Real Wedding | Marit & Bill

Marit and Bill’s wedding was a celebration of their marriage.  And also a celebration of their family and friends.  The wedding was carefully planned to make guest part of the fabric of the event. And the picturesque Utah mountains made the perfect backdrop for this lovely, intimate occasion.

Marit & Bill | August 15, 2009 | Private Ranch in Utah’s Uinta Mountains

How he proposed
We were in a small village in the Catalonia region of France — Roussillon. We had planned to go on an early morning hot air balloon ride over the hilly wine country that morning, but the wind was too harsh and every time we got the balloon inflated, the wind would smash it down to the ground. I speak French, Bill doesn’t, so the pilot looked at me and said “Get out, please, madame. Death is bad for business.” We folded up the balloon and joined the pilot on the patio at his house for some stout espresso and chit chat about the weather. Back at the inn where we were staying, Bill and I stood by the wide open window looking out over the wine-rowed hills and tried to come up with a plan. “How about a trail run? A picnic?” That’s when Bill pulled out the little box and asked me to marry him. He had wanted to propose in the balloon looking over the countryside, but the view from our window was just as romantic to me.

The ceremony
We had a very small wedding consisting only of immediate family and our very closest friends and their families. We wanted everyone there not just to attend our wedding, but to be a part of it. It was a celebration of our life together and that very much included the people that we asked to join us. We were married at a private ranch in the Uinta Mountains, owned by a friend of a friend. The ceremony was in a grassy clearing among some old, tall aspen trees. We had no decorations but the world around us, and the view in all directions was stunning. Our friend played guitar and sang “The first day of my life,” by Bright Eyes as I walked with my mom and dad from the ranch house to the aspen trees where Bill and our friend Scott were waiting. Scott is a dear friend and very spiritual person and we were honored that he agreed to marry us. Scott greeted our friends and began the ceremony, reading from a hand-made orange (my favorite color) book that he had crafted for the occasion, weaving in poetry and legends and even quotes from the bible in a perfectly personal story of us.

The moment Marit will never forget
When we woke up that morning, the sky was dark grey and the rain was coming down in freezing cold sheets. But just an hour or two before the wedding, the sky opened up and turned bright blue with white cottony clouds. It was still cool for mid-summer, but it was warm enough to still have our wedding outside. It was perfect.

The reception
After the ceremony, Bill and I took a few minutes off by ourselves (with our dog, Frank) as all our guests made their way to the three-sided tent, opened to a view of the aspen- and pine-covered mountainside across the valley, to pour themselves some wine. We joined them there. We had told all our friends that they would be a part of our wedding and asked them all to be ready to share a story, a song, a poem, anything they’d like, with the group. So over wine and appetizers, one by one, the people we love the most got up, entertained us, and made us all laugh and cry.

Then dinner was served. We hired a talented friend of ours to be our caterer and everything was perfect. She prepared a beautiful dinner of locally grown food  — salads and grilled vegetables, with grilled beef from my family’s ranch in South Dakota and salmon from the Pacific Northwest, where Bill and I both have roots. Our friend Shannon made our cake — carrot with cream cheese frosting, our favorite. After dinner, we all mingled in the tent under twinkling lights and glowing paper lanterns, all sheltered from the cold mountain air outside.

The wedding’s theme
It was important to us to invite our close friends from all over the country to our home, Utah. The day of the wedding, we arranged for guests to meet us for a picnic breakfast at a park near our house, then join us on a mountain run, go fishing in the Provo River, or shop in old town Park City. The whole idea was for them to be able to explore the place that we love so much. At the reception, we served local organic vegetables from Bell Organic Gardens. The flowers for my bouquet and the tables were from a local family-run flower grower, Happy Trowels Flower Farm. I arranged for them beforehand, and then asked a friend to pick them up for us at the Salt Lake City farmers’ market that morning. I prepared gifts for each guest consisting of locally grown or produced signature items — Cox Honeyland honey, Redmond Salt, Stephen’s Hot Cocoa, and then a selection of home-made cookies that I made myself. This all played into the feeling of intimacy that we really wanted.

What made her wedding dress “The One”
I was dreading wedding dress shopping. Shopping is just not my thing. A friend tricked me into shopping by asking me to come along with her to the fitting of her own dress. While we were there, she said, “Why don’t you try on a few?” We walked around together and picked a few. Nothing made me smile. There was one dress that caught my eye after two futile attempts in front of the mirrors. It was short. It was sassy. It was different. It was my dress. I put it on and knew immediately. I bought it on the spot and never looked back.

Her advice for other brides
Be yourself. If you are a fairy tale princess in real life, then by all means be a fairy tale princess at your wedding. If you’re not (I’m not), then go with who you are.


Marit’s Wedding Dress: Melissa Sweet 20675
Photography: Tommy Chandler