For San Franciscans Jessica and Sean, the lure of the mountains is what pulled them back to Jessica's home state of Montana, where Sean, a native of Michigan, had gone to college. The couple settled on the Moonlight Lodge, for their late summer nuptials.
With a backdrop of the Gallatin Mountains, the couple wanted to allow the terrain to speak for itself; nevertheless, themes began to take shape on their own. Sean's mother decorated the rehearsal-dinner invitations with cowboys and boots, so nearly all 140 guests came outfitted in Western gear to the Half Moon Saloon, an old-style watering hole with horseshoes out back, excellent catfish and a rockin' country band called the Montucky Crop Dusters. Sean gave his groomsmen big brass "Montana" belt buckles; Jessica, who had searched in vain at home for the perfect dress, found her gown, a retro-inspired halter by Los Angeles designer Amy Michelson, in Bozeman, MT.
At the wedding, vases spilled over with wildflowers and candles covered the stacked rock fireplace. Jessica even donned a pair of cowboy boots for the reception. An unofficial moon theme began to emerge: the Half Moon Saloon, the Moonlight Lodge at Moonlight Basin, and the almost full moon that shone in the Big Sky night as revelers moved from the indoor dinner to dance on the patio until 3 a.m. "Everyone kept thanking us for getting married here," says Sean. —Gerit Quealy
Learn from Jessica and Sean
Have Time on Your Side: "Having a full year to plan took the pressure off the destination-wedding process," says Jessica.
Pick a Point Person: "I found Moonlight Lodge's practice of having just one contact person incredibly helpful," she notes.
Make It a Getaway for Guests: "By choosing a location and a resort that had a lot of appeal, our families and friends could combine our wedding weekend with vacation time," says Sean.
Ceremony and Reception Site
Moonlight Lodge, moonlightbasin.com
Amy Michelson, amymichelson.com
Melanie Nashan, nashan.com