Nicole Sands and Tyler Dahlke first met each other while attending high school in Southern California. Little did they know that 12 years later, Tyler would ask Nicole to be his wife. "In March 2020, we drove 15 hours to Telluride, Colorado with our mini Australian shepherd, Finn, to stay with a couple of our best friends for the month," recalls Nicole. "It was there, after a walk in the snow, that Tyler got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of his life with him."
Although the beach is their normal locale, the couple wanted to switch it up and head to the mountains for their nuptials. A work trip before they even got engaged led Nicole to the perfect venue: The Lodge at Blue Sky in Wanship, Utah. "Upon arriving, Nicole sent photos to Tyler, excitedly admitting to having found the most perfect wedding venue for the future. Low and behold, it was the first venue we reached out to after getting engaged, and the only venue we traveled to to visit in person," says the pair. "It was our dream—the most picture perfect place we could have ever imagined saying 'I Do.' From the luxurious yet rustic aesthetics to the remote, intimate feeling of the property, we couldn’t wait to welcome our family and friends for a weekend full of celebrations!"
To execute their dream of an natural and eclectic wedding with vintage touches, the bride and groom hired Michelle Leo of Michelle Leo Events. "Being out of state, it was important to us to have a full-service planner to assist with planning and logistics," they share. "It was the best decision!" Nicole had a very strong vision for the day and wanted to be highly involved in the design aspects. "Even though we got a full-time planner, she welcomed my thoughts with open ears," the bride explains. "I wished for uniqueness, and she understood the task."
On October 23, 2021, the vision came to life with a stunning wedding day in Utah attended by 128 guests. Ahead, see all the details, planned by Michelle Leo Events and photographed by Megan Robinson.
The couple worked with their planner to execute their aesthetic vision from start to finish, including the charming invitation suite. "Upon our first meeting with her, we had one rule: no roses. Floral-wise, we wanted everything to feel as if it had been plucked right from a field of wildflowers," shares the couple. The palette encompassed neutrals like ecru and flax, with accents of dusty blues, lavenders, and terracotta. "Aesthetics-wise, we wished to take advantage of all the natural elements of the property like the reclaimed wood barn (that smelled of rustic wood!) and the adorable rescue horses, while bringing in vintage-looking pieces that didn’t overpower the venue."
The weekend itinerary included horseback riding on private trails, clay sporting competitions at the 18-stand sporting clay course, and an intimate lunch at a scenic yurt. Nicole and Tyler kicked off festivities by hosting guests at a Western welcome party in the resort's bar, where the bride wore an Anine Bing dress with a corset from Galia Lahav on top. "Everything about our wedding weekend was wholeheartedly 'us.' Most importantly, we wanted it to be a special weekend that not only we remember forever, but also our guests," share the couple. A fan of crafting and creating unique pieces, Nicole DIY-ed own baroque pearl drop earrings for the night.
Tyler spent the morning suiting up with his groomsmen. His wedding party all donned black tuxedos from The Black Tux, while the groom wore an Enzo Custom tuxedo in a deep navy blue. "The inside fabric he chose was an edgy, yet romantic hand drawn print of cursive writing and roses," shares Nicole. "Our wedding date was embroidered on the inside of the collar, and his name inside."
The bride spent her wedding day morning lounging in a La Perla robe and vintage bustier with her bridesmaids. For her glam, Nicole opted for a no-makeup look. "I tend to go very easy on my makeup routine as it is (that is, if I even wear makeup), so I just wanted to look like an elevated version of my everyday self," she shares. The bride decided to wear her hair down, and had her stylist add in some beach waves for movement.
From day one, I knew I wanted to create something that nobody else had.
Once her beauty look was complete, Nicole's bridesmaids laced her into her custom satin with white chantilly lace V. Chapman gown. "All I had ever envisioned when dreaming about what I would wear down the aisle was something ivory and lace with a built-in bustier—a look that was undeniably ‘me.’ From day one, I knew I wanted to create something that nobody else had," reflects the bride.
"I reached out to V. Chapman, as I loved the way her coveted corset tops and dresses fit me, and asked if she would be interested in creating a custom dress for me. She said ‘yes,’ and so did I the second I saw her sketch design after our first meeting," Nicole shares. "Being involved in the design process from start to finish is one of my favorite memories from planning our wedding. She also made my veil with lace trim that matched my dress!
Tyler and Nicole met at picturesque Blue Sky's hilltop yurt to do their first look. They opted for the new tradition to be able to get in photos and make the most of their cocktail hour. The bride adds, "Not to mention, it helped it calm our nerves before the aisle!"
The couple reflects that their first look a truly special and intimate moment for them. "We were both feeling very overwhelmed with all eyes being on us all weekend long. We weren’t used to it. It was honestly the only moment we had together alone," they say. "We got to enjoy our moment and let our emotions run free without anyone else watching. We also kissed during our first look right when we laid eyes on each other—oops! We couldn’t help ourselves."
Nicole paired her gown with a delicate and organic bouquet. "[It] featured the most special blooms from our palette, creating a focal point that felt both lush and delicate with whimsical and wispy accents to give it height," shares planner Michelle Leo. "Flowers featured soft cool tones accented by moments of rust. The asymmetrical design featured lush fullness and delicate movement, accentuated by flowing hand-dyed silk ribbon that caught the breeze while walking down the aisle."
"Small clusters of delicate blossoms and bits created the masculine boutonnieres," adds Leo. "Each groomsman had a coordinating but unique boutonniere that featured a color from the bouquet of the bridesmaid he accompanied down the aisle. Tyler’s boutonniere showcased an accent of blue."
The entire wedding party looked sleek in timeless black attire. "I allowed my bridesmaids to select their own dresses (it’s the worst having to splurge on a dress knowing you’ll never wear it again!) that fit their personal style," explains Nicole. "They wore black heels and brought their cowgirl boots for dancing shoes."
The bride pulled up to the barn ceremony with her mother, father, and her little sister, who served as flower girl, in a horse-drawn carriage. "The horses stayed present, and could be seen galloping around in the background of the ceremony," the couple share. However, the wedding wasn't initially supposed to be held in that location. "It began to rain the morning of the wedding. I had refused a tent because I didn't like the look of it, so our only option was to move the ceremony inside the barn," shares Nicole. "It was magical and so whimsical. It was actually so much more beautiful than we could have ever imagined."
Low florals in organic arrangements brought a whimsical charm to the barn, which was lit with lanterns overhead. "The clustered aisle was designed to feel like a path through a naturally growing meadow. We were nestled within a growing crescent nest that felt like a continuation and focal point of the aisle, and highlighted (rather than blocked) the views behind," says Nicole. "The ceremony design featured more of the cool tones from our palette, with blues and purples as the dominant colors, dried and soft grass shades, and rust colored accents."
Three of the couple's close friends came together to perform music for the ceremony. "They played a mix of songs while people were getting situated and seated, and then played an acoustic rendition of “Woman” by Mumford & Sons (one of Tyler’s favorite songs that he has always said reminds him of me!) as I walked down, and an acoustic version of Coldplay’s “Yellow” for the recessional. It was so special," shares Nicole.
"We wrote our own vows in vow books, and we read them to ourselves before our ceremony," share the bride and groom. "Our very best friend who had known our relationship from day one officiated us, so the ceremony was already extremely personal—even without us reading our own vows aloud."
It’s crazy how much love goes into the entire process,
"Live in the moment," Nicole and Tyler advise other couples. "It’s crazy how much love goes into the entire process, and it’s over in a flash. Stop in your tracks and take mental pictures constantly throughout the night. Those are the memories you will remember most!"
Next came cocktail hour. A country cover duo played some of Nicole and Tyler's favorite songs as everyone mingled post ceremony. Guests could sip a spicy margarita or lavender collins, and nibble on hors d'oeuvres including arancini, steak frites, zucchini parmesan crisp, and chicken and waffle bites.
Guests could find their seats for the reception on a 12-foot-long piece of fabric that was hung from the ceiling with dusty blue ribbon. Floral arrangements at the base accented the design.
"Within the dinner space, our palette shifted to focus on the deeper, warmer tones, with mauves and rusts taking center stage, using blues and lavender as cooling accents," explains Leo. "Long farmhouse tablescapes featured a full arrangement in wood dough bowls with satellite clusters of bud vases flanking them." Another unique personal touch? Nicole sourced the linen and lace tablecloths for the reception from the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
Nicole, Tyler, and the wedding party made their grand entrance to the song "Love Tonight" by Shouse. This song held a special significance for the entire group walking out. According to the couple, they both hosted their bachelor and bachelorette parties in Mexico at the same time—Nicole was in Sayulita and Tyler was in Punta Mita. The maid of honor Stephanie and Tyler's childhood best friend George both by chance decided to choose "Love Tonight" as the song that would play on repeat throughout the weekend.
In a twist of fate, Hurricane Nora hit the area. Tyler and his friends brought Nicole and her bridal party from the mountains back to their beachside home. "The house was flooded, the power was out, all staff had left to go be with their families, and it was storming like crazy," remember the bride and groom. "Making the most of a unique situation, all at once, the entire group of 35 stripped down to their suits and leaped into the pool. As the Punta Mita crew’s weekend’s DJ, George hit 'play' and the sound of the wind and crashing down trees was non-existent. Everyone was jumping up and down in that pool and singing all in unison, 'Love Tonight.' Little did we know this song had been the theme song of both houses."
Naturally, the couple had to incorporate this song into the wedding party's entrance. "Exhilarated and in the moment, we grabbed each other’s hands and, with our wedding party, ran through the open barn doors to the center of the dance floor, jumping up and down singing 'Love Tonight.' Whether present in Mexico for the hurricane or not, everyone connected to the song immediately and began to dance from their seats, some joining on the dance floor," they say. "It played four more times that night (maybe more) at the wedding, and even more until 5am at our after party."
For dinner, the catering team from The Lodge at Blue Sky served homemade bread, a winter kale salad starter, and a choice of beef tenderloin, wild roasted salmon, or vegan mushroom risotto. As an avid fan of tea, Nicole made sure the reception space also had a tea station. Late-night bites included fries, sliders, and, Tyler's favorite, pizza.
The couple later swayed for their first dance to "Millionaire" by Chris Stapleton. The bride then danced with her father to "Forever Now" by Michael Bublé and the groom led his mother to Rascal Flatt's song, "My Wish."
Later in the evening, Nicole changed into a vintage fringe dress and the couple both donned custom Busto & Sun hats. The bride had lace from her dress woven into the lining, while the groom chose a blue and white wave fabric lining as a nod to his love of surfing.
Their wedding cake was also a unique custom creation from LUSTR by Jessica. It included three decadent tiers filled with custard, buttercream, and ganache. The first was chocolate cake with earl gray custard, salted caramel, Callebaut caramel crisps, and lavender buttercream; second was vanilla-rosemary olive-oil cake with lemon curd, fresh raspberry, and whipped ricotta vanilla-bean frosting; and third was churro cinnamon swirl cake, cinnamon ganache, cinnamon buttercream.
Looking back, Nicole and Tyler had the amazing wedding weekend they always dreamed of, even if there was a little rain. They share, "Hurricane Nora's crew was back, and brought the party and all the love. We weathered the storm, yet again."
Ceremony and Reception Venue The Lodge at Blue Sky
Planner Michelle Leo Events
Bridal Gown Designer Custom V. Chapman
Veil Custom V. Chapman
Jewelry Foundry Fine Jewelry
Shoes Manolo Blahnik
Hair and Makeup Marisa Rose
Rehearsal Dinner Attire Dress: Anine Bing; Corset: Galia Lahav; Jacket: Ralph Lauren; Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Second Bridal Gown Vintage
Mother of the Bride Dress La Femme
Mother of the Groom Dress Galvan London
Groom’s Tuxedo Enzo Custom
Groom’s Shoes Christian Louboutin
Bride and Groom Hats Busto & Sun
Groomsmen’s Attire The Black Tux
Flower Girl Attire Badgley Mischka
Engagement Ring The Foundry Fine Jewelry
Wedding Bands Jordan Road
Floral Design Amber Reverie
Invitations and Day-Of Paper Goods Twelve30 Creative
Save-the-Dates Reb Peters Press
Guest Book Whiskey Made
Music (ceremony and reception) Cocktail: Chad Truman Duo; Reception: DJ Ricky Barrera
Catering Chef Galen Zamarra for The Lodge at Blue Sky
Cake and Macarons Lustr by Jessica
Rentals Alpine Rentals; Diamond Event Rentals; Vault Rentals; Moon Light Lighting; La Tavola
Transportation Snow Country Limousine
Accommodations The Lodge at Blue Sky; The Lodges at Deer Valley; Silver Baron Lodge
Videography Branson Maxwell
Photography Megan Robinson