A Weekend With (More Than) a View

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Photo by Jessalyn Ethridge

Words by Christina Shepherd McGuire

It’s interesting to hear that immersive guest experiences are trending in the wedding industry. Because here in the Tetons, it’s been our thing forever! Of course, it’s only appropriate, in a region full of towering peaks, robust wildlife, and famous waterways, to invite guests for a weekend of experiences, rather than a fleeting night of festivities. Luckily, many area vendors can accommodate such celebrations, offering recreation-filled itineraries and Western heritage-themed affairs that will make your wedding weekend a once-in-a lifetime experience for both you, and your guests. 

“The scenery is one of our most unique offerings,” says Madi Burgess, event and banquet manager at Grand Targhee Resort. “There’s an abundance of wildflowers [in the summer], a beautiful view of the Tetons, and a connection to wildlife.”

Grand Targhee hosts entire wedding weekends, with up to 200 people, providing a full three-day itinerary and lodging for all guests. Couples and their loved ones can enjoy scenic lift rides, lift-serviced and cross-country mountain biking, hiking, disc golf, swimming, and yoga. Plus, the breathtaking backdrop of this venue makes for remarkable photo shoots.

Day One of a wedding weekend at Targhee usually consists of guest arrivals, and can include scheduled or unscheduled recreational activities, a ceremony rehearsal, and a catered dinner reception in the Trap Bar. Day Two—wedding day—can start with yoga on the lawn and time to get ready, followed by a photoshoot (held at the top of the mountain with views into Grand Teton National Park), a cocktail hour and ceremony, and a private party at the Trap Bar. Day Three culminates with Targhee’s signature departure brunch on the lawn, including a mimosa and Bloody Mary bar. 

Burgess explains that many guests use this last day to squeak in a hike or bike ride before departing. And since everything happens on-property, almost all guests stay overnight at the resort. 

“They like the convenience of staying here after they’ve been drinking and celebrating,” says Burgess. “Even local guests tend to book lodging on the night of the wedding, just for the convenience.” 

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At Diamond Cross Ranch, a historical ranch located north of Jackson near Grand Teton National Park, it’s all about the authentic Western experience. This working family cattle ranch shares its Western heritage with wedding parties of 50 to 60 guests. 

At full occupancy, the boutique cabins can accommodate 75 guests, making it the perfect choice for bridal parties, close friends, and family. However, for comfort, Lauren Long, chief executive officer at Diamond Cross Ranch, recommends a maximum of 60. 

“Because all of our activities are private and personalized, we recommend keeping things smaller,” says Long. “We don’t combine groups, and we pair guests with wranglers and staff to ensure an extraordinary experience.”

While on site, couples and their wedding party can enjoy horseback riding as one of their activities. Long explains this experience is “much more than your run-of-the-mill nose-to-tail ride. Our wranglers pair riders with well-trained horses, instruct them through the basics of horsemanship and cowboy etiquette, and then hit the trail under the Tetons.”

Half- or full-day cowboy experiences are also available, complete with a private horse-whispering demonstration led by professional horse whisperer, Grant Golliher. Then, guests put what they’ve learned to work by catching and haltering their horses and practicing horsemanship skills. This adventure culminates with a cattle drive across the ranch. 

At the end of the weekend, couples can send guests away with a branded leather journal as a special keepsake. Wranglers facilitate this activity by helping guests first design a custom brand, and then they lead them in branding their leather journals with hot irons around a campfire.

Wedding weekends held at Diamond Cross Ranch give guests “a true taste of the West, more than 100 years in the making,” says Long. “Our hope is that every guest—young and old—experiences the stewardship, gratitude, and commitment that has been sowed into this property, and that they enjoy the peace it has to offer.”

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For a true taste of excitement, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort hosts parties of 150 guests for the ultimate family adventure. Activities include world-class mountain biking, hiking, fly-fishing trips, paragliding, a high ropes course, and scenic tram rides. The resort’s Via Ferrata adventure includes a private guided high-alpine journey along granite walls connected by suspended bridges. Modeled after passages in the Italian Alps, Jackson Hole’s version includes 15 routes up iron rungs, ladders, and bridges, all with remarkable views. 

The not-so-adventurous can hang back on the climbing trip and enjoy other activities instead, such as the welcome party toast at the Rendezvous Lodge, complete with a scenic ride up the Bridger Gondola. The wedding reception, also in the lodge, boasts amazing views, delicious food, and great service. So, there’s something for everyone.

Teton venues pride themselves on delivering creative wedding offerings. It’s an experience you won’t find in a box, but rather one that’s carefully curated to fit your style, vibe, and passions. The end result: a weekend that goes down in the history books as guests recount their adventure for years to come. 

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