After a successful first date during a snowstorm, it was only fitting that these two wed amid blankets of the white stuff in Deer Valley.
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Genevieve Conallen and Eric Burger are no strangers to signs from above. In 2011, the New Jersey residents met on a blind date in the midst of a snowstorm. Nearly two years later during a trip to Oregon in 2013, he proposed as the pair looked up at the sky to watch shooting stars. So it was only fitting that on their April wedding day, pure white flakes floated down to the horse-drawn sleigh that brought Genevieve, a biochemist, across the mountain in Deer Valley, Utah, to marry Eric.
From the start, the avid skiers wanted a destination wedding where guests could hit the slopes. They picked a place—Deer Valley Resort—and a date, April 5, 2014. But their planning screeched to a halt when they received news that Eric had been diagnosed with stage-four melanoma. Surgery followed, along with a series of treatments. Any talk of postponement, though, was shot down. “Life’s not in your control,” says Eric, an engineer. “We weren’t going to change our plans until we heard proof that we had to.” As the big day approached, the pair “didn’t sweat the details,” Genevieve says, and flew to Utah to tie the knot, knowing they would learn the results of Eric’s treatment mere weeks after the wedding. Instead, they concentrated on enjoying the weekend-long party with 70 family members and friends who gathered at the resort. Early Saturday evening, Genevieve and Eric exchanged vows they wrote themselves in an emotional nondenominational outdoor ceremony officiated by a local reverend. At the cocktail hour inside the hotel’s restaurant, guests warmed up by the fire before diving into grilled beef tenderloin and halibut, then dancing until after midnight. “The feeling of love and joy was palpable,” Genevieve remembers. “We all chose to live in the moment and not let fear or worry get in the way.”
A few weeks after husband and wife returned home, they had another reason to rejoice: Eric’s tumors had shrunk by 80 percent. “We were over the moon!” she says. To celebrate, they jetted off on a two-week honeymoon to Thailand and Cambodia, where the blue skies were a sure sign of living happily ever after.
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Eric and Genevieve knew they wanted a destination wedding; since they began dating, they’d attended a few loved ones’ beach weddings. “We felt like our friends had done all that, and most of our friends also love to ski,” the bride says. A spring wedding in Utah, on the tail end of ski season, won out. “It was the most beautiful setting.”
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The Bridal Party
Genevieve’s sister served as maid of honor, and Eric’s close friend was best man.
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The bride, who wore Nicole Miller, saw her dress in a magazine and knew it was the one. “It’s my style exactly,” she says. “It’s beautiful and low key and simple. And with a small train, it was easy to walk around in the snow.” She accessorized with a Melinda Rose veil and vintage Christian Dior gloves. For photos and the ceremony, she sported white Uggs and then slipped into heels once they went indoors. The groom opted for an Ermenegildo Zegna tux with a Brooks Brothers shirt and pocket square and a Lanvin bow tie.
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The Bride’s Bouquet
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The pair decided to forgo readings. “It was a short and simple ceremony,” Genevieve says.
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Guests snuggled up in embroidered fleece and velour blankets during the ceremony, then took them home as favors.
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“We kept the carriage during cocktail hour for kids to ride, but even adults were lining up!” Eric says.
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Low vases with seeded eucalyptus, garden roses, lisianthus, freesia, hellebores, anemone, and andromeda dotted the reception tables. Each napkin was topped with a cinnamon stick and a sprig of rosemary and tied with a piece of twine to bring home the woodsy, rustic theme.
The event’s size—there were 70 guests in all—made everything feel intimate and personal. “We knew it was only our closest friends and family, who had traveled so far to be there,” Genevieve says. “We felt so close and connected to everybody.”
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A Wintry Cake
Pinecones topped the dulce de leche cake with salted caramel filling and vanilla buttercream.
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The First Dance
The couple’s first dance was to “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam. Genevieve had the song’s title engraved on Eric’s ring. “It was kind of my motto,” she recalls.
“She’s so tiny, so I’m always picking her up,” Eric says of their dance. “Her dad tried to imitate me at the wedding and nearly fell over!”
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Location, Catering, and Cake: Deer Valley Resort
Flowers: Artisan Bloom
Photography: Erin Kate Photography
Videography: Connor Winton
Officiant: Anita Gordon
Stationery: Two Paperdolls
Bride’s Gown: Nicole Miller
Makeup: Heather Shelton
Hair: Faith Hoggan
Groom’s Tuxedo: Ermenegildo Zegna
Transportation: Exclusive Excursions
Custom Blankets: HOS Specialties
Ring Bearer’s Attire: J.Crew
Ring Pillow: Alisa Mayde