A Magical 4th of July Lakeside Wedding in Montana

In the summer, Big Sky Country can feel like “the whole world is coming to town,” says Lauren Pratapas. Vendors, rental cars, hotel rooms are all pre-booked. But that didn’t stop Lauren and her current husband, John Legittino, from hosting their 30-person wedding at her parents’ Flathead Lake home on July 3, 2021 — possibly the busiest weekend of the entire year. – in just three months.

If anyone could pull off such a feat, it’s Lauren and John. The two met during the US presidential debates in 2016: she’s vice president of communications for CNN, and he’s co-founder of Advoc8, a Washington DC-based creative marketing agency that has worked with CNN among other outlets , non-profit organizations and businesses. clients. Needless to say, these are pros who are used to getting things done under pressure. With so much experience planning events between them, they weren’t going to let a few challenges get in the way of their dream wedding.

The couple have visited John’s family home every Fourth of July since they started dating. They even moved there during the pandemic, when their jobs became more flexible. After getting engaged while hiking in Glacier National Park in August 2020, they knew they wanted to get married at next year’s gathering. So they did.

“Few places are more magical than Flathead Lake in the summer,” says Lauren. “We envisioned a whimsical party that would feel both magical and chic, yet stay true to the natural outdoor setting. John’s family property has several different settings, and we want to incorporate them all: a lakeside patio and boat dock, a grassy grove surrounded by larch trees, and a sprawling lawn with panoramic mountain views. »

Keep reading to get all the details of their classic ceremony with a vintage twist, as planned by the bride and groom and photographed by Jeremiah & Rachel Photography.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren wanted a “simple and timeless” look for the day. “I really wanted to look like myself, not too glamorous,” she says. Jennifer Behr dangling earrings and a gold cartier The love cuff brought just the right amount of polish to her long sleeves Monique Lhuillier dress.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Its pearl accents jimmy choo Sacaria 100 pumps and a veil from the Australian company bridal sphere (which she originally saw on Instagram) were the special finishing touches to the look.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren found her deep V-neck column dress at Monique Lhuillier in Los Angeles, which she visited with John’s aunt Tricia. She was a bit skeptical at first, as her clean style isn’t exactly what the brand is known for. “I wasn’t sure if Monique Lhuillier would have a lot of options that went with the look and feel that I was hoping to achieve,” she says. “I tried on three dresses. I bought the second dress I tried on. Everything happened in less than 45 minutes. It was a rush order, but that was no problem. “The ML team are absolute pros,” the bride adds.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren’s only instructions to their floral team for their ceremony flowers: use a blush and white palette and don’t obstruct the view of the lake. The resulting flower arbor was “absolutely stunning,” Lauren says. “I hadn’t seen it until I came up the aisle with my dad, and I was completely in shock. It was so perfect and exceeded my wildest dreams. The flowers in the arbor and along the aisle featured flowers such as roses, snapdragons, agapanthus, Italian Ruscus, Smilax and silverberry.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


John and Lauren chose to have their friend and CNN political analyst Gloria Borger officiate the ceremony. She walked down the aisle with John. He wore a black Supply tuxedo with a bracelet given to him by his late mother.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren’s father walked her down the aisle to the sound of a live rendition of Pachelbel’s handpicked “Canon in D” on guitar and backed violin. The thick layer of white rose petals underfoot felt like “walking on clouds,” she says.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren and John exchanged self-written vows in front of their 30 guests. “John’s was amazing,” Lauren says. “John and his late mother used to talk a lot about how a husband should treat his wife. She instilled these commitments and values ​​in him at a young age, and those conversations turned into what would become his vows. He made everyone cry. »

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


John’s 12-year-old twin sisters kept the couple’s wedding rings and then brought them up during the ceremony.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


I absolutely loved the intimacy of the wedding.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


“I absolutely loved the intimacy of the wedding,” Lauren says. After exchanging vows, they retired to the aisle for “Home,” by Phillip Phillips.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Beyond the edge of the lake, Lauren and John stopped for photos in a grassy grove surrounded by larch trees. Lauren loved her bouquet, which included the same palette of blush and white flowers used for the ceremony. “I may have already told my husband that I would like the bouquet recreated in a flower arrangement in the future, just in case he needed ideas for our first anniversary!”

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Some couples might balk at the idea of ​​planning a wedding in three months with only the help of their future spouse, but Lauren and John embraced it. “It was crazy but an absolute blast,” she says. “Some of the biggest events we’ve been to have been planned with little time, so we were very confident we could pull it off.”

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren’s best advice for couples moving forward without a planner: assign specific tasks to trusted family members. For example, Lauren asked her sister to take photos on her own iPhone throughout the day. “Having dozens of photos on my phone helped me hang in there until we got our amazing personal photos.”

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


It was our first moment alone, and we looked at each other in awe at the beauty of the moment we had created.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Lauren and John spent their post-ceremony cruise around Flathead Lake surrounded by mountains and basking in the glow of the golden hour. “It was our first moment alone, and we looked at each other in awe at the beauty of the moment we had created in such a short space of time and against all odds,” Lauren says.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


“We knew the epic sunset and endless starry night were staples for our dinner and reception. It was not possible to obstruct this with a tent,” Lauren explains. So they found other ways to bring in all the items they needed, including bespoke furniture and crystal chandeliers that disappeared into the towering pines.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


A vintage atmosphere has infused the cutlery. A friend of the couple who is a caterer in DC sent the china to the couple as a surprise wedding gift. “It really made the table so beautiful. A friend of mine told me it was Alice in Wonderland meets French chic,” says Lauren.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Before sitting down to dinner, the crowd sipped Aperol spritzes. John and Lauren’s families are originally from Sicily. The dinner table therefore consisted of an epic Italian feast prepared by a local chef, Antonella LoPresti, originally from Milan. The menu included Italian sausage skewers with polenta, mozzarella and a basil balsamic fillet; ricotta and raisin crostini; Brie and peach tarts; a citrus, fennel and arugula salad; bucatini with cherry tomatoes; eggplant parmesan; and, for dessert, grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream and a honey-balsamic drizzle.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


The intimate party kicked off with the couple’s first dance to Chris Stapleton’s “Millionaire.”

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


A vintage-inspired bride and groom figurine topped the couple’s white cake with salted caramel topping and vanilla buttercream frosting.

Photo by Jérémie & Rachel Photography


Organizing a fireworks display the day before the 4th of July in Montana was a tall order. “Let’s just say our hopes weren’t high,” Lauren says. But luck was on the couple’s side. A last-minute cancellation landed them one of the best fireworks companies in the area. Lauren and John had them set up secretly over dinner. Then, during the reception, they asked everyone to come down to the courtyard. They weren’t sure what to expect from this company, but “within 10 seconds we realized we were going to see one of the best fireworks displays we’ve ever seen,” Lauren says. “It looked like what you would expect from a city fireworks display. We honestly couldn’t believe it, and neither could our guests, who screamed and cheered until the last spark left the sky.

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