Planning a Sun Valley Wedding
Michelle Martin and Ryan Hollitz
Michelle Martin and Ryan Hollitz
August 24th, 2011
On the shore of Redfish Lake, Stanley, Idaho.
When blushing and excited bride, Michelle Martin, contacted us about being included in our Hitched blog, we were stoked! She was excited to share her small, affordable, personal and sentimental Redfish Lake wedding with us and we are excited to share it with you. Here she tells us all about what made her day special and shares with us their official wedding photographs, taken by all eight of their wedding photographers... the guests!
Michelle Martin and Ryan Hollitz married under the blue Idaho sky on a beach at Redfish this summer, with a small eight guests (including the officiant), a traditional tying the knot ceremony, a champagne and wedding cake picnic aboard a boat, and tons of homespun details. They chose the ceremony location in the moment, the groom's brother created the wildflower bouquets, and guests were the photographers.This madly-in-love couple shows us how a truly intimate, Idaho wedding is done.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
We currently live in Astoria, Queens, New York. But Michelle is originally from Jacksonville, Florida and Ryan was born in San Francisco and grew up in Sun Valley.
Michelle is a professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College and Ryan is a Systems Administrator at J. Walter Thompson.
HOW DID YOU MEET?
We met at a mutual friend’s Halloween party. Ryan was dressed as Darth Banana – a full banana suit with a Jedi robe and light saber.
HOW DID YOU GET ENGAGED?
Ryan proposed twice – once at Crissy Field in San Francisco in front of his family with the family ring (Which was custom designed by his grandmother containing stones from her ring and her mother’s & mother-in-law’s stones. Ryan’s mother also wore this ring.)
On this same trip (two days later), we drove down Highway 1 to Monterrey. We stopped along the way at a scenic overlook and came upon a clearing overlooking the beach where someone had spread red rose petals and white seashells on the ground. Ryan promptly went down on one knee and proposed again, with just the two of us there – beautiful and romantic!
NUMBER OF GUESTS?
Eight, including our Officiant, who was a family friend.
Eco-friendly and nature infused.
Part of the ceremony included a traditional hand fasting ceremony. The couples hands are bound with rope as the vows are exchanged, symbolizing the bonds of marriage, or “tying the knot.”
“Hand in Hand” bamboo salad servers. They resemble bear claws, and were chosen because they were eco-friendly, and non-breakable, light, and easy to pack, since all the guests but one traveled to the area.
HOW DID THE NIGHT END?
The ceremony was during the day, there was a break in between and some guests enjoyed the music on the lawn at Redfish Lodge. That evening, we all enjoyed dinner and wine at Backcountry Bistro, then headed back to the house and relaxed.
WHERE WAS YOUR HONEYMOON?
Our honeymoon began the next day in Stanley where we took everyone white water rafting with us at White Otter. That night, we all went to the Sawtooth Hotel for dinner. The next day we did a trail ride out of Galena Stagestop Corrals, followed by an evening in Sun Valley, where the groom’s mother resides. Dinner that night was at the Pioneer Saloon.
Then we departed for the rest of our honeymoon at Burning Man in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
WHAT MADE YOUR WEDDING SO SPECIAL?
Bringing everyone together in the same vacation home (with Sawtooth Vista Rentals) for a week. It was so great sharing meals there, dining at local restaurants, relaxing, and spending the beginning of our honeymoon with all of our guests made it special.
Also, having the entire experience be participatory and interactive was special. The groom’s brother made the bride’s bouquet with hand-tied local wildflowers and guests were asked to sign a “found object” while in the area to contribute as an alternative to a traditional guest book.
At the ceremony, different guests took video, pictures, did readings, drove the boat, prepared and served hors d’oeuvres, cake and champagne, and even officiated. Having all the guests board a boat from Redfish Lodge and drive to a beach chose in-the-moment on the banks of Redfish Lake and all get off to witness the ceremony was amazing.
Having a wedding cake and champagne picnic on the boat in the middle of the lake was unique. And, of course, the setting made it special – on the bank of the lake surrounded by trees, overlooked by mountains, with waves lapping at the shore! I’m not sure we could have chosen a more beautiful place to get married!
HOW DID YOU DECIDE YOUR MENU?
We worked with Melinda at Backcountry Bistro on the menu. It was important to us to use a local restaurant serving locally grown food. The dinner was exceptional – from the appetizers to the Kobe filets to the crème brulee for dessert.
Our whole experience was planned, coordinated and carried out by us and our guests, so mostly everything was DIY.
Since all guests except one traveled to Idaho, the logistics of getting everyone into the area and then from the airport to the area where the wedding festivities would take place was challenging. “Meeting” with vendors via phone and email rather than in person can make a wedding couple a little nervous, but this ended up not being as challenging as we had anticipated because everyone was great to work with.
TIPS FOR SOMEONE PLANNING A SUN VALLEY WEDDING?
Use the local small businesses. We had fantastic meals at Redfish Lodge, Stanley Baking Company, Backcountry Bistro, Sawtooth Hotel and the Pioneer Saloon. We had wonderful service and accommodations from Sawtooth Vista Rentals, and a delicious wedding cake from Christina’s. We also had great service from the folks at Redfish Lake Lodge’s Marina, and everyone we interacted with at White Otter before, during, and after our rafting trip was great.
FLOWERS: Sean Hollitz (Ryan’s brother).
HAIR/MAKEUP: Christina Bridgeman (guest).
FOOD: Backcountry Bistro.
DESSERT: Christina’s (wedding cake).
INVITES: Forever Fiances.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Our guests.
VIDEOGRAPHER: Sean Hollitz.
OFFICIANT: Kevin Brown .
ACCOMMODATIONS: Sawtooth Vista Rentals