James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, sparking the California Gold Rush. Phil says he discovered gold at that same place when he met Jamie underneath a tree in Marshall Gold State Park. It was love at first sight for the couple, who lovingly call themselves “Team Craderson,” an ode to their last names.
Jamie lived in Oakland and Phil lived east of Sacramento, but somehow they managed the hundred miles between them and figured out how to be together almost every day. Eventually Jamie gave up her beloved apartment in the Bay Area and moved in with Phil and his kids in Sacramento.
During a hike in Death Valley, Phil planned to propose to Jamie at the summit. The two were completely exposed on the ridge of the meadow and lighting began to strike around them. The storm foiled his plans, but he suggested they rest in the shade of a small tree. This was his chance. Between lightning strikes, Phil took Jamie’s hands, looked into her eyes and told her that he wanted to marry her. Within moments, the clouds parted and a double rainbow formed over the trail in the exact direction they were heading.
“We love the desert and Coloma, where we met kayaking, so we wanted to bring the desert to Coloma,” says Phil of their wedding plan. “We started almost a year early and worked steadily over the year leading up to the wedding, so it was never a last minute rush or overwhelming.”
At their ceremony, their officiant Jason researched plants and animals that live in the desert and had several close friends and family read about the plants and animals and worked in analogies for love and happiness. Jamie’s mom nailed the river and desert motif with an arch.
Phil also loved how his children played a role in the ceremony. “I was so honored to have my beautiful daughter walk me down the aisle, and I loved when my son gave me bunny ears in the middle of the actual ceremony.”
Both ceremony and reception were held at the same venue, Earthtrek Expeditions. Guests enjoyed a delicious barbecue from Hog Wild Bar-B-Que/Luke & Lucy Catering. “The dining area was elegant and rustic,” says Phil. “The dancing was down by the Gold Rush façade where we got a lot of cool pictures from the jail and saloon.”
Rather than go for overplayed wedding songs, the couple selected music that they both enjoy listening to. “We didn’t do any of the wedding reception traditions, like the garter toss, money dance or bouquet toss,” explains Phil. “We did a first dance and a last dance that included everyone. Other than that, we wanted it to be relaxed and no-pressure for our guests.”
Jamie & Phil's Wedding Resources
Appaman Fine Tailoring (tie)
(wedding night stay)
For Your Party, With Love and Ink, and Oriental Trading
Frankie Bear Designs (guestbook)
Zazzle (paperie signage)
Honeymoon part one was in Death Valley National Park. First we camped and hiked Telescope Peak, then we lounged by the pool during our stay in the poolside cabana at The Oasis At Death Valley.
Honeymoon part two was in Iceland. We traveled the entire Ring Road, and stayed at: Fossatun Camping Pods, Fosshotel Nupar, and Fosshotel Myvatn.
“Could I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray
“Lookin’ for Love” by Johnny Lee
Cake – three tiered, heart shaped tiramisu decorated with ribbon and a few sprigs of flowers. Stunning and delicious.
Cake Topper – rustic birchwood medallion with bride and groom kayaking, which read, “Adventure Awaits” and “the Cradersons”
We love the desert and Coloma, where we met kayaking, so we wanted to bring the desert to Coloma. The florist, who is also my mother, April, used cacti, succulents, pampas grass, unusual dramatic flowers, metallics, and her artistry to bring our dream wedding to life.
We planted ornamental cacti in metallic votives.
We wanted our wedding to be intimate, elegant, rustic, pressure free, and fun.
We met in Coloma whitewater kayaking on the American River. We fell in love in, and with, Coloma, so getting married there with our close friends and family was a dream. We wanted to support the community that brought us so much joy, so we made sure that many of our vendors were local.
We used to meet for coffee at Sierra Rizing in our early days of kayaking, so we had them make our cake. Hog Wild Bar-B-Que is a post-river favorite among kayakers, and Jerry and family from EarthTrek have soul. While Monica S Photography is not Coloma local, we had a great feeling about them, and loved the fact that they are a mother/daughter team.
About Monica S and daughter…they absolutely nailed the style we were going for. They delivered beyond our hopes. We met with Monica to show her examples of the feel we were going for, as they were a bit different from her portfolio online, and she delivered. Hire her!
• Choose your photographer wisely. If you love displaying photos, and have a particular style in mind, research and budget for this. The only thing that left us wanting on our wedding day, was more time to soak it all in. Our stunning photos allow us to relive that day.
• Having a customized wedding does not have to be super expensive. We searched all sorts of sites, etsy, zazzle, etc., and found some really unique pieces for our reception, that were affordable.
• Start researching your theme, venue, etc., early, and start putting down deposits asap.
• If your friends want to help, take them up on it. We owe a big thank you to our friends for their efforts!
• Write your own vows.