Continued from the article in our printed publication...WESTERN HERITAGE
Montana's history is much like that of a classic Western. Native Americans, cowboys, and settlers inhabited the vast mountain ranges, deep valleys, and rolling riverbeds for two centuries before the territory became the 41st state in 1889. If it's Montana’s history that interests you, incorporate it into your Big Sky wedding from the very beginning. Start by choosing your theme. Are you a fan of the Calamity Jane era, the time of the unlawful West? Or perhaps you prefer the idea of the cowboy, the rancher, the history of local brands -- whatever you choose, be sure to have this theme resonate throughout your wedding, and reflected in each minute detail.
Create a very strong sense of place that takes your guests back in time when you choose your venue. Find a location with a rustic feel to it, whether it's in a barn, on a ranch, or near one of Montana's many ghost towns. Create place cards and distinguish tables with unique brands. Serve cocktails and water in mason jars, cover the tables in cowhides, and swap out chairs for hay bales. Tie the flowers with leather, and accent the centerpiece with bandanas. Book a live country band that will play old favorites, and hand out flasks to show your bridal party how much you appreciate their participation. Be sure to send your friends and family home with a jar of homemade jam, a deck of cards, mini mason jar candles, or cigars.BIG SKY PASTIMES
One of the most notable facts about Montana is its sheer size coupled with a low population, which combine for optimum conditions if you're an avid outdoorsman. Whether your passion lies on the riverbank or atop a peak, weddings are a perfect opportunity in which to share your love with the friends and family closest to you, so choose a venue that reflects this. Are you a devoted fly fisherman? Have the ceremony on the banks of the river. A zealous hiking couple can commit in the mountains on a trail, or enthusiastic skiers can say their vows at a ski resort. Let your guests know your theme from the beginning when you design your save-the-dates and invitations accordingly, whether you do this by including a photo of the two of you on a chairlift, or design the invitations on a map of your favorite Montanan hiking trails. Plan an entire weekend of activities that center on your love for the outdoors -- you can have a non-traditional rehearsal dinner by taking your friends and family on a rafting trip, guided fishing float, or a group hike. You could also gift these activities to your bridal party and family members.
Give your guests a welcome bag with all the supplies they need for the great outdoors: sunblock, bug spray, locally tied flies, trail mix and a map. At your reception, serve wild game and trout. You can name the tables after your favorite fishing accesses or ski runs, lakes or trails. Party favors at this type of wedding are useful and endless, as you could hand out personalized Chap Stick, water bottles, or flashlights. Bring the excitement of the outdoors into the wedding reception with a posed adventure photo booth – set up props so it looks like your guests are on a chair lift or at the top of a peak.
To read the beginning of this article, pick up a Montana Wedding Guide or download the PDF version!