How we met
We met in Chicago in January 2010. I was a journalism grad student at Northwestern University, originally from Conrad, Montana, and he had recently moved to the city for his first finance job from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I had organized a night out in Wrigleyville for some of my new friends and invited the one person I knew from my undergrad (Carroll College) to come along. Lucky me, he brought Derrick, my future husband! I remember Derrick coming up to introduce himself and when he heard where I was from, he asked me, “What is the biggest city in Montana?” I guess he didn’t know what else to ask—it makes me laugh thinking of that now! We went dancing that night, and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. We went on our first date the next evening, and a month later, on Valentine’s Day eve, he asked me to be his girlfriend. Just a few weeks in, I got the chance to meet his parents and sister when they came to visit, and a few months later, we took the big step of him coming home with me to meet my family. From the very beginning, it felt natural. We could truly be our happiest selves around each other and brought out the best in each other.











The Proposal
Fast forward three years and a month from our first real date, and we were in Montana at my family’s farm for a long weekend, which happened to be both my birthday and Easter. We had looked at rings about three months earlier, but he never brought them up again, so I had no idea he was planning something for that weekend. (I especially didn't think he’d risk bringing a ring in his carryon while traveling with me!) Late on Friday afternoon, Derrick asked me to go on a walk with him. I was suspicious all of a sudden, because while I love to walk, he never wants to go. Just a short way down our country road, he got down on one knee at my parent’s farm and proposed with the ring we had both loved a few months earlier. It was so much more stunning in person, when it was really mine! We went back to the house and celebrated with my family with Champagne and a nice dinner prepared by my mom. 







The Wedding
It took me a few months to really figure out what I wanted. We decided on “Montana elegance” with Southern touches, since Derrick is from Alabama. I wanted it to be very Montana, since that’s my home, but I was adamant it wouldn’t be “rustic.” It had to be glamorous and elegant, without being over the top, and also very “us.” We wanted every detail to reflect something personal about our relationship and our families.



















The Details
-Winter wheat picked fresh from my dad’s field a few days before that my florist incorporated into my bouquet and centerpieces.
-Boutonnieres made with cotton picked in Alabama and combined with more wheat
-Photo lockets on my bouquet of my two grandfathers, who had passed away, and my Grandpa Don’s gold watch wrapped around it; as well as a locket of Derrick’s mom, who died of breast cancer a few years ago, on his boutonniere
-Wooden rounds cut from cedar trees in Alabama by Derrick’s dad (brought to Montana in the back of a pickup truck driven by his uncle!)
-A table set up at entrance to ceremony displaying black and white photos of both our parents, as well as grandparents, on their wedding days
-Dozens of glittered gold Mason jars hand-painted by my mom, filled with stunning bouquets of my favorite flowers that were set up on shepherd’s hooks lining the aisle and used as centerpieces on tables
-Incredible food prepared by Brumar Estate’s chef that included mini shrimp and grits cakes (Southern inspired!), gorgonzola-filled bacon-wrapped dates (our favorite appetizer) as well as my family’s recipe for cheesy potatoes that have been dubbed “Wedding Potatoes” because they’ve been served at so many family weddings!
-The best cake I’ve ever tasted by Miss Patti Cakes, that included layers of Pink Champagne cake filled with white chocolate mousse and huckleberry jam
-Our takeaway gift to guests was fresh-made kettlecorn and a variety of M&Ms they could scoop from jars—our favorite movie snack!
-Derrick and I had taken dance lessons and for our first dance, we danced to “Lovin’ You Is Easy” by Ben Rector. It was my favorite moment of the whole day, just soaking in everyone cheering for us and dancing with my husband for the first time. So much happiness!
-Our “getaway car” was a 4WD-pickup driven by one of my Dad’s friends. The windows were painted with “Go Griz” and “Roll Tide,” representing the Montana Grizzlies and the Alabama Crimson Tide, our two favorite football teams. He got a lot of strange looks driving around Montana in the days that followed!










































Advice for future Montana Brides 

Enjoy the planning. I got really stressed out about it at times, especially trying to plan a wedding in Montana while living in Atlanta. But now that it’s all over, I miss it so much! It’s worth the time to make it personal to you and exactly what you want. Make sure to follow your heart and make decisions that feel right to you, even if it takes a while to make them.

Listen to your vendors. They have a lot of experience and can help bring your vision to life, if you aren’t totally sure what works together. For example, Jaclyn at J. Scott Couture had me try on a dress that I never would have picked off the rack, and it ended up being the one I fell in love with and chose as my wedding gown. And Joyce at Conrad Floral helped tie in my vision of having wheat with romantic flowers like roses and making it all come together and look so elegant and beautiful when I couldn’t exactly picture how to put it together.

Don’t schedule your hair trial for the day before the wedding (tough to avoid with a destination wedding). If disaster strikes during the trial, it will strike on the wedding day (unfortunately this happened to me!) Luckily for me, one of my bridesmaid’s sisters stepped in to save the day.

Send thank-yous to all the people who helped pull off your special day, and don’t wait to do it.



The Vendors
Photographer: John & Colette Photography / Rehearsal Dinner: WhitefishLake Restaurant at Whitefish Lake Golf Club / Ceremony & Reception Venue: Brumar Estate / Florist: ConradFloral / Catering & Bar: Brumar Estate / Cakes & Desserts: Miss Patti Cakes / DJ: ExtremelyTune / Sound & Lighting: ExtremelyTuned / Hair & Makeup: Christi Dahl (friend of bride) / Wedding Dress Designer: Allure Bridals, Style #8955 / Veil & Accessories: Borrowed (my mom’s veil) / Gown Shop: JScott Couture Bridal Boutique / Rings: Jamie Hood Jewelers (Muscle Shoals, AL) / Invitations: Etsy (Event123 shop) / Lodging: BridgeStreet Cottages, Mountain Lake Lodge and Timbers Motel / Officiant: Pastor Tim Bartholomew
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