-AS SEEN IN BRIDAL GUIDE MAGAZINE-
“Your wedding should reflect what is important to you, says Mary Claire Hanson (nee Manley). Together with her husband, Samuel Hollingsworth Hanson, she hosted an upscale-meets-rustic wedding weekend at her family’s Montana property, The Ranch at Rock Creek. It’s also where the pair got engaged. “We’re both active and adventurous, and we wanted the destination to be a place where you could go out during the day and rough it, but have an accommodation that was luxurious.”
The ranch — which houses guests in posh hideaways including private cabins and a historic lodge — is like an adult summer camp, albeit with superlative food and wine and stunning natural views. “The surroundings at the ranch are unbelievable,” says Mary Claire, who also worked at the resort. “It’s nestled in a valley and surrounded by aspen and alpine trees.” And there’s a creek that runs through the property. “It’s more like a river and it holds some of the best fly-fishing water in the world. And with the horses grazing nearby — it’s a perfect Montana scene,” she says.
"I love how different the Ranch is throughout the year — in the winter we can cross-country ski on property. Summer is a magical time with fly-fishing, and horseback riding, but my favorite season is early fall when the Aspens are changing.”
The Great Outdoors
Big Sky Country is an apt moniker for Montana. And the landscape here is as vast and unencumbered as the expansive blue sky that looms above it. With that comes the endless sense of possibility for pure adventure. The activities menu at the Ranch at Rock Creek is robust and reflects all that impressive wonderment. Fly-fishing is one of the property’s marquee offerings. The eponymous Rock Creek is “world-famous for both rainbow and cutthroat trout,” notes Mary Claire. Since the property is home to about 70 horses, horseback riding and excursions are popular here. Hiking and mountain-biking paths lattice the property. And those activities along with clay-shooting, archery and ziplining were all on the wedding-weekend itinerary for friends and family.
Romance on the Range
“For honeymooners, Trapper Cabin is spectacular,” says Mary Claire. The intimate accommodation is set apart from the more populated areas of the property.
The creek-facing hideaway has awesome views of the water, mountains and stars from its hot tub. Another favorite guest room is Sweet Grass, which is positioned on the creek and also boasts its own hot tub.
“The most romantic of all is Blue Bird Cabin, which has a king canopy bed and a screened-in porch overlooking the creek,” says Mary Claire.
On the Ropes
It is said that the modern rodeo was born from the 16th-century Spanish vaqueros (cowboys) who introduced the traditions of bull fighting with the cattle herding of the wild west. Rodeos were a chance to practice and showcase roping and riding skills that eventually opened to spectators. Today’s events feature professional roping and bull riding, bareback bronc riding and horse barrel-racing. Rodeo events complete with outdoor barbecues are on offer across Montana, including at the Ranch at Rock Creek during the summer season.
Walk the Line
Mary Claire’s favorite store is the on-property Mercantile. It’s stocked with everything a Montana explorer could want to remind her of an awesome outdoor adventure. Most pieces are designed by local makers. Popular items include cowboy hats and boots, bolo ties, Western jackets and oversize belt buckles.
Hearty meals fuel hearty activities. Add Montana’s earth-friendly sensibility, and cuisine menus here are a delight of fresh-from-the-surroundings veggies and meats crafted in high-brow, down-home dishes. Mary Claire and Sam go to the Blue Canteen for the breakfast burritos and chips and guacamole. The couple also loves the breakfast at Granite Lodge — the pastries and hand-rolled doughnuts are particular standouts — and dinner there is equally delightful. Insider tip: “The off-menu mac and cheese is to die for,” says Mary Claire. “Saturday night dinners in the Buckle Barn can be fun and rowdy when they have live music and line dancing,” Mary Claire notes.
Montana requires a marriage wedded license to wed. Couples must apply in person and present proof of age, and a divorcee decree or death certificate if applicable. The fee of about $55 is payable in cash at the office of the Clerk of the District Court. There is no waiting period. The license is valid for 180 days after issuance.
- Floral Design: Habitat Floral Studio
- Event Coordination and Tabletop Rentals: Habitat Events
- Photography: Belathée
- Rentals: The Party Store
- Hair: Team Hair and Makeup
- Makeup: Suzie Moldavon
- Videography: Ryan Hinman
- Band: Rhythm Collective
- Lighting and Sound: LA Audio
- Linens: La Tavola
- Napkins: Hostess Haven
- Paper Goods: Noteworthy Print and Press
- Cocktail Reception Music: Milltown Damn Band
- Welcome Dinner Music: The Lil Smokies