Jamie and Ryan’s Glamping-Style Montana Wedding
Jamie and Ryan used to work for the same financial services company, but they were in different office locations when love snuck up on them. Try as they did to ignore their feelings and avoid a long-distance romance, they knew they had to be together. After two and a half years, Jamie moved from Seattle to Chicago to be with Ryan. A few years later, Ryan popped the question.
“Ryan was traveling for work. I did not expect him until late in the evening, so I took my time leaving the office and arrived home to a romantic scene,” Jamie recalls. “I’ve never been robbed before, but I suspect thieves don’t leave rose petals and candles upon departure. Either I was getting engaged or Chicago had lost its edge. After four thoughtful scavenger hunt clues around the city, I found myself, heart pounding, in the elevator on my way to a room in the Four Seasons Hotel. I opened the door to the love of my life, who put a ring on my finger and made me the happiest woman alive.”
She became even happier on May 17, 2014, when she became Ryan’s wife. The wedding weekend at the Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana, was full of rustic but elegant charm (it’s a top “glamping” spot, after all).
Jamie and Ryan worked with Bash Please (who planned and designed the wedding) on their custom invitation suite.
A Warm Welcome
They also included Moose Drool beers and enamelware camping mugs in the welcome goodies.
Bash Please designed sleek wood signage that matched the invites and helped guide guests around the property. This “Jamie & Ryan” sign set the tone—and provided the couple with a special keepsake from the day.
Some Special Guys
In lieu of a formal bridal party, the bride and groom each asked a number of close friends to spend the morning getting ready with them. “Our wedding was so small, we thought it would be silly if a third of the guests were standing up during the ceremony,” Jamie says. Ryan and his guys went skeet shooting the morning of the wedding. “Paws Up has one of the most amazing skeet-shooting courses,” Ryan recalls. He also says it was a great way to shake off wedding-day nerves.
The Group of Gals
Jamie and her girls took a leisurely walk through the woods, drinking coffee and laughing before they got ready for the wedding. She gave each girl a hooded sweatshirt and wish bracelet stamped with their chosen spirit animal.
For Tears of Joy
The bride’s mother and aunt put a collection of vintage hankies to good use, setting them out for guests to use during the ceremony.
The Bride’s Entrance
Jamie’s mother and brother escorted her down the aisle to an acoustic version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” that her brother had recorded.
As the 57 guests arrived to the hill for the service, a song written and recorded by Ryan’s brother played. A friend kicked off the 4 o’clock ceremony with the acknowledgement of loved ones unable to attend. The officiant followed with the story of Jamie and Ryan and a few readings: an excerpt from Pearl Cleage’s “What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day” and Louise Cuddon’s “I'll Be There for You.” The couple then recited Roy Croft’s poem “Love,” which they had personalized a bit. Before exchanging rings, they exchanged five promises to each other (three of them were serious, and two were more lighthearted).
A Grand Finale
After being declared husband and wife, the marriage was official. “Oh, and the big kiss—yeah, I laid one on her,” Ryan says.
The new Mr. and Mrs. gleefully walked up the aisle hand-in-hand as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder played.
Following the ceremony, guests sipped cocktails and played bocce, ladder ball, and other lawn games. “Since Jamie and I have been to so many weddings, we know that quite often this period of the day for guests is the ‘stand around, do nothing time.’ It was important to us to have the music and games available so that our friends and family could enjoy that time while we were off gallivanting through the Montana wilderness for portraits,” Ryan says. “As the story goes, there was a pretty intense game of bocce that took place. The day could not have been more perfect for an outside cocktail and lawn game.”
Photographer Max Wanger had the newlyweds tromping through the brush and a muddy field for portraits postceremony—and the couple loved every minute of it.
The priority of the weekend (aside from getting hitched) was having a welcoming environment for all of the couple’s favorite people to meet and get to know each other. “We always said we wanted it to feel like a giant hug,” Jamie recalls. Paws Up provided the perfect setting for the gathering of loved ones, with guests staying in a cluster of cabins and attending the various events over the days in Montana. Another bonus of the locale? It had sentimental value. The couple had gone glamping, river rafting, and fly-fishing years prior for Ryan’s birthday and fell in love with the venue and the landscapes.
Paper menus were printed to match the stationery suite and tucked into kraft paper sleeves that doubled as place cards at each seat.
A Perfect Paddle
Jamie came up with the idea of using a wooden oar instead of a traditional guestbook for everyone to sign. Instructions were set out encouraging people to leave their mark for Jamie and Ryan as they navigate the waters of life together. Woodworker Chris Kitchens not only handcrafted the piece, but drove a couple of hours to the bride’s mom’s house to deliver it in person so as to avoid any possible damage before the wedding.
A Work of Art
After the wedding and before leaving on their four-month honeymoon to Europe, Jamie and Ryan hung the signed oar on their wall using a wooden holster Chris Kitchens made.
Ryan loves cherry pie more than cake, so the American staple was served for dessert, along with strawberry-rhubarb pie (a favorite of the bride’s late father and a way of honoring his memory).
Pies for Days
Paws Up made a few gluten-free pies so that the bride could indulge in the sweets portion of the evening. And since the couple stayed for a few extra nights of postwedding glamping, they had some leftovers to enjoy during their extra time in Montana.
The First Dance
The newlyweds chose “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung for their first dance song.
Dancing in Style
The dance lovers (usually the first to hit the dance floor and the last to leave it) got caught up in the moment, and Ryan lifted his wife into the air. “I loved it,” Jamie says. “I always feel safe in his arms. It felt like time had stopped.”
But the dancing continued, with tunes spun by The Flashdance. As Ryan (who has been to more than 70 weddings) notes, if you think back to the best ones, it’s great people, a great mood, and a great dance party that is the constant. “I know for a fact we accomplished all three,” he says.