Whether you call it home or simply wish you did, our spectacular Valley can be an idyllic place to enter into marital bliss. With majestic mountains, sparkling streams, and outdoor activities galore, it’s hard to imagine a more gorgeous or fun setting for wedding festivities. But as much as we like to think of this place as paradise, life isn’t perfect, and things can go wrong. To make sure your big day is special and goes off without a hitch, we asked local wedding planners for their best advice. Their insider tips will help you cope with anything from unpredictable weather to out-of-town guests.
• Sun Valley has become a year-round wedding destination location, so make your reservations as early as possible.
• Reserve a wedding and reception site ten to twelve months in advance, especially if you’re hoping for a date between May and October. For location options visit Hitched.
• Place a deposit for rentals (chairs, tables, linens, china, tent, etc.), reserve a block of hotel rooms, and book a band, photographer, officiant, caterer, and florist at least nine months before the event.
• Reserve a site for your rehearsal party and order your wedding cake at least six months in advance.
• Send your save-the-date cards, along with information about travel, lodging, and activities, at least four to five months beforehand.
• Schedule group activities, such as golfing, river rafting, and fly fishing, well in advance—preferably before guests make their travel arrangements.
• Because Sun Valley is such a popular destination, expect more guests to attend than might otherwise be anticipated.
WEDDING COORDINATORS . . .
• Find someone with a lot of experience in the Wood River Valley.
• Ask whether he or she works for an hourly fee or offers a package rate.
• If you’re on a tight budget, request a four-hour consultation to get you pointed in the right direction.
• Be sure you feel comfortable with the coordinator’s personality and that he or she seems in tune with your wants and needs.
• Check references. Ask former clients whether the wedding coordinator was friendly, professional, attentive, organized, and detail-oriented.
PICK A RECEPTION SITE . . .
• For larger parties: The Sun Valley Company has several indoor venues, including Trail Creek Cabin, River Run Lodge, Sun Valley Inn, and the Sun Valley Lodge, for groups of 128 to 392 people.
• For smaller parties: A local inn, restaurant, or private rental home (check the classifieds and local property management companies for details) may be able to accommodate you if your guest list is under 100.
• A private rental property can be the perfect place to host an outdoor event under a big tent.
• Located next to Trail Creek Cabin, Sun Valley’s Trail Creek Grounds offer a scenic setting for up to 400 guests.
• If a wilderness setting interests you, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area has several easily accessible sites. (A special day-use permit is required.)
IF YOU’RE HAVING AN OUTDOOR WEDDING . . .
• Reserve a tent, just in case.
• Rent propane heaters for use after sundown.
• Provide umbrellas or parasols to shield guests from rain or sun.
• Adhere seating cards to the tables, so they don’t blow away.
• Use glass-enclosed candles to protect against the wind.
• Stop watering the lawn a few days before the wedding, so the grass isn’t too soft or wet.
• Don’t wear white shoes or spike heels.
• Provide insect repellant wipes and/or use citronella oil torches or candles.
• Follow fire department rules in regards to fire danger.
MAKE IT FUN FOR OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS . . .
• Encourage guests to stay a minimum of three to four days, so they can get a real taste of the Valley.
• Organize group activities that can be attended by guests of all ages, such as an ice-skating party, a river rafting excursion, or a picnic at the top of Baldy.
• Warn out-of-towners about possible temperature fluctuations; remind them to bring warm clothing for cool nights.
• Provide a “Sun Valley” welcome pack that includes local information and maps as well as locally made products such as Sun Valley Mustard and bottles of Trinity water.
• Share all of the places you love, from favorite hiking trails to lunch spots to coffeehouses.
HELP WITH CHILD CARE . . .
• Provide guests with a list of local childcare agencies and babysitters.
• Coordinate fun activities, such as fishing, biking, or swimming, for older kids.
• If children aren’t invited to the reception, throw them a separate party, complete with games and goody bags.
BRIDAL PARTY BONDING . . .
• Rent a yurt for the night.
• Plan a day of beauty at a local day spa.
• Attend a yoga class.
• Go hiking or mountain biking.
• Organize a round of golf.
• Hire a fly-fishing guide.
• Go skeet shooting at the Gun Club.
GIVE SPECIAL GIFTS . . .
• Shawls to match their bridesmaid dresses, so they stay warm after the sun goes down.
• A necklace or bracelet made by a local jewelry designer.
• Lightweight, waterproof windbreakers they can wear when they’re river rafting, fly fishing, or playing golf.
• A pair of Smith sunglasses.