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Emotional Wedding in Lake Tahoe With A Rainstorm

Settle in, because we have a seriously special story for you today. Jeanette battled cancer from just eighteen months into her relationship with Michael, and their wedding day was an absolutely joy-filled (and yes, totally tear-filled!) celebration of what Jeanette calls their “shared triumph”. This is a couple who know all too well how very lucky they are, and they were so excited to throw a huge party celebrating just that – with 250 loved ones! Though the day started with their heartbreakingly beautiful vows, ultimately there were plenty more laughs than tears – especially with an unexpected half hour rainstorm right in the middle of their (completely uncovered) outdoor reception! And be sure to read on to the end for their seriously beautiful advice we can all take to heart.

We knew we had to have a first look so that the ceremony wouldn’t be all about the ugly crying. During the tough times of cancer, there were a lot of fears that we wouldn’t get to our wedding in a healthy place. Seeing each other all done up in our attire on the day of the event was the sign that we had made it, survived the tough times and were there to enjoy our triumph together. In many ways, this was an intimate moment we wanted to share just with each other, and then with our guests later.

We had been searching for a venue for over six months and nothing was a perfect fit. Every time we fell in love with a venue, there was some factor that worked against us (price, accommodation, reception space, curfew, etc.). We knew we wanted two things: a place where our closest friends could stay the night with us and a venue that had no strict timelines for finishing up the night. During the process, we heard about a friend’s wedding where everyone camped out afterwards under the stars and we were hooked on the idea. Michael’s parents’ home in Truckee brought all of those things together. Our goal was to keep the party going for as long as we could!

It was a tear fest. Michael was crying the entire time and I think many of our guests took part in the waterworks as well.

Our good friend Josiah officiated our wedding. We wanted to make sure the person that married us was someone who knew each of us individually and our story together. Josiah fit that bill perfectly and he gave a nice little speech at the beginning that was perfectly personal and reflective of our combined friendships.

We had a relatively short and tradition-free ceremony, as we were more concerned with getting to the party! The most important part to us were our vows, which we wrote on our own but worked through together before the big day. We felt that would be the most appropriate way to demonstrate our love to our guests.

Our vows were the most important part of the ceremony for us. Given that we’d been through some significant hurdles in our short time together, we felt like there was a lot to say. Each of us wrote our vows by ourselves, and showed them to each other in the days prior to the wedding so that we could prepare for the waterworks. Jeannette finished hers the night before, and read them to me around 1am before I left her cabin. We were sitting on the floor crying together and holding each other tightly. It was a sign of things to come for the big day…

There was a lot of genuine and heartfelt emotion that came out in our vows. A lot of people know our story from afar, but we were able to share a very close glimpse into what makes us so madly in love.

Raucous. We had a two hour cocktail ‘hour’ prior to the reception so people were very lively by the time the festivities started. To add to the fun, we made sure each guest had a little bottle of tequila waiting for them at their seat.

We built a campsite right next to our dance floor, which featured five large tents rented from Shelter Co. Having the tents nearby allowed our closest friends to stay with us until late, and we ended up building a campfire down in the center at the end of the night. It was a perfect way to maximize the moments with each other until we passed out around 4am.

We started with the usual Pinterest boarding of all things cute and beautiful, haha. After compiling a large mood board for inspiration, we began to draw connections between what each of us liked. Thankfully, we had similar tastes in most of the categories. Michael is a designer so he was a lot more particular than most grooms might be with the details. While all of that seems foolish now, we felt that our wedding had to be a clear and thoughtful representation of our personalities and aesthetic. Once we had set our hearts on Truckee, we contacted Ashley Smith at Buzzworthy Events who helped us create the spitting image of the wedding we wanted.

We looked at a lot of different inspiration when planning our wedding, but it wasn’t until we hung out at Outside Lands that we realized we wanted to capture the feeling of a majestic forest for our special day. Thankfully, we had Ashley Smith to help us execute on our ideas. She looked through all of our mood boards and was able to create a vision for us. It is a very big relief to hand over the aesthetic to a planner who has a history of doing great work. We felt it was silly to think we could know everything about creating a wedding as first-timers. Trusting someone who can take your thoughts and run with them further than you could is really nice.

We wanted to break out of the traditional mold of salad, meat, veggies. Michael was very adamant about the food representing our cultures and backgrounds. We both also thought it would be amazing to have Mexican food for our reception. Our cocktail hour featured sushi delivered on plates and we had a caterer on site who delivered a wonderful Mexican dinner for our guests. We also had a late-night taco bar to help our guests keep a good food/alcohol balance!

I’d encourage other couples to focus on the experience rather than the appearance. It’s very easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of wanting perfect details and “the look”, but most important is how you and your guests enjoy the day. We looked at many gorgeous venues that had such strict rules around guests and curfew. In order to make these work, we had begun to sacrifice more important details in the process. You are not going to look back and obsess over the details, but rather see photos that remind you of memories that you had with your favorite people.

Jeanette’s diagnosis impacted (and still) impacts how we view the future. It is very easy to live your life and take certain plans as a given (a long life, perfectly healthy children and professional success). Sometimes, we even tie up the idea of happiness in the realization of those expectations. What cancer has shown us is that nothing is definite and that happiness should be pursued in the present. No one truly knows what the future will bring, so we must seize each moment now. When I leave work tonight, I’m not going to think about our 10-year plan, but how I can make this Tuesday evening remarkable.