For Nichole and Mark, finding common ground has been the core of their relationship. From the night they met at Roseville’s Yard House in 2011 through planning their September 2013 wedding, the secret to their lasting love has been the ability to understand one another. Both single parents, they bonded over their similar outlooks on life, what they wanted for their kids, and future dreams, Nichole says.

Mark proposed in 2012, just after the Giants won the World Series in Detroit. “After dinner, Mark wanted to go for a walk along the river overlooking downtown Detroit,” Nichole recalls. “I was cold and full, and wanted to find something warm to do. Mark improvised on the fly and we ended up in the ballroom of a hotel, symphony music playing in the background, just the two of us overlooking the city lights of Detroit.” Mark began sharing his favorite memories of the past year and got down on one knee. Nichole was so excited that she forgot to say, “Yes!”

And so the wedding planning began. During their flight home, they finalized the guest list and soon began searching for venues. Once they saw Crocker Estate, they knew it was “the one.” “It was absolutely stunning,” she says. “We felt so lucky to have found it.”

The theme was vintage carnival, and décor included antique couches, tables, candy, and games circling the outdoor reception area. “We wanted everyone to feel at ease,” Nichole explains. “No seating arrangements—just having a great time and a memorable experience. It turned out even better than we anticipated!”

The most fun aspect of planning was the music. “We loved picking out the music for our ceremony,” she says. “We would get our computers out after the kids went to school and play music to each other—losing track of time until we’d realize it was lunchtime and we were still in our pajamas drinking coffee and listening to music.”

While they did follow a few traditions—she had something old (a crocheted butterfly that belonged to her great aunt), new (sparkly heels) and borrowed (a vintage purse from her best friend)—they did make their own tweaks to the ceremony.

“We had an unplugged wedding,” the bride shares. “Our children, our guests, us and our officiant all engaged in the ceremony. Everyone was a part of it. And all of our music was nontraditional songs played in acoustic versions.”

As the day finally arrived, the groom mostly felt relaxed and excited with a small side of worry, as the rehearsal the night before hadn’t gone exactly as planned. “Coming together the next day for the ceremony, everything went better than planned,” he says. “And the experience of writing my own vows…the words just flowed together.” Nichole felt a little more nervous, though still completely overjoyed by all the love that was felt that day. “I remember Mark, myself and our kids standing in front of everyone sharing such an amazing day.”

―Kourtney Jason