Proud Pups

Photo by Katy Gray

Proud Pups

Words by Samantha Simma

“My dogs are my last goodbye and my first hello,” says Jenna Martin, an adoption counselor at Jackson’s Animal Adoption Center whose own AAC rescue dogs, Gunther and Pepper, were necessary witnesses to her and her husband George’s wedding in the fall of 2019. “Over the years, they have been there through thick and thin, and if they weren’t present [on our wedding day], the wedding would not have been complete.” 

Jenna Martin and her husband George designed their wedding around their dogs, Gunther (right) and Pepper (left). Photo by Karissa Akin

An already wildly unique community, Jackson Hole locals are equally devoted to their zest for adventure and their four-legged family members. “Whether it’s eating pastries outside of Persephone or hitting up Snow King before work, dogs are always a part of the plan,” says Martin. “When planning a wedding, you ask friends and family from all over the world to join you. So, why would you not invite your most important members to witness this new chapter in your lives?” 

Photo by Jamye Chrisman

Dogs hold so many roles: pseudo-children, companions, and best friends. Whether a dog entered the relationship at the beginning or was a step along the way to the altar, he is as much a part of every couple’s love story as the way it began. But incorporating your furry friend into your special day takes some foresight. First, determine the role your pup will have. Will he or she play dog of honor, flower dog, ring bearer, or honored guest? Then, select a venue that is welcoming to pets—a step that is crucial to a smooth execution. 

“We joke that our wedding was not ours, but Gunther and Pepper’s,” Martin says. “From the beginning, we were picking vendors and venues that were pet-friendly.”

Doggie Rehearsal

It’s important that both your vendors and your pup are familiar with your plan. Prior to the event, give your dog the opportunity to familiarize herself with the venue. Dogs have a lot of sniffing to tend to in new spaces, and that could add distractions to an already chaotic day . 

Consider the logistics of incorporating your pet. You will need a plan for getting your pup to and from the event, and must determine who will care for your four-legged friend throughout the day. For this, a dog sitter or pet handler—preferably someone your dog is comfortable and familiar with—plays a critical role. A handler ensures your dog gets the water, food, and potty breaks he needs while you’re tending to your marital duties. In the Martins’ case, dog trainer Eva Perrigo, of Star Dog Training, escorted Gunther and Pepper back to their accommodations after the ceremony. “Not only were they comfortable with her, but we knew they would get back safely so we could let our hair down,” Martin says. Additionally, George made sure both pups received some much-needed exercise before the festivities.

Doggie Dress-Up

Once you have landed on a role, it’s time to choose your dog’s wedding attire. Adorn your proud pup with ribbons, flowers, leashes, bandanas, and collars that fit your wedding theme and color scheme. For the Martins’ big day, Gunther was responsible for the rings—which were attached to a personalized whiskey barrel harnessed to his chest—and Pepper was the flower girl, with a collar from Flowers by Chloe (non-toxic, of course). After being escorted down the aisle by the two maids of honor, Martin said both pups “exceeded their job expectations.” 

Photo by Neil Simmons

Doggie Persona

Take into consideration your dog’s individual personality and temperament before deciding whether to include them. The Martins lucked out with two social butterflies who were ready to participate, but Jenna attests from experience when she says, “Big parties can be a lot for humans, let alone dogs. Understand your pet’s personality and what they can or cannot handle.” If your dog is shy or easily frightened by crowds and strangers, participating in your wedding could be an unnecessarily stressful situation. Think ahead: Speak to your vet, make a plan, and consider keeping over-the-counter medications on hand in the case of unexpected emergencies. 

Samantha, our art director, and her husband Andrew were surprised by a lifesize cutout of their dog, Kuni (courtesy of their photographer). Photo by YTK Photography

Weddings are wonderful, monumental occasions, but they are also highly unpredictable. Do your best to prepare your pet and yourself for their participation. If you decide that it’s not in your best friend’s interest to attend, incorporate them in other ways. Include their photo on save-the-date cards or invitations, order a cake topper with a personalized dog statue, or name a custom cocktail after your pet. 

“Including our dogs in our wedding was something we took very seriously,” Martin says. Carefully planned logistics were key to the event’s success, and in the end, it was so worth it to have their entire family included in their big day. 

Photo by Lina Collado
| Posted in Teton Weddings

Around the World … and Back

Around the World … and Back

Samantha & Joey

Words by Samantha Melton + Photography by Caitlin Steva

Joey and I met in the summer of 2016 while working at Heart Six Ranch in Moran, Wyoming. I was a wrangler and he was a float guide. Before long, we were hanging out in the same crowd—hiking, trail riding, and chatting at late-night bonfires. But mostly, we danced. We spent every Tuesday night dancing to live bluegrass and every Friday night honing our skills at the ranch’s weekly dance night. Soon, I was smitten and we went on our first official date. 

Throughout our summer courtship, however, there was an elephant in the room: I was leaving the country for a whole year in October for a program called World Race. My plan was to travel around the world to places like India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Botswana, Chile, and Peru, partnering with organizations there to teach English, minister to sex trafficking victims, and work with afterschool programs. Despite my adventures ahead, in the back of my mind I knew this guy was the real deal, and one night under the stars he told me I was worth the wait. That fall, at a concert in Colorado, we became an official couple, and I hopped a plane the very next morning knowing we wouldn’t see each other again for 365 days. 

Our long-distance relationship was both challenging and wonderful. I spent my time in Asia, Africa, and South America—in both rural villages and bustling cities—mostly without reliable WiFi. There were times we’d go days and weeks without talking to each other. To get me by, Joey sent me off with a stack of letters meant to be opened at specific times throughout the year. There was a letter for my birthday, one to open when I was homesick, and one to read on my very first flight to India. We learned so much about each other that year through emails, letters, and jumbled up FaceTime calls. But most of all, we confirmed the seriousness of our relationship. 

There aren’t words to describe how exciting it was to see each other again upon my return. We arranged a private setting for the meeting—Togwotee Mountain Overlook—a spot we agreed upon beforehand. Tears flowed when we finally reunited (okay, it was mostly me doing the crying) and we spent the evening talking, laughing, and soaking up a gorgeous Teton sunset. 

Our relationship blossomed over the next year and a half. We road-tripped around the United States, met each other’s families, and cheered on our favorite college sports teams. Back in Wyoming, we spent weekends hiking and nights watching Parks and Recreation. We began talking about our future. Then, one night in March of 2019, Joey blindfolded me, put me on the back of a snowmobile, and asked me to marry him at Togwotee Mountain Overlook, a place that had grown special to us. 

I always wanted a summer wedding, and because we didn’t want to wait, Joey and I chose a July date just four months away from our engagement. People thought we were crazy to plan a wedding on the fly, and maybe we were, but we wouldn’t have changed a thing! Friends and family came from Minnesota, Mississippi, and everywhere in between to celebrate our union. 

We woke to a gray, drizzly sky on the day of our wedding. The Tetons were completely concealed, and I had to accept that the idyllic backdrop I’d imagined might be shrouded in clouds. As I hid in the bridal suite before our ceremony, Joey made the call to wait—just a little bit—to see if the skies cleared. Sure enough, the rain stopped and the Tetons peeked through at the perfect time. I’ll never forget what it felt like to walk down the aisle that day—the love of my life waiting, the people we love surrounding us, and the sun shining through an otherwise cloudy sky. 

Once the ceremony was over, the rain started up again. But it didn’t matter; we were married! Plus, we were too busy dancing our tails off to care about the weather. Even though things weren’t cookie-cutter perfect, it was the absolute best day of our lives (so far). Besides, isn’t it good luck if it rains on your wedding day?

Now, we live in a tiny house built by Joey in the Buffalo Valley (Moran, Wyoming)—the same valley in which we both met and were married. We love calling this place home and plan to continue exploring this magical corner of Wyoming for years to come. 


Wedding Date
July 29, 2019

Ceremony & Reception
Diamond Cross Ranch

Officiant
Pastor Ray McDaniel

Photographer
Caitlin Steva Photography

Hair & Makeup
Elevation Hair Studio

Florist
Wild and Free Florals

Music
Jackson Hole Production Company 

Consultant
Lauren Gazikas

Caterer
The Hatchet

Dessert Chef
Kristina Howell (bride’s roommate)

Rental Service
Canvas Unlimited and High Country Linens

Stationary Design
Madeline Thun (bride’s friend)

Calligraphy
Calligraphy by The Letter Wild (bride’s side hustle)

| Posted in Teton Weddings

In Just the Right Order

In Just the Right Order

Chloe & Jason

Words by Chloe Pierce + Photography by Jamye Chrisman

My parents met while my mom was working at The Merry Piglets Mexican Grill in Jackson. At the time, my dad owned property over the hill in Clawson (not Tetonia, if you ask him) and was building a house in between trips to Alaska where he worked on a fishing boat. Soon after, he and my mom moved to Seattle to be closer to my dad’s work and my mom’s sister. This is where I was born. When my parents moved back to Teton Valley, Idaho, they continued working on the house that shaped my upbringing, as I split my childhood between Alta, Wyoming, and Tetonia, Idaho, once they got divorced. 

Jason was born in Texas, but he spent his early childhood in Hawaii. His family moved to Teton Valley when I was in the third grade and he was in fifth grade, living on Packsaddle Road in Tetonia. They moved a couple of times, but eventually landed in between Driggs and Victor where his parents live now. 

Jason’s little sister Jacque was one of my best friends growing up. Upon meeting, we were immediately inseparable, spending nearly every weekend together. My dad would drop me (age 7 at the time) and my little sister off at Jacque’s house to play so that he could work. Jacque and I would run around together and leave my sister with Jason (age 8) to hunt for grasshoppers. 

Jason and I both went to Teton High School; he was a senior when I was a sophomore. I attended college at the University of Wyoming, graduating with a degree in costume design. After college, I traveled on both the east and west coasts, as well as to Thailand and Greece. I’d come back to the valley whenever I needed a free place to stay and to earn money for my next adventure. Each time I returned, I realized I liked the place where I grew up more and more.

Jason and I remained friends while I was away and he was in Colorado working construction. Then, when we both moved back to Driggs, we hung out. He towed me out of snowbanks whenever I was stuck and brought pizza and beer over to my house after work. We spent weekends at the Royal Wolf in Driggs playing pool where he pretended to be my boyfriend whenever a creepy guy hit on me. 

When we finally got together, someone asked Jacque how she felt about her brother and her best friend dating. “We all knew it was going to happen,” she replied. “It was more of a surprise to them.”

Fast forward several years to our wedding day. We both wanted a tiny wedding (I guess you could call it a “micro wedding”). We invited only our immediate family and their significant others and children and our good friend Emma Farnsworth and her mother, Rebecca, who is also a dear friend was our cake maker. Sixteen people attended our wedding in total, including Jason’s 5-year-old son Gavin, our 18-month-old son Landon, and our photographer Jamye Chrisman.

We wanted our ceremony to take place somewhere with a mountain view, because, after all, one of the best things about growing up in this area is the Teton Range. We chose the Wedding Tree near Kelly, Wyoming, because we loved how the trees framed the mountains, and we hoped to encounter some of the area’s abundant wildlife.

Jason and I planned a prearranged first look at Schwabacher Landing, along the east shore of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park, to snap photos at the base of the mountains. But Mother Nature graced us with a total whiteout blizzard, thwarting our plans. We could barely see the car in front of us driving out there, let alone anything resembling a mountain. Well, the mountains never made their showing that day. Still, Jamye was able to capture another Teton icon—big, fluffy snowflakes. In fact, the photos came out so good that I didn’t even care about the weather, even though it was freezing! 

My dress is one of my favorite parts about our wedding. With a long-sleeved design, I was able to layer two sets of long underwear underneath it without anyone even knowing. And this dress has a history, too. It was handmade—with a peplum at the back, satin covered buttons, pointed sleeves, and a sweetheart neckline—by my great-grandmother for my grandmother’s wedding day from silk satin my great-grandfather brought back from China. My grandma  and grandpa were married on June 17, 1950 and stayed together for 69 years. In the ’80s, my dad’s sister wore the dress again (unaltered) and is still happily married. 

I was sure I’d have to make alterations to the dress, but amazingly it fit almost perfectly! The only modification I performed was one tiny dart in the center of the back to accommodate my shoulders, which aren’t quite as broad as my grandma’s. The only other repair made was to the hem. While making the alterations, I imagined myself following in her footsteps, as she taught me how to sew and bought me my first sewing machine. 

Jason and I accomplished all of our wedding day goals with a January ceremony at the Wedding Tree. The snowstorm made for magical photos. And although the guest list was small, the amount of love and support we received could have filled an entire concert hall. After the ceremony, we retired to the Calico for an après celebration and cake cutting. 

It sounds so cliché, but the fact that Jason and I were “just friends” for so long—long enough to know basically everything about each other—allowed us to establish a solid foundation for our marriage. Today, Jason’s son Gavin is the best big brother to our younger son, Landon, and I have three guys who I love with all my heart. We did things a little out of order, maybe, but it works for us and it’s pretty cool that Jason and I get to raise our family in the same valley where we grew up. 


Wedding Date
January 27, 2019

Ceremony Location
The Wedding Tree

Reception Location
Calico Restaurant and Bar

Officiant
Emma Farnsworth (family friend)

Photographer
Jamye Chrisman

Hair & Makeup
Joy Daniels Salon

Florist
Flower Market at MD Nursery 

Caterer
Calico Restaurant and Bar

Dessert Chef
Emma Farnsworth and Rebecca Nimmo (family friends)

Stationary Design
Snapfish

| Posted in Teton Weddings

Space and Time

Space and Time

Kelsey & James

Words by Kelsey Mitchell + Photography by Amy Galbraith

I grew up in the rolling farmlands of rural Maryland, and James grew up in a small, crunchy D.C. suburb, Tacoma Park. We each spent our childhoods running around in the woods. Our early passion for adventure—and basically anything outdoorsy—turned into college majors, seasonal jobs, and, eventually, careers. Our paths led us independently to the Triangle X Ranch in Moose, Wyoming, where James guided river trips and I led horseback rides. 

Our work seasons first overlapped in 2010, yet we ran in different circles. My pursuit of a master’s degree took me away from Jackson Hole for several years. Then, only days after finishing my degree, I headed back to the ranch where James was beginning his seventh summer floating tourists down the Snake River. At first I thought James might be trouble, as he had quite the reputation of being a “player.” So when James first showed interest in me, I effectively rolled my eyes and thought, “I’m not going to be another one of your conquests.” Turns out I was wrong, as we soon became friends, embarking on adventures in and around the Teton region. After many escapades, tons of laughter, countless sunsets, and perhaps a small amount of tequila, I saw a side of him I hadn’t seen before and something sparked between us.

As a couple, we enjoyed our seasonal life in the valley until career-aligned job offers got too good to pass up, pulling us both away to California. I took a job as a researcher for a biotech start-up in San Francisco, and James became a law enforcement ranger with the National Park Service. Still, we schemed to someday return permanently to the Tetons. 

On December 23, 2017, James and I got engaged while visiting Jackson to celebrate Christmas with my sister. After I unwittingly shot down several proposal attempts, he finally convinced me to go on a walk with him in the snowy hills behind Triangle X. We stopped at a favorite plateau and admired the view together just as the clouds broke. Then, James knelt down into two feet of fresh snow and pulled out a white gold ring with three diamonds. Unknown to me, James had collaborated with a goldsmith in San Francisco. His guidance helped James (who had previously dabbled in silversmithing) craft an engagement ring for me. It was stunning!

James and I reveled in engaged bliss for months before we started thinking “wedding.” (I highly recommend this.) We toyed with the options: Big wedding or small? Maryland or Wyoming? Elopement? Backyard picnic or formal reception? The list goes on. The hardest part of the planning process was settling on one vision. We would both get into one idea, and then, three days later, one of us would feel strongly about a different direction. It became a nearly impossible mix of sticking to your guns and a ton of compromise. Good practice for marriage, I suppose. 

After sifting through possibilities, a wedding at Triangle X Ranch seemed an easy and natural choice. It represented the beginning of our history, and it was where each of us felt the happiest. The Turners—the owners of Triangle X—were so gracious when we inquired about using their ranch as our venue. I remember Harold Turner saying, “It would be an honor,” and feeling that the same was true for us. Selecting this location set the tone for other pending decisions: We identified what was the most meaningful to us and spent our time and money there. 

Neither of us cared about typical wedding details. We didn’t pick colors or have matching tablecloths. We chose not to have a wedding party and instead asked siblings and friends to participate in the ceremony and reception in meaningful ways. My sister, Lauren, was effectively my maid of honor, as she gave a toast at the reception. James’ life-long best friend Dana was his stand-in best man. My brother was our officiant. We invited our siblings and just a few of our closest friends to get ready with us pre-wedding. And James’ younger brothers acted as ushers, helping people from the parking area to the ceremony—after a grueling one-hour traffic delay due to migrating bison. 

We decided to handle ourselves the details we deemed important or enjoyable. We led our families into the national forest and gathered pine, sage, and willow sprigs for each table centerpiece. We assembled them and valued the extra time it gave us with guests. We kept our wedding small and affordable and most importantly meaningful to us. 

We’ve since returned to Jackson—hopefully for good this time—and love how our wedding photos mirror the view we see outside every day. 


Wedding Date
February 23, 2019

Ceremony & Reception
Triangle X Ranch

Officiant
Matthew Mitchell (bride’s brother)

Photographer
Amy Galbraith Photography 

Hair & Makeup
Athena Beauty Artistry

Florist
Bridal Bouquet: Albertsons
Table Centerpieces: self-made

Music
A&B Productions Inc.

Caterer
Triangle X Ranch

Dessert Chef
Addie Hare 

Transportation Service
Teton County School District Transportation Services

| Posted in Teton Weddings

Taking Sides

Photo by Bradly J. Boner

Taking Sides

Annika & Gordon

Words by Annika Finnegan + Photography by Bradly J. Boner & Tim Miller

I grew up in Jackson, went to the public high school, and played soccer year round. Gordon lived in Alta, went to Journeys School (now Mountain Academy), ski raced, and also played soccer for Jackson Hole High School. We never met. Not when Gordon won the individual GS, slalom, and overall state titles in 2008. And not when my team won the state soccer championship my senior year, in 2009. We met while both attending college 1,200 miles away at a small school in Minnesota. Due to the familiarity of our pasts, we started hanging out, attending the same classes, playing intramural sports, and traveling home together during breaks. Then, after almost a year, we kissed. 

That was 10 years ago. 

Gordon would refer to Alta and Teton Valley as “his side of the Tetons,” and I would refer to Jackson as “my side of the Tetons”—a constant theme in our relationship, and one that played out perfectly during our engagement weekend. We planned a summer hike to the top of Table Mountain, and I thought, for sure, this is where he would finally ask me to marry him, on his side of the Tetons. Disappointingly, however, there was no proposal at the top. Little did I know, the next day on a hike to Delta Lake, on my side of the Tetons, Gordon would get down on one knee, perched above the lake, and pop the question. I immediately said “yes.” 

Photo by Bradly J. Boner

Of course, our wedding played into that same theme. Choosing the Linn Canyon Ranch on his side of the Tetons was the best decision we ever made. We had a ceremony, cocktail party, reception, dance party, and place for our guests to stay all in one location. Many local friends set up their campers in the ranch’s field and celebrated with us until the wee hours of the morning. Everyone was able to mingle, meet new people, and hang out around a raging bonfire, making the absence of Teton views well worth it.

The night prior to the wedding, Gordon and I stayed at separate rental houses in Teton Valley with our friends and siblings. Unfortunately, the boys had to check out early on the wedding day, so, in true Wyoming fashion, they bought some biodegradable shampoo and turned the Teton River into their bath house. All the men jumped into the river—where they encountered a bull moose—rinsed off, and then grabbed a burger in town before driving to the ranch to get dressed-up. 

Photo by Bradly J. Boner

Gordon and I let our personalities shine through on our wedding day. Our dinner tables were named after local ski runs. My cowboy boots were a nod to being born and raised in Wyoming and getting married on a ranch. For dessert, and in lieu of cake, my grandmother provided candies from her candy store in Wisconsin, which she has owned and operated since 1986. We had all the gummy candies that I loved as a kid: gummy blackberries and raspberries, sour watermelons, and Swedish fish. She also brought Gordon’s favorite chocolate treats: truffles, peanut butter cups, mint patties, and milk chocolate. She packed it all in her car and drove to Wyoming from Wisconsin, setting up and managing the table the day of the wedding.

Photo by Tim Miller

In order to avoid the largest bridal party in history (our wedding was already pretty big at around 200 people), Gordon and I asked only my two younger brothers, Lars and Bjorn Schou; Gordon’s siblings, Patrick and Ellie Finnegan; and Tobias Helgeson, the Finnegan’s former Norwegian exchange student, to stand with us. We invited Gordon’s 91-years-young grandfather, Pop, to stand in for Gordon’s late father and speak on the best way to maintain a healthy, loving marriage. Looking back, it was one of the best moments of our day.

I was skeptical about having a big wedding, but standing there with the people that we loved cheering us on and supporting us was most magical feeling. It was a lot of work, but it paid off in the end with a beautiful, loving day—celebrated on his side of the Tetons—to kick off the rest of our lives. 

Photo by Bradly J. Boner

Wedding Date
July 20, 2019

Ceremony & Reception
Linn Canyon Ranch

Officiant
Beau Hudak (couple’s friend)

Photographers
Bradly Boner and Tim Miller

Hair & Makeup
Champú Salon

Florist
Red House Flowers

Music
DJ Londo

Caterer
Linn Canyon Ranch

Dessert Chef
Bride’s grandmother

Rental Service
Canvas Unlimited

Videographer
Backlight Creative

Photo by Tim Miller
Photo by Tim Miller
| Posted in Teton Weddings

Runway Magic

Runway Magic

Melissa & Erik

Words by Melissa Larsen + Photography by Hannah Hardaway

Erik and I met during our first semester of architecture classes at Texas A&M University. We started hanging out with the same group of friends and eventually realized there was a mutual attraction. One night, Erik and I snuck onto the College Station Airport runway to stargaze and ended up sharing our first kiss. That day was almost 10 years prior to our wedding date.

Neither of us were ready for a serious relationship, so we remained friends and eventually life took us down different paths. I moved to Washington, D.C., for grad school while Erik stayed at A&M to complete his master’s. Three years later, I moved to Dallas for my first job and hung around with some of the same friends from college, Erik included. After all the years apart, there was still an undeniable attraction between us. 

Erik asked me to be exclusive on New Year’s Eve in 2016.

Last year, on the way down to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, Erik tricked me into taking a detour to the College Station Airport to pick up a friend. When we arrived, however, he drove past the commercial airport entrance and parked around back where the private planes land. He then led me onto the runway where an aircraft hangar was left open exposing a private jet inside. In front of the hanger laid a blanket adorned with red roses, wine, and candy. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him at the very same spot where we had our first kiss. 

Next, came the wedding planning. We knew we wanted to have an intimate destination wedding, but the question was where? 

I grew up camping and backpacking and had this vision of an outdoor ceremony in a beautiful place surrounded by family and close friends. So on a particularly stressful planning day, Erik sketched small vignettes of all the possible options for a ceremony in nature—including one in Grand Teton National Park. (This sketch was later saved by Erik’s father and framed as a surprise for us at our reception.) 

We looked at venues in all of the national parks, and Jackson Lake Lodge seemed too perfect. It was available during our time frame, it provided the option for an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, and it showcased breathtaking views of the Tetons. We also loved the fact that the lodge was located within the park, allowing our friends and family easy access to adventure. 

Our wedding day was truly perfect. 

Everyone always teases me about not remembering the details of our wedding day, because it is usually such a blur, but I remember everything! I remember looking out at the Tetons from my lodge suite and feeling completely at peace as my sister helped me into my dress. I remember a ladybug landing on my wedding dress on my way to meet Erik for our first look (a good luck token). I remember my father walking me across the lawn, Erik smiling as I met him at the end of the aisle, and my veil whipping behind me in the wind as we stood together declaring our vows.

I had visited the Tetons more than a handful of times before, but I never dreamed I would get married here. I also never thought I would marry Erik Larsen—the goofy curly-haired kid from my college years—but life leads you where you least expect it sometimes. And thank goodness! 


Wedding Date
June 15, 2019

Ceremony & Reception
Jackson Lake Lodge

Officiant
Michael Marshall 

Photographer
Hannah Hardaway

Hair & Makeup
Jenny B. Artistry and Jackson Parlour

Florist
McPhee Designs

Music
Steady Jake DJ 

Consultant
Amy McPhee

Caterer
Jackson Lake Lodge

Dessert Chef
Jackson Cake Co.

| Posted in Teton Weddings

Destination Perfecto

Destination Perfecto

Sylwia & Andrew

Words by Andrew Mongeluzzi + Photography by Taylor Glenn

Our journey together began in the fall of 2012 with a text message: “Hey, it’s Sylwia from Zoosk.” These words popped up on my phone and forever changed my life. Zoosk is a dating app (I’m officially old enough to say there was no Tinder at the time) that allows people to connect by accessing one another’s profiles. Sylwia and I met for the first time at a club in downtown Philadelphia. The chemistry was instantaneous, and the proceeding few months included exploration, excitement, and new experiences. 

The importance of travel compatibility cannot be overlooked in a relationship, and one of the first things Sylwia and I connected over was our love for traveling. Within months, we enjoyed our first trip together to the Dominican Republic. It was apparent, upon our return, that we had both found someone who could make the pleasure of travel that much better with their mere presence. Over the following years, we enjoyed trips to Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, and then finally got engaged in Italy. 

I grew up outside of Philadelphia. Sylwia was born in Poland and moved to New Jersey at a young age. Growing up, most of my family’s vacations were spent traveling to the Rocky Mountains. But after experiencing Jackson Hole for the first time, our vacation focus shifted exclusively to the Tetons—exploring the area during different seasons, visiting the national parks, and taking in the views and the wildlife. So, it was only a matter of time before Sylwia joined me on a trip to Jackson so that she could fall in love with the area in her own way. It was then that we knew—the Tetons were the exact backdrop we wanted as we made our lifelong commitment to one another.

Sure, Jackson Hole isn’t the easiest place to host a wedding. And with family located around the world, it would be no easy task getting them all there. Connecting flights, time-zone changes, cost of travel, high-altitude accommodations—all were reasons to deviate back to an East Coast wedding. But that didn’t stop us. We knew that once our guests arrived, they’d share in the place’s sense of magnificence, beauty, serenity, and adventure. 

Stress showed its face many times during wedding planning. But there’s no better location to manage tension than in a place littered with awe-inspiring mountain views, ever-changing sunsets, and night skies with stars bright enough to light the streets. We were reminded of these blessings often during the process, as they were the reason we fell in love with Jackson in the first place. 

We could not have asked for a better wedding day. 

Our first look took place at Moulton Barn. This was one of the best decisions we made, as the photos came out better than expected thanks to Taylor Glenn’s expertise in landscape photography. We made our way back to Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis where our wedding planner, Alison Kyle—who made us feel as if we were her only clients (she books out quickly, so we definitely were not!)—had already seated all our guests. Then, we headed down the aisle to our officiant, Michael Leach, who delivered jaw-dropping words connecting our marriage to the surrounding landscape with its twists and turns, its beauty and magnitude, and its strength. 

After the ceremony, guests entertained themselves at the venue’s driving range, hitting balls at the Tetons while the sun set. At one point, we had almost 100 guests on the range enjoying the views and hitting golf balls—something Golf and Tennis employees told us they had never seen before. We made our way off the range and into the tent to dance the night away under elk antler chandeliers and string lighting. 

After the festivities, Sylwia and I expected to thank our loved ones for making the long journey out West. Strangely enough, it was the other way around. One of the greatest takeaways from our wedding weekend was the stories told by guests who ran into each other on hikes and excursions and at restaurants.

We are so grateful to have chosen a destination wedding in Jackson. We never thought it would be possible to appreciate the natural landscape of the Tetons more than we already had until we enjoyed it, once again, with 100 of our closest friends and family. 


Wedding Date
September 7, 2019

Ceremony & Reception
Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis

Officiant
Michael Leach

Photographer
Taylor Glenn

Hair & Makeup
Elevation Hair Studio and Jessica DeRose

Florist
JH Flower Boutique

Music
Steady Jake DJ 

Consultant
Destination Jackson Hole

Caterer
Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis

Dessert Chef
Buttercream Design

Rental Service
Hughes Production 

Transportation Service
Mountain Resort Services

Stationary Design
Xoyo Paper & Press

Videographer
MTN Media

| Posted in Teton Weddings

FREE SPIRITS

FREE SPIRITS

A gourmet alternative to alcohol

Photo by Lindley Rust

Words by Jessa Smout

Booze-free shindig options are no longer reserved for only pregnant ladies and your religious Aunt Zelda. In fact, more and more people are choosing not to drink alcohol for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe you have health-conscious guests or those who feel empowered by the awareness that comes with a sober lifestyle. Either way, alcohol-free no longer means fun-free, and this growing trend is shaping cocktail menus, alcohol-free bars, and fresh bottled delights. It’s a detail to approach with just as much creativity, thoughtfulness, and intention as any other aspect of your wedding.

As a private beverage caterer with 20 years of experience, I find it impossible not to add a foodie flare to my creative process. I place equal importance on what goes into a drink as to why and when a guest is drinking it. The most extraordinary events I’ve helped design are those that feature a menu as fresh and authentic as the hosts. I have had the pleasure of pouring incredibly expensive and rare wines, whiskey made for a queen, and, as of late, “free spirits”—my term for beverages with no alcohol—made with flower essences and wild foraged flowers. 

Make sure your beverage caterer is aware that you would like free spirit alternatives. You don’t want to run out of a given mixer that she is also using for cocktails. And don’t forget to include free spirits on your beverage menu so people know there’s an option; use wording like “no ABV” or “low ABV” to be subtle and tactful.

Have you noticed the number of drink choices in your local grocery store’s cooler? Healthy drink options are a trend on par with those choosing not to drink alcohol. People want healthy choices alongside the, perhaps, not-so-healthy ones. Think organic ketchup with french fries as a prime example. This is true for bar choices as well. For instance, a delicious free spirit made with fresh-pressed juice and honey simple syrup, topped with sparkling water with a sprig of fresh garden mint can also pair great with locally made gin.  

Photo by Lindley Rust

Don't forget to provide the most important free spirit: WATER. Surprisingly, this detail is often overlooked. Plus, a water station can be a decorative and intentional part of the reception festivities.

There are many ways to accommodate booze-free guests. First, make sure your planner or beverage caterer knows that providing free spirits or low-ABV (alcohol-by-volume) drinks is important to you, and extrapolate what that might look like. If you are happy with guests getting their typical choice of bar mixers, like Coke, Diet Coke, ginger ale, or lemonade, then go for it. But you can think outside of the traditional offerings by incorporating beverages like CBD drinks, drinks that include flower essences, and kombucha. Opt for mixers with fresh ingredients that create one-of-a-kind alcoholic cocktails but that can also double as a free spirit.  

You can make the simplest beverages pop with the right garnish. Edible flowers, dried citrus, and herbs are a few of my favorites—served in colorful glasses, of course.

Photo by Lindley Rust

Healthy food and beverage choices make guests feel cared for. Use welcome baskets with fresh juice blended specifically to combat dry skin and altitude sickness, or to help conquer a rehearsal dinner hangover. For a pre-wedding scenic float trip, pack coolers full of locally crafted beer and a free spirit that mixes perfectly with rum. Imagination and creativity are memorable characteristics of any occasion and will leave your guests wanting more. And don’t forget that alcohol can be one of the more expensive aspects to your event, depending on your audience, so giving people fewer alcoholic options may work better with your budget.  

There are many extraordinary offerings that can be incorporated into an unparalleled event. Be intentional and true to yourself, and you will certainly please your attending tribe. Making sure that everyone has something delicious to drink is an important part of any event, and healthy choices need no longer be relegated to the salad bar—they can now can be at the bar. 

Photo by Jamye Chrisman
| Posted in Planning Your Wedding

GROOMSMEN GIFTS THAT DON’T SUCK

GROOMSMEN GIFTS THAT DON’T SUCK

Clockwise from top left: Geisler Doppler Kit | Mountain Dandy
New West Knifework’s Outfitter Knife | MTN Man Toy Shop
Yeti Rambler Colsters | JD High Country Outfitters
The Man Behind the Maps | Jackson Hole Book Trader
Wyoming Knife Corporation’s Wyoming Saw | MTN Man Toy Shop

Words by Christina Shepherd McGuire + Photography by Kathryn Ziesig

A set of chunky beer mugs (boor-ing) … ties and a tie clip (do guys still wear these?) … personalized flasks (good for chilly lift rides, I guess).

While traditional groomsmen offerings are an easy go-to, why not commemorate your wedding day (and your best bros’ contributions to it) with something more than cookie-cutter gifts? You’re holding your wedding in the Tetons, after all, with majestic scenery that rivals the backdrop of any worldwide destination. Choosing a present that represents the natural landscape simply involves a trip into one of the region’s artisan shops. There, you’ll find that special something your right-hand men will treasure for a lifetime—or at least break out every time you come to visit.

Salty Cottage’s Pillows | MADE
The Man Behind the Maps | Jackson Hole Book Trader

Wander into MADE to sample a squeeze of The Salty Cottage’s “JAC” Pillow. This handcrafted-in-New England throw pillow is made of a 100 percent cotton canvas outer with a wool applique (perfect for rough-and-tumble men). It adds a touch of personality to any man space and is an appropriate gift for both singletons and married dudes. MSRP: $95.00

Idaho native Ben Geisler of Aspen Saddlery grew up surrounded by cowboys, horses, and Western craftsmen of all kinds, fostering his keen leatherworking skill. Geisler’s Dopp Kit—available at Mountain Dandy—is generously sized and made from premium imported leather (just like your favorite saddle). This bag will hold all the necessary men’s toiletries, even while being tossed around like a football. MSRP: $110.00

Those on a budget can stock their pre-wedding float trip boat full of Yeti Rambler Colsters. Much more than a coozie, the lock-and-load feature on this bad boy keeps a 12-ounce can from sliding out and keeps beverages cold nearly all day long. Grab a grip of them at JD High Country Outfitters and stoke out the boys. MSRP: $24.99

The MTN Man Toy Shop on Jackson’s Town Square knows the deal when it comes to unique gifts for guys. Here’s where you’ll find Wyoming Knife Corporation’s Wyoming Saw. Not your typical hacksaw, it comes with two blades, a fingerguard to prevent bruised knuckles, and a powder-coated steel frame that breaks down into a leather carrying case. MSRP: 11-inch at $72.00 or 18-inch at $79.00

Snowy Peaks Mountain Shelf | Six Fingers Studio

Six Fingers Studios out of Bozeman, Montana, makes home décor pieces from reclaimed wood. Their Snowy Peaks Mountain Shelf, made of knotty pine, can keep keys, binoculars, and small books for easy access. Your groomsmen can also use the shelf as wall art, bringing a piece of the mountains indoors. MSRP: $48.00

Any avid skier or snowboarder has, at some point, used one of James Niehues’ ski resort trail maps. This legendary artist started hand-painting maps in 1987 and has designed 200 for resorts in several countries. His book “The Man Behind the Maps” contains all of his creations in one place for a gift worthy of any skier’s coffee table. Find it at Jackson Hole Book Trader. MSRP: $90.00 

New West Knifework’s Outfitter Knife, also found at the MTN Man Toy Shop, is the perfect gift for any hunter. Designed in collaboration with local outfitters and crafted right here in Victor, Idaho, the insanely sharp 4-inch blade gets it done in the backcountry. The Outfitter knife is both a work of art and a utilitarian tool with its intricate handle and leather carrying case. MSRP: $229.00  *Buy 8 or more for 20% off and free engraving. 

| Posted in Planning Your Wedding

FROM GARDEN TO VASE WITH RED HOUSE FLOWERS

FROM GARDEN TO VASE
WITH RED HOUSE FLOWERS

Photo by Shannon Corsi

Words by Christina Shepherd McGuire

In a fast-paced culture aimed at getting what you want when you want it, it’s sometimes hard to slow down enough to make purposeful wedding decisions. Yet, spending time on mindful details—like serving seasonal food, minimizing landfill waste, and attentively choosing your flowers—renders an unforgettable showcase of thought and gesture. 

That’s where the intentionality of the slow flower, or field-to-vase, movement comes in. This practice—in which flowers are grown or sourced locally and hand-delivered by the actual farmer—differs from traditional florist offerings, and showcases the alternative ways some farmers and designers approach the wedding industry. 

“I compare the slow flower movement to the slow food movement,” explains Katie Knipe, designer for Red House Flowers in Victor, Idaho. “Yet, unlike food, there are very few regulations in the flower industry regarding the use of chemicals and worker conditions. … Choosing flowers [for your wedding] that are local and organically grown shows support for a healthier industry.”

Emily Sustick, a former community-supported agriculture farm worker, farm-to-school educator, and co-owner of Red House Flowers, always had an affinity for blooms. “I remember hauling in the veggies and passing by the flower beds at Snowdrift Farms thinking, ‘I wish I was on the flower team.’” 

Photo by Peter Lobozzo

Then, in the winter of 2017, Sustick tore her ACL skiing. Surfing the internet during the resulting couch time, she stumbled across Erin Benzakein of Floret, a small family-operated flower farm in Skagit Valley, Washington. “I was re-inspired,” says Sustick. She bought seeds, grew different flower varieties in her backyard that spring, and brought her collection to the People’s Market in Jackson that same fall. Word got out, causing Knipe, Linn Canyon Ranch’s gardener and designer, to reach out to Emily for flowers for a friend’s wedding. That’s when the light bulb went off for Sustick. 

“Katie had a different skill set than I, making her the perfect teammate for a slow-flower business,” she recalls.

The two officially launched their partnership in 2019 with a clear mission: to reduce the floral industry’s carbon footprint. But the partners had a secondary vision, too, which included tapping into the potential of working with freshly cut flowers, as certain varieties cannot withstand shipping.

Sustick’s “backyard garden” consists of two greenhouses and four raised beds where the Red House ladies grow annuals like tulips, sweet peas, dahlias, mums, and zinnias. A few perennial beds offer flowers such as peonies, rudbeckia, speedwells, and pincushions, and they also forage for hops, berries, and apple blossoms. Some of the flowers grown are not well known and act as filler to create balanced arrangements. Others—like chrysanthemums—can come with an unattractive stigma. Still, the heirloom varieties Sustick grows and Knipe uses in her arrangements don’t look like your typical grocery store chrysanthemum, often eliciting comments like: Are those really mums?

Photo by Peter Lobozzo

Together, Sustick and Knipe create anything from delicate wearables to elaborate installations while upholding their values by reducing, reusing, and going foam-free whenever possible. “Traditional floral foam is technically a by-product of a chemical reaction,” explains Knipe. A reaction that includes the constituents of formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), barium sulfate, and carbon black (a material produced through the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products). Floral foam is full of microplastics, misleadingly marketed as “biodegradable,” and is often used in wasteful proportions in wedding preparations.

For large, ornate installations, Red House Flowers uses reusable materials, like water tubes and chicken wire, instead of foam. The team creates what Sustick and Knipe call a “moss burrito” by placing moss inside a rolled-up chicken-wire form and using water tubes to secure the flowers and hydrate them throughout the event. The infrastructure remains invisible to admirers. Then, once the wedding is over, the moss, wire, and tubes are saved for use in another installation and the rest is composted. 

Photo by Peter Lobozzo

In lieu of purchased vases that are often discarded or sent to the thrift store after festivities are over, Sustick and Knipe supply recycled vases as part of their wedding packages. This offering is not only sustainable, but also provides budget-savvy couples a way to cut costs on their décor. This year, the women will also offer an option for “flower waste disposal,” which involves composting. “It was important for us to address these items so that we could feel really good about being part of this industry,” explains Sustick. “We encourage other florists to examine the alternatives, as well.” 

But it’s not just sustainability that keeps the pair motivated. Knipe has a knack for accentuating a sense of place through big flower installations made with local and regional varieties. She also enjoys the intricacies of little items like boutonnieres, corsages, and flower crowns. “The wearables are the most fun [to create] because of the tiny details I get to put into them,“ she says, “ones that are noticeable to the people who get to wear them. Plus, they show up in pictures!”

Photo by Peter Lobozzo

For Sustick, the mere fact that flowers make people smile fills her up the most as a farmer. “Even if people don’t buy our flowers at the market, there’s something special that happens when they see them,” she says. “We get that same response from the brides when we deliver flowers to weddings. It certainly adds fuel to our fire.” 

Red House Flowers operates seasonally from June through September with limited offerings in the offseason. Learn more about them at redhouseflowers.com.

SLOW FLOWER TIPS:

1. Use local, seasonal flowers whenever possible. “Couples often get married in the Tetons because the place means something to them,” explains Sustick. “Using local flowers helps guests celebrate the uniqueness of place—it’s an extension of the natural world.”

2. Since floral design is an art form, be open to the process. “Try to focus on the color palette and feel that you want for your arrangements, rather than the type of flowers used,” says Knipe. This gives a farmer-florist more freedom.  

3. Knipe thinks it’s important to plan for a big statement piece—something that welcomes guests when they walk in. Think about that concept when choosing the placement of flowers, too. “Where do you want people to see and feel [the love] the most?” asks Sustick.  

| Posted in Planning Your Wedding