Sam Hanson got the birthday girl Mary Claire Manley’s number at her 25th birthday party in Los Angeles and took her to dinner the next Friday night. They’ve been together since, and after three-and-a-half years of dating, he asked her to marry him on a hike with both of their families in Montana.
Choosing a venue for their #WillYouMaryClaireMe wedding was the easiest part of the planning process. The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana is her family’s place, and she spent several college summers working there when they first opened. Her older sister, Liz, also got married there and inspired them a lot—they even used the same planner, Jennifer Horsley at Habitat Events. To capture it all, they hired Belathée Photography.
On Friday, they welcomed everyone to Montana with a rodeo, and the soon-to-be-married couple wore appropriate Western clothing and cowboy boots. The next night, Mary Claire wore a Marchesa Notte white strapless dress to the rehearsal dinner.
Choosing her wedding dress was not as easy as finding a venue. “I consider myself a fairly laid back person, and thought I would bring that attitude to choosing my dress,” Mary Claire admits. “I did not. I tried on about forty different wedding dresses.”
Thankfully, she found Monique Lhuillier’s Sistine dress and had the neckline and sleeves altered to her liking. For beauty, she went with a loose, romantic updo by Mar from Team Hair & Makeup and natural makeup by Suzie Moldavon. And her bridesmaids looked beautiful in various styles of Jenny Yoo dresses in the Denmark blue shade. The groom wore a blue Tom Ford suit and shoes, and his groomsmen complemented him in J. Crew looks.
On September 2nd, 2018, on the lawn outside River House (Mary Claire’s family’s home on the ranch), guests found their seats on wooden benches next to the arch constructed of Aspen trees and flowers. Then, the bride walked down the aisle with her parents to live musicians playing the score from the film Legends of the Fall. “If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor,” the bride says. “It’s set in Montana and has ‘90s Brad Pitt.” After exchanging rings and heartfelt vows, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour under a tent next to the barn.
A Montana folk band entertained everyone, while mini lobster rolls (inspired by the L.A. restaurant Son of a Gun, where the couple had their first date) and other appetizers were served. Then, guests found their seats in the main tent for dinner. The newlyweds entered the tent to Rhythm Collective playing the intro music to La La Land which led into their first dance to “You’ve Got the Love” by Florence + The Machine.
The dinner was curated by the ranch’s chef, Josh Drage, who also made sure that, in addition to cake, there was a massive range of sweets available, from chocolate cake to chocolate covered strawberries to strawberry rhubarb tarts. While everyone was seated, the father of the bride broke into “Everlasting Love” after his toast with the band singing backup and that led into the father-daughter dance.
After the reception ended, the pair hopped in a Jeep and headed to the Silver Dollar Saloon on the other side of the ranch for the after-party. “We had a pizza truck open—the famous Friday Night Pizza from nearby Philipsburg—and kept things going until around 3:00 a.m.,” the bride remembers.
That night, the newlyweds spent the night at the Trapper Lodge right on the creek, and the next day, they took off for their honeymoon in Italy.