Tell us a little more about how you fell in love, and a little about the proposal

A mutual friend at the University of Vermont introduced me to Kaleigh, a tall, thin, cross country runner with her pixie haircut and bright blue eyes. There was something I was immediately drawn to and intrigued by, but I wasn’t sure quite what at the time. See, she had studied abroad in Nepal, and I wanted to. With a little cajoling from Harry, the mutual friend, I sent her a message on Facebook and she suggested breakfast. I showed up, fresh out of crew practice and didn’t do much to impress her as she found me to be a “weird Vermonter”. I doubted we would ever hang out again.

But, we kept bumping into each other around campus and finding reasons to spend time together and the next thing I knew I was head over heels. I knit her a hat that had the phrase her dad always said to her before cross country races knitted into it “run hard run strong”. I gave it to her after she asked me out for coffee and cookies (hello fika fans) and the rest is history.

Kaleigh technically proposed to me on Halloween 2015. We hosted an impromptu party where everyone drank far too much, went down to the gay bar in Portland, danced with our friends, and on our way back (after stealing an ‘Ethan for Mayor’ sign and attempting to run off with a traffic cone) she got down on one knee in the middle of the street and said, “Do you propose to me to stay with me until October 2016?”. Our friends were yelling “when’s the lease up!?” and singing Bieber’s “IT’S TOO LATE NOW TO SAY SORRY!”. She then grabbed a dollar out of her pocket and tried to fold it into a ring saying, “With this dollar, I will make you a ring”. I was not as drunk, and very tired. I responded, “sure. Now get up off the ground lets go”. Our friends yelled “SHE SAID SURE!”, and that became a commonly used phrase amongst our group for the remaining few years we lived in Maine.

We’ve lived in Vermont, Colorado and Maine (and now Alaska), and after six years together while Kaleigh was at the US Coast Guard Officer Candidate School we decided over the phone one night, after not being able to talk for a few weeks (as was often the case while she was at OCS), if we were committed enough to move to Alaska together, we were committed enough to get married. The next day we got a chance to Facetime and we couldn’t stop smiling at each other. While we don’t have a very elaborate or extravagant proposal story, I’ll never forget the look on her pixelated face on my phone screen when we affirmed that we did, in fact, want to get married before moving to Alaska.

Talk us through your wedding day

We decided to elope.

Kaleigh and I had been together for six years when she was accepted to the US Coast Guard Officer Candidate School. When Kaleigh was assigned to the Kodiak Base for the US Coast Guard we decided to get married right before the move across the country. It was a true whirlwind and planned mostly in secret (sorry parents). We wanted to get married in a spot that was special to us in Maine, where we had lived for the past four years, it’s where we had spread some of Kaleigh’s Dad’s ashes there a few years prior at sunrise.

Kaleigh tried on her dress and her ring on weekend liberty she was given from the academy and after swapping out sizes several times everything came together. We wore long underwear, wool socks and winter boots under our dresses and Norwegian wool sweaters. Mittens I knit myself and flower crowns I made the night before completed our outfits. Our pup Ella was our flower girl. I made hot toddy’s for a toast after the ceremony and was so nervous I got pulled over for speeding(!) on the way to the ceremony. The look on the officers face when he realised we were on our way to elope was priceless! Thankfully the officer let us all off with a warning (though if I’d been given a ticket, or even a paper warning, I would have framed it above the fireplace).

We bundled up and hiked to the point, stopping for pictures here and there as the sun fell lower across the sky. Once we got to the point where you could see the sun rise and set, our dear friend Hester began the ceremony she had prepared. It was simple and thoughtful, and we felt a perfect reflection of our love. After reading vows we wrote the day before (we compared our notes, and the vows were almost identical line for line) and letters from we had requested from our siblings and parents, we kissed and cheered! Bethany and Dan snapped a few more photographs as the sun dipped below the horizon. The chill set in and we grabbed our down jackets and hurried back to the cars.

Within two days we were driving across the country to our new home in Kodiak, Alaska, where Kaleigh is stationed on the USCG Cutter SPAR a buoy tender and I have moved my adventure lifestyle photography business.

Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to elope?

We decided to elope for two reasons. The first, and more practical, was that it was happening at a crazy transitional time and we wanted to keep things simple. The second was a bit more complicated. On Kaleigh’s side she felt that if her Pop couldn’t be there (we spread some of his ashes in the spot we got married the year we moved to Maine) then she didn’t want anyone to be there. On my side, as a long-standing disbeliever in marriage, I felt that I needed our ceremony to be 100% about us, unique to our love and commitment to each other.

While we both love our families more than anything, and it was definitely hard not having them there, we are glad we did things our way.

We wrote vows together the day of, we had a hot toddy toast and our officiant read letters and poems our parents and siblings had sent a week before, we laughed and cried and froze our fingers and toes off.

We I feel like our family was upset from the standpoint of feeling like they were missing out because they love us so much, but they also understood, given the circumstances, why we wanted to do things this way.

We also promised them they could host the biggest party ever down the road with dancing, so we think that took the edge off of the disappointment. Now, how far down the road this event will be, that is the question!

Photographer Bethany and Dan Photography | Ceremony Venue Prouts Neck Point | Celebrant Hester Bissell | Wedding Rings Broken Pine Studio | Gown Designer BHLDN | Sweaters Dale of Norway | Mittens Gretchen’s Knitting | Pearl Earrings & Necklace The Noisy Plume