Rustic South Dakota State Park Wedding
February 24, 2015
RusticLodgeFall Weddings
Give me gorgeous jewel tones and some autumn "I do's" and I'll show you one very happy wedding blogger. This South Dakota celebration's color palette caught my eye immediately; add in all of the DIY rustic detailing and I fell head over heels. Jeff Sampson's photos have me swooning over this stunning scene and you can skip on over this way to see what we've all been missing!
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From The Bride... Ken and I met through mutual friends at a board game bar in Chicago. At first I was skeptical of his love for the game “Ticket to Ride” and he was bemused that I couldn’t remember the order of the planets costing us a trivia question. However, we decided to go on a second date and the rest was history! Fast forward three years, despite living in Chicago, we decided to get married in my home state of South Dakota, at Custer State Park located in the beautiful Black Hills National Forest. It is a place that my family spent many summer vacations and a great tourist destination for all of our family and friends traveling near and far! Ken’s family from New England arranged multiple tours to check out the various sites of the Black Hills and many of our guests took time to enjoy the beauty and history of the area. We wanted our wedding to reflect our love and friendship, hoping the weekend would serve as a fun memory for all of our friends and family who have supported us throughout the years.

I love rustic décor with a touch of glamour and wanted to stay true to the beauty of Custer State Park. Generous friends and family members gave us deer antlers, pheasant feathers and old barn wood to incorporate into the décor. As I was studying for my Nurse Practitioner boards my mom stepped in and completed the projects I had intended to work on! She spray painted antlers gold, hand painted and glittered our beautiful monogram to hang above the fireplace, assembled custom labels onto water bottles, created a wedding activity book for our youngest guests and completed countless other DIY projects that contributed to the thoughtful décor our wedding had. Many friends and family members pitched in to help us with wedding projects and the talent and generosity of our loved ones blew us away! My dad built the entrance sign and smores troughs out of old barn wood which were used at our rehearsal dinner and wedding after party, my friend Andrea Stalheim created all of our beautiful paper products and hand painted our cornhole boards, Ken’s mother sewed bean bags for the cornhole games with our initials on them, my sister and cousin hand stenciled wood signs and Ken’s aunt painted our entrance and chair signs. Ken and I gathered wedding photos of our parents and grandparents to display and remind us of how many incredible relationships inspire us. Custer State Park is known for the large buffalo herd that can be seen roaming the park and sometimes blocking traffic! Nearly 1,300 buffalo roam the 71,000-acre state park in addition to other wildlife like antelope, mountain goats, deer, and elk. We incorporated buffalo and deer antlers into many of our paper designs and decided to attach buffalo cookie cutters to our escort cards so they wouldn’t blow away!

Ken and I spent a few late nights hand stamping and embossing over 200 place cards! I didn’t meet our vendors in person until the week of our wedding, so most of the communication took place via email or Skype and yet Jenny’s Floral and Table 4 Décor beautifully executed and enhanced our vision for the space. I wanted the space to match the beauty of the nature that surrounded us. Jenny Behlings’ floral arrangements surpassed all expectation, they were incredibly unique and she blended the pheasant feathers and antlers seamlessly into the design. Jenny Jewett of Table 4 Décor created such a magical space, we loved the curly willow chandeliers with gorgeous lights and fabric draping from the rafters! The reception looked even more beautiful than we could’ve imagined and both vendors were fantastic to work with.

I have so many wonderful memories from the day, but I will never forget the look on Ken’s face as I walked down the aisle. We chose not to see each other before the ceremony and it was the best decision we could’ve made. It was such an intense moment that I couldn’t help but both laugh and cry as I walked down the aisle! I’ve never experienced such joy! 

Jeff Sampson Photography beautifully captured moments throughout the day and we will cherish our photos for years to come. I didn’t have a wedding planner and Jeff and Val Sampson were not only wonderful to work with, but extremely helpful in planning the timeline of the day and I am so grateful for their guidance through this process! We gave great thought to our music and scripture readings that we chose which made the ceremony incredibly meaningful to us. Ken and I were engaged at Phantom of the Opera in NYC, so the bridesmaids processed into piano accompaniment of Music of the Night. Our priest and dear family friend travelled across the state to marry us, which added such warmth and personality to our ceremony. The reception was a blast, with some of the most heartfelt and funny wedding toasts that I have ever heard. 2 Sister’s Bakery made a beautiful cake and delicious cupcakes that were gone so quickly that Ken and I didn’t even get one! Besides the warm glow coming from the Pavilion, the night sky was dark and cloudy making for a magical setting for such a fun night! We had so much fun with our guests and the dance floor was packed the entire night thanks to JD Productions! We didn’t want the night to end, so we had an after party complete with a DIY smores bar that we enjoyed with many of our guests including a few elk who wandered into the field beside the cabin! I would say my dad put it best in his speech when quoting from my favorite musical Les Miserables, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” To be able to commit our lives and hearts to each other in front of so many people we love was a great blessing and our hearts overflow with gratitude for such an incredible celebration of love!