A wedding here is unlike anything else

Welcome to a place unlike anywhere in the world. You’ll see it the moment you glimpse those three towering peaks for the first time. You’ll feel it the moment the cold, thin air greets you. You’ll hear it when you pause and silence fills the space where ambient noise usually dominates.

We all know this place is unique. That’s why you’ve chosen it as your wedding venue. But it comes with a unique wedding planning process as well. In an area as different and beautiful as this, what else would you expect?

In the same way that open space replaces a city skyline here, one wedding vendor here can replace twenty-five in the city. Where resources are unlimited in a city of 500,000, they are more difficult to find in a town of 10,000. And, while wedding planning can feel rushed in the hustle and bustle of the big city, it often feels easy, relaxed, and sometimes downright slow in a mountain town.

After eight years and more than 250 weddings in other cities and towns, I have a decent idea of how a wedding works. But while some things remain the same no matter where you wed, my recent move back to the Teton area has made me realize that others certainly do not. Here’s what I’ve learned from my transition to Jackson, and what to know before taking on a wedding in this one-of-a-kind place.

Slow down
Things move slower around here, which can work to your advantage. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. Split up the biggest items and take your time on each. For instance, January can be venue month, February can be DJ month, March can be cake month, etc.

Photo by Bradly J. Boner

On the flip side, when the lack of urgency isn’t working in your favor, remember to be patient—with your vendors, with each other, and with the process. If the world around you isn’t rushed, there’s likely no reason for you to be either. When you feel stressed, excited, or overwhelmed, channel the calm energy that surrounds you. Stop, breathe, remember what’s important, and then move forward.

Embrace the beauty of the area
What is the No. 1 thing that makes a Teton wedding unlike any other? The surroundings. Nowhere else in the world will you find a mountain range like this one, the pristine lakes and rivers that flow through the valley, and the sweet little Town Square framed by elk antler arches. Utilize it! Consider incorporating locally purchased elk antlers into your décor by using them as centerpieces. Feature the Tetons and their pristine lakes as your backdrop by getting married in one of the stunning venues in Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone National Park. Or exchange wedding vows and rings at the summit of a ski resort—Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, or Grand Targhee Resort—and feature the stunning mountaintop views as your backdrop.

Don’t forget your roots
Over 60 percent of the brides I’ve worked with in the area don’t live here, and over 90 percent are not from here. While it’s important to honor this area as your wedding venue, it can be equally important to incorporate pieces that honor where you’re from. If you’re from the city, feature your hometown skyline on your table numbers or escort cards. Or, if your family boasts strong ethnic ties, represent it with cuisine in your menu.

Utilize your small-town connections
The views are great. The adventure is exciting. But it’s the people here who will welcome your guests to one of the greatest places on Earth. In planning a wedding, locals can be your biggest assets.

Photo by Jamye Chrisman

One of the best things about small-town living and small-town planning is that everyone knows everyone. So start asking questions. When you find a vendor or two you love, ask for their preferred vendor list to find more. If you’re on the fence about a company, reach out to the people around you for their advice. If you don’t have anyone to ask, ask your waiter in a restaurant or a stranger in a coffee shop. This is one of the few places you can do so easily (both receive local advice and talk to strangers). Chances are your vendors all know each other professionally, and perhaps personally, when they show up for you on your big day.

Party like the locals
Locals in mountain towns consider themselves professionals in adventure and drinking. They stay out late in the bars and still wake up at 7:00 a.m. to embark on an adventure. While you’re here, you’ll want to party and celebrate with family and friends, but don’t forget that you have to wake up early for the biggest adventure of your life. Take a few tips from the pros to allow yourself an epic time and an on-time honeymoon departure.

Remember to drink water in between each alcoholic beverage. Don’t forget to eat—the breweries feature some great local food to pair with your pints. And remember that elevation heightens the effects of alcohol, so don’t try to go drink-for-drink with a Jackson lifer.

Remember: You’re at 6,237 feet
Very few wedding venues sit at 6,000 feet or above, and the altitude will affect your wedding in two major ways: weather and fatigue. Avoid panting while you’re walking down the aisle with two secret weapons: water and air. Drink water until you think you can’t drink any more. And, even though it may sound ridiculous, purchasing some canned oxygen from the grocery store could be a day-saver.

When it comes to weather, at the end of the day you should be prepared for anything. Snow in July is uncommon, but not unheard of. If a change in weather would ruin the whole day, consider changing your plans. And if, or when, a change in weather does come—embrace it!

Be grateful!
Finally, write down what you’re most thankful for and let gratitude be your guide. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with making every detail beautiful, allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the beauty that’s all around you. When you get frustrated with seating assignments, be happy for the one who you know will be sitting beside you. When you get wrapped up in the little things, return to the reason for it all. When it feels like too much, breathe the mountain air, listen to the sound of silence, watch the sun glow off the granite towers, and be grateful you get to do it all here—in this place that’s unlike any other.

Britney Magleby was born and raised in Idaho Falls and spent her childhood playing in the Tetons. She now works at Snow King Resort and finds passion in making memorable events in the most beautiful place in the world. When she is not working, you’ll find her playing in the same mountains that were her childhood playground.

Photo by Katy Gray
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