FOUR YEARS AGO, encouraged by a mutual fondness for sunglasses and berets (worn together, naturally), an outdoorsy boy sparked up a conversation with an equally outdoorsy girl. Ensuing conversations and the gradual intertwining of aspirations, friends, and family led to a wedding this past August, where Jen and Ben celebrated a love she sums up as 'supportive, fun, and resilient'.
What were your something old, new, borrowed, and blue?
I actually wore nothing old or blue, only new. I was just so excited to put on my dress! That morning Ben and I went for a run through the park near our old house to clear our heads and get some fresh air. We ate a delicious breakfast prepared by Lindsay at the inn where we stayed, and then headed out to the reception and ceremony sites to decorate. My sister Jillian styled my hair. When I asked her if she had any ideas, she presented that glorious hairdo. Seriously! Took all of fifteen minutes…
Tell us about your dress!
The dress fit in perfectly with my overall vision for the day: an outdoor ceremony and reception to the tune of bluegrass music. It needed to be simplish, and there was no doubt once I saw this one. I tried on a handful more, but once I put back on that sweet, lacey specimen it was a go.
What’s the story behind this pretty red car?
The car! The car belongs to the owners of the house where the reception was held. It’s a vintage MG and was loaned to us for the afternoon. My mom had one just like it in her twenties.
Tell us about Bingham Hill…
Fort Collins, Co. is where many of our dearest friends live and have families. Ben moved there on a whim with his closest friend and quickly fell in love with the rough mountains, the narrow but mighty Cache La Poudre river, and, of course, me! I came to Colorado for school. Bingham Hill isn’t a place most people would think of to get married, but one of our first dates was hiking a trail nearby, and the view of the Rockies is spectacular.
What song did you walk down the aisle to?
A blue grass group called Blue Grama put together some beautiful pieces that were exactly what we’d envisioned, lively when they needed to be and sweet throughout the ceremony. We loved their playing!
Take us through your ceremony?
We worked on the ceremony for a long time. In fact, Ben worked on it the most. It was officiated by both of our dearest friends, Bekah and Nick. We discovered that in Colorado a couple can solemnize their own marriage, so their responsibility was just to emcee; but we definitely made them work! Nick and Ben have seen each other through all of the big transitions in their lives since college, and his thoughtfulness was essential. Bekah’s dad has married many couples, and Ben now wears her dad’s ring as his own. Bekah embodies many of the same qualities her dad does: a great public speaker, spiritual, and caring.
We arrived at the ceremony and walked down the aisle together. We wrote our own vows, which were a combination of Buddhist thought and our own words. Basically, they expressed that our relationship gives us an opportunity to serve people, friends, and those in need, and that our love allows us the courage, safety, and support it takes to do the kind of work we want to do and treat people the way we want to treat them.
You are so lucky to have friends with such a great set-up for throwing a party like this. Tell us about your amazing, sprawling reception site...
Mike and Bianca’s house is a playground. They have worked on it for years, which is a reflection of their commitment to fun an entertaining. Mike’s dad was an avid bowler, hence the bowling lane. And that’s just the surface! The house is on the outskirts of town, it’s a magical, mysterious place…
How many generations were there to share your day?
Three. Ben’s Grandma Estelle is the matriarch! Love love love her.
What (and who) was on the menu?
The food was catered by Scott Hapner, known to his clients as Chef Happy. There were over 30 local ingredients from at least 17 local food sources used to make the meal. Mushroom risotto, pulled pork, home-pickled pickles, kale salad, and quinoa salad were just a few of our favorites. And we served beer from local breweries!
Tell us about your sweethearts’ table—ingenious!
That idea was all Scott Hapner and our wedding coordinator’s idea. This was our first rodeo, but not theirs and they knew that if we didn’t sit to eat, we probably wouldn’t. Someone asked us if we wanted the table moved and we responded: no no no! Visitors and fellow nibblers could come up and join us as they pleased.
So many friends made them! The precious one with the ants was made by Linzi, mom to Oliver. We had no idea that she was going to make such a beautiful cake—a real wedding cake!
Dance tune of the night?
In Spite of Ourselves, sung by John Prine and Iris DeMent
This is probably difficult, but if you had to pick a favorite moment of the day...
I think the best part was the morning, running through the park before anyone was awake and the dew was still on the grass and everything was quiet. It set the tone for the whole day.
Any advice for bride-to-be’s?
Ahhh—the help we received! It was a bit overwhelming at first, because who likes to ask for help? But we have news for any couple throwing a party of this size: you cannot do it alone. We feel humbled and grateful in the face of everyone’s generosity and love. Laugh, scream, kiss, jump, hold hands, and drink champagne! And slow down, it goes so fast! (Oh, and smooch grandmas.)