Stephanie and Matt are thankful for second chances. They first met when Matt and a friend visited the bar where Stephanie worked. “They decided to try scotch for the first time at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday, and I made fun of them,” she says. Flash forward a couple years and their paths crossed again at a Spartan Race. “We exchanged numbers, but he was dating someone else so we remained friends for a few weeks. He broke things off and asked to take me on a date,” she says.

Things took off between them, even though they’d have to go days without seeing each other due to Matt’s job as a firefighter. “Dating him often felt like The Bachelor,” she says. “He would plan extravagant dates whenever he was home. Our first few dates consisted of ice-skating in San Francisco, a trip to Tahoe to snowboard and a weekend escape to Seattle. That was all within the first two months.” They continued their adventures together, including a trip to Spain. “On day six of our globe-trotting, we went to a plaza and he says, ‘Dress nice. We are going to a fancy dinner.’ I looked around the plaza and said, ‘Matt, there’s no food here.’ I was starving,” she says. “Then, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He arranged a photographer to be there and caught every moment.”

They started planning soon after, waiting for some of the excitement to settle. They decided on having the celebration in Tahoe at Heavenly Mountain Resort—Stephanie couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.

Her vision was to keep things natural and simple, and she relied on the floral designer to help bring it to life. “She made the most beautiful greenery garlands for the table and it made me so happy,” she says. “She added little touches of other small flowers throughout. I didn’t ask for it but she knew exactly what I needed.”

For the ceremony, they added a more personal touch to it by having Matt’s best friend officiate. Then the cocktail hour was held outside on the deck. “It was beautiful, and everyone was having a great time!” she says. As the reception got underway, Stephanie had a moment to reflect. “I remember dancing and looking around, thinking this will probably be the only time in my life all of the most important people of my life are in one room. I was so grateful all of those people took time away from their busy lives, kids and families to spend the weekend with us,” she says.

Offering advice to other couples-to-be, Stephanie says to truly enjoy every moment. “The day goes by so quickly. Don’t stress about someone making you mad, something not going right,” she says. “Remember someone chose to spend the rest of their life with you and that’s all that matters.” 

—Kourtney Jason