A ceremony as personalized as you are. Five ideas for a unity ceremony.

Personalizing an event can be the struggle of almost everyone – including your planner. There are so many places to draw inspiration from, and though it’s great to have avenues in which to spark imagination, it seems that as soon as you think of something, someone else has done it.

I feel this way ALL. OF. THE. TIME. I come up with an idea and immediately find something like it already done. However, personalization is so important to making your guests feel like they’re truly in your presence. It gives them (and you) a focal point during your event or wedding to really celebrate you. And we don’t mean slapping your name or face on every sign, table decoration or piece of paper you can find. Those are well placed at times, but also do nothing to help YOU feel like you’re in the moment as well.

Which leads me to another point – personalization of your event is also FOR YOU. Especially during your ceremony. Adding readings, special songs, and words of personality into your script intensifies the act of wedd-ing; getting married. So, here is our list of 5 of the most interesting unity ceremonies we’ve seen during weddings:

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  1. One of the most intensely loving pieces of a ceremony we’ve seen is Brittney and AJ’s Foot Washing during their ceremony. At first, it might not seem like you’d want to take your shoes off in front of your family. But trust us, a well placed rug, warm (or cooling) water, and a fluffy wash cloth will make it totally worth it, just the act of having someone wash your feet for you (be at service to you) is deeply meaningful.

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    Photo by Lauren Brown Photography

  2.  Kristen & Seth passed their rings around in a tiny box for a Ring Blessing with their family and bridal party. Friends and family gave their best wishes for the couple on the rings, followed by Ring Vows. It added significance and personal engagement for the guests there. Very soon, we’ll do the same with another couple, with the rings tied on a string, passed to many of the guests. Peace and love are passed to the happy couple during this ceremony.

    2109_2015_06_06_WED_GlowackiPhoto by Lauren Brown Photography

  3. Combining families and roots are literally planted together during a Tree Planting Ceremony. Anna and Tom brought a tree that they will plant at their home and combined it with dirt from Tom’s home state/childhood home and Anna’s Home state/childhood home. Therefore signifying bringing the two families together and providing the “roots.”

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  4. On the lighter side, but still super fun and unique are the various “Unity Shots” that we’ve incorporated. Anna & Pete have deep skiing roots – both are on the Ski Patrol here in Montana, so their Unity Ceremony was an infamous Shot Ski. It was fantastically funny, but also made a ton of sense to their guests (lots of Ski Patrol peeps), and was significant to them as a couple. Hayley and Weston did a Unity Drink, where they combined two of their favorite beers into one glass. A funny take on the “Unity Sand.”

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    Photo by: Simple Reflections Photography

  5. Hand-Fasting or a Rope Braiding is the bonding together of two lives. Through very old roots, the hand fasting or rope braiding ceremony is another version of uniting the two sides of the couple together in one binding love. Used with ropes or ribbons that match the theme, or with tradition colors of gold, whites and purple, the hand-fasting is performed with our without the Bridal Party to complete the long lasting relationship circle of the couple.

The significance of each of these pieces is developed by the officiant, pastor, or whomever is performing the ceremony, but is ultimately a representation of the couple and what their love means to each other.

Cheers,

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Littles and the Event/Wedding Scene

As we finalize our client’s wedding plans for the summer, and their RSVP numbers come in, we find ourselves with the very real issue of kids. Particularly, what to do with them at weddings (or any event really).lakotah+william-443

As I got ready to think about this week’s advice to my clients, I realized that the simple act of inviting kids to an event opens up a whole host of details that, if taken care of, will make everyone’s experience that much more pleasant.

So, let’s take this Step-by-Step.

Step 1: 
No, you can’t simply put “no kids, please” on the invitation. Don’t even ask. You can’t do it. ESPECIALLY if you then turn around and say, “Well, except for my sister’s kids, cause they’re in the wedding.” So, how do we deal with that?
  Option 1: Go back to good ol’ fashion envelope etiquette – address the            envelope correctly, and don’t list the whole family on the invitation and that should be a clue to parents to at least ask.
Option 2: Plan on alternative activity for the kids during your wedding. See below on hiring a babysitter, or at least having options available. Especially for traveling families.

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Step 2:
So, you want to invite kids. We highly recommend that you ask in advance on your RSVP card – remember, the RSVP is YOUR gathering info space. It’s your space to get as much information upfront about who is attending your wedding to give your guests the best possible experience. Here’s what to ask:
       # Attending – that way you know if the kids are coming.
How many kids and what are their ages?
Do your kids need a Kid Friendly meal? This is especially important if you’re doing               a plated dinner.

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Step 3:
Figure out what information your caterer needs to make the right food. Ask her what the age breakdown is for per-head pricing? Does she plan something for kids or is that something you need to add on? (it most likely is) Usually, kids are half price or free depending on the age, so make sure you ask.

Then, figure out what you’re going to do for seating. Kids can be tricky – do they sit at the kids table? Do they need a high chair? Can you rent high chairs or boosters? Here’s our key for seating:
Under 3.5: Need to sit with their parents – Should have a high chair or lap.
5 – 14: Can sit at a kid’s table. For younger kids, kids table should be within                           eye shot of parents, but older kids can be trusted to sit at the table.
15+: These kids want to be considered adults. They really don’t want to be at                        the “kids” table, unless it’s with relations, cousins or good friends. Consider a                        table with their parents, or other adults, but one other kid their age.

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Step 4:
Be prepared. Here is our check-list for things to consider and get when you’re putting together your day-of details. I have always found that planning ahead for kids will do WONDERS for your relationship with the parents….whether friends, relations, in-laws, etc. Take care of the kids, parents will have an amazing time, and it will be a GREAT party!

  • Research babysitters – having a special space for a babysitters to watch kids at the wedding is great, or look for an off-site space like a rental house where relations can drop their kids and feel comfortable. We recommend 406 Nannies and Dino Drop-In, both do on-site and sometimes off-site babysitting, for here in Bozeman.
  • Plan seating accordingly – ask your planner how/where to get high chairs, etc.
  • Have a kids table – add one more table to your layout, cover it with newspaper or kraft paper so you don’t have to add another linen, and no worries! Then, go out and get goodies for the table! You can find the holy grail of kids table supplies on Pinterest, but DON’T do: Playdoh, stickers, glitter, paint, facepaint!
  • Feed kids first: Have a kid friendly dish at your buffet; offer a kids dish at your plated dinner; give them cake first. Trust me, it’s cheaper and better!
  • Offer kid-friendly drinks: don’t just have sodas. Have some juice boxes, fruit juice and water.
  • Along with the babysitter, consider a breast-feeding space for newer moms. They’re most likely at their first wedding with their kiddo.
  • Buy activity packs for the ceremony! Especially if you’re having a LONG ceremony – head to the $1 section at Michael’s and pick up TV Show Themed activity packs. They’re $1 and they’re worth all the time in the world.
  • Let kids dance! Let the 6+ request songs with your DJ. It’s amazing how kids really brighten up the dance floor. But make sure that if you don’t want the Chicken Dance, that you tell your DJ that that’s off limits no matter how cute the face that requests it is.

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Remember: Happy Kids, Happy Momma and if there’s a Happy Momma, the party will rock.

Cheers!

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Little Hidden Gems of Montana…

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Photo by Lindsey Mulcare Photography. Yellowstone Under Canvas, West Yellowstone

Ok, y’all. It’s time to get serious about tourism. Tourism season in Montana is just about to come into full bloom, and the streets and sidewalks will be lined with people here visiting for all of the same reasons we escape our home haven – to enjoy the surroundings of a new and beautiful location.

Many people can argue that there isn’t a place more beautiful than Montana. I’m one of those that whole heartedly agrees that this is the most beautiful places to live and play. I mean, why else would Bozeman be the fastest growing town in the state (if not the nation).


Which is why people flock to visit, and they also flock to get married here. Which leads to many, many people visiting for a long weekend around their loved ones’ wedding day. Just this morning, I was at a VERY local restaurant and pottery shop – The Coffee Pot – with my kids. We were sitting next to a family, all of whom had charming Southern accents (dead tourist giveaway) and they were chattering about their two free days before the wedding, and what were they going to do?

**Ok, ok, insert the fact that I was eavesdropping. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE giving tourist advice. It’s my fav

I leaned over, noticed the Auburn sweatshirt, gave them a hearty WAR EAGLE! (because, War Eagle) and asked if I could give them some suggestions or any recommendations on what to do while they were here. Because, besides loving to do that, they were talking about going to a museum that is over 4 hours away, without knowing exactly how far that was given that they had just driven up here from Salt Lake City…a mere 6 hour drive.

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The conversation ended with a warm, “Welcome to Montana! Enjoy Your time!” and well wishes for the bride and groom – who are getting married at Rockin’ TJ Ranch on Sunday – they’re not our client, but we wish the all the best.

All of this long story gave me an blog idea…so here they are, the suggestions that I gave these super friendly and lovely people from Alabama. And if you ever need more, I’d gladly write you up your own customized tourism list.

Breakfast at the Cafe at the Inn on the Gallatin. Ok, I’m breaking out a SUPER local spot right off the bat. You’re welcome. If you’ve never had breakfast at the Cafe at the Inn. Get there…like tomorrow morning. But go before 9am or you’re in for a wait. Also, don’t take a group more that 6 people, ’cause in a space build for about 10 tables of 4, that’s just greedy. And if you want a cinnamon roll – order it as your sitting down. Those babies go FAST.

Headwaters State Park. Super fun and known spot for the locals. But how cool is it to see the beginning of the second largest river in the US? To know that the water that starts in Montana, will travel all the way to the Gulf of Mexico? I don’t know, I think it’s cool. But it’s such a great spot for a family picnic, to gather some local history and be outside for a flat and not strenuous walk.

Buffalo Jump State Park. Again, a chance to get outside. The signs may be a bit outdated, but who cares? You can pair it with the Headwaters State Park. It makes for a great local history day, and a day outside where you don’t need to worry about how the elevation climb will affect you. About 45 minutes from Bozeman, this little gem is certainly off the beaten path.

Dinner at Willow Creek Cafe. Ribs. That’s all I have to say. Oh, and Russian Cremés. Ok, that’s it. But again, go early. Have an amazing dinner with the locals in the tiny, tiny town of Willow Creek. And don’t be deterred by the drive. You’re not going to die out in the wilderness.

Downtown BozemanNot off the beaten path? Well of course not – Main St. is a US Highway! But man. There are few places I love walking around more than I love walking up and down Main Street in Bozeman. I have lived here for 15 years, and I always find something new. Some store or restaurant that I still haven’t been in, and the treasures and people and store owners are my absolute favorite. I mean, Lisa over at HeyDay can attest to how much time I spend in that store.

Hike to the M. Again, not off the beaten path. BUT, there are few places to go with better views of the Gallatin Valley than hiking up to the M. Also, its a great “starter” hike for those that want some exercise but don’t want to drive a long ways. Just make sure you go to the LEFT. Do not go right at the start of the trail. You’re going to seriously regret that.

Tinsley House at the Museum of The Rockies. This was my final recommendation. The Museum of the Rockies is going to be the first thing out of every local’s or hotel front desk person’s mouth. But my favorite part? The homestead. Especially this time of year – it’s so fun to see what they have cooking literally and figuratively around the ol’ homestead. Plus wandering around the Museum is always a good time-waster. And I mean that in the best possible way.

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Photo by Notarius Photography. South Bozeman, Montana

There you have it, a really long blog post to get to the point that I just love giving out Bozeman and Montana tourist information and giving them the right information. Having an intimate knowledge of the surroundings is SO helpful and SO fun. I maybe give out too much information, but it’s better than getting bored, yes?

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, y’all.
Speaking of which, I’ll be at a camp ground near Natural Bridge State Park.

Cheers!

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5 Tips for Thank You Notes

If you head over to our instagram on Tuesdays, you’ll typically see our #tiptuesday – our tip of the week. We try to impart a bit of wisdom on our followers every Tuesday, giving tips, tricks and suggestions for creating personal and successful events.

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When thinking about this week’s Tip, I felt like it warranted more information, and since I needed a blog post – here we go!

I am a HUGE stickler on Thank You notes. I’m crazy about it, and the etiquette that goes with them. I believe that Thank You notes are becoming a lost art – you know, that thing where you put a stamp on the envelope and actually use that box outside your house? Mail is an incredible thing. And how fun is it to open up your own mail box and get something that isn’t a political flyer, a request to sell your house or a bill. Thank you notes are something you receive, and send, that gives both people a warm fuzzy feeling.

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So, here are my Top 5+ a bonus Do’s and Dont’s or Tips on Thank You notes for ANY event.

  1. Don’t put off sending your thank you notes. Emily Post says you have a year to send them after your wedding, but with any event – give yourself a two week to a month deadline. Especially if it was any event other than a wedding.  How do you accomplish this? Read on…
  2. Do make a list of gifts as you receive them – as you receive a wedding gift, immediately jot it down on the list. During a birthday party, shower, or other event – have someone take notes as to who and what.
  3. Do put Thank You notes on your shopping list! As you’re purchasing decor, food stuffs, balloons and more – add Thank You notes! Then, you’re not making a separate trip after the party. You can start right away. (Add stamps while you’re at it).
  4. Don’t just, or rather, Do send that email. Send your guests a “Thank you for attending” email or text. But follow up with a hand written Thank you note.
  5. Thank You notes for a wedding? Here’s our biggest tip. You know that list you’re making? Do write thank you notes as you receive gifts. As you receive gifts in the mail or prior to your wedding, write your thank you notes then, and there. Get them ready! Then, as you head out for your honeymoon, pop them in the mail! it saves you time, memory power and more.

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And for the bonus tip.

Don’t forget all of the vendors and individuals that helped you during your event. Event professionals, especially the owners, so, so appreciate a well thought out Thank You note and review. It is such a great feeling to hear from your clients after spending a year or more with you! Sometimes you’ve developed a close relationship, or sometimes it’s been a great working relationship – either way, we appreciate you and hearing from you!

If you need help coming up with a creative Thank You card – ask your wedding planner! We can collaborate with your photographer to create a great image during your engagement shoot. Or, we can collaborate with your invitation designer to make sure Thank You notes get included in the list of print materials needed.

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Cheers!

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A Montana Birthday, Part 2

Did you check out Part 1 of Blake’s 40th Birthday Party? That day was fun. I think my favorite parts were first, the bus pulling up to staff and friends holding up “Blake Faces” as a silly surprise to start the weekend. And second, the custom-picked animal suits for all of the guests. It was so fun running around to tents and leaving them in the tents for the guests to find upon check-in.

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The next morning started with a private yoga class thanks to Shelby Nordhagen. A large group gathered to do yoga under the bright morning sky, inside the tent. Which is the best part about tents…they’re so multipurpose, and can be used throughout the weekend for each need. As the sun poured into the tent, things warmed up and made for an incredible practice.

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After that, while we transformed the tent for the evening, guests went on their own Montana adventures. Some of the group fly fished, some of the group went on a tour through Yellowstone, and some of the group went horseback riding. Everyone came back with their own personal experience of Montana, and wanting more!

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The second dinner was the main event. Blake’s big birthday bash. We worked hard to match his style in the table top decor and the lounge areas. And again, another event of A.MA.ZING costumes!! Guests were asked to come as Burning Man inspired, and it. rocked.

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The evening started out with a tribute video to Blake, which his wife Heather made, and collected over 1.5 hours of content! It was heart warming to see people from all over the country wishing Blake a Happy Birthday in their own special ways. There were some unexpected tributes as well, which was so incredible.

We followed the evening with an amazing dinner, cake and then got partying. Blake had requested a Silent Disco. Which is so fun to watch. In case you’re new to the idea…everyone wears their own headphones, listens to whatever music they want, and they dance around on the dance floor. YES! It was very cool.

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The evening went into the late hours, but what a stellar birthday party! The weekend was not over, and I think the final day, a Montana-style lazy day, was my favorite. Stay tuned for Part 3! Hint: it involved a fork of the river and these bad boys…

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Thanks again, to the amazing group of vendors that helped:
Photography: Lindsay Mulcare Photography
Venue: Bar N Ranch & Yellowstone Under Canvas
Tent: Under Canvas Events
Rentals: Montana Party Rentals
Staging: Centre Staging
Florals: The Flower Hat
Linens: BBJ Linen
Cake: CottonTop Bakery
Yoga: Shelby Nordhagen
Adventure Rentals: Big Boys Toys
Calligraphy: BonTemps Calligraphy

Cheers!
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Spring has sprung!

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It is officially spring…we think…at least Mother Nature is sort of cooperating. Her tradition of snow on the grown in the morning, gone by 10am is definitely in full swing. I absolutely love this time of year. Never mind that it’s my birthday month, but there is something amazing about celebrating another trip around the sun while daffodils, tulips, muscari and all trees are blooming.

I always look forward to that one day where you notice that the trees have gone from barren to *POP* green and gorgeous. There is one street in Bozeman, where this is always super obvious.

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Our display at the Bridal Walk this year. Photo by merissa lambert photography

This is also how I feel about events. I feel that we always spend months and months doing forms, details, contracts, floor layouts, and then *POP* it’s time to do the fun stuff…table top layouts, coordinating with calligraphers, invitations start arriving. And the event or wedding seems real life. It’s one of my favorite seasons – Spring and the blossoming of a new wedding season.

I think that’s why this year’s Bridal Walk was SO.MUCH.FUN. We talked to so many couples in the early stages of planning. Some in the late stages of planning that were just sealing up the final details, and those that just got engaged.

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We’re obsessed with cactuses as centerpieces or accent florals.

It was a lovely spring day, we were situated at The Baxter in their lovely ballroom, and the day couldn’t have been more perfect. In addition, we released our new MENU. Designed by the lovely Ivy Taylor, we have a new menu of services that couples at the Bridal Walk were able to view first. We’re excited to expand our services to offer a variety of new options.

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So, here we go…jumping into the field of refreshing new-ness. We hope you’ll join us! There is SO much to experience in the next few months. Before you know it, it will be May Day!

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Thanks to the vendors that we collaborated with during the Bridal Walk:
Venue: The Baxter
Photography: merissa lambert photography
Rentals: Montana Party Rentals

Happy Blooming,

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A Montana Birthday Weekend

2016.08.25_BlakeBirthday_1025Turning 40 is definitely a milestone, but turning it into a weekend adventure in Montana is surely the best way possible to celebrate! We couldn’t have been more thrilled to help Blake, his wife Heather and their friends celebrate Blake’s 40th Birthday in West Yellowstone.

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They called us five weeks out, told us they had 48 people coming from various places, but primarily in California, and what could we do in West Yellowstone? The staff at the Bar N Ranch and Under Canvas Yellowstone set the stage for what would be an incredible weekend.

This adventurous group thought glamping in Montana’s finest would be an experience of a lifetime – and they were right! Since we got to stay on sight, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us as well! We couldn’t believe that we were bringing this amazing group to nights of 29 degrees!

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Reed & Lee, with my now good friend, Britney planned a weekend filled with themes, surprises, amazing food, great tequila and some true Montana love. This weekend was filled with so much intricate detail that we’re going to take three blog posts to show you all the amazing detail.

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The guests arrived via bus from Jackson, Wyo and pulled up to the guest tent to staff wearing “Blake faces.” It was hilarious to see them pumped to jump off the bus and get the part started. As they checked in to their tents, they were greeted with gift bags filled with goodies and essentials that Heather had carefully chosen for each guest. Bug Spray, Sunscreen, chapstick, Yellowstone shirts and more! Plus…they had a surprise for Thursday’s evening – each guest has a carefully chosen Kigurumi animal costume. Chosen to match their personalities, it was the attire for the evening. It really broke the ice!

We threw a Welcome Fiesta and everyone enjoyed an amazing first evening under the tent!

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Vendors who rocked it:
Venue: Under Canvas Events & Under Canvas Yellowstone
Catering: Bar N Ranch
Design: Reed & Lee
Photography: Lindsey Mulcare Photography
Floral: The Flower Hat
Rentals: Montana Party Rentals
Cake: CottonTop Pasteries
Calligraphy: BonTemps Collective
Seating Staging: Centre Staging
Linens: BBJ Linens
Bartending: Bar N Ranch
Tequila: Clase Azul
Yellowstone Attire: Parks Project & Aviator Nation
Kigurumis: Kigurumi Shop
Music:
Yoga Instructor: Shelby Nordhagen