A Paradise Valley Montana Wedding
From the bride, Sarah: Pickers’ paradise was the theme for our wedding. Danny is an all American picker, famous for coming home with special treasures for me that he picked up for next to nothing everywhere from garage sales to auctions to even the dump! We have been collecting antique treasures for long enough that we didn’t have to rent a single decoration for our big day – everything was either a pickin’ treasure, a family heirloom, or something I made myself.
Danny proposed to me by engraving “will you marry me” on the silver plate on the back of the western saddle he gave me for my birthday. I got on my horse, noticed the new back plate, turned round in the saddle to read it, and then nearly fell off!!! It was so perfect!
I sent a pair of cowboy boots wrapped in tissue and lace, with a card I had made saying “Will you be my bridesmaid, because these boots were made for walking down the aisle.” I included a little insert in the card and a sewing tape measure and asked them to send it back with their measurements if the answer was yes. Then we made all the dresses out of regular quilting cotton. It was really fun to pick my own fabric and my own pattern. I wanted them to look similar, but I liked the thought of them fitting together like a patchwork quilt – so I picked blue fabrics as though I were quilting. Then I added different antique lace accents (I actually had the lace left over from when I studied abroad in England – I bought a bunch of antique lace in Portabello Road and had been saving it for something special). It was nice, when I was sewing them, to feel like I was making a gift for each of my bridesmaids to thank them for being with me on the special day. They were a lot of friends and female relatives collected together from different pieces of my life (most of them had never even met before), so it was sort of symbolic to have them, in their dresses, come together and wrap around me like a beautiful patchwork quilt on that wonderful day.
The pickers theme and the antique pieces it produced blended seamlessly with the old-west ranchy basics like hay bale couches and bridesmaids in boots (and the beautiful mountain sunset in the background – they call it Paradise Valley for a reason). Six shooters on the groomsman and The Saddle Tramps Band made it a western wedding but the hand-picked pieces in every corner made it unique.
The boutonnieres were housed in shotgun shells (Danny is a gun dealer).
Every piece and every moment had special significance to us – from the horse I rode in on (my very first horse and best friend, bought for me by my dad when I was 11, and now 30 years old and retired on the ranch) to the sword used to cut the cakes (a civil war relic used by Danny’s grandfather to cut rhubarb on his farm in Washington). There was so much significance packed in the place that to catalogue it all, and share it with guests, I included a special “tidbits” section in the wedding program, which gave the history of it all (and the history, after all, is what a picker truly treasures).
We held the ceremony on the front lawn just feet off the Yellowstone River facing Emigrant Peak. We set up about 100 hay bales for seating and Kacie (my photographer) and I studied the sunset times VERY carefully. We timed it just right too! Just as the sun set and turned the mountains all purple, I rode my horse Sam down from the barn! I rode toward my dad and then he lifted me off Sam at the top of the aisle and we walked down together.
We asked people to throw grass seed instead of rice to help us “sow the seeds of happiness”.
We made a “tell us your key to success” board. Danny and I took the “keys to success” with us on our honeymoon and read them as we went along. It was such a wonderful way to carry on the special loved and supported feeling that our guests gave us at the wedding.
The décor was the most fun for me, and definitely a huge part of our whole wedding plan. It was all little “vignettes” of antique items that Danny and I had “picked” throughout the years of our relationship.
We had old oil/vegetable/coffee cans, old blue mason jars, antique perfume bottles, and all kinds of old glassware, all filled with blue hydrangeas and greens. Those were mixed with little antique objects or things with significance for us, like my old copies of Jane Austin books, my western spurs, an antique coin toy Danny got me at our first garage sale… stuff like that. It was all stacked or strewn around on big wooden logs Danny and I saved from the bottom of trees we cut for firewood or on wooden ammo crates. And everything was arranged around couches made out of hay bales and covered with different pieces of fabric.
My advice: Talk early and earnestly about what is important to YOU as a couple – each of you individually and together. Maybe even do this before you talk to your family or friends. No matter how much faith you have in your family, weddings tend to amplify ALL of the underlying family or in-law tensions and you will inevitably end up torn between your own wishes and those of your family. Starting a marriage is about starting a life together and making a commitment to each other. It is not about family or guests, although its nice to have them there too. If you make each other and your relationship a priority throughout the process, even the worst family meltdowns (and mine lived up to every horror story) will be something you can manage – together.
I loved our getaway. Danny had rebuilt and repainted his 1969 GTO special for the wedding. We totally burned rubber (or grass, more likely) as we pealed out in the hotrod. It was awesome.
Photographer: Kacie Q Photography. I cannot say enough about this WONDERFUL young woman. A ridiculous budding talent. You should book her now while she’s still being discovered because she should already be out of my price range given her amazing work! She is just so fabulous I cannot say enough in her praise.
Tent Rental: Montana Party Rentals. Really easy to deal with and very accommodating. They set up our tent a few days early so we could have extra time, and didn’t charge us for it! So nice!
Caterer: Faith Peterson, at Crazy Mountain Catering. My “foodie” family and friends were totally impressed and my “cowboy contingent” friends (and my husband, who has the palate of a 6 year-old) were equally satisfied – and that is a very hard thing to accomplish! Also super accommodating and easy to work with, despite the many last-minute changes I heaped on her!
Florist: Leslie Lukas Weddings and Events, got us beautiful flowers. And her bouquets and boutonnieres were wonderful.
Guest Lodging: Paradise Gateway B&B and Rivers Bend Lodge (owned by the same family) are just amazing. The Reeds are WONDERFUL people to deal with and absolutely as accommodating as they could possibly be. Rivers Bend Lodge is especially breathtaking. We renamed it “Groomstown” and lodged Danny’s entire family (and even some guests) there too.
Gown Designer: Casablanca Bridal. They essentially designed and built a custom dress for me. It fit so perfectly I didn’t have to have a single alteration.
Venue: River Rose
Honeymoon: We drove the coastal highway all the way from Seattle down to San Francisco and stopped at every junk store and garage sale along the way! We took our big pickup so we could fill it with our finds and we did! I even got a wonderful glass-fronted cabinet to display some of our treasures in. And the best part is that I can say I got that piece of furniture on our honeymoon!
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This was truly one of the most memorable weddings we have attended (we have been married 54 years). Every detail had a purpose and combined the love the bride and groom shared in treasures of yesteryear. Thank you for the Memories that Love Ties all Together.