Aug 282016
 
Best Bridal Salons of the Western US

Photo: LOHO Bride; Josh Gruetzmacher

Finding the right wedding dress may be trial-and-error, but finding a bridal salon shouldn't be. Our editors polled more than 1,500 brides to discover the places with the prettiest dresses (from the designers like Carolina Herrera, Mira Zwillinger, and Houghton, just to name a few!), nicest consultants, and chicest spaces from coast to coast. Every single shop on this list is a true standout in style, service, and atmosphere whether it's the white dress mecca in your state or a gem in the middle of nowhere (we didn't judge!). Get ready for our curated, tested, and fully endorsed list of The Best Bridal Salons in America. Here, our editors narrow down the best bridal salons in the Western United States. Happy shopping!

Bateau Bridal Boutique, Anchorage, Alaska
With both hot designers and fab consignment finds, this salon is a true standout. But it's really the owner, Tara, our reviewers are obsessed with: "She got on the floor at nine months pregnant to fluff my dress!" says one.

Lillian Lottie Bridal Couture, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Every reviewer was referred by a friend — and has since spread the word herself. And with a huge stock of gowns under $1,500 and consultants who "have your back," that's no surprise. "My rep even called after the wedding to see how everything went," says one customer.

Erin Cole Couture Bridal, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Sure, SoCal brides could buy directly from a designer salon in Beverly Hills, but the ladies we talked to came here instead because of the awesome alterations team. "I'm a size 16, and they made me feel like Vera Wang designed my dress just for me," says one.

The White Flower Bridal Boutique, San Diego
Brides count shopping here, with its super-fun vibe (think paper umbrellas on the ceiling and Selena Gomez on the speakers) and "a team that really cares," as a highlight of planning. In fact, one says, "I wanted to invite the staff to my wedding!"

Jin Wang, San Francisco
Designer Jin Wang's thing is a modern-meets-classic aesthetic, and her penthouse oozes that with cases of statement jewels, floor-to-ceiling windows, and gowns from the likes of Angel Sanchez.

LOHO Bride, San Francisco
Owner Christy Baird's specialty: a bride who wants to rock something cool and unique on her wedding day. (It's very Solange.) In San Fran and now L.A., her customers snatch up looks from Rime Arodaky and Houghton. Says one, "Forget the whole princess thing; this place makes you feel like a woman."

Anna Bé, Denver
This Front Range favorite is a go-to for chic Colorado brides, thanks to its "nearly endless selection" of the designers you love (Berta, Anna Maier) and up-and-coming ones you need on your radar stat (Sareh Nouri, Tara LaTour).

Little White Dress Bridal Shop, Denver
You'll be finding more than a LWD at this downtown salon, which is basically the coolest dress shop ever. Why? It's located in a restored church that's spacious and awesome, and it's the only place in the state selling J. Mendel and Naeem Khan.

Velvet Bride, Missoula, Mont.
Some Montana brides trekked 400 miles on mountain roads to shop the gorge gowns (from Leanne Marshall, Willowby, and more), vintage jewels, and uber-feminine lingerie.

Swoon... A Bridal Salon, Reno, Nev.
Go-big-or-go-home types will get lightheaded over pristine samples from ball-gown favorites Hayley Paige and Lazaro. And the owner knows wedding dresses; she literally wrote her graduate thesis on them.

Ania Collection, Portland, Oreg.
Grab your gals and head here to choose between Theia and Watters for yourself and a rainbow of gowns for your 'maids. Take it from this client: "There's a bridesmaids' dress for every price point, every size, and every style."

The Dress Theory, Seattle
Calling all cool girls! This airy boutique features a unique collection (Truvelle, Claire Pettibone) that's hand picked and carefully edited.

Alta Moda Bridal, Salt Lake City
Indecisive? Don't fret if you're torn between that Katie May and a Yolan Cris because the salesladies here are, in a word, patient. "I must've tried on my final two dresses 100 times each, and they didn't pressure me once," says a bride.

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See More: 50 Things to Know About Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

This Utah Wedding Is Every Rustic Bride’s Dream

 Real Weddings, Utah  Comments Off on This Utah Wedding Is Every Rustic Bride’s Dream
Aug 012016
 

It's been said not to mix business with pleasure, but after Drew Swanson interviewed Ashley Schulz for her very first job out of college, the pair couldn't help but cross that line. "Drew asked all the questions, and I must have had all the right answers," Ashley laughs. Of course, she got the job. And one year later, she got her first date with Drew.

Four years after that, Ashley accepted another offer from Drew: This time, she agreed to be his wife. The couple soon began to plan their September 26, 2015, wedding in Kamas, Utah, a destination for almost all of the couple's 180 guests. Because of that, the couple knew they wanted to capture the true essence of Utah and show all of their family and friends why we love the state so much. That meant hosting an outdoor wedding was a must, and a rustic-yet-timeless look emerged. Joey Kennedy Photography captured every detail, which you're bound to want to copy for your own big day.

Ashley's trumpet wedding dress featured delicate head-to-toe lace and was only the third dress she tried on. "I could just tell it was my dress," she says. "It felt perfect." She finished her look with a light veil and a belt.

The bride's mother tied a piece of her own lace wedding dress around Ashley's white rose and succulent bouquet. "It was my favorite touch of the entire wedding," she says. "That one detail got a lot of tears."

Ashley's 'maids donned floor-length gowns from Donna Morgan with mismatched necklines. But the long dresses were more than just pretty — they had a practical component, too: "I wanted them to be warm since our wedding was outside in September," says the thoughtful bride.

The very light mint hue of the gowns paired perfectly with the bridesmaids' baby's breath bouquets.

Drew and his groomsmen dressed in slate-grey suits paired with light green ties and a succulent boutonniere. For a pop of color, each guy wore red bandana socks, a gift from the groom that was nod to the couple's outdoor wedding.

The ceremony was held beneath a giant tree on the grounds of the High Star Ranch. Guests were seated in rows of white chairs, with the breathtaking mountain backdrop behind them.

Programs tied with twine — another rustic touch! — gave guests all of the information they needed about the nuptials. Ashley's father walked her down the grass aisle, which was lined with metal lanterns and galvanized buckets filled with baby's breath. The couple chose a whiskey barrel topped with a fresh floral arrangement as the backdrop for their "I do's."

The couple didn't write their own vows, but scoured the Internet until they found examples that resonated with them. Then, Ashley and Drew recessed the aisle as the bride's cousin sang "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor.

Ashley and Drew's cocktail hour featured a spread of cheeses and meats, fresh fruits, and sliders, plus signature hard-lemonade cocktails served in outdoor-appropriate mason jars. After filling up on the pre-reception grub, guests could find their seating assignments on chalkboard-inspired signs that were done up with a twinkle-light design.

Candles, lanterns, buckets of baby's breath, and mini succulents dotted tables topped with ivory linens, all beneath the glow of café lights. Tables were numbered with calligraphed wood blocks, while each guest took home boxed filled with chocolates as their favors.

Ashley and Drew's chairs were identified by two wooden Mr. and Mrs. signs.

The couple offered guests an almond and vanilla wedding cake. But the real sweet treat were donuts the couple brought in for an additional dessert.

The newlyweds danced the night away, beginning with their first dance to "Bonfire Heart" by James Blunt. "Our first dance is something I will never forget," Ashley says.

Reflecting on their wedding day, the bride urges other couples to not sweat the small stuff. "People won't remember the details," she says. "So, relax and have fun during the process! Incorporate your significant other. Have date nights where you cook meals, drink wine, and plan. We wish we would have done more of that."

Venue: High Star Ranch || Bride's Wedding Dress and Veil: Vwidon || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair & Makeup: Vivian Makeup Artist || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Donna Morgan || Wedding Bands: Kay Jewelers || Florist: Tulips & Thyme || Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas || Music: DJ Dolph || Catering: Done To Your Taste || Rentals: Alpine Event Rentals || Favors: V Chocolates || Videographer: Jared Wortley || Photographer: Joey Kennedy Photography

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Want more inspiration just like this? Then check out another couple's rustic celebration in the video below.

This Mountaintop Celebration in Park City, Utah, Is About to Take Your Breath Away

 Real Weddings, Utah  Comments Off on This Mountaintop Celebration in Park City, Utah, Is About to Take Your Breath Away
Jun 202016
 

Pamela and Eric's relationship goes way back into the 20th century — the pair first met in their seventh grade homeroom class in September of 1997. The duo remained close friends until they started formally dating in 2011, and once both knew their union was the real thing, Eric wasted little time in asking Pamela to be his wife. "Eric proposed to me during a beautiful visit to the Stone Barns Farm in Westchester, New York, in September of 2014," the bride remembers. "He got down on one knee in front of a pig pen and completely caught me off guard." The surprises kept coming: Minutes later, a bus filled with the couple's friends and family (plus plenty of champagne!) arrived to celebrate the happy news.

The future Mr. and Mrs. spent under a year planning their July 25, 2015, nuptials in Park City, Utah. Since the bride's family has spent Christmas in the area since Pamela was a teenager, selecting the Montage Deer Valley was a no-brainer. "Eric has not spent a lot of time there and loves it as well," she says. "It is the place where our longtime friendship turned into romance during a ski trip with friends one spring." Knowing how much they loved elegant, modern feel of the hotel and its unbeatable views, the couple worked with Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions to plan an organic, nature-inspired celebration with a touch of mountain charm. Patricia Lyons Photography was on hand to document every serene moment of this summer bash.

It was hugely important to both the bride and groom that their family and friends felt well taken care of during their time in Utah. "Since our guests were making great efforts to travel for our wedding, we wanted to treat them to something special and a touch formal and luxurious," Pamela says. "At the same time, we wanted everyone to feel relaxed enough to kick off their heels and hit the dance floor."

Their hospitality began with a seriously well-stocked welcome bag. Inside the custom monogrammed totes (created by Cheree Berry Paper, who also designed Pamela and Eric's matching invitations) guests found an assortment of the bride and groom's favorite snacks from Virginia and New York City, including Momofuku Milk Bar cookies, Route 11 potato chips, and Hubs peanuts.

Pamela went totally classic when it came to her wedding dress, selecting a look from beloved bridal designer Vera Wang. She went into the salon knowing she wanted something feminine, chic, and traditional, which drove her associate to pull the stunning silhouette. "It fit like a glove, and felt so comfortable and light," the bride says of the strapless lace trumpet. "It's structured on top but romantic and airy on the bottom. The train was exquisite and so unique." Pamela also added a chapel-length veil from the same designer.

The bride carried a white bouquet of garden and bush roses, accented with gardenia foliage. "It was simple and sophisticated," she says.

Eric's custom-made shawl lapel tuxedo matched his bride's formality to a T. "He wore antique basketball cufflinks that belonged to his late godfather," Pamela says. "The only other accessory he added was a watch that I gave him as a wedding gift."

"Our first look was epic!" Pamela says of privately meeting Eric on top of the mountain before the ceremony. In addition to the gorgeous landscape and seemingly endless views, the bride and groom loved spending time together before the day really kicked off. "There was nobody else around, the sun was shining, and we had the most special moment seeing each other for the first time."

This couple is seriously loved! Both the bride and groom each had 11 attendants standing by their sides during the ceremony, plus one sweet flower girl and two adorable ring bearers. Pamela's bridesmaids wore champagne-hued chiffon gowns from Amsale in a variety of different silhouettes while Eric's groomsmen put on the black tuxedo's Eric gave each of the men as a gift.

While the couple was incredibly impressed with the accommodations at the Montage Deer Valley, Pamela admits creating their ceremony space offered a unique challenge. "We wanted a Greek Orthodox church in a hotel ballroom," she says. "We worked closely with our priest to make sure all our plans met the church standard, and it was quite an undertaking." On top of that, it was important to Pamela and Eric that they bring in as much of the outdoors as possible, so they added lots of greenery, garlands, and lush flowers to the room to bring in the nature they enjoy so much.

The final result was spectacular. The back wall of the ballroom was lined with fruitwood panels and lemon leaf, complete with invisible shelves to hold candles. Large urns of white roses and garden roses were arranged on either side of the altar to finish out the look.

Although the ring bearers tried to encourage the couple's shy flower girl to toss petals during her walk down the aisle, not a single flower ended up hitting the ground. Their entrance was still adorable, and the bride then followed on the arm of her father while members of the Utah Symphony Orchestra performed Pachelbel's "Cannon in D."

"We had a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony," Pamela says, explaining that the bride and groom actually don't speak any words at all during that time! "The idea is that you've said everything you need to say before you get to the altar, and the ceremony is about being united as a couple."

One they were pronounced husband and wife, the pair exited to Handel's "Water Music Suite Number 2 in D Major."

Since the pair went indoors for their ceremony, they invited everyone back outside for cocktail hour, where drinks were served on the grand terrace that overlooks Deer Valley. "We wanted the sweeping valley vistas to be the focal point," Pamela says. Guests found their calligraphed escort cards arranged on flower-covered tables and anchored with Lucite cubes.

When the party moved inside for the reception, guests were treated to yet another gorgeous site: A mix of custom glass-topped tables paired with gold chiavari chairs and round tables covered with platinum linens with ghost chairs filled the space. Each centerpiece was different from the next, but all arrangements were made of a single variety of white blooms, featuring everything from orchids and garden roses to tulips and hydrangeas.

At each place setting, guests found a monogrammed menu that detailed the evening's incredible offerings. After a field greens salad, friends and family enjoyed either seared Chilean Sea Bass with thyme polenta or Wagyu short ribs with potato puree and roasted mushrooms.

In addition to requisite champagne, the bride and groom also created two signature cocktails. Eric's, a mix of Knob Creek Rye, Absinthe, Peychaud's bitters, and simple syrup, was named "Beauregard" after his childhood black Labrador. Pamela's, named "Greek Goddess," was a mix of Prosecco, pineapple, and grapefruit juice.

The couple's four-tier carrot cake wedding cake wasn't the only sweet treat of the night. Guests also enjoyed root beer floats, an assortment of chocolate, homemade pop tarts, and fresh donuts.

Pamela and Eric honeymooned in Bali, but not before enjoying some late-night revelry with their guests. Everyone ended the evening in the hotel's pub, where pizza, sliders, and French fries were served while loved ones played arcade games and kept the dance party going.

Venue, Catering & Cake: Montage Deer Valley || Wedding Planner: Pineapple Productions || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Vera Wang || Hair & Makeup: Versa Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Imparali || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Mervis Diamonds || Flowers: Amaryllis Inc. || Invitations & Paper Goods: Cheree Berry Paper || Calligraphy: Arney Walker Calligraphy || Music: West Coast Music || Rentals: DC Rental; Diamond Rental || Videographer: Ryan Hinman Films || Photographer: Patricia Lyons Photography

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Did you love this mountaintop wedding? Then see more ideas like these in another couple's rustic bash in the video below.

These Texans Left the Lone Star State Behind for a Destination Wedding in the Mountains of Utah

 Real Weddings, Utah  Comments Off on These Texans Left the Lone Star State Behind for a Destination Wedding in the Mountains of Utah
Mar 222016
 
Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Bride and Groom Portrait

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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.

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Montage Deer Valley Wedding Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Scenic Views of Park City Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Welcome Boxes

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

"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.

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Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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!).

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Bridesmaids in Mismatched Amsale Gowns Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Bride's and Bridesmaids' Bouquets Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Groom and Groomsmen in Tuxedos

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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.

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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.

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Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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.

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Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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.

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Escort Cards Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Reception Space with Long Table Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Round Table with Pink and Gold Linens Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Table Runner with Gilded Antlers Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Head Table with Floral Runner

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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."

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Champagne Fountain Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Wedding Cake with Frosting

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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."

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, First Dance Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Reception Dancing

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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.

Rustic and Romantic Destination Wedding in Park City Utah, Bride and Groom Portrait

Photo: Britt Chudleigh of Chudleigh Weddings

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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Did you love this incredible wedding? Then check out another couple's rustic-meets-romantic wedding in the video below.

How to Spend a Mini Honeymoon in Park City, Utah

 Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, Honeymoons & Destination Weddings, Utah  Comments Off on How to Spend a Mini Honeymoon in Park City, Utah
Mar 022016
 
park city utah itnierary

Photo: Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley

You would be hard-pressed to find a cooler winter destination in the American West than Park City, Utah. The place is not only filled with alpine adventure activities (Salt Lake City did play host to the 2002 Winter Olympics, after all), but it also serves as host for the annual star-studded Sundance Film Festival — and of course, aprés-ski drinks and cozying up by a fireplace make for a seriously romantic getaway.

That's not to mention that Park City is also one of the most newsworthy destinations this year. The reason why involves some complex business, but to put it plainly, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) was acquired last fall by Vail Resorts and this season marks its reopening after $50 million in capital improvements. (Yes, Vail, the destination, is also a company that owns "mountain resorts" like Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge, in Colorado; Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood, in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; among others).

By combining Park City and nearby Canyons Resort, PCMR is now the largest ski destination in the United States, with more than 3,000 runs (not counting the 101 on Deer Valley, right next door), and new amenities like an eight-passenger high-speed gondola to get you from one mountain to the next. Plus, there's also an adorable village filled with stylish shops and farm-to-table eateries. With so much to do, we took the liberty of narrowing down the best of the best. Here's how to spend a long weekend, aka a minimoon, in Park City:

Day 1
Morning
If you're coming from the East Coast, book the earliest departure into Salt Lake City to be on the ground by midmorning. Grab an Uber Ski vehicle and make the quick, 40-minute drive to Park City, which is home to a number of lodges and private vacation rentals. Our favorite is the super luxe Montage Deer Valley. Set right on the mountain, this ski-in-ski out resort is bursting with amenities to keep you busy (or not busy, if you're the pampering type). Book a room on a high floor overlooking the slopes — but each suite is outfitted with a private balcony, gas fireplace (turns on at the click of a button, very cool and did we mention romantic?), and oversize tub, so it doesn't much matter where you post up.

Afternoon
Purchase a half-day lift ticket to Deer Valley at Compass Sports, the local ski outfitter located in a sprawling 7,000-square foot facility at the Montage. There you can also rent equipment, buy stylish gear, and book private (for you and your hubby) or small-group lessons (if a ski bachelorette is why you're here). The best part is the "ski concierge," who will actually help strap you into your (pre-warmed) boots and lay out your skis just a short scoot from the Empire and Ruby lifts. (Expect sugar cookies and warm apple cider when your return to drop off your equipment later.)

Evening
Book a table at Montage's fine-dining restaurant, Apex, which features mountain-chic décor, stunning high ceilings, and seasonal dishes like spicy tuna tartare, seared sea scallops with truffle jus, and Snake River Farms wagyu steak and frites.

See More: 3 Day Itinerary in Antigua and Barbuda

Day 2
Morning

Lifts are open! Buy a one-day pass to Deer Valley and cruise down groomed runs ideal for intermediate to advanced skiers. (The ski-only mountain is known for meticulous grooming and an abundance of manageable blues and blacks.) Among the best runs to test out: Keno, Nabob, and Orient Express, on Bald Mountain, and Supreme, Orion, and Domingo on Empire Canyon.

Afternoon
Chances are you're hungry, so make your way to either Snow Park Lodge at the base of the mountain or Silver Lake Lodge mid-mountain. Thaw off as you take your pick among comfort foods before heading back out on the slopes.

As the lifts start shutting down for the day, it's time to indulge — and there's no place better than the spa at the Montage, which, at 35,000 square feet, is the largest in Utah. Book a couples massage in a room overlooking the mountain, or head to the indoor pool for laps and a jacuzzi soak with your man.

Evening
Locals dine early, so grab a complimentary shuttle from the Montage and make the quick drive down the mountain. Park City is a historic mining town, so expect a quaint, one-lane Main Street with an old-time vibe. Hopefully you won't wait long for a spot at the bar at High West Distillery & Saloon, a throwback Western tavern with hundreds of whiskeys on offer. After a drink (or two) head to Handle, a popular tapas-style joint around the corner (don't miss the shaved brussels sprouts, beef cheek sliders, and fried chicken with bok choy).

Day 3
Morning

Order an Uber Ski and head to PCMR. Good news: Park City has already received 238 inches of snowfall this year, which is expected to continue through the spring season because of current weather patterns caused by El Niño— so get ready to test your skills on a new set of runs.

Afternoon
Make sure you're back at the resort in time for complimentary s'mores and hot chocolate on the Vista Patio (served until 5 pm). But these aren't your average marshmallows — plan on roasting flavors like peppermint, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice for a gourmet pairing with graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate (both milk and dark, of course). After that, it's time for a soak in the heated outdoor hot tub and pool — but don't forget to order a Park City Moscow Mule to cool you off.

Evening
Head back to town for a reservation at Tupelo, a new farm-to-table restaurant on Main Street. Request a table on the third floor for a more secluded ambiance, and order delicious plates like housemade Ricotta with honey and black truffles; farro and butternut squash risotto; and pan-roasted Skuna Bay salmon.

Don't head back to the room at the Montage just yet; instead, park yourself in the mid-lobby lounge for a nightcap and live music performance by a local artist. If you're in town on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you're in luck — singer-songwriter Jarett DeCarl is on the mic, and his rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" will stop you in your tracks. For added romance, settle into one of the secluded fireplace-lit libraries — the homey vibe will abate even the worst case of the "Sunday Scaries."

One Couple’s Relaxed Cabin Wedding in the Mountains of Utah

 Real Weddings, Utah  Comments Off on One Couple’s Relaxed Cabin Wedding in the Mountains of Utah
Feb 162016
 

A year after Celeste and Ted first met as coworkers at a marketing company in Salt Lake City, he invited her to join him on a trip to Kauai with his brother. "I thought he was joking, but he emailed me to make sure I knew it was a real invitation, so I went!" says Celeste. She spent three days on the island with Ted, and the pair shared their first kiss on Christmas Eve — right before she jumped on a red-eye flight home to spend the holiday with her family. Three years later — to the day! — Ted arranged a scavenger hunt that started at Celeste's family's cabin, complete with notes and clues that led her around Midway, Utah. "It ended with a ten-minute snowshoe hike up to a clearing. I followed Ted's footsteps, but had no idea how long I'd have to hike before I found him!" she laughs. After a quiet walk where Celeste reflected on the life she and Ted had built together, she found him with a bottle of champagne and a custom engagement ring in hand.

The pair knew that Celeste's family's cabin would be the perfect location for their June 27, 2015, wedding. Her parents built the cabin while she was in high school, and it was both a labor of love and the setting of so many fond memories. "We loved the idea that our kids will be able to grow up in the same place we got married," Celeste says. With a year and a half to plan (and intimate knowledge of the venue), the couple got creative with ways to fit 115 guests in the space and made updates to the property, like building a bridge to fit the head table. Their wedding had a relaxed, homey vibe that was natural, romantic, and incredibly personal. But don't take our word for it — check out the gorgeous photos by David Newkirk below!

Celeste started dress shopping with the assumption that she'd end up with a whimsical lace design, but none of the dresses she tried felt quite right. Then the consultant brought over a silk chiffon Jenny Packham gown with embellished straps and an ornate open back. "My mom was speechless and my sisters started to cry. I knew I'd compare every other dress to it, so I bought it!" says Celeste. A soft updo, accented with crystal pins, complemented the soft, feminine design.

"I love first looks," says Celeste. "Ted and I had one two weeks before the wedding, at a historic barn in Park City where we took some amazing photos. I loved his reaction, and knew I wanted a similar moment with my dad. Before the ceremony, everyone cleared out of the cabin and my dad waited for me at the bottom of the stairs. It was such a special moment!"

The ceremony took place in the trees alongside the cabin, with the altar set up above a rock wall and guests seated on the lawn below. Hydrangeas and roses decorated an arch that was made of fallen trees from around the property — hand-built by the couple and Celeste's parents!

A whimsical wedding in the woods wouldn't be complete without a sweet team of flower girls and ring bearers. The youngest, Mason, started to cry when he saw all of the guests, but the older ring bearer was there to comfort (and shush!) him.

Ted and Celeste wrote their own vows, borrowing sections from different sources. The bride wrote the ceremony, which included a reading from Kahlil Gibran and a prayer by Marianne Williamson.

Celeste's bridesmaids wore J.Crew dresses in dusty shale hue. "I chose a color that would complement the setting, but not wash them out or blend in too much with the background," she explains.

The women's full bouquets of roses and hydrangeas were tied with blush and ivory ribbons. A collar of greenery helped the blooms pop against the soft dresses.

Handwritten escort cards were pinned to strands of twine with miniature clothespins.

Even with a small guest list, the couple had to get creative with how they used the space. One solution was to build a bridge in front of the waterfall on the property, the perfect spot to set up a head table. Organic centerpieces combined dahlias, roses, hydrangeas, and soft greenery.

At each guest's place, a small nest was filled with five Jordan almonds, symbolizing health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity — a traditional nod to the bride's mother's Italian heritage.

Over the months leading up to the wedding, Celeste and Ted collected High West Whiskey bottles to use for their centerpieces. "Our friends helped us drink the whiskey at innumerable social gatherings!" says the bride.

The three-tiered confection, roughly frosted with buttercream and topped with fresh flowers, had layers of lemon, vanilla, and chocolate cake.

Guests were seated at long farm tables decorated with fresh blooms and arranged throughout the lawn. The family-style meal included grilled elk tenderloin, beet salad, and bottles of wine hand-selected by the bride and groom.

After the wedding, the pair headed to Europe for their honeymoon, visiting Amsterdam, Italy, and France. Says Celeste, "My favorite moment of the day was after we'd finished taking pictures by the altar. Ted had everyone head down to the reception without us so that we could have a few moments together, just the two of us." The couple embraced their individuality and the things they both love, the perfect way to create a wedding that really feels like the bride and groom.

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Bride's Family's Cabin || Bride's Wedding Dress: Jenny Packham || Hair & Makeup: Lunatic Fringe || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom's Attire: Beckett & Robb || Wedding Bands: J. Brooks Jewelers || Florist: Nature's Own Fleurish || Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas || Music: Laughing Gravy || Catering: Snake Creek Grill || Cake: Midway Country Corner || Rentals: Diamond Rental || Photography: David Newkirk Photography

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Did you love this rustic? Then watch another couple say I do at a gorgeous barn venue in the video below.

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Getaways in the U.S.

 California, Events, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Planning Tips, Utah, Valentine's Day  Comments Off on Last Minute Valentine’s Day Getaways in the U.S.
Feb 092016
 
Valentine's Day Getaways

Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Lanai

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, there's no better time to book a last-minute getaway at one of America's most romantic hotels and resorts. To help you get there, we've rounded up some of the chicest places for two. Even better: all of the properties below are offering exclusive V-day deals, which are sure to make your stay that much sweeter.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai (Above)
If you really want to get away with your beau, book in ASAP at the newly revamped Four Seasons, on Hawaii's ultra-private, 90,000-acre island of Lanai. (Just a short flight from Maui.) Book the Stay Longer — Fourth Night Free experience, which includes a complimentary fourth night at the resort, plus romantic add-ons, like a five-course, blind tasting menu of such aphrodisiacs as lobster, oyster, and caviar— a surefire way to ignite the senses; or opt for the mixology class and tasting in one of the new poolside "sanctuaries," a private bungalow with couches and lounge chairs (also perfect for a couples' massage). (From $1,075/night.)

Royalton New York
Design-savvy travelers love this stylish hotel in midtown Manhattan, which opened in 1988 under the direction of legendary French architect Philippe Starck (also behind Miami's Delano Hotel and Paris's Le Royal Monceau— Raffles, among others). The greatest appeal for romance-seeking travelers, however, are the wood-burning fireplaces found in 55 of the 168 guestrooms (the most of any NYC property). Throughout February, couples can book the Royalton Fireplace package, which includes: accommodations and breakfast; cocktails and small plates at the lobby lounge, Bar Forty Four; and a "fireplace concierge service." Yes, the hotel has a "Wood Sommelier," who will come to your room and customize the fire— allowing you to choose from five different types of kindling, each of which pairs with a craft cocktail from Forty Four. (We recommend lighting up the limited edition cherry wood on the 14th.) (From $299/night.)

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
There are few more romantic spots in the U.S. than the coast of Southern California, so whether you're in from out of town or looking for a fun staycation, we recommend this historic Santa Monica property. There's plenty to do on-site, from Exhale mind-body fitness classes to close-knit shaves at Lloyd's Barbershop. But with the Sky High Romance package, you and your Valentine get even more amazing experiences— namely, a private helicopter ride over Los Angeles. In addition to overnight accommodations in an Ocean Tower Suite (with champagne and caviar upon arrival), couples are treated to a 45-minute airborne city tour, followed by a private rooftop dinner catered by FIG, the hotel's seasonal-inspired bistro, with equally breathtaking Pacific views. (From $6,500.)

Whiteface Lodge
Lake Placid, New York, has remained a year-round favorite among Northeast travelers since it played host to the Winter Olympics in 1980. And this all-suite Adirondack resort is the perfect winter escape for both couples and families, owing to the diverse activities it offers— from cross-country skiing to rock climbing and dog sledding. With the Lodge's Ultimate Luxury Package For Two, guests receive two-night accommodations, inclusive of breakfast, plus 50-minute massages in the award-winning spa and a three-course dinner at the rustic-chic restaurant, KANU. Couples can also catch a flick at the Lodge's 56-seat movie theater, take a turn on the private ice-skating rink, or kick back in front of the fire pit, cocktails in hand. (From $546/night.)

See More: Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Him

Fontainebleau Miami Beach
If you've ever been to Miami for a bachelorette, chances are you spent a night at the Fontainebleau's nightclub, LIV. This Collins Avenue mainstay can be either party haven or luxury refuge, depending on your travel needs, and we think they've hit the perfect medium for Valentine's Day. What you get: a prix-fixe dinner for two at one of the resort's top-notch restaurants (Michael Mina 74, StripSteak, or Scarpetta), plus tickets to a performance by Grammy award-winning duo Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at BleauLive (the resort's entertainment venue). If rocking out to classics like "We Belong" and "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" doesn't get you going, we don't know what will! (Package from $350.)

Sea Island, Georgia
With all this physical romance, let's not forget about a little intellectual stimulation. If you and your S.O. are really looking to connect this V-day, consider booking in at one of Sea Island's storied accommodations (we like the chic Inn at Sea Island or the ultra-private Ocean Villas at the Cloister). Not only will you get R&R— by way of the 60,000 square-foot spa and three world-class golf courses— but you'll also get to join the resort's third-annual Creativity Conference. During the two-day retreat, participants can interact with and learn from such speakers as: Italian model-actress-filmmaker Isabella Rossellini; New York Times bestselling author Gary Shteyngart; and Colorado State University professor of animal science, Dr. Temple Grandin (also the subject of a namesake HBO biopic, starring Claire Danes). Hope you're taking notes! (From $225/night at the Inn; $500/night at the Cloister.)

Red Mountain Resort
If your idea of connecting is more along the lines of mind-body-sprit, look no further than this wellness resort in Southwestern Utah. Activities that fall within the Red Mountain Essential Package: yoga classes overlooking red rock canyons, digital photography classes, hikes through Zion National Park, cooking demonstrations, plus daily meals crafted by the resort's nutritionists to specifically suit your health goals. (From $265/night, per person.)

An Elegant Fall-Hued Wedding in Salt Lake City

 Real Weddings, Utah  Comments Off on An Elegant Fall-Hued Wedding in Salt Lake City
Nov 262015
 

There's no doubt that Alison and William's November 8, 2014 wedding at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City was absolutely stunning. But what might be even more impressive is that they planned the entire event in just four months! The couple, who were engaged on July 4, 2014 after a year and a half of dating, pulled together their elegant plum and burgundy celebration with help from Martha Hatfield Design, choosing a color scheme that would complement the venue's cool gray marble. "We wanted it to be fall-appropriate, but still really classy," says Ali, and they did just that. Keep reading to see the gorgeous details of their 200-person celebration, photographed by Jessica Kettle Photography.

Ali's Modern Trousseau gown had a silk crepe skirt, lace bodice, and lace sleeves. A simple cathedral-length veil, sparkling drop earrings, and pointed-toe pumps with bejeweled ankle straps completed her formal ensemble.

The bride's bouquet was perfect for their late fall wedding date. Burgundy calla lilies popped against blush roses, white hydrangea, and silver brunia berries. Will wore a burgundy tie and a calla lily boutonniere on his gray suit. The couple was wed in a traditional ceremony at the Salt Lake City Temple.

Ali's bridesmaids wore floor-length burgundy dresses with black lace yokes by Lela Rose. "I loved how the lace complemented my dress," she says. Their hydrangea and rose bouquets matched the bride's.

The classic invitations featured gold script between lines of black text, all finished with the bride and groom's monogram. As guests arrived at the Utah State Capitol, they first saw an arrangement of hydrangeas, roses, and magnolia leaves, which decorated the escort card table.

Round tables were set with ivory linens, two types of farm chairs, and tall arrangements to highlight the venue's towering ceilings.

The sweetheart table was covered with a lush display of hydrangeas, roses, dahlias, calla lilies, and greenery, lit by candles in gold holders.

Tall arrangements of hydrangeas, dahlias, and roses were finished with cascading pink tulips. On other tables, low vessels were filled with dahlias, roses, and silver brunia berries.

For dinner, guests dined on chicken marsala, beef tenderloin, and an Asian pear salad. For dessert (in addition to wedding cake, of course), guests chose between mini chocolate truffle fudge cakes, mini pumpkin pies, sugar cookies, zabaglione with berries, and chocolate mousse cups.

The four-tiered cake, with layers of champagne and red velvet cake, was piped with an intricate lace pattern.

Ali and Will's first dance was to "Who I Am With You" by Chris Young.

At the end of the evening, guests threw confetti as the newlyweds headed to their getaway car. Says the bride, "It was so amazing to see all the support we had from family and friends who'd come to celebrate with us."

Ceremony Venue: Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints || Reception Venue: Utah State Capitol || Wedding Planner: Martha Hatfield Design || Bride's Wedding Dress: Modern Trousseau, from Alta Moda Bridal Boutique || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Jewelry: Nina || Hair: Megan Linihan of Phillip William Salon || Makeup: Kristen Packard Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lela Rose || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Shane Co. || Floral Design: Decoration Inc. || Invitations & Paper Goods: Bella Figura, The Write Image || Music: Life Of The Party || Catering: Culinary Crafts || Cake: Carrie's Cakes || Rentals: Diamond Rental || Favors: Sir Walter Candy Co. || Transportation: Something Vintage, Something Blue || Videography: Jared Fadel Film + Photo || Photography: Jessica Kettle Photography

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Want more fall wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's autumnal celebration in the video below.

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