Planning a Sun Valley Wedding
MacKinnon & McMurray
A Sun Valley Wedding Story
Amy MacKinnon & Jonathan McMurray
Married February 10, 2012
Our Lady of the Snows Church
and River Run Lodge
Amy MacKinnon and Jonathan McMurray came all the way from the UK to have the perfect winter wedding in Sun Valley, bringing with them a bit of Irish heritage and tradition. With kilts included in their Sun Valley ski theme, they brought friends and family from all across the globe to gather in "the best ski resort in North America."
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SUN VALLEY?
We both love Sun Valley, and we thought it would be a fun place to have our wedding. I (Amy) grew up in Boise and would go to Sun Valley a few times every year with family and friends. Jonny lived in Sun Valley during the 2007/2008 ski season, and worked as a ski instructor on Baldy. He’s from the UK, but when we met, he had already been planning on taking a year off to teach skiing in the US or Canada before starting a “real job” in London. I persuaded him to apply to Sun Valley since it’s obviously the best ski resort in North America, and because I could easily visit him there.
We live in London, so anywhere we decided to get married would be a “destination wedding” for at least half of our guests. By having a winter wedding in Sun Valley, everyone from the UK was able to make a week ski holiday out of it, and our American family and friends had a long weekend break. We talked about how much fun our Sun Valley winter wedding would be before we even got engaged, so it was a pretty easy decision to make.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I’m from Boise, Idaho, and Jonny is from Saintfield, Northern Ireland (near Belfast).
I work at a contemporary art gallery, and Jonny is a consulting Actuary.
HOW DID YOU MEET?
We met at a bar in Edinburgh that neither of us had ever been to before. I was studying abroad there for a semester, and Jonny was in his senior year at a local university. My friend Elise and I went out on a Saturday evening with the intention of going to a great pub we’d been to once before, but it was dead that night so we decided to try elsewhere. It was a typical November night in Edinburgh, freezing and windy, so we went into the first place we came across. Jonny was there with some friends who were visiting for the weekend from England. His friends invited Elise and me to join them, and we ended up hanging out and going from bar to bar with them the rest of the night. I honed in on Jonny pretty much immediately.
HOW DID YOU GET ENGAGED?
He didn’t stage a dramatic proposal or anything like that, but it was very sweet. We went out for a sushi at a local restaurant in London, and he proposed when we were having a drink afterwards. It was a few days before we were flying back to Oregon to see my family, so he timed the proposal so I could tell everyone in person.
NUMBER OF GUESTS?
WHAT WAS YOUR WEDDING THEME?
We didn’t really have one per se… “Sun Valley winter wedding”?
SONG THAT YOU WALKED DOWN THE AISLE TO?
“Te Deum” by Charpentier
SONG FOR YOUR FIRST DANCE?
“Someone Like You” by Van Morrison. I had incorrectly assumed all my life that Van Morrison was American, which I have since learned is not actually the case, and has become a bit of a joke between us. He is in fact from Belfast.
HOW DID THE NIGHT END?
We partied until the bitter end and took the last Sun Valley bus back to the lodge with our friends. Some of Jonny’s British friends started singing songs with somewhat risqué lyrics – it’s something they do sometimes after a few drinks. It was pretty funny as I recall.
WHERE WAS YOUR HONEYMOON?
We spent about five days in Sun Valley winding down afterwards, which was perfect and very much needed. We took a belated honeymoon later in the year to Mykonos in Greece.
WHAT MADE YOUR WEDDING SO SPECIAL?
Having so many of our family members and friends together in one place. That never happens, especially when everyone is spread out across the US and the UK. Being together in Sun Valley made it even better – everyone had a great time, and it’s so beautiful there.
The involvement of said family members and friends made our wedding really memorable. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen all travelled from hither and yon to be there, and it was really fun to be with them all on the day. My younger brother Greg sang during the wedding with my friend Meredith, and my favorite part of the entire ceremony was hearing them sing Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” together.
My cousin Peter played violin during the ceremony, and was only nine years old at the time. My junior bridesmaids and our flower girl were all cousins of mine. My older brother John plays guitar, and he rather cheekily asked the band if he could play with them at the reception. Being cool musicians themselves, they said yes, and only later realized he was my brother. He’s really talented and it was fun to see him in action. We had another impromptu performance later in the evening by two of my friends from college, who sang “You’re so Beautiful” from Flight of the Conchords. That song still reminds us of our wedding, and Jonny will on occasion sing it to me when he’s in a particularly romantic mood.
WHAT WAS THE BRIDE’S FAVORITE MOMENT?
The whole day was perfect. If I had to pick, I’d say seeing each other for the first time.
Seeing Amy for the first time.
D.I.Y PROJECTS? GUEST FAVORS?
I like being artsy-craftsy, but was somewhat limited planning the wedding so far away. I did, however, make a project out of all of the place cards, escort cards, and table name signs. I was working at a fine art framing company at the time, and used off-cut mount board to make the escort cards (I was chopping mount board into business card sizes for about two hours). A friend in the mounting department cut beveled mounts for me to use for the table signs and then I assembled them all – we used names of ski runs for the tables rather than numbers.
For the table setting, we had to have some indicator of what each guest was having for dinner – elk, trout, or mushroom risotto – so I decided to make the menu options into a design motif for the place cards. I made linocuts (hand-carving into a piece of linoleum, kind of like a homemade stamp) of antlers, a jumping trout, and the Sun Valley “V” (for vegetarian). I then used a small printing roller to apply metallic inks onto my linocuts and printed them onto blank warm-white place cards. I did this about 150 times. I also wrote every guest’s name with a calligraphy pen onto the place cards and escort cards. The whole project took me hours and hours and I loved it.
TIPS FOR SOMEONE PLANNING A SUN VALLEY WEDDING?
Jonny’s tips: 1) Get a wedding planner. 2) Do it in winter, preferably off-season so you have the mountain to yourself. 3) Take all your out of town guests to Grumpy’s. 4) Drink Sun Valley margaritas in the hot pool.
My tips: 1) Make it into a long weekend celebration if you can. You only have so much time to see everyone on the wedding day and during the reception. I was really glad we had a few gatherings during the lead up to the wedding and afterwards, because it gave us an opportunity to spend quality time with everyone who had made such a huge effort to be there. 2) I felt like we really lucked out with our wedding planner, photographer and band, so I would highly recommend all of them.
WEDDING PLANNER: Taylor Sturges of Taylor’d Events
HAIR/MAKEUP: Vertu Salon / Myself (used Laura Mercier, Chantecaille, Trish McEvoy, YSL)
DRESS/SHOES: Monique Lhuillier / Bhldn
GROOM'S ATTIRE: Hugo Boss
BRIDESMAIDS/GROOMSMENS ATTIRE: Bridesmaids – Jcrew; Junior Bridesmaids – Bhldn; Best man – tux; Groomsmen – own kilts with evening jackets
MUSIC: Ceremony – Pianist, Dorinda Rendahl; Vocalists, Meredith Skillman and Greg MacKinnon; Violinist, Peter Bocci. Reception – Marmalade Hill, with special guest appearances by John MacKinnon, Michael Levere and Robbie Kurtzman
FOOD: Sun Valley Resort – elk, Idaho trout, mushroom risotto
DESSERT: Sun Valley Resort – honey spice cake and chocolate cake
INVITES: Oblation Papers & Press
PHOTOGRAPHER: Kirsten Shultz
VIDEOGRAPHER: Lester Bergeron
OFFICIANT: Father Joe Macdonald