There are infinite ways to add tiny touches that will make your wedding feel “uniquely you,” whether it is incorporating a meaningful tradition into your ceremony that has been passed down generation-to-generation by one of your families, or whether it is a starting a tradition that you two are co-creating that very day.

Stunning Teton views for you and your guests if you choose to have your wedding ceremony at the Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club.

Here are a few simple ideas you can incorporate into your wedding ceremony to help set the tone :

1. Get married by someone who knows you. Fly out your childhood priest or minister if you aren’t getting married in your hometown, or have a friend or family member get licensed so that they can do the honors. It’s not hard to qualify in most states to legally marry people and don’t you think it would be nice to have someone standing up there with you who believes in you and whom you both love and trust implicitly? Plus they can speak candidly about you and add personal stories and antidotes that will make the ceremony much more noteworthy for your guests ;-)

2. Write your own vows. Write them together, write them separately, borrow the vows recited by your best friends, or take the same vows your parents did when they got married 30 years ago. Chose carefully the words that will define how you intend to stand by and support one another for all the years to come… And after your wedding have them framed in your home to remind you!

3. Incorporate family and cultural traditions. Asking your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or other loved ones about their weddings and any cultural or family traditions they chose to include in their ceremonies is a wonderful opportunity to facilitate deep and meaningful conversation, and picking a few of them to include that resonate with you is a perfect way to honor your lineage (as a side note, if you do incorporate a religious or cultural tradition such as breaking a glass or jumping a broom, be sure to explain its significance so that your guests that are not aware of its cultural implications can fully appreciate its meaning.)

4. Include music or a performance. Asking one of your talented guests to perform is always a welcomed treat. But even if your friends and family are not musically inclined or are without a talent they are comfortable sharing, simply hiring a musician to play some beautiful live music that speaks to you or having them sing a favorite song of yours can be very powerful.

5. Do something symbolic. Anything.

Make a time capsule for your wedding ceremony (write heartfelt letters to each other and bury them with an exceptional bottle of wine to uncork on a milestone anniversary.)

Make a time capsule (write heartfelt letters to each other and bury them with an exceptional bottle of wine to uncork on a milestone anniversary.)

Pot a plant. If you want to get really fancy add some soil from each of your hometowns (your moms will feel special providing it for you :-) Water the plant together and then plant it someplace where you will see it everyday or where you can come back to visit it on special occasions and see how it has flourished.

Light a unity candle (not recommended for outdoor ceremonies!) or a vintage gas lamp from your grandparents summer cottage to represent your new combined flame.

Have a ring warming (I’ve seen a number of versions of this, but basically you slip the rings in a small bag and pass it along to each guest prior to the ring exchange so that they can bless the rings or say their own version of a prayer for your union.)

6. Share your love story. Join forces together and write a poem that you recite alternating line by line (or have a friend recount the story for you) of how you met or where you got engaged or why you chose to get married where you did (including all humorous and touching side notes of course.) If you are blessed with theatrical friends, there may even be room for an reenactment here (I haven’t seen that yet, but I’m looking for volunteers!) Your guests that might not know the details of your courtship will feel more connected to you if you share a sweet story or two. Or if you are apprehensive about revealing those intimate details, a beloved poem or a passage from your favorite book can be equally touching.

Just remember, your ceremony can be your own unique balance of tradition and personal expression.

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P.S. Be sure to check out part one of my blog series on crafting a meaningful ceremony Arguments against a Five Minute Ceremony.

 

 

“Our ceremony is going to be really quick, five minutes max…”

I get assured by brides all the time that they are keeping their ceremonies very short, almost as if they are apologizing for taking up too much of peoples’ time… on THEIR wedding day! I imagine it is a result of most of us having had to sit through a few painfully long and drawn out wedding ceremony over the years, but I would argue that a ceremony with a little bit of length doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, with some thoughtful touches it can and SHOULD be the highlight of your day.

Unique Ideas for Creating a Meaningful Wedding Ceremony from Jackson Hole, Wyoming Wedding Photographer Hannah Hardaway http://blog.hannahhardawayphoto.com/?p=3163

Here are my top six reasons for not having a five minute wedding ceremony :

  1. A wedding ceremony is a sacred ritual, it deserves to be treated like one! Marriage ceremonies are rich with religious, cultural, spiritual and even family traditions that date back to ancient times.
  2. People often travel far to see you get married. Yes, I am sure everyone is incredibly excited to celebrate with you, but first and foremost, many of your guests went to great lengths to witness and support your union.
  3. Your wedding ceremony is a wonderful opportunity to share with your favorite people your unique values, beliefs, and the life circumstances that brought you two together. People want to hear about your love story!
  4. Nerves are high on your wedding day, give yourself time to relax so that you will actually be able to remember what it felt like to look into each others’ eyes and profess your love for one another days, weeks, months, and years after your wedding. You can even build in a few minutes of silence or have your officiant ask everyone to pause and take a few deep breaths so that everyone can soak in the gorgeous setting.
  5. People feel honored to be involved in your ceremony–Enlist friends and family to play music, do a reading, give a blessing, or tell a story about you two… Or ask your grandparents or a couple that you look up to to share some marriage wisdom.
  6. Take some time to thank everyone for making the effort to be there for you both and also recognize those who played significant roles in your lives that were not able to be there. You could have your parents or role models stand up, or maybe introduce the person who was responsible for you two meeting each other. There are also many ways to acknowledge the beloved people in your lives who have passed away.

Above all, remember that this is your ceremony, it should sound and feel like you!

 

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P.S. Stay tuned for parts two and three of my blog series on “Crafting a Meaningful Wedding Ceremony.”

 

My perfect evening almost always includes a shared meal with friends (unless it is a date night of course ;-)

Our meals take many forms. Sporadically one person will take the reigns and prepare the entire feast, on special occasions we may gather at a fancy restaurant, but most times it is simply a good old fashioned potluck where everyone contributes and somehow it all comes together seamlessly.

my perfect evening is a shared meal with friends.

Dining may be accompanied by a board game extracted from the depths of someone’s closet or a classic movie projected onto the garage in the summer or preceded by some sort of group hike or bike excursion… but there is always, always an incredible spread of food-Partly because we happen to have quite the crew of cooks in our little pod (including a few professional chefs in our ranks!), but mostly because we all agree that LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO TOLERATE BAD FOOD!

It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does have to be delicious… and it definitely helps if it is prepared with love (and butter!)

Here’s to nourishing gatherings and irreplaceable friends.

 

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P.S. Engaging conversation and belly laughs guaranteed.

 

I often find that I feel most alive when I am traveling. I thrive on discovering new things to see, do, taste, and experience around every corner… And to top it off, I always end up having the most unexpected and magical adventures!!!

An hour before I was scurrying along this path winding to this little boy’s village, I was perched on the back of a motorcycle speeding past endless fields of rice paddies, coconut trees, and water buffaloes. On a whim, Jeff and I detoured from the main road to check out one of the island’s iconic lighthouses (which of course we had to climb to the top of…) From the galleries at the top of the lighthouse (however many hundreds of stairs above the ground) we could see a small cove off in the distance with a bunch of energetic children splashing about in the water. It looked like a perfect respite from the mid-afternoon heat and sun so we scrambled back down the lighthouse steps and just a handful of minutes and a few dead-end streets later, we pulled our bike up onto the beach and slipped into the cool, crystal clear water.

Thoughts on why traveling is good for the soul

It wasn’t long before we became the main entertainment of the afternoon for the gathered extended family with the kids excitedly circling us practicing their classroom English phrases and intermittently giggling and hiding behind one another. And then before we knew it, we were being ushered up this narrow path to one of their homes so that they could prepare us hot cups of sweet milky tea (I know it sounds totally counter intuitive on a hot day, but drinking hot liquids really can be cooling!)

During our 7 weeks in Sri Lanka alone, we were invited into many homes, provided countless numbers of cups of tea, and showered with food, gifts, and the most heartwarming interactions. Yes, Sri Lankans are incredibly kind and generous people as a whole, but I believe that much of the reason we seem to have so many unexpected and magical adventures when we are traveling is that we are available and open to them happening. I find that when I am not so caught up in my busy, scheduled life and all the things I think I need to be doing, events transpire in the most amazing, serendipitous ways.

Traveling reminds me that often times letting life just unfold can be far more perfect than anything I could have planned or laid out on my calendar. But the best part about that is, that same magic can happen right at home, as long we aren’t so busy we rush right by.

I’m working on having a little less planning and a little more going with the flow…

 

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P.S. Want to hear more about finding magic in your day to day? Check out my post on the In Between Moments.”

I get asked by brides all the time, “What is the best month to have a wedding in Jackson Hole?” The short answer is, there isn’t one! At least not just one… There are a lot of great months to plan an amazing wedding here, it just depends on what you are looking for!

Insights on the best time to get married in Jackson Hole

By and large, most couples choose to get married in Jackson during the summer months. Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park are absolutely stunning in the summer so that comes as no surprise. Summer in Jackson also offers a ton of different recreation (and non-recreation too ;-) options for couples and their guests to enjoy–everything from simple sightseeing and wildlife tours to endless hiking and biking trails, from gorgeous lakes to paddle board or canoe on to scenic float trips and heart-racing whitewater rafting trips… There really is something here for everyone. and even if some of your guests are not very “outdoorsy,” we have world class restaurants to enjoy, a cute downtown to stroll around, some eclectic shopping and a diverse art scene. The weather in the summer tends to be warm (in the 70s and 80s) during the day and then cools off again at night (which makes for great sleeping!) And since we are in the mountains, it rarely gets “too hot.” We usually only have about two weeks around the end of July where i wish it wasn’t warming up quite so much during the day.

Traditionally the two busiest months in Jackson for both weddings and other visitors  to come have always been July and August, but that season has been getting stretched on both ends in the past few years and for good reason. My personal favorite months in Jackson are June and September when town is not quite as busy and the weather is a little cooler. It can still be nice and sunny and warm during those shoulder months, but you can also head out on a mountain bike ride or hike during the hottest part of the day which I really like. But the tricky part about trying to plan a wedding in the mountains is that you can never guarantee what the weather will bring. You could have an absolutely gorgeous day June 5th or September 30th, or you could have a hail and snow storm on July 15th, you just never know.

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The biggest thing to consider when picking your wedding day in Jackson Hole in my opinion is how adverse weather would affect your stress level. Are you the type of person that would get really tense and anxious if there was even a threat of rain on your wedding day? Or are you a couple that thinks a sprinkle of rain on your wedding day is good luck? Would you be overjoyed if you actually got a few flakes of snow floating down on you as you exchanged your vows or would you be utterly horrified? There is no right or wrong answer, it is just really important that you are honest with yourself because there are definitely months where there is a greater risk of adverse weather conditions than others. Of course, some of those months that are riskier also have the potential for great rewards as well… but the rewards are definitely not worth the added stress if you think that you would be worrying about the weather for the months, weeks, and days leading up to your wedding.

[As a side note : from a photographer’s perspective, having some weather roll through on your wedding day can make for amazingly dramatic photos and it also can add some extra excitement and emotions to the day! Some of my favorite weddings have had guests huddled under umbrellas or all leaving their dinner plates to walk outside to witness a beautiful rainbow–though I imagine wedding planners probably are not as fond of the exciting weather as photographers might be!]

The second thing to consider when choosing your wedding date here is how hearty are your guests? Would your friends and family show up at the ceremony with stylish umbrellas and go home raving about how adventurous your wedding was? Or would they be devastated to have to trek through a little mud? Can you bundle grandma up in warm clothes and a blanket if it is cold or wet, or would she probably elect to watch safely from the car?

I don’t want to scare you with talk about bad weather, I just think it is good to consider the “what if”s before you make a decision on your locking in a date. The truth is, we actually have a majority of sunny days here in Jackson during the summer months and chances are weather won’t be an issue.

Insights on the best time of year to get married in Jackson Hole

For what they are worth, here are my completely subjective opinions on the risks and benefits of the different spring, summer, and fall months here in Jackson :

 

  • April through the middle of May : don’t even think about it. Rain, mud, snow, a combination of all three? Most locals try to get of town for at least a quick vacation during the “off season” and that is why…
  • Last weekend of May through the middle of June : This time of year is definitely riskier weather-wise and still can be pretty cold, but it also can be gorgeous and warm. The earlier in the season, the bigger gamble on weather conditions. But in my opinion, this window is often the most beautiful time to see the Tetons. I love that there can still be a significant amount of snow on the mountains up high well into June and that the valley can be lush and green and *fingers crossed* littered with amazing wildflowers at the same time. It is also before prime-time tourist season hits, so town is usually quieter and your guests might be able to get better rates on some of their lodging, tours etc. It can still get pretty chilly at night, so it could be fun to gift your bridal party with some cute wraps or warm accessories and maybe heat things up with a bonfire or fire pit and some late-night hot toddies at your reception.
  • Middle to end of June : Can be the same as above, or it can be full-on summer (see below for July/August). It just depends on the year.
  • July and August : Sunny and warm/hot. There is always a possibility of  late afternoon thundershowers rolling through, but they usually don’t last very long. July and August are probably your best chance for a clear day, but it can also be a bit hot so perhaps consider scheduling your ceremony for a little later in the afternoon or picking a shadier spot to have your ceremony if it is going to be outside. To beat the heat, you could also provide your guests with fun, summery, hydrating drinks when they arrive at the ceremony or have sun umbrellas and hand fans that people can grab as favors (these make great props for photos too!) A positive side affect of the hotter mid-summer days is that nights tend to stay a little warmer if you are planning an outdoor reception. The downsides to July and August are that they are the busiest tourist months so rates and occupancies for rooms, restaurant reservations etc. will be at their highest and hardest to book. The national park will also be more crowded (but I have to say it really doesn’t get that bad… especially if you are not afraid to get off the beaten path a little.)
  • September : September at its best can still be warm and summery, but without all the crowds. Temperatures usually are back down a little so you don’t have to worry about it being overly hot even during the middle of the day, but nights are starting to get chilly again. At some point in September it starts shifting into more “fall-like” weather, but you can never count on when that will happen here. Once it does shift, the leaves on the trees can be magnificent (though that can be pretty short lived as one big storm can rip all the leaves off of the trees…) I love fall days when the sun is warm on your skin, but the light breezes keep you cool.
  • October and November : There is a chance that the beginning of October can still be pleasant, but it can also be cold and dreary. As for the rest of October and pretty much all of November and into the beginning of December i would say see my comments above for “April through the middle of May”… or to recap, don’t even think about it.

 

There is also the option of having a fabulous winter wedding in Jackson if you are snow lovers like myself! I love, love, love winter weddings, but I am going to have to save that for a separate post :-)

The most important thing to remember is that whenever and wherever you choose to have your wedding it will be great, how can it not be?

 

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