They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it wasn’t until Michelle left her roots in Placerville for a six-month mission trip to Africa that it became clear there was something special between her and Mikal. The two met roughly four years ago in a Bible study group and became good friends; the month Michelle returned from overseas, their relationship became official.

Mikal enlisted Michelle’s cousin and grandparents for a surprise proposal at a family Christmas gathering in 2012, and Michelle was so preoccupied with her cousin’s secret plan to announce her pregnancy that she had no idea her own big moment was just around the corner.

Post proposal, they began designing their dream day. The couple knew they wanted their wedding to be a celebration (no cathedral trains and somber organ music here), and it was important to Michelle that her future husband had a cool place to get ready. “Every place we looked had a huge, beautiful beauty parlor for the bride and then an upstairs bathroom for the groom. The Forest House Lodge has an awesome setup for the guys—beer, food, games and a ‘man cave.’ It was perfect—just as fun for Mikal as it was for me,” Michelle says.

They worked tirelessly for over a year-and-a-half to infuse their personality into all of the day’s details—from the ceremony (where Michelle’s father drove her to the aisle in his red 1955 Chevy, programs doubled as cootie catchers, and the acoustic version of a Sum 41 song stood in for the wedding march) to the reception, which boasted custom temporary tattoos memorializing the date, and a s’mores bar offering an assortment of graham crackers, indulgent Godiva chocolate and flavored marshmallows.

Both bride and groom sported Vans tennis shoes—hers red with polka dots and white satin bows (which she showed off all night paired with her cocktail-length gown) and his light blue with red laces. The groom, groomsmen and ring bearers wore Levi’s with crisp, white button-up shirts—the men in vests and ties, the boys in light blue bowties and red suspenders.

One of the surprises that almost didn’t turn out so well involved Michelle’s custom-made Batman garter, which matched their “mullet cake,” as she calls it, that had rockabilly sparrows and roses in the front and a Batman scene and logo in the back. “My garter started falling down halfway down the aisle. I knew I had a decision to make: I could either let it fall all the way, ruin the surprise and have it around my ankle for the ceremony…or I stop and adjust it in the middle of the aisle. At that point, I handed my dad my flowers and adjusted it. It was actually a really funny moment that I look back on and smile at,” Michelle says.

“The whole wedding was unique to our style,” remembers the couple.

You couldn’t mistake whose wedding was taking place that day, and it’s that level of personal significance that makes Michelle and Mikal fondly remember it.

―Jennifer Resnicke