Today’s post kind of marries a planner interview and a venue walkthrough. Glacier Park Weddings is listed in both our WeddingPlannerLove and WeddingVenueLove directories. So, because of that you are going to get a double dose of planning and venue info – how cool is that?
1. Tell us a bit about Glacier Park Weddings & Events.
We are an outdoor wedding venue in the mountains of Montana. In addition to our ceremony and reception locations, we offer event design and coordination services, lodging, activities, rentals– basically everything you’d need for a totally fabulous outdoor affair!
2. Do you target any particular niche?
Yes: couples who want to get married in a natural setting, but don’t want the logistical headaches that often go along with outdoor events. The philosophy behind Glacier Park Weddings actually began to take shape while I was planning my own wedding four years ago. Living in the midst of Montana’s stunning country, I thought it would be easy to find a place to have an outdoor wedding with beautiful scenery. I also wanted a venue that felt like I could make it my own, where I wouldn’t have to work with (or against) a predetermined style. Instead I discovered the opposite: the few outdoor venues I found were notably inflexible, had strict limitations on vendors, could not accommodate our 175 guests, and were often drenched in a kind of cliche ranch style that didn’t fit with my vision. When we finally did find a venue, we ended up having to truck in water, electricity, restrooms and more, in order to throw our party! It was a little insane. So now we are thrilled to be offering couples the kind of venue I had searched for: grassy clearings, trees and wildflowers, mountain views, charming paths through the woods, and in general a natural space that feels good— but that also has access to basic amenities and services to make the bride’s life a little easier. And we can accommodate 200 guests!
3. What makes your business unique?
We believe in the rock star combination of a full-service atmosphere that is also supremely flexible. Our on-site chalet lodging becomes a kind of base-camp for guests, where they can gather, play volleyball or croquet, sit by the fire pit, or barbecue. Our in-house activities like whitewater rafting are perfect for big groups (imagine all of your guests, grandma included, floating down a gorgeous river in the sunshine the day before your wedding!). Between our lodging, activities and coordination services, couples can have a totally fun and stress-free wedding weekend, enjoying the company of their guests and leaving the details to us. And the best part is that everyone feels like they’re on vacation!
4. What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love working with brides and grooms, of course, assembling all the details and executing their fabulous plans (my mother is an artist and my father an accountant, so I am a rather Type-A creative person). I love meeting new people and collaborating with great vendors, but I must admit: there is often a moment during the reception, maybe after the toasts when things have settled down, when I can look over and see the bride and groom and their families totally at ease, enjoying their food and drinks, not worrying about the band or the seating chart or whether there’s enough ice behind the bar, just completely loving their party. That sight is definitely the best part of my job. (I also have a soft spot for beaming fathers-of-the-brides, especially when they find me at some point in the night and say, ‘good work,’ which always makes me smile.)
5. How do you help couples customize their weddings?
Because couples are welcome to work with the vendors of their choice at our venue, the possibility for customization is almost infinite. I always start with photos and a good long conversation to get a sense of what the couple is envisioning. Then, based on their budget, I recommend the vendors that I think will work best with their style. I create a file or Pinterest board for each of my brides to keep track of unique ideas. I also love a challenge: we’ve had custom burlap linens made for a bride that loved that look, and a birch arbor made from scratch when a couple decided they wanted one for their ceremony but couldn’t find an existing one of the right size. One couple wanted their Saint Bernard as their ring-bearer, which involved crafting a beautiful leash and arranging for a shady spot with a water dish in the ceremony meadow. I like to find resourceful, unique ways to get couples what they’re looking for.
6. Do you have any funny stories about a past wedding or event?
Toward the end of one reception last summer, the bride, whom I had worked with quite closely, invited me out on the dance floor to celebrate with her. Because I can’t resist a good 80’s song, I got right out there, and then suddenly the entire wedding party started cheering and gathering around… which of course didn’t keep me from belting out the lyrics to “Freedom 90.” A few weeks later, I ran into one of the wedding guests at the gym, who said she had never been to a more fun wedding– and she couldn’t believe that even the wedding planner was having such a good time!
7. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
I believe that people don’t necessarily want to get married in a ‘wedding venue’ per se, but in a special place, a place that reflects their personalities and priorities. So I’ve learned to remind myself that, although we are in the ‘wedding business,’ which comes with its own sets of trends and rules and concerns, our couples are not exactly in the business of putting on a wedding so much as simply looking for the right setting and atmosphere in which to celebrate their most important day.