All of our wedding memories are starting to flood back in as I begin to pack my bags for our honeymoon. I found it only fitting that I finally get together a post about what it was like to get married. Being one that’s been behind the scenes at over 60 weddings, I definitely had a different perspective on what I wanted for my own wedding. So here goes.
So the first thing that ultimately gets decided on when planning a wedding is the venue. When David and I thought about places that we wanted to get married, we had a few criterion that we definitely wanted to stick to plus a few things we were flexible on because, let’s be honest – choosing a venue is kind of like searching for a house or apartment – you’re going to have to compromise. One thing we wanted for sure was a venue in the mountains. The mountains are so special to us and it’s what we are really all about. We tossed around places like Leavenworth, Mt. Rainier, Winthrop, and even Jackson Hole. We also knew we wanted a convenient place to stay for our guests as we didn’t want to go through the hassle of having shuttles and also wanted our guests to party. We wanted our venue to be far enough away from the city so that people would have the opportunity to make a weekend of it and also not feel the need to leave early. Ideally we would have loved to bring in our own catering and alcohol, but like I said, it’s hard get everything you’re looking for all in one place. In the end we chose Crystal Mountain, which was our #1 choice from the beginning. Crystal Mountain has a sprinkling of hotels at its, is the resort that we both have season passes at, and provided an incredible mountain backdrop. To save a few dollars, we chose to have our wedding on a Friday and had our ceremony at the base instead of the top of the mountain. With the amount of time it takes to get guests up and down the mountain on the gondola and the chance of it being very cold and cloudy up there on a late September afternoon, it wasn’t worth it to us. The on-site catering was reasonable and delicious. Most of the basics like chairs and tables were included which cut out a lot of the DIY stuff that we didn’t want to deal with.
THE REHEARSAL DINNER AT TREEHOUSE POINT
The wedding week itself was totally spectacular and people are not joking when they say it goes by incredibly fast. Our week started out with bachelor and bachelorette parties the weekend before. We each had a wedding party of six who were spread out all over the country so this was just easiest. It was amazing to have all of my girls around throughout the week and helping me finish up the last minute details. On Wednesday (yes, Wednesday), we had our rehearsal dinner at Treehouse Point. I seriously recommend having your rehearsal two days before the wedding if it’s possible. It gives everybody more time to relax the day before the wedding and also helps combat any possible hangovers on the wedding day. We really appreciated having the extra day in between to gather up all of our crap and head to Crystal. The night before the wedding, we held a casual get-together at the Snorting Elk Bar at the base of Crystal Mountain. I absolutely loved this as it gave us a chance to say hello to our out-of-town guests the day before the wedding. Something we knew we wanted to do was to actually sit down and have dinner with our friends at the wedding and this certainly gave us time to do so!
WEDDING DAY AT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN
And then came the magical wedding day. Mountain weather can be pretty finicky so you know I was crossing my fingers all week for nice weather (although snow would have been fine). We woke up to partly cloudy skies and no chance of rain! I went for a quick morning hike to let out some nervous energy (and um…write my vows) and soak up some cool mountain air. After that I felt ready for the day. For hair and makeup, I had hired my beautiful friend Kelly Rene from Jackson Hole. We used to work together slinging drinks at the base of JHMR at the Mangy Moose and have since split off of the cocktailing gig to form our own businesses. After seeing her work at a wedding we worked together in June I knew she would be amazing. She’s also a good friend so it was fun to have her around for the getting-ready portion of the day.
Once all hair and makeup was done, I nervously made my way to the bottom of the gondola to meet my groom. Having shot a ton of weddings we know that a first look is definitely the way to go. It gives you a chance to get a bunch of photos out of the way before the ceremony and actually spend time at your cocktail hour. I of course had this incredibly romantic idea in my head that we would meet at the top of the mountain for the first time on the wedding day. And you know what? That’s exactly what happened! In typical mountain girl style, I rode the gondola up and carefully picked my way down the metal stairs and rocky slope rocking my glittery stilettos to meet David. It was everything I had pictured in my mind and more. Plus we ended up with some spectacular photos in a place that we love.
We excitedly made our way back down to the base to take some photos with our wedding party. While choosing a wedding party can be tough (if you even have one at all), I’m super grateful for the people I had standing up beside me. A mix of family and friends was just perfect. I chose dark teal as the colors and let the girls pick the design. I’m so glad I did this as everyone ended up with something different. I felt happy to have the girls in something they felt comfortable in. The guys purchased their suits through David’s sister-in-law who is a costume designer in LA – more about her later. The time we spent with our wedding party was such a blast! Someone had brought a few six packs of beer and we wandered through the grassy field, dodging deer and elk poop of course, taking some super fun images with our friends. We definitely wanted less posed photos and I think in order to do that you have to treat it less like a “photo session” and more like a time of just hanging out with your friends. I just love how the images turned out!
After that part of the day was a total whirlwind. I remember staring out at our guests from the second floor of the ski lodge and barely believing that this was my wedding day and it all was really happening! The ceremony wasn’t much longer than 20 minutes and it was written by us along with one of our dear friends who was our officiant. We chose a reading by Dallas Clayton read by David’s mom, lit an oil lamp in remembrance of those who have passed, wrote our own vows, and took polaroid photos of each other (our own version of a unity ceremony) all backdropped by the late afternoon sun setting behind the mountains. The arbor we got married under was hand-crafted by David and his dad with wood gathered from Eastern Washington. Everything was feeling super duper special those first few moments after saying “I do”!
After a quick (and I mean only about 10 minutes) session of formal family photos, we joined our cocktail hour. We served Moscow Mules, local beer and wine and of course some passed hors d’oeuvres. We even had Nash Fung join us to entertain guests with his epic magic skills. We met Nash while attending Get Hitched Give Hope last year and couldn’t resist bidding on him. Our guests absolutely loved it. Dinner was served in a sit-down style (honestly buffet would have been fine too but our venue didn’t charge extra for this and I prefer plated) that everybody had chosen in advance on their invites. One of the best parts was that by the time we all sat down for dinner David and I had gotten most of our meeting and greeting out of the way so we were actually able to sit and eat. It was such a treat sitting at a table with all of our closest friends and family all in one place! It was pretty crazy to look around the room and realize that everyone was there for us. Our wedding was just over 100 people and was, in my opinion, the perfect size. Not too big, not too small, and we knew every person that attended.
Everything after dinner just went by so fast. Toasts, dances, everything just flew by. We served ice cream sandwiches that were made to order by Smoosh while everyone either danced the night away or hung out by the outdoor firepit under the stars. Our party was over at midnight. I remember nervously glancing at the clock only to realize that it was only 10 and we still had two more hours to spend with our favorite people ever. Whew!! I didn’t want it to end. It really was the best day of our lives!
So what advice can I give? There are definitely a few things I learned throughout the process. First, follow a timeline. Resources on The Knot allow you to download an app that can help you keep deadlines straight and make sure that you are covering all of the details you need. Next, if you can’t have a videographer or don’t want one, have someone video your first dance, toasts, and maybe ceremony. We didn’t have anyone do this and all I can say is that I would have loved to have some of this recorded even if it was only on a cell phone. Also, relax. Everything will come together and even if it doesn’t you aren’t even going to care about it when everything gets going. The more you fret about details the less you will enjoy your day. Personalize. This day is all about you. If you don’t want a cake or don’t want to do a bouquet toss, don’t feel bad about it. Everyone is going to have an opinion for you but in the end you should always go with what your heart says. Ask for help when you need it. The day before the wedding I had my sister and sister-in-law at my apartment and all I could do was run around in circles because I had no idea where to start with my packing. They walked me through the entire weekend and helped me get everything together. People are here for you and want to help so take advantage of it. Finally, soak it all in. It really is one of the most amazing days of your life and sadly goes by way too fast. Whether you choose a special place to elope or have a giant rockin party, it’s so so worth it and important to try and take in each moment. Now that the party’s over, am so grateful that I get to spend all of my years with David and have such an incredible support system of friends and family all around us. With 8 years together and 2 months of marriage under our belts already, I think we are doing pretty well so far!
Last but not least, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our friends and family who made the trek up to Crystal Mountain and made this day amazing for us. You all have played a part in our lives together at some point or another. We love and appreciate you all more than you know.
And now, a bit about the people and details that made all of this possible:
Probably one of the most popular questions I received while planning, was who would be our photographer. Let me just say this was definitely a tough decision to make. There is an insane amount of talent here in the Northwest! We knew we wanted to stick with somebody local and somebody that could capture everything in a storytelling fashion. Lucas Mobley came to mind as I had met him at a few of our photographer gatherings. When we got around to looking at his work, we were hooked! His natural, moment-focused style and also passion for exploring was exactly what we wanted. We met with him, shared some drinks, and booked. While we are a bit biased, wedding photography was the one thing we weren’t afraid to spend some money on and it was so incredibly worth it. From our amazing engagement session in the North Cascades to the panoramic images on the top of the mountain on our wedding day and the hilarious images of our family and friends getting after it on the dance floor, Lucas did an amazing job!
And what can I say about Allie DeLong? She is a rockstar. If you are even thinking about hiring a Day-of Coordinator, just do it! The money you spend on this portion of your wedding is so worth it. Even though David and I could practically run a wedding if we had to based on our experience, we wanted no part of running the schedule on the big day. And truthfully, I was having so much fun and everything was going so fast that there was no way I could pay attention to the clock! Allie’s not only coordinated our wedding day effortlessly, but she did setup and takedown of our décor and provided amazing floral displays for both the wedding party and the ceremony arbor. If anything went wrong at all, I didn’t even know about it. Check out her work over at Sweetly Hosted.
Music! Music was another huge part of the day for us. Again, having been to so many weddings, I think we would both scream if we had to hear the “Cupid Shuffle” or the “Nay Nay Song” at our own wedding. We chose DJ Kryspin. While he doesn’t advertise weddings on his site, this guy does an amazing job. Instead of playing song after song, he mixes everything into a very seamless night of dancing. His music catered to all ages and kept the dance floor full all night. He also doesn’t do a lot of announcements, which is definitely more our style. Have you ever been to a wedding where the DJ/Emcee tells a lot of awful jokes and just completely takes over the party? Well, I can tell you that Kryspin is not that guy! I also liked his lighting style and he didn’t use those lasers that give everybody green dots on their faces in all the photos. Thanks Kryspin! For ceremony music, I chose to have my aunt play the keyboard. We both love piano music and it set the tone perfectly.
Details, details, details. I think this is the part of the wedding that you can say we definitely spent some solid DIY on. We didn’t want to spend a ton of money on florals that would just be thrown away so we created centerpieces ourselves. Half of the tables had big glass lanterns surrounded by a twig-like type of material and gold berries. The other half of the tables were set up with cairns that we had collected on some of our mountain adventures together. We also had tealights and tiny golden animals that we had painted ourselves on all of the tables. Bistro lights transformed what is usually a stinky brown ski lodge to this crazy magical wedding venue. Place cards were handmade by my mom and her scrapbooking skills with calligraphy by yours truly. We displayed said place cards in three pieces of wood that David had cut slits into. Our guestbook was a display of our engagement photos with places for people to sign around and was printed by one of my professional labs. The invitation suite was designed by us and also printed through one of my labs.
Finally, our attire! I get really excited when I think about my wedding dress because you really can’t get anything like it anywhere else! Remember I mentioned that David’s sister-in-law is a costume designer? Well, when we first got engaged she reached out to me and offered to make my wedding dress. This was such an incredible offer to me as I knew I’d never seen anything like what I had pictured in my head. I gave her some ideas as to what I wanted, she sent me some material options and the dress started to take shape. The process was only slightly challenging and resulted in a dress that I felt amazing in. Helena is incredibly talented and I can’t thank her enough for what she did for me. David wore a custom suit that she also had ordered for him. It was modern and looked oh-so-amazing on him. Jewelry for me was a mix of different things – hairpins that my sister made, earrings from Padgett Hoke of Jackson Hole, a necklace from Etsy and of course a splurge piece bracelet from BHLDN. My shoes were made by Shoes of Prey, this amazing website that lets you customize your own shoes! And the best part? I can wear them again!