell me: did you have to look past the first picture you saw of your venue to see potential?