On June 20, 2020, we got married in an intimate family ceremony, and it was perfect.
We originally had a big bash planned for the day, with a completely different timeline, type of food, vibe, etc. But due to COVID-19 (hello COVID brides) we tossed that all out of the window. My mom and I (mostly my mom – she was the event planning guru) had to replan the entire thing this spring. We opted to keep the day, the dress and details, but had family friends cater and went for a relaxed feel.
The state of Montana was in Phase Two of reopening, so we were able to have gatherings of 50 people or less. This allowed some extended family members to attend and we were so happy!
My parents hosted the wedding on their property and put blood, sweat and tears into rehabbing the property. The wedding ceremony was by the river, at our family swimming hole (the exact spot that Brady proposed). The reception was right next to our house, next to the fire pit.
Our Montana Wedding: Northwest Montana
I got ready at my childhood home with my female family members and tried not to freak out. Brady got ready at his parent’s AirBnb. We didn’t do a first look.
Instead of focusing on the fact that COVID-19 changed our original plans, we focused on enjoying our day filled with love. And honestly? I wouldn’t change a thing! While I really missed our friends, extended family and friends that are family, the day was the more relaxed than I ever thought it was.
There are many, many complexities to hosting a wedding at your family’s property. That’s stressful in its own right, but add in a lack of toilets, power, cell service and drivable roads? You’re asking for trouble. So a day that was bound to have drama and be stressful, suddenly dwindled into what mattered: a small group of family on a beautiful day!
The “hike” to the ceremony spot involved fjording a small creek and fighting with an army of mosquitos. Muck boots were a necessity..and the whole arrangement probably wasn’t the best for a white dress. But…I digress…
We had a simple ceremony, based on the same ceremony my parent’s used at their wedding (which I copied from my mom’s handwritten notes from the early 1990s!). Brady’s godmother wrote a beautiful poem and we exchanged vows we wrote ourselves. We also did a traditional Irish hand fasting ceremony, which included our immediate family members, best man and made of honor. It was amazing.
After the wedding, our guests walked back up to the ceremony so that we could have 15 minutes of alone time. Brides – I highly recommend doing this. Your guests can kick back a cocktail while you enjoy a little time with your brand new husband! We spent ours doing what we know best: being goofballs and drinking whiskey.
Then the party began! Our family members wrote beautiful speeches, we had our first dance and we ate delicious food. We were blessed to have family friends cater our wedding! Our original caterer plans fell through due to the diminished guest numbers, so last minute our friends stepped up.
Photos by Alex Deuel
Dress from A&BÉ Bridal Shop Seattle
Everything else by Timory Peel (my mom)