Wednesday, February 11, 2015

{Montana Bride Featured Wedding} Amanda + Ben

Love Story & Proposal:

I was just getting out of a relationship and one of my friends told me that I needed to meet her brother. Her exact words, “he’s a little bit older but y’all have a lot in common and I think you would hit it off.”   A few years went by, we never met, and this thought was long gone.  Another mutual friend asked my roommate and I to come meet up with him while he was back in town for the weekend.  We went and that’s where I met Ben, Blue Voodoo in Easley, SC.

We went on our first date on Cinco de Mayo!  Ben took me to one of his favorite spots in Greenville, SC.  Smiley’s Acoustic CafĂ©.  Conversation was easy, the food was great, and the 90 year old trumpet player was ridiculous.  Such a comfortable first date. But then there was the drive home…. I passed out in the car!  Maybe I had a little too much wine, but if you ask any of my friends… when my eyes want to shut, I cannot stop them.  Sooo embarrassed when I woke up, “oh my god, I was NOT just sleeping”.  But Ben confirmed that I was out 5 minutes into the car ride.  Ben always jokes that I obviously wasn’t anxious about a first kiss!  

July 2013, Ben and I were planning to take Nash, our lab, up to the river to play and swim before we left him for a week to go to the beach.  Ben and I had spent some time up there before. Ben says our first trip up to the river together was when it really clicked for him that I was the one.  We hiked down to the river and were just hanging out and throwing sticks for Nash.  And then I turned around and Ben had a box!  “WHAT is that!”  He asked me to marry him and I said of course!!  That night we went to dinner at the place we first met, Blue Voodoo.

The wedding:

Ben and I are beyond blessed to have parents that supported us going outside the box for our wedding.  We both wanted something intimate.  We wanted to keep our wedding day about us.  So, we decided a destination wedding was the route to take.  Our route took us and 24 family members from South Carolina to Coram, Montana.  Nobody in either of our families had ever been there.  Everyone asked us, why Montana?  I love the mountains.  There is nowhere, where I feel more at peace and closer to God.  That’s the feeling I wanted on our wedding day.  So we started looking for a place out west where our entire group could stay and we could have the wedding ceremony and reception on site.  Then we found Green Valley Ranch.  Glacier National Park has always been at the top of my bucket list so it was an absolute, no brainer for us.

 22 of us stayed at GVR and 4 more stayed at Belton Chalet.  We all stayed for 4 nights to not only enjoy our special day but also everything else Montana has to offer.  The morning I arrived at GVR I literally had tears of joy.  I had looked at the place a million times online but getting there and taking it all in was pure joy.  It couldn’t have been a more magical setting to marry my best friend.

The night before the wedding, the men went downstairs to play pool and hang in the basement while all the women grabbed a glass of wine and got ready to put together all of our flower arrangements and bouquets.  This was so much fun!  Coming from South Carolina and not being able to meet with florists we decided to order the bulk of our flowers online and have them delivered to the ranch.  We had buckets and buckets of roses, dahlias, statice, stock, and spray roses.  We started with the bridal bouquet, then I told the bridesmaids how many of each type of flower to use in making their own individual bouquets.  Then we used everything else to make the rest of the flower arrangements for the ceremony, dinner, and reception.  I couldn’t believe how beautiful they all turned out.  Being able to put them together with all my favorite ladies is such a sweet memory. 

 Wedding day!  My mother and I did all the planning.  All our rentals had been dropped off Friday and we spent the morning setting up tables, putting up decorations, stringing lights, and placing flowers.  We had planned it all out and everyone helped us put it together.  Most people may think this sounds super chaotic and stressful but it was actually really nice.  Having a plan and such a small group made it very manageable. I think everyone enjoyed chipping in instead of just sitting and waiting for the festivities to start.   Eventually the wedding party split off to start getting ready.  It was all very relaxed. I got to spend time with my 3 sisters and 2 cousins (pretty much sisters) doing our hair and makeup.  Everyone looked so beautiful!  We took photos, we admired how everything came together, and I did a very brief first look with my dad. My dad and I are very close, we both knew we would be an emotional mess so we made it short and sweet.

It was finally time to start processing in… it was a pretty long walk from the lodge down to the ceremony site. Dad and I held it together at first but then we hit the top of the hill, we saw everyone waiting on us, and the tears starting flowing.  It was all happening.  There was so much love and joy.    

I finally got to Ben and we promised forever in front of those mountains and our family.  EVERYONE was crying.  We couldn’t figure it out!  We think because it was intimate and small people got so wrapped up in the moment with us.  Couldn’t have been more touching.  If you’ve got Spotify nearby turn on Moorie by Great Divide.  Soulful, spiritual, relaxed and fun.  That song gives me the feeling of our ceremony.

 Following the ceremony we had appetizers and drinks on the porch of the lodge while we did family photos. For dinner, we had one long table with the pond and mountains as our backdrop.  It was lovely and dinner was delicious.  We needed a good meal before we got the party going!

Ben and I went with the photographer again for a little while right after dinner.  When we came back it was time to let go and have some fun!  We had cleared out all the furniture from the living room in the lodge to make our dance floor.  And boy did we dance!  Part of me wondered how this part of the day would play out, not having many people. But it certainly turned in to a party and we had the best time!  We ended our evening in true Montana style.  The teepee Diana from GVR set up for us was so romantic and pretty.  Such a memorable way to end our special day.
Ben and I couldn’t believe how well everything came together.  It was everything we wanted and we didn’t have a single regret.  So, so thankful to my mom and the rest of our family that made this day exactly what we imagined.

Advice for a {destination} Montana Bride:

·      Make sure your day is about you and your future husband.  Everyone will have their opinions but yours and his are what matters the most.
·      Give yourself time to think EVERYTHING through but also be able to go with the flow.  You plan as much as you possibly can and then make it work once you get there.  Be flexible.
·      Really get to know at least one person you are working with, trusting them and getting their advice is key.  Diana from GVR was a godsend for us! 
·      September was amazing!  Still nice weather but the summer crowds have died down.
·      Plan to be there for at least 4-5 days, there are so many beautiful things to do and see. The awe we were all in from going to the park the day before the wedding set such a joyful and thankful tone for us and our guests as we went in to our wedding day.
·      If you splurge on one thing, make sure you have a good photographer.  Our pictures take us right back to that day and we cherish them so much.

The Vendors
Photographer: Angela Cox Photography
Rehearsal Dinner: Belton Chalet
Ceremony & Reception: Green Valley Ranch
Planning: Bride and her Mother
Florist: DIY
Catering: Cimarron Catering
Cakes & Desserts: Cakes by Debi
Rentals: Empress Party Rentals
Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals
Accessories: Grandmother's Mink Stoll & Banquet Pearls
Officiant: Marty Stuehler


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