This Couple Incorporated Their Favorite Things Into Their Jackson Hole Ranch Wedding
John and Ellen met on the first day of Law School at the University of Chicago. As fate would have it, they were seated next to each other at a new students dinner and immediately hit it off. They started dating a month later and have been together ever since.
After two years together, John knew that Ellen was the one. The couple lived together in downtown Chicago, but he planned to propose one winter weekend while the couple was staying at her parent's cabin house in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The pair went for an early morning walk just, and John surprised Ellen by getting down on one knee at the end. "I was so shocked that I exclaimed 'NO WAY!,'" she recalls, but was quick to realize her poor choice in words. "I had to quickly clarify that I meant YES!"
Just under two years later, the couple welcomed 95 of their loved ones back to their beloved Jackson Hole for a destination wedding weekend filled with the things they love the most. Their favorite activities, including a presentation from the Teton Rapton Center (a nod to the couple's shared love of birds) and snacks (their welcome bag was filled with tasty trail mix made by a Jackson Hole local) were at the forefront of the event. "We really tried to make the wedding weekend an homage to the things that we love and to infuse a bit of ourselves into everything we did," Ellen says. "Our main goal was to share our favorite things with our favorite people."
Invites to Jackson Hole
Ellen and John's invites gave guest the perfect glimpse into their personalized weekend: The stationary featured a custom crest which included the Chicago stars, the mountains they love to hike on, and even their dogs.
A Warm Welcome
As guests arrived in Jackson Hole, they were greeted with a welcome bag filled with the couple's favorite beverages and treats, plus a scavenger hunt of things to do around the area.
Best Place on Earth
The couple chose to host a destination wedding in Jackson Hole—and specifically, at The Diamond Cross Ranch—because it's their favorite place in the world. "Soon after we met, one of the first conversations John and I had was about Jackson—and how much we love it out there," remembers Ellen.
Ellen's lace and organza wedding dress by Ines Di Santo was the first one she tried on: "I just did not find another that I could imagine getting married in."
A Statement Bouquet
The bride's bouquet was filled with café au lait dahlias, pink snowberry, butterfly ranunculus, and distant drum roses that popped against the Jackson Hole scenery.
Ellen allowed her bridemaids to choose the shade of blush and style of dress they felt most comfortable in. Their mismatched looks were a cohesive reflection of their personalities.
John's groomsmen donned navy suits to contrast the ladies' blush and maroon accents.
Ellen and John made a point to include their two pups Maggie Mae and Kira throughout their big day. They were featured on the couple's crest and custom cookies—and actually attended the ceremony.
The Perfect Day
Ellen describes her wedding day weather as "absolutely perfect"—sunny and low 70s. The horses on the ranch enjoyed the clear day, too; they frolicked in a nearby pasture.
The First Look
The couple skipped a first look, so they first time they saw each other was when the bride began her walk down the aisle. "I think we were both super nervous to see each other, but also really excited," she remembers.
Forever and Ever
After their first kiss, the couple exited their ceremony to "Forever and Ever, Amen" by Randy Travis. "It is a song that John would often sing to me, and we thought it would be fun to incorporate into the day," says Ellen.
After the ceremony and photos, John and Ellen snuck away for 30 minutes of alone time with their dogs in their suite at the Four Seasons. "With all the craziness of the day, it was great to just have that time to ourselves and spend a couple of moments with our little family," remembers Ellen.
A Whiskey Tasting
As a nod to John's love of whiskey, the couple sourced several variations of the spirit from local distilleries for guests to enjoy.
The Wilson Crest
The couple's crest was featured throughout the event, from the invitations to the escort cards tied to camp-style mugs (which doubled as a favor that guests could fill up at the hot chocolate bar).
Rather than assigning seating, John and Ellen opted for two long, family-style tables and encouraged guests to sit themselves.
The dinner menu featured ranch buffalo tenderloin, harvest grilled pheasant, and halibut.
A Flavorful Cake
To go with the couple's theme, their cake featured flavors that they both loved: a layer of yellow cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream frosting—Ellen's childhood favorite—and another with vanilla bean cake and cinnamon frosting for John.
Photography, Carrie Patterson
Event Planning, Firefly Events
Officiant, David Henry
Bride's gown, Ines Di Santo
Bride's accessories, Valentino (shoes)
Hair and Makeup, Champu Salon