In August 2015, Samantha “Sam” Plummer attended an ‘80s-themed birthday party in San Francisco, California, for her brother-in-law, which is where she first crossed paths with Tara MacLean. Tara was also a guest at the soirée, and she had graciously lent her boombox to the hosts to help set the mood for the event. After the celebration came to a close, Tara realized that she had forgotten her stereo at the venue. Sam was looking for an excuse to connect with Tara, so she volunteered to return it. “Meeting in this setting defined our relationship,” the couple says. “Through the years together, a love of music, friends, family, and a good themed party has only grown.”
Six years after they first met, Sam decided to pop the question on a trip that the duo took to Ireland to visit Tara’s family. Sam had an entire game plan mapped out, which included getting down on one knee at Tara’s favorite place to visit as a child, The Giant’s Causeway, and enlisting a professional photographer to capture the moment. However, Sam was so excited to get engaged that she popped the question as soon as the plane took off. During the aircraft’s ascent, Sam shared an earbud with Tara, which had “Crystal” by Fleetwood Mac on full blast, while she placed the ring box in Tara’s hands.
After the pair celebrated their engagement, Tara was taking a walk through Sun Valley, Idaho, when she stumbled upon a breathtaking venue, Trail Creek Pavilion. After sharing the locale with Sam, the two of them knew it would be the perfect backdrop for their special day, which took place on September 30, 2022. Since the setting provided unparalleled views of the mountains, they made sure that every ceremony detail highlighted the natural surroundings. They also used the region’s history to inform their reception’s aesthetic: an old Hollywood black-tie affair. “For the reception, we were inspired to lean into the history of Sun Valley’s legendary parties in the 1930s and 1940s,” they explain.
Read on to see how their vision came to life, planned by Taylor Holden of Londyn & Grey Events and photographed by Heather Waraksa.
To establish their old Hollywood aesthetic, Sam and Tara designed an invitation suite painted in black and white featuring pops of gold. The two of them also used vintage stamps to transport guests back in time. On the cards, the brides requested a specific dress code that required all of their family and friends to dress themselves in black or white, which would help make their theme a reality.
Since Sam and Tara’s wedding was also a love letter to Sun Valley, Idaho, they shared welcome boxes stocked with local goodies, like farm-fresh Idaho potato chips, upon guests’ arrival. They made sure to include essentials, such as boxed water, to replenish loved ones after the festivities.
Because many of Sam and Tara’s guests were traveling from all around the world, they wanted to kick off the celebration with a welcome party, so everyone could meet before the big day. The brides couldn’t pass up an opportunity to throw a themed party, so they dreamt up a “Cowboy Couture” affair.
For the first event of the weekend, Tara donned a high-neck, sequin-studded white gown from Lee Petra Grebenau. Meanwhile, Sam dressed for the occasion in a white two-piece set by Elizabeth Fillmore, which included a lace cropped shirt and a maxi skirt, complete with a cowboy hat.
To execute their Western-inspired vision, Sam and Tara decorated their venue with wooden accents, colorful wildflowers, dried grasses, and cowhide details. For dinner, guests sat at picnic-style tables, covered in floral-printed tablecloths and topped with wicker baskets of flowers and kerosene lanterns, in a large tent. Friends and family could also kick back on a white couch, adorned with geometric and furry pillows, while taking in the mountainous views.
While mixing and mingling, loved ones sipped on their choice of a cocktail or mocktail. “Tara doesn’t drink, and Sam loves a good tequila on the rocks,” the couple explains. “Incorporating that yin and yang throughout the weekend was an unexpected highlight.” At their welcome party, the booze-infused beverage was a tequila-based concoction mixed with edible flowers and a volcanic salt blend that Sam handcrafted. Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider was the non-alcoholic option. (The Martinelli family themselves even attended the function since they’re Tara’s family friends.)
The pair presented an arts-and-crafts station, where guests could customize their own cowboy hat by painting the accessory and adding ribbons and feathers.
At the end of the evening, everyone roasted marshmallows around a bonfire and danced to live bluegrass music.
For the main event the following day, Sam stunned in a custom silk mikado Lihi Hod frock, featuring a strapless, sculptural neckline and a dramatic front slit. Sam wanted to find a garment that suited her personal style while coordinating with Tara’s look, but since the two weren’t seeing one another’s dresses until the wedding day, Sam sought guidance from her stylist, Samantha Levis of Bold and Bridal. “We both liked the idea of looks that posed some juxtaposition to the natural landscape, and the structured shape for the gown and the clean, crisp fabric was just that,” Sam notes. “I felt really contemporary, powerful, and confident in the fit of the gown…I also love that it was made for me, my taste, and my body.”
Sam completed her getup with a diamond tennis necklace—to counterbalance her exposed neckline—and matching diamond studs. Her satin platform heels by Sophia Webster also coordinated with her metallic jewelry. For the Sam’s something old, she wore her grandparents’ rings and her sister’s engagement ring, which served as her something borrowed. Long, barreling waves complemented the shape of her dress, while clean, classic makeup allowed the gown to take center stage.
Like Sam, Tara also customized her wedding outfit, but she replaced the traditional white shade with black. “I’d read about a black dress symbolizing ‘til death do us part and thought the sentiment was really beautiful,” Tara recalls. The bride worked with Chynna Pope Atelier to construct a two-piece design, featuring a long-sleeved top with a lace-trimmed neckline and a long skirt with a billowing train. Not only was the black color a stunning contrast to Sam’s white gown, but it also suited the dress code.
A black birdcage veil and a French manicure with black tips perfectly matched her garment. A few of Tara’s accessories even paid homage to her siblings: She sported her sister’s diamond studs and a gold pendant necklace, which all of her siblings wear in honor of their brother who passed away. Sam wanted to make sure that she still looked like herself, so she opted for light, natural makeup and a sweeping updo that let her veil shine.
Sam and Tara wanted to spend the morning together, but they made sure to get ready in two separate bridal suites to conceal the details of their outfits. After changing into their attire, they revealed their ensembles to one another during their first look. “Getting to share the first moment together in our dresses made the whole day finally sink in,” the pair gushes. “Being together at that moment was so special. After that moment, we never left each other’s side.”
Without a doubt, the focal point of the brides’ ceremony was the backdrop of mountains, so the two kept their décor to a minimum. An arch composed of white flowers and greenery accentuated the natural flora and fauna without overshadowing the main moment.
The couple’s chihuahua, Cheyenne, served as the flower girl, and she dressed the part in an ivory tulle dress. For Cheyenne’s procession, Sam’s brother carried the dog down the aisle and acted as a flower man by tossing petals. Sam and Tara’s other dog, Goldendoodle Ranger, also had a role in the wedding party as their ring bearer. Tara’s brother walked Ranger toward the altar, and the two of them wore matching black tuxedos with the couple’s wedding rings secured safely.
Right when the procession began, the weather turned. The rain showers lasted for about 20 minutes, which the couple saw as a sign of good luck.
The brides’ fathers escorted them down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin, which was a tribute to their first meeting and Sam’s love of ‘70s rock. At the altar, Sam and Tara exchanged ancient celtic wedding vows to honor Tara’s Irish heritage. “The ancient vows focused on partnership and two equals instead of ownership, things we felt defined our relationship well,” they say.
After sharing their first kiss as newlyweds, the pair proudly walked back up to the aisle to the tune of “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone.
As an interactive component, Sam and Tara selected disposable cameras for escort cards. Not only did the cameras provide seating arrangements, but they also allowed loved ones to document candid moments throughout the evening. Their guest book also followed suit: Instead of signing a physical book, family and friends could leave voicemails for the newlyweds on an antique phone.
To introduce their old Hollywood-themed reception, Sam and Tara worked with their planner to convert the venue’s tent into a scene from the Oscars in the 1940s. “When guests walked into the reception, we wanted them to feel like they were being transported into the old glitz and glam,” the brides say. Draping the entire setting in emerald green fabric, accentuated with strategic uplighting and potted plants around the perimeter, accomplished just that.
The brides used old photos of Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, California, in the 1930s as inspiration for their vintage-inspired place settings. Gold-rimmed plates, ornate silverware, and crystal glassware added depth and dimension to textured white linens.
Before cutting into their St. Honoré cake, the classic French dessert made with puff pastry, the newlyweds revamped their wardrobe. Sam swapped her structured gown for a long-sleeved mini dress bedecked in rhinestone mesh fabric and feathers, which was customized by Chynna Pope Atelier. Tara changed into a metallic Tom Ford jacket and silver tuxedo pants with a gold strip, which Chynna made. “Sam and I wanted to change into clothes that screamed party for our reception,” Tara reminiscences. “We thought it would be fun to come out in gold and stand out amongst the black and white.”
To end the night with a bang, Sam arranged a secret performance as a tribute to Tara’s older brother, who passed away just before the couple met. Since “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba was Tara’s brother’s favorite song, Sam asked their live band to play it as the last track of the party. “The band successfully pretended to end their set just as ‘Chumawamba’ started blasting through the speakers,” the couple remembers. “Our guests went wild. It was the perfect ending.”