Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Montana Made Wedding Fair

Well, the cat is officially out of the bag!  The Bitterroot Wedding Association IS going to host the Montana Made Wedding Fair!  November 5th, 2016, at the First Interstate Building, in Hamilton, Montana!  The event website is in the works and will go live on March 1st!  This show will be unlike any other show in the area - Not only will it will be incredibly affordable, and it will be centered around our very own Bitterroot Wedding Association vendors!  Here's the run-down so you can be ready on March 1st when we open registration (seriously, you need to be ready come March 1st!):

  •  The Montana Made Wedding Fair Website goes live!
  •  The show will allow a limited number of exhibitors in each vendor category
  •  Registrations will only be accepted from Bitterroot Wedding Association Members (so if you're not a member, we suggest you get your information & dues in ASAP!)
  • If you're slow to sign up and all the vendor spots in your category are filled, you will be added to wait list
  • We have over 20 vendor categories including items like: accommodations, bar, catering, invitations, cakes, photographer, venues, etc.
  • We are setting registration up this way so the show will feature a wide variety of vendors, and be most beneficial to those who attend!
APRIL 1:      
  • We will open the waiting list, and add more vendors to the show (example:  only one florist signs up, and no more florists are on the waiting list - we may add another venue from the wait list to the show)
  • You can continue to send in your registrations if you're a Bitterroot Wedding Association member
MAY 1:
  • Anyone who isn't a member can sign up to join the show, if there are empty spots left
  • We want to give our own BWA members an opportunity to fill this show, since it's hosted by the Bitterroot Wedding Association and we want to feature local vendors!
  • Registration fees will only be $150 for BWA members
  • Non-members will be allowed to sign up after May 1st, and will have to pay $500 to participate
  • Therefore, if you can qualify to be a BWA member (Ravalli or Missoula county business doing business in the Bitterroot Valley), it's more affordable to just join the association first before registering!
  • To keep these costs low, we will require each vendor to commit to helping promote the show.  
    • We will provide marketing calendars & instructions on what you need to do!
    • We promise it won't be hard!  But we do need your support!
    • It's all about social media buzz and promotion, and we're confident YOU (our exhibitors) can make this happen!
    • We'll be using the registration fees to promote the show in the most cost effective way possible, and also to pay for necessary materials needed to make this show very professional & well run
  • We will charge a very small fee at the door to our attendees, to make sure that those who attend are serious about shopping for wedding & event vendors!  $5.00 tickets will go on sale online (likely in August or September), and will be available until November 4th, and then at the door on the day of the event!
We are partnering with an upscale wedding consignment boutique, called Bridal Haus!  It's very much like the local Prarie Sisters or Vintage Whites, but it's all wedding related items!  Bridal Haus will be using a portion of the space to collect and resell bride's lightly used decor, linens, gowns, etc.  We know that in years past, the wedding fairs in the Bitterroot Valley weren't well attended.  We hope to encourage a lot more locals & Missoulians to come to our show by making adding the wedding resale aspect in a very professional way!  We're very excited for this new twist on a wedding fair.

If you have questions about the show, shoot us an email, or give us a call at 406-219-7840!  As we mentioned above, the website will be live in just one month, so be prepared to print your registration form and grab your space before they fill up!

Our $20,000 Destination Wedding Giveaway!

The Bitterroot Wedding Association’s goal is to provide awareness about the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana, as a great location for weddings!  Part of this awareness comes from partnering with organizations that have a far wider reach than we do.  One example comes with the giveaway we’re currently participating in with Destination Missoula!

We’re giving away a wedding worth OVER $20,000 to one lucky bride and 60 of her guests!  The wedding will take place at the Purcell Ranch, in Lolo, Montana, and a TON of our Bitterroot Wedding Association members are participating.  The deadline to register is January 31st, and you can register here: http://www.destinationmissoula.org/wedding-giveaway

Below are images of what we’re including with the wedding, and at the bottom of this blog, you’ll find the written description of everything that’s included as well.  Hurry up and sign up!  We can’t wait to find out your love story, and help you plan this beautiful Montana wedding!  Make sure to scroll all the way down to see the whole list of items, and more images!



  • JOHANNA B PHOTOGRAPHY  - Engagement session, full wedding day coverage, fully edited and retouched online proofing & ordering galleries, complete digital print package on custom heirloom USB drive with print release, at least two photographers provided by Johanna B Photography
  • EVENTS BY AUTUMN -  Full service package: event design, budget plan, timeline, agenda, day of setup and teardown, vendor management, custom decor, personalized custom invites, rehearsal management.
  • HAMILTON PARTY RENTALS - 40x40 framed canopy, (7) 25 ft. globe lighting, (8) 8x20 windowed sidewalls, (1) tent heater, (4) 5 ft. round tables, (1) 4 ft. round table, (1) 4 ft. banquet table, 12x12 dance floor, 12x12 sub floor, dance floor installation, (2) 6 ft. banquet tables, 66 dinner plates, 132 salad plates, 66 bread and butter sets, 66 dinner forks, 66 dessert forks, 132 salad forks, 66 spoons, 40x40 framed liners.
  • A MOVEABLE FEAST - Hors d' oeuvres for up to 60 people. A Moveable Feast will work with the wedding couple to design a custom menu of seasonal hors d' oeuvres.
  • PURCELL RANCH - Wedding Venue (includes access to the meadow ceremony, reception site, teepee "cocktail site" and fire pits)
  • OH SO CHIC BOUTIQUE – (38) mahogany chiavari chairs, (38) white pads for chairs, (4) farm tables, (8) solid wood benches, (1) wood and metal bar, (1) burlap Mr. & Mrs. Pillow, (2) small burlap pillows.
  • HAPPY HUCKLEBERRY STUDIO – (50) Save the date cards, Antler motif invitations + envelopes, info card/map, RSVP cards + envelopes, burlap wrap + muslin/twine wrap, (60) menu cards & thank you notes.
  • RMF ENTERTAINMENT - 6 hour event including all lighting & sound DJ service.
  • BITTERROOT FLOWER SHOP - (4) magnolia leaf + greenery runners, (4) bunches of greenery for centerpieces, (1) groom's boutonniere, (1) bridal bouquet
  • HOLIDAY INN MISSOULA DOWNTOWN - Three night stay for bride and groom.
  • DESTINATION MISSOULA - $500 travel voucher and one bus for guest transportation to and from the event.
  • BADLANDER CATERING - Featured wedding cocktails, two "featured cocktails" for the reception. Will work with Bride & Groom to tailor cocktails to their taste.
  • WEDDING CAKES BY AMBROSE BARTON + BROWN – (3) tiered "naked" cake to serve (60) people. Flavoring of the winner's choice (from their menu)
  • VINTAGE 44, LLC - 60 clear antique wine goblets, 60 vintage folding chairs and rustic "MRS & MR" metal letters
  • KALYN HALAMANDARIS (FROM TEASED SALON) - Bridal up-do and trial run
  • SWEET PEA SEWER & SEPTIC - One portable toilet rental for one day
  • ROCOCO BRIDAL - One complete tuxedo rental for the groom

Big things in the works for 2016!

We have a few large projects we'll be working on for 2016, and we would love your help!

  • Bitterroot Wedding Fair - we're working on an event in the Fall of 2016.  Venue TBD, but we would love to form a committee to have some help with planning!  Email us if you're interested in being on the planning committee.
  • 2016 Wedding Giveaway!  We participated with Destination Missoula to put together a free wedding for next October 15, 2016!  Each vendor gave away all or a portion of their products, and we were able to build a beautiful FREE wedding for one lucky bride!  The promotion is currently running, and we'll pick a winner in February!
  • 2016 Feature in Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine - We participated in a styled shoot for Rocky Mountain bride this spring, and it will be featured in Rocky Mountain Bride's spring issue, and it centers on the Bitterroot Valley and the Bitterroot Wedding Association!
  • Western Montana Wedding Magazine - we are working diligently on creating a wedding magazine for our Association, which will feature weddings in our Valley, and creative ideas and vendor features.  If you want to participate in this magazine, please email us.
  • And of course, we'll do what we did in 2015 for 2016 too:  constant social media promotion, memberships to local chambers, attending wedding fairs, putting on networking events for our membership, sending monthly marketing newsletters, and making sure our members get leads from brides!

The Bitterroot Wedding Association's 2015 accomplishments

We just wanted to share a bit about what we've accomplished in our first year!  We want to thank you all for your support, and look forward to 2016's accomplishments!
  • Our website went live January 8th
  • We’ve had over 1,200 visitors to our website to date
  • We had a booth at the Cherry Creek Wedding Fair & collected about 300 leads!
  • We hosted 3 Networking Events!  Off-season (January, April & October)
  • We taught classes on Social Media Marketing
  • We taught a class on creating your own Website
  • We sent a monthly Newsletter with wedding business marketing tips & leads from website visitors
  • We put together a styled shoot with Rocky Mountain Bride, which will be published in the Spring of 2016, featuring the Bitterroot Valley, the Bitterroot Wedding Association and a bunch of our members!
  • We joined the Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce–and are joining Missoula soon!
  • We created a traveling “Open Space” Billboard for the Association
  • We partnered with Destination Missoula to create a free wedding!  The goal is to build awareness about the area in feeder markets (like Chicago, San Diego, Minneapolis, Seattle, etc.)  The wedding will take place October 15, 2016, and we are partnering with a bunch of great vendors who are members.
  • We set up social media promotions to capture destination business
  • We're constantly promoting weddings on social media, to keep our audience engaged.
  • We’ve been featured in articles in the Ravalli Republic, Missoulian, and also got a segment on KPAX

  • Montana has 7000 weddings a year
  • The average spend in our area is $20,000, and the national average is $29,900
  • The average guest count is 120-130 in our area, and the national average is 135
  • Whitefish hosts about 1200 weddings per year ($21k avg). - $31 million revenue
  • Bozeman is 1000 ($24k avg.) - $19 million revenue
  • Missoula is 800 ($21k avg) - $17 million revenue
  • The Bitterroot Valley is 200 ($20k avg). - $4 million revenue

  • In 2015, we reached our first year’s membership goal!
  • We've already received a great amount of memberships for 2016 also, so it's looking like we'll meet 2016 membership's goals too!
  • Dues are $100 for the year for 2016 – the membership runs from January 1st to December 31st.
  • After December 31st, the dues become $150
  • Multiple categories are $25 each (like if your business did photography & videography under the same business name)
  • Multiple categories are $75 each if you operate a second business under a different name (example: Events by Autumn & Happy Huckleberry Studios is owned by the same person, but it's 2 different business names & websites)
  • Dues are 100% applied to marketing efforts.   Our mission is to bring more business to the area – by joining the effort, you’re providing resources to grow ALL of our businesses.
  • In order to keep this successful, we need your help to continue talking about the association!
    • When a client asks for a referral, include our website in your list!
    • Include our "proud member" logo in your email signature line
    • If your business is active on Facebook, repost things you like from our BWA Facebook page, and like posts that you find informative!
    • Guest Bloggers are always welcome
    • Find us on Weddingwire.com, and add us as an Association you belong to!
Again, thank you all for your membership, and we're thrilled for 2015's year, and looking forward to growing the amount of business that happens in 2016 in the Bitterroot Valley!

HOW TO: Plan your wedding ceremony program

Autumn Kozimer, Owner, Planner, Designer @ Events by Autumn

A lot of local Bitterroot brides are the DIY kind - the kind that don't necessarily want the formal church wedding, but still want elements of a traditional ceremony, ESPECIALLY if your best friend is conducting the ceremony, and this is their first time.  This blog is FOR YOU.

Follow THIS LINK to see the elements of a traditional non-denominational ceremony, and where you can customize it.l

And don't forget, if you want to do wedding programs, here are few ideas for you:
  • The Big Sign:  Post a large sign at the entrance to the ceremony, introducing the "who's who" in your wedding (wedding party names, parents' names, etc.)
  • Individual Programs:  You can actually list each element of the ceremony (song titles for the processional, readings, and who is doing each, etc.) or you can use this opportunity to introduce your wedding party (in lieu of the big sign)
  • Something Creative:  We've created custom Mad Libs for people to fill out during the ceremony, and even a booklet titled "so you're going to sit through a wedding," which explains some of the history and meaning behind weddings and your custom elements.  If you're a non-traditional couple, consider coming up with a fun and creative element to keep guests entertained until you get to the "I Do's!"
On another note, we LOVE guest bloggers!  This blog was borrowed from Events by Autumn, one of our Association members.  (Members, remember you can always submit helpful information to us for publishing in our blog!)

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Dearth Photography

5 Reasons why fall weddings in Montana are best!

We love all seasons in Montana, but fall in Montana is especially cool.  Here’s our top 5 reasons why:
  •  TEMPERATURE.  The weather in the fall is MUCH milder than the summer, and more predictable than the Spring.  You’ll still need protection from the elements, but it’s not likely to be 100+ degrees on your wedding day in the fall!
  • COLORS.  Contrary to popular belief, Montana is not all pine trees!  Aspens and Cottonwood trees abound and change to beautiful colors in the fall.  If you host a wedding near the river, lots of shrubbery will change colors too.
  • FARM TO TABLE.  With the cooler temperatures in Montana, we grow lots of vegetables which are popular for the fall – squash, zucchini, pumpkins, and apples!  If you’d like to feature local produce on your menu or in your decor, the fall is a great time to do it!
  • AVAILABILITY.  The summer is so incredibly popular in Montana as “wedding season” that many people don’t book the fall.  But it’s almost MORE ideal to have your wedding from October – November!  Venues are more likely to have your dates, and might even offer a booking discount!  It’s also outside of “tourist season” so hotels would be more open too.
  • IT’S DARK EARLIER.  If you didn’t know this about Montana, let me enlighten you!  On the longest day of the year (June 21), it will be about 10pm before it finally gets dark outside.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like dancing in broad daylight.  There’s just something about dancing in the candlelight that adds a romance and excitement to an event!  So hosting a summer wedding means you get about 2 hours of darkness.  In the fall, it gets dark about 8pm, which is perfect timing to wrap up dinner and have nearly a 4 hour dance party!

Montana wedding "grand exit" ideas during fire season

It’s officially what we lovingly call “fire season” in Montana!  It happens every year, so we’re pretty accustomed to dealing with it.  But this year, with record breaking temperatures, and barely any rain, we’ve had to be especially careful early in the season.  Fireworks were banned over 4th of July, and things like flying lanterns and sparklers are really not a good idea because they could spark a forest fire.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great wedding sendoff (or “Grand Exit” as we call it)!  Check out the following Pinterest page for inspiration on what kind of a cool sendoff you can have, without having to make an emergency call to the Fire Department:  www.pinterest.com/eventsbyautumn/grand-exits/

The Golden Rules of the Receiving Line

This isn't your grandmother's wedding reception!  Modern weddings mean modern approaches to traditional rules, but in the age of e-mail invitations, and iPod DJs, it might seem like we're no longer playing by the old rulebook.  But even in the modern era, some essential values remain.  To have a fabulous reception today involves more than choosing a venue, planning the menu, hiring musicians or a DJ, and arranging for cake and decorations.  As the hosts or reception honorees, rule number one for brides and grooms is to offer your guests gracious hospitality and arrange for their comfort and enjoyment during your wedding day party.

{Receiving Line Basics}
Let's start by setting the record straight: A receiving line isn't required.  However, the bride and groom do have to greet and thank every one of their guests for coming to their wedding.  A receiving line really is the best way to be sure they don't miss anyone, especially if the wedding is large (more than 75 people).  A receiving line is also a great (and efficient) way to be sure all the guests have a chance to meet the couple's parents and attendants.  At a small wedding, it's fine for the bride and groom to visit with each table - usually during the meal - to greet, thank, and chat with their guests.

The receiving line is held either at the ceremony site as people exit the service, followed by formal picture-taking, or as soon as the couple reaches the reception area, after the formal pictures.  Ideally, the location permits guests to have refreshments while they wait for their turn, or allows the line to flow into the reception area.

{Who's In Line?}
For some reason, groomsmen often panic about having to be in a receiving line.  Relax, guys, you're off the hook.  Whoever is hosting the wedding is the first in the line.  Traditionally, that's the bride's mother, followed by her father, the groom's mother and father, the bride, the groom, the maid or matron of honor, and one or two bridesmaids (they can take turns and share the duty).  But if Aunt Martha and Uncle Fred are hosting, Aunt Martha starts the line.  Fathers aren't required to stand in line; they can circulate, with the groomsmen, among the guests.  However, if one father participates, the other should also.  In a military wedding. it's protocol for a groom in uniform to stand before his bride.

When the bridal couple has one or more sets of divorced and/or remarrried parents, their tact and diplomacy skills can be put to the test.  The key is to plan and communicate ahead of time: There should be no surprises on the big day.  Plan where the respective parents will be seated at the ceremony and reception, and who will stand in the receiving line.

Divorced parents don't stand together in the receiving line.  The simplest solution is that the parent and step-parent who either host the reception, or who are the closest to the bride or groom, stand in the receiving line.  Also divorced parents aren't seated at the same table at the reception.  More important than those bits or standard etiquette, however is how everyone feels about it.  Individual situations vary so much that you have to work out an arrangement that is the most sensible for your family.  For example, perhaps the different couples take turns in the receiving line. 

When relations between divorced parents and their current spouses are amicable, they may all stand in the receiving line - but separated by the other sets of parents to prevent confusion or embarrassment for guests.  Think "mom first".  For example: 1) bride's mother and stepfather; 2) groom's mother and stepfather; 3) bride's father and stepmother; 4) groom's father and stepmother.  (Now dismiss the bridesmaids - the line is long enough!)

Article originally published in Vermont Vows Spring/Summer 2010
This article can be seen in it's orginal format HERE.