A Three-Day Wedding Weekend on a Ranch in Wyoming

For a lot of folks, middle school is a morass of bad haircuts and embarrassing behavior they would just as soon forget. But Madison Knudson and David O’Neill treasure those years—after all, it’s when they first met, in Englewood, Colorado. “He was always cute, even when he was talking about video games,” she recalls, laughing. So cute, in fact, that come sophomore year, she asked him to the Sadie Hawkins Dance, and they’ve pretty much been a twosome ever since. “We’ve been together so long, I think he can read my mind!” says Madison, a writer.

Last September—after dating nearly 11 years—they decided to make it official, inviting 122 guests for a long weekend at the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, a resort on 30,000 acres in Saratoga, Wyoming. It was a dream setting for the duo, who grew up riding, camping, and fly-fishing. “We live in Brooklyn now, but the wild, open spaces of the West still feel like home,” says David, a film and television producer.

Keep reading to see all three days of their long wedding weekend, as planned and designed by Firefly Events and captured by Alex Bramall. Seriously, the creative details, stunning setting, and next-level fashion choices are truly spectacular!

"David and I knew we wanted to keep our guests to ourselves for an entire weekend of celebrations and fun," says the bride. That's why their location, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, was the perfect venue—guests parked their cars and didn't worry about travel or logistics for the rest of their time there.

Guest were welcomed with backpacks full of surprises curated by A Signature Welcome. Each included: hickory BBQ potato chips, mini Knob Creek whiskey bottles, a revelry remedy kit, homemade cookies made from Madison’s personal vegan recipe, gray bandanas with the Indian paintbrush sketch from their invite embroidered on them, coffee from Jackson Hole roasters Cowboy Coffee, and a copy of The Call of the Wild.

The festivities kicked off on Thursday with a relaxed welcome dinner—dress code: “cowboy boots!” Madison's attire was festive, yes, but also deeply significant. Her mom passed away just three months before the wedding, and the bride honored her with each of her looks. At the welcome dinner, she wore an Erdem skirt and Brock Collection top with a turquoise ring—the last gift her mom gave her. And throughout the weekend, she walked around in a version of her mom’s beloved Tony Lama cowboy boots. (She found them on Etsy!)

Guests embraced the festive dress, which the bride helped to make seamless by providing a guide for everyone.

With three major parties over the weekend, the design team set out to make each one memorable and unique. Each event had a different color scheme—like dusty pinks and warm hues for Thursday’s welcome—as well as creative touches like the calligraphed matchboxes that acted as both escort cards and favors.

At the first major event, the welcome dinner on Thursday night, guests got sage bundles. Thought, Madison admits she had one meltdown— spurred by rain: “I wanted to get married outside.”

Dinner was followed by a late-night stargazing excursion for the couple’s 30 closest pals. Custom stargazing maps, made by Owl Post Calligraphy, were included in their welcome bags with a note that said, "Psst... meet us by the fireplace in the Trailhead Lodge at 11 p.m. for a surprise adventure!”

The next day, everyone was free to try the activities—from clay shooting and spa treatments to a paintball battle organized by the groom— before the rehearsal dinner. For the occasion, Madison wore a Markarian dress designed by David’s sister Alexandra. She paired the gown with her late mother’s fur coat (a present from her dad when she was born).

David’s family hosted the rehearsal dinner, where guests found their seats thanks to horsehair escort cards that (again) doubled as keepsakes.

At dinner in the resort’s Trailhead Lodge, everyone feasted on fried chicken, skirt steak, and vegan enchiladas under the room’s antler chandeliers.

To create a “bucolic western vibe” for the rehearsal dinner, Madison—along with David’s mom, Connie, and his sisters, Alexandra and Kristen—mixed patterns and textures, like vintage china, wooden chargers, and wild flowers. The finishing touch? Bandanna napkins tied in a knot.

The festivities ended with another surprise, this time planned by the groom: poker night for all!

For her wedding-day look, Madison combined elements of two Monique Lhuillier gowns to create the “Madison,” which she calls “classic, well tailored, and romantic.”

Eight of her nine bridesmaids wore a custom dress by David’s sister Alexandra, the designer of Markarian.

Saipua created low, non-arched decorations that were placed below the main window in the ranch's Cowboy Chapel, where the ceremony was moved due to rain.

On the wedding day itself, after iffy weather moved the ceremony indoors, the couple’s high school friend Joey Gargotto officiated (he got public speaking tips from their old debate coaches). He pointed out that “we’ve watched you grow up together and shape each other.”

At cocktail hour, guests found their pressed-flower escort cards. The couple’s invitation suite, created by Stephanie Fishwick, also featured wildflowers.

Afterward, everyone moved to the reception space: the equestrian center, which had been transformed into a rustic-meets-black-tie dining space with hundreds of vintage rugs underfoot and walls covered with hay bales. Garlands and string lights were also hung up above to create a faux ceiling.

Tables were set with terra cotta chargers, delicate white china, blushed rose-gold flatware, and smoke glassware with a gold rim. The flowers, all placed in handmade ceramics, were a mix of dried and fresh blooms. Calligraphed menus, which doubled as place cards, were a joint effort between Stephanie Fishwick and Owl Post Calligraphy.

After sipping on the couple's two signature cocktails, each named after their beloved pets, everyone enjoyed a three-course, vegan-friendly menu.

Madison and David's best friends sang “Fiya Wata” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for their first dance.

Sure, they'd already transformed the equestrian center, but that wasn’t the night’s only big reveal: At 11 p.m., Madison and David led guests through a secret tunnel (in the hay!) to an after-party room. There, they were greeted with disco balls, a DJ playing hits from the ’00s, and a ton of comfort food (sliders, pizzas, brownie sundaes)—sort of like a middle school dance, but way better.

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