Bill Sniffin: Our Big Fat Glorious Wyoming Wedding – During Monsoon Season!

Columnist Bill Sniffin writes: “We had been relegated to the roles of Uncle Lewis and Aunt Bethany from ‘Christmas Vacation.’ According to that movie, my job was to keep from setting my toupee on fire with my cigar and Nancy’s was to not recite the Pledge of Allegiance when saying grace.”

Bill Sniffin

July 05, 20245 min read

Bill nancy 7 5 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

When one of our favorite granddaughters asked us if she could get married at our home in late June, I had just one reaction – oh no, that’s rainy season in Wyoming! 

Reporter Andrew Rossi’s excellent story in Cowboy State Daily about Wyoming’s June weather last Wednesday quoted Expert Don Day: “It was wet everywhere last June,” Day said. “The ground was really wet then, and that will keep things cool.” 

After reviewing historical data, Day said cold fronts are more common the end of June and in the first week of July than most Wyomingites realize. 

Thus, I warned my granddaughter to line up some tents and warn their fellow Texans that although the heat index might be 110 back home, it can be almost wintry up here.

A Lot Of Planning

This wedding was not going to be our first rodeo. We have married off four children and three other grandchildren. I thought I knew something about wedding planning.

When my wife Nancy and I offered some of our expert advice we were pretty much told to “butt out.”  Their motivation was that it was enough for us to provide the property.

During my toast to the couple at the wedding reception that night, I reminded folks that I always saw myself as the George Clooney character in the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou.” He was always reminding everyone that he was the Pater Familias.

Thus, should I not have been asked to be in charge? Well, no.

At this wedding, we had been relegated to the roles of Uncle Lewis and Aunt Bethany from the movie “Christmas Vacation.” According to that movie, my job was to keep from setting my toupee on fire with my cigar and Nancy’s was to not recite the Pledge of Allegiance when saying grace.

Alas, we were treated with dignity as the oldest people there.

As mother of the bride, our daughter Amber Hollins had plenty on her plate. The bride, Daylia, is in her final year of Physician Assistant School in Fort Worth and is a somewhat driven young lady. They were all very busy. For a time, our home looked like an Amazon warehouse.

As Texas weddings go, this was a small one – just 100 people. Almost everyone was coming from a long distance, including our own extended family, with many families living in Texas, Washington, and Colorado.

Sniffin family 7 5 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Okay, What Monsoon?

We had two big wedding tents on site but guess what, the weather was ideal.

History will show that Saturday, June 29, 2024, will go down in the record book as the nicest day in the history of Wyoming. It was absolutely perfect.

Temperatures were in low 80s. A very slight breeze. Humidity was 14 percent. No mosquitoes anywhere.

My sister Susan Kinneman of Riverton officiated the ceremony along the banks of the Popo Agie River in a nice shady spot. No wonder our daughter Shelli Johnson uses that site to park her sheep wagon office there.

The bride and groom exchanged vows and then it was time to eat.

But wait, I decided during the cocktail hour prior to the dinner that we should take a family photo. Our rapidly expanding family was now up to 31, and we had 29 of them there. It was just so wonderful to get a photo like that. I was lucky enough to have our youngest great-grandchild, two-year old Harper Barnett of Castle Rock, CO, sit on my lap long enough for the portrait.

‘Unchained Melody’

Nancy has been having some health issues after battling MS for 40 years. But when they played our song “Unchained Melody,” she was able to stand and we stumbled around like an old couple who had been married for 58 years. Was it special? Yes, it was! Unforgettable, actually.

The groom was a computer whiz named Taylor Benavides, whom we were thrilled to welcome to our big family. He now works for Southwest Airlines and is part of a team getting their computer systems improved.

This crowd was predictable. It included a slew of computer nerds (Taylor’s crowd) and a gaggle of medical nerds (Daylia’s crowd.) They were all very smart. The average IQ in western Wyoming may even have gone up a few points with their arrival.

We did our part in increasing Wyoming tourism. Every one of these folks visited the desert, saw the Oregon Trail, toured Jackson and Yellowstone, plus other places. Most visited for the first time and were dazzled.

Just about everyone came from a long way to get here and most were from Texas. They just could not believe the evening weather here in Wyoming which we call Natural Air Conditioning.

The festivities started with the wedding, then a cocktail hour, then the meal, then some music, then volleyball, and finally a riotous nerf gun battle. 

At one point, the computer nerds sat around tasting different whiskies. I brought out the cigars. Some of these folks had never smoked one. My favorite cigar is one called a Fat Bottom Betty. They loved that cigar!

Perhaps I should apologize to our readers for publishing such a personal narrative for my weekly column, but shoot, it was so much fun, I just wanted to share it with all of you.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.