From the bride, Makayla: After first meeting in a coffee shop in Flagstaff, Arizona, we dated for about four months when Phil left Arizona to return to Wyoming. He had been attending a Park Service law enforcement academy at Northern Arizona University while I was there finishing my junior year of my biology degree. We were still in those blissful first months of our relationship and being so far away from him felt so wrong. So on a whim, I dropped everything and ran away to spend the summer with Phil in the mountains of northwest Wyoming.
During my first weeks there, Phil introduced me to the beauty of the mountains surrounding us, including a trip to Monument Ridge in our little town of Bondurant. After a white knuckled off road ride in his truck and getting stuck in the mud several times, we found ourselves atop a ridge with a breath taking view of the surrounding valley and mountains. Up on that ridge I not only fell in love with Wyoming, but I fell deeper in love with Phil.
After a college graduation, a proposal, a permanent move to Wyoming, it came time to begin planning what would be the happiest day of our lives. Unfortunately, we never made it past step one - find a venue. While we visited several hotels, resorts, and country clubs in the Jackson area it became clearer and clearer that the fancy ballroom wedding just wasn't for us. The stress and financial burden was quickly turning our special day into something we dreaded thinking about. During the very beginning of our engagement we both agreed we wanted our wedding to be stress free, relaxed, and above all, fun! Going back to that idea, we scrapped everything and started again at square one, this time deciding on something much smaller and more casual.
We invited our immediate families and closest friends to join us in Wyoming as we tied the knot... in four weeks. It was immediately decided that Monument Ridge would be our ceremony site since it held such significance to us. We would marry in our favorite spot, right next to the fire watchtower.
On our wedding day, my mother, bridesmaid, and I got ready at our neighbor's house while Phil and his family got ready at ours. I did my own hair and make up with some help from my mom and Hannah. Our guests rode 4-wheelers up the trail to Monument Ridge while I followed in a friend's truck. After changing into my gown on the top of the mountain, my dad walked me across the mountaintop meadow to where my best friend, Phil, was waiting for me. After our ceremony, we welcomed everyone to our home for a reception to celebrate our marriage.
Our plans for the day fell perfectly into place. In our four weeks of planning, we created a wedding that was everything we wanted; it was (relatively) stress free, laid back, and everyone had a great time. We found a photographer that, by some small miracle, was available the weekend we decided to get married. Karissa, with Après Events, was beyond incredible to work with. Not only did she ride a 4-wheeler up a mountain while late in her third trimester of pregnancy, but she was very easy-going and captured every moment of our wedding with us barely noticing she was there. Our decorations and food were almost completely homemade. Phil's sister, Molly, put together flower bouquets while his brother, Joe, made us a just married sign for the back of our 4-wheeler and center pieces for the tables, made by my dad. For dinner, we served homemade shish-kabobs and Italian wedding soup that we all helped prepare. A wedding would not be complete without a wedding cake and somehow we found just the right person to make one for us on such short notice. Kristi Quinn, a coworker's wife, re-created a beautiful wedding cake from a photo I had found while looking through a wedding magazine. Phil's sister put the finishing touches on the cake by adding fresh picked wild flowers from our yard.
In the end, we managed to pull off a wedding on the top of a mountain range with only four weeks of planning. Without the help and support of our parents, family, and friends, our perfect day would not have been possible. We are so thankful to all that accompanied and supported us on the most important day of our new life together. I never thought that in this day and age, especially in the Jackson area, we could have put together such a perfect wedding without spending a small fortune. After all was said and done, I have learned that it is possible to have the wedding of your dreams without folding to the pressures that are put upon many engaged couples. Your day doesn't have to be over-the-top glamorous. Every tiny detail of your wedding doesn't need to be meticulously planned out. Rather, I learned that the most important part of planning your wedding starts with deciding on something that is truly and unapologetically you.