DENVER (KDVR) — Tying the knot was 10% easier for dozens of Colorado couples in the last two years.

First reported by Colorado Public Radio, the state has subsidized hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of weddings in the last two years. The rebates are funded with taxpayer dollars. The Colorado Tourism Office executes the program.

The program was part of a broader COVID pandemic push to keep economies afloat or to bounce them back – in this case, accommodation-based economies and their employees. The event subsidy program offered rebates of up to 10% of the total cost as long as they followed certain parameters.

The weddings must cost at least $35,000 and have enough of a guestlist to create 25 nights’ worth of hotel stays. Thirty-five were approved between July 2021 and October 2022, totaling almost $300,000.

In effect, Colorado has ended up subsidizing expensive weddings in the state’s most expensive venue locations.

The weddings on the list range from $35,000 to $93,000, assuming each was approved for 10% of the overall cost, meaning an average cost of $56,000. These don’t include an Aspen wedding, which cost nearly a million dollars assuming 10% of the cost was reimbursed. The wedding, held at Kevin Costner’s Dunbar Ranch, was approved for $92,287.

They happened largely in some of Colorado’s more desirable vacation retreats.

More of the weddings occurred in Vail than in any single location, eight in total. Two happened in Aspen, one in Avon, two in Estes Park, one in Steamboat Springs and three in Telluride. Over a third of the weddings occurred in Eagle County.

Local wedding planners, like Amelia Moritz with Alegre Weddings and Events, feel the program needs to be evaluated to include more areas and less massive rebates. 

“A lot of small towns have ranches and things like that that can accommodate that many people, because there aren’t a lot of spaces that can hold more than 200-300 people,” Moritz said. “There are some in Denver that can hold 500 people, so those smaller towns that have farmlands could benefit from it too. It’s a double-edged sword, so that’s why I said maybe reevaluating it.”

Overall she said it is a good idea to give brides the incentive to have those large weddings again.

“It’s interesting and it makes sense because they do stimulate the economy,” Moritz said.