The old saying “Home is Where the Heart Is” rings especially true for me as the Kandahar Lodge was my childhood home since I was six months old.
It was the wedding of my dreams. Literally, I dreamt about having a wedding in Kandahar from the time I was a little girl. Growing up there I watched many brides have their special day in the hotel I called home but I always knew exactly what my big day would be like.
Bryant and I met in early 2009 and Kandahar quickly became one of our favorite getaways. When we got engaged last Christmas there was no question in our minds that Kandahar would be where we would host our closest friends and family the following September.
Last spring we attended the Northwest Montana Wedding Fair at the fairgrounds in Kalispell and we were lucky enough to meet some amazing professionals would could provide everything we needed for our wedding.
September came quickly and family and friends started to arrive from all around the country. We checked into the spacious executive suite at Kandahar on Tuesday and Bryant quickly went to stock the “Men’s Lounge” for his groomsmen. The staff at Kandahar took very good care of us and our guests. They were flexible and willing to work with every request. We had the entire hotel booked for our wedding which created a festive and fun tone for the week of events. Our guests got the opportunity to really get to know each other which made our wedding day even more special because by then people were celebrating with new friends.
Waking up each morning in the room which used to be my home was surreal. It was so special to see all of the preparations taking place and all of our closest friends and family gathered in one place. We were so fortunate that people made this a fall vacation destination so we were able to spend multiple days with our guests.
Wednesday night we gathered in the lobby by the fireplace for greetings and a pizza party. The Snug Bar was a cozy, welcoming watering hole for our guests who had spent the day traveling to Big Sky Country. On Thursday the guys went fly fishing on the Flathead River while the ladies enjoyed lunch and shopping in Whitefish.
Friday morning came quickly and the entire lobby was being transformed into a dance floor. It started to seem so real to us and walking through the lobby that day was very emotional for me. The decorations in the lobby were gorgeous and I couldn’t believe that this special time was finally here. I remember walking outside and Celebrate Party Rentals was setting tables in front of the lodge. My mom was standing out there and we were able to share in our excitement and emotions while taking a moment to just soak everything in. Everywhere I went in the lodge that morning I saw special people from our lives and I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Is this real?”
Friday night’s rehearsal dinner at the Hellroaring Saloon was an amazing party followed by many late night laughs in the outdoor hot tub at Kandahar.
When we left the bridal suite on Saturday morning I was overwhelmed at just how beautiful everything looked on the day of the wedding. While the girls got ready at the my parent’s house on the lake, the guys met in the Kandahar Men’s Lounge for some pre-wedding “guy time,” telling fish stories, watching football, shooting pool, and smoking cigars. The excitement of this day was captured by Brian Bistodeau and his assistant Seth with B2 Photography. Because there were two photographers they were able to simultaneously catch the laughter and emotion for both the girls and guys that morning.
After the ceremony at the Presbyterian Church in downtown Whitefish the wedding party led the guests up Big Mountain Road to Kandahar Lodge in six convertible sports cars. When we arrived, we were greeted by beautiful piano music being played on my grandfather’s Baby Grand piano underneath the lighted ivy. Café Kandahar was passing hors d’oeuvres and wine to our guests. The Lodge looked magical. The mountains in the background and the flowers at Kandahar were the most beautiful backdrop you could imagine.
Dinner was prepared by Café Kandahar and was exquisite. Our guests raved about the food. We had perfect weather which allowed us to have seating indoors and outdoors for the entire evening. After dinner, the Kandahar staff transformed the seating in the lobby to the dance floor while we had speeches and toasts outside under the beautifully lit portico. After the toasts everyone mingled back inside and our DJ, JJ Holden, got the crowd dancing with his upbeat musical selections, light show, and music mixing. Cotton candy, late night snacks, and a candy buffet kept our guests celebrating late into the night. Our guests danced non-stop for over four hours!
The next morning everyone met for breakfast in the lobby to reminisce about the week’s happenings and to say their goodbyes. It had been an unforgettable week of merging two families together through shared experiences, laughter, and the celebration of marriage. The memories of such a special time in my childhood home will be with us forever.