There’s a new, hot wedding venue spot: The hotel that inspired The Shining.
During a series of interviews with The New York Times, multiple couples opened up about using the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, as their wedding venue. Following a stay in a hotel in 1974, Stephen King famously went on to write about it in The Shining. The horror novel went on to be turned into a movie in the 1980s, with Jack Nicholson as the lead.
Many of the couples who get married at the hotel opt for dates set in October – perfectly aligned with the Halloween season. For example, couple Melanie Pingel and Kyle Johnson married there on 13 October 2023, while Lauren Nichols and Jeffrey Sheffler will be tying the knot on 28 October 2023.
According to John Cullen, the owner of the hotel, only some couples who book in advance get to secure the venue for their wedding day. He specified that the busiest season for weddings is between the first through the 30th of October, with fangs often given to the bride, and cakes with Frankenstein-themed surgical stitching served to guests. In addition, flower girls can wear blue dresses – in order to mimic the Grady twins in the 1980 movie.
Shayna Papke, a party planner who frequently organises weddings at the Stanley, explained why the spot is such a popular place to get married.
“A wedding is the ultimate expression of who you are, and there are just people in the world who, this is who they are,” she said. “They’re the outliers who like dark music and dark stories. They’re fascinated by the death part of life.”
Speaking to The New York Times, Pingel also explained how the plot of King’s book inspired her wedding venue. “Nothing says I love you like murdering your wife and kids, like in The Shining, right?” she joked.
She further explained how she and her husband, based in Los Angeles, hosted “an elegant Victorian funeral” on Friday 13 October. The wedding itself included mini coffins as place settings, red amaranth flowers to mock dripping blood, and dancers in fishnet stockings who passed out Champagne glasses. Guests also had the opportunity to get tattoos, if they signed a waiver beforehand.
Meanwhile, Papke has also been planning Sheffler and Nichols’ wedding – set for 28 October – at the hotel. And according to the bride, the goal of the occasion is “pretty theatrical”, as she’ll be wearing a black wedding gown with bridal fangs and bat wings. There will also be an animatronic Annabelle doll from the hit horror movie The Conjuring.
“She’ll kind of float around,” Nichols said about the doll. “I guess we’re trying to scare people. But in our minds that’s normal. Jeff and I are just alternative.”
According to Papke, she’s prepared to meet the expectations that the couple have for their big day. She specified that she doesn’t do “weddings where everything is styled very pretty, where it’s a white dress and blush flowers and guests walk in and it’s chicken and mashed potatoes and then people dance to ‘YMCA’ and leave to bubbles in the ballroom”.
She said that she’s “totally into” the theme of Nichols and Sheffler’s wedding, before adding that “everybody knows the Stanley is haunted,” so she hopes the Spirits that she’s felt in the hotel will be excited for the nuptials too.
According to The New York Times, more than 100,000 people visit the Stanley each year, as the spot also offers a range of historical tours. As noted by the Stanley Hotel’s website, it hosts a range of annual events, from a masquerade costume ball, the “Murder By Death” gala, and a “Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum”.
When booking nuptials at the Stanley, couples can envision a “once-in-a-lifetime mountain destination wedding day” in “the majestic Rocky Mountains” in Colorado.