Sara and Matthew's Utterly Romantic Utah Wedding
Sara was interning for a women's organization in Ghana when she met Matt, an Army officer who went to Africa with a group from West Point to work for the same nonprofit as her. The pair's first date was on a Ghanaian beach during a night full of reggae music and dancing. Two years later and back in the States, the couple got engaged in New York City's Central Park on a beautiful winter day. Matt and Sara (who now works in marketing) chose High Star Ranch near Park City, Utah, for their September 27, 2014, wedding. The couple invited 100 guests to the destination celebration, which they planned to be rustic, romantic, and ethereal—even though the weather had plans of its own.
Bouquet pictured by Allison Baddley of La Fête
The Stationery Suite
The couple worked with Moira Designs to create the stationery, with its gold calligraphy accents. They chose cream paper with hand-cut lace and plum envelopes lined with a leaf print.
A Warm Welcome
Guests were gifted tote bags upon arrival to the hotel, complete with artisan popcorn, local saltwater taffy, lip balm, water bottles, granola bars, and lotion for the dry Utah air.
High Star Ranch has an open-side barn that the couple loved for the dancing portion of the evening. To make the venue a bit more formal, Sara and Matt incorporated gold touches and chandeliers into the décor. Flowing fabrics and draping floral arrangements in taupe, lilac, deep plum, and peach also softened the barn.
The embellishment around the sides and back of Sara's dress was made of hand-cut vintage lace found in England. The lace was layered in a floral design and accented with delicate beading.
Samuelle Couture made Sara's veil in the same material as her dress, instead of traditional tulle.
A Mother's Touch
Sara's mom helped her prepare for the big day. "I consider her one of my best friends, so I couldn't have imagined getting ready without her," Sara says.
The bridal bouquet, by Urban Chateau Floral, included astilbes, maple leaves, dahlias, rice flowers, roses, baby artichokes, hypericums, and snowberry.
Raindrops Keep Falling
Nonstop torrential rain almost put a damper on the event, transforming the ranch into a muddy environment. In addition, an air-traffic-control-tower issue in Chicago the day before grounded many guests coming from the Midwest. Several weren't able to catch a flight to Utah in time for the wedding, and Sara's cousin (a bridesmaid) and brother (a groomsman) arrived 30 minutes after the ceremony's scheduled start time. The couple pushed back the ceremony (which was scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.) to accommodate the latecomers. "I learned that even months' worth of preparation cannot necessarily guarantee everything going smoothly," Sara says. "Some things (like the rain) you just can't control. The things that go wrong are what make it memorable!"
The Wedding Party
Sara's best guy friend, Drew, joined the bridal party. "He was the best bridesmaid!" says Sara. "He was especially useful for keeping me covered with an umbrella during that rain. And he was a ton of fun."
The couple had originally planned to wed under a big tree on the ranch's grounds, but the setup was moved into the open barn because of the rain. Soft white drapes with floral accents served as the ceremony's backdrop, while gold chairs with plum satin sashes added color. The aisle was lined with floral runners and rose petals. Sara's father walked her down the aisle, with a string quartet playing "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane.
A Happy Groom
Matt shed a few tears during the reading of the vows.
The barn's décor included rustic round chandeliers adorned with flowers and greenery. Sara says the chandeliers were her favorite design detail of the wedding.
The Flower Girl
Zoe, the flower girl, threw lavender-colored rose petals down the aisle, since her favorite color is purple. She wore a white Joan Calabrese dress.
A Surprise Guest
While taking portraits, Sara and Matt posed with a horse owned by the family that runs the ranch.
The Reception Tent
The couple planned to have dinner outside next to the barn, on a lawn with bistro lights strung overhead. But with the rain came plan B: a tent, extra draping, and chandeliers. "Our guests would have been very wet!" says Sara of the last-minute, and very necessary, adjustments. Guests also sipped on signature cocktails: a bourbon ginger cider and a vodka gingered peach.
The Escort Cards
Taking their cue from the stationery suite, the escort cards were made of plum paper with gold calligraphy.
Tall white candles and gold linen adorned the long wooden dinner tables.
Centerpieces included the same flowers as those used in the bouquet: astilbes, maple leaves, dahlias, rice flowers, roses, baby artichokes, hypericums, and snowberry.
A foil-stamped card outlined the dinner menu of mixed greens with apples, cheddar cheese, nut brittle, and cider vinaigrette; filet with mushroom ragu; and grilled trout with grilled peaches. "I loved that every item on the menu included something unique to Utah," says Sara of the numerous local ingredients. "It was a special touch since most of our guests were from out of town."
The Bread Plank
The feast kicked off with a bread plank and specialty butters: vanilla bean-cranberry, thyme rosemary garlic, and whipped sweet butter.
Capturing the tastes of fall, the couple served stuffed glazed cider doughnuts with hot apple cider for dessert.
In keeping with the seasonal fare, a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, enrobed in plum-colored fondant and painted with golden leaf details, was cut by the bride and groom.
The First Dance
The newlyweds danced to "All of Me" by John Legend.
After the meal, guests cleared chairs from the ceremony out of the barn and strung lights overhead to create a dreamy dance floor. Sara's family did some Greek dancing, which she says is a wedding tradition of theirs. "At this point in the reception, we were past the point of being stressed about the weather and just let loose and had a great time," she says. "As my dad said, if how we weathered the challenges of our wedding day was any indication of how we would weather our marriage, Matt and I were in for a long and happy life together!"
Guests received a duo of salted caramel chocolates at the reception.
The Photo Booth
Attendees snapped pictures in a photo booth and placed the shots, along with a note, in a guest book.
Lighting up the Night
The wedding concluded with a sparkler send-off.
Photography: Alixann Loosle Photography
Location: High Star Ranch
Event Planning: Michelle Leo Events
Catering: Culinary Crafts
Flowers: Urban Chateau Floral
Videography: Chris McClain
Officiant: Rev. Kamrin Carver
Stationery and Calligraphy: Moira Designs
Cake: One Sweet Slice
Music: Joe Muscolino Band
Rentals: Diamond Rental
Hair and Makeup: Studio Enizio
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