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The Short Version: While they are ever-popular, weddings held in massive churches or on tropical beaches aren’t for everyone. Some people prefer a unique experience for their big day, especially when they live a niche lifestyle. If you and your fiancé are the dust-kicking, cow-wrangling type, a wedding venue like Sandy Valley Ranch is the perfect place to get hitched — and to hitch a horse, while you’re at it. Located just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, Sandy Valley has everything you need to throw your wild Western dream wedding.
What do horses, tiny homes, and Las Vegas have in common? They’re all accessible to visitors of Sandy Valley Ranch. Part-event venue, part-filming location, and part-Airbnb commune, Sandy Valley is a Western-inspired dream for those who like to live on the wilder side of life. The ranch is located just 45 minutes outside of Sin City itself, but you’d likely feel that you’ve been transported back centuries when you visit.
Growing up in the Southeastern U.S., I have yet to explore everything the West has to offer. I usually consider myself a Florida girl through and through, but something about states like Nevada do speak to me. With my state being at sea level, I love any chance I have to frolic in the mountains and experience climates other than humidity with 80 degree minimum temperatures.
Nevada is certainly on my travel bucket list because of the wide variety of terrain and activities available there. You can hop around different casinos or theaters in Las Vegas and then go for a quick hike, all in the same day. Places like Sandy Valley Ranch are proof that the state has the best of both worlds with its proximity to Vegas and the rugged outdoor scenery you’ll encounter.
Engaged couples who are looking for a niche wedding venue may be pleasantly surprised with all the amenities Sandy Valley Ranch has to offer. If you and your partner are fans of anything related to the culture of the Wild West, you’ll definitely be pleased when you entrust the ranch’s staff with your big day.
“What attracts couples to Sandy Valley Ranch for weddings is that we’re an authentic Western ranch,” says Sandi Croft, SVR’s ranch host. “We have horses, cattle, goats, and pigs — and it’s a working ranch. People really like to be surrounded by the mesquite mountains out in this beautiful 160 acre ranch that they have full access to for their wedding. The views are stunning. You have all the animals around, the staff, the wranglers, the cooks. It’s a one-stop shop on an authentic Western ranch.”
Plus… there are horses.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the aesthetic or theme of your wedding, which is one of the best things about this milestone. You may get invited to a destination wedding in Mexico one year and a lush ceremony in the forests of Washington state the next. Everyone has different preferences, budgets, and visions for their special day, so no two weddings are exactly the same.
Rustic weddings are especially unique. Involving Western elements, themed attire, and even live animals in your celebration can set it apart from any other type of wedding. The staff at SVR know this style well — and they provide plenty of perks for couples who choose to tie the knot on their property.
“The bride and groom have an option to ride a horse to their ceremony site. Many brides actually want to ride the horse up and then walk down the aisle to their groom. After the ceremony, the bride and groom and some of the wedding party sometimes take a carriage ride as a married couple around the ranch for photos,” Sandi explained. “People enjoy reaching out to SVR because of these unique offerings. We’ve also had a bride and groom get on a horse after their ceremony and go for a sunset trail ride, which is very romantic.”
As for the event venues themselves, the ranch is fully equipped for anything you may want to achieve your Western dream wedding. Sandi said the main ranch house, where the reception happens, can seat up to 250 people. There are cooks and servers on staff for meals during your reception, but Sandi noted that those with an outside vendor preference are free to outsource. “We are open to help facilitate what people would love to have at their weddings. It’s their special day,” she said.
During your reception, SVR is able to provide wine and beer, champagne, or any special drinks you and your new spouse may prefer. The bar area is charmingly named “The Wandering Star Saloon” and is complete with rustic decor all around — perfect for popping the first bottle of champagne and getting the party started.
Sandi’s years of experience as the ranch host for SVR weddings has equipped her with plenty of wisdom and advice to share with newlyweds. For example, she warns against the bride or women in the bridal party wearing high heels. “We always try to remind people, it is a ranch,” she said. “My advice would be to keep your footwear more practical.” Instead, Sandi noted that many brides opt for cute, sparkly cowboy boots to both fit the wedding theme and stay comfortable while riding a horse or walking around the dusty grounds.
She also mentioned that, contrary to popular belief, the desert environment actually gets pretty chilly at night. To this end, Sandi suggested bringing sweaters or wraps — especially if the women in the wedding party are wearing dresses — to keep warm once the sun goes down.
There are dozens of factors you’ll want to consider when planning your wedding. Of course the color palette, dress code, and food catering are all crucial elements — but one detail that sometimes gets put on the back burner is where your guests will stay. Especially if most of your loved ones will be traveling to the venue from out of town, you’ll want to plan out accommodations far in advance.
Whether you want to reserve suites at a luxury hotel or prefer to book a large Airbnb for your entourage, you may want to consider what will be both affordable and most convenient for you and your guests. If you’re thinking about having your wedding at SVR, you’re in luck: the property has seven different lodging options to choose from.
The unique and perfectly themed sleeping spaces at the ranch include large Tipis, covered wagons, and tiny homes. Each rental features comfortable sleeping arrangements, Western decor, and lots of historic charm. You and your partner can choose one to stay in yourselves or rent all six out for your guest.
If your guest list is a bit more expansive, Sandi recommends taking advantage of SVR’s proximity to Las Vegas.
“The hotel that’s used the most is called the M Resort. It’s about 35 minutes from the ranch heading back towards Las Vegas. It’s a beautiful hotel, and that’s where a lot of guests usually stay. There are rental cars or a shuttle bus depending on how big the parties are. There are also a couple of hotels in Primm, which is about 25 minutes away going south towards L.A.”
Once your special day hits, everything tends to feel like a blur. You may be getting ready for the ceremony, and next thing you know, you and your other half are making your grand exit. If you both are hoping to savor every moment while celebrating with your loved ones, you may want to consider making your wedding a multiday event.
SVR isn’t just a wedding venue — it offers endless activities and amenities for any group outing, corporate event, and even bachelor or bachelorette parties. Sandi explained that members of the friendly staff are trained in many different areas of ranch life, so SVR gives visitors an opportunity to try their hand at Western living as well.
“Our most popular experience is what we call “A Cowboy for a Day,” where they can come and do a two or three hour trail ride through the Mojave Desert. Then they’ll sort the cattle in the arena, and you learn how to flank and push. The wranglers are with you and teach you how to start the cattle, you’ll have lunch, and we have a shooting range if that’s of interest. Then you do a cattle drive, push the cattle around the 160 acre ranch, play some of the games like roping them, and after that you’ll have dinner. It’s a full ‘cowboy for a day’ experience,” Sandi said.
Whether you and your crew opt to stay around the ranch or split your time between ranch activities and sparkling nights in Las Vegas, you’re bound to leave the experience with so many fun memories in tow. Making your matrimonial celebration a weekend event is sure to be a hit with all your family and friends, so saddle up with your sweetheart and enjoy all the Western experiences that Sandy Valley Ranch has in store.