Real Wedding | Sara & Ryan

I don’t think there could be a more beautiful place to get married that Jackson Hole. It is one of the perfect places in nature – and the perfect setting for this nature loving couple’s wedding.  And all of the sweet touches made it even more personal and special.  Enjoy!

Sara & Ryan | July 11, 2009 | Jackson Hole, Wyoming

How he proposed
I was completely surprised when I got home from work on Leap Day and walked into a house filled with flowers, rose petals and candles.  Love songs were playing and champagne was chilled and waiting for me, as were a few little love notes leading me around our house.  I ended up in the hallway, holding a little fishing pole and wondering where this was all going.  But since Ryan is an avid fly-fisherman, it only made sense that I had to “fish” for my ring…down the laundry shoot!  He was in the basement at the bottom of the shoot and I had to reel up multiple notes before I finally “caught” a gorgeous diamond ring.  When I turned around he was standing there waiting for me and asked if I would marry him.  I was crying and laughing so hard I could barely say “YES.”  Half an hour later a limo picked us up and took us out to dinner at our favorite restaurant.  After dinner, all our friends were waiting in the restaurant’s bar area to celebrate with us.  We danced the night away and closed down the bar!  It was the perfect night.

Ryan and I both love the outdoors and we chose to have a destination wedding in the mountains.  We chose Jackson Hole, Wyoming because we were really inspired by the beauty of the Teton Mountains and the gorgeous scenery of the area.  It’s like no other place on earth and we wanted to share a place that’s special to us with everyone we love.  The area has so much personality and welcoming hospitality, we knew everyone that came would fall in love with the place, just like we did.

The ceremony
Ryan and I wanted a simple, elegant, natural wedding with a small number of our closest friends and family members in a place that we loved.  We were married outside, in a field, on a ranch, next to a stream, overlooking the mountains.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  We surprised all of our guests with Ryan coming up the hill to the ceremony on Blondie, a beautiful palomino horse, and the guitarist playing the “Rawhide” song!  It was so Western and unexpected.  Since Ryan and I are both lawyers, it made sense for us to be married by a lawyer.  Our officiant, Brian Haultman, Esq. performed such a sentimental and genuine ceremony.  A few weeks before the big day he asked us if we would be willing to write our own vows.  Neither of us had ever been to a wedding where the couple wrote their own vows, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  I thought it would be an amazing once in a lifetime chance to tell Ryan how much I loved him and appreciated him, so I was on-board.  Ryan was reluctant.  However, he complied for me and I’ve never heard more beautiful words than what he said to me that day.  I didn’t take my eyes off of him, but my maid of honor said there was not a single member of the wedding party or guest without tears in their eyes.  Yes, I bawled.  But so did he.  It was amazing. At the end of the ceremony, when they announced us husband and wife, all the horses were released from the barn to run through the field behind us as we made our way up the aisle.  It was such a spectacular sight.

The reception
We focused the reception around creating a fun, relaxed, intimate and fresh atmosphere, where our guests would feel warm, welcome and appreciated.  The Lazy Moose Ranch was such a unique and gorgeous venue – it perfectly created the rustic elegant feeling we desired.  We had a cocktail hour before dinner, where our guests on the patio were given buckets of carrots to feed the horses.  We’re all such animal lovers and everyone really got a kick out of that.  The weather was amazing and as the sun set the fireplaces were lit inside and outside for the guests.  We provided warm pashminas to all the ladies for snuggling.  Dinner was inspired by the Jackson Hole area and had a little Western flair to it; entrée choices were trout, bison or chicken.  The toasts by our best man and maid of honor were so touching and heart-felt, followed by a fabulous slideshow presentation made by my sister-in-law.  After dinner, we had an R&B band get the party started and we all danced into the wee hours of the morning.

The wedding’s theme
The main theme of the wedding was nature.  We based our color-scheme and theme off natural elements like grass, flowers, clouds, trees, leaves and stones and tried to incorporate as many of them into the wedding as we could.  Our invitations were engraved in wood, our escort cards were river stones, we made serving trays out of slices of tree trunks, we lined the aisle with daisy pomanders, my dress was very cloud-like and we had branches, wildflowers and ivy everywhere.  And since Jackson is a fly-fishing Mecca and Ryan is a beyond-obsessed fly-fisherman, we incorporated a lot of fly-fishing details to represent his love of the sport: the cake topper is a bride “catching” a groom on a fly rod, Ryan tied flies as boutonnieres, his cufflinks were fly reels, I gave him a salt-water fly reel as his wedding gift and our Save the Dates even had flies on them.

What made her wedding dress “the one”
I think I must have tried on a million dresses!  Going into the dress-finding process I knew I wanted a high-end designer gown.  Something high fashion and different than other dresses I’d seen at weddings.  I wanted something that would make a statement, that was bold, but I also wanted it to be appropriate for a simple outside ranch wedding (no ball gowns).  I searched through wedding magazines and the internet and basically stalked the websites of Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta.  I had two appointments at other stores before I attended a Monique Lhuillier trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue where I tried on nearly every dress in her collection.  I was blown away by the Celestine with the little bolero covered in pearls.  It was everything I had dreamed of: romantic, elegant, stylish, unexpected, fun, soft, whimsical and classic.  However, there was one problem: it was out of my price range.  I probably tried on another hundred dresses after that day trying to find something that worked, but I just kept coming back to the Celestine and comparing everything else to it.  I looked everywhere for a similar dress at a lower price.  I checked out every imaginable website for a used or sample dress.  Eventually, I just gave in bought it with the expectation that I would sell it after the wedding.  And that day has come.  I took great care of the dress and have loved it more than any human should love an item of clothing!  Now, I just want to be able to give another bride the opportunity to wear this amazing dress and feel as beautiful and special in it as I did on my wedding day.

Advice for other brides
I think the best advice I can give to brides is just to remember what the day is about.  It’s the beginning of a marriage that will last the rest of your life.  It’s about the commitment to someone else.  It’s about uniting two different people and creating a family.  Everything else is just a detail.

Photography: Carrie Patterson / Sara’s Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier Celestine