Mandy and Phil weren’t high school sweethearts, exactly, but their paths continued to cross until they found their way to each other. Yet, as the saying goes, “If you love something, set it free.” After each pursuing their own interests on different sides of the globe, the old adage came to fruition. Following an adventurous hike at Lake Michigan, Phil asked for Mandy’s hand in marriage in the summer of 2013.
The couple had a very hands-on approach to the organization of their wedding. “We would have regular ‘craft days’ at our house where friends would come over and help us cut wood for signs, paint pinecones and glass for centerpieces, and stencil name cards,” Mandy says. From tying ribbon around each letter-pressed invitation by hand to creating the playlist, every element was personalized.
Choosing a summertime wedding at Sugar Pine Point State Park helped make the wedding Mandy and Phil dreamed of—a relaxed and intimate affair that reflected their adventurous lifestyle and love of nature—come to life. Mandy explains, “Having a food truck caterer and homemade desserts went a long way in making everyone feel comfortable and relaxed.”
The sentiment carried over into every aspect of their wedding. Mandy made only one request of her bridal party—that their dresses be navy blue—leaving the length and style completely up to each member of the party. “I wanted them to feel comfortable and look like themselves,” she says. When it came to photographs, which were captured by Aimee Fredy of White Daisy Photography, the bride says: “There were certain photos I really wanted—like a picture of all six of my siblings and all four of my parents—but mostly I wanted to just capture real moments of joy.”
Mandy feels that staying true to yourself as you plan your wedding is paramount to creating memories that last a lifetime.
“It’s the most incredible day—you are committing your life to someone and have all of the most important people there to support you—and it’s incredibly important to feel like yourself on that day so that you can enjoy it,” remembers the bride.
As to which memory she thinks will stay with her the longest, Mandy says the father-daughter dance came as an unexpected moment of magic. “We danced to ‘Mandy’ by Barry Manilow, a song that [my dad’s] been singing to me my whole life. We danced and twirled and laughed and did the polka at the end. I’ll remember that dance forever.”
— Abigail Blank
First Dance Song
"Fools Rush In" by Ingrid Michaelson
Father/Daughter Dance Song
"Mandy" by Barry Manilow
Mother/Son Dance Song
"Let It Be" by The Beatles
Bouquet Toss Song
"Single Ladies" by Beyonce
Details about the cake
Chocolate on chocolate as well as a donut cake
Details about the flowers
We wanted everything to feel like an elevated picnic, so the flowers needed to look like a garden arrangement. I’m not sure what they were all called in my bouquet, but the bridesmaids all carried baby’s breath.
Details about the favors
Knowing that our guests would be walking back to their cars in the dark, we decided to make our party favor functional. We bought gold flashlights and had the phrase “Wishing you love and light” written on them. We used 4imprint as our vendor.
Anything else you’d like to share about your wedding?
Our string quartet learned “Love Story” by Taylor Swift for me to walk down the aisle. They even brought in a mandolin player so it sounded just like the original arrangement.
The bride’s mother gave her a white lace handkerchief that had been carried by brides in the family for four generations.
The cake topper was purchased on Etsy.com at a store called HeatherBoydWire.
In lieu of a guest book, the guests signed custom made Jenga blocks purchased on Etsy.com at a store called WoodPower.
Many of the table decorations were recycled from friends’ weddings, including the glass vases, mason jars, and picture frames. The bride has already given them to another bride to reuse.
All wine was purchased from the Sutter Home wine collection. The groom was a professional cyclist for several years and rode for the Jamis Sutter Home team.
The bride works for Gap Inc. and treated the groomsmen to their Banana Republic ties.
The archway was created the morning of the wedding by the father and uncle of the groom and stepfather and grandfather of the bride from nearby branches and ferns.
The flower boys dropped Aspen leaves instead of flower petals. The groom’s favorite trees are Aspen trees, and the leaves are in the shapes of hearts. These trees are everywhere in Tahoe.
Our ceremony was very personal. The bride’s best friend gave the welcome, a groomsman gave the blessing, another groomsman officiated, and the bride’s sisters sang and read a poem. We also wrote our own vows.
Although the bride’s dad walked her down the aisle, her stepdad was next to the groom to greet them and also give her away.</p>
Any tips you’d give brides and grooms planning their wedding today?
Number your RSVP’s! No one told me to do that, and it caused some confusion when folks sent theirs back without names.
Hire a day-of coordinator. Just do it. It’s worth it.
Even though you’ll put work into the website, many of your guests will not look and end up bugging you for the answers. I recommend having all the info in a Word doc ready to cut and paste when folks email you. Also, be sure to send a blanket email out 3-4 weeks prior to your wedding with info like what to wear, directions, and any other important details. Your guests will appreciate it.
Enjoy the process! Once you land the date and venue, everything else falls into place. Give yourself at least 6 months or more to enjoy the engagement, bridal shower, bachelorette festivities, and all the crafting fun.
Try to go with your gut. I had lots of pressure from family members to do things a certain way, take photos at a certain time, wear certain jewelry, and say certain things during the ceremony. It’s your day, and it should reflect you as a couple. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Simply say that you appreciate the opinion but that it’s not the right decision for you and your partner. Hopefully they will get the hint.
Don’t read all the books and blogs – all that advice can be overwhelming. Just pick a few that resonate. I liked Style Me Pretty and A Practical Wedding. I was also crazy about Pinterest and got some of my favorite ideas from scrolling the wedding section.
Pick your battles. Figure out what’s important to you, and don’t compromise on those things. For me, it was the music, the lighting, the photographer, and the invitations. I tried to be flexible with everything else.
If it looks like there’s a chance of rain the day before your outdoor wedding, don’t panic but do come up with a backup plan just in case. Try not to involve too many people in the plan. Just connect with your partner and your coordinator to come up with an option that works for you. The more people you involve, the more complicated decisions become.
Real Weddings Magazine is the most widely-distributed wedding magazine in northern California, and features the very best Sacramento and Tahoe weddings, ideas, inspiration and resources to help you plan your most perfect wedding day!