Henry and Sara have somewhat of an unusual love story.  How else would a California girl and a cowboy from Montana meet?  A sheep conference of course!  It all started at the American Sheep Conference in Arizona where Sara's sister Lesa met Henry and immediately said to Henry "you need to meet my sister, Sara."    Sara then received text messages from her sister saying, "I met your future husband, he's a sheep rancher from Montana" which Sara replied, "um, you sheep people need to lay off the whiskey" 


After the conference Henry and Sara kept in touch through text messages and phone calls.  Henry began telling Sara that she needed to visit Montana, which she replied "I'd rather not be chopped up into tiny pieces thanks" but after 6 months of phone chats and texting, Sara then thought, why not?  She booked her ticket to visit Montana in June 2012 and what do they say?  The rest is history.

Sara and Henry dated long distance for 6 months.  Once they both realized they were committed to each other for the long haul Sara moved to Montana early 2013 where she lived with Henry on the sheep ranch in Molt.


Before Henry proposed he had told Sara that he wanted her to live and experience life in Montana before committing to marriage.  Henry was nervous how a California girl would adapt to living in rural Montana.  Once Sara survived the winter, lambing and the ups and downs of the sheep market Henry knew Sara was the one.  It was then time to propose marriage and begin the next step in their lives together. Henry likes to say that Sara planned her own proposal without knowing.  Henry needed to make a business trip up to Canada to meet with sheep customers and Sara came along for the adventure.  One afternoon Henry didn't have any meetings scheduled so Sara suggested a drive to Banff National Park since she had seen pictures of it online (and was also featured in an episode of the Bachelor).  It was about a 2 hour drive from where they were in Canada, upon entering the park we were met with pure beauty.  Snow topped mountains, and majestic forests.  They drove up to Lake Louise and walked around for a while.  It was VERY COLD and after they walked around for a few minutes Henry said to Sara "do you want the rest of your birthday present?" Sara was confused since her birthday was 3 weeks prior but not surprised since Henry is a little late with about everything.  Henry reached into his pocket and brought out a small box which immediately led Sara to say "OH MY GOD" Henry then proposed and Sara screamed "YES!"

Sara was nervous to plan a wedding in Montana since she was not familiar with vendors, venues, photographers, etc.  She took a lot of recommendations from coworkers and friends.  Once she saw Wildflower Gardens and heard their plans for a new barn it was a no brainer.  Sara also has a HUGE love for Red Lodge, the small quaint town is one of her favorite places to escape to for a day.  The wedding was a “destination” of sorts for Sara’s family and friends all coming from California and she wanted a spot that would provide a “Montana experience” for the guests.  Since Henry's family has deep roots in the sheep industry they wanted lamb to be a part of the menu and was able to serve Hollenbeck lamb appetizers to the guests which turned out to be a huge hit among guests, many who had never tried lamb before.  Sara was a “DIY” bride to an extent finding sales, shopping around, borrowing linens, creating decorations, and trading meat for services – all to get a good deal!  Hollenbeck ranch also employs sheep herders from Peru who happen to be very skilled in braiding, Sara asked Gilmer if he would make the bridesmaids belts.  Sara bought the leather from Montana Leather and Gilmer braided the belts. Sara found bargain fabric that matched her pink dress for the belts to tie together.  The favorite moment of their wedding was their vows, to Sara’s shock Henry suggested they write their own vows, which made the wedding so intimate and created an atmosphere that allowed all guests to really get to know Sara and Henry as a couple and showcased their love for one another.  The day of the wedding it hailed and rained, but when it came time for the ceremony it could not have been more perfect, at one point a light shined through the clouds directly on Sara and Henry.  The groom and groomsmen took their photos at Fairgrounds, they are all ropers so the backdrop was so fitting for their personalities.  The bridesmaids went to Sara’s favorite bar The Snag and a few shots in Red Lodge around town showing off their goofy behavior. 


 

Another special touch was Sara's step father made the arch for the ceremony and used family heirlooms to create a special touch, the horse shoe was from Sara's great aunt who had passed away only a short time before the wedding, also included were braces from the house Sara grew up in that was hand built by her great grandfather, after the ceremony they moved the arch to the reception area and had guest sign the wood.  The arch is now in Sara and Henry's' yard to commemorate their wedding forever.

 

 
ORGANIZE create an agenda for everyone that lines out the day before the wedding, rehearsals and day of wedding.  Its better to be over prepared!  There is nothing worse than an unorganized wedding.  The last thing you want to be doing is stressed out because someone can’t find a decoration or no one knows what time pictures are.  Have a schedule for the venue, DJ, family, bridal party, and yourself.  It keeps questions to a minimum and allows you to enjoy the day more.  Hire a cater, trust me, its worth it.  Hand write your thank you cards, it means a lot to the people that celebrated with you and got you a gift.   Have a backup in case it rains, its Montana… the weather is unstable here!  Make your rehearsal dinner fun and laid back, we used the back room in Red Lodge Pizza, having pizza was so easy and everyone LOVED it, especially all the kiddos and buzzed bridal party.

 


The Vendors

Photographer: Ronnie Ruiz
Venue: Wildflower Gardens, Red Lodge
Catering and Bar: Tiny's Tavern, Billings
Brides Dress: Belle en Blanc, Billings
Dress Designer: Tara Keely - JLM Couture


Bridesmaid Dresses: Western Ranch Supply, Billings
DJ: Travis Kemp - Best Music ProductionsPies and Cake: Stella's Kitchen & Bakery, Billings
Flowers: Evergreen IGA, Billings
Makeup: KendraHalverson
Hair: Ashley Tuss, EuphoriaSalon
Ceremony Arch/Arbor: Made by the Brides Step Father James Drew
Tent Rental: Party Time Plus
Bridesmaid Belts: hand made by Gilmer who is a sheepherder at Hollenbeck Ranch
Rehearsal Reception:  Red Lodge Pizza Company 
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