This wedding speaks to the personality of the Bride and Groom; a couple who loves the outdoors and really amazing food. Put that all together and add well versed vendors like Jeremiah And Rachel Photography, Habitat Events and Food For Thought and the result is a beautiful farm-to-table spread with wine pairings and a few bear cub guests. That’s Montana for you. Find even more of this awesome dinner party turned wedding here.
From the Bride… Steven proposed in December of 2012. In the new year, I launched into wedding planning. I started by sending Steven an elaborate survey asking how involved he wanted to be (or not be) in every aspect of the wedding. The results looked something like this, “flowers-leave me out of it please!; music–I want to be involved every step of the way.” It helped keep the wedding stress between us to a very bare minimum and it is a strategy I would recommend it to any bride. Don’t expect your beau to have a new found love of hairdos, invitations, or bridesmaid’s dress swatches.
After getting all of our expectations out in the open, Steven and I started thinking about location. We considered mountainous locations such as Vail, Los Olivos, and Shenandoah NP but ultimately decided on Bozeman within a few weeks. A friend and Bozeman resident recommended Springhill Pavilion, a historic dance hall nestled at the base of Ross Creek and peppered with apple orchards (bear-nip). The venue dates back to 1907 and has a rich history of Saturday night dance parties; pioneers used to come from miles away on horseback, by buggy, and on draft-horse-drawn sleds to attend weekly soirees. (Side note: Robert Redford has also danced at Springhill Pavilion during the filming of The Horse Whisperer). We thought of our wedding as a moment in time when our lifelong community of family and friends would come together. A historic, community dance hall where so many others had celebrated the special people in their life, seemed ideal. When I called the owners I thought they might be the two nicest people on earth. They told me that they had one Saturday left and I said, “September 21st it is!”
With the venue booked, we charged on to find our other vendors. I spoke with several wedding planners in the area but ultimately decided to go with Marci Jones from Habitat events out of Missoula; she was bubbly, fun and was born in Vail–it was just meant to be! Hiring Marci was the best wedding-related decision that I made (besides deciding to marry Steven, of course). We use Habitat for florals as well. The next big vendor milestones were to choose a photographer, caterer, band and ceremony musician. We looked into about 10 different photographers but decided on Jeremiah and Rachel because we loved their work and got a great vibe from them on the phone–another amazing decision. Steven and I traveled out to Bozeman in March for engagement photos and so that we could meet some of the vendors that we had already hired or were still considering. We settled on a cake baker, a photo booth, a bluegrass band, a harpist, and a caterer who was willing to execute our dream dinner.
One of the biggest challenges was getting everyone to understand our vision for the farm-to-table meal with wine pairings. This was not customary practice for weddings; caterers were more used to the terms “sit down dinner” or “buffet”, neither of which we wanted for our special day. We didn’t want guests to have to choose between local Idaho trout, Montana beef tenderloin and local lamb–we wanted them to get to eat all three! And we wanted them to enjoy wine pairings to go with every course. It was a tall order but our caterer, Food for Thought, did an impeccable job. We were told by our guests that it was one of the best meals they had ever had. And did I mention that there was no kitchen at the venue?! We loved having locally-sourced ingredients as part of every dish down to the bagel bite hors d’oeuvres made especially for Steven. The wine pairings were a fun surprise for our guests; we announced our vision for dinner and the initial pairing as a couple (Honig Sauvignon Blanc). The next three wine pairings were announced by my bridesmaids (Whitehall Chardonnay, Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir, and Klinkerbrick Zinfandel). They got so into the descriptions it that it was like something straight out of the documentary film, Som. We had dump buckets on every table but they hardly got any use so I know our guests loved the wine.
We did not expect much dancing since we had a bluegrass band, however, it was probably the most wild dance party I have ever seen. I learned quickly that night that anyone can dance to bluegrass and everyone loves it! As if the party wasn’t perfect enough, the owner of the venue, Chum, alerted me mid-dance-party that he had a surprise for us. We walked outside and what was in the apple tree? A BLACK BEAR AND TWO CUBS!! Their performance was so perfect that you would think that we hired them from the circus to entertain us. Many of our guests got to see the bears making for an unforgettable experience (note: one should always use caution around a bear and her cubs.)
Every aspect of the evening was incredible from the planned bits to the unexpected surprises. I thoroughly enjoyed wedding planning and was thrilled to have the freedom to carry out some of my dreams for our wedding. I also loved personally designing logos for our wedding, the menus, gift bags, cocktail napkins and cups and playing a large part in the design of our save the dates and invitations. However, there is no way I could have survived it without the help of so many people. Marci was incredible, poised, enthusiastic, and has great taste. I just loved being around her and got excited about our phone dates. She helped us immensely. Steven was very helpful when I needed him but we ultimately agreed that the wedding planning was my (and Marci’s) baby. Steven’s Mom & Sister were instrumental in assembling several of my DIY projects and my parent provided constant support by being great listeners and giving wise sage advice when things got stressful, and executing the 9 zillion tasks that need to be done the week before the wedding. My bridesmaid’s were also incredible. When my veil did not get signed for two days before the wedding, two of my bridesmaids went to a sorting facility and begged the shipping company to release my veil. They were in the back of the plant with the conveyor belts looking for a package from Hitched Bridal in DC. Also, none of Steven’s groomsmen knew how to tie bow ties so my brother tied.them.all. Weddings can be stressful, yes, but the number of people who come together to make your day run smoothly is a truly amazing phenomenon. A wedding is the best display of your community of family and friends and how they express their love and blessings for your future together. It is also a day when a bunch of people that don’t know you that well (vendors) rise to the occasion and make your day extremely special. For that reason, the wedding was one of the greatest days of our lives and we are so thankful to all of our guests, our vendors, and to each other!
Finally, there is one additional secret I haven’t told you about how our day ended up so perfect; it is kindof a wacky tale. So, we were told by my sister-in-law and her mom to hang a bottle of liquor in a tree to ensure that it would not rain. We were specifically instructed to hang the bottle according to the following guidelines: (a) at the ceremony location, (b) the tuesday NIGHT before the ceremony, (c) only females could be present, (d) we were to chant, “sister, sister go away; evil sister stay away; good sister come and stay” and (e) the chant was to be repeated three times with lots of feeling. I didn’t ask questions, I just knew that I did not want rain and that based on my sample size of two, it was going to work. When the Tuesday before rolled around I organized the forces: my mom and best friend who had flown in from London minutes before. It was dark, pouring, and we had previously been warned about bears. For this reason, my Mom was in a slight panic. I assured her it would be fine and we started on our mission. Alas, a beast was present. My opinion: it was one of the owner’s Bernese mountain dogs. My moms: definitely a bear. With much trepidation and very soaked we persevered, beast or no beast. We did not have any string so we hung the bottle from the tree using dental floss! Given the high winds on the following Wednesday, I was certain the bottle would not be hanging from the tree on our wedding day but guess what? It was. And. It didn’t rain. So, never underestimate the powers of perseverance (and a little bit of weird wedding voodoo).
Photography: Jeremiah and Rachel Photography | Floral Design: Habitat Events | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Cake: Cakes From Cabin Ridge | Invitations: Bella Figura | Brides Shoes: Prada | Bridesmaids Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Food For Thought | Band: Bridger Creek Boys | Grooms Attire: J.Crew | Ceremony And Reception: Springhill Pavilion | Flower Girl Dress: Tea Princess | Photobooth: Big Sky Photo Booth | Rentals: Montana Party Rentals | Wedding Design And Planning: Habitat Floral Studio