Jessianne + Ryan said "I do" in the heart of Paradise Valley, Montana yesterday, surrounded by the mountains and their closest friends and family. It was truly remarkable: every last detail of their day bore some significance to them and shared a piece of their story. Ryan and Jessianne have created a life of adventure for themselves: he is a hunting guide and she can often be found right by his side. They even got engaged on an extended pack trip through the Beartooth Absaroka Wilderness last summer! This sense of adventure was present in every last detail.
Jessianne's mom made her bouquet, complete with a shed and a horsehair braid. They both wore custom-made cowboy boots with "R" + "J" inscribed on them. Ryan's mom did Jessianne's hair and makeup and adorned her hair with an oosik from a bear Ryan harvested (if you don't know what this is, Google it!). Ryan wore a silk scarf and a cowboy hat - a nod to his lifelong dedication to the cowboy lifestyle, and during the ceremony, Jessianne's cousin read a poem called "Cowboy Wedding." The sausage they served during cocktail hour was made from an elk Ryan harvested, and Ryan's mom also made the most beautiful Belgian Miserables cakes! During the reception, they showed a video of the pack trip on which they got engaged and it was such a beautiful portrayal of their adventurous life together: just them, three horses, and their hound dogs in the mountains, surrounded by the wildflowers. I know I'm forgetting so many details right now, but rest assured their wedding was a perfect depiction of their story.
My favorite moment of the day? The moment Ryan slipped Jessianne's gold band onto her finger. The look on her face was the most heartwarming combination of excitement, happiness, and realizing it was officially official. Jessianne + Ryan, thank you for having me!
Scroll on through for a few more of my favorite moments.
Are you doing a first look? Why or why not? For most couples, there are two primary reasons why they choose not to do it: first, tradition; and second, the emotional reaction of seeing each other for the first time as the bride makes her way down the aisle.
If you've decided you don't want to do one, that's fine! It's your day, do it your way. But if you're on the fence, here's my two cents:
Regarding tradition, most of us have heard that it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. This notion actually dates back to the tradition of arranged marriages. The reason the groom was not allowed to see the bride before the ceremony is because it was believed that, if he had the chance to see his bride, he would be more likely to call off the wedding. How romantic. The non-traditionalist in me says you and your soon-to-be spouse can probably come up with some better traditions of your own to incorporate into your day :)
As for the emotional reaction to seeing each other for the first time as you walk down the aisle, I totally get it. It should come as no surprise that I love a good, raw emotional reaction. And sometimes it happens and its wonderful! And sometimes, the reaction is internal and not much happens externally. Some people (like me!) are naturally more reserved in front of a crowd and they might not have that monumental external reaction for a dozen reasons that have nothing to do with how they actually feel about seeing their soon-to-be spouse for the first time. Bottom line: there's no way to predict how you and your partner will react, so if you're choosing not to do a first look because you want a certain photo of your honey shedding a tear or falling to his knees when he sees you, there's a chance it won't happen, regardless of whether you've already seen each other.
NOW! Here is why I think first looks are great:
First, if reaction is what you're going for, this is a much safer environment to get that reaction. Just the two of you, away from the crowd, away from phones and cameras (except for mine and I'll try to stay out of your way). Without the pressure of a crowd or a ceremony timeline, you have a few minutes to truly enjoy that first glimpse of each other. You'll likely be running high on emotions and the freedom to be able to touch each other, to hug, to wipe each other's tears, and to tell each other what you're thinking is invaluable.
Relatedly, by setting aside 15-20 minutes before the ceremony for a first look, you have a chance to just enjoy a moment of quiet together before the day sweeps you away. For my fellow introverts, this moment of peace with your person can ground you and recharge your battery so that you can be ready to entertain!
Finally, as a matter of practicality, by doing a first look, you've made it possible to do all the group photos before the ceremony. This means everyone gets to head right to cocktail hour/the reception right after the ceremony! It also means you're not chasing people down for group photos when they're ready to party. It can be a big time-saver! Also, while I'll still pull you away for a few minutes at sunset for a couple more bride + groom portraits in that beautiful evening light, you're essentially free from photo obligations before the ceremony even starts!
Ultimately, whether or not you decide to do a first look, your day will be beautiful. As always, feel free to throw my two cents right out the window and do exactly what you want to do!
Gown: Grace Loves Lace | Florals: Labellum | Rentals: Montana Party Rentals | Jewelry + Decor: Townsend Collective | Catering: Food For Thought | Desserts: Luxe Spirits and Sweets
Tyson and Ciera met in Bozeman, Montana and by the way they tell it, they knew from the word "go" that they'd found their person. In fact, the first date went so well that Ciera decided to drive to North Dakota to see Tyson for their second date! Guys, that's a long drive. That's pretty damn cool.
They both work for non-profits here and are so busy doing good things for the community - they've been such a treat to get to know and work with over the last 8-ish months. Their drive is impressive, but what's even more impressive is the way these two just fit each other.
These two said "I do" on September 28 in an intimate ceremony just west of Bozeman, Montana and it was the most amazing blend of all the good things in life: boho chic, secret garden whimsy, and a touch of collected rustic comfort. The vibe, the gown, the florals, all of it was stunning, but what really stuck with me from their day is what these two are to each other.
As I alluded to above, Ciera and Tyson just fit. I've heard that finding the right person feels like coming home, and these two are a perfect example of the reality of that saying. While we'd originally planned on doing a first look, after getting ready, Ciera decided that she really just wanted a low-key moment with Tyson to start their day: no cameras, no expectations, no grand gestures, just a real hug and a moment for the two of them to get ready to start their day.
Their entire day was about the things that truly matter to them: each other and their closest friends and family. Hearing each of their approximately 30 guests share a few words about Tyson and Ciera solidified for me why my heart lies with these elopements and intimate ceremonies: your wedding day is about two people committing their lives to each other forever with the support and blessing of those who matter most. The beautiful details are nice, but the reason for the day trumps all of it. Friends, don't ever be afraid to throw tradition or others' expectations out the window and do your day your way. I promise you won't regret it.
Scroll on through to see some of the highlights from this beautiful day!