One summer while in college studying wildlife biology, Hilary found a job working on a ranch in Paradise Valley. Andrew happened to live next door to the ranch she worked for. However, it took two years for next door to be close enough to bring them together.
Hilary had a young horse that had never been ridden, and her boss suggested she take the horse over to Andrew, who could help her train it. On rare occasions you meet someone and feel as though you have just always known them. That is how Andrew and Hilary felt together. The first time she brought the horse over it was Father’s day, and they worked with the horse that day and every day after that. Every Father’s day since they have found themselves in that same round pen working with a young horse… until one Father’s day two years ago when Andrew took Hilary on a ride up into the mountains and proposed. Although they have had their fair share of challenges there is something very deep inside that connects them both.
They chose to be married in the place they call home, the place they love and the place that brought them together. With the mountains and the grass and the wind, rain and or sun all taking part on that same Montana ranch they gather with family and friends to be married on a sunny July day.
To be a part of a friend’s wedding is a privilege. I first met Hilary when I ran at the regional cross country meet as a freshman in high school and she was an eight grader. She beat me. I was impressed by her talent, which soon joined our team the next year. The group of us runners grew so close we formed friendships that will last a lifetime, I’m certain, and have brought us this far. It was both a reunion, a celebration, and one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve had the chance to photograph… and I hope you enjoy!
The first gift Andrew ever gave Hilary was a set of turquoise earrings, and Hilary wore those earrings on her wedding day. She wore her mother’s veil and used a piece of her grandmother’s wedding dress and added it to the the sash she tied around her waist.
The kids had fun checking on the chickens and gathering eggs for the day as the adults prepared for the ceremony.
With her two sisters by her side, Hilary secured her veil, put on her cowboy boots and became a stunning bride.
They chose to have the ceremony space set out in a circle representing the strongest of all shapes and the symbol for eternal love. They were married by two close friends, and incorporated the butterfly ceremony to represent their growth together and emergence into a new and more beautiful life together.
The newlyweds! Hilary and Andrew then mounted their horses and rode off into the mountains away from the ceremony.
The backdrop for the scene was impressive, and any time I go out west I think I need to move there. We took some pictures to document the gorgeous day and their relationship together, and then headed over to the reception just a mile down the road.
The reception took place at Grizzly Creek Ranch and Retreat, a hidden gem nestled in the folds of the Gallatin Range that has space for both large events and overnight stays.
Putting together the reception was a team effort. Megan organized the dessert table and all of the women in the family baked a pie, made popsicles, or put together chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. Julie and Alli made the bread, the ranch Andrew works for donated all of the grass finished beef, and a good friend did the rest of the cooking. More close friends played the music at the reception, put together the flowers for the bouquets and all of the tables, and all of their neighbors and friends donated their time, skill and space to help make the ceremony and day special.
The evening was spent toasting, feasting and dancing as the newlyweds were celebrated. When the evening ended, they retreated to the honeymoon teepee, and they lived happily ever after.