Little Annie Basin wedding site reused in clandestine ceremony |

Little Annie Basin wedding site reused in clandestine ceremony

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
More than 70 trees that were used as temporary landscaping at the wedding last weekend in Little Annie Basin were donated to the Aspen School District. They will be replanted on school property.
Aubree Dallas/The Aspen Times |

The legacy of last weekend’s lavish wedding on Little Annie Basin will live on, and not just in infamy.

More than 70 trees used as decor at the wedding were donated to the Aspen School District and will be replanted on the campus and at teacher housing. In addition, two hefty loads of lumber used to construct the temporary wedding facilities were donated to Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork.

But the real coup was the clandestine reuse of the temporary, 40-foot high chapel and wedding deck by another couple in matrimonial bliss. Vince Lahey and Diana Duffey, of Aspen, ventured up Little Annie Road early Sunday morning with the intent to hold their own event where Alexandra Steel and James Scott got hitched the day before. They had to do some fast-talking to gain access to the facilities.

“We bribed a security guard with four donuts and a lot of smiles,” Lahey said. “He said, ‘Yeah, make it quick.’”

“It was a multi-million dollar wedding that cost us $62.”
Vince Lahey

Two friends accompanied them to the site to help them tie the knot. They didn’t have rings, but the security guard, whose interest in the event grew, provided zip ties that they sized appropriately.

They spent about 10 minutes at the chapel before they had to clear out as workers started to arrive to tear down the various temporary structures, including a 27,000-square-foot tent and scaffolding to support a platform for the facilities. Lahey said the 10 minutes was worth it.

The westerly side of the open-air chapel seemed to drop off into the infinity of the basin and provided a stunning view of Hayden Peak, he said. Stained wood served as the chapel decking. Beams provided the shape of the 40-foot high chapel.

“It was a multi-million dollar wedding that cost us $62,” Lahey said, citing the cost of doughnuts and taking their friends out for breakfast after the ceremony.

They completed their ceremony around 8 a.m. Sunday and vacated the site.

Like many other upper valley residents, Lahey initially was upset that so many temporary structures were constructed in a fragile environment for a one-day event. He said that once he finished complaining, he realized he and his fiance could take advantage of the opulent facilities. They pulled it off within 24 hours.

Since the facilities were built, Lahey and Duffey figured they might as well make it more justifiable by holding their own wedding there. “Why not double the use?” Lahey asked, noting that would lessen the impact.

While it was a morning to remember, the ceremony wasn’t official.

“Truth be told, we still need to go to the courthouse to finalize our nuptials,” Lahey said.

While many of the materials used for the facilities at the ceremony were rented and will be reused by the providers, other stuff was donated for reuse. Habitat For Humanity Roaring Fork President Scott Gilbert said he was able to reach Robert Steel, father of the bride, and ask for donations of materials.

“He was very gracious. I was surprised he even got back to me,” Gilbert said. Steel ironed out the donation of materials with some quick phone calls. One truck delivered roughly 100 2-by-6 inch boards that are 12 feet long to Habitat’s facilities in Glenwood Springs. Another truck delivered birch-stained plywood cut into 6-inch strips that are 8 feet long.

The lumber will be sold for use in construction. Retail sales likely will yield several thousand dollars for the nonprofit, Gilbert said.

The Aspen School District received a surprise donation. Dave LaGrua, director of maintenance for the school district, said he received a telephone call Monday morning. It was a bad connection, and he thought the other party told him they had six trees to donate from the wedding. It turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. The party that called him meant to convey there were 60-plus trees.

Three trucks pulled onto school grounds with trees to deliver on Tuesday and Wednesday. LaGrua estimated there were 40 aspen trees up to 12 feet tall, six pine trees, four Japanese plum trees, maples and lilacs. There were about 70 trees in total, he said.

Their root balls are still intact so they can be replanted. Up to 20 will be planted on the public schools campus, LaGrua said. Others will be offered to the Community School in Woody Creek. The remainder will be planted at the school district’s affordable-housing projects.

The trees are being stored on the school grounds. They are getting plenty of water and will be packed loosely in dirt until all of them can be planted, LaGrua said.

“It was quite the donation,” he said.