Dylan and I celebrated the best day of our lives on February 3, 2018 at Aspen Hall in Shevlin Park in Bend, Oregon. For us, Shevlin Park is a special place. I have fond memories exploring the park with my family as a child and Dylan used to survey the woods with his forestry class in high school. So it wasn't long after our engagement in October 2016 that we decided Aspen Hall would be the perfect place to start off the rest of our life together, next to the pond where we used to fish, surrounded by the loved ones we made those precious memories with.
I officially started planning our wedding right after our engagement, but I've been preparing my entire life. As my sister reminded me in her beautiful wedding speech, I have been planning weddings for our Barbies since we were little. So as Dylan and I grew more serious, so did my grand plans for our big day. I envisioned something that combined both of our interests and personalities. I love pink, flowers and glitter while Dylan has more of a lumberjack aesthetic. He makes beautiful furniture, loves to garden and is drawn to natural elements. We are both extremely creative and love DIY projects, so we knew we had to start planning early to accommodate the big dreams we had.
Our first big wedding decision was the venue. Aspen Hall was a top choice from the start but we briefly considered a destination wedding. We loved the idea of getting married on a beach somewhere, surrounded by a small group of family and friends. However, we did not want to be limited on the number of guests so we decided to get married at home and spend our honeymoon on the beaches of Costa Rica instead. When we visited Aspen Hall, we saw otters and an eagle swoop down right in front of us to catch a fish on the frozen pond. We felt like we were in a fairy tale and knew this was the perfect spot for us.
Because we wanted to be so hands-on with our wedding, we left about 16 months between when we got engaged and our wedding day. We wanted to get married in the winter (I dreamt of a snowy winter wonderland) and Dylan suggested the date of 2-3 because both of our birthdays happen to fall on the 23rd day of the month, so it would be easy to remember our Anniversary. I spent almost a year and a half worried about if it would snow too much but (as many things in the wedding) my worrying was nothing but a waste of time. It was so beautiful and warm on the night of our rehearsal that we decided to get married outside.
I spent the morning of our wedding getting ready with my Bridesmaids, Mom and nervous (but excited) flower girl. I had ordered velvet shoelaces that did not get delivered in time so my Dad and brother came to drop them off and I enjoyed the extra time and energy that they brought to our vacation house. Dylan got ready at our house with his Groomsmen and Groomswoman. For all of the stress and anxiety we had felt in the weeks leading up to the wedding, we both felt calm and were able to enjoy and cherish our mornings with those closest to us.
Once we were ready, we took turns taking photos with our respective parties in the trees outside our venue. At this point, time was flying by and guests were arriving and so were our nerves. Dylan's friends kept him company and helped him prepare for the biggest moment of his life and I drank wine with my Bridesmaids and family.
My bridesmaids wore mismatched pink dresses that we carefully picked out together and altered by hand so that they were perfect. My only wish was that they bought what they wanted and felt pretty and glamorous (they exceeded both of these goals). They wore brown faux fur wraps, I wore white. The groomsmen wore mismatched outfits and Pendelton sweaters to tie them together. Our flower girl was the daughter of one of my dearest friends, and our ring bearer was my one year old nephew who was "walked" down the aisle by my two younger brothers.
As my Dad and I prepared to head down the aisle, I started to get really nervous but I wanted to soak in every second and emotion. I headed outside as Bill Keale sang an emotional version of the Beatle's In My Life. Every time we listened to this song while planning the wedding we cried but in this moment I could not stop smiling and focusing on my husband-to-be. Our friends had set up an aisle runner out of pine cones during the impromptu move outside. Out of all of the things that I had planned and stressed about, these were my favorite parts of the wedding, the little things that I could not have prepared for. The fact that our dearest friends took so much time on the details really showed how much they cared about us.
Dylan and I had decided not to see each other before the wedding, so when he saw me walking down the aisle it was the first that he had seen my dress. We felt all of the emotions as we stood at the alter, both nervous and excited to be standing together in front of so many people. Dylan's father married us with a personalized speech and we read the vows that we'd written for each other.
Looking out from the alter and everyone we loved was absolutely incredible. Our guests were welcomed at the bar before we walked down the aisle, so by the time the wedding started everyone was already settled in. Guests stood at the bar or on the grass, whichever they preferred. Our immediate family sat on vintage couches that my Bridesmaid recovered in luxurious green velvet fabric. Instead of a traditional alter, we decided on two wine barrels with bouquets of flowers sitting in hollowed-out-logs.
The weather was a surprisingly perfect 66 degrees but the pond had a layer of ice to remind us that this was still the winter wonderland wedding we had hoped for. We snuck away for photos under the trees as the sun set behind us. The smiles on our faces from this time reflected the excitement and relief we felt after the hardest part - reading our vows - was over.
Everything after we returned to the ceremony is a big, happy, beautiful blur. We danced the night away, actually got a chance to try most of our wedding food, and drank too much. We had a custom beer called Two Three brewed for us by Ale Apothecary. Our friends and family gifted us with locally made kombucha, beer and cider. A selection of wine was lovingly curated just for us.
We danced for the first time as husband and wife to Sideways by Citizen Cope and Santana. My Dad led me to a dance to Paul Simon's Father and Daughter. Dylan and his Mom danced to Bob Dylan's Forever Young. Our venue was decorated with white linen tablecloths, handmade bouquets, gathered woodland greenery, hanging lights and drapery. All of it had been set up the night and morning before by people who love us beyond belief.
I'd spent over a year collecting brass items from thrift stores and Iron Horse, and collecting old lanterns to fill with fairy lights. Dylan hand-painted signs and his family sanded wood rounds and hollowed out logs for the big day. I made woodland animals so every child had a gift to take home. Dylan packed sunflower seeds harvested from our garden as takeaway gifts. We created a photo booth with handmade paper flowers made by my Mother-in-law. Dylan's aunt provided polaroid cameras and a group of kids spent the wedding taking candid pictures of our guests and the decorative details we'd worked so hard on.
The fireplace provided the perfect amount of warmth for us to dance and talk and hug and laugh the night away. Our gold-leafed cake was perfect and we didn't smash it in each others face, as promised. We cut it with a cake saw instead of a fancy service set. Everything was perfect. If anything went wrong, I don't remember it now. The night was beautiful, loving, warm, romantic and dreamy and so much more than I had ever planned it could be.
A GIANT Thank You to the following people who helped make our day so perfect:
Gabi at Delilah Fotography for the beautiful engagement photos, they are truly priceless and we will cherish them forever.
John Paul and his crew at John Paul Designs for creating a beautiful groom's ring and transforming my engagement ring into a beautiful heirloom by incorporating precious family diamonds.
Jackie for all of your help from the furniture, invitations, parties and emotional support over the last year and a half (and decades before that!)
Caryolyn Hasen at Eventfully Yours, my giant bouquet made me feel like a princess, but you helped with so much more than that. Our big day would not have been so seamless and organized without you helping. You were a blessing to us!
Cyndi at Skin & Tonic Mobile Spa for the beautiful hair and makeup and for being so fun to work with!
Angela at Justicia Artisan Jewelry for creating a gorgeous bridal set out of my husband's mother and grandmother's pearls, a truly timeless gift, and gorgeous healing necklaces for all of my beautiful bridesmaids!
Ed from Killer Whale Audio, you exceeded our expectations. You truly brought the party and it would not have been the same without you!
Stephen from Doc Fields Cider for the custom blend of cranberry cider which was a humungous hit at the wedding!
Paul and everyone at Ale Apothecary for Two Three. We were told more than once that this is a new favorite beer. What a joy and honor!
Stephanie for creating an amazing and delicious cake and cookies. It was so much more beautiful than we could have ever imagined!
Bill, your music made our day so much more special, thank you.
Andy Tullis, for the photographs that we will warm our home for the rest of our lives
Bella Brides for all of your help in finding the perfect dress and making sure I felt special during the process
Our guests from near and far, and those who could not be with us... The support you gave us was truly magical. We were blown away by all of the gifts and cards and kind words. It was so special to see all of our loved ones in one place, I could have stayed and danced and talked all night!
Our Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and Groomswoman for supporting us during our long engagement and making our day perfect! From building furniture, to staying up all night after the wedding to clean up, to advice, we couldn't have done it without you.
Our parents, Chris, Cheryl, Holly and Kurt: I had very high hopes for this day and it was so much better than expected! From setting up the decor, to the speeches you made, to the financial and logistical help, everything was absolutely perfect and more amazing than I ever dreamed it could be!
To the family and friends who helped us out, thank you and I apologize for not calling you out by name. I knew we were loved but WOW, to see all of that love transformed into hard work for our wedding was something that has changed Dylan and I.
Our lives are better because of all of you!