Six days before saying “I do,” Luke Snyder was in Las Vegas, nodding his head atop one of the toughest bucking bulls in the world.
“I really had to block out the wedding,” says Snyder, a top competitor in the Professional Bull Riders who finished seventh at the sport’s World Finals Oct. 28.
As for his bride Jen, “I didn’t have any pre-wedding jitters because I was too focused on him and his riding to even think we were getting married next week!”
Happily, Snyder, 30, wrapped up his season safely and wed Jen Manna, 34, on Nov. 3 at Big Cedar Lodge outside of Branson, Mo.
His groomsmen – including PBR bull riders Brendon Clark, Ross Coleman and Dusty LaBeth – wore slim-fitting tuxedos and black Ariat cowboy boots. But the affair was strictly B.Y.O.H.: Bring your own (cowboy) hat.
“It’s really hard to tell somebody what kind of hat to wear,” Luke tells PEOPLE with a laugh. “Everybody shapes their hat differently, so I just made sure everyone had a black felt hat.” (Desktop and laptop users: Click through for five photos of their big day from Love Is A Big Deal)
“Luckily, Brendon and Dusty and everybody got down the aisle without limping or any bruises or black eyes,” he adds about his bull-riding groomsmen. (Cody Campbell and former world champion Justin McBride attended, as well). The bride wore a Lazaro ball gown with a jewel-encrusted bodice and a floral organza skirt, accented with a sash she found on Etsy.
The couple’s vows were “definitely” a highlight of the day, says Luke. Adds Jen: “We did a little twist on our vows, and I wrote vows for Luke to say and he wrote vows for me to say and neither one of us got to see them until the ceremony.
“People told us, ‘We’ve never been to a ceremony like that where the whole time you two were giggling like school kids up there, holding hands.’ ”
Next, the couple and their 130 guests made their way to Arnie’s Barn, which was relocated from Arnold Palmer’s Pennsylvania hometown to the Missouri lodge. “Instead of being super Western cowboy, our style is more rustic,” says Jen. The room was filled with candles, lanterns, hollowed-out logs filled with flowers and deer antler centerpieces.
Not to mention what the couple calls an “awesome” dance floor, featuring cowboys who can dance as well as they can ride bulls.
“It’s a good thing we had insurance on Ross [Coleman]’s tux, because there were some breakdance spin moves going on,” says Luke with another laugh. “He may or may not have rubbed a hole in one of the knees of his tux.”
A Sweet Love Story
The new Mr. and Mrs. Snyder first met after a PBR event in Nashville about three years ago.
“I don’t think I’d ever ever met a cowboy before. But I just thought he was the bee’s knees,” says Jen. “He was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t get enough of that hat, that accent!”
She quickly became indoctrinated into the PBR family, making friends with other bull riders’ wives and girlfriends. “It’s a whole different slice of life I got to dip my toe into, which is pretty cool,” says Jen. Last December, Luke proposed in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City. And now that they’re officially hitched, the couple will head to Thailand for their honeymoon this week.
As for Luke, he’s looking forward to some downtime from his sport’s grueling January-October competition schedule. “I won’t be getting on any bulls until New York City in January,” he says. “We have such a small window to enjoy our time off. I’m just going to take a break like I always have, and relax and heal up and come back craving it again.”
The newlyweds sent their guests off with personalized bottles of moonshine and plenty of memories.
In addition to the wedding, the couple also threw a Friday night outdoor chuck wagon dinner for their guests in place of a traditional rehearsal dinner. Jen, who works at Big Cedar in conference services, was able to use a lot of what she’s learned working at the venue for her own wedding weekend. “We had bonfires going, an old vintage truck, a big horse trough of beer in the back and some guys playing fiddle and singing.”
“We were just so thrilled by how much it all felt like us – none of it felt like just the stuff you do for a wedding,” says Jen. Adds her husband: “It really all went off without a hitch.”