By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Is there anything more Wyoming than having a wedding at a branding?
Short of having it in the middle of a rodeo, that’s hard to top.
But that’s exactly what two ranchers in northeast Wyoming decided to do last week.
Bonita “Bo” and Drew Persson were getting married anyway and the people who were coming over to their branding were the most important folks in their lives, so why not combine the two?
“It’s kind of killing two birds with one stone,” Drew told Cowboy State Daily.
Drew, a fourth-generation rancher in Crook County, thought it was so practical and “westernly-romantic,” that he proposed the idea to Bo, his girlfriend of six years.
“People who attend your branding are your ‘ride or die’ people,” Bo said. “So, of course, I liked it.”
“Let’s get everyone together for the branding and then get hitched,” she said.
Best yet, she explained, it would all be a surprise for the guests. No one knew what they were planning.
She said she had never heard of someone throwing a surprise wedding for themselves but throwing in a branding to boot? That’s a one-of-a-kind experience that no one will forget.
Everything looked like business as usual Wednesday morning as a little more than 30 people drove their pickups and SUVs over the hilly dirt roads to the pasture where the cows were already in place on the Persson Ranch.
It wasn’t a weekend branding because they ranch for a living, Bo said, and weekends are for other things — like rodeos.
“We brand during the workweek because we’re ranchers,” she said. “That’s what we do.”
But by 10 a.m., there was a problem. No Bo. No Drew. And brandings start on time.
That’s when Bo’s brother Tyler Lindholm took command. At 6-foot-7 and thin as a whip, Tyler’s all cowboy.
Guests thought there was something wrong with him though. He was all dressed-up.
“I was walking around in a suit jacket and a tie and everyone was looking at me like I was some kind of Cadillac cowboy,” Tyler said.
Nobody came up to him though, he said. They just “figured that I was Bo’s brother so I might be a weirdo.”
But once they saw Bo in the distance riding a horse in a long white dress, it didn’t take them long to figure it out.
“You saw that look of surprise in everyone’s eyes and it was ‘Holy cow, this is a thing. We’re doin’ this,’” Tyler said.
It was Bo’s idea to ride the horse in her gown.
“How often do you get to do that?” she said.
It was a nice white dress but it wasn’t exorbitant. Nor were Drew’s clothes. That was a bonus of scheduling nuptials at a branding.
“It kinda helps the female pick a not-quite-so-expensive dress if you’re going to be riding in it,” Drew said.
Same with his clothes too.
“I bought a nice looking shirt but not an expensive one. And you know, I got covered in dirt and blood,” he said, clarifying that the dirt and blood came from the branding, not the wedding.
The ceremony lasted 15 minutes. Tyler officiated. Nothing new for him, as the former Wyoming legislator is an ordained minister as well.
What impressed his sister was the scripture he picked. Ephesians 4:1.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“Tyler said that this is not only perfect for marriage, but also in working cows and raising children and I thought that was just so perfect how he said that,” Bo said.
After Drew kissed Bo, it was time to work. The branding commenced. And that’s a lot of work.
“It’s long, hot, dusty, and physically strenuous, day,” Bo said, mentioning that she did change her dress for the branding part of the all-day ceremony.
“I would have ruined it had I branded in it,” she said.
Although the wedding was about as rustic as one can get, but it had some modern touches.
Drew cut a TikTok video on his @wyomingrancher account describing the day from his pickup truck in comments where he devoted a bit more time to the branding than the wedding. But who would keep score?
“Everybody that was watching, they all had a big smile on their face,” he said. “And Bo riding in her wedding dress. I’ll remember that forever.”
Bo said their day was proof that it’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding.
“You don’t need to spend that type of money to have a perfect wedding,” she said. “All you need are your friends and family.”
Tyler called it a uniquely Wyoming day. Blue skies, green grass, lots of cattle and horses, the camaraderie of best friends, all out in the plains of northeastern Wyoming.
“It’s about as cow country as you can get,” he said.