With Bald Mountain as their backdrop, Gretchen Johnson and Ben Evans were married beside the tumbling waters of Trail Creek. It was a brilliant, clear fall day, sparkling in background colors of swift blue, white, and the gold of turning aspen leaves. Sculpted birdbaths, filled with floating Ecuadorian roses in strong fall shades of sunset gold, deep pumpkin orange, and brilliant yellow, lined the aisle. Miniature silk sachets, placed in the surrounding trees, scented the afternoon with lavender. Summer still hung in the air. And the bride, who arrived in a horse-drawn carriage, was radiant.
It was a picture-perfect setting for the Seattle couple, who had first met on a chairlift on Baldy when Ben was visiting for a January ski vacation. After a few missed meetings, their paths crossed again several days later, and the rest, as they say, is history. Gretchen relocated to Seattle to be closer to Ben, and the two were engaged two years later on July 22, 2001 in the San Juan Islands.
The Sun Valley area remained an important part of their courtship, which involved many weekend trips for skiing in the winter and hiking and biking during the summer, so it was only natural for them to choose to celebrate their marriage here. A quick, exploratory trip to Sun Valley after their engagement proved fruitful: A cancellation at Trail Creek Cabin had opened up the site for Saturday, September 22.
Planning a Sun Valley wedding in two short months was a challenge, especially from a distance, but Gretchen says that finding the site was half the battle. "Trail Creek was perfect," she says. "Nature was our inspiration," Ben adds, "and the outdoor setting with Baldy as our backdrop was important because it was where we first met."
Sun Valley Company took care of the food and tables, Barbara’s Party Rentals provided additional accoutrements, and Swing City entertained the guests late into the night. Kathy Hansen of Flowers by Design created a hand-tied bridal bouquet of South American roses in pale creams and whites; the bridesmaids carried bouquets of open garden roses and ranunculus in a dazzling array of golden yellows and deep sunset pinks. Brilliant centerpieces of blue hydrangea set against Amazon orange and gold roses added light and color, and a wreath of pale cream and white dahlias hung behind the bridal table.
Gretchen spent the month before the wedding in Sun Valley, creating baskets filled with welcome gifts, a schedule of events, and a custom Western "gorp" mix with a tag of thanks from the bride and groom. The numerous events included hikes, fly fishing, mountain biking, and a Sunday brunch expertly catered by Lynn McCarthy of Cottonwood Catering. The Western-themed rehearsal dinner at Galena Lodge was complete with horseback riding, horseshoes, and an authentic Idaho BBQ.
All in all, it was a perfect Sun Valley wedding. The only drawback, says Ben: "We exposed everyone to a true taste of the Sun Valley experience, and everybody was so hooked on the area, they all wished they had more time to stay and enjoy it."