This one-of-a-kind wedding was clearly one of the most unusual and exciting we have ever planned. Ordinarily we provide styling, floral, lighting and draping and leave the planning to a wedding planner. However, from time to time we do add event and wedding planning to our repertoire, provided it is an interesting project that creatively challenges and inspires us.
When Meghan McCain ( Senator and Cindy McCain’s daughter ) approached us with the idea of having a 1920’s western-style / hunting lodge themed wedding, there was no question that we wanted to plan this one from top to bottom. We had previously planned one of her brother’s wedding and designed and planned the rehearsal dinner for another brother’s wedding in San Francisco.
Meghan had just joined “The View” as a co-host. She was so overwhelmed with everything going on in her life that she literally told us to do whatever we wanted and just keep her posted. After a few initial conversations (to get a feel how far she and Ben wanted to explore their vision) the stage was set for one of our most innovative and stylish weddings to date.
It was difficult, though. The week preceding the November 21st wedding was a ballet of events packed with daily arrivals, daily breakfasts, lunches, dinners and, of course, the rehearsal dinner…. all happening simultaneously during a very complicated installation.
The installation had to happen with unalterable goals set for each day. Beginning on the Wednesday before the wedding, an enormous 108ft. x 52ft. deck had to be constructed to precise dimensions in order to fit perfectly between the trees and to remain exactly level on a irregular, sloping lawn. The floor had to be finished by the arrival of the Katas from Colorado early on Friday morning. The beautiful tents had to be unloaded and hauled to the deck and raised by a team of six experts and then bolted to the deck. Power had to be installed. Once that was complete, vendors began to move in on Saturday evening, Sunday and Monday; each with their own goals and tasks. Everything had to be completed by 4:00 rehearsal time on Monday afternoon. Tuesday, day of, last minute floral details were accomplished along with any remaining issues that remained, so that all was set for guest arrival at 2:00. Everything was perfect.
Immediately after Tuesday’s wedding, in the wee hours of the morning, came a graduated and deliberate partial dismantle. We had to remove all traces of the wedding, repurpose key elements and reset the area by the end of the day on Wednesday in order to to be ready for Thanksgiving’s brunch and afternoon dinner. More brunches and dinners occurred for two more days until the last guest left on Saturday. With so many moving parts it was a definite challenge but, at the same time, it was most enjoyable and fulfilling to see the entire week unfold.
We brought in wedding expert, Laura Marolakos of Heart of Sedona Weddings, to coordinate as we previously did for Meghan’s brother’s wedding. Laura oversaw transportation and logistics, supervised the rehearsal and developed complex timelines. Being a superb stylist and designer in her own right, Laura worked tirelessly with Meghan’s support team in LA and New York. Laura was on site to handle the flood of last minute details, thereby freeing us up to develop the concept, design and build the setting in tandem with our vendors. Laura was in her element. We simply cannot say enough about her attention to detail and ability to focus on issues and provide quick, sensible solutions as soon as they came up.
We hope you enjoy this dazzling wedding designed along Sedona’s Oak Creek beneath a canopy of old growth Cottonwoods in the western tradition of a 1920’s hunting lodge.
Photography: Sierra Blanco Photography
Wedding Coordination: Heart of Sedona Weddings
Planning: Design Concept / Floral / Lighting: Events By Show Stoppers
Catering: Creations In Cuisine
Band: Artists In Rhythm
Kata Tenting: Under The Sky Event Rentals
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Cake: Jacquline Rose Cakery
Printed Material and Graphics: Studio Grace
Cigar Bar: Fumar Cigars
Videography: Everlasting Cinema
Transportation: Blue Star Transportation
Taxidermy: Clear Creek Trading Company
Casino Equipment: Arizona Casino Events
Photo Booth: Mark Nelson Photography
Party Favors: Spirits and Spice
Hawk release: Liberty Wildlife
Cake base: Country Chapel Weddings
What could be a more perfect setting than a meandering creek flowing through the hills of Sedona’s wine country on an spectacular Autumn day. The weather could not have been more perfect with crisp mornings, warm afternoons and clear skies.
The weekend’s schedule was delivered to various guest rooms all over Sedona. The elegant logo, depicting an elk stag and crossed rifles (inspired by 1920’s etchings), was designed by Julie Gibson of Studio Grace. Variations of the logo appeared throughout the wedding from the custom wax stamp that sealed the schedules to the invitations, menus, seating charts and signage.
Upon arrival, guests received a glass of champagne then casually strolled down to the cocktail area. They enjoyed a fun photo booth that displayed a Betsy Ross colonial flag as a backdrop. Venison chili and tantalizing wild game hors d’oeuvres were served by Creations In Cuisine while they enjoyed the vintage western music of Steve Douglas and Artists in Rhythm.
At the end of the cocktail hour, guests were escorted past the Kata dining tents to the ceremony site. We brought in the beautiful Kata tents from Colorado working with Patrick Anderson’s company, Under The Sky Event Rentals.
As guests approached the ceremony site, they were invited to take blankets before taking a seat.
Various plaid patterns, typically used in hunting lodge interiors of the time, were used as a design element in several key areas. Here, a neutral toned plaid blanket was rolled and garnished with Guinea feathers that loosely mimicked butterflies. Antique Chinese wicker trunks provided a great way to display the blankets.
Deb Beggs, with Classic Party Rentals, designed custom church pews especially for this wedding. New Zealand sheep hides were draped over the backs of each pew for warmth and comfort.
The aisle was spectacular. To bring in the wild west feel, we used dozens of brown, black and white overlapping cow hides leading to two huge buffalo robes at the base of the elk horn and birch pole ceremonial arch.
Looking through the perfectly placed arbor, the congregation could see babbling Oak Creek as it flowed toward the ceremony site just before making a sharp bend to the right.
Two charming black bear pedestals held simple wild flower details with a large hawk’s nest centered between them.
Red peonies and Ponderosa pine were carefully nestled between the antlers to finish the look.
We were very careful not to hide the antlers with too much floral.
Meet the happy couple, Meghan McCain and Ben Domenech.
Our gorgeous bride!
Ken made this gorgeous bouquet for Meghan with peonies, amaranth, seeded eucalyptus, dahlias, scabiosa pods, roses, millet, allium, hypericum berries and pheasant feathers.
Meghan’s good friend, recording artist Shooter Jennings, did the honors of playing for the ceremony.
Guests were in for a huge surprise! Instead of a dove release, Meghan and Ben chose to release rehabilitated hawks immediately after reciting their vows. It was a thrill to hear the birds screeching loudly as the were released. Liberty Wildlife brought two beautiful hawks that had been previously injured and gone through the long process of healing at their facility.
The hawks were released to the delight of the guests and now enjoy being free to live in the bird sanctuary just across the creek.
Congratulations to the bride and groom!
After the ceremony, guests returned to the cocktail area for another round of drinks…..
…and more delicious wild game appetizers while last minute details were being finished inside the dining Katas.
Dinner was announced by Creations In Cuisine. Guests began moving towards the dining Katas to be seated for a delicious rustic dinner that included wild game delicacies. Bison prime rib, grilled salmon and spit roasted partridge were served with roasted root vegetables and camp style biscuits with wild berry condiments.
Welcome to Camp Meghan and Ben!
Lanterns and rusty red plaid throws decorated the cocktail tables. Guests were free to sit outside or inside the Katas. Classic Party Rentals custom built the massive 108ft x 55ft. floor to our specification and then covered it with a dark wood veneer. The Katas were bolted in place.
As the evening approached, the space became even more effective. Glowing luminaries, assorted lanterns, antler chandeliers and ambient lighting made the space romantic and warm. Smilax vine was used to decorate the Katas inside and out.
Front and center was the incredible cake that sat on a buffalo robe and a custom built twig table with white tail deer antlers. Above was a huge elk horn chandelier. Taxidermy and hides, provided by Clear Creek Trading Company, decorated the tent walls, floor and poles giving that hunting lodge / trappers camp feel.
Show Stoppers sketched the original design and Jacqueline Rose Cakery took it from there. We requested a birch bark motif with woodsy autumn details and lots of sugar antlers. We provided the Ralph Lauren color palette. Meghan wanted us to somehow incorporate a buffalo so we did a white chocolate bison in relief. After a few back and forth revisions, the collaboration was complete. The delicious chocolate cake was displayed in a grouping of sugar antlers that rested on a polished juniper slice provided by Country Chapel Weddings. Even the cones were sugar. Weighing in at over 100+pounds, it was all cake and exactly what we wanted. The bride and groom were thrilled as the guests oohed and aahhed up until the moment it was cut. Jacquline totally nailed it.
The base of the cake was to look like an upside down antler chandelier to mirror the one we hung directly over the cake.
The huge cake, antler table and antler chandelier made quite an impression.
We love this image of Meghan and Ben that appeared in a featured article in People Magazine. After the couple cut the cake, it was immediately removed and plated while dinner continued so it could be served to everyone at the same time.
The interior of the Kata dining tents was warm and cozy. We used Classic Party Rental’s bamboo folding chairs because of their rustic charm and camp ground look. Their light color complimented the tent canvas and poles and contrasted well against the dark wood floors and descanso tables.
The head table had two embroidered chairs for the parents that were situated right across from the couple.
The bride and groom chairs were decorated with coyote and fox hides, pheasant pelts, birch bark, Ponderosa pine and tallow berries.
The decor laden table tops had antler candelabras, antler silverware and antler style napkins rings with bottles of flowers that sat on top of pealed and stacked birch bark runners. Persimmons, fresh mushrooms, Ponderosa pine cones, tallow berries, pomegranates and pheasant pelts filled the center of the wooden tables.
Each guest received a lovely party favor of chili-pepper flavored olive oil paired with mango infused vinegar from Spirits and Spice. The bottles were at each place setting and had a tag with the couples logo and sentiments written on the back. Each of the tables were identified with a different wild game table marker making it easy for guests to find their seating.
The lavish buffet displays were built in hollowed out bark logs. Antler candlesticks anchored on birch slices with groupings of column candles, pine and cones decorated the buffet table.
Shortly before dinner concluded, we opened “Ben’s” cigar bar and casino. The Kata sat just across from the main dining tents. Poker, black jack, roulette and slot machines were a hit as guests smoked their stogies, sipped whiskey and brandy, ate more cake, danced and celebrated the special couple’s wedding.
The impressive display of hand-rolled cigars was set up by Fumar Cigars and included demonstrations.
Custom cigar boxes with Meghan and Ben’s logo displayed the beautifully hand-rolled cigars. To the right was the groom’s cake.
Yes, that wooden box of cigars is the groom’s cake and was designed by Jacquline Rose Cakery.
Even the cigars had custom bands!
Just after dinner, the much anticipated “Bison Bar” was finally open and ready for service.
None other than Meghan and Ben’s dear friend, Clay Aiken, sang for the romantic first dance.
Also briefly sitting in with the band was recording artist, Jessi Colter.
Romantic strolls along the moonlit creek against a deep blue sky were breathtaking for those guests wanting to get away from the crowd for a bit.
This wedding under Sedona’s twinkling stars was definitely one for the books!
Congratulations, Meghan and Ben, from your friends at Show Stoppers!