The Couple: Ellie & Taylor

Wedding Date: July 7, 2018

Photography by Dee & Kris Photography

Tell us a little about you and your beloved: Taylor and I met 5 ½ years ago at Cal Poly, SLO. My roommate Kristin set us up on a blind date. It was her 21st birthday and this is where we were first introduced. It was love a first sight. Neither of us believed that love at first sight was true until we met each other.  Our quote is, “ When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew,” William Shakespeare.

Taylor proposed July 27th, 2017 at our home in Chico. I was totally caught off guard. I was in old, bleached scrubs with 2-day-old hair, not exactly pretty. I obviously said yes and the wedding planning begun.

We chose my parents property on the Klamath River, mainly for the 3 beautiful oak trees that reside there. Oak trees are a pillar of strength for me and have deep roots. There is nothing better out there to symbolize a marriage to me. The cabin on the property was finished this February, just in time for the wedding. Fast forward almost a year and it is wedding day.

What was the most amazing part of your day? Hands down best part of my day was getting to pray with my daddy before he walked me down the aisle. In that moment of chaos I needed my daddy, he and Taylor are my pillars of strength. I am also so glad I did my first look with just us and the photographers. Taylor and I needed that moment together to laugh, and cry, and hug. He is my best friend, the one who holds all of my secrets, I just needed him.

What else would you like to share about your big day? Now wedding planning is my part time profession. With that being said, my own wedding was going to be my big event. I wanted to show off  my skills and attention to details. Everything was thought out, each part was going to be its own separate experience. Flowers on oak stumps, chandeliers in the oak tree, vintage seating for cocktail hour, lights illuminating the oak trees at the reception, family style seating and meal service. It was perfect, everything I had ever dreamed it of being.

On Thursday, July 5th, 2018 we were driving back from Medford, OR  when we saw the beginnings of the fire. It started 1.1 miles away from my parents property in Hornbrook, CA.  At the time is was very small and seemed well handled. However, the winds took over and the small 30 acre fire turned into a 35,000 acre fire in just a few days.  My heart sank seeing the flames on Thursday, I had a gut feeling that this one wasn’t going to go my way, I just was not prepared for the reality of it all.

Friday morning the winds were still in our favor and the fire was moving north west away from the property. They also had opened up I-5 again and our guests were able to get to us, along with our vendors. We did rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner as planned in Ashland, OR. It was wonderful, and we all had a great time.

Driving home that night it was crazy to see the flames and how close they still were to the freeway.  Pulling up to the property we could see a bright orange glow on the rise opposite my parents property. I called Taylor and locked myself in my bedroom, and melted to the floor crying. Hysteria finally set in. Everyone staying at the cabin packed a bag, just in case we were evacuated. I had my dress laying across mine just in case. We made it through the night.

It is Wedding Day! Lola Beauty from Austin, Tx arrived and got to work making us all feel like princesses. They are absolutely incredible, and such a fun time. Sister Eventz, our day of coordinators, arrived to start making my vision come to life. Dee and Kris, from Dee & Kris Photography, came next and began taking detail and getting ready shots. Everything went according to plan. It was just a little hazy, and minimal winds. The day was surreal, I couldn’t believe it was here and it seemed to pass by so quickly.

My mom, mother in law, and two sisters helped me into my wedding dress. My wedding dress is what dreams are made of. All lace, deep V neckline, six foot train with a cathedral veil. I got to do a first look with my other three bridesmaids and my dad. Seeing my Daddy was the most nerve wracking for me. I am the first of three girls to get married, it is an emotional day. I got a few moments with my girls before I got to see Taylor and those are treasured moments.

Our first look was next. Dee and Kris wrapped me in a sheet and drove me down in the Ranger to the middle of the field. There was a lot of dust and kick up from the field, the sheet protected me.  Taylor was waiting for me, it was completely surreal, all of my nerves faded. He is my rock and my person. I was so excited to just give him a hug, I feel safe there in his arms. His reaction was perfect, there were tears.

After the first look we started our romance photos. We were on our way back to the ceremony sight when we saw the flames come over the ridge.  I lost it, Taylor and I took a moment to gather ourselves. It was then decision making time. We needed to get married, so here comes the whirlwind.

We rushed back over to the ceremony sight where plans were made into actions. Our families were asked to come early for family pictures, so they were all gathered for the ceremony. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen lined up and Taylor and I were ready to get married. My Dad stopped us, and said, “I would like to walk my daughter down the aisle.” This was one of the most beautiful moments of the day. With flames coming towards you, hysteria becomes real and in the moment I needed my Daddy.

We stood at the end of the aisle, I cried, we prayed and reminded each other that God does not give us anything we cannot handle. We gathered ourselves and we were ready. I cannot believe it but the DJ had everything ready and cued the music. My Daddy got to give me away to the man of my dreams.

We took a 30-minute ceremony and cut it to about 5 minutes. We had worked hard with my Uncle Russ (our officiant) to make a beautiful church service outdoors. It was all thrown out the window. In the middle of it all we got the orders to evacuate the premises. We were pronounced husband and wife, you may kiss the bride, we kissed and then we ran.

In the movie Leap Year the main character was asked what she would grab if she only had 30 seconds. That is about all the time we had, Taylor grabbed the dogs, and I grabbed my purse. That is all I had time for, my 30 seconds was up. Everyone was able to make it out safe. Our caterer saved the food, DJ all of his equipment, some of our friends grabbed alcohol. We all met up at the Holiday Inn Express, once we confirmed everyone made it safe, friends and family jumped to action. They secured the banquet room at the Holiday Inn and they made a wedding reception happen in 20 minutes. All of our guests that were diverted on the bus at WalMart in Yreka showed up and the party began.

One of our very close family friends gave us a hug and we cried. She told me that it hurt her heart that she was unable to be there to see our ceremony. Taylor and I discussed it and decided to renew our vows for all of our guests that missed our wedding. So we got remarried on the hill outside the Holiday Inn. Crazy, but fun.

We got to do all of dances, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet/ garter tosses just like a normal reception. Cake was bought at Raley’s for our guests, it was such an eclectic and unique reception. We are so truly blessed.  Our family and friends are all great people and can just go with the flow.  They came together for us, and poured their love into our reception. Thank you to all of them.

The next morning we were informed that a strike team had camped out on my parents property and everything was saved. They said it was the eeriest feeling sitting there at a complete wedding without the celebration. They deemed it the ghost wedding. We are eternally grateful to all of those individuals who risked their lives to save our property.

On Tuesday, our evacuation orders were lifted and we went back to the cabin to clean up. I want to tell you that everything was sunshine and rainbows. We are very very blessed in this life, but we were and still are heartbroken. We spent a year planning our perfect day, and it was derailed. It was going to be so beautiful. On Tuesday I grieved for the loss of my perfect wedding. I work so hard to make everyone else’s day perfect when I plan weddings, why couldn’t I get mine?

Thinking this way makes you feel guilty, because we have so much.  We did get a wonderful day, just not the one we had expected. As the years roll on, the grief will get easier. I will keep making sure all of my brides get their perfect day. Every bride deserves their vision to come to life.

I thought I loved Taylor the day I met him. Then we got to know each other and I fell more in love with him. I loved him the day he proposed and couldn’t wait to marry him. I loved him on our wedding day, and knew this was the perfect man for me. I thought I loved him then. He is my rock, my pillar of strength, and my home. I could not have made it through all of this without him. I love him even more then I did then.

Ceremony Site: Parson’s Meester Cabin

Officiant: Russ Van Patten (Ellie’s Uncle)

Reception Venue: Holiday Inn Express

Photographer: Dee & Kris Photography

Wedding Planner: Sister Eventz Paradise

Wedding Design: Almond Blossom Affairs

Caterer: Chef Joe from Highlands Ranch Resort

Cake/Desserts: Sweet Stuff Cake and Candy Oregon

Flowers: Penny & Lulu

Favors: Shubert’s Candy

Bridesmaids’ Attire: Bella Bridesmaid

Hair and Make-up: Lola Beauty

Invitations: Minted

Signage: Simply Timeless Events on Etsy

DJ/Entertainment/Band and Lighting: Net Sound

Décor, Lounge and Furniture Rentals: Motif Event Rentals and some purchased from antique stores.

Transportation: Delta Charter Service

Honeymoon Location: Lake Louise in Alberta Canada

Bride walked down the aisle to: “She’s Like Texas” by Josh Abbot First Dance Song: “Grow Old” by Florida Georgia Line
Mother/ Son Dance: “Boy” by Lee Brice
Father/ Daughter: “The Girl You Think I Am” by Carrie Underwood and “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top
Bouquet Toss: “I feel a Sin Comin On” by Pistol Annies
Garter Toss: “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard
Groom Entrance: “Front Row Seat” by Josh Abbot Band

Any advice you’d give to our readers who are planning their weddings right now? Best advice I received was from a friend, “Remember that your wedding is our time (as your friend) to show how much we love and support you both, not you hosting us.” Be in the moment the whole time, even if it catches on fire.

Anything that you would have done differently if you were given the chance? The little things are not worth the stress, because at the end of the day it is the people who are there. Our wedding caught on fire, did my guests care if they didn’t have a menu? No, they were happy to celebrate in our love.

Photos by Dee & Kris Photography.

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Social Media Maven, Aimee Carroll.

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