Rustic and Cheerful Southwest Montana Wedding

A day I will never forget.  Chace and Rio were the first couple to book me for a full wedding day once I started this business.  I was embarrassed to tell them that at the time, but now, they will forever be ingrained as my “one dollar bill that’s framed behind the cash register.”

I took their engagement photos on a zero degree day in February, meeting them near Chace’s hometown while I was traveling the state and they were home from Colorado, where they lived at the time.  We shot in 5-minute increments, with 10 minutes sitting in the car warming up between each.  Rio was stunning in her orange and black dresses, and Chace was calm and steady with Rio next to him.  I knew when I left their session that their wedding was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  With a love like theirs, there was no way their wedding day would be less than magical.

On their wedding day, I woke up in an AirBnB in Virginia City, surrounded by a flowing creek and the most beautiful mountains.  I sat on the porch with my coffee and thought about this moment – the opportunity to be here, with them, was not lost on me.  After browsing the historic town for a couple hours, I drove to the AirBnB where Rio and her girls were getting ready.  Energy. Laughter. Love – it was everywhere.  Rio grabbed me in a big hug and I wished I had the right words to describe how happy this day made me.  I gathered the details and fought the wind on the porch to memorialize each piece she had curated for their day.  Inside, Rio and the girls were laughing, drinking mimosas, reminiscing, and one bridesmaid was sneakily using my laptop to create a snapchat filter for the evening.  We finished up the getting ready portion of pictures with an insane champagne pop, a few beautiful, blissful minutes while Rio’s mama got her buttoned up into her gown, and a near-miss with a rattlesnake (Montana problems).

I left the girls in the capable hands of my second shooter while I drove to find the guys.  We took photos of them in the valley, overlooking a river with a background of towering mountains.  There were flasks, dirty jokes, and burnouts – all the things necessary for a real Montana party.

The ceremony would be the first time Chace would lay eyes on his beautiful bride, and the energy in the air was electric.  Rio made her way down the steps of a several-generations old barn with her dad by her side, and took the hands of her soon-to-be husband to be married by her grandfather.  A heartfelt ceremony filled with stories, tear-jerking prayers for a blessed marriage, and smiles from both sides of the family was sealed with a kiss and off Chace and Rio went to have their first private moment of the day.

When I finally got Chace and Rio alone for their bridal portraits, all of the energy of the day culminated into some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken.  They were so happy to be nestled into each other, and while it didn’t hit me then, I was having a major *moment* of being with them, in that beautiful spot at the foot of the mountains, taking pictures.  We walked the long path back to the reception with Rio’s dress trailing behind, gathering the dust of all of those who had walked there before, into her new life as Mrs. Guinnane.

The reception was headed by Rio’s dad’s band, Plowed Under Band, of Havre.  They stole the show with the littles and adults alike – dancing, singing, drinking, and laughter ensued.  Rio was serenaded by a new song written by her dad for the father/daughter dance, and Chace’s mom looked at him with years of pride built up as they danced.  Rio was stolen for ransom by the groomsmen, Chace cracked up as his best man delivered an amazing speech, and I ended the night dancing with the groom and my beer before heading off into the sunset.

Rio and Chace, 6 months later, it is still an honor to have captured your day and experienced becoming the Guinnanes with you.  Thank you for your trust, your willingness to go along with my ideas, and your love for one another.

Vendors that made this experience stellar:

Venue: Ruby Dell Ranch Barn

Getting Ready Location: Ruby Creek Chalet, Alder, MT

Planner/Coordinator: Jeri Wood

Dress: Belle en Blanc, designer Martina Liana

Groomsmen attire: Boot Barn, Norman’s, Murdoch’s

Florist: Bear Paw Blooms

Catering: Hell’s Canyon BBQ

Live Music: Plowed Under Band

DJ: Rob Everingham of Plowed Under Band

HMUA: Lexi Warburton, Serenity Salon Havre, MT

Paper Goods: Shutterfly

Officiant: Ken Overcast

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