Rain on your wedding day may be fabled to bring good luck, but to Jessica Buchsbaum and John Chaintreuil, the abrupt end of an unexpected downpour seemed to be a much more positive sign. “At 6:29PM, just before the wedding party walked down the aisle, the clouds parted and the sun shone through,” remembers Jessica. “It was unbelievable.”
Clear skies were a definite plus for the couple’s destination wedding in Deer Valley – the al fresco ceremony took place at 8,000 feet on the stunning grounds of a lodge surrounded by stately mountains and thousands of trees. “We’re both avid skiers, so it was a logical choice,” says John. “Also, our first date was a hike and our engagement took place on top of a mountain, so being married in the mountains was symbolic.” The natural beauty of the location made it relatively simple to decide upon a décor style for the event. “We wanted our wedding to reflect our setting,” says Jessica, who implemented a color scheme of chocolate browns, cool greens, and creamy ivories accented with a dash of violet. A chuppah fashioned of tree branches featured mini bouquets of flowers and rustic garlands of redwood, while the aisle was lined with shepherd hooks that held galvanized pails of roses, hydrangeas, dahlias, snapdragons, ferns, and lavender.
Loved ones were integrated into the couple’s intimate ceremony, adding a special touch of sentimentality to standard wedding elements. “We really tried to make our wedding as close to a family get-together as possible, so we included those we knew when we could,” John says. Friends of the family performed the ceremony music, and composed an original piece entitled “Sunrise Over Deer Valley” to which the bride walked down the aisle with her parents. The officiant was a family friend who has been close to the Buchsbaums for over thirty years and was ordained for the occasion at the couple’s request. “He wrote the most sincere, witty, and heartfelt service,” Jessica recalls. “Many of our guests remarked afterwards that it was one of the best ceremonies they’d ever attended.” When the couple walked back up the aisle as husband and wife, guests tossed dried lavender in lieu of rice or rose petals.
The entryway to the indoor reception was dotted with framed childhood photos of the bride and groom, and led to a table topped with seating cards tied with fresh sprigs of lavender. “We wanted our wedding to feel like our guests were in our home,” Jessica explains. “Most importantly, we didn’t want to decorate with anything that felt out of sync with the mountain setting.” Fresh flowers and candlelight added a romantic vibe to the pastoral ambiance of the wood-beamed ceiling, stone fireplace, and enormous picture windows of the lodge. Oblong tables were draped in shades of chocolate and chartreuse, and named after locations to which the couple had traveled together. Table cards were tucked into stands designed to look like tree branches, and a photo of John and Jessica at the coordinating destination was attached to each card.
The three-course dinner served at the reception incorporated family recipes at the request of the bride and groom, and the design of the whimsical wedding cake was a nod to Jessica’s fondness for polka dots. “Feel free to make suggestions to your vendors so that the event reflects who you are,” advises the bride, who also asked the band to learn some Bruce Springsteen songs for the occasion. “Serve the food you like to eat, the wine you like to drink, and play the songs you love – any and all of the little touches that make for a memorable event in your own home.” John’s planning advice is equally meaningful. “At the end of the day, remember to enjoy the process,” he asserts. “No matter which appetiz