Big Sky Bride - January 2015

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Real Montana Weddings


rustic radiance Proposal ideas that wow! time-honored traditions stay organized with our ultimate wedding guide

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Photography by Jana Graham

What’s your wedding dream? From mountains to masquerade, western to whimsical, Gainan’s offers over 60 years of experience to help make your wedding vision a reality.



o f y o u r d re a m s A REALITY

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Call today for your personal consultation: 406-238-3161



903 Shiloh Crossing Blvd • Billings, MT 406-252-3662 big sky

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contents A publication of magic city maga zine

22 Wedding Essentials

By Allyn Hulteng

Get organized­—The ultimate wedding guide

Will You Marry Me? 26

By Rob rogers

Guys share their proposal secrets to land the love of their life

Time-Honored Traditions 30 By Karen kinser The evolution of weddings

Touch 32 Signature By susan austin

Thoughtful details to make your wedding unique

35 The Album

By brittany cremer

Seven distinctly Montana weddings





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On the Cover Rustic Radiance Kyle and Ashley Siemer Photo courtesy of Carrie Ann Photography Inset Photo: Angela Babcock and wedding party. Photo courtesy of Jeff Hosa Photography

winter I Spring 2015

Your unforgettable Beartooth wedding

Down the Aisle


11 The Flowers 12 The Ring 14 The Dress 17 The Photos 18 The Venue 20 The Cake

The Premier Red Lodge Wedding Venue.

In Every Issue 6 From the Editor

The Vow

Unveiled 8

Inventive accents and elements for your big day

50 I Thee Wed

A beautiful indoor/outdoor setting for up to 150 guests. Catering - Full Bar - Planning Assistance 406.446.2610 ext. 101 big sky

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From the Editor

The Vow Eager to personalize our wedding at every turn, my husband and I initially decided to write our own wedding vows. Channing Tatum, eat your heart out. However, time constraints (and a wicked case of scared-y-cat stage fright) nudged us in a different direction. We opted, instead, for a poem to be recited during the ceremony: Love By Roy Croft I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. I love you for drawing out into the light all the beautiful things that no one else had looked quite far enough to find. I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it, by being yourself.

SAVE THE DATE JUNE 17, 2015 summer issue of big sky bride

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Honey, hand me a Kleenex My husband cried more during our wedding that I did. Sure, I shed a few tears through my Maybelline mascara—especially after the father-groom hand-off at the altar. But the truth is, I had been planning this day for months, emotionally invested into every sprig of raffia. I had time to slowly absorb the weight of the momentous occasion. The emotional onslaught hit my husband somewhere in the middle of Roy Croft’s poem. Tailored touch From the proposal to the reception, today’s weddings have become an exercise in personal taste and flair. Couples work diligently to find the right theme and personal elements to showcase their personalities and style. (Did I mention we also had a bagpiper serenade

us down the aisle?) In this issue of Big Sky Bride, we had the privilege to peek into the lives of seven brides and grooms and their unique nuptials. While they were all different, the underlying theme among them was that each couple took time and consideration to highlight their big day with personalized touches. Varying in price point and concept, all of our featured weddings are beautiful because they were fashioned, formed and celebrated in love. Before the “I do” Chances are if you’re reading this, your fella has already popped the big question. If not, it’s likely coming. Engaged or not, every bride loves to read and recount her proposal story. Was it at the top of a mountain? At a local restaurant? Was it totally botched or uproariously hilarious? Flip to page 26 to see how five Montana gents creatively proposed— and better yet, if you’re one of those guys looking for ideas (don’t worry, we don’t tell anyone), draw some inspiration from the related tips. You may kiss the bride No one is going to remember the invitations you sent, or the grandiose display of family photos or the meal you prepared. They WILL remember how your wedding felt. So while it might be tempting to get tied down in the minutiae of wedding planning (has anyone seen that spool of raffia?) keep the big picture in mind. Whether you opt to write your own vows, recite a poem or look to scripture, remember that the ceremony is simply the launchpad for a lifetime of memories between you and your beloved. Under all the glitz, glam and organza, there’s a couple who fell in love with each other, just by being themselves.

Brittany Cremer Managing Editor Big Sky Bride Magazine

Let Us Help You winter I spring 2015 I VOLUME 2 I ISSUE 1 Michael GulledgE Publisher 657-1225 e di t ori a l

Allyn Hulteng Editor-in-chief 657-1434 Brittany Cremer managing editor 657-1390 Brenda Maas Assistant Editor 657-1490 Evelyn Noennig assistant Editor 657-1226 Bob Tamb0 art Director 657-1474 pho togr a phy

Larry Mayer, James Woodcock, Casey Page, Bob Zellar, hannah potes

Make It a Day to Remember

A dv e r t ising

Dave Worstell Sales & Marketing Director 657-1352 Ryan Brosseau Classified & Online Manager 657-1340 Shelli Rae Scott SALES MANAGER 657-1244 LINSAY DUTY ADVERTISING COORDINATOR 657-1254 MO LUCAS Production/Traffic Artist 657-1204

• Smooth Lines • Tighten Skin • Erase Wrinkles • Reduce Fat • Brighten Complexion

C on tac t us: Mail: 401 N. Broadway Billings, MT 59101

Find us at various businesses in Billings, butte, helena, missoula, miles city and big sky

Big Sky Bride Magazine is published twice a year by Billings Gazette Communications Copyright© 2015 Big Sky Bride Magazine All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without express written consent is prohibited.

(406) 969 - MMAC (6622)

3307 Grand Avenue Suite 201 Billings, MT

Call Now!

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Inventive accents and elements for your big day.

Bevy of beauties

Drink up from these personalized, caricature-embellished wine glasses—perfect for mimosas the morning of your big day. Simply send photos of the faces to be featured and let the artists do the rest.

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These boots were made for walkin’… down the aisle, that is. Enjoy their beautiful laser leather cutouts and timeless style long after your wedding day.

Available at

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Buckle-up! Gift your groom this rustic and personalized Montana-inspired belt buckle, hand-crafted and just as unique as he is.

Available at

Wedding Party Spa Packages

Cold feet?

I don’t think so. Gift your groom something useful (and funny) the night before your big day. He’ll remember those socks forever.

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It’s no secret THAT PLANNING A

Jeweled bouquet toss Add some sparkle and nostalgia to your wedding bouquet with this grouping crafted entirely out of brooches. Be sure to incorporate your favorite family heirlooms for your “something old.”

Available at or log on to for information on crafting your own.


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Good guesting

Forget the traditional satinencased guestbook and branch out (so to speak) with this unique thumbprint canvas. Simply provide paint and ask guests to stamp their thumbs onto the branches to create leaves. Include a fine-tipped black pen for marking names if desired.

Spa Pedicure

BRIDAL PARTY Express Facial *Facials should be done at least 2 weeks prior to wedding.

Signature Massage (half-hour) Express Manicure

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For the wedding of your dreams.... Downtown Billings Premier Bridal Boutique

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The Special Event Company

3138 Gabel Road Billings, MT 59102

the rings

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the dress

the photos

the venue

the cake


the flowers Five Fab Bridal Bouquets One rarely hears the word “wedding” without the association of flowers. Not meant to out-shine the bride, the bouquet should

Small, delicate and forever true, this bouquet features hyacinth, lily of the valley and traditional roses—sure to make everyone melt with a sigh and think “LOVE” in all caps.

complement her, the dress and the wedding’s style. Here are few extraordinary options:

Creative flair

Au naturel

For the woman who has that artistic edge, cascading orchids with airy ferns punch up the symbolic roses. She speaks the same unique language as the arrangement.

Earthy yet elegant, this elemental bouquet of baby’s breath fits the bride who cherishes outdoors and the simple life—no extra glitz, just unembellished, natural beauty.

MAKE IT PERSONAL Think outside the florist’s box with these embellishments to make your bouquet truly unique.

Simple elegance Peonies are as big as they are timeless. For the no-fuss bride, these late-spring blooms create their own statement without over-powering.

Basil, oregano or

Metallic words like love,


cherish & forever


Military medals

Coral and shells

Olive branches

Feathers – rooster,

Pampas grass


peacock, pheasant


Symbols of our past, like these ranunculus and roses carry deep meaning, so why not incorporate them into the bouquet? Grandma’s brooch or Uncle Henry’s military medals tie the bride to her cherished family.

Glass globes


Geranium leaves

Sheet music

Heirloom jewelry


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the flowers

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the dress

the photos

the venue

the cake

the ring It is the symbolic representation of endless love for your beloved, a special sparkler with enduring beauty and significance. Select a ring or band you’ll treasure forever.

Tacori yellow Be bold. Be striking in this cathedral-style setting in yellow gold with pave-set stones by Tacori. Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers, Billings

Clark halo

Clark mens

Frederic sage

White gold vintage style halo engagement ring, custom-crafted and part of the Clark Avenue Collection.

Men’s titanium 6mm wedding band with black cable inlay, custom-crafted and part of the Clark Avenue Collection.

White and yellow gold combine in this striking, unique ring by Frederic Sage.

Available at Clark Avenue Jewelers, Billings

Available at Clark Avenue Jewelers, Billings

Sports band One band for work, another—for play. Tacori supplies both with the purchase of one of their high-end men’s bands. Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers, Billings

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Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers, Billings

Clark secret gem

Tacori princess

White gold engagement ring featuring dazzling center diamond and overlapping row of accent diamonds, custom-crafted and part of the Clark Avenue Collection.

Striking and timeless, this elegant ring by Tacori features a princess-cut center stone with intricate multi-grain design.

Available at Clark Avenue Jewelers, Billings

Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers, Billings

Four Dance Wedding Party! Native American Arts and Crafts Choose Montana Crow Attire for your

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Call 252.6303 or email

Bride magazine I 13

Floral arrangement by Gainan’s Photography by

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the dress It is two simple words: the dress. Yet those eight letters are absolutely packed with meaning: THE. DRESS. Every bride wants to feel—like the proverbial Cinderella of the ball— beautiful and loved. And she should. It’s her day. However, not every dress is for every woman’s shape. Taryn Reitz, owner of Belle en Blanc in downtown Billings, shares her expertise on what is hot, what is not, plus what style of gown accentuates what type of figure. Let the treasure hunt begin!.


Well-toned brides who are proud of their hourglass figure may find that a strapless, mermaid-style dress gives them the right amount of sexy and sway. Its cousin, the trumpet, calls to those with a taller physique.

the rings

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the cake


Queen for the day

An illusion-style top subtly hints at the beauty beneath without exposing details for all to see—an ideal fit for those brides who are not comfortable with cleavage or their skin tone. Plus the vintage-look lace evokes the timeless grace that shouts “romance.”


An empire waist dress forgives many sins and

gives the bride a royal appearance. The related Aline flairs from the waist, emphasizing the bride’s smallest section—perfect for the “apples” and “pears” among us.

The majority of brides still desire the traditional ball gown, noted Reitz. With an ultra-full skirt, the style enhances most figures just as the Fairy Godmother intended. Just be sure that your shoe fits.

Etcetera Reitz notes that white is no longer the color du jour. Brides are looking to candlelight, ivory and other offshades along with blush, pale pink, oyster and gold layered with heirloom lace to flatter their skin tones. In addition, many gowns now include subtle pockets and less of a train.

Two-tone Back en vogue, this drop-waist dress combines new age flair with a vintage tone that is reminiscent of Twiggy-meeting-your-mother. Everyone will relate and consider it simply stunning.

Backside drama


“The back of the dress is huge—as important as the front,” said Reitz, adding that many brides request dramatic alterations to personalize their gown. For example, adding sentimental buttons from mom and grandma’s dresses—all the way down to the train. For a more subtle, sensual effect some prefer a key-hole back, which provides support for busty women.

A combo of non-traditional lace and an oyster sheen help this dress honor the past while the daring blend appeals to true fasionistas. One-of-a-kind likely doesn’t cover this selection.

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Uniquely You Planning

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406-259-5561 1-800-221-3302 415 N. 29th Street Billings, MT 59101

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Plan your special event at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana for a memorable day. Your vows will be unforgettable with a Waterfall Ceremony in the Atrium and finished with an elegant reception in the Grand Ballroom. We offer romantic packages to the bride and groom to make your special day picture perfect. Book your wedding by April 1st, 2015 and receive $200.00 off any wedding package and complimentary chocolate covered strawberries in the Bride & Groom’s Wedding Suite.

Call Oceana Blake today at 406-238-8951 or email

the flowers

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the dress

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the photos Say Cheese! Tips and Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer It’s your worst nightmare realized. The photographer called the day of your wedding—she has the flu and can’t make it. Your backup plan is Aunt Tessie and her 8mm camera that still has images on the roll from Montana’s Centennial celebration. What a disaster. Why didn’t you consider a photographic contingency plan? To avoid stresses like this, and to ensure you’re hiring a true professional, be sure to have a sit-down Q & A session with your prospective wedding photographer and address these must-ask questions:

Q: May I see an entire portfolio, from the beginning to the end? How many photos will you shoot? You want an idea of the entire finished product. Are all the images the photographer’s work and are they recent? Verify that your photographer did the work, not someone else in the same photography house.

Q: Do you do post-editing work? If you don’t really know much about photography, ask to see something that has not been re-touched and then the edited version. Photoshop cannot fix everything.

Q: What happens if the photographer is sick or has an emergency? You should know the backup plan, and it should not be your responsibility to call a replacement photographer.

Q: Do you carry back-up equipment? What if your equipment fails? You don’t want to learn the answer to this on your wedding day, so ask now.

Q: How many other events do you have that day, that weekend? Some larger organizations will book events close together. Determine your comfort level with your photographer’s work schedule. If you are the second gig of the day, guess who is going to be tired before the dance starts.

Q: Do you have insurance? Ask for a copy and read it. If Aunt Tessie trips over a piece of camera equipment, who is responsible? It goes without saying that no liability insurance is a red flag.

Q: May I see a sample contract? What are the specific terms? This is an important document. It protects both you and the photographer from misunderstanding. Take your time to read it, and discuss any grey areas.

Q: Will you share 2-5 references with me, preferably those who had similar-style weddings to mine? Don’t just ask for these; follow-up and make the calls. Those references may give insight or provide a solid piece of reassurance about your photographer selection.

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the flowers

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the photos

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the cake

the venue

How to select the perfect locale for the two of you You want your wedding to be unique, original and memorable. Considering these desires, perhaps you feel like you are trying to decipher Google’s algorithm as you and your beloved determine your wedding’s venue. While the choice may not be immediately clear, here are a few elements to consider when picking that perfect place.

Simple math


Start with the number of guests. While it is nearly impossible to know an exact number immediately after the proposal, give it some thought. Having an approximate number will help narrow your choices.

It goes without saying that staying within this parameter is, indeed, huge. Falling in love with a certain locale but not being able to afford it may be a bitter pill. While compromise on other budget items may put it back on the “maybe” list, be realistic to avoid excessive disappointment.

Logistics While you may favor your hometown church, asking guests to cruise 30 miles from the ceremony to the dinner can be problematic. What about special needs, like handicapped access, for your guests? Will a destination wedding wipe out 75 percent of your guest list?

All the extras Some venues are full-service and some are not. You will need to decide if you want to be responsible for renting your own tables and chairs, hiring your own caterer, bartenders and so on, or do you prefer to have it all in a full-service package? For example, if you choose a church ceremony, who is responsible for cleaning the sanctuary and auxiliary rooms afterward?

Cheers! If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages, be aware of the legalities and liabilities. Hiring a licensed, insured vendor may be your best option. Plus, detailed contracts on all services are a must.

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Legwork Visit potential venues on the same day of the week, the same time of day that you wish for your ceremony. If you want a late afternoon ceremony in the garden, will Aunt Martha pass out in the 90-degree heat without shade? If you are a June bride, try to view the property in June, not October.

To each other be true Most importantly—and this is a biggie—the venue should fit your personality, style and attitude, as a couple, along with your theme. Period. Perhaps a ranch wedding doesn’t fit the budget, but can you bring that theme to the hotel’s ballroom? Or, maybe vintage to you means renting a century-old home with a Victorian garden. If a location other than your family’s fourth-generation church seems like a sacrilege, the chapel is the obvious place. While thoughtful input from others is welcome, and good-faith negotiating is recommended, the final decision is yours. Relish it.

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the flowers

the rings

the dress

the photos

the venue

the cake

the cake It is the confectionary culmination of your wedding day celebration—the cake. And whether you opt for traditional tiered decadence or a more contemporary version, here are a few delicious ideas that, well…take the cake.

Once you pop Cake pops have become a contemporary (and delicious) alternative to traditional wedding cake and cupcakes.

Sweet sandwich A hybrid of cupcakes and cookies, these delicious cake sandwiches will make your big day even more memorable—just don’t forget the napkins.

Tip-top Punctuate your cake with a personalized cake topper—hook, line and sinker.

Mr. and Mrs. Cake Add a sense of individualized flair with his and hers wedding cakes—just sweet enough for a smudge on the nose.

Bird is the word Celebrating your nuptials with a cheerful outdoor wedding? This whimsical, avian-inspired cake is perfect. After all…birds of a feather are sweet together.

Hand-held goodness

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It’s confectionary magic, in the palm of your hand. Feel free to deviate from a single design for added pizazz.

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Photo: Jana Graham Photography-Shauna & Wes Morales wedding

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Wedding Essentials By Allyn Hulteng

On bended knee, your beloved looks up and asks, Will you marry me? It’s the moment every woman dreams of, followed by months of planning your dream wedding. But with so many details and decisions to make, how can brides-to-be ensure nothing is overlooked? Here’s our guide to wedding planning perfection.

1. Get organized. Whether you envision an intimate affair or a large-scale event, managing the myriad

of details is essential. Make this task easy by purchasing a wedding planner/binder. These useful organizers are broken into sections for collecting and cataloguing ideas, managing your budget, creating timelines, referring to checklists and filing important papers, such as vendor contracts. Digital-savvy brides and grooms may opt to use free online planning tools available on such sites as

2. Establish a budget. Too often engaged couples start making wedding day decisions before they formalize their budget. This is a big mistake. Knowing up front how much money you have to spend on your special day – and identifying the source(s) of that money – is imperative. Once you have a budget, it’s time for the bride and groom to allocate a percentage of the total budget to each item – clothing (including her dress), reception venue, caterer, photographer, cake baker and so on. If the total exceeds the budget, you can re-allocate dollars based on your priorities. For example, if the cost for a formal sit down dinner exceeds the budget, couples can trim the guest list or opt for a less expensive buffet-style service. Addressing the budget upfront will prevent unpleasant surprises and stress down the road.

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3. Choose the venue, then choose the date. Often one of the first things

a newly-engaged couple does is pick a date for the wedding, and then pick the venue. Seasoned planners suggest that couples remain flexible with their date until they have decided on a venue. Most are surprised to find that popular venues are booked months and sometimes years in advance. By remaining flexible, the couple has a better chance of locking in their first pick. This is doubly true when the wedding takes place in one location, and the reception in another.

4. Don’t forget to book an officiant.

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It seems counterintuitive, but it happens more than you think. While couples give a lot of thought to where to have the wedding and reception, they sometimes overlook finding someone to perform the ceremony. Avoid a last-minute scramble, and book an officiant at the same time you book the venue.

5. Research and then contract with vendors. Wedding planners (or a wedding day coordinator), florists, photographers/videographers, musicians (for the ceremony), DJ/ band (for the reception), cake bakers and caterers are in high demand – all year round. Your best bet is to select and contract with your preferred vendors as early in the planning process as possible. (A year in advance is not too early!) The bride and groom should plan to meet personally with each vendor so that both parties have a clear understanding of expectations. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to thoroughly check references and ask about contingency plans if he or she becomes ill or has an emergency the day of the wedding. 6. A word about wedding planners. While hiring a wedding planner can take a bite out of the budget, before nixing the idea consider this: professional wedding planners bring an immense amount of talent and experience to the wedding planning table. Often they help stretch the dollars by providing alternate suggestions for creating the style of wedding you want using budget-friendly options. When factoring in the expense, remember that a professional wedding planner will alleviate many of the planning headaches and hassles, and he or she will make certain your wedding and reception come off without a hitch. If you cannot afford a wedding planner, consider hiring a wedding-day coordinator. Having one person in charge of getting everyone and everything where they need to be, when they need to be there, can be a godsend.

Your Wedding Checklist Customize this checklist with your wedding timeline.

6-12 Months Before ❑ Determine your wedding style ❑ Determine your budget ❑ Research & reserve ceremony site and officiant ❑ Research & reserve reception site ❑ Set the date ❑ Create the initial guest list ❑ Mail save-the-date cards ❑ Select your wedding attendants ❑ Shop for and order wedding gown ❑ Choose your colors ❑ Select bridal party dresses, shoes and accessories ❑ Apply for or review passports if necessary ❑ Research & select the essentials:

❑ Wedding planner/day-of coordinator

❑ Florist

❑ Photographer & videographer

❑ Musicians for ceremony

❑ DJ/band for reception/dance

❑ Baker

❑ Caterer

4-6 Months Before

1-6 Weeks Before

❑ Finalize guest list ❑ Select, print or order invitations/other stationary ❑ Select and reserve groom & attendants’ attire ❑ Plan rehearsal dinner ❑ Meet with essential people: ❑ Wedding planner / Day-of Coordinator ❑ Florist ❑ Photographer/videographer ❑ Ceremony musicians ❑ DJ/band ❑ Baker ❑ Caterer ❑ Officiant ❑ Shop for and order rings ❑ Arrange lodging for wedding night and guests ❑ Book transportation for wedding day ❑ Register for gifts ❑ Obtain marriage license ❑ Assemble & address invitations ❑ Purchase wedding gifts for attendants ❑ Send newsletter for out-of-town guests ❑ Attend showers, bachelorette parties, etc.

❑ Break in shoes ❑ Contact guests who have not responded ❑ Confirm ceremony details with officiant ❑ Finalize rehearsal dinner plans ❑ Finalize head count with caterer ❑ Design reception layout/complete seating ❑ Complete menus, place cards, escort cards ❑ Complete final fittings for bride, bridesmaids ❑ Confirm honeymoon, tickets, reservations ❑ Provide attendants with list of duties ❑ Design timeline of ceremony & reception ❑ Finalize menu items with caterer ❑ Order/make favors ❑ Finalize reception & ceremony music ❑ Schedule appointments for nails, hair, makeup ❑ Size / pick-up rings

The Week Of ❑ Pack for wedding night ❑ Pack for honeymoon ❑ Pick up wedding attire ❑ Finish paying vendors & verifying arrivals ❑ Create “emergency packet” and

give to maid/matron of honor

Rehearsal Day ❑ Deliver materials to reception & church ❑ Pass out timelines at rehearsal ❑ Rehearsal

Wedding Day – Have Fun!!

Checklist courtesy of Patricia Clark Weddings

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WILL you ma By Rob Rogers

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The proposal. For a guy, it’s an emotional and logistical minefield. As certain as you may be that she’s going to say yes, there’s still something inherently nerve-wracking about laying bare your heart, risking complete and total rejection and asking that specific, special someone to marry you. It’s that irrational fear in the back of your mind that one wrong

Travis Meidinger, Miles City

rry ME?

Travis knew exactly how he wanted to ask Ashley to marry him. The two had been dating for years and early in their relationship Ashley designed an elaborate scavenger hunt for Travis to get him to the restaurant where they were meeting for dinner. “She had set up notes all over town with riddles to get me to the next clue,” he said. So when he decided to pop the question in December 2013, he used that date as his blueprint. He took one of Ashley’s favorite photos of the two of them and blew it up to almost poster-size. He then carved it up like a jigsaw puzzle and put a clue on the back of each piece and stashed them around town. The clues took her to the Miles City library, to a notable bar in town (where she had to do a shot of tequila before the bartender would give her the next clue), to shops and other spots that had sentimental value to the couple. With each clue, she slowly reconstructed the photograph of the two of them together. The second-to-last clue took Ashley outside of town to the ranch of one of Travis’s friends, who had a GPS for Ashley programmed with Travis’s location 12 miles down the road on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Travis had also made her a mixtape for the drive. “She thought she was meeting me to go goose hunting,” he said. Travis had embedded a bunch of pallets in the ice on the river bank and lit them on fire so that when Ashley arrived an enormous bonfire was raging. She walked up to meet him, and Travis got down on one knee, holding the ring. As he proposed a skein of geese flew overhead. “Geese mate for life,” he said. “It all came out perfect.” The two were married in July 2013.

step and you’ll be working through a devastating breakup rather than planning your wedding. These guys know that fear. Each of them planned, prepared and made sure that the moment they popped the question, the event would be romantic and memorable – even if it was memorable for the wrong reasons.

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Ryan Ross, Billings

Ryan, a dentist, always loved the story of his parents’ engagement. His mom is from Canada and his dad, a Utah native, took her on a hike in Farmington Canyon, north of Salt Lake, for a picnic lunch when they were still dating. They stopped at a picturesque bend in the trail next to a creek, and Ryan’s mom saw something glittering in the water. His dad reached in, pulled out the engagement ring he’d placed there and proposed. Years later, when Ryan was getting ready to pop the question to his then-girlfriend Brooke, he followed a similar path. His family was gathered at Bear Lake in northern Utah during summer break, and Ryan invited Brooke along so she could meet the crew. Ryan’s an avid fly fisherman. “I told her we’d go out, and I’d show her how to fly fish,” he said. So they headed up one of the small canyons in the area and when they got to the river, Ryan asked Brooke to retrieve his fishing vest from the car while he secretly tied the ring to the end of his fishing line. He placed it in the creek and handed the rod to Brooke when she returned. He instructed her to slowly pull the line from the water. Easy enough. She dragged the line up through the creek bed and out of the stream to discover a ring hanging from the end. “She had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I don’t think she even knew I had the ring.” Shocked to see a diamond ring on the end of the line, she spun around to see Ryan down on one knee. He proposed and they were married at the end of the year.

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Matt Grow, Sheridan, Mont.

Not every proposal goes according to plan. Matt knew he and his wife would want to remember the moment they got engaged for their whole lives, so he planned to make sure it was well documented. Matt’s from a ranch in Sheridan, Mont. and he first toyed with the idea of a horseback ride with his soon-tobe fiancé, accompanied by his parents. He’d pop the question and his parents would shoot the pictures of the moment. But he couldn’t get the details to work out. So he turned to his trail camera for “automatic” help. Trail cameras are motion-activated, used by hunters and hikers to snap pictures of wildlife when no one is around. Matt figured he would take his girlfriend for a hike, position his trail camera along the way and pop the question while it snapped the photos. “It didn’t quite work,” he laughed. The couple headed out for their hike. As they approached the spot on the trail where Matt set up his trail camera, he dropped down on one knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him. She immediately said yes, and they had a wonderful little moment there on the trail. He then walked over to the camera to retrieve the memory card and heard it snapping away. “And those are the pictures we got,” he said, “Us walking up to the camera to get the memory card.” Matt had stopped too soon on the trail. He and his girlfriend were out of range when he proposed and they never tripped the motion sensor. “It was memorable,” he said laughing. “Because I screwed up.” The two will be married on June 27, 2015.

Derek Hammermeister, Billings

Derek knew he’d need a little help if he was going to surprise his girlfriend Tristan with a proposal. Tristan was working at the time as a server at Texas Roadhouse in Billings. Derek had arranged with her boss to sneak in the back one night and propose to her in the manager’s office. Unbeknownst to Matt, the night before, Tristan had a rough shift dealing with a particularly unhappy customer. So the next night, when her manager called her back to his office, she was certain the customer had complained and she was going in to get reprimanded by her boss. Sullen and a little nervous she opened the door to the office, which was completely dark, and saw what looked like a guy kneeling on the floor. She realized it was Derek, smiling at her with a ring in his hand. He proposed, she said yes and behind her she heard waves of applause. Tristan turned around to see most of the restaurant’s staff had gathered behind her to watch the scene unfold. “It was great,” Derek said. The pair has been happily married for six and half years.

Kelly Morford, Libby

Kelly wanted a showstopper when he proposed to his girlfriend Patricia, and that’s what he got. The two live in Libby, where Kelly teaches business at the high school and coaches wrestling. Patricia is a booking agent, lining up bands and artists for concerts in the area. She also does a little singing and performing on the side. When Kelly knew he wanted to propose, he decided to enlist the help of the Copper Mountain Band, a popular group in the region and one of the bands with which Patricia frequently works. They were coming to town for a show and Kelly knew at the concert Patricia likely would be invited up to sing a song with the band. That’s when Kelly would make his move. The band performed their show and toward the end of the concert, they called Patricia out to come help them perform, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” a boozy, looselimbed Georgia Satellites song about a woman who refuses her boyfriend until she gets a wedding ring. “I came up on the backside of the stage,” Kelly said. “One by one, each member of the band slowly stopped playing.” That’s when Kelly appeared. Everything got very quiet and Kelly got down on one knee. He asked Patricia if she’d marry him and then, along with the members of the band and the hundreds of people in the crowd, waited for the response. “I was nervous because I had an audience,” Kelly said. No reason to be nervous. Patricia said yes and the two have now been married for two years.

Make it Memorable Here’s a handful of ideas to make the moment you ask the big question a grand, romantic gesture.

The Ferris Bueller:

Everyone loves a parade, be it Red Lodge’s traditional Fourth of July march down Main Street or Billings’ Light Parade the day after Thanksgiving. To make your proposal really memorable, enter your own float in a big parade and make sure your special someone is sitting in the grandstand. When you pass by, pop the question. Bonus points for choreographing her friends and family in a song and dance on your float.

The ScorsesE: These days, the camera in your phone is better quality than the video camera your dad dropped five grand on back when you were a kid. Use it to your advantage. An app like iMovie gives you all the tools and templates to create your own movie trailer. Take that slick trailer you just made and rent out a theater at your local cineplex where you can play it on the big screen. Bonus points if you get her to the theater thinking she’s going to see the next big, dumb action flick, and she finds the theater full of her family and friends.

The Woodward and Bernstein: It’s old-school, but fun nonetheless. Take a full-page ad out in your local paper and stash it with the stack of papers at your local coffee bar or favorite restaurant. At the right time, find a fun, inventive way to make the newspaper fall open to the page with your ad. Bonus points if you get her little brother to deliver it to her doorstep.

The Lewis and Clark:

If you’re into the outdoors and want a little adventure, use a GPS

device and geochache your proposal. Geocaching is a recreational activity that involves hiding loot in remote locations and using a GPS device and other navigational tools to find it. Montana is full of breathtaking vistas and beautiful hikes. It wouldn’t take much to make the hunt for a hidden engagement ring truly memorable.

The Nicholas Sparks: Maybe your special someone is a book-lover. So go out and buy two copies of that next book she’s dying to read (or a certified, romantic classic) and hollow out one of them. Secure the ring inside the empty book, wrap it up and give it to her after a romantic date or on a special outing. After you’ve proposed you give her the second book. Bonus points if you overcome some life-threatening illness in the process.

The Stefon: Even in Montana’s smaller towns it’s not hard to find a lively bar with a fun crowd. Organize your friends and head to your town’s hottest club (or bar) where you propose after a large choreographed dance number to your girlfriend’s favorite pop song. This proposal has everything--your closest friends, lots of good music and a big celebration.

The Ira Glass: Podcasts are more popular than ever. With a little time and creativity, you could record your proposal and disguise it as a radio show or podcast that you sneak onto your girlfriend’s phone or iPod. Bonus points for getting a famous voice from local radio or TV to help with the recording.

Brooke Moore Photography

PLANNING A WEDDING? VOTED BEST WEDDING VENUE 2 YEArS IN A rOW! 406.656.7273 • 2310 Montana Ave. • big sky

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TRADITIONS The evolution of wedding trends • BY karen kinser

That yearning to couple up has been around for as long as humans have, and some sort of tyin’-the-knot ceremony has also existed for eons. While colors, trends and decor may have evolved over the past hundred-plus years, basic wedding elements have remained the same. As you plan your wedding, consider these historical wedding highlights, and maybe you’ll find that something borrowed, something blue, something old or something new to add an element of timelessness to your special day.





The popularity of the phonograph introduced more dancing at weddings during this decade. This also meant looser corsets to allow the bride to move freely. Long veils and lace panel inserts in the gowns were popular.

Due to World War II, many weddings took place on short notice before the groom was deployed, so brides wore a good dress or suit. It was rare, until this decade, that men wore wedding rings, but with grooms being shuttled overseas, the wedding ring was a visual reminder of their brides.



For most families, weddings during this decade were simple affairs, held in the church or at home. Women wore their best dresses, but for families with more means, the frilly white gowns introduced by Queen Victoria were the garments of choice.

Weddings during the Roaring 20s became more informal, and corsets disappeared. Dresses were shorter, and headpieces were extravagant. It was also an era of non-conformity and prosperity; these aspects were reflected in the dresses and ceremonies. Prohibition could have cast a shadow on these weddings, but families often served punch spiked with bathtub gin.

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The Great Depression caused a decline in weddings at the start of this decade. For those who did marry, the brides often wore gowns made from rayon – more affordable than silk. Big bands animated wedding receptions, where Art Deco elements were popular with palettes of black and white, geometric patterns and faceted mirrored glass.

Brides were back to wearing gloves, and many gowns had shorter hemlines. The movie “Father of the Bride,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, had a great influence on this era’s weddings, with lots of tiers on dresses, a sweetheart neckline under lace, a gathered waist and, often, an A-line skirt.





Bob Dylan’s prediction that “A Change is Gonna Come,” was embodied by this decade’s social upheaval, hippies, the Beatles, a moon landing and the Vietnam War. Dresses were long and flowing, the bride was often barefoot and “Flower Power” was everywhere.

The hippie and bohemian counterculture styles of the ‘60s blossomed fully in this decade, but so did romantic princess gowns, pantsuits and a return to the looks of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Couples felt a new freedom to choose how and when to get married. Plus, wide availability of birth control also meant they could choose when – or if – to have children.

The idea of the fairytale wedding continued into the start of this decade, and wedding costs spiraled upward. By mid-decade, however, this trend was fading, and the minimal look became popular. Brides wore simple sheath dresses that were sleek and classy, without much embellishment.

In 2001, Jennifer Lopez starred in the romantic movie, “The Wedding Planner,” which reignited a frenzy for traditional weddings. It also reinforced the image of a wedding planner as crucial for the perfectly-planned wedding. Using the Internet, brides compiled styles from the past and worked to make their dresses and weddings unique.

2010s. 1980s

Everything old became new again in the ‘80s, sparked by the fairytale wedding of Princess Diana. This era’s brides emulated that sense of tradition and formality with long, elegant gowns, puffed sleeves, white lace, cathedral trains and full-length veils.

Today’s couples personalize the traditional. Kate and William’s wedding in 2011 re-introduced the modern fairytale wedding. Same-sex weddings are becoming more commonplace, and social media has made gathering wedding ideas easier. Rustic-themed weddings in barns are trending now, along with retro, shabby-chic, geek, steampunk, Downton Abbey and Gatsby-themed weddings. Today’s bride is all about that personal touch, presentation and understated glamour.

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Signature Touch: Y

our wedding is one of the few times in life where you get to make all the decisions and create an event that reflects your personal style and include a few – or all – of your favorite things. Are you a Cinderella, ball-gown-and-glass-slipper kind of bride or a fun and flirty, laugh-‘til-it-hurts, party girl? Whether hosting an elegant affair or a laid-back, intimate ceremony, these suggestions will make your day unforgettable.

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Finding that special “something” to make your wedding stand out

By Susan Austin

Inspired Elegance for an Upscale Event • Set up an antique suitcase, covered hatbox or a favorite crystal vase with slips of vintage-looking paper and a sign, requesting guests to submit their marriage advice to the newlyweds. • Leave a variety of delicate paper doilies on each table, along with pens and the invitation for guests to write you a message and attach on a message board, tree or wall. • Use picture frames to display a photo and brief story of your friendship with each of your attendants to honor them while introducing them to your guests. Dress up the presentation with frames in your wedding colors or in sparkling glass. • Add elegance and impact with creative lighting. Use sheer, gauzy fabric over strings of white or pastel lights as ceiling decor to create a magical and flattering effect. • Make over even the simplest venue into a dramatic, romantic space with

uplighting. Basic can lights placed on the floor and aimed up the walls transforms a room. Use white or combinations of your wedding colors. • Elevate your centerpiece candles on upside-down wine glasses that you’ll use for years to come—candles and crystal truly are the hallmarks of beauty and romance. Create interest by combining groups of different colors, styles and sizes of glasses. • Create the illusion of a special place within a large room by floating oversized, opalescent, helium-filled balloons just over the area you want to highlight, such as the cake table or the center of the dance floor. For a special touch, attach satin streamers to the balloons, letting them dangle just over guests’ heads. • Set the tone early with gifts for the wedding party. Select hip sunglasses that flatter every face—one style for the bridesmaids and another for the groomsmen. Then, have fun with them during the wedding photo shoot.

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Fun, Playful and Personal • Keep the fun going with a nostalgic slideshow featuring the bride and groom from infancy and childhood to teen years and on family vacations. • Give your ring bearer a fun job: have him carry your rings up the aisle using an object that is important in your lives or symbolizes how you met such as a fishing pole, a horseshoe, Bible or any item that has special meaning for the two of you. • Set up a table with crayons and paper with the outline of the bride and groom, then let the kids make a one-of-a-kind piece of art for the newlyweds.

Unforgettable Memories

Transportation for every occasion • Weddings/Anniversaries • Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties • Sight Seeing • Airport Transfers

• Encourage your guests to leave you a note in a colorful piñata that you’ll save to open on your first anniversary. • Make a statement with your cake topper. Use anything that speaks to you, from wine corks to Pez dispensers. • Give your guests the place and the props to create great wedding day memories. Set up a photo booth and staff with a family member (do you have a niece or nephew who needs a job?) and lots of hats, boas, sporting gear and great lighting to get the shots your wedding photographer might not. Then, send a copy of their photo inside your “Thank You” notes for a memorable surprise.



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the album

Big Sky Bride Magazine asked seven couples to share special moments from their big day in an album “photo story.” The traditional, the whimsical, the outdoor and the opulent are all here—each one as distinctly Montana as the next. Individual, personalized touches made them all unique—sweet, enduring love made each one special. Enjoy!

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Ashley and Kyle Siemer

• October 25, 2014

COUNTRY CHIC RANCH BOUTIQUE Ceremony and Reception: 320 Guest Ranch, Big Sky MT Photos Courtesy of Carrie Ann Photography

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Eight years ago, a mutual love of sports united Ashley Rozboril and Kyle Siemer. While attending college at the University of Colorado in Boulder, the couple met at the CU Rec Center where Ashley worked on the Intramurals program. She hired Kyle as one of the referees for basketball and football, and the rest is history. Kyle proposed the Christmas of 2013, and the couple soon began planning their wedding. The two selected the 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky as the wedding venue because it fit perfectly with their “rustic-chic” wedding theme. “We wanted a place where our guests could hunker down and have ‘THE Montana experience’,” Ashley said. Complete with wedding-day hiking, lodge-style living and on-site horses—the couple got the exact experience they were hoping for. Navy, ivory and burlap brown served as the couple’s signature color palette, evoking a natural yet romantic vibe. In keeping with the uniquely-Montana theme, Ashley and Kyle sent guests home with special huckleberry preserves, accented with burlap and ribbon. And instead of the traditional satinencased guest book, the couple carved the state of Montana out of plywood, stained it and had guests sign that instead. “It now hangs in our bedroom so we can continue to feel the love and support of our friends and family every day,” Ashley said.

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Shawna and Wesley Morales

• May 17, 2014


Ceremony: First English Church, Billings MT Reception: Billings Petroleum Club Dining Room at Crowne Plaza Hotel Photos courtesy of Jana Graham Photography

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Wesley Morales proposed to Shawna Carlos and caught her hook, line and sinker. After employing the assistance of deep sea fish, divers and a crowd of more than 300 people at the Georgia Aquarium, Wesley popped the question. Shawna excitedly accepted and began to plan their big day. The Billings couple chose First English Church as their ceremony site because of its unique aesthetics and ornate stained glasses windows, infusing the ceremony with a timeless, classic feel. The elegant Petroleum Club on the Crowne Plaza’s 22nd floor served as the party backdrop to the Morales’ reception. Shawna’s signature pink ruled the day, but was beautifully accented by hues of silver and cream. Morales and her creative team transformed the space into a sparkling, rose-colored menagerie with unique handcrafted accents. They created centerpieces from 3-foot-tall martini glasses, adorned with jewels that were placed by hand. The couple’s toasting bottle and special gift to the groom (a rhinestone-encrusted basketball) were also highlights. As a special touch, the Petroleum Club created gourmet Jell-O shots for their guests, and Shawna employed the help of Mac’s Floral to create a dance floor encased in giant paper flowers. “My big day was breathtaking, over-the-top and amazing,” Shawna said. “It was everything I could ask for and more.”

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Sandy and Jake Jones

• December 13, 2014

DESTINATION: CAYMAN ISLANDS Ceremony: on the beach in the Grand Cayman Islands Reception: to follow in 2015 Photos Courtesy of Dennie Warren Jr.

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Love looms in the most unassuming places—like in the bread aisle at Walmart. That’s where Sandy Ferris, a land tech with SM Energy and Jake Jones, a sales rep with Frito Lay, first met. They hit it off immediately, began dating, and Jake proposed on Sandy’s 31st birthday at Dos Machos restaurant in Billings. The care-free, laid-back couple didn’t want to endure the stresses of planning a formal sit-down ceremony and opted instead for the sandy beaches of the Grand Cayman Islands for their wedding. Pops of coral and crystal blue perfectly complemented the breathtaking ocean backdrop, with shades of buttery yellow and marigold provided free-of-charge by the setting sun. “Our wedding day was very laidback and stress-free,” Sandy said. “We were surrounded by loved ones as the ceremony took place right on the beach at sunset in front of Plantation Village.” The beach and sunset provided all the decoration Sandy and Jake could have wanted, but as an added touch, Jake raked mounds of sand into the shape of a heart to encircle them during the ceremony. The couple also captured unique photos of their hands pressed into the sand, accented with their new wedding rings. Sandy’s mother served as maid of honor and her dad walked her down the aisle and into the sand-crafted heart built by her beau. “The ceremony was short, sweet, and the sun came out just in time for pictures,” Sandy said.

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Caitlin and Ryan Colbert

• December 15, 2013


Ceremony and Reception: Rock Creek Resort, Red Lodge MT Photos Courtesy of Macy Spencer Photography

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Like Dr. Seuss observed, “We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up and fall into mutual weirdness and call it love.” This sentiment lovingly binds newlyweds Caitlin and Ryan, who describe themselves as “mutually weird.” The couple was introduced on Caitlin’s 21st birthday by her cousin, Sarah, and hit it off immediately. They started dating long-distance for about a year. “Even while living in separate states with the whole of North Dakota between us, we just fell right in love with each other,” she said. And one day on a dock at Flathead Lake, Ryan got down on one knee and asked Caitlin to marry him. (Spoiler: she said yes.) The couple opted for a sparkling winter wedding in beautiful snow-covered Red Lodge. Rock Creek Resort served as the backdrop with hues of eggplant purple and silver accenting the big day. Quirky and sweet elements highlighted their wedding, like the “chemical reaction” they conducted during the unity ceremony when they filled tubes with baking soda and added vinegar. They added just the right amount of food coloring to create their signature wedding purple. Their curious, and adorable, wedding cake topper was a pair of Velociraptors—“Why, because we’re nerdy,” Caitlin said.

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Stephanie and Jay Bradshaw • August 31, 2014


Ceremony: on the grounds of Black Bear Lodge, Whitefish MT Reception: under a tent at Haymoon Resort, adjacent Black Bear Lodge Photos Courtesy of Carrie Ann Photography

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During his proposal, Jay Bradshaw perfected his own brand of wining and dining. For their Thanksgiving celebration in 2013, Jay and his girlfriend, Stephanie, planned to tour wineries near Niagra-on-the-lake, ON. At Konzelmann Estate Winery, Jay planned for a private tour and wine tasting that lead to the estate’s wine cellar. When the cellar doors opened, the scene was set with candles and a dozen red roses. Jay got down on one knee, proposed, then the couple was treated to champagne and a five-course meal on the terrace. A love for Montana’s scenery and amenities drew the couple to Whitefish for their nuptials. Rich navy and merlot were perfectly offset with cheerful orange to create Stephanie’s color palette. Personalized touches included a seating plan made out of old vinyl records—a tribute to Jay’s passion for vinyl and soul/ funk music. Stephanie used her grandmother’s tablecloth on the gift table and framed wedding pictures of their parents and grandparents, a visual reminder of enduring love and devotion.

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Angela and Miles Babcock • August 16, 2014

BOTANICAL ZOO NUPTUALS Ceremony: ZooMontana, Billings MT Reception: Billings Depot Photos Courtesy of Jeff Hosa Photography

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It is said that when you enter into a committed relationship, you should just close your eyes and jump in with both feet. Well, Angela Douglas and Miles Babcock did just that—at 12,500 feet in the air. An impromptu skydiving trip acted as the launch pad for their relationship. Outdoor enthusiasts, the couple naturally gravitated toward an open-air ceremony but wanted to accommodate their large guest list at a reception venue that was convenient, comfortable and had lots of character. Personalized, thoughtful touches hallmarked their big day, like literally tying a climber’s knot during the ceremony (Angela and Miles are avid rock climbers and tied one of their oldest climbing ropes as a symbol of their commitment to each other.) The adventurous couple also named their reception tables after places they’d been, rather than just using numbers. The two also put together a video, where they individually answered questions about their relationship, telling their unique story. The video ended with the couple thanking everyone for being a part of their special day.

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Tori and Dan Hinther • June 14, 2014

RUSTIC BIG SKY BEAUT Y Ceremony and Reception: Lumberjack Inn in Lincoln, MT Photos Courtesy of Megan Lane Photography

Family friends since they were little tykes, Tori and Dan’s relationship has always been rooted in mutual trust and friendship. But it wasn’t until Dan returned from a tour in Afghanistan that their romantic love began to spark. “He was immediately my best friend,” Tori said. We both just knew that we belonged together.” After their engagement, the couple chose a venue at the Lumberjack Inn in Lincoln, MT because of its breathtaking scenery and outdoor amenities. Tori opted for a color palette of navy blue, coral and ivory—the perfect hues to complement Montana’s Big Sky. Tori and Dan took great time and care to integrate personal family mementos and tokens into their big day. To honor her father who had passed away in 2007, Tori adorned her bouquet with photos of him and her late grandparents. Tori’s Dad’s truck was also brought to the celebration, a shining, quiet symbol of his presence. Hand-crafted decorations (like mason jars dyed ocean blue) anchored the reception decor. As a special tribute, family members from Libby assisted by making their own brand of vino to toast the big day. big sky magazine I 49


I Thee Wed

53 Years Strong “Our marriage has been a long and deep love based on commitment, communication, laughter and music as the foundation for 53 years. Through illness, family deaths and good times our marriage is grounded by our Lutheran faith, which has guided and supported us. Two wonderful daughters and family, including two grandsons, have also provided love and support. We wish the new brides and bridegrooms love-filled, long marriages. Our advice is to work hard, communicate and stay committed to each other while having fun along the way.”

Don and Bernice Bjertness met in January and were married six months later on July 2, 1961. Wedding photo courtesy of Don and Bernice Bjertness.

Don and Bernice today, photo by Casey Page

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