Pre-Wedding Haul.. Our Big Fat Montana Wedding

Are you getting married soon…? Someone you know getting married soon…? Being engaged and planning our wedding has been one of the most amazing and memorable times of my life. It’s the introduction to the chapter in our lives where we will be husband and wife. And I have put a few things in place so that 1. I am able to enjoy my engagement with my future husband to be and 2. I am free to enjoy my life and not stress over the little details that in the end don’t really matter. In the end, I want to remember our wedding as the day I married my best friend and we had the time of our lives with our friends, our family, and the ones we love most in life. Here’s how our wedding planning has been going.. The nitty gritty details, the words of advice I have received, as well as some of my own!

For those of you who plan on attending, it’s no secret that my farmer and I are getting married on Montana. Yes I am from California and he is from North Dakota. Many of our friends and family have been asking, “Why Montana?” Well, we decided early on that we didn’t want to put the burden of travel on either side of the family. So we decided why not somewhere in the middle? And Montana happened to be that place. Plus if you’ve never been.. Montana is beautiful! My farmer decided that he wanted to get hitched the first Saturday in September, in between wheat and soybean harvest, of course! This year the first Saturday in September just so happens to be the 7th which is also the day of my parent’s anniversary. I find this kind of neat and they are so thrilled to be having their only daughter get married on their day of love! And so far everyone that frequents, lives, or has visited Montana says we couldn’t have picked a prettier time to get married there!

Potomac, Montana

Potomac, Montana. Isn’t it gorgeous!?


We started out as all engaged couples do, looking at venues. It has always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to get married somewhere outside. In my mind I dreamt of a field of grass, out in the middle of nowhere. I may love the Lord with all my heart but I didn’t want to get married in a church, ever. Maybe if it was some ornate gorgeous cathedral in Europe that would be different. But for the churches I have been in, none have struck my Interior Design fancy enough for me to say, that’s the one! So we began looking at outdoor venues and found ourselves over our head when it came to choosing. Since we were trying to plan a wedding in another state from a whole state away, we decided to consult some help. A wedding planner. At first we weren’t sure because it was indeed a large investment to add on top of an already spendy situation. For those of y’all out there single, let me tell you, weddings are expensive! But after much discussion as well as consulting some already married women about wedding planners, we hired Jennifer from Habitat Events. My farmer’s perspective was the less he needed to be involved and the more the wedding planner and I could plan everything, the better for him. My perspective was the more I could trust her to get done what I needed done, the more I could enjoy my big day with the love of my life and my best friend as well as my time planning. And so far we don’t regret our choice AT ALL. Jennifer has been wonderful and I put the utmost trust in her when it will come down to our special day.

Habitat Events

The staff at Habitat Events… How cute is this photoshoot!?

Everyone keeps joking about me being a Bridezilla, but I think I’ve done extremely well when it comes to the planning process. For someone that tends to be a little type A like I am, I have been extremely flexible and laid back when it comes to making decisions. Both my farmer and I decided early on that we really didn’t have any MUST HAVES for our wedding day besides: 1. it was outside 2. it included sunflowers 3. the food was abundant and good 4. we both wear cowboy boots 5. we were surrounded by good company and 6. there is Pendleton or Forty Creek whisky served (that was my farmer’s request.. HA!) Those were our set in stone requirements and all the rest could be adapted or flexible. Not even though some of these may sound silly, I think it’s good to sit down and set some ground rules per say for your big day. As a couple you decide what’s important to you and what isn’t! This will also make it easier on your poor hubby to-be in the fact that you won’t have to ask him a million questions. He is able to let you know what he cares about the most and the rest you can take care of.

The Venue…

Ten Arrows Ranch

Ten Arrows Ranch

Along with the help of the planner, we chose a venue just outside of Bigfork, Montana called Ten Arrows Ranch. It’s a gorgeous piece of property which houses an amazing old barn. They have a website we came across which let me tell you doesn’t even do justice to the beauty. The owners are super nice and very relaxed when it comes to what you want to do with their property. The wife has an affinity for all things antique and has quite the collection of antique china & linens for rent. All of the ceremony furniture as well as much of the reception furniture has been made by the husband and wife team. Upon visiting the venue, I was in heaven! This woman and I would have gotten along great finding gems of furniture to flip and re purpose. She even has a MASON JAR CHANDELIER in the barn! I was in love!

We did something a little crazy when it comes to picking venues, due to our schedules among other things, we picked our venue and booked it without ever stepping foot on the property. It wasn’t until several months later that we actually visited the property and knew that we made the right choice. This is something I wouldn’t normally suggest. After talking to the planner multiple times and her asking me a myriad of questions, we were given a selection of about 5-6 choices based upon my responses and input to the planner. She did all the leg work for us. Giving us the detailed pros/cons of each choice. Without all of this, I am not sure I would have felt as comfortable choosing a place without having even visited it first. But as I said before, there is no mistaking THIS is the place for us.

Photo Feb 18, 6 05 51 PM

September 7, 2013 I will say I DO right here!

The Food…

Before we hired the planner, we really struggled with what kind of food to serve. It seems like there are either small portion sized meals for CRAZY amounts of money or there is really middle of the road food & lots of it for cheap. One of my big points to the planner was that A. we are food people and B. we love meat. Granted, growing up the daughter of the butcher, meat has been my life and an important part of it. Our planner ended up finding a BBQ joint in Whitefish, MT called PiggyBack BBQ. They own a restaurant just north of Whitefish and just happen to do catering as well! Perfect! We really wanted to try the place before we said yes and gave them our first born child as a deposit. šŸ˜‰ (just kidding but seriously, food is crazy expensive). So we enjoyed lunch there one afternoon and let me tell you.. THIS meat gal was IMPRESSED! These people KNOW how to cook some meat!

Photo Feb 18, 1 31 55 PM

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce, Potato Salad, & Homemade Mac N Cheese

Their pulled pork was fantastic! I am such a sucker for pulled pork anyhow… Their bbq sauce was to die for, perfect amount of tangy, sweetness, with a hint of spicy. Their brisket (which my farmer had) was wonderful. Crispy on the outside but moist and juicy on the inside. Are you hungry yet…? We sat down with one of the owners of the company to talk about catering for our wedding… Let’s just say he had both of us when he said “I love food”. So it may not be filet mignon served alongside some foo-foo sides. But it’s down right good and our guests won’t go away hungry!

The Photographer…

Being a photographer myself, it was pretty much a no brainer that I’d be the one to make the decision on our photographer. I was lucky enough to have found an amazing man who apparently listens to me… Upon our engagement, he had already booked an engagement session in California with one of my favorite photographers who happens to be one of my good friends, Shannon Rosan.

Shannon Rosan Photography

Photograph by Shannon Rosan

Words cannot even begin to describe Shannon. There is no denying she has a passion for what she does. She knows love when she sees it and she enjoys capturing those tender little moments. She has this impeccable ability to make you laugh and feel comfortable in the front of the camera. I first came across Shannon online. I marveled and drooled over her photos. Something about them captured me, I was drawn into her style almost immediately. So I started following her blog, commenting, and then one day I decided to take a leap and attend a photography workshop put on by her and Brent Holland. Many of the things I have learned when it comes to photography and much of the growth I have achieved in my personal journey with photography can be attributed to Shannon. And through that, we have become friends. Shannon is someone I cherish in my life and I couldn’t be more happy to have her there to photograph our special day.

My parents on their wedding day

My parents on their wedding day

Since I am a photographer, I’d like to share a few musings about photography and your wedding. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you have a good relationship with your photographer for your special day. Take some time to seriously consider who you choose. Have it be someone a. who you like and b. who you feel comfortable with. These seem like no brainers but you wouldn’t believe how many people choose someone that they end up being unhappy with in the end. And guess what, it shows in your photos. Having a photographer you are comfortable with and you like will allow you to be relaxed and will allow your photographer to capture those special moments. Photography is an investment. It’s not just a one-time deal. The images from that one day will be forever on your mantle, bookshelf, and will be looked at over and over. One of my all time favorite photos of my parents is on their wedding day above. As a little girl, I can remember loving going through their wedding album. Even for 38 years ago when they got married, their photographer captured those little moments and the love that they share together. And when they are gone, those moments will live on. Those small moments of love captured in time forever. So invest in your photography and put some serious consideration into choosing the photographer for your wedding.

The Invitations…

I didn’t realize how EXPENSIVE it could get for invitations! Holy moly, who knew a piece of paper cost so much!? I’ve been through plenty of weddings whether it be friends or I was the caterer and I know that sometimes brides get into the mentality that everything has to be PERFECT. For example, we sat down with a friend of the family who was looking to have us cater their wedding. My dad offered up his services to rent the linens through the laundry service we received at our meat shop and deli for a VERY low cost. The bride to be declined the offer due to the fact that the napkins and linens had to match a certain color swatch of fabric she had obtained which also matched the paint color of the room as well as some other wedding elements… My dad sort of chuckled and candidly told her, “I know right now it seems like these things matter, but in 20 years from now nobody is going to remember the color of the napkins at your wedding”. And he has a point. I could have spent a fortune on our save the dates and wedding invites, but nobody is going to remember what they look like so I found a free printable and made some changes to it myself. Thanks to Pinterest I came across this free Mason Jar wedding invitation printable complete with an RSVP, Save the Date, AND thank you card! The website offered custom color selection, but I took them into Adobe Illustrator, made some of my own changes to personalize them a bit, and ordered them through a photo printing service I use for .69 cents a card. Simple, easy, and affordable. And everyone so far has loved them! I am also doing the same thing for our wedding invites and RSVP cards.


Our Personalized Save the Date

Also another good idea that I picked up from a magazine was instead of ordering personalized return address labels (which can be expensive) is to order a stamp instead which you can keep for many years to come. I ordered this custom stamp from Paper Source for $39.95 but paired it with a 20% promo code! Now I can use it over and over again, even after our wedding for any correspondence I may need to send out. And I don’t have to peel and stick 300+ labels to our Save the Dates, Invites, and Thank You cards. It’s the little things…

The Gift Registry…

I will be honest, this was something I struggled with doing. You’d think it would be easy to choose things you want right? Wrong. WHAT do you register for? How much do you register for? How many places should you register at? I was full of questions when I first started, so I consulted some guides, made a list to guide me, and just took the leap. Since I am having two bridal showers (one in CA and one in ND) I wanted to give a variety of options for my guests, not just things found in one location or the other. I decided to register at Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, and Kohl’s. Then I found which is a great website for allowing you to register for anything from ANY website as well as sync with your registries at select department stores! I did all my registry online which probably isn’t ideal but I shop online all the time so that’s nothing new for me. And yes, we are probably missing out on that wonderful all day registry shopping trip complete with the scanner. A few tips that I received from former brides was to make sure I put quite a few big ticket items on my registry! A lot of times people pool together for weddings so that they can buy one item versus a bunch of smaller items. Another bride confirmed this telling me her large ticket items were the first to go on the registry. Quite a few people told me to make sure to put some items on the list for my farmer or include him in the selection of the registry. I consulted him before I signed up for any registries and to be honest, he didn’t want anything to do with it. He could careless what plates we receive or what our sheets look like. Kitchen or interior design is not his bag and as long as I have the proper tools to cook him supper and our house is functional, he’s happy. I did, however, include a few man friendly items on our registry just for him.

My Resources…

There are ENDLESS amounts of resources for future bride-to-bes out there. Seriously, it’s sometimes overwhelming. So what have I used? What’s been effective for me? Well… Pinterest probably has been my go-to for ideas and being able to store things/ideas I want to come back to. Pinterest can also be detrimental in the fact that it simply has TOO MANY good ideas. I have forced myself to narrow down the ideas, decorations, etc. that I have pinned and really streamline what I am going to use for our wedding and what can be deleted.

Another resource that I have found to be super helpful is the Real Simple Weddings magazine. I know there is a plethora of wedding magazines out there. I was gifted and bought up quite a few of them, but only saved a few pages I tore out and then tossed them. The Real Simple magazine is the only one I’ve knew in its entirety. I love the magazine Real Simple and their wedding edition was even better. It was full of little ideas and helpful tips to plan your wedding from large things like the venue or flowers to little details like a return address stamp.

My excel has been working overtime with guests lists and expense documents. It’s been an essential tool in planning our wedding. I have kept an up to date wedding guest list which not only counts the number of people we will send invites out to but it also has their addresses there all in one place. This has made life so much easier. I also included a column that when we send out our invites, I can put a yes or no RSVP response on there too. I also put our running expense list into an excel document. Many magazines and planning books give you these forms but I found a lot of them to include things we aren’t including in our wedding so I personalized ours to make it easy to read and streamlined. Although my farmer doesn’t like to look at it, it has made it easy to go over the finances for our wedding with our parents, etc. And it also lets us know which deposits we’ve paid, how much, and when.

Finally, I have consulted other women who have been married. This one is tricky though. Everyone is different and you’ve got to have a real clear idea in your head about what you want for YOUR wedding before you go asking other people their opinions. I’ve had a lot of women who are super helpful and I’ve had some that aren’t. Either way, I am always cordial, thank them for their answers, and take from it what I want/need.

In the end, don’t forget that your wedding day is about YOU and YOUR HUSBAND. Not anyone else. And that you two should be doing what makes YOU both happy, not anyone else! Happy planning! And stay tuned for updates from our wedding! Have something you’d like to share with us…? Leave a comment below or email me!


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10 responses to “Pre-Wedding Haul.. Our Big Fat Montana Wedding

  1. I love this post Jenny! I was also hitched on my parents anniversary date (June 13) and it is neat to have that date so special. Your wedding sounds like it will be lovely and I agree with many of your tips. Your food will go great with your venue. Also, wow! You look A LOT like your momma!

  2. I love this post and agree with your tips. I share my anniversary date with my parents and it is so special! Your wedding sounds like it will be lovely and the food will fit the venue. Also, wow! You look a lot like your momma! Gorgeous.

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