Leslie and Jeremy met during Air Force ROTC in college. Their first date was kayaking on the lake, and their first several years together as a couple were spent backpacking, camping, hiking, shooting and biking. They bonded over the same interests. “It just turned into true love,” says Leslie. Jeremy was attracted to Leslie’s values and morals. “We get along really well. She’s a very down-to-earth person,” Jeremy says. “And of course, she’s beautiful.” 

Jeremy called beforehand to ask Leslie’s dad’s permission to propose to Leslie. On Christmas Day, Leslie had dinner with her parents, and drove over to spend some time with Jeremy and his parents. As arranged, Leslie’s parents knocked on Jeremy’s door about half an hour after Leslie arrived. “I was so surprised to see them,” Leslie says. “Then I turned around to look at Jeremy, and there he was on one knee.” 

They waited to start planning the wedding until they found the perfect day for the ceremony. They were apart for awhile with Jeremy in the Air Force and Leslie going to physical therapy school. “We had this two week, three week span of when I can move, we can get married, we can go on a honeymoon and then get him ready to go off to Air Force Officer training school,” Leslie says. 

With the wedding date decided, they faced eight months of straight planning. Jeremy had given Leslie a promise ring while they were dating and it was important to Leslie for that to be her wedding band. They had her engagement ring customized to make a matched set. Jeremy made the signs and all the woodwork for their wedding, and even made his own ring in Japanese mokume-gane style. “There are people who buy them and people who make them,” Jeremy says. “I just used my hands-on skills and a little common sense from my degree and just made it happen.”    

Their chosen venue was a mountain resort at over 7,000 feet. They planned to have their ceremony on a rocky outcrop overlooking the mountains, and on the morning of the wedding, the bridal party gathered at that spot for pre-ceremony photos. But plans for the warm August day drastically changed when the temperature suddenly dropped. “The clouds were rolling in, it was black, and you could hear thunder and lightning in the distance,” Leslie says. A hailstorm had already reached the lodge.

Jeremy told Leslie they would move the ceremony to the lodge.  “I just sat in the tent,” Leslie says. “The coordinator was carrying things to the car to go back to the lodge, but I’m not doing anything; I’m having my bridezilla moment.”  Practicality set in and Leslie realized that an outdoor ceremony in a hailstorm might not be the best situation. They already had their photos at the scenic point, and many guests took videos of the drive back to the lodge, crunching over inches of hailstones. “It really made it a very mystical kind of experience,” Jeremy says. “It’s really unique to the high Sierra.”

The reception area, with its grand room and roaring fireplace, turned out to be a wonderful Plan B.  As she came down the aisle, Leslie says that she was trying to look cute but was actually bawling her eyes out. Jeremy was crying, too. “For me, that’s when it got real,” Jeremy says. “That’s when the shock and awe of it all happened.”

—Margaret Snider