This is not for everyone. Not everyone rides, and even many who do will want a far more traditional wedding. It's difficult to maneuver a formal wedding with sit-down dinner for 250 if you've got horses involved!
But not everyone wants a sit-down dinner for 250. And some people really like the fun of the ride. So how do you carry this off, and what do you get from it aside from a nice day. (Which is not nothing!)
You may just want to have a very small wedding and invite only people who ride. If you've got the right families and the right friends, you're golden. Not everyone will have limited their nearest and dearest to people who ride.
- Start the day: Saddle up and ride into your future. You probably don't want to make this an incredibly arduous ride. It can be fun, and for once it could be rather symbolic. You can do a Point A to Point A ride and return to where you started for the wedding. Or you can ride to Point B and get married there. Where you go from there needs to be carefully considered!
- Venue: Choose a venue that is an easy ride away from a good starting point. Make sure that it's a venue that non-riders can get to by car. You want your grandparents and your college roommates to be there when you and your beloved make your wedding vows. Make sure it's a venue where you can have both your wedding ceremony and your reception. This can be a lodge or a meadow along a trail.
- Clothing: this has to be thought about. The groom can make any number of small accommodations to his clothes and still be fairly formal. The bride is going to have to work harder at this, if she doesn't want to ride side-saddle! You may want a two-piece wedding dress so that you can trade your bridal jeans for a skirt that compliments your fabulous boots! Meadows are no place for floor length white dresses with a train. And tulle traps insects, so you might want to avoid that!
- Direction: This is a wonderful place to have either a wedding planner or a good friend who will NOT be riding to your wedding venue. It's a great idea to have someone on site organizing the group for your arrival. Someone has to make sure the chairs are set up. And yes, most wedding ceremonies need at least some chairs or other seating options. The bride and groom want to ride up on their horses, hand their reins to people who will take care of settling the horses after the ride, have a glass of water, comb their hair, adjust their clothing and get married.
- Timing: When you have your trail-side wedding will depend on a lot of things. Where are you spending the night? How are you going to get there? Are you going to want to ride somewhere after the wedding? Is it an easy place for your guests to get to and from? You don't want them on an awkward ride home down unfamiliar roads in the dark.
- Horses: Whose going to handle the horses? You need someone to be in charge of this. How will the horses get back to where they need to be after the wedding? As the bride and groom, you are not always going to want be in charge of things like that. As much as you love your horses, today's focus is your wedding ceremony and the promises you are making to one another. Plan ahead.
- Food: What food is right for a trail-ride? I would want a barbecue. You'll want what you want, but keep the food consistent with the theme. (I don't need to tell you this, but you'll want to keep the alcohol to a minimum. Any time there are large animals involved, their safety and yours are paramount.)
- Lodging: This is a great wedding to have as a weekend wedding. If you can gather all your guests at one place it's a great way to build community. Obviously you're outside people, so you'll be able to find fun ways to spend time. If everyone's going to be there, do you want to finish the evening with a campfire as the full moon rises? (Something else to check!)
- Back-up: What do you want to do if it rains? Obviously, there are places in the country where this would be less of a problem, but you do need to know what your options are! you might be willing to ride in the rain, but do your guests want to sit out and watch you get married in the rain? Will the grill work in the rain?
- Honeymoon: Keep riding! Or kiss the horses goodbye and fly to Fiji. Do what's best for you!
- Metaphor: The trail ride presents lots of material to work with for the wedding ceremony, your wedding vows and then throughout your marriage. Is marriage a trail ride for you? Are there challenges and beautiful vistas? Quiet companionship and conversation? Laughter and rainbows? Build the images during the ride and the wedding ceremony and they will work for your throughout your marriage.