One Couple Planned a Natural, Elegant Wedding Underneath the Montana Sky
Sara and Peter wanted their wedding to be just like their four-year-long relationship: natural and easygoing. Though they first connected on the dating app, Hinge, they later met for the first time on a snowy night at a restaurant in New York City's West Village (Sara was working in tech at the time; Peter was in graduate school at New York University); the two began seeing each other regularly. Eventually, after five weeks apart—during which the two kept in touch—Sara and Peter began formally dating.
Three-and-a-half years later, Peter boarded a flight to Florida and, unbeknownst to Sara, asked her father for his permission to propose. Over Labor Day weekend in 2017, the couple traveled to Sara's home-away-from-home: Big Sky, Montana, where, at the top of her favorite hiking trail, Peter asked Sara to be his wife. He did, however, bypass one tradition while doing so—he opted not to get down on one knee, for fear of falling off the cliff. "It was just the two of us in nature doing something we love. It was perfect," remembers Sara, who was impressed by her now-husband's timing. "Peter has a Masters degree in Urban Planning, so I joke that he's a really good planner (which is the truth!)." After returning from their hike, the newly-engaged duo discovered that their families had gathered to toast them. "Pete's parents had flown in from Philadelphia for a surprise. We spent the weekend celebrating together by golfing, fly fishing, picnicking along a beautiful river, and more. It was amazing, truly unforgettable, and impeccably planned," says Sara.
After getting engaged in Montana, it was only natural that the couple hold their wedding ceremony and reception at The Yellowstone Club in Big Sky. On August 11, 2018, just under 200 guests congregated for the bride and groom's authentic and elegant destination wedding. "We used the setting to set the tone for the weekend," says Peter.
Mapping Out the Invites
The white wedding invitations, which were designed by Cast & Company, were edgy yet classic. Since many guests planned to arrive a few days before the wedding to make a long weekend out of it, Sara and Peter included a custom map featuring their favorite things to do around Big Sky.
Finding Her Dress
Sara's wedding dress was the first—but not the last—one she tried on. "I almost started crying as soon as I put it on," she says. "But it was also the first dress I tried on and felt like I needed to try on a lot more to be totally sure." Forty dresses later, she still knew it was the one, and luckily, her last appointment also carried it in store.
The Marchesa wedding dress had the ethereal vibe she was looking for, boasting a plunging V-neckline, lace, and 3D organza flowers. It also came with an optional cape, which Sara decided to wear for the ceremony and cocktail hour and remove for dinner.
Shades of Beige
The couple wrote vows for the ceremony, but ultimately decided to write longer vows to share with each other privately. They arrived the Sunday before their wedding to ease into the week and sat outside by a fire and read them aloud. "I'm so glad we did that, because I wouldn't have been able to keep myself together had we have done it differently," said Sara.
"Since people were traveling long distances, we wanted to make sure the trip was worth it for them," explains Sara. The couple planned events from Thursday through Sunday, including a young adult float down Madison River, a Western-chic-themed welcome party at the Yellowstone Club Golf House, and a full post-wedding brunch at Spanish Peaks Mountain Club.
Memories of Montana bring nothing but joy to Sara and Peter. Montana was their first travel destination together, and also where Peter proposed. The Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, then, was the perfect venue and also came with a fun family tie: Sara's sister got married there two years earlier.
Curated details added to the wedding's ambience, while highlighting Sara's and Pete's personalities. MFGR Designs created a buffalo seating chart, which Sara and Pete were able to keep as an heirloom for their home. The directional signs were an ode to the Aspen trees found throughout the region.
The First Look
Sara and Peter met in the woods near their ceremony location right before the wedding began. Though they were both overwhelmed with emotion, it was the private moment they needed before walking down the aisle.
A Magical Moment in Montana
The ceremony took place on top of the Yellowstone Club's helicopter pad and featured sweeping views of the surrounding mountains; a special dried wildflower aisle, designed by Julio at the Flower Hat and their event planner, Bash, defined the space. "I loved how it blended into nature perfectly. It was unlike any ceremony setup I had seen, and there was a refined, yet unfussy element to it," says Sara.
A Spiritual Ceremony
At 5 p.m., Sara began her walk down the aisle—to Jose Gonzalez's "Heartbeats"—with her father at her side. It was important to Peter and his family that the couple be married by a rabbi, though Sara is more spiritual than religious. Rabbi David Gruber from Dallas incorporated Jewish elements into the ceremony, while Lorca Smetana, a spiritual healer and resilience coach from Bozeman, Montana, co-officiated to represent Sara's outlook.
Tailored and Tied created the epic 40-foot-long walkway and the aspen tree chuppah.
A Toast to the Future
Following the ceremony, the couple hosted a Champagne toast on top of the helipad, after which guests talked and enjoyed one another's company.
A Summertime Celebration
It was all fun and rustic vibes at the reception, held at The Yellowstone Club's Party Pad. A grassy knoll—complete with corn hole and other games—separated the reception tent from a tree house bar. "It had an upscale, adult summer camp kind of feel," remembers Sara.
An Intimate Set Up
Kait from Bash wanted to make the large tent space feel intimate and knew that a large hanging floral installation was the perfect way to center the space. The reception area also featured a few rustic lounge areas to maximize the coziness. "The idea was to bring the outdoors in," explains Julio from the Flower Hat.
To keep the theme consistent, the couple opted not to use linens to showcase the wooden tables. Turquoise plates added a pop of color and creamy napkins from Borrowed Blu tied in nude tones.
The Guests of Honor
Sara's grandmother, 87, and grandfather, 90, flew all the way from Toronto to be at her wedding. The bride has always admired her grandparents' relationship and heeds her grandmother's marriage advice: "Have your things that you do together, but make sure you're independent."
"They're truly such an inspiration to me, and I'm so lucky that they were able to be there," says Sara.
A personalized menu, designed by Cast & Company and featuring illustrations of Sara and Peter's favorite foods, was placed at each guest's setting. Served family style, dinner included a choice of wild grilled salmon, beef tenderloin, roasted chicken, pork chops, sausage, and seasonal vegetables. "We both love to try a bit of everything when we're out to eat and decided it was good inspiration for our wedding dinner," explains Sara.
A Picturesque Montana Moment
The most essential part of Sara and Peter's planning process was making sure the ambience of the wedding complemented nature—without detracting from it. In the end, a combination of earthy colors, dried flowers, and organic details made all the difference. And though the couple was nervous the weather wouldn't cooperate—"We had no plan B," says Sara—just like their easygoing, natural relationship, the weather stayed steady. "Just before I was about to walk down the aisle, I noticed an ominous cloud in the distance and thought it was going to rain. As it turned out, the cloud was not a rain cloud but smoke from a forest fire nearly 30 miles away. The smoke made for the most beautiful sky and light," says Sara. "The sun was peering through the clouds—it created an almost sacred experience."
Photography, Maria Lamb
Film lab, Photovision
Venue, Catering, and Transportation, Yellowstone Club
Event planning, Bash
Flowers, The Flower Hat
Videography, Mighty Fine
Officiants, David S. Gruber, Lorca Smetana
Stationery and Calligraphy, Cast & Company
Stationery Printing, Ice Pond Press
Cake, Elle's Belles
Music, Elan Artists - Ground Control
Rentals, Montana Party Rentals, Borrowed Blu, The Top Rentals
Chuppah and walkway design, Tailored and Tied
Bride's gown and veil, Marchesa
Bride's accessories, Salvatore Ferragamo (shoes)
Hair, Brooklyn Studio
Makeup, Fumi Makeup
Bridesmaids' dresses, Shona Joy
Groom's suit, Armani
Groom's boots, Lucchese
Lighting, Antler Designs