Montana made with love 

Four weddings and some advice for creating your own

Danielle Rose and Dave Thompson

How they met: Danielle and Dave grew up together in Michigan and saw each other during a “family camp” that their families put together each summer. They met up again in their early 20s at a restaurant. “The waitress came over and said ‘Are you guys on a date?’ and I said, ‘God, no!’” recalls Danielle. “And then he looked at me and I realized this was a date.” When Danielle moved to Montana to attend the Rocky Mountain School of Photography they went their separate ways, but they re-connected again during a wedding and realized they were in love.

The proposal: Danielle went on a trip to Guatemala and Belize with her brother. Dave flew down to visit and Danielle’s brother made an excuse to fly home, leaving them together. Dave took her on a romantic sailboat ride and asked her to marry him.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters Photography

Wedding location: The couple’s time at family camp fostered a love for nature, so they decided to get married at Many Glacier, in the northwest section of Glacier National Park. Guests and the wedding party hiked one-third of a mile and took two boat trips to get to the spot on Lake Josephine where the celebration took place.

Natural décor: Wildflowers, birch branches, moss and antlers decorated the lakeside beach. The rustic pavilion where people gathered was decked with party lights and from the ceiling hung Mason jars full of sand and candles. “We wanted it to feel simple and reflect nature,” Danielle says.

Making it personal: Guests were asked to pick one of three guest books to sign and, to make it more interesting, answer one of three questions: What’s the best marriage advice you’ve received? What’s your favorite memory of us? What’s the most romantic place you’d recommend? “We wanted it to be more than just a signature and ‘best wishes,’” Danielle says.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters Photography

The dessert: For tradition’s sake, Danielle and Dave got a small cake from Black Cat Bakery. Their true love for pies, however, inspired them to pick a variety—peanut butter, huckleberry, chocolate mousse—from Lula’s Cafe in Whitefish.

Final thoughts: “I was never the girl who played with Barbies and had them get married and imagined this huge wedding. In the end, the goal for us was to have fun, make it memorable. People who came are still talking about their adventure in Montana. I had to drag some of them by their little toes to get there, but once they came, they were happy they did.”

Photography: Cathrine L. Walters Photography

Brooke St. Sauver and Scott Ashleman

The wedding attire: The stylish couple bucked tradition. Brooke wore a gray and green vintage-styled dress designed by James Coviello from Anthropologie’s wedding site, BHLDN. Her garter and headpiece—a hat with a netted veil—was made by her grandmother. Scott wore a Gorwin Brothers hat, Hugo Boss shirt and Rag and Bone vest.

Blissful lodging: The wedding took place in Bigfork, where Brooke grew up, in her parents’ backyard. They invited everyone not staying in hotels to camp on the property. The couple stayed in an Airstream owned by Brooke’s dad.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cluney Photography

Setting the table: Brooke and her mother collected dinner plates and dessert platters from antique stores like Missoula’s Antique Mall and thrift shops between Seattle, Missoula and Kalispell. Brooke ordered 50 yards of muslin and, with her grandmother, tea-stained them in a kiddie pool and made them into antique-looking tablecloths. Flower centerpieces from Swan River Gardens were combined with pheasant feathers. (Dahlias for the wedding came from Big Red Truck Farms in Kalispell.)

The cherry on top: At each seat, a jar of Flathead cherry freezer jam made by Brooke served as a guest favor. The jars also had canvas tags with names on them to provide seating arrangement place-cards.

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  • Cluney Photography

Whole hog: Scott and Brooke are “obsessed” with Mexican and Southwest food. Cuisine Machine from Kalispell created a meal of carnitas tacos and side dishes of cabbage slaw, grilled corn, sweet potato and black beans. The pork for the carnitas came from a pig raised by Brooke’s dad. The meal was served family-style so that guests didn’t have to wait in long lines to get their grub.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cluney Photography

Drinking easy: Mason jars sporting each person’s name on a canvas tag provided the vessel for Blackfoot IPA, Bayern Dragon’s Breath, sangria, sweet tea and non-alcoholic punch.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cluney Photography

Just desserts: Brooke made all the sweets including New York-style cheesecake, carrot and cardamom cupcakes with maple butter cream frosting and a chocolate cake with huckleberry ganache and vanilla butter cream frosting. “They were pretty good,” she says, laughing.

Night music: Mountain Moongrass from Butte played bluegrass for the reception. At the end of the evening, people gathered around the backyard firepit and the musicians unplugged and joined them. “It was perfect,” Brooke says. “It was so much fun to have them sit around and play their last hour around the fire while we hung out. People still talk about that.”

Photography: Cluney Photography

Sarah Raz and Josh Tack

How they met: The avid bicycling couple met when they both worked at Missoula’s Adventure Cycling.

The Proposal: After a bike trip through Baja, Josh proposed. The summer before the wedding they quit their jobs and rode across Alaska, Canada and down the Great Divide. “We decided to do it to test our commitment,” says Sarah, laughing. “Afterward we said, ‘Okay, we’re ready to get married.’”

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  • Slikati Photography

Wedding location: The couple got married at Snowbowl, where they rented out the lodge and decked it with lanterns and lights to give it a “mountain party” feel. Some of their biking friends rode up the mountain to attend the celebration. After they said their vows, the couple ceremoniously rode off on their bikes. “It’s actually a very steep hill,” Sarah says. “I was wearing my dress—it was a short dress—so it was easy to ride in, but as we started descending I thought, ‘If I wipe out at my wedding it is not going to be good!’” They parked their bikes and walked back up to join the party.

Dress made new: Sarah wore a dress from Beautiful Weddings in Missoula. The dress was originally a long one, but the shop tailored the dress to make it short and edgy. Her historical veil was flown to her from Lexington, Va. “It actually belonged to to an Italian queen,” Sarah says. “Any bride in Lexington is allowed to wear it now, but my mom bent the rules a little when she brought it to Montana to let me wear it in my wedding.”

Head of petals: The couple wanted a bohemian chic kind of wedding so Sarah ordered flower crowns from Missoula’s Habitat and had the bridesmaids wear Free People dresses. The groomsmen were more outdoorsy than bohemian in their REI outfits.

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  • Slikati Photography

Energizing dinner: Snowbowl’s pizza and Bayern’s Summer Honey made for a down-to-earth meal. It was a carbo-loading choice, Sarah says, for a crowd full of athletes.

Music to dance to (in shades): Missoula’s Full Grown Men played Chicago blues at the reception. For wedding favors, the couple picked out neon sunglasses, which the guests donned toward the end of the evening as they danced up a storm.

Final thoughts: “The night before the wedding somebody said to me, ‘Are you ready for the best day of your life?’” Sarah says. “And I thought to myself, ‘That is so old-fashioned.’ But, though I’ve had a lot of good days in my life, it really was up there at the top. It was such a fun day.”

Photography: Slikati Photography

Sarah Miller and Eric Gershon

How they met: Sarah met Eric at a backyard barbecue in Connecticut, and borrowed a book from him. After dating they spent some time apart but emailed daily. “[We] are happy to have this essentially old-fashioned record of our courtship,” Eric says.

The proposal: Eric proposed in May 2011 at The Porches Inn in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. He’d billed the weekend adventure as a celebration of Sarah’s recent completion of graduate school and proposed during a mini-picnic on a grassy hillock near the inn.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cou Cou Studio­

Wedding location: The couple married at Weatherwood Ranch in Columbia Falls. It’s a property bordered by mountains and giant trees and the ceremony took place in the yard beside the main house. Guests sat on high-backed, weathered benches.

The ceremony: “It was late July and mercifully short of too hot,” Eric says. “We offered guests ‘Grannie Gershon’s Whiskey Sour’ and a huckleberry-flavored cocktail before the service.” The couple’s fathers led a non-denominational ceremony with Jewish elements and their friends read selections from Walt Whitman, Song of Solomon and the children’s book I Like You. “We wrote our own vows, repeating them after our fathers,” he says. “Our mothers lit a candle in memory of departed grandparents. As a legal matter, we married ourselves, which Montana allows couples to do.”

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cou Cou Studio­

Feasting time: Scotty’s Bar of Kalispell designed the drink menu including Going to the Sun IPA and specialty cocktails like the whiskey sours. Anna McCabe of the Simple Chef Catering in Columbia Falls made local fare, which included spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese, almond lemon chicken, Mediterranean tempeh and wild rice and barley salad. For dessert? Chocolate chip pie and coconut buttermilk pie, served with fresh local berries.

Music for the masses: Missoula’s Russ Nasset and the Revelators rocked the dance floor with their high-energy folk and honky-tonk. For the couple’s first dance, the band played Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is.”

Literary genius: Avid readers that they are, Eric and Sarah brought a dozen books to use as centerpieces for the tables. They wrote each guest’s name on an old-fashioned library due-date care (“Thank you, D.C. Public Library,” Eric says.) along with a title of the book indicating which table to sit at. The books they picked—including Moby Dick, On the Road and The Elements of Style—each had meaning for them. But one, a Warren Buffett biography, was particularly special: It was the one Sarah had borrowed from Eric the first time they met.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cou Cou Studio­

Final thoughts: “For us, the most important aspect of the wedding, by far, was the extraordinary assembly of family and friends from throughout our lives,” Eric says. “We encouraged everyone to make a vacation of the trip and stay for a while before or after the wedding, or both. More than a few friends saw bears at Glacier National Park. Just about everybody said they’d like to come back. And we hope they do.”

Photography: Cou Cou Studio

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