Feb 052016
 

Sometimes in the great search for the perfect wedding venue, you don't even know where to begin. The answer? Browsing the top-notch spots to get married. Ever. In our new February/March 2016 issue (on newsstands now!) we call out the best venues— indoor and outdoor, big and small, luxury and budget-friendly— across America. How did we go about creating such a list? We asked more than 1,500 real brides and grooms nationwide to weigh in on the best spots to say "I do" by rating their own wedding location on everything from the service to the food to the view. From great plantations and rustic farms in the South to elegant libraries and grand hotels in the Northeast to romantic, swoon-worthy wineries on the West Coast, we found them all. So take note, brides-to-be! These are our readers' favorite bridal boutiques in the Midwest.

Wide-open spaces are your backdrop at these luxe ranches, wineries, and mountain Resorts

The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado (Above)
A few reasons to get married at this perennial favorite's 11,212-foot-high wedding deck: the awesome Rocky Mountain backdrop, the giant vaulted restaurant, and the chance to use a gondola as your getaway ride.

El Chorro, Paradise Valley, Arizona
After a ceremony with epic views of Camelback Mountain, lead your guests to the adobe-style hotel's great room or light-strung lawn for seasonal southwestern cuisine.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, Arizona
Saddle up for a pre-wedding horseback ride with your girls, then kick off your boots and celebrate with vows among cacti that are at least twice your height.

Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California
This posh Mediterranean-style resort features a gorge garden, colorful tiled patios, and an airy ballroom overlooking the sea. fourseasons.com.

Bear Flag Farm, Winters, California
Come for the private estate's sprawling vineyards, fragrant fields of lavender, and on-site event design and coordination; stay for the Ferris-wheel photo ops. (Seriously!)

St. Regis Aspen, Aspen, Colorado
The sunken courtyard is the quintessential winter ceremony spot, filled with Aspen trees, fire pits, and sights of the nearby peaks.

See More: Say Yes to The Dress at One of These Bridal Salons in the West!

Dunton Hot Springs, Dolores, Colorado
Wild West wedding alert! If you'd like, you can have this entire ghost town turned five-star resort for the weekend, including an open-air chapel, 13 log cabins, and a saloon that once served Butch Cassidy.

Kukahiko Estate, Maui, Hawaii
This tropical oasis is set on some of the island's most beautiful coastline. Have your ceremony on a lawn overlooking the Pacific, then watch for whales as you dine by the lava-rock beach.

Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley, Idaho
Breathtaking Bald Mountain will play a starring role in your photos all night, whether you're exchanging vows on Trail Creek Cabin's lawn or partying in the window-filled ballroom at River Run Lodge.

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, Las Vegas
Three floors up, the neutral-hued ballroom offers a sleek, chic space for your bash, plus floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase the city's famous Strip.

Maysara Winery, McMinville, Oregon
After exchanging vows among 250 acres of vines, move to this massive stone-and-wood space in the Willamette Valley for a night of local pinot noir and dancing.

Montage Deer Valley, Deer Valley, Utah
In the hills above Park City, this modern resort woos mountain-loving brides with its in-the-forest ceremony site, artisanal menus, and cozy, elegant great room.

Sodo Park, Seattle
Just south of downtown, this 100-year-old restored factory features soaring ceilings, exposed beams, and a kick-ass catering team.

Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES February/March 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!

Want to see more venues in the West? Check out our West Venues page to find your dream location!

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One Couple’s Enchanted Forest-Inspired Backyard Wedding in McCall, Idaho

 Idaho, Real Weddings  Comments Off on One Couple’s Enchanted Forest-Inspired Backyard Wedding in McCall, Idaho
Feb 012016
 
Enchanted Forest Backyard Wedding in Idaho, Bride and Groom Portrait

Photo: Isaac Alongi

Kate O'Shaughnessy and Grant Mitchell practically grew up together — they attended all the same schools, just two grades apart! In fact, Grant has been a close friend of Kate's older sister for years before the pair finally started dating in the summer of 2008. "I was starting my second year of college at the University of Notre Dame and Grant was heading off to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania," she says. Despite the distance, the pair made their relationship work, and just four years later on Christmas Eve of 2012, Grant popped the question.

Kate and Grant spent two years planning their August 9, 2014, wedding in McCall, Idaho. "My family has a vacation home there and we wanted to have the reception on the property and a ceremony nearby," the bride says. They chose to exchange vows at Whitetail Golf Course, followed by an elegant and romantic bash where the couple and their guests could enjoy the nature surrounding Kate's family home. "The view of the lake has always been one of my favorites in the world, so we loved having it as a backdrop for our dinner reception." With the help of Taylor Sturges of Taylor'd Events, Kate and Grant pulled off their classic ceremony and "enchanted forest"-inspired reception. Keep reading to see all of the photos, as captured by Isaac Alongi and Christine Marie Photography.

Enchanted Forest Backyard Wedding in Idaho, Bride in Monique Lhuillier Wedding Dress with Bridesmaids in Jenny Yoo Gowns Enchanted Forest Backyard Wedding in Idaho, Groom and Groomsmen in Black Tuxes

Photo: Isaac Alongi

The bride found her Monique Lhuillier wedding dress at New York City's Mark Ingram Atelier. Complete with an illusion neckline, sheer floral lace, and reflective beading, the A-line style was exactly what Kate had always imagined wearing. "It was the very first dress I tried on," she says. "My sister had picked out this very dress to show me before we ever went shopping!"

Her bridesmaids wore convertible blush gowns from Jenny Yoo. "I loved that the girls had a fun way to customize their look for the reception after being uniform during the ceremony," she says.

Grant and his groomsmen all wore standard black tuxedos. "I've always loved this timeless look," Kate says. "My motto is don't mess with a good thing."

Kate's bouquet was a mix of white and green flowers, including garden roses, wax flower, dahlias, spray roses, and eucalyptus. Her bridesmaids carried similar arrangements with pop of pink. Grant's boutonniere was simple and classic, featuring pink wax flower, white spray roses, and a touch of eucalyptus.

The couple wanted to stick with a green and white color palette for their open-air ceremony. "We lined the aisle with birch logs, hydrangeas, and maidenhair ferns," the bride says. Beneath an altar of olive branches, bay leaf branches, lilies, roses, and hydrangea, Kate and Grant exchanged traditional vows.

After the pair was pronounced husband and wife, the party moved back to Kate's family home for a lakeside reception. In keeping with their enchanted forest vibe, the couple chose to display calligraphed escort cards on a moss-covered table that was decorated with urns filled with lush greenery.

Kate and Grant chose to have cocktail hour in a wooded area of the property where guests would get a true taste of the North West landscape. Elegant lounge furniture was arranged around the lawn and vintage lanterns were strung between trees, creating a dreamy space to sip cocktails, including the bride and groom's signature drinks — a lemon ginger-tini and a spiced cucumber margarita.

Reception tables were arranged on the sprawling back deck. Colorful centerpieces including hydrangeas, roses, eucalyptus, bells of Ireland, dahlias, and ranunculus popped against the all-white linens. Green table numbers and menu cards were accented with gold foil details.

The couple needed a six-tier wedding cake to feed their 265 guests! For loved ones that weren't fans of sweets, Kate and Grant also opened up a late-night scotch and bacon bar.

Enchanted Forest Backyard Wedding in Idaho, Tented Dance Space Enchanted Forest Backyard Wedding in Idaho, Bride and Groom First Dance

Photo: Isaac Alongi

After dinner and dessert, the party moved once more: this time to a nearby tent for dancing. There, the couple shared their first dance to Van Morrison's "Crazy Love."

Enchanted Forest Backyard Wedding in Idaho, Bride and Groom

Photo: Isaac Alongi

Kate and Grant, who honeymooned in Sun Valley, tell other couple's to have fun while planning their own wedding. "Trust your intuition and enjoy the ride!"

Ceremony Venue: Whitetail Golf Course || Reception Venue: Private residence || Wedding Planner, Designer & Flowers: Taylor'd Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Invitations & Paper Products: Sarah Allen Preston Designs || Music: Entourage Band || Catering: Judith McQueen Entertaining || Cake: The Sweet Crumb || Rentals: Classic Party Rentals || Videographer: Two Bird Studio || Photographer: Isaac Alongi; Christine Marie Photography

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Want to see more weddings just like this one? Then check out another outdoor celebration in Idaho in the video below.

The Mountains of Sun Valley (and the Groom’s Love of Fishing!) Inspired This Wedding in Idaho

 Idaho, Real Weddings  Comments Off on The Mountains of Sun Valley (and the Groom’s Love of Fishing!) Inspired This Wedding in Idaho
Aug 182015
 

Eight years after meeting as students at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Dan decided that it was time to make his college sweetheart, Lauren, his wife. "After a romantic meal at an old French restaurant in Dallas, the waiter brought me the house specialty dessert, a goblet of fresh melon," says Lauren. "I gave him and Dan an odd look — I was expecting something a little more intricate than melon! — when the waiter said 'Is it not to your liking?' and flipped the goblet over, revealing an engagement ring underneath!" Dan got down on his knees and proposed, and Lauren said "Yes!" through happy tears.

The couple spent a year planning their June 28, 2014 wedding in Sun Valley, Idaho, where Lauren and her family have been visiting since she was a baby. "It's a second home for me, and it has become one for Dan, too," she says. They worked with Taylor'd Events to create a vintage, classic wedding with a fun fly fishing theme at the reception, photographed by Kirsten Schultz. Read on to see all the details!

Though Lauren's father first balked at spending a large sum on a dress that she'd only wear once, he changed his mind once he saw her in her fluted lace Romona Keveza gown. "He told me it was the one before I could even ask," Lauren says.

The bride paired her gown with her mother's veil and an antique pearl necklace that has been worn by Dan's aunt, grandmother, and great grandmother. Her cascading bouquet featured peonies, roses, freesia, dendrobium orchids, and stephanotis, and was wrapped in Lauren's grandmother's lace handkerchief.

The bridesmaids looked classic in knee-length, one-shoulder lace dresses by Monique Lhuillier.

The ceremony took place with Sun Valley's peaks in the background. An aisle strewn with rose petals led to an altar covered in branches, antlers, and white blooms.

Lauren's cousin's three-year-old son served as the ring bearer, wearing a white dinner jacket to match the groom and groomsmen. He carried a pillow with a fake ring attached to it, which was a good idea! "He ran down the aisle straight to his mom, and lost the fake ring along the way," laughs Lauren.

The fishing enthusiasts celebrated with a fishing-themed reception, topping farm tables with blue linens and lots of white flowers.

Tables were named after different types of fish, and topped with arrangements of white hydrangeas, peonies, and roses. Dinner was paired with wines from Washington's Tagaris Winery, provided by a family friend (the vineyard's owners).

The classic white wedding cake featured vanilla sponge with vanilla cream, decorated with fresh flowers. And that's not a real rainbow trout — it's Dan's groom's cake!

Salt Lake City's "No Limits" band had all the guests on the dance floor.

Lauren changed into a short lace dress for the reception. Then, the couple headed to Costa Rica for their honeymoon. Says Lauren, "Have as much fun as you can! It goes by in a split second."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Trail Creek Pavillion at Sun Valley || Wedding Planner: Taylor'd Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza || Shoes: Nina Shoes || Hair & Makeup: The Spa at Sun Valley || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Wedding Bands: Benji Designs || Florist: Sue Bridgman Florist || Invitations: William Arthur || Music: No Limits || Catering & Wedding Cake: Sun Valley || Groom's Cake: The Sweet Crumb || Rentals: That's Entertainment || Photography: Kirsten Schultz Photography

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