Our Fairytale Wedding Day by Carina Mead

bride and groom first kiss

Our wedding day was magical, adventurous, beautiful and sweet. The weather was perfectly clear and sunny. It was truly a perfect summer day.

We chose to get married at a favorite location near our home, called GROWISER (short for Grande Ronde Overlook Wildflower Institute Serving Ecological Restoration). It was while visiting GROWISER for the first time that we realized we wanted to make the move from busy and hectic Los Angeles to the tranquil, naturally beautiful Grande Ronde Valley in Oregon. GROWISER boasts an impressive (read: positively overwhelming) crystal collection. There are 2-ton rose quartz’s the lovely owner and caretaker Andy has carefully placed near beautiful sitting spots nestled among the rolling wildflower meadows and pine forests. The sheer vastness of Andy’s crystal collection cannot be known until one steps inside his home, located on the property. Every flat surface is adorned with crystals from all over the world in various colors, textures, sizes and all with equally curious stories. We have spent many rainy afternoons in Andy’s home, exploring the crystals, discussing secrets of the universe and snacking on chocolate.

outdoor wedding venue

The morning of the wedding was a blur of dear friends helping me put together our backyard reception and me speeding down the road almost getting into an accident on the way to my hair appointment all to realize I left my purse at home when I was almost already there. I was only a little stressed…

When I arrived at the ceremony site the day of the wedding, I was surprised to see my soon-to-be-husband’s entire family already there in front of Andy’s home, speaking with him, his wife Maxine, and our officiant Laurel. I couldn’t help but giggle at the natural comedy of how different these two groups of people, all of whom I love dearly, appeared and certainly were.

outdoor woods wedding

It was time to head up to the ceremony site, so with Ashley and my dad in a pickup truck, I rode in the back, sitting on hay bales and other items needing to be set up last minute, accompanied by our dog, Zephyr, who would be the ring-bearer that day.

The truck bed was overloaded and there wasn’t much room for me or the dog. I sat on what little space I could find on the floor with the tailgate open, and as we went up the first of 2 very steep hills, I suddenly got terrified that I would fall out (not that it would be a big deal if I did, but being terrified of heights, the perspective was nail-biting). Zephyr fell out and before I could even panic, he began chasing after the truck with the biggest smile I have ever seen on a dog. His tongue and ears flopped with each bound he made and between the bliss of a dog chasing a truck and the fun of the bumpy ride in the truck bed, I couldn’t help but be overcome by laughter and joy at the absurdity of it all. By the time we arrived to the ceremony site, I was in tears from laughter and what a wild ride this day was already becoming.

While Ashley and some of our family and friends helped set out last minute details like signs and pre-ceremony mimosas, I tucked away into a makeshift tent to take a breather and copy down my vows onto paper (the paper I ordered had only arrived the day before) before getting changed into my dress, which is when I realized I had no mirror! It never made it into the truck! Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

wedding day itinerary

After doing our first look and taking group photos, I tucked back into my tent as our guests began to arrive. I snuck glimpses of people here and there and was so delighted to see everyone in their beautiful summer wear! Our dress code was casual, which can often cause a lot of confusion, so a word of advice: no matter your dress code, be sure to be ready to explain to people what exactly that means! We told girls that a sundress would be perfect and guys could wear jeans or shorts as long as they paired it with a nice-ish shirt. Everyone looked great and it was so wonderful to listen to people reuniting, meeting for the first time, laughing and talking.

casual wedding guest attire

As the ceremony time drew near, I was feeling anxious and ungrounded. I wanted to be as calm as possible so that I could speak my vows and be open and vulnerable without just totally losing it before I even got to Ashley. I asked my dad for some Reiki, and of course, my mom proceeded to ask me questions and talk loudly about all the things she hoped wouldn’t go wrong as she walked me down the aisle while he tried to calm me. Not the thing to do if you are there with a bride moments before walking down the aisle.

whimsical outdoor wedding

The music began, Reign of Kindo’s “Nice To Meet You”, and we started to walk down the aisle, which was a beautiful woodland path I had walked down many times. It was a gorgeous day as the sun filtered through the leaves, turning them a vibrant lime green and illuminating the aroma of pine needles at our feet and above our heads.

At the end of the aisle, I greeted Ashley with a kiss and he hugged my parents. Upon seeing all of our guests, I exclaimed, “You’re all here!”. I was floored to see so many people we loved, who had traveled far and wide, just to be here for us and our love. It was dreamy and surreal.

To be continued…

bride and groom first kiss


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