How-To: Nail the Art of Minimalist Wedding Design

Gatherist’s Emmily Jones and photographer Erin Kate offer five tips for creating uncomplicated-yet-dynamic design. 

After six years of hopping cities—from Stanford University in Palo Alto where they met, to Chicago and Pittsburgh where they separated for medical school, then living apart again while she spent time in Nigeria—Liese and Jordan finally couple-matched for residency at the University of Utah. After a complex courtship, the duo opted for an uncomplicated wedding at Sundance Resort. How’d they do it? Here’s the intel.

1. Complement Mother Nature

“Once we decided we wanted to get married in Utah, we knew we wanted to do it in the mountains. We wanted an outdoor ceremony, but also wanted a venue that had beautiful rustic indoor spaces so that the reception would be beautiful as well,” Liese says. “We visited several venues near Salt Lake, and as soon as we saw Sundance, we knew this was the right place for us. It was also a fitting choice because, at the end of our first date, we watched ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.’”

2. Get Personal

“I lead a very thorough initial consultation with my wedding clients that not only dives into details about their wedding, but also their personal lives. For example, I want to know how they describe each other’s personalities, how they give gifts to each other and what are their family quirks,” Gatherist’s Emmily Jones says. “Not only is this a foundation for the overall event, it gives me the ability to create a meaningful connection with my clients which I believe lends to a more personalized and well-designed wedding (and a blossoming friendship after the big day).

3. Consider Scale

Avoid the “simple” trap. “It’s a big mistake when couples go too simple and the table and setting look empty,” says photographer Erin Kate. “I absolutely love minimal, but the scale and layering with height offer so much to the decor. Emmily and Amber (Amber Reverie) placed stones under the vases and candles to create height on the reception tables. Another great example of using height is the place card table where cards were placed on different levels using lucite boxes.,” Kate explains. 

4. Go Organic

“I had always wanted a small backyard wedding, and we wanted to create a classic, intimate and rustic mood that went with the beautiful setting of Sundance and that echoed that small-wedding feel,” Liese says. “Jordan loves candles, and I wanted to include lots of natural textures like farm-wood tables and informal flower arrangements, which came together to form a classy but relaxed feel.  “Our floral designer, Amber Reverie, suggested the tree branches suspended above the tables, which we adored and brought the mountains inside to the reception. The custom driftwood coasters we had made as favors were also a great extension of this theme, and our guests keep telling us they love using them even a year later.”

5. Practicality is Key

It’s worth the wait. “We picked the date because it was one of first weekends available that all the parts of the venue we wanted to use would be available,” Liese says. “This meant waiting almost two years from the time we got engaged, but it also meant we could have the wedding exactly where and how we wanted. Having extra time to plan was also a bonus with two residents’ crazy clinical schedules.”

6. Practice Restraint

“One of my biggest design rules is restraint,” Jones says. “It’s a constant battle with myself. When styling or curating a concept, I like to put all the ideas on the table, literally and figuratively, and scale things back from there. A Dieter Rams’ quote I reference during the design process with my clients and in my personal work is ‘Good design is as little design as possible.'”


Venue and catering: Sundance Resort, Sundance

Wedding Planner: The Gatherist, San Francisco, Calif.

Wedding Gown: Morilee by Madeline Gardner, available locally at The Brides’ Shop, SLC

Groom’s Attire: Tailor Cooperative, SLC

Bridesmaids: Azazie, 

Groomsmen: The Black Tux,

Hair and makeup: Lesley Lind, Pleasant Grove

Florist: Amber Reverie, American Fork

Cake: Flour & Flourish, Orem 

Favors: Studio Robazzo,

Invitations: Minted, 

Videography: Ryan Hinman Films, Draper 

DJ: Life of the Party, SLC 

Photographs by:Erin Kate


Couple Bio

Liese Pruitt & Jordan Knox

Liese’s hometown: Wayland, Massachusetts 

Jordan’s hometown: San Francisco, California

Currently reside: Salt Lake City, Utah

Wedding date: August 26

Photography by: Erin Kate

What do you do?

I am a general surgery resident at the University of Utah and am planning to become a pediatric surgeon. Jordan just finished family medicine residency at the University of Utah and is now a sports medicine fellow there. 

How did you two meet?

We met as freshman at Stanford in a jazz dance class, but Jordan was too busy flirting with another girl to notice. We gradually became friends over the years, but we really hit it off senior year in anatomy class over dissecting a cadaver. We started dating six weeks before graduation from Stanford University. 

How did he propose?

As part of our first vacation after moving to Utah, we took a camping trip to Arches National Park. It rained the first night and morning ruining Jordan’s plans to propose at Delicate Arch at sunrise. Luckily by afternoon, the skies cleared and Jordan proposed at the Arch at sunset.

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