A Boho Riverside Affair
Tana & Sam
WORDS BY TANA HOFFMAN + PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENAE HUCKINS
I met Sam on a cold snowy day in Teton Village, right after Christmas. We’d known about each other for a while, both made familiar with the other by many mutual friends. So, it didn’t surprise any of them that our first date started in the tram line at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. After that, we spent the next three days chasing each other through the snow. We always felt drawn to the mountains. Now, fervently, to each other.
Since that first date in 2014, our story has continued to be as untraditional as it is uniquely ours. When we couldn’t find a place to rent within the first year of dating, we instead decided to buy a house in April of 2016. Then, Sam proposed to me on a snowmobile at 9,000 feet.
It was a really clear, cold day in December of 2020. Sam asked me to go for a ride (on snowmobiles) to take photos from our favorite overlook. I was dragging my feet because the snow wasn’t that great and it was freezing out. When we got to the top, he set up a camera to take a photo of the two of us, hit the shutter timer, and ran at me full speed, sliding into a lunge and popping the question just as the photo was taken. The actual photo makes me laugh because I thought he was going to tackle me. We popped champagne and carved our initials into the tree overlooking the ridge.
When it came time to plan a wedding (two years later and after the pandemic), we went about it our own way. We knew that we wanted to get married in Wilson, where Sam grew up.
Sam’s dad arrived in Jackson in the ‘70s and landed a job teaching skiing at the resort. He met his wife Julia soon after, and they eventually moved to Wilson and opened up a nursery (which is now the Westbank Garden Center next to Nora’s). Sam was a student at the Old Wilson School House, and he grew up playing hockey, football for the Broncs, and competitive freestyle skiing.
I moved to Jackson in 2012 from Winter Park, Colorado. I grew up in New Hampshire but lived in half a dozen ski towns (including Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, Sierra at Tahoe, California, and Turoa, New Zealand) before I landed in Wyoming. I needed a change of scenery and moved in with a friend I knew from Colorado during the first summer I lived in Jackson. I worked odd jobs, biked the pass every day, and eventually landed a job at Teton Gravity Research, (TGR) so I, too, spent a lot of time in Wilson.
The Stagecoach Bar held special memories for each of us. Sam remembers sitting under the bar as a kid, and then he worked there as a bouncer in his twenties. It’s also where I spent most of my days when I first moved to town, biking Teton Pass, and then rendezvousing with many of my first friends in the parking lot.
So … a dive bar reception seemed just the ticket.
For the ceremony, we wanted to gather our closest friends and family outside, so we settled on a small service by the river. Sam spent a lot of time with his family on the water, and my parents and I lived aboard a sailboat for many years. So, this seemed fitting. A little research introduced us to a local business called Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures, which inspired a “processional float” down The Snake. Our minds were made up as soon as we visited their venue site.
We rented out a log cabin in Wilson for the week leading up to our wedding, so that we could spend time with our wedding party. None of them lived in Wyoming, so it was really special to be able to get outside together and show our friends our home and all of our favorite places with a walk on the river, a ride up the tram, and a night at The Cowboy Bar.
It rained almost every day, and the forecast threatened to ruin our outdoor ceremony. But on the morning of, the rain stopped. We woke up to a family of moose (a mom, a dad, and two babies) outside our cabin. Then, the groomsmen cooked us a breakfast feast, complete with champagne, while we all got ready. My bridesmaids and I met the rest of our party at the Wilson put-in, where four garland-adorned wooden boats waited to take us to our ceremony. Watching everyone put on a PFD (personal flotation device) over their dresses and suits was hilarious!
Not only was floating down the river with twenty-four of our closest friends and family members in wooden boats a beautiful and unique way for us all to arrive at the ceremony site, but the stretch of river we floated was also prime eagle habitat. My dad passed away a few years ago, and from the time he flew gliders in the Air Corp during WWII until long after he retired from PanAm as a 747 captain, the eagle has always symbolized his life and love for the air.
I had a hunch he would be “joining us” that morning on the water.
An eagle, had very uncharacteristically, circled the parking lot on the morning I went wedding dress shopping. And then, on our wedding day, we saw nine—nine—eagles on a seven-mile float! The last one was perched high above the riverbank at the site where we said our “I dos.” As one of my bridesmaids pointed out—my dad didn’t just show up; he walked me down the aisle.
In total, we had about fifty guests at the Tipi Camp. Sam made our ceremony arch, and I curated all the décor. Our friends, Colby and Maria, helped coordinate every detail, setting everything up just as I’d envisioned. Sam and I walked from the boat down the aisle, hand-in-hand, to where his sister, Lindsay, married us. Just as Lindsay made her opening remarks, we heard the LOUDEST crack of thunder in the distance. We exchanged vows, exchanged rings, and enjoyed a short celebration before the thunderstorm pushed through. Then, our guests crammed into a minibus bound for the Stagecoach, and we took the majority of our wedding photos laughing in the rain.
As the downpour intensified (and we were running from the river to the tipis for shelter) our photographer, Jenae, stopped us, so we could dance in the downpour. The black and white shot of Sam holding me up is my favorite photo from the day. I couldn’t have imagined a wedding more reflective of our lives, our love, and our shared passion for adventure.
Wedding Date: September 17, 2022
Processional Float and Ceremony Location: Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures Reception Location: The (historic) Stagecoach Bar Officiant: Lindsay Cook (groom’s sister) Photographer: Jenae Huckins Hair and Makeup: Shara Buday at Champú Salon and Hair & Makeup by Tanya Florist: McPhee Designs Music: The Famous Undercover Reception Décor: The Sunshine Station and Alpha-lit Caterer: Streetfood Dessert Chef: Bride’s mother (cake), Delish Donuts & Coffee (doughnuts) Beverages: The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole Bride’s Ring: JC Jewelers Tailoring: Teton Tailoring & Haberdashery Transportation: A Black Car Service Other Specialty Vendors: Chosen by KYHA (bride’s dress), Men’s Wearhouse, Idaho Falls (men’s suits), Grainger Glass (custom bolos), Rendezvous Mountain Rentals (accomodations), SUDA Izakaya (rehearsal dinner)