In December of 2011, there was nothing Katie wanted more than to find an iPod shuffle under the tree on Christmas morning. Unable to contain her excitement, she pestered Kevin, her boyfriend of seven years, to let her open just one present a little early. She assumed her hints had paid off when, days before the 25th, he handed her a small box. She ripped through the paper only to find…an ornament.

“I thanked him, while secretly [feeling] irritated that I wasn’t going to be jamming while running,” she recalls. “He directed me to the clasp and told me that [it] opened.” The notoriously hard-to-surprise Katie was stunned to find that the gift was much more than a trinket when Kevin got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage. “I loved that it was at our house, not an elaborate scene,” she shares. “It was a low-maintenance proposal, but it meant so much to me!”

The future Mr. and Mrs. were just 19 and 21 years old when they first met, and although Kevin never doubted Katie was the one, the self-described perfectionist had hoped to pop the question when the time was just right. “As our ‘honeymoon period’ was coming to an end in our relationship, I realized that I loved her more than ever and knew that we would be getting married someday,” he shares. “I finally realized that my perfect time was never going to come and that the time was now,” he explains.

Following a long engagement, the couple tied the knot in the summer of 2013 at the picturesque Forest House Lodge in Foresthill, a locale that perfectly embodied the rustic, outdoor theme they hoped to create. “We wanted everyone to have something to do—a place to comfortably talk, play games, dance or have a drink,” Kevin says, “and I think we accomplished that when we chose our venue.” Katie adds, “I loved being able to offer rooms at the lodge to the late-night party people. I wanted it to feel like a vacation for those who stayed with us all weekend.”

Both bride and groom were also determined to incorporate their passion for home brewing, so they spent countless hours bottling 22 oz. beers in three distinct varieties—Firenze Chocolate Stout (named for their beloved dog), Wedding Bell Wit, and Hoppily Ever After IPA—as favors for their 160 guests. “It made for some long days but [was] completely worth it,” Katie shares. “The guests were excited and surprised that we had such a personal touch for our wedding. Plus, who doesn’t like beer?”

Following a fun-filled wedding weekend, the couple spent two-and-a-half weeks honeymooning in Thailand; yet, nearly a year later, Kevin doesn’t hesitate when asked to share his favorite part of the entire experience.

“The highlight of my day,” he says, “was obviously seeing my bride for the first time.”

―Morgan Cásarez