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Emma & Mackenzie – An Elopement at Dunton Hot Springs

Emma & Mackenzie – An Elopement at Dunton Hot Springs

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After putting off their wedding for years, Emma and Mackenzie chose a stress-free elopement a the Dunton Hot Springs to celebrate their love of more than ten years.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do for work and fun? 

For work, Mackenzie develops service projects for a federally funded and operated national service program for young adults aged 18-26, and Emma manages projects at an environmental consulting firm. In our free time, we enjoy having kikis, playing backgammon, trying out new recipes, and growing vegetables in our backyard garden. We recently moved to Denver, Colorado, and enjoy hiking, camping, and exploring the Rockies whenever we can.

How long have you been together, and how did you meet?

We met at a house party back in 2009. Our eyes met from across the room, and we were immediately drawn to each other. We played an epic game of beer pong together and spent the rest of the evening outside talking about everything under the sun. We started hanging out with each other most weekends but were always careful to invite at least one other person to join us. It was not until January 2011 that we first admitted our feelings to ourselves and each other. When we took a road trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to visit a friend. Our minds and hearts were full of excitement and nervousness as we considered what this meant for us. Those butterflies are still here today, even after ten years. 

Tell us about the proposal.

We had been going back and forth about marriage for several years. We were ready to commit to each other. But every time we would sit down to start wedding-planning, we would reach a point of decision-paralysis and decide to hold off for another year. In November 2019, we stayed in a little casita outside of San Antonio, Texas, and decided this would be the year we would get engaged. Ordering our rings that night and decided to mutually propose to each other on the beach of Lake Michigan on our way back to Chicago after visiting family in Michigan for the holidays. We drove to Van Buren State Park at sunset and hiked to the lake. We both got on our knees on top of the sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan, and obviously, both said yes.

Talk us through the decision to elope.

We always dreamed of eloping and feeling free in nature somewhere without the stress of a big wedding. But we did not want to disappoint our friends and family by not including them. After COVID hit and we moved to Colorado, we knew eloping was the best option. Especially because we were near so much beautiful nature. Sneaking away for a long romantic weekend in January sounded perfect, especially when we found Dunton Hot Springs. 

Tell us about telling your loved ones that you’re now married. 

We shared the news with our loved ones in many ways. We first made nervous calls to our parents (which turned out fine). Then we shared the news with our close friends via phone, and FaceTime calls the week after we returned. Most of our friends and family found out two weeks after the elopement when we sent out an email announcement with a link to our wedding website. Where folks could view photos of our special day and access the details of the upcoming virtual wedding reception. Overall, everyone’s reactions were positive and made us feel loved and supported from afar.

Talk us through the actual elopement.

Dunton Hot Springs handled every detail of our elopement. From the officiant and the photographer to the florist and the cake. It was the most magical and stress-free event we could have imagined! 

It was important to us that we felt a connection to nature on our wedding day. So, in the morning, we went Nordic skiing in the high meadows of the San Juan Mountains. We got ready separately and first saw each other in the curated library next to the outdoor chapel. We walked together down to the chapel, and our officiant read the most beautiful ceremony script. After the opening statement, we participated in a moment of silence for mother earth and the indigenous peoples’ land where we stood. We exchanged our personally written vows in journals handmade by Mackenzie. There were tears of joy as we said, “I do,” followed by lots of champagne, delicious food, cake, dancing, hot springs soaking, star gazing, and so much love!

What does the future hold for you both?

Long-standing love that hopefully will be visible to others. Love and support for our queer community, along with learning and understanding for people still spreading hate. The future holds lots of dancing queens, awe-inspiring walks with nature, and two career-driven women seeking peace and justice for all. 

Photography by Moose Head Designs

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