The Wedding of Linda Thurston & Nathan Varley

August 14, 1999

Huge thanks to everyone for thinking of us on our special day!

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Nathan and Linda share a moment with friends gathered at a reception hosted by the Wolfstock Foundation at Chico Hot Springs, Montana



The Ceremony


The Wedding Party


The Grizzly Visits!


The Wedding Site


Contact Us


Grizzly Bear Visits Wedding Site

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Shortly after the departure of most of the wedding attendees, a final guest was received by the wedding party at the reception site.  The guest was Obsidian, also known as Bear 264, an adult sow grizzly with which I am fondly familiar.

A car sped into the site and an unfamiliar, portly individual with no shirt or shoes jumped out and warned the three remaining individuals at the reception site, David Brockbank, John Crandall, and me, that a bear was approaching up the Gardner River. I told this person to return and lock the gate in order to avoid more visitors entering the area to watch the bear, and he complied but did not return. Moments later we spotted the bear.   Her arrival was like the culminating blessing on my wedding day. As many know, I have the utmost respect and spiritual reverence for wildlife, and she is one of the many I consider as being "among my pantheon." Furthermore, I had "invited" a bear to the wedding, in a manner of speaking.   She is not the notorious tent crusher, rather, she is gentle bear with much exposure to people.  Her arrival was the icing on my wedding cake.

We watched Obsidian approach us where we huddled at the sound system to within ~100 yards. She did not seem interested in us or any of the materials at the site. Her rippling brilliance was highlighted by the sun and with noticeable spirit she gamboled across some open sections of meadow.  We watched for several minutes until she topped a hill on the skyline heading west. We decided to continue watching her from my car, so we loaded in and drove up the road several hundred yards and watched her with binoculars.

From the crest of the hill we could see a family fishing down on the Gardner River by the ceremony site. We decided that they may be in Obsidian's path and took action to warn them. The family thanked us for warning them and left the area soon after seeing the bear.

My only regret was that more wedding guests did not get to share this special moment with us.  I wish Linda could have been there, too.  But overall, we could not have asked for a finer moment among a myriad of other special memories that made up our most splendid wedding day.          --Nathan


The Ceremony

Initiate J. Kaukonen Embryonic Journey

Herald Ian Varley "How gentle upon these mountains …"

Moment of Silence

Processional W. A. Mozart Serenade for Winds K. 361.3

The Seven Directions Prayer Ryan and Cara Brockbank

Convocation "Love is a gift…"

Invocation Native American Prayer


1) Daniel Stahler Rumi

2) Julie Poncia Corinthians 13:4-7

3) Carrie Schaefer Kahlil Gibran from "The Prophet"

4) Anita Varley "Love is a friendship that has caught fire"

Consecration  "May every desire for your love be fulfilled"

Expression "The mystery and wonder"


Blessing of Rings Sean Varley "The Tale of Delphineous and Jezebel"

Exchanging of Rings

Pronouncement "Husband & Wife"

Benediction "Go in peace, dear ones"

Recessional Grateful Dead Mississippi Half-step Uptown Toodeloo



The Wedding Party

The Minister   Rleen Joy

The Adept   Ian Varley

The Maid of Virtue   Michelle Nester

The Perception   Sean Varley

Wisdoms   Mimi Thurston, John & Anita Varley

Bride’s Maidens   Diane Thurston, Carrie Schaefer, Debra Guernsey

The Maid of Purity   Alisha Poncia

Groom’s Gentlemen   Michael Thurston, Daniel MacNulty

Pixies   Thea Varley, Emily Mattson, Samantha Lentz

The Innocence   Nathan Lentz

Sage Smudgers   Shaney Evans, Daniel Stahler, Thomas Zieber

Cara & Ryan Brockbank

Squires   Taj Varley, Brett Poncia

Minstrel   John Crandall

Assistants to the Minister   Andrea Rattenbury Adam Lemos

Wildlife Ventriloquist   Bob Landis

Tie-Dye Chef   John Wilson



The Vows

"Dearest Linda/Nathan, from this day on, I choose you, my beloved, to be my Wife/Husband.

To live with you and to laugh with you; to stand by your side and sleep in your arms;

To bring fulfillment to your heart and nourishment to your soul; to bring out the best in you always.

To laugh with you through our brightest hours, to search with you through our darkest;

To solace you in your grief; to wipe away your tears;

To comfort you with my body, to mirror you with my heart;

To share with you all that I am; to entrust with you my deepest feelings, and my eternal devotion.

Linda/Nathan, take my hand and walk with me on the path of everlasting love, as one, on this sacred day, and ever after.




The Tale of Delphineous and Jezebel

by Nathan Varley


Last night I stared at the moon, and it stared back at me. The rich light it cast filled my eyes, not blinding, though leaving me in a state of relaxed incapacitation. The invading shadows stole away my fingertips as I held them at arm’s length. Somewhere in between these extremes I focused on a dreamy margin where upon my imagination on the eve of this wedding day began to flower.


Stubbornly, sleep tugged at me drawing me away from my contented fixation until I relented, not altogether unwantingly, to the hand of a pixie who briskly hurried me away on the path of a moonbeam.


In the beginning, all was a blur. But soon the shimmering colors and nondescript shapes took form as we slowed and began to take focus somewhere between fantasy and serenity.


As to what unfolded on my journey, I can only describe a moment frozen in time, spent not in the future, nor in the past, but existing wholly in all ages as much as in a single moment.


As to what unfolded at my destination, I can describe a place of wonder where skipping satyrs piped among sylvan forests, and unicorns grazed gently on grassy meadows. Therein I came to know the tale of Delphineous and Jezebel.


Delphineous of the House of Sepulcher was a stately sprite, handsome and dashing, who loved Jezebel of the House of Electric, a lovely nymph, radiant and kind. Jezebel returned his love, and they were of the same heart.


The wisdom of both houses embraced their love and declared, "May they be married in the shadow of our two houses; and between them let happiness rain from the sky as they are united in our company…"


In preparation for this momentously joyous event, two rings were forged, one in the House of Sepulcher as a gift from Delphineous to Jezebel, and the other in the House of Electric as a gift from Jezebel to Delphineous.


In the House of Sepulcher, molten earth which represented a sense of place that was their home provided the luster that graced the band. Hammered onto the surface of the band were artistic designs and forms that individually represented the many qualities of strength, virtue, and spirit that resided in Delphineous. When completed, the ring was hailed by the House of Sepulcher as the finest possible gift unto the Lady Jezebel of Electric.


In the House of Electric, fire which represented the passion for life that was the pathway to happiness provided the luster that graced the band. Cooled by the wind were the myriad images and icons that represented the many qualities of health, purity, and beauty that resided in Jezebel. When completed, the ring was hailed by the House of Electric as the finest possible gift unto the Lord Delphineous of Sepulcher.


Yea, did I witness the coming of the day when the lovers would be married in the majesty of the crested peaks and towering ramparts of these mountains for all to behold. Those of both houses came and stood hand in hand among the galleries to witness the glorious ceremony that would consecrate the union, and culminate in the giving of these two great rings.


But lo, when it came time to slide the rings upon the finger of the other, Delphineous and Jezebel were shocked to find each ring, each a gift unto the other, to be ill-fitted. Aghast was the gallery at this transpiration, and perplexed were the architects of these rings for each precious band had been so carefully crafted.


At the beck of the gallery, the wisdoms were asked to reveal the solution. "It is a riddle," they said, "a riddle that only the lovers can solve…"


Then did Delphineous and Jezebel look deep into one another’s eyes, passing the complexion of the surface, to the very soul of the other. At once, and in turn, did they take the gift of the other and place it on the finger of the giver, and it was found to be a perfect fit.


"But how?" exclaimed the gallery, and again the wisdoms spoke. "It is not in the qualities of one’s partner where love thrives, but rather in its absence. The individual virtues of Delphineous and Jezebel are not conferred upon one another in marriage as these rings they offered. Rather, each retains their qualities only as accompaniment to their marriage. The higher ground of marriage is reached where love exists unconditionally, where no qualities of the individuals come to bare, and love for the other saturates the entire spectrum of attributes."


So it was that Delphineous and Jezebel found true love. In the moment of recognition I again felt the hand of a pixie take my own, and as swift and suddenly as before, I was whisked away from this fantastical realm.


Awaking not to a staring moon, but an altogether more familiar world where I found the sun, bright and bold, shining upon me, shining on the day of Linda and Nathan’s wedding. And hark, what should I find beneath this rim of sunlight, sprinkled with a fine coating of pixie dust, but these rings. Two rings, precious and dear, to be worn forever by Linda and Nathan, another perfect fit.



Linda and Nathan

P. O. Box 769

Gardiner, MT 59030

email:  Linda or Nathan


Hit Counter


Grizzly Bear

Prompts Closure of Wedding Site

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The Swan Lake Service Road, the site of Linda and Nathan's upcoming wedding, was closed for most of June and July due to the recent activities of a grizzly bear.  The bear, believed to be a juvenile male grizzly, has come into the nearby Indian Creek Campground where he has approached people and smashed tents.  Tents were crushed by the bear on two occasions which led to restricting the campground to hard-sided units (like campers or RV's) only.

The closure was lifted in the last week of July allowing the wedding to proceed as planned, for now.  After activity by the bear appeared to subside, rangers lifted the closure; however, attempts to catch the bear in the campground were unsuccessful and the rogue may still be in the area.  Last Thursday I passed by the Swan Lake and saw a young grizzly lying near the road.  Many visitors were watching the bear and it appeared to be at ease with their close presence.

At the wedding, measures will be taken to minimize the potential for a conflict with this marauder.  For example, no small, crushable tents will be used.  Rather, we will have very large, tall canopies to test the bear's mettle.  I consulted the park service's bear management professional who happens to be one of our guests, and he agreed to bring modern bear aversion equipment if it should become needed.  Only the best for our wedding guests.  --Nathan


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We want to thank everyone for contacting us and lending us their support and generous offers to help.   Our plans are coming along.  Naturally, we are overwhelmed.  Knowing the big day is approaching we can not help but get very excited.  We are looking forward to seeing you all here!

We wanted to suggest bringing a few items to the wedding.  A hat, sunglasses, and sun-screen.   We will have some shade, but there could be some moments in the sun during the ceremony.  Its been pretty dry this summer, but you never know, we may get some rain that day.  Again, we have some cover, but you may want to bring a jacket or an umbrella.

Also, the area is reasonably flat, but heals are not recommended.  Remember, too, your counter assault anti-grizzly spray, just in case...

Browse over the rest of the material presented here and let us know if we can help you plan in any way.  Thanks!  --Linda and Nathan


The Complete Schedule of Events
What? When? Where? How do I get there?
Wedding Ceremony & Reception Saturday,

August 14

10:30 a.m.

Gardiner River Valley, Yellowstone National Park From the flag-pole in  Mammoth Hot Springs, drive 7.7 miles south  on the Mammoth-Norris road, turn right on unmarked service road
Wedding Bash Saturday,

August 14

8:00 p.m.

Two-Bit Saloon


Near corner of Highway 89 and Park Street
Rehearsal Dinner Friday,

August 13

6:00 p.m.

Yellowstone Suites From Highway 89 in Gardiner, turn off the road on the south side of the bridge near the Conoco Station, drive two blocks & take a right on 4th Street, drive to the end of 4th Street.
Pre-nuptial Reception

Hosted by the Wolfstock Foundation


August 12

4:00 p.m.

Chico Hot Springs

Pray, Montana

Drive 31 miles north from Gardiner, or 21 miles south from Livingston, on Highway 89, turn east at 4-way intersection, drive to next stop sign and take a left, then the next right.  Follow signs to Chico!
Bridal Shower

for Ladies


August 11

6:00 p.m.

Varley residence in Mammoth Hot Springs From the flag-pole in  Mammoth Hot Springs, walk or drive east, passing the Visitor Center, to the fourth duplex, east side.
Bachelor Party

for Hellions



August 11

6:00 p.m.


Upper Blacktail Patrol Cabin

Meet at Varley residence at ~5:30 to car-pool (and ride to the cabin!)

From the flag-pole in  Mammoth Hot Springs, drive 7.7 miles east on the Mammoth-Tower road, take a right into the lot, walk down service road to the cabin.


Our Wedding Site

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The sleepy town of Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

Our wish is to be wed in Yellowstone. It is important to us to share with our family and community a special day that is uniquely our own, reflecting our joy and love for nature. As residents of the park, we considered many wonderfully scenic sites at which to have our wedding, and ultimately decided on one that with many magical qualities suited our wishes. The site, called the Swan Lake Road by locals, is 7.7 miles south of Mammoth off of the Mammoth-Norris road. We wanted a natural, outdoor setting but realized we needed to provide convenience and comfort for our guests. To meet this compromise, we chose a location that provides easy access while retaining a wilderness feeling.  Recommended dress should strike this compromise as well, we suggest semi-formal attire with some walking, standing, and sun factored into your decision. In case of rain, indoor facilities in Mammoth including the historic Mammoth Chapel will serve as back-up. This change will be announced at least a day prior to the wedding based on the weather forecast.

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Guests should begin gathering around 10:30 a.m. at the Swan Lake Road. The service road leads to a large parking area where the reception will be held. Park along the road in the designated areas near the reception site. Car-pooling from Mammoth (15 minute drive) and Gardiner (30 minute drive) is strongly encouraged as parking may become limited. Please designate a driver--libations will be served!

Beyond the reception area, the road leads to a small turn-around that will serve as our ceremony site. Against the spectacular backdrop of the Gallatin Mountains, our ceremony site is among sage and pines, situated near the confluence of three streams, Panther Creek, Indian Creek, and the Gardner River. The ceremony site is the most pristine of the areas and we encourage guests to walk the 1/3 of a mile from the reception site to the ceremony site. A shuttle will be available for those wishing to ride to and from the ceremony site. The ceremony will begin at 11:00 a.m., the reception will follow the ~30 minute ceremony. Lunch, spirits, and wedding cake will be served at the reception. The event will conclude around 4-5 p.m.