Kate & Kenny
Words by Kate Heidenreich + Photography by Jamye Chrisman
I moved West from Austin, Texas, in 2012 with my best friend, whose family has a home in Victor, Idaho. We left the big city ready to spend a summer in the mountains. Fall quickly came, and we couldn’t imagine leaving! Right after Thanksgiving, I was invited to a potluck by a group of wildland firefighters spending their winter skiing Teton Pass. There, I met Kenny. He had long blond hair, a welcoming smile, and a mustache I found charming.
I fell in love with his adventurous spirit and kind heart. He loved my willingness to explore right alongside him. We slowly made a home in Teton Valley.
I am a freelance writer, and Kenny is a wildland firefighter and ski patroller. He spends his summers as a national resource, meaning he leaves for two weeks (sometimes more) at a time to fight fires from Idaho to Alaska. One day in August 2015, after a particularly long time away, I came home to find Kenny on one knee in our living room, with our cattle dog sitting nearby. I said, “Yes!” and a short forty-eight hours later, he headed back to the fire.
When winter came and we started to plan our wedding, summer was out of the question. For starters, the groom needs to be there! We planned an October 1 wedding, knowing fire season would be winding down and the fall weather could still be nice enough for an outdoor wedding.
There was no question where we wanted to have our big day: Linn Canyon Ranch in Victor. From birthdays to anniversaries, we had enjoyed many special nights at the ranch.
Marrying a wildland firefighter means a lot of things to me: It means understanding responsibilities coming first and letting go of needing control. In the summer, we enjoy the moments we have together and let go of making plans. I took this understanding into planning our wedding. I knew my other half would do his best to be involved, but in the key months leading up to the big day, he was less than available.
But, marrying a wildland firefighter also means having a rock-solid community who can relate to you and support you whenever your partner is unavailable or you need an extra hand. This was what we wanted our wedding to be all about: bringing our big community of family and friends near and far together to celebrate love.
On the day of the wedding, we woke up to sunshine and scattered showers. But, come rain or shine, we were saying, “I do,” at four o’clock.
As I stood with my dad ready to walk through the aspen-covered archway and meet my groom at the altar, rain started to sprinkle down. Later, I was told that my mother’s favorite moment of the entire weekend was when she and my sister were gathering the wedding party. She expressed concern that the rain was coming, and maybe we should bring guests inside. Kenny, calmly and confidently, said to her, “It’s going to be just fine. Let’s start the ceremony.” The sun shone brightly on the trees, and it didn’t rain a drop until after the ceremony.
Guests enjoyed smoked chicken and grilled salmon cooked to perfection by chef and event specialist Trudy Linn. Katie Knipe, the ranch’s head of aesthetics, made every detail shine. The reception was dotted with our favorite local purveyors. Grand Teton Brewing provided Kenny’s favorite beers. We sipped wine from my favorite Idaho winery, Boise’s Cinder. Our dear friend Jake Holmes made the wedding pie: a three-tier cast-iron of rhubarb, peach, and berry decorated with elaborate crust work. Cottage Creations designed fall bouquets with yellow roses in honor of Texas. The tables were decorated with elk and deer sheds, and guests signed postcards with advice for our adventures together as husband and wife.
After a quick downpour, the sunset looked like fire on the mountains and brought all the guests outside. The night ended with a surprise fireworks show by Kenny’s crew members. We laughed, thankful that if any fireworks went awry, at least half the wedding party could put out the fire!
1 October 2016
ceremony & reception location
Linn Canyon Ranch
Reverend Monica Hall, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Ogden, Utah
Jenn, Hair Artist
Jackson Hole DJ
Linn Canyon Ranch