Romance is always in season. Of the many pleasures of owning a guest ranch, hosting weddings has to be high on the list. While many think of weddings as high stakes games with lots of “bridezilla” pressure, Dunrovin has found that those who choose a guest ranch for their special day seem to be very special people. Our informal ranch atmosphere seems to attract informal, fun and nature loving couples. Our venue is not the manicured gardens found at a country club. Rather, at Dunrovin animals and nature rule. The Divas don’t hold back their brays just because a wedding ceremony is taking place. And everyone knows that our resident ospreys explode in chirping whenever a fish makes it way to the nest or another bird of prey is in the neighborhood. Those who want a controlled environment tend to askew Dunrovin as a venue for their wedding.
This means that Dunrovin weddings generally focus on fun, celebration, and families – including any four legged members of the family that the couple wants to include. We have seen many dogs walk down the aisle or stand with the groom to meet the bride. We’ve even had a bride and her father arrive on horseback. As the father handed the groom the reins, the newly married couple road off together (to to pages 70 and 71 of the Autumn 2015 Issue of Distinctly Montana).
The most enjoyable weddings are, of course, those that feature a bride and groom who are close Dunrovoin friends. Sharing our little corner of the world in this way brings us great joy. Such was the case this past July with Amanda and Coby.
A Rocky Start
You can count on Amanda for honesty. In fact, we do. Almost two years ago, Dunrovin Ranch had the great fortune of becoming one of Amanda’s business consulting clients. Amanda is a business whiz with a keen eye for the many details a startup company needs to consider in getting its business balloon launched and successfully ascending in the air. She makes it easier. And she does it, in part, by being honest. Her instinct for what will and what will not fly in the business world is unerring and she nicely, but firmly, shares her insights in an effort to keep her clients in the “fly” zone. Sometimes her news is not always welcomed; but you can bet on an honest appraisal as much as you can on her well honed instincts. And we, for one, are much the better for it.
So I knew that I might get some interesting, and frank responses to the “bride and groom” questions that I emailed to Amanda and Coby. My first question of “How did you meet?” is a natural for a newly married couple. What was unnatural was the level of honesty with which Amanda responded.
When Coby moved to Bozeman, MT, he reconnected with an old high school friend who then invited him over for a night of board games. Coby arrived not knowing that it was “ladies’ night” at her house. He jumped right in and ended up partnering with Amanda on a game that was not one that played into Amanda’s many strong suites. Her natural competitiveness got the better of her and in her own words, “I behaved somewhat like a brat!” as she kept losing. Luckily, Amanda’s honesty quickly took over. She looked herself squarely in the eye, recognized that she was off track. Their mutual friend extolled Coby’s virtues, so Amanda quickly salvaged the situation by arranging to getting together with Coby under different circumstances. Coby was no doubt less bothered by her behavior than she was herself. His generosity of spirit saw beyond it, and he jumped at a change to get to know her better. The rest, as they say, is history.
An Accidental Valentine’s Day Proposal
Coby is a down to earth sort of guy from an close eastern Montana family. He eschews made up commercial holiday intended to get consumer into stores. Valentine’s Day is one such holiday. Amanda claims that you really have to twist his arm to get him to even acknowledge the day. So you can image his surprise sought Amanda’s hand Amanda in 2014 only to learn that is was Valentine’s Day.
How could that happen? Well a tropical vacation on the beaches of Panama can make a couple forget time. Coby and Amanda’s 2014 vacation was a long one, over three weeks. Plenty of time to forget the day, the month, and even the year. Headed out for a side boat trip to uninhabited Isla Cayos Zapatilla, they packed a picnic lunch and some cocktails. Just as Coby was about to pop the question, a coastal patrol agent carrying a gun approached them, which totally destroyed the atmosphere for Coby. They moved on along to a quieter area. Walking hand in hand in the surf, Coby regained the moment and popped the question.
Coby’s mother had died while he was still a young man. He knew that he wanted his bride to were her lovely Yogo Sapphire wedding ring, and he shared this desire with Amanda. She had heard about that ring and imaged it in her head. So when he presented it you there on a Panamanian beach, her attention was entirely focused on the ring – and she neglected to answer his question! Repeating the question brought back to the moment and she excitedly said yes.
Their Dunrovin Wedding
While Coby and Amanda may excel at different board games, they share many important passions which were totally on display during their wedding. Family is of utmost importance to both of them.
Upending their home, they brought steamer trunks, old photos, books, cowboy boots, and other important family treasures to surround them as they shared their vows. Amanda wore her grandmother’s light blue wedding dress during the rehearsal dinner; Coby met his bride wearing his grandfather’s shirt and belt buckle, and standing his hi father’s cowboy boots. And, of course, Coby slipped that lovely Yoga sapphire ring that his beloved mother had worn onto Amanda’s finger during the ceremony. Family on both side of life were present throughout the celebration.
And what a celebration it was. Coby extended eastern Montana family and Amanda’s Basque family from Boise, Idaho, spent an entire weekend wrapping their arms and support around the couple. Amanda carefully created opportunities to bring the two big and boisterous families together, to really get to know one another, to have plenty of time for playing, swapping stories, horseback riding, and just relaxing around a fire pit. Dunrovin’s south pasture was turned into a gypsy camp with RV’s, trailers and tents to house the many relatives and friends who stayed up each night celebrating and cooking special family favorites to share.
Choosing the tall cottonwood trees of the riparian forest as a cathedral for their ceremony, they created an aisle by fashioning two old wooden doors together to form an arch, through which Amanda, in her grandmother’s wedding dress, appeared with her father and Coby’s dog following behind. Coby’s grandfather’s ranch had a similar river bottom cottonwood forest. Coby met his bride wearing his grandfather’s belt buckle. It felt like home. Love was in the air. It was the perfect place for a perfect beginning.
An open microphone after the ceremony brought tears of joy as relatives and friends spoke of their love, hope, and welcoming support for the couple. The desert table was piled high with goodies made by various member of the family, with recipes on cards to share. The Dunrovin Dance Hall shook with the feet of generations of family members exuberantly embracing one another and the blessing of the Amanda’s and Coby’s marriage.
It is clear that from their less than perfect initial meeting, Amanda and Coby have build a foundation that will endure and hold them in good stead. Their wedding was a perfect reflection of who they are – committed to each other, committed to family, committed to inclusion. The warmth that radiated down on them during that July afternoon was less from the sun than from the love and support of those who had gathered to embrace them.
Sharing a couple’s wedding day is such a privilege and a joy. Being present with Amanda and Coby, and their loving families as they came together to celebrate this new union was both humbling and uplifting. This is a couple who prizes participation and inclusion over pomp and circumstance. Amanda and Copy both looked back over their shoulders as they face a future together, recognizing the generational gifts they take with them in their new life.