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WHEELING & DEALING IN "I DOS"
Written by Kate Elgee
Photography Dev Khalsa
For two people who love the outdoors as much as Julie Lyons and Blair Choate do, what better place to get married than Sun Valley, Idaho? Where else in the world can you have your guests mountain bike, horseback ride and raft the day before the wedding? Where else can you recite vows at 7,289 feet, hike up to a honeymoon yurt under a full moon, still wearing a wedding dress and tux, or ride down the aisle together on a vintage tandem bicycle? Fortunately, Sun Valley provided all of this and more for the happy couple, who tied the knot over the Old West-style Wagon Days Weekend, September 3rd, 2011.
For these two outdoor enthusiasts it ended with “I Do’s” in the same place that it began—Galena Summit. “We had our first date Nordic skiing at Galena,” said Julie. “By the second date, which was downhill skiing, I knew he was the one.” They decided to have the wedding at Galena Lodge because it represented, as Julie explained, “who we are and how we met. It was somewhere we wanted our families to see and be a part of.”
With an outdoor ceremony held under the shade of the Sawtooth Mountains and an indoor reception at Galena Lodge (with chef Don Shepler on the grill and local bluegrass band, Slow Children Playing, on the mic) it’s no wonder that by the end of the celebration guests began to truly understand why Julie and Blair picked Sun Valley as not only their wedding location, but their home.
Coming from disparate parts of the country—Julie from Massachusetts and Blair from Santa Barbara—they were both lured to Sun Valley by a mutual friend. The same friend, in fact, who was in charge of their “chance” meeting at St. Luke’s Hospital, where they both currently work, and the same friend who lent them the vintage green Schwinn they rode at the wedding.
“We are both big mountain bikers,” Julie said, “and Blair is a triathlete, cyclist.” So when it came time to plan the wedding, it seemed only fitting to combine their two loves—wheels and mountains. The bike theme carried over into the personalized beer mugs, the invitations and even the grand entrance, where the bride pedaled down the dirt road with her father (to the uneasiness of the groom, who was wary about the logistics of riding a tandem bike in a wedding dress) and rode out with her new husband, waving and laughing. “That was the best part of the whole wedding,” said Blair, with a smile. The green bike, which sat behind the altar during the ceremony, can still be seen around town being ridden by the new couple.
Besides a gorgeous outdoor location and a freewheeling adventure, the wedding was special, Julie explained, because of the small personal touches. “I wanted everyone to be part of the wedding in some way, to contribute. That way it felt much more intimate,” she said. With Birchwood centerpieces handmade by her mother, a bouquet made of flowers grown in her “other mother’s” garden, bike-styled invitations and gourmet food all made by close friends, the wedding was brought together entirely by the bride and groom’s loved ones. It was more of a cooperative effort than the bride’s single focus, giving a new meaning to the idea of an “intimate” wedding.
The original honeymoon, at Redfish Lake Lodge after Labor Day Weekend, was a peaceful and much-needed escape after all of the festivities. As Blair put it, “We had the entire beach almost to ourselves.” But the real honeymoon, which came a few weeks later as a surprise to Julie, was on the even bigger and warmer beaches of Kauai. “It was everything you would ever picture a honeymoon in Hawaii to be, and probably more,” said Julie, rubbing her rounding belly and smiling at Blair. As if the story couldn’t get any more perfect, they are expecting a little mountain biker—that’s right—on the very day of their first anniversary. A child who will no doubt grow up to ride the same trails around Galena Summit that their mother and father rode down on their wedding day.