Our Happy Place

Our Happy Place

Michele & Joseph

Words by Michele Vidarte + Photography by Ashley Merritt

Our story began in 2010 when we met while pursuing the ski-bum lifestyle in Jackson; I was a ski instructor and Joseph was a liftee on the old Casper Lift. Joseph is originally from Virginia, and I am from New York, but we both found ourselves in the Tetons with a mutual passion for adventure, skiing, snow, and travel.

One of Joseph’s friends from Virginia, Caroline, was already living in Jackson when Joseph and his friend, Willis, decided to move there. And, I just so happened to be Caroline’s best friend in Jackson. Naturally, we welcomed Willis and Joseph to Jackson and showed them around town. A friendship became a romance, and Joseph and I began dating soon after we met.

We spent two more years in Jackson, skiing the powder, hiking the backcountry, trekking the Teton Crest Trail, baking for the farmers market, and working at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and at restaurants in town. Five years and many adventures later, including moving to Saratoga Springs, New York, Joseph got down on one knee and proposed to me with a custom-made ring featuring his mother’s engagement diamond in the middle. He had been working on getting the ring made for months, enlisting the expertise of two friends who design jewelry to help create the heirloom piece.

We both knew that we wanted a wedding that spoke to our style and personalities; for us, that meant making sure we stayed true to ourselves …

We got engaged around the holidays and reveled with friends and family. The first question they asked was about the wedding location. Without hesitation, we both wanted Jackson, our happy place. The main must-haves for our wedding were that we needed a view of the Tetons, a great party, and all our friends and family present. We quickly decided on Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club, which offered the views, service, and all-inclusive package that we wanted, especially since we were planning the wedding from New York. We both knew that we wanted a wedding that spoke to our style and personalities; for us, that meant making sure we stayed true to ourselves and not necessarily to the traditional “wedding rules.” We decided to have doughnuts instead of a cake, topography maps of Grand Teton National Park for people to sign instead of a guest book, a bluegrass band combined with a DJ for the best of both worlds, a great friend as our officiant, and vows we wrote ourselves. These elements, combined with the natural beauty of the day, made for the most magical and special wedding that was both personal and beautiful. (And, having the mayor of Jackson DJ our reception was the icing on the cake … or doughnut in our case!)

Our family friends threw us a welcome party at Lift on the Thursday night of our wedding week, which was a perfect, casual way to greet everyone and thank our friends and family members for making the journey. Many of our guests made a vacation out of their trip, and it was so wonderful to hear their stories of traveling throughout the region and experiencing why the Jackson area is so special to us. On Friday night, we had a beautiful rehearsal dinner at the Roadhouse Pub & Eatery, where the food was stellar, and a moose family visited us, much to the thrill of our out-of-town guests. Many of our friends and family members made toasts, and it was an evening of pure joy and shared love.

On our wedding day, we awoke to the first snow of the season; we were giddy.

On our wedding day, we awoke to the first snow of the season; we were giddy. The skies were cloudy, and the mountains were socked in, but nothing could bring our moods down. For the ceremony, we relocated off the driving range to the covered patio since the temperatures were in the 40s, and we wanted our guests to be comfortable. By the time we made it out to the venue, the Tetons were no longer socked in, and the sun was shining through the clouds. This “Plan B” turned out to be brilliant; the enclosed setting with mountain views made for an intimate, close-knit ceremony.

The waterworks began as soon as I made the turn down the aisle with my dad, locking eyes with Joseph as we both laughed and cried at the same time. The ceremony, officiated by our close friend Kim, combined personal elements and even some quotes from my four-year-old twin nieces, who looked on from the first row. It is a moment in time we will never forget. The dance party lasted well into the night, ending with a group dance and hug during the last song, appropriately “Lean on Me.” The entire wedding week was magical, made complete by our friends and family members who traveled from near and far to celebrate with us.


wedding date
16 September 2017

ceremony/reception location
Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club

rehearsal dinner
Roadhouse pub & eatery

welcome party
Lift

officiant
Kim MacKenzie, friend

hair & makeup
hair: Anna Pantone of Frost Salon
makeup: Stephanie Broome

photographer
Ashley Merritt Photography

florist
Lily & Co.

invitations & stationery
xowyo paper + press

entertainment
Flannel Attractions
Jackson Hole DJ

consultant
In Any Event, L.L.C.

caterer
Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club

dessert
Nom Nom Doughnuts

rental service
La Tavola Fine Linen Rental

transportation
Mountain Resort Services

| Posted in Teton Weddings

AN (UN)CONVENTIONAL COUPLE

AN (UN)CONVENTIONAL COUPLE

Planning for the unplanned

Photo by Hannah Hardaway

Words by Kate Hull Heidenreich

As I write this piece, almost one year into my marriage, my husband is about to take off on another firefighting assignment. While I reflect on the wonderful year we spent planning our wedding, it is only fitting that I do so while he embarks yet again.

Kenny, my new husband, is a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. He spends his springs and summers away for two weeks at a time as a national resource, heading as far away as Alaska or just down the road. I am a writer. My job brings flexibility, while his is constantly unyielding. After five years together and one as husband and wife, I have grown accustomed to this lack of control. It is our wonderful reality. It has helped us grow together, value our time more intensely, and find gratitude in the day-to-day. When Kenny leaves, I find balance in our community of friends, whose partners also fight fire (we lightheartedly call ourselves “The Fire Wives”) and rely heavily on that deep-seated connection and support.

We were married on October 1, 2016, still in the thick of fire season, but late enough that there was a good chance our wedding party would be in town and many of our guests could attend. Pulling off a wedding on the tail end of fire season, with a bulk of the planning done while my fiancé was out on a fire, and at times even out of cell service, was hard, really hard. But with a little preplanning, a few pep talks, and a lot of dear friends, it was a time I will truly never forget.

Maybe your future wife or husband is in the military, or is a wildland firefighter, a NOLS instructor out on an extended course, or in any profession that takes him or her away with little to no control of his or her time. Whatever the case, from one somewhat-solo-planner to the other, your tribe is bigger than you realize. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this! And for the times you might think you don’t, I hope my reflections and tips help ease the stress.

Enjoy the process
It sounds silly—of course you are enjoying being engaged!—but here’s what I mean: Don’t feel the need to dive into planning the second that ring is on your finger. When you are newly engaged, you will get inundated with questions: When is the big day? Where is it? Will it be a big wedding? Have you started planning?

Although well-meaning, these questions can add a layer of stress, especially when you haven’t even had time to talk about all these “big next steps” with your future husband or wife. Give yourself permission to say, “I don’t know just yet,” or “We are just so excited to be at this step!” Kenny and I were engaged in August, which meant three more months of sporadic days together and lots of fire season left. When Kenny quickly left after proposing, we decided to not even consider making plans until winter, when we could focus on the big day.
Until then, we let ourselves just be engaged. Take a weekend getaway to celebrate. Or, if distance won’t allow it, take a day for yourself. Hit the spa, go on an adventure with your best friends, or do something just for you.

The silver lining of untraditional
When winter finally came, I was champing at the bit to start planning! We made October 1 the big day, and it instantly felt right. Fall is our favorite time of year; that’s when we met. The changing season meant we were allotted more time together. And who doesn’t love those brightly hued aspens?

The extra perks? A “slow season” wedding date meant we (and our guests) could take advantage of some great off-season perks. Our preferred vendors were all available and, most importantly, we didn’t have to worry about our venue being booked. We inquired with local hotels about group room blocks and received extra savings on booking costs. Our shoulder-season wedding proved to be the perfect time to tie the knot.

Knowing your must-haves
That winter, we set a date, booked a venue, and selected a photographer. But when it came to the nuts and bolts of planning our wedding, we were six months out and back in fire season mode. I admittedly already had a vision in mind even before I said, “Yes.” After four years together, it was easy to visualize walking down the aisle to Kenny. So, I took to planning with ease. Kenny, on the other hand, was busy and feeling the stress of not being able to make every appointment with me. I quickly realized I needed to make sure he felt included, too.

We sat down, as a couple, and talked about what we each wanted for the wedding and what felt flexible enough to let the other decide. We were about to get married, after all. Establishing this level of trust was a great lesson in compromise and problem-solving. We made our “must-haves” list: I knew I wanted yellow roses in honor of my home state, Texas, and a tableful of homemade pies instead of a cake.

Kenny knew he wanted to serve smoked chicken and mac and cheese for dinner, and to find a unique vest and bow tie to wear the day of the ceremony. Everything else, he trusted I could handle in his absence. First, this took pressure off Kenny. He was doing his best and was available whenever possible. Second, this led to a wonderful period of chats with my dad, mom, sister, best friends, and future mother-in-law to plan the day. The saying, “It takes a village,” was our mantra. (My dad proclaimed to friends that he was my unofficial wedding planner, a memory I will cherish forever.) Not to mention, their expertise led to ideas I would have never considered, like using postcards from our favorite places as the guest book. At the event, I think everyone felt a special sense of ownership for a job well done.

Take something off your plate
It’s not easy to plan a wedding with an absent partner, so give yourself permission to ask for help. Whether that means abandoning a do-it-yourself idea, or outsourcing it to a professional, you do not have to do it all. Yes, you can do it all! You’ve got this! But, it’s okay to say, “Actually, I need a little help.” (And, hire a day-of coordinator, so you can truly enjoy the day’s events.) Dying to use that cute Pinterest idea for centerpieces? Ask your bridesmaids to lend a hand!

Be flexible
Every newlywed couple says it, and they are right: Not everything will go as planned. There will be bumps in the road and moments that make you lose sight of the joy of it all. Pair this with not being able to call your other half? Well, that’s tough. But in those moments, take a deep breath and remember what you are doing: planning a day to celebrate choosing to love someone forever! That’s pretty fantastic. And, if that means being a little bit flexible about, oh, let’s say, forgetting to put a place for the names on the RSVP cards? It will all be okay!

And yes, that happened. I completely forgot to put a place for names. I used my journalism-fueled reporter skills to figure out just who was not coming, so I could still stick to my seating arrangement plan (not recommended!). But hey, it worked out! And no one was the wiser.

This is just the beginning!
Reliving the hours and hours it took to plan our big day is so fun. I love revisiting the photos, notes, and details that at one point seemed like they would never come together. (Spoiler alert: They all did!) And, it was beautiful and so worth it. While I remember each and every detail of that wonderful fall day, the one I will never ever forget—and the one that was the most important—was the second Kenny and I said, “I do” and promised to be there for each other, no matter how long fire season may seem or how busy our lives may become.

As you embark on your wedding planning, take this time to learn a bit more about you individually and as a couple, about how you solve problems, plan, and even deal with stress. I promise: It will serve you well in the future. It’s going to be a great day, and it’s only just the beginning!

A Texas native, Kate Hull Heidenreich moved to Idaho’s Teton Valley in 2012. She is a freelance writer and the associate editor for Teton Valley Magazine. Her work has appeared in numerous regional and national publications, including Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, Mountain Outlaw, Austin Monthly, and Women’s Health. When not writing, Kate can be found exploring her surrounding “Wydaho” home with her husband, Kenny, and their cattle dog, June.

Photo by Sarah Averill

| Posted in Planning Your Wedding

VENDOR FAVORITE

VENDOR FAVORITE

Be the best client

Photo by Ashley Merritt

Words by Rebecca Mitchell

Planning and executing a wedding is no small feat. For the newly engaged couple ready to embark on this impressive task, outlining and prioritizing the wedding elements that are most important are critical first steps. Once you have a shared vision, assembling a team of professionals who clearly understand that vision is key.

Wedding planning is like any project management: Success lies in executing a shared plan while monitoring schedule and budget. And, success is measured by stakeholder satisfaction. What does all that jargon mean for newly engaged couples ready to plan their weddings? I’ll boil it down to simple terms: For the most positive wedding-planning experience, create and share your wedding vision with a group of vendors selected to fit your style, and cultivate a working relationship with each that is based on shared goals, mutual respect, and open communication. Knowing that, follow these tips to increase your likelihood of a positive experience.

Recognize brilliance. You selected your wedding vendors based on their qualifications, among other things. Once you sign the contract with each, trust that your wedding vendors are experts and will execute the tasks to their best ability with your satisfaction as their top priority. Recognize their skills and trust their abilities.

Respect their time. For any professional, time is precious. As a client, you can show that you value your vendors’ time and efforts by honoring your appointment times and responding promptly to questions or requests.

Offer a single point of contact. Wedding vendors juggle many moving parts as they plan and execute each unique and special event. Simplify the communication by assigning a single point person to communicate with each vendor. It may be that the bride is on point for six vendors, the groom for four, and the mother of the bride for two. However it plays out, make sure you keep it simple to ensure smooth interaction.

Be realistic with cost and schedule. Have a price and timeline estimate in mind for each vendor’s service. Understand that there is more to a vendor’s service than the flat cost of goods; their expertise has value. Ask for their expert opinion when it comes to time and cost estimates.

Pay promptly. Discuss payment terms with each vendor prior to signing a contract. Once the invoices start rolling in, honor those payment terms. Don’t make your vendor beg you for payment. It will strain or ruin your working relationship.

Communicate expectations. Your wedding plans will evolve over time, but it’s critical to start each vendor interaction with a shared vision, set of expectations, and outcome goal. Be sure to discuss budgetary and schedule details to ensure that all outlooks align.

Participate in the process. One of your jobs will be to respond to your vendors’ inquiries honestly and promptly. Make yourself available for feedback and questions. And, remember that live conversations (by phone or in person) may be helpful in addition to emailing or texting, especially if you experience a scheduling hiccup or misunderstood expectation.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times: The wedding vendors in and around the Tetons are top-notch professionals who are passionate about their skill sets and driven to succeed. You’ll be in good hands with our local vendors.

Photo by Ashley Merritt

Photo by Jamye Chrisman

Photo by David Gonzales

| Posted in Planning Your Wedding

Everything We Hoped For

Everything We Hoped For

Chelsea & Chris

Words by Chelsea Cahill + Photography by Sarah Averill

Choosing Jackson for our destination wedding was a no-brainer. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, we visit Jackson any chance we have. My parents bought a house in town in 2010, with the idea that it would be a perfect vacation home. However, over the past couple of years, it has quickly become the Pasfields’ home base. My first experience in Jackson with Chris was a winter ski trip, but we truly fell in love with the area after spending time there in the summer of 2012.

Our hometowns—Alexandria, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee—don’t hold a candle to the zero humidity, boundless activities, sunshine till 10 p.m., and bluebird days in Jackson. It was exactly where we wanted to bring our closest friends and family to celebrate our marriage.

We truly enjoyed the wedding planning process, mainly because of the amazing people we met and worked with in Jackson. Everyone was kind, passionate about their work, and responsive to our hopes for our big day. We attribute a lot of the successful planning to our incredible wedding planner, Lisa Mack. Lisa has a positive, “can-do” attitude and works to keep stress levels low throughout the process. She connected us with vendors who aligned perfectly with our wedding visions. We feel like we are walking away from this experience with new friendships and a sense of community in Jackson.

The first thing that we booked was our wedding venue, Teton Pines Country Club. We chose this venue for several reasons, including its stunning renovations and breathtaking views. My family has thoroughly enjoyed their experience as members at the Pines. We loved the idea of getting married in a place that we knew well and could visit to relive the fond memories of our wedding day. We knew we would be in good hands with the Pines’ committed and caring staff.

We wanted the valley’s natural beauty to speak for itself on our wedding day, so we chose a neutral color palette of beige, gray, white, and natural greens. We decided to incorporate our soon-to-be monogram, CCC, into our wedding details. The incredibly talented ladies of xowyo paper + press created a stunning wedding logo that was everywhere—from the invitations, to the wedding signs, to the drink Koozies.

Many of our guests flew in from out of state, so we wanted to show them a good time. Our wedding week was packed with activities like a backyard picnic at my parents’ house featuring cuisine from Café Genevieve’s food truck, a Grand Teton National Park day hike to String Lake to paddleboard, yoga atop Snow King Mountain, and a golf tournament at the Teton Pines Country Club. The evening before the wedding, we enjoyed a beautiful rehearsal dinner at Lotus followed by a welcome party for all our guests. The events were wonderful, and our hope of people getting the full Jackson experience came true.

We feel like we are walking away from this experience with new friendships …

When it was time for the big day, Chris and his groomsmen set out for the Pines while I and my bridesmaids had the best morning getting ready at my parents’ house. The Elevate Medical Spa & Salon team had their hands full with me, my nine bridesmaids, Chris’ mom, and my mom all getting our hair and makeup done. They came in with smiles and amazingly got this “forever five minutes late” bride to the ceremony not just on time, but early!

Chris and I opted to do a first look before the ceremony. Our incredibly talented photographer, Sarah Averill, picked out the perfect spot for this intimate moment. We met across a walking bridge on the golf course, amid a beautiful pine tree grove. After just the two of us spent some time together, we were greeted by our wedding party and family.

The wedding was truly spectacular. Mimi Smith and her string ensemble welcomed guests to the ceremony, set on the driving range with Cody Peak in the background. We were wed by a dear family friend, Neil Newhouse, whom I consider my “second dad.” His daughter, Cassie, my maid of honor, has been my best friend since preschool. Neil officiated a heartfelt, genuine, and joyous marriage ceremony, for which we are forever grateful.

We wanted the valley’s natural beauty to speak for itself on our wedding day, so we chose a neutral color palette of beige, gray, white, and natural greens.

Following the ceremony, we had a beautiful reception on the green space right outside of the clubhouse. We had an incredible time celebrating with our guests. We listened to thoughtful speeches, danced with our family members, and ate the absolute best wedding food. The chefs and staff at the Pines were phenomenal and handled our large party with ease. To top it off, we were blown away that Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon came with Jeff Eidemiller to DJ our wedding!

To unwind from our wedding week, we enjoyed three relaxing days at Amangani before returning home.

A few weeks later, we relived our wedding day with stunning photos from Sarah Averill and the most beautiful wedding video from Jared Wortley. Jackson has always been a favorite place to us, and now it holds an extra-special place in our hearts. The people, the majestic scenery, and the valley’s vibrant energy made our wedding day everything we hoped for and more. We are so happy that we chose Jackson as our wedding destination, and cannot say enough good things about the people we met and worked with along the way. We are so grateful for everyone who helped make this day possible—our families for their unwavering support and excitement, and our friends who came out to celebrate this memorable occasion in our lives.


wedding date
8 July 2017

ceremony/reception location
Teton Pines Country Club

officiant
Neil Newhouse (family friend)

hair & makeup
Elevate Medical Spa and Salon

photographer
Sarah Averill Photography

wedding logo
xowyo paper + press

entertainment
Jackson Hole DJ

consultant
Lisa Mack

caterer
Teton Pines Country Club

dessert
SaraLee Lanier

rental service
Canvas Unlimited Event Rentals

transportation
Mountain Resort Services

| Posted in Teton Weddings

It’s Only Fitting

It’s Only Fitting

Cece & Brad

Words by Cece Tramburg + Photography by Hannah Hardaway

I met Brad fifteen years ago when I visited Jackson during spring break with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hoofers Ski and Snowboard Club. He was dating a friend of mine and working as a ski host at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR). I remember thinking how funny and outgoing he was. Two years later, I moved to Jackson. Brad and I remained acquaintances for several years, often running into one another while skiing. We never really exchanged more than a “Hello. How’s it going?” It wasn’t until the winter of 2013 that we developed a meaningful friendship.

Our friends would say that it all started with a doughnut. Brad was, and still is, a ski patroller at JHMR, and I was finishing up my last semester of training as a nurse practitioner at the Teton Village Clinic. Brad would often bring in hurt skiers and snowboarders, and I would provide them with medical treatment. One day, when I was working, he skied down from Mountain Station and pulled out from inside his ski parka a delicious doughnut. It was hilarious, because it was completely squished. It was then that I realized how incredibly sweet, generous, and kind he was. After that, we started spending more and more time together.

… Brad’s parents were married at the Chapel of the Transfiguration in 1969, so it was very special that forty-eight years later, we exchanged vows in the exact same place.

A month later, he invited me to the JHMR five-year employee appreciation party at the Four Seasons, and it was over chocolate fondue that I realized I was falling for him. Three years later, Brad and I attempted to go fly-fishing and camping at Crystal Creek Campground up the Gros Ventre. I say attempted because the river was completely blown out and I was suffering from an injury. It turns out that it is a day we will never forget. We were sitting on a picnic bench, where the Gros Ventre River meets Crystal Creek, watching our black Labrador retriever jump in the river when Brad asked me to marry him. At first, I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t until his eyes filled with tears, and he pulled out his mother’s wedding ring that I knew it was for real. Brad’s mother died of breast cancer when he was twenty years old, so seeing the ring was extremely emotional for both of us.

It was only fitting that we were wed in Jackson, where Brad grew up and where we met. More importantly, Brad’s parents were married at the Chapel of the Transfiguration in 1969, so it was very special that forty-eight years later, we exchanged vows in the exact same place. Our wedding day was absolutely amazing. We wanted to have fun and enjoy the day with our friends and loved ones. And, we did just that!


wedding date
2 September 2017

ceremony location
Chapel of the Transfiguration

reception location
Spring Creek Ranch

officiant
Jimmy Bartz

hair & makeup
Frost Salon

photographer
Hannah Hardaway

florist
Wild and Free Florals

entertainment
Jackson Hole DJ

consultant
Destination Jackson Hole

caterer
Spring Creek Ranch

dessert
Everything but the Dress

rental service
Canvas Unlimited Event Rentals

| Posted in Teton Weddings

The Time of Our Lives

The Time of Our Lives

Taylor & Chris

Words by Kristin Lindsey, Mother of the Bride
+
Photography by Ashley Merritt and Kristin Lindsey

Chris and Taylor met at church one snowy February afternoon. Taylor had recently moved to Jackson for a job as a physical therapist, while Chris had lived there for a couple of years. As a meteorologist working in Idaho Falls, Chris was only in Jackson on the weekends, so he asked Taylor to meet him for coffee the following weekend. After spending a couple hours together talking at Persephone Bakery, taking in the National Elk Refuge, and walking around Town Square together, they realized they had lots in common.

Following their coffee date (Chris calls it a date, but Taylor still denies that it was one!), they were both traveling, so they didn’t reconnect for several weeks. With the help of a friend’s dog, Chris scored a doggie date with Taylor and her new puppy, Fisher. From that date on, they were inseparable. They spent weekends together enjoying the outdoor adventuring Jackson has to offer—backpacking, hiking, camping, flying around the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park in a friend’s plane, and building bonfires on Shadow Mountain. As their summer activities turned to winter ones, they both felt that there was a future for them together.

Around Christmastime, Chris’ family came to visit and flew into Salt Lake City. Chris convinced Taylor that they should make a weekend trip out of it—pick up his family and do some Christmas shopping in the “big city.” Little did Taylor know, Chris had been planning and orchestrating the details of his proposal for months.

What seemed like an innocent hike before dinner ended at the top of Traverse Mountain with a stunning view of Salt Lake City and Provo, a decorated Christmas tree, and a crackling fire awaiting them—and two friends and Taylor’s family hiding in the bushes. Chris had thought out every detail. The tree was decorated with pictures of their adventures, the fire was warm and inviting, Taylor’s family had flown in from Alabama without her having the slightest clue, and the most epic sunset served as a backdrop to his proposal.

As winter slowly turned to spring, they worked on planning out the details of their wedding. There was little to discuss about location—their lives, friends, and church community were all in Jackson. As their plans came together, they became more and more excited.

Taylor and Chris had an unforgettable time showing off Jackson to their guests from near and far. As the wedding day approached, they were overwhelmed with love and support from their families and friends, as well as their Cornerstone Church community. And, the wedding day itself was unforgettable—Taylor and Chris made a covenant before God, in the presence of their dearest supporters, and then held a celebration relished by all in attendance.


wedding date
24 June 2017

ceremony/reception location
Diamond Cross Ranch

officiant
Eric Davis

photographer
Ashley Merritt Photography
Kristin Lindsey Photography

florist
Jackson Hole Flower Company

entertainment
Cornerstone Band

consultant
Special Events Jackson Hole

caterer
Moe’s Original Bar B Que

dessert
The Bunnery

rental service
Canvas Unlimited Event Rentals
High Country Linen Service

| Posted in Teton Weddings

Home on the Range

Home on the Range

Catherine & Josh

Words by Catherine Bennett + Photography by Taylor Glenn

Josh and I first met on his raft, floating the Snake River. We quickly became friends, though we had no idea we would be engaged to each other four months later! Josh is a FedEx courier and bull-riding cowboy from a small town in Georgia, while I am a city girl, runner, and teacher from Texas. We had both been living in Jackson for several years and planned to stick around. Many rodeos and hikes later, Josh and I became best friends and fell in love.

One freezing-cold morning, while I was gripping my warm coffee mug and admiring the glittering air, Josh knelt and proposed. I was so excited to say, “Yes!” We started planning right away. We both have a passion for nature and the peace, awe, and joy it inspires. We wanted to share this with our loved ones, so we chose to have our wedding in the shadow of the Tetons at Snake River Ranch. We chose this site because it is close to where we met on the Snake River, and it provides a private setting for all to admire the beauty of this area.

Our wedding theme mirrored our personalities—simple and rustic. We chose colors that reminded us of the mountains, including slate blue, gray, navy, and rose gold. We had a brand created that reflects Josh’s bull-riding days when we fell in love. We envisioned a simple wooden cross with greenery and a few flowers gracefully wrapped around it for the altar. The most exciting part of the planning for me was the welcome boxes for our out-of-town guests. Each guest received a sturdy box with our brand on it. Inside, they found a guide to the area’s best hikes, trail mix, water, pita chips, sunglasses, an emergency kit, cookies, and more.

When our guests arrived on Wednesday, we met them for a night at the rodeo …

When our guests arrived on Wednesday, we met them for a night at the rodeo, which was very exciting, especially for many of the “city people.” On Thursday night, we had a lively party on the deck at Lift. On Friday, we had a bridal luncheon at Amangani. Our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner took place at Dornan’s. Josh’s mother created rustic flower vases and arrangements to decorate the tables, and we had special items, such as napkins, imprinted with a sketch of Dakota, our St. Bernard. Guests enjoyed a video that showcased our lives before we met, as well as our story as a couple.

Our wedding day was sunny with clear skies. There was a warm wind blowing through the aspen grove that afternoon. The ceremony was both meaningful and memorable. When our pastor invited Josh and me to turn around and look at our loved ones, we were overwhelmed with joy. Looking into the eyes of the people who had guided us and helped us grow throughout our lives and seeing their continued support as we began a new journey together was absolutely breathtaking.

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a signature cocktail we named Snake River Sparkler, made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka and fresh berries, as they walked along a winding path beside a babbling creek to get to our reception location. Once inside the reception tent, they enjoyed southern-inspired appetizers and admired the view of the Tetons and Sleeping Indian. At the beginning of our reception, my dad was thrilled to introduce the East Coast Motown band he enjoyed during his college days. Their flight was canceled the night before, so they drove all night to make it to the reception. As the sun was setting, everyone fled the tent to take pictures and marvel at the changing hues of light and color all around. We were overjoyed to see our guests appreciating the place we’d chosen to start our lives together. Each of our guests was invited to be silly in the photobooth and to provide one of the photostrips as well as comments in a wedding book for Josh and me. We laughed hysterically when our friends presented us with the photobooth book, as the pages became progressively more funny and ridiculous.

At the end of our reception, we ran through the radiant sparklers and jumped into my truck, driven by my brother. A few minutes later, we continued the celebration with our guests at the Mangy Moose. It was a night full of wonder, laughter, and love. We feel so much gratitude for my mom, who did so much work planning the wedding, as well as for my wonderfully supportive dad and Josh’s loving parents. We live happily in a cabin in Moran, Wyoming, and look forward to many more years in the valley.


wedding date
22 July 2017

ceremony/reception location
Snake River Ranch

officiant
Rev. Ben Pascal

hair & makeup
Champu Salon

photographer
Taylor Glenn Photography

florist
Lily & Co.

entertainment
Liquid Pleasure

consultant
In Any Event, L.L.C.

caterer
Genevieve Catering

dessert
Everything but the Dress

rental service
Canvas Unlimited
Event Rentals

transportation
Buckboard Transportation Services

| Posted in Teton Weddings

Lighthearted & Unforgettable

Lighthearted & Unforgettable

Kjera & Josh

Words by Josh Griffith + Photography by Hannah Hardaway

Kjera and I met while performing together as part of Jackson’s local improv scene. We soon realized we had as much fun offstage making each other laugh as we did onstage. I proposed to Kjera at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, surrounded by family and friends, where I asked her to “saddle up for the rest of our lives” (while dressed as a red ninja, but that’s another story).

We couldn’t wait to start our life together, so we planned a January wedding despite an October engagement. Plus, the date, 1/7/17, was just too alluring to pass up! Pulling together a fun and unique wedding in three months was a real challenge, but as I always say, “Luckily, I married up!” In addition to teaching full-time, Kjera runs a successful wedding planning business, Grand Teton Weddings + Events. She helped incorporate the personal elements of “j+k” into our wedding, like my mom’s sugar cookies, a custom magic trick by Kjera’s son, Star Wars and Harry Potter photobooth props, and signature cocktails and home-brewed j+k beer.

I really wanted to have the wedding outside in Jackson’s natural beauty. Rendezvous Park turned out to be a great setting for the ceremony; it truly felt like a winter wonderland. It was 20 degrees below zero the morning of our wedding. By noon, it had warmed to a balmy 14 degrees, so we put on our boots and long underwear and decided to move ahead with the outdoor ceremony plan. Thirty minutes before my beautiful bride arrived, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped 20 degrees to 6 degrees below zero! By that point, our families had gathered and Kjera was on her way, so we had a stunning and short ceremony surrounded by family and a beautiful blanket of snow.

After the ceremony, Kjera and I toured Jackson for some “just married!” photos. We met back with our immediate family for drinks and dinner at The Bird. About 120 friends traveled from near and far for a late-night happy hour and dance party with fresh beats by Rosie Read. Our intentional and lighthearted plan made for an unforgettable day!


wedding date
7 January 2017

ceremony location
Rendezvous Park

reception location
The Bird

officiant
Ray McDaniel,
First Baptist Church

hair & makeup
Jackson Parlour

photographer
Hannah Hardaway

florist
Floral Art

entertainment
Rosie Read

consultant
Kjera Griffith,
Grand Teton Weddings + Events

caterer
The Bird

dessert
Everything but the Dress

| Posted in Teton Weddings

Jackson or Bust

Jackson or Bust

Jennifer & Jeff

Words by Jennifer Thornton Williamson + Photography by Jamye Chrisman

I moved to Jackson for the summer of 2007. Little did I know, I would be there for much longer than one summer. I grew up in Covington, Georgia, and went to the University of Georgia for my undergraduate degree. After graduation, I accepted a job in Atlanta to start in the fall. Before starting my career, I moved to Jackson to work on a dude ranch as a wrangler. It was then that I fell in love with the Tetons and Jackson. I tossed aside the corporate world for a future of fun and adventure. I lived in Jackson from 2007 to 2012, with a year off in Nashville, Tennessee. Jackson allowed me to explore my love for music and develop my career as a singer-songwriter.

Jeff grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He was a student at Clemson University when he decided to take a break and explore the West. In 2009, he moved to Jackson for the winter season. He, too, fell for the lifestyle and freedom Jackson offered. Who knew that by taking the time to explore our passions and enjoy the beauty and nature that Jackson offered, we would be taking steps to finding each other?

I had just moved back to Jackson after spending a year in Nashville. I was out for a night of bluegrass at the Town Square Tavern when I met up with a friend who had recently moved to Jackson from Nashville. He was out with his roommates, one of whom was Jeff. We were introduced, surrounded by some of our best friends and great bluegrass music. Over the next few months, through endless games of shuffleboard, ski dates, and swinging around the dance floor, Jeff won me over with his smile, humor, and sense of adventure.

In 2012, Jeff moved back to South Carolina to finish school, and I moved back to Nashville to continue my career. Four years later, Jeff proposed. We were hiking in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, and he completely caught me by surprise. When we reached a gorgeous overlook of the city and the surrounding hills, I turned around to find him on one knee.

Both of us immediately knew that we wanted to have the wedding in Jackson. It’s where we met and fell in love. We decided to have the ceremony and reception at the home of a family for whom I nannied for years. They are like family to us. We wanted to get married in the fall, so we selected a date when we thought the weather would be good and when the leaves would be in full color.

Jeff and I did all the planning ourselves. We chose to have our rehearsal dinner at The Granary because it is one of our favorite restaurants in Jackson. The views are phenomenal, and it has a rustic, laid-back feel. We took a group of seventy-two people down the Snake River on Friday, guided by our friends and accompanied by a bluegrass band. It was cold, but it was awesome! Saturday was still cold and overcast; however, when it was time for the rehearsal and dinner, the skies cleared, and it was gorgeous. On Sunday morning, we brought in a yoga instructor for the bridal party, which set the mood for the day. The rest of the day flew by! It was absolutely perfect weather, 72 degrees and sunny. We had an evening ceremony on the lawn by the pond. Afterward, our guests enjoyed cocktails and the bluegrass trio, Bog Dog. Our reception was held mostly inside the home, where the band was set up. Guests also mingled on the outdoor patios and kept warm by the outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. It was a cold evening, but our dance party kept everyone warm. It was truly a perfect fall wedding in the Tetons!


wedding date
25 September 2017

Ceremony/reception location
Tucker Ranch

officiant
Rev. Ben Pascal

hair & makeup
hair : Jennie Holcomb & Tara Aversa
makeup: Melissa Thornton &
Elin Andersson

photographer
Jamye Chrisman Photography

florist
Magnolia Ranch

entertainment
Major Zephyr

consultant
Day-of Coordinator—Allison Kyle

caterer
Café Genevieve

dessert
Kimberly Wedgeworth

rental service
Signature Party Rentals

| Posted in Teton Weddings

A Southern Celebration

A Southern Celebration

Katelyn & Luke

Words by Luke Utsey + Photography by Heather Erson

It’s not every day that you travel across the country just to meet someone from right next door. But, that very thing happened to Katelyn and me in the summer of 2011 while working at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. It was my second summer working in Yellowstone National Park, but it was her first, so the 20-foot snowdrifts in Hayden Valley and the not infrequent snowfall had her looking out for someone from home, someone she could talk to about the strangeness of this new place. When she saw my Alabama name tag, Katelyn came right up and spouted a litany of all the things that made life as a park employee inconvenient. I can remember walking away thinking, what was her problem?

A few days later, I organized a car trip to go see the Tetons; a few of us planned to make our way to Antelope Flats and take in the scenery. Katelyn and her friend wanted to come, so I said I would pick them up after work. When it was time to leave, the girls were nowhere to be found, so they missed the trip. When I returned, I was greeted by a disappointed lady who proceeded to convince me that the only way to make up for my leaving her was to go again the next day—just the two of us. Instead of walking away thinking, what was her problem, I walked away thinking, this girl likes me, and she’s pretty good-looking, too.

We were married at Jackson Lake Lodge six years after we went there on our first date. Seventy of our closest friends and family members joined us for the wedding.

That next day, we drove from Lake Yellowstone to the Tetons and ended up stopping right next to Jackson Lake Lodge. After admiring the scenery, Katelyn suggested eating dinner at the nearby hotel. During that dinner, I realized I had found someone I enjoyed being around more than anyone else I had ever met. My companion was witty, intelligent, beautiful, and blessed with the kind of smile that makes you feel valuable and comfortable. We took our time eating and didn’t get back home until after midnight. When I dropped her off at her door that night, I thought, I could get very used to dinners like that. Did we just become best friends?

The summer that followed was the best of our lives, and we quickly became inseparable. We made plenty of trips back to the Tetons, spent more than a few nights camping under the incomparable western sky, and hiked scores of miles on the trails in and out of the parks. When the summer came to an end, I had a big decision to make. Even though we were both from Alabama, I had a winter job waiting for me at Winter Park Resort in Colorado. Prior to meeting Katelyn, I’d decided to live the vagabond, temporary-job, western lifestyle for a while. However, my serious feelings for Katelyn made me reconsider.

I decided to go home to Alabama with Katelyn. Ultimately, I had to give this relationship a chance no matter what the cost because I had never felt about anyone the way I felt about Katelyn. The happiness I feel when I look at her is more tangible than the happiness of living out West without a care in the world.

We were married at Jackson Lake Lodge six years after we went there on our first date. Seventy of our closest friends and family members joined us for the wedding. One of the most rewarding parts of the whole experience was seeing our guests’ reactions as they witnessed the sights and wonders that were an incubator for our relationship. It was a pleasure to talk to everyone about their favorite park activities; no one was disappointed.

After a quaint rehearsal dinner at Café Genevieve the night before the wedding, our guests came together in a fantastic space at Jackson Lake Lodge, where they mingled inside and out while soaking in the magical evening. It was the best night of my life! And, as we flew back to Alabama as newlyweds, I knew I had made the right choice.


wedding date
12 August 2017

ceremony/reception location
Jackson Lake Lodge

officiant
Rev. Karlin Bilcher

hair & makeup
hair: Eric Hill
makeup: Stephanie Mus

photographer
Heather Erson Photography

florist
Floral Art

entertainment
Judd Grossman Entertainment, Inc.

consultant
Destination Jackson Hole

caterer
Jackson Lake Lodge

dessert
Jackson Cake Company

rental service
Montana Party Rentals Creative Coverings

| Posted in Teton Weddings