Meghan Righetti and David Nesher met seven years ago as undergrads at the University of Montana, so their wedding—on August 4, 2012 at the Rivers Edge Ranch in Whitefish, Montana—was a homecoming for the college sweethearts. But it was also a chance to celebrate with their family and 18-month-old son, Julien, among the rustic beauty of the surrounding landscape.
"It's a majestic place surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lakes—the perfect backdrop for a wedding," said Meghan. "We wanted our friends and family to experience it with us."
"The first time I tried on my dress, I knew it was the one," said the bride of her Claire Pettibone gown. "I got chills and had tears in my eyes!" For the bouquet, she explained, "I wanted to stick with a natural color palette and incorporate unusual elements, like succulents. But it turns out my favorite part was the pop of color from the lime green anemones!"
A vintage sign welcomed wedding guests to the ceremony. The littlest attendants, including Julien (left, second photo from above), had fun frolicking in the grass. The couple's friend Halladay Quist sang Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" as the bride made her way down the grassy aisle. To personalize the ceremony—which was officiated by David's brother and Meghan's sister—each wedding-party member was asked to speak a few words about the couple. "They said incredible, personal things," said Meghan.
The etched wooden box reading "With This Ring I Thee Wed" was originally intended to hold the couple's wedding bands—but Mom and Dad had second thoughts about entrusting them to their 18-month-old ring bearer!
An old schoolhouse chalkboard—unearthed by Meghan from her father's barn—became a charming ad hoc seating chart for the reception. Rustic barn-wood tables were paired with mahogany Chiavari chairs and linen runners. "Because we got married in a town that caters to a lot of high-end weddings, we were able to rent amazing items that had been custom-made for previous events at bargain prices—like barn-wood tables and log benches!" said Meghan.
Tables were decorated with vintage glassware, as well as vases of pussy willow and herbs like rosemary, basil, and thyme. "We wanted lots of little vases instead of one big arrangement," said the bride. Bowls of cherries added a pop of color to the natural palette, punctuated by arrangements of garden roses and local succulents.
The buffet included braised leg of yak, trout with salsa verde, a variety of fresh salads, and huge loaves of artisan bread. "It was a showcase of the best local, seasonal, organic food," said the bride.
A wood serving shelf—fashioned from kitchen cutting boards—was a clever coffee-and-appetizer station.
As far as dessert, the bride said: "No wedding cake for us! We had a local ice cream shop park its rig at our reception. Guests loved the waffle cones with choices of dark-chocolate pistachio, salty caramel, Montana huckleberry, and chocolate-coconut sorbet." The ice cream was a hit with the kids, who played with babysitters in a kids' camp until bedtime.
The balmy August weather allowed friends and family to mingle outside as dusk fell on the ranch. "Our DJ played everything from oldies and hip-hop to Latin," said Dave, whose parents (in the foreground, top photo) got into the groove.
In keeping with the celebration's cycling theme, the couple customized their 125 guests' water-bottle favors with a bike motif. The groom explained the story behind the bikes: "In 2005, I did a cross-country tour from my home in Maine to the University of Montana, where Meghan and I met as undergrads. In a sense, I was riding my bike to my wife."
"We were so honored that everyone traveled to Whitefish for us," Meghan said. "The weekend morphed into a love fest!" She added: "It wasn't just a union for David and me, but a celebration of our family and love for our son."
Wedding Planner: Tanya Gersh Event Design || Ceremony Venue: Rivers Edge Ranch || Reception Venue: Rivers Edge Ranch || Bride's Wedding Dress: Claire Pettibone || Groom's Suit: Duchess Clothier || Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN || Florist: Mum's Flowers || Caterer: Cuisine Machine || Stationery: W.C. Shinn Paper Co.; Lark Press || Ice Cream: Sweet Peaks Ice Cream || Entertainment: Synergetic Sound & Lighting || Photography: Leah Verwey Photography