It took nearly three years for Michaela Stanwood and Adam McLeod to make the transition from friends into something more. Although the two clicked upon meeting at the Virginia Gold Cup in May 2009, both were seeing other people and living in different cities. They kept in touch and once both Michaela and Adam were living in Dallas, Texas, the pair officially became a couple on May 10, 2012.
Michaela, who is notoriously hard to surprise, admits she had no idea a proposal was coming in November 2013. "Adam had to really orchestrate careful planning to pull this off," she says. 'I still don't know how he managed to surprise me. I don't think he even knows how he managed to do it!" The groom-to-be had just become a member of the Petroleum Club of Dallas (he works in the oil industry!) and convinced Michaela they were meeting another couple for dinner at the club. "It's pretty fancy, so I knew to dress accordingly," she says. But when Michaela arrived at Adam's home, all of the lights were off. "I was annoyed because I thought he had overslept or wasn't ready." Instead, when she walked in the front door of the house the couple now shares, she found the entire first floor illuminated with countless candles, decorated with fragrant rose petals, and a bottle of iced Dom Perignon. There, he asked Michaela to be his wife.
Picking a location proved to be an easy task for the couple: Park City, Utah, where the groom's family has a vacation home. "Everyone had already done the Dallas wedding," Michaela says. "Being able to introduce our friends and family to such a beautiful place was a dream." They chose the Montage Deer Valley for their August 16, 2014, nuptials and invited 210 guests to join them for a mountain wedding planned by Meredith Parsons and the team at Bluebird Destination Event Management. But just because they weren't tying the knot in Texas didn't mean the pair would forget about their home state. Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings captured every epic element of this couple's go-big-or-go-home-style bash.
"I met Adam's parents for the first time in Deer Valley and we go every year for New Years," Michaela says. "It's a really special place for us and just so beautiful. I never in a million years would have though I'd have a destination wedding or that I'd get married outside!" As soon as she saw the stunning lawn at the Montage, though, she knew her plans had changed. With sweeping views of the 13,000-foot Uinta Mountain range as their backdrop, there was no question that Michaela and Adam wanted to exchange vows surrounded by nature.
Since nearly all of the couple's 210 guests were traveling to be part of their day, Michaela and Adam wanted to be sure everyone was well taken care of. Welcome boxes, which were delivered to guests' hotel rooms, included miniature bottles of wine and water, Texas-inspired snack mix, granola bars, and nuts.
Michaela visited several bridal salons and boutiques until she finally narrowed down her choices to just two dresses. In the end, this strapless latte-hued Chantilly lace gown by Monique Lhuillier won her over.
She accessorized with a chapel-length veil, silver Jimmy Choo pumps, and a leaf-inspired hair clip, as well as two family heirlooms — her paternal grandmother's pearl bracelet (Michaela's mother wore it on her wedding day!) and her husband's maternal grandmother's sapphire ring (the bride's sister-in-law had worn it when she tied the knot!).
In keeping with their "bigger is better" aesthetic, the bride called upon 15 friends to serve as her bridesmaids. While most were friends from college, her bridal party was also made up of her future sister-in-laws, good pals she had met in Dallas, and a friend she had known since she was two-years-old. Each important lady wore a long chiffon Amsale gown in either a charcoal or a graphite gray hue.
While Michaela carried a white bouquet comprised of hydrangeas, café au lait dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, and orchids, her attendants toted mixes with textural ferns.
Adam wore a classic Calvin Klein tuxedo, which he paired with a white ranunculus boutonniere. His 15 groomsmen looked sharp in tuxes and star of Bethlehem boutonnieres. As a nod to his Texas roots, the groom rocked alligator cowboy boots.
The couple purchased their rings at the Diamond Doctor in Dallas, Texas. The bride chose a diamond band to complement her stunning engagement ring while Adam preferred a classic gold ring.
The outdoor ceremony was held at the top of a reclaimed-wood aisle that was decorated with a four-foot-tall hedge of lavender, sage, and delphiniums. "It gave the feeling of walking through a field of wildflowers," Michaela remembers. "The scenery was so beautiful that we didn't want to take away from it by having tons and tons of flowers." The final result was just right for their natural setting.
The bride's father, Michael Stanwood, walked her down the aisle while Pachabel's Canon in D was played. It was an especially meaningful moment for Michaela and her dad as, just months before, the two weren't sure they'd be able to share this milestone. "I cried a lot walking down the aisle," she says. "My dad had stage four cancer. He would always say that the only thing that got him through treatment was that he had to be there to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day." Thankfully, he was healthy and in remission by the time the couple started planning their big day, but it wasn't lost on the bride how lucky she was to have her father with her. "I was just so happy he was there."
Michaela and Adam exchanged traditional Presbyterian vows that were officiated by a local pastor.
While the couple headed off to enjoy a private moment alone and pose for portraits, their friends and family receded to the lawn for cocktail hour. There, everyone enjoyed spicy tuna tartar cones, caprese salad skewers, and brie and fig crostini, as well as the couple's signature cocktail, the McLeod Mule. "It was our version of a Moscow Mule made with local High West Vodka and served in copper mugs," says Michaela.
Comfortable lounge furniture and a large bar made the hour exceptionally fun. Instead of a traditional guest book, the couple asked friends and family to sign a pair of vintage skis.
The couple chose the Montage's Vista Lounge for their reception. "We wanted something more unique than a typical ballroom," the bride says. And they got it! Tented escort cards ushered guests to their seats at round tables. The bridal party was seated in the center of the room at one long table, which had been done up with a 64-foot-long floral garland. In total, the room was decorated with more than 7,000 individual flowers, all sourced locally from Utah or special-ordered from Oregon, California, South America, and Holland.
While the bride loved the wood-walled space, she wanted the décor to feel a bit more feminine, so their planner suggested draping the room with ethereal white fabric and dressing tables with pink and gold patterned linens. "The funny thing is, at first I said absolutely no pinks and no metallic," Michaela says. "I wanted neutral creams, but my wedding planner told me, 'I know this doesn't look incredible on the website, but trust me, it will look amazing.' And it did look so beautiful. It gave the tables some dimension."
After dinner, guests grabbed flutes of bubbly from the oil derrick ice sculpture that also served as a champagne fountain. "It was Adam's idea. He said he wanted that instead of a groom's cake," Michaela says. "I thought he was joking at first! I told him it was tacky and I wasn't doing it, but it ended up being another unique part of our reception."
The couple chose a four-tiered vanilla and chocolate cake for dessert. "I love cake icing more than anything in the world, so I wanted the cake to be filled with the same buttercream frosting that decorated the outside."
Michaela and Adam shared their first dance to Tim McGraw's "You're My Best Friend" before their friends and family took over the dance floor. The groom and his best friend stole the show in hilarious costumes — a fur jacket and a tiger suit.
After a sparkeler exit, the couple headed to Bora Bora for their honeymoon. "At the end of the day, remember your wedding day is your day," Michaela advises. "What matters the most is that you are marrying the love of your life, and in the end that's the most important aspect of the entire day."
Venue, Catering & Cake: Montage Deer Valley || Wedding Planner & Rentals: Meredith Parsons of Bluebird Event Destination Management || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Floral Design: Amanda Hansen, Decoration Inc. || Ice Sculpture: Iceworks, Inc. || Ceremony Music: Maywood String Quartet || Reception Music: Groove Merchants || Photographer: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings
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