A few weeks ago I did a whirlwind trip home for my baby sister's wedding (she is the youngest of the four girls, coming in right before the two boys). A few months earlier she'd told me, "So J and I want to do a camping wedding." And I was like, "Are you kidding me?" "No," she said, "You know how much we love camping." It was insanity. "Can you imagine the hassle," I told my husband, "How are we even going to get everything up there. Is she trying to drive us crazy." And then me and my other married sister stressed. When was it going to be, when should we/could we get our tickets for, where was it going to be, would food be provided, would we need to worry about it's preparation, what does one wear to a camping wedding? F and J meanwhile seemed really chill about the whole thing. With two months to go I'd arranged for my mother-in-law to come into town to watch the kids while I was gone and Dr. J was working but still there were no real details. I'd call her and try to pin her down on stuff, "I just can't think about this right now, I'm really busy." Her responses were driving me insane. My other sister and I tried to think up places it could be. Her in-laws own some property but there were no restrooms. She looked into renting port-a-johns. We looked for group campsites that were close but people in the state have crazy outdoor love and most of the stuff had already be reserved for months. "Well that's it," I said, "they just need to get married at a pavilion in the park." "That's it," my other sister said, "they can get married in my in-laws backyard." But with a month to go they decided they were ready to plan. They found a group campsite. My brother-in-law designed and sent out invitations. Three of the sister's started looking at dresses on Anthropologie, and when we saw this one on clearance told her to get her buns up there. She found one left in her size. One sister planned for the cupcakes. She decided we'd do a s'more bar. J's family said they would take on dinner for the group. F went and picked out a ring in the mall. I told her I'd love to do flowers for her and decorations although I had no idea what I was going to do, but things were starting to fall into place.
Two day's before the wedding, the day after school started for my kids, and four days after my mother-in-law flew out to visit, I flew into town. I walked in the door of my mom's house, at nine o'clock in the morning to find my sister A, a baby on her hip vacuuming up a storm. "This dog hair is driving me crazy," she said as she handed her daughter off to me who immediately started crying. "Eat a blue berry," I told E #2. She popped it her in her mouth and then frantically reached out for more. "So what do we need to do?" I asked. "Everything," my sister said. And so we started. We went to store after store, getting food for the s'more bar, finding a florist, trying to figure out what I was going to wear (I left my skirt at home) and find something for her daughters to wear. Midday I got a text from F. "So my sister in laws are throwing me a bachelorette party. It is going to be crazy. You don't have to come but I'd wanted to let you know." "Well we are going to that," Aand I decided. "We are definitely going to represent from our family." And so we went, and it was wild, and it was crazy and I had to laugh because I'm 33 years old and I've never been to a party like that before and to be honest probably will never be invited to another one again. But it was fun to meet all my sister's soon to be sister in laws (and there are a ton) and it was nice to be with my sisters as well. "Are you guys close?" I think I heard probably ten times that night. Not as close as I'd like us to be scattered all over the United States, but yes we are close. At ten A and I decided we were exhausted. I had been up since my time four (their time two am) so we headed home. But once I got home I was plagued by how I was going to decorate the tables without spending a fortune, and then it hit me. MASON JARS!
The next day we started prep. We finished shopping. I got candles, sand, and twine and rounded up mason jars from my mom and my sister's mother in law. We went out for pedicures. We ate lunch at Cafe Rio, my favorite. We went back home and did more prep work. I filled mason jars with sand and tied twine around everything. We went and picked up flowers. We threw a one year birthday party for my niece E. F spent the night with us and my brother D and her worked on a song to surprise her hubby with.
The next morning was crazy. I put together the bouquet and the boutonniere. They weren't terrible complicated but they still took time. We packed up cars full of camping gear, wedding gear, and personal stuff. We loaded up the supplies for the s'more bar. My mom and I headed up to Salt Lake to pick up cupcakes and cake from Whole Foods. Then we headed out into the Uintas. An hour and half later we arrived but saw no one. "Are we in the right place?" Of course we had no cell reception so we headed off a dirty path past sheep, and remote camp sites, a ranchero, more sheep, and some very mangy ranch dogs. Twenty minutes later I said, "This is ridiculous! No one would come up here to get potty stuff." We headed back and found some of our family had started trickling in to the original location. Then it was work, work, work. We decorated the tables with mason jars filled with baby's breathe alternated with mason jars filled with sand and candles. We set up tents. We taped and tied table cloths onto serving tables. We finished food prep. Luckily my brother's friend was there and the man is a genius when it comes to food presentation. Let me tell you, when you are cutting strawberries and trying to make things look pretty it helps to have a pastry chef by your side.
Then we waited. All through our preparations people had been showing up, but as it got later and later we realized some key people were missing, like much loved siblings, the brother who was going to marry them and the photographer. We goofed around and took some pics for ourselves. For awhile I sat by my brother's tent and sang songs with him while he played on his guitar. Man the kid has gotten so talented. Then I started to get stressed. It was at that moment that my sister J and her partner T drove up. I ran down to meet them and her hug made me start to feel better. Then T gave me one of his magic hugs and my stress just melted out. I don't know if it is his years as a vegan, or meditation, or the fact that he works at a book store, but I kid you not his hugs feel like being wrapped up in your mother's arm when you were two (and this coming from a person who hates hugs). I was so glad they'd gotten there. Then someone drove out and got word from the photographer. Apparently they'd ended up almost in Wyoming and were headed back. J made an executive decision, we'd eat first and then they would get married, in the dark, which was originally what he had been hoping they'd do. So we ate, and ate, and ate. J's family probably had 200 kebabs along with salads and sides. It was delicious and we all chatted and then the photographer got there. She took a some pics of F and J and some of the family.
Then everyone grabbed a mason jar lantern and we headed up to the wood bench amphitheater where they were getting married. We lined the path F would be walking down and lined the stage area with mason jar lanterns and flowers. Two huge bonfires were roaring and my brother D started to play his guitar. Then my brother D walked her down the aisle where she meet J (her fiance) and J (the brother marrying them). I wish I could explain to you how beautiful it was, could capture the magic. I'm not a writer though and no picture could fully translate, but it was seriously the most beautiful wedding I've ever been to. Imagine being in a perfect little valley, surrounded by wild flowers and pines. Imagine a million stars in the sky. Imagine fire dancing on either side. Imagine being surrounded by all your loved ones including your middle aged dog who you raised like a baby. Imagine a ceremony full of laughter and tears specific and personal to just you because it was performed by someone who had known and loved you from the moment of your birth and your fiance since you started dating her in high school. It was wonderful and I regretted every sour thought I'd had about her camping wedding because I couldn't imagine anything more perfect.
When it was over we walked back down to the tables where we gorged ourselves on fancy s'mores and wedding cake and cupcakes. The kids ran around the fire. Music was playing. Then I asked everyone to come over so that my brother D could give F&J a present. He started to play, but it was a trick. Instead of D singing my sister started to sing. At first J joined her, but then he realized it was part of the performance and he stopped, and then he started to cry, and then we all started to cry. These two have been together for years. They met while working at the movies while in high school. She had a boyfriend. He knew she was his dream girl. When she was finally single he asked her out. Their first date was the worst. They got hit by a car that swerved out of it's lane on a hill. The seat belt snapped and F hit the windshield. Paramedics had to rush them to the hospital. All of the families rushed to meet them. When my mom got there J was dazed in a wheel chair, F was on a back brace having her clothing cut off. My mom started yelling, "He's not family, he's not family!" J frantically realized what was happening and tried to wheel himself out of the room but kept running into equipment. How do you live that down? But in the weeks that followed while my sister recovered he was there for her every day and has been there for her ever since. With a unique history and personality J is the type of guy who can tell a heartbreaking story with sidesplitting humor. You laugh, you cry. You feel like you've lived the whole thing yourself and came out better for it. F is my youngest baby sister. She is beautiful and sweet and funny and she makes you feel better when you are near her. I'm so happy for these two and so grateful that they were able to have wedding they dreamed of and that I could have some small part in it. Love you F&J!
Some pics I took before the photographer got there.
F&J, happy day. I've never seen J in a tie.
My sister pretending she carried these cupcakes from the well.
The bouquets and tables. Seriously it was three nights before I flew into town and I was like, "What would be good flowers for this wedding?" It was in the mountains and really simple. I looked around online and saw that people were doing a lot of simple flowers, weddings with just daisies, or lavender, and then I saw a baby's breath wedding! "Perfect," I yelled. "Seems a little boring to me," Dr. J announced looking up briefly from his Lord of the Dragons game. "Hmmm," I thought. But it turns out it was perfect, and perfectly matched the wildflowers growing where we were. It was simple and understated and wonderful and for people worried about money, super cheap! I got all the flowers for $40 dollars. Every flower in her hair, the bouquets, the boutonniere, every flower on every table, $40. The twine was less than two dollars a role. I was at Walmart searching in the floral department (The Walmart in Utah has a craft department that takes up 1/4 of the store) and an employee said, go to the home improvement part of the store where they'll sell rope, it will be 1/3 of the cost, and it was! The mason jars were borrowed for free because every Mormon woman has some kicking around. The sand I got at HomeDepot. It was playground sand and cost, I kid you not less than five dollars and the candles were just those little stubby ones you get at Walmart. Maybe six dollars for the bunch! Plus we got all our serving trays and bowls from the dollar store. Talk about wedding on a budget, but it was awesome!
I had to include this one because it is just J being J.
Here is the boutonniere I made and I love it!
My Laura Inglees boots. Man I loved these too!
My sister A, her daughters E#2, and E#2, and her hubby B.
My sister J and her partner T the hug master.
The cake my mom bought for them to cut. Seriously so delicious! I so wish Whole Foods would move to my side of the city!
Here are some pics taken by the talent Kristi Linton of Kristi Linton Photography.
Flowers in her hair :)
Seriously cheapest centerpieces ever! So simple and so cute!
Yummy salads provided by J's family! He has some amazing sisters and sister-in-laws!
My immediate family. The only person missing was my hubby and four kids. From Left to Right.
T (my brother's friend, seriously could not have done it without his help...at least not as pretty), D(2nd youngest, 1st boy), D (the true baby), Mom, J (F's hubby :), F, E#1 (my adorable little 5 year old niece), Me, E#2 (my adorable 1 year old niece), A, B (A's husband), T (J's partner), J
J's family! I don't think all of his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, sister-in-laws, and brother-in-laws made it into the picture but this is most of them. These guys were so great! They were fun and helpful, loving like you were the one who had married into the family, and some amazing cooks!
Walking up to the amphitheater.
D getting ready to play.
D walking her down the aisle.
Our freaking awesome desert table! I mean seriously, how yummy are we! And how perfect did those mason jars turn out.
By desert almost everyone had stripped out of there dresses and were back in their camping gear.
This is the sky! How can you not feel close to God when you are surrounded by his majesty!
Finally here are some videos from the wedding. The first is just hanging out with my brother D and getting to just sing along with him. So fun to just be together like that. Did anyone else love Dan In Real Life? My favorite parts of that movie were when the family was singing together...just the best. So it was fun to get to spend some time with him like this. I wish I lived closer so we could sing together more often. The second video is of my sister singing to her new hubby. I wish I could have been closer but I was trying not to make it obvious it was a set up. Anyway I watched it again last night and when I saw John wipe those little tears away at the end it made me cry again. Seriously it was just a great day...horrible too...I mean seriously the stress and the work, well they were exhausting, but a wonderful day as well!