Photography by Josh Gruetzmacher.
Everything about Emily & Stuart’s summer wedding at Emily’s grandparents’ Montana ranch is just so romantic and relaxed. I particularly love the simple riverside ceremony, the oversized, soft florals in summer-appropriate shades of white, peach and lemon… and the sweetest brown and white horses!
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? We got married on my grandparents’ ranch in southwestern Montana. I grew up spending my summers there, and it’s always been an incredibly special place to me. Luckily, Stuart and I share a lot of the same hobbies (some of our first dates were fly-fishing, hiking and camping), and he fell in love with the ranch too. He knew that I had always wanted to get married at the ranch, but we all thought it would be too logistically difficult, so he actually proposed to me there, thinking it would be the next best thing. Then, when we started looking at venues, we weren’t falling in love with anything, and, together with my parents (who were incredibly generous in helping with the planning) we decided to go with a rural destination wedding and just figure out how to make the logistics work!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Definitely the advice to just try to slow down and enjoy the day as much as possible. It really does go by so quickly.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? I think couples should be encouraged to plan the wedding they want, that works with their budget and that will be most meaningful for them, rather than trying to compete with or live up to all the weddings you see online. Blogs and Pinterest are so so great for inspiration, but can also spark a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality all too easily.
Aren’t Emily and her bridesmaids bouquets so beautiful? The loose, organic structure works so well for a ranch or farm wedding.
Emily & Stuart chose to hold their ceremony by the river that runs through her grandparents’ property. When you have such a beautiful, natural ceremony location, you don’t need to add much in the way of decorations. The wooden benches and ceremony frame work so well here, and the simple, pretty florals keep it from being too stark.
Your ceremony in three words. Traditional, faith-centered, simple.
What was your ceremony music? The processional was Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and the recessional was Today, Tomorrow, Forever by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Pastor Dave Dealy officiated our ceremony. He is one of the lead pastors at our home church, and we both felt very comfortable with him, and really respect his marriage, his family, and his faith.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We planned our ceremony with our officiant, who was one of the pastors from our church. He had a template that they typically use, and we adjusted that a bit to fit us. I really enjoyed choosing the scriptures and other readings; it was a sweet process, thinking about what words we would want to have spoken over us as we entered into marriage.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We took communion during our ceremony, just after saying our vows.
What were your ceremony readings? We had three readings: Psalm 95:1-7, Colossians 3:12017, and the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
What were your vows like? We used traditional vows. I really liked the notion of entering into a covenant that is not unique just to us, but something that so many couples before us have also committed to.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Oooh! Good question. I felt like we struck a good balance of traditional and simple, that made it feel really authentic and meaningful to us. I also loved the location. Standing in this beautiful spot, with the sound of the river running next to us and these huge mountains overlooking us, sun shining and wind blowing, as we said our vows – it was just an unforgettable, beautiful moment.
How would you describe the rest of your wedding day? Fun! Neither of us really love being the center of attention, so we were both a bit nervous before the ceremony. It was still magical, but we also loved getting to the reception, when we could finally relax and just enjoy the rest of the day with friends and family. Right after the ceremony, we had a long cocktail hour, with appetizers and a really fun local band playing. Guests could wander around the property, sit on rocking chairs, or play horseshoes. From there, we moved into a tent for dinner, speeches, and dancing.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Probably a mix of our location, weddings I’d been to before and enjoyed, and a smattering of wedding blogs and pinboards.
What was your wedding menu? It was so yummy! It was catered by Ted’s Montana Grill, which specializes in bison. We decided to have it served buffet style, with bison short ribs and salmon as the main courses, and mashed potatoes and green beans as the sides.
I think it’s such a fun idea to use vintage post cards of places that are special to the two of you for your guest book!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? I loved listening to the speeches. We had speeches from the Maid of Honor, Best Man, bride’s brother and father, and groom’s mom. I was totally blown away – honestly, the speeches were the only time I cried all day! It was just incredibly touching to hear what each of them had to say to us on our wedding day. We felt so deeply loved and supported and cared for.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We decided not to hire a videographer, mostly for budget reasons. While I don’t regret our decision, I do wish I had asked someone even to take some cellphone video of a couple moments – maybe the vows, and the speeches at the reception.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had four different kinds of pie – apple, peach, berry, and strawberry rhubarb. Probably my only regret about our wedding is not getting to try each one!
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? Our first dance was Bad Days by David Ramirez, and we did a joint father/daughter and mother/son dance to My Wish by Rascal Flatts.