Housemates turned newlyweds, adventurous couple, Ashley & Jeana, have literally climbed mountains together and found one another’s true happiness, each other. They talk us through their mutual decision to choose marriage as the next step in their relationship and then their journey to the wedding day.
DWH: Tell us the love story.
A: We became roommates through Craigslist in a shared apartment back in 2013. With similar working schedules, we had a lot of time to hand out and get to know one another. Over the next year, we took short weekend trips together and even climbed Mount St. Helens! During that summer I started to develop feelings for Jeanna. She left for a three week working trip to Italy and I accepted a year-round job at a remote eco-lodge called Camp Denali, Alaska and planned to move in the first week of September.
J: When I returned home we took a weekend trip to Crater Lake National Park where Ashley told me her feelings and after a little thought I decided to take the plunge and give it a try! Ashley left for Alaska two weeks later but we both knew the value of the relationship we were creating and worked hard to make it last. There were plenty of visits that included splitting wood in freezing temperatures, eating dinners of deer and moose and enjoying just four hours of sunlight – it all helped deepen our bond.
When Ashley returned to Seattle in 2015 we quickly knew this relationship was meant to last.
DWH: And, the proposal?
A & J: Our proposal story is nothing spectacular but one that we love. We prioritise open communication in our relationship.
We were lying in bed, talking about our future and decided together that committing to be married was the next step that we both wanted to take. It was a mutual decision and an experience without a lot of fanfare or surprise.
After this conversation, a few days later we went to pick out rings together. We then spoke to our families about the decision and finally, on a trip to Europe in July of 2016, we exchanged rings on a hike from Fira to Oia in Santorini, Greece.
Looking out over the Mediterranean Sea we shared our love for each other and opened a new chapter or our lives.
DWH: It sounds intimate and perfectly ‘you’. What was your inspiration for your wedding style?
A: Knowing we wanted a place that was outside and highlighted natural and historic elements, Jeana and her parents went on a hunt across New Jersey to find a special place for the wedding. Towards the end of the trip, Jeana’s Mom remembered the State Park that Jeana had been to on a field trip back in elementary school. Waterloo Historic Village turned out to be the perfect venue for us.
J: Our inspiration was a natural, elegant and simple vibe. Waterloo is gorgeous on its own and we really wanted to highlight what was already there. We wanted the love we have for each other and for our community of family and friends to fill up the natural, beautiful space – and it did just that.
DWH: Did you undertake any DIY projects for the day?
A & J: Honestly, we took on more DIY projects than we thought we ever would. We ordered a welcome sign and templates for the menu and programs off Etsy, but printed and assembled them ourselves. We also designed and printed many things of our own. The list includes; all of the labels and information for the hotel welcome bags, the design of the welcome bags themselves, several signs used at the ceremony and reception, and menu tags.
We learned how to stain and paint reserved signs for the ceremony chairs, made ribbon wands to wave during the the recessional, shaped and painted clay table number holders, painted with watercolors and hand-lettered all of the place cards and escort cards, learned calligraphy to address invitations, and bundled individual tissue packets for the ceremony.
We also had the help of MANY close friends who jumped in to assist with a laundry list of items including: draping fabric from a tree for the ceremony (without a ladder!), creating a large floral J+A for the cocktail hour, cutting slices out of aspen and spruce trees to set tea lights on, assembling luminaries for the pathways between venue buildings and setting out all of the bulk greenery and tea lights on the reception tables.
DWH: Sounds like you were kept busy! What about the outfits? The dresses are beautiful!
J: Ashley chose her dress first. She wanted a simple silhouette that both covered her arm tattoos and didn’t accentuate her chest. The first dress she tried on fit the bill!
Then, Ashley actually picked out my dress! Although I wanted to try on the BHLDN dress alone for the first time, nerves got the better of me and I asked Ashley to join me in the change room for a second opinion. Ashley couldn’t resist putting on hers again too and we both stepped out of the change room in dresses that compliment each other well.
A: During the alterations, I had a seamstress incorporate pockets into the dress that were made from the fabric of my Mother’s wedding dress. A little detail that was both sentimental and practical.
DWH: So, you spent 15 months planning the wedding, how did the big day unfold?
A & J: We rode the high of our wedding day for weeks afterwards. It truly was a magical day.
We decided to have a co-officiant at our ceremony and chose a close friend, Eric and Jeana’s spiritual advisor, Mary. We didn’t want a formal church ceremony, and couldn’t have one at the Catholic Church, but it was important to us to bring a spiritual element to the day.
We were really happy that we did a ring warming prior to the ceremony where we invited guests to hold our rings and say an intention, prayer or blessing. It made us feel very connected to our guests and made them feel like they were an integral part of the meaning of the exchanging in rings. We also incorporated a unity ceremony where we had our cousins from both sides of our families combine soil together that we used to plant a tree.
We also left a chair empty with an ‘In Loving Memory Sign’ for the many loved ones, including Ashley’s parents, that were not with us on the day. We honoured each of our parents and grandparents with a station that displayed their wedding photos at the reception.
DWH: Do you have any advice for others planning their wedding day?
A & J: One of the most practical pieces of advice we got was to book the vendors that cannot book two events on one day (ie. the photographer, the band…) as early as possible.
We would say to enjoy the process and if it stops being fun, re-evaluate where you are putting your priorities and energy. Try and be as forward-thinking as possible. Plan out to-do’s and expectations months or weeks in advance so that in those last few days in the lead up you can enjoy the people around you and not be bogged down by too many last minute details, DIY projects or stress.
Most importantly, this event should reflect who you are as a couple. Make choices that will highlight your values, priorities and spirit as a couple – not just what is trending on Pinterest. Also remember that during the time before you get married, you are planning a wedding, but you are also preparing yourselves for a lifelong marriage. Put prep work into your relationship that will continue on after the party.
Photography Michele Suits | Event Planner Maria Weingard & Christina Sanchez | Florist Sunnyside Gardens and Gifts | Venue Waterloo Historic Village | Catering Jeffery A Miller Catering | Cake Topper Firastudio (Etsy) | Wedding Favours Sip Sip Hooray Party Goods (Etsy), Cheaptotes.com | Entertainment Silver Arrow Band | Rings LFrank Jewelry, Ross Goldsmiths | Transport Broadway Elite Chauffeured Services Worldwide, Byram Bus, Inc. | Gowns Korovilas, Jill Jill Stuart | Bridal Boutique BHLDN | Shoes DSW | Hair Piece Twigs & Honey | Bridal Party Outfits BHLDN