While some purists don’t approve of brides who pair their gowns with a pair of cowboy boots (“too wide a gap,” some sniff, “between the formality of the dress, and the informality of the boots”), we beg to differ. Particularly if you’re planning a dude ranch destination wedding, in which case we say, Yee haw! Here are a few of our favorite ranches where nobody makes the bride check her boots at the door.
Tanque Verde Ranch
Bordering Saguaro National Park and the Rincon Mountains, the 60,000-acre Tanque Verde Ranch is a good balance of Old West authenticity and modern luxury — as long as your guests are ok with not having a TV in their room. Almost everyone who visits, kids included, gets up on a horse—there are riding lessons, and trails rides for all skill levels—but if granny refuses to put her foot in a stirrup, she can always…mountain bike. Tanque Verde can accommodate up to 200 wedding guests, with venues that range from the ranch lawn to a cotton grove illuminated at night by bonfires. A favorite reception spot is the Saguaro Room, whose dance floor will allow everybody to get a good look at those boots.
C Lazy U Ranch
Hidden in a mountain valley high up in the Rockies, the C Lazy U Ranch is the kind of place where you can feel comfortable wearing your boots from the rehearsal dinner right on through the reception—summer and winter. A pond, a meadow, a woodsy overlook, a hay barn, and the dining room are among the ranch’s more popular wedding sites. They can accommodate up to 200 people, and with a group of 40 or more you can have the whole place to yourselves. Kids are welcome, and the fly fishing is great.
Western Pleasure Guest Ranch
Operated by special permit in Idaho’s Panhandle National Forest, the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch commands a tall-pines-and-wildflowers setting that will have you breathing deep just for the enjoyment of it. As at all of our favorite destination wedding ranches, horseback riding is a focus of the activities, but your guests will find hiking, fishing, and white-water rafting, too. And they’ll be so jealous, when you arrive by horse-drawn carriage, that they’ll want to ride in one themselves afterwards. There’s a standard wedding package, but you can add just about any addition you want, from band to bar service.
The Resort at Paws Up
With 37,000 acres and two dozen vacation homes, The Resort at Paws Up is a family-friendly ranch that aims to wow—they’ll coordinate a wedding ceremony in a field, on a deck, by a river, and on a covered bridge. One of our favorite aspects of Paws Up is its “glamping” units (that’s glamour meets camping), which allow you to rough it (well, sort of) while still having such niceties as air conditioning and claw-foot tubs. One of the ranch’s most alluring wedding features: the Bull Barn, an eye-popping spot with local Montanta paneling and crystal chandeliers for a princess-meets-the-pines reception.
The Ranch at Rock Creek
The Ranch at Rock Creek is in the heart of Montana’s “Big Sky” country, with creeks, alpine lakes, and mountains all around. Although the accommodations, whether in glamping tents, the Granite Lodge, or private cabins, are all luxury, this is still a working ranch, too, so the real cowgirl in you won’t need much prodding to come to the surface. Imagine a reception/hoedown in a meadow or a ceremony by a pond and the Ranch at Rock Creek team will put it together for you in an all-inclusive package. And just in case you were wondering, those are boots peeking out from beneath the bride’s dress.
Want to know more about planning destination wedding travel to a dude ranch, or anywhere else in the world? Our travel partners at Coastline Travel Advisors, a Virtuoso agency, are ready to help.