Katie Markstein and John Mardikian have one very popular dating app to thank for their introduction in October of 2013: Tinder! "After three months of dating, we were so in love and counting down the days until we thought it was okay for us to get engaged," says Katie. That day came just eight months later in June of 2014, when John popped the question on Solana Beach in San Diego, California, where the bride grew up.
As the couple started planning their August 1, 2015, wedding, they were sure of two things: One, the party would be held at the bride's family's vacation home in Wilson, Wyoming, and two, it would involve really good food. "I'm a pastry chef, my family is in the beer business, and John and I own a restaurant and beer garden in Oakland, where we live," Katie says. "Everyone expected it!" The duo tapped Jenna Lam Events to help bring their vision of an elegant dinner party in the Tetons to life, and the final result was nothing short of spectacular. Read on to see how they pulled off a thoughtful, lush, and elegant bash in the wild, as photographed by Carrie Patterson Photography.
"I'd always dreamed of getting married on our meadow in Wyoming," the bride says. "John had not even been there yet when I told him I wanted to get married out there, but he blindly agreed and instantly fell in love with it." As it turned out, the bride's parent's were secretly hoping Katie and John would chose the site of so many family vacations as the place where they would say "I do."
The bride found she loved working on her invitation suite, and even admits it was one of her favorite details to research. With the help of Jill from PS Paper, the couple invited 220 guests to their celebration with a stationery suite that included a watercolor rendering of a photograph of the family property that had been taken from a helicopter. "It felt like she always understood what I was going for and then made my ideas so much better," says Katie.
Guests got a warm welcome thanks to thoughtful pre-wedding favors. Since nearly everyone was flying into the area, Katie and John made sure to spoil their family and friends with lots of goodies they could use on the trip. Plus, the baker bride wanted to offer everyone a home-baked treat, so she whipped up 200 mini almond bundt cakes and 400 salted-butter shortbread cookies, which served as the anchor to each gift box. The couple included other treats like their favorite jerky from Sonoma, California, a pre-bottled cocktail, a pocketknife, and a "Field Guide" that was filled with useful information for the weekend.
Katie wore a beautiful Christos Costarellos lace wedding dress that she purchased at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier. The ornate fabric was balanced with a sleek silhouette, perfect for their elevated bash in the woods.
Her lush, textural bouquet was comprised of dahlias, garden roses, scabiosa, anemones, blushing bride protea, dusty miller, olive branch, and eucalyptus.
Katie's seven bridesmaids wore silk dresses in either a dove or stone color and carried seasonal bouquets of blush flowers, including café au lait dahlias, garden roses, and greenery.
John's groomsmen matched the formality of his Lanvin suit with similar dark-hued attire.
The couple's three adorable flower girls, Gigi, Izzy, and Emma, totally stole the show.
"The ranch was truly a blank canvas for us to run wild with," says the bride. "We knew we wanted to showcase some of the property's features, like the views of Grand Teton, the river running along the edge of our land, and the fishing pond." So they held the ceremony in the backyard of the family's home, overlooking Fish Creek, a tributary of the Snake River. Then, guests would move to a sailcloth tent in a beautiful meadow about 300 yards away.
Cross-back chairs faced the flowing water and guests passed by two huge arrangements of natural-colored blooms on their way to their seats. The bride's father (wearing an obligatory cowboy hat!) walked her down the aisle while a string quartet performed his favorite song, "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys. Other pre-wedding musical selections included Bruce Springsteen's hits "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road." "It was Jenna's idea to have the quartet play instrumental versions of some of our favorite music," Katie says.
Instead of writing their own vows, the bride and groom let their officiant personalize the ceremony with a food-related story, a nod to the couple's professions in the food business.
After the ceremony, guests walked along the river towards cocktail hour, which was held in a sectioned off area of the nearby meadow that had views of the Tetons, but wasn't quite near enough to see the reception tent. To make sure the party started off strong, the couple placed a station with mini Bud Light bottles midway on the path, encouraging guests to "hydrate" on their walk. Once they arrived in the meadow, waiters on hand served trays of specialty cocktails.
In addition to a standard bar, Katie and John also brought in a vintage airstream from Camper Cocktails. Guests also ordered their favorites from a "Mule Bar," where ginger beer and lime could be customized with vodka, rum, bourbon, or tequila.
As everyone enjoyed cocktails and snacks, a local bluegrass band provided the tunes.
Seating assignments were displayed on a calligraphed board. Above each name, friends and family found a mini copper mug with their table number. On their way to their seats, they had the opportunity to fill it up with a Moscow Mule shot. Talk about a fun cocktail hour!
Inside the sailcloth tent, tables were decorated with custom gray linens with a navy border on the bottom edge. Garlands of eucalyptus were studded with garden roses and dahlias, and dripped off of the tables onto the grassy floor. Tables were marked with large copper mugs.
Because they wanted an elegant feel for their outdoor party, Katie and John chose blue and white terra-cotta chargers for their table settings. Each guest found their seat thanks to a calligraphed dinner menu, which outlined the sit-down meal to come.
After dinner, the party moved into a second tent for dancing. "There was also a foyer with seating between the dance tent and the dinner tent, where people could sit under the stars, smoke a cigar, and where we later served BBQ late night snacks," the bride says.
The couple chose not to have a decorated wedding cake on display. "I wanted to bake my own cake, but since our guest list was on the larger side, I would have needed to make at least four tiers, and wouldn't have been able to do that without a commercial kitchen," says Katie. "I ultimately decided to outsource that project, which was a tough decision. Jackson Cake Company made the most delicious cakes, but we just served sheet cake since it would have broken my heart to have a decorative cake on display that wasn't made by me."
Venue: Private Residence || Wedding Planner & Floral Design: Jenna Lam Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Christos Costarellos || Hair & Makeup: Team Hair and Makeup || Groom's Attire: Lanvin || Stationery: PS Paper || Calligraphy: Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls || Rentals: Montana Party Rentals; Frances Lanes; Canvas Unlimited || Caterer: Bistro Catering || Cocktails: Camper Cocktails || Cake: Jackson Cake Company || Music: String Lake Quartet; Poot McFarlin; The Flashdance || Videographer: The Cana Family || Photographer: Carrie Patterson Photography
Want more rustic wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's outdoor bash in the video below.