We took about a two-month camping trip all over the west on our way to film Claire’s thesis documentary on fire towers in Oregon. At Crater Lake National Park, we decided to hike to the highest point in the park and on the way down it began to literally monsoon, hail, lightning, and all. We made it back to camp, but everything was a disastrously flooded, so we moved the tent to higher ground and went inside. We were muddy, sweaty, and gross, but so exhilarated and totally in love. I pulled out U.N.O. and we made bets on who would win. Claire won, and so I asked, “Okay, what do you want?” Joking, Claire responded, “For you to pull out a ring.” Well, that I did, Claire said yes (amidst ugly tears), and we exited the tent to a clear sky full of stars. Sounds pretty story-book, but for real, this is how it happened.
THE WEDDING INSPIRATION
In college, Claire took a class that required a trip to Artspace 111. She loved the way it looked, felt, and thought, “huh, this would be a great place to have a photoshoot one day.” Flash forward a few years: We began looking at various wedding venues to no avail (due to high-prices, gender-heavy wedding party rooms, etc.) when she brought up Artspace. We went together that day to look at the venue and we were immediately sold. We loved how gender-neutral the space was, the vibe throughout the venue, the helpful and friendly staff, and we both felt sure this was where we wanted to be wed. We booked it that same day.
We have always been attracted to a Hygge lifestyle (the Danish term for being really, really cozy). We are also really heavily into being in the great outdoors. When you combine the two, especially with the grace of a wedding day pour-down, you get our big day. Really, what we wanted was a cozy, dim-lit candled, jazz music in the background, casual sort-of-day, and I really feel like we achieved that. One of the things we were looking most forward to post-nuptials was throwing on our big crochet blanket shawls and roasting some s’mores with cool jazz playing in the distance. It was all we could have ever wanted.
THE WEDDING DAY
We chose to stay together the night before the wedding. We knew to see each other the morning-of would ground us and make us feel calmer. Not saying this is the right way, but this worked for us. We woke up very early in the morning and exchanged letters we had written to one another. We agreed that we would write one instead of personalized vows and share them first when we woke up. Shortly after (and a post-first cup of coffee), we let our makeup artist work her magic on the bridal party. The morning consisted of hilariously tired bridesmaids, LOTS MORE COFFEE, Jenga and all the hairspray smells. Walks through the hotel hallway with one another, Moms in “Free Mom Hugs” shirts doing ALL the work, looks at each other from across the room, and a rainy high-rise cityscape. It was all so perfect. We were in good hands and knew we were ready to do it.
My favorite moment of all happened as everyone was eating and assembling in the dining room. For some reason, perhaps fate, Claire and I found ourselves dancing together alone in front of the jazz band. We had not planned on a first dance because, again, INTROVERTS. It was the only time we danced together, and it was the most important time as we realized the magnitude and importance of the event that had just happened. I held Claire in my arms. She looked so beautiful. She was now my wife, and I was the luckiest, proudest woman to be standing there with the privilege of holding her. I finally looked up, and my 6′ 3″ brother was watching from outside crying like a baby. It was the sweetest moment.– Madison
We wanted…no-we CRAVED an outdoor wedding. Even in winter. Even in the rain. If it was possible, it had to be done. We were dressed, flowers in hand, ready to go. And then, our planner said, “it started back up.” THE RAIN STARTED BACK UP. Just before she was headed out to corral our guests back inside, she said “girls, it’s now or never.” The rain lightened, the wind stopped, and we were marching outside with our whole party. Maybe it was cold? We don’t remember much because we had tunnel vision. We had eyes only for each other, and at the moment, nothing mattered to either of us more than each other. Our guests carried umbrellas with phone cameras and smiles underneath. We do remember some drizzle during the vows, but the ceremony was designed to last only about ten minutes, so we didn’t mind. The reason behind it all was standing right in front of us, and it was just magic. Pure, pure magic.
We both grew up in religious homes and wanted a Christian ceremony. Our pastor, John, is a master of words and beautifully carried us through our vows, prayer, and the beginning of our married journey. This is us. Jesus loves us, and we love each other, we love others, others love us, so let’s get married. Who can argue with that?
Claire’s church growing up has a tradition of making quilts for special occasions, and we were amazed to be given one during the ceremony. The guests had an opportunity to write on it in advance, and the love expressed all over-struck us. It was all kinds of meaningful!
Our dresses sustained some wear and tore at the bottom due to the rain and mud, but perhaps the most prized battle wound of all was the smell of campfire from the s’ mores bar. Our lives indeed came full-circle on this day!
Madison and I fell in love in 2013; however, we were not fully “out” until announcing our engagement in 2018. My dad walked me down the aisle first and I absolutely took my time. I saw all of the beautiful friends and family who supported us with such love over the years. Folks from all over our lives were sharing umbrellas. It was so surreal to be in the moment and to be marrying the love of my life in front of so many people. The gates opened, and there was Madison, the most magnificent woman in the world about to become my wife. She did not take her time, and I was lost in a silent chuckle and so much love watching her book it past everyone towards me. Madison’s eyes are a dazzling shade of blue, and watching them start to water-up amidst the beautiful overcast weather was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was the best moment of my life.– Claire
Do you have a stand out vendor?
B.R.I.T.T.A.N.Y G.I.L.B.E.R.T. Brittany is truly a dream. She was a little traveling sparkle of fun the entire day, and her work speaks for itself. She had us feeling ourselves in all our silly, goofy, glory, within minutes of our first meeting.
A photographer or any wedding pro that makes you feel comfortable is so important!! Did you have any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Only take into consideration what is best for you and your partner. At first, we found ourselves putting others’ emotions and feelings before our own, which, if played out, would have resulted in their perfect day, not ours.
It’s important to remember that this is and will always be your day and what you want goes. Go with your heart. Go with your gut. You know what you need and what is best for you. Remember, this is the birth of something much bigger than a “wedding day.” This is the start of your journey as forevers.
Lastly, what does marriage mean to you?
Partnership, building each other up, taking risks, reminiscing, monitoring and adjusting bad habits, safety, and security, rehabilitation, exploration, enjoyment, vulnerability, creativity, communication, boldness, finding solutions, expression, and love for one another.
Photographer Brittany Gilbert
Bridal Boutique Lang’s Bridal
Cake Creative Memories, The Sweet Spot Bakery
Cake Topper DOOB- 3D
Catering Salsa Limon
Ceremony & Reception Venue Artspace 111
Celebrant Rev. Dr. John Callison
Engagement & Wedding Rings Kubes Jewelers
Event Planner & Stylist Tiffany Seaberry
Florist Brandi Chapman
Gown Designer Maggie Sottero, Rebecca Ingram
H&MU Chryss Branch
Jazz Band Chris Denton & Company
Prop or Furniture Hire May I Serve U
Shoes Dream Pairs
Wedding Party Outfits Generation Tux Tie, Azazie