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A Laid-back Wedding in the Mountains of Wyoming

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

James + Schulze

Maddie Esposito, an executive coordinator for a nature conservation non-profit, and Philip Hatchett, an associate in renewable energy financing, first crossed paths 10 years ago in Washington, D.C., but they didn’t start dating until 2014 when he was visiting New York for a friend’s wedding. “We had sort of stayed in touch throughout the years, so he let me know when he was in town,” remembers Maddie. “I was super unhappy in the city and looking for an excuse to leave—turns out Phil was the best reason ever.” Six months after reconnecting, Maddie had a new job and a new life in Houston.

Two years later, they—like a lot of practical couples these days—had a conversation about marriage, instead of an actual proposal. “We talked for a couple of months about getting married, and then we decided to actually go through with it,” explains Maddie. “In fact, we already had our venue booked before I got a ring. We felt engaged from the moment I moved to Texas, so a surprise proposal never felt right.”

The summer before they got engaged, the couple had gone on vacation together at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. Once they started the planning process, they knew immediately that it would be the perfect setting for their destination wedding. “It’s our favorite place in the world,” says Maddie. “It’s hard not to fall in love with it. The ranch is so naturally beautiful. As a result, we decided to keep the flowers and décor minimal. Our aesthetic was simply: ‘on vacation with friends.’”

Everyone stayed at Brush Creek for the weekend, and days were filled with activities like fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. “We were lucky enough to hang out with 98 of our favorite people for 72 hours straight,” says Maddie. “By the time the wedding rolled around, everyone had made new friends, and it really felt like we were all in on this crazy thing together!”

Thinking she could convince herself to wear something traditional, the typically very sleek and modern Maddie went shopping with family and bought a very old school long, white wedding dress. “Once it arrived in the mail, I knew I couldn’t wear it and feel comfortable,” she admits. “I ultimately decided to sell the dress on a second-hand site and look online for something more ‘me.’” She ended up choosing a blush Cushnie Et Ochs jumpsuit. “It was half-off and the only size left was mine—so it really worked out perfectly.” She later changed into her favorite piece of clothing—a metallic Staud jumpsuit—for the reception.

The bride kept her hair and beauty simple. “I wanted to look like myself and feel normal, so I just got a blow out and had the stylist use my own makeup,” explains Maddie. The only jewelry she wore, other than her engagement ring, was the emerald engagement ring her dad, who passed away when she was in high school, gave to her mom.

Phil wore a navy Suit Supply suit and a J Crew tie. “He bought his groomsmen their ties as a small thank you,” says Maddie. “But, on our way to Wyoming, we realized he’s so selfless he never bought one for himself. Thankfully, our planner, Heather Dwight of Calluna Events based in Boulder, worked some magic, and we ended up with the right amount by show-time.” Meanwhile, Maddie’s bridesmaids were in cherry print dresses by Harley Viera-Newton’s line, HVN.

“It was as much Phil’s day as mine, so we decided to walk down the aisle together to one of our favorite songs, ‘One Irish Rover’ by Van Morrison,” says Maddie. They were then married by one of Maddie’s bridesmaid’s mother’s, a judge. “My veil flew off in the middle of our vows, so my sister had to hold it for the rest of the ceremony,” laughs Maddie. “The veil was my attempt to look more ‘bridal’ after ditching the traditional dress, but I guess nature had other plans! The whole thing lasted under 15 minutes, and we walked back up the aisle to ‘Hello Trouble’ by Buck Owens.”

After the ceremony, everyone went to the saloon for lamb chops, hush puppies, and margaritas. Then they moved into the tent for the reception, which started with a blessing from Philip’s dad. For dinner, carrot soup, farro salad, and short rib with trout were all served. During the meal, Philip’s two brothers and Maddie’s mother and sister gave toasts. “Everyone took tequila shots, which doubled as our place cards, at the end of my sister’s speech!”

The newlyweds cut their half chocolate, half funfetti wedding cake baked by Megan Joy as Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down” played in the background. “And then, after some intense dancing that left my thighs sore for days, we headed back to the saloon for more tequila and pizza,” says Maddie. “It was the perfect ending to any night!”