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Married at Maroon Bells!

We both woke earlier than normal on the morning of our wedding day. We were nervous about being the center of attention, and apprehensive but hopeful that everyone would have a good time at our non-traditional wedding. The good news is that we weren’t worried at all about marrying each other!

Crawling out of our tent early in the morning with our pet bird Cheep Cheep

After some breakfast, it was time to get ready for the ceremony. Chris had it easy. He dunked his head in Maroon Creek, rustled his hands through his hair and called it done. Lili and Cindy took more time and care doing Anna’s hair up. They even added in a few white flowers.

Lili and Cindy putting up Anna's hair

Lili and Cindy putting up Anna’s hair

Chris’s suit had been hanging in the van to keep it wrinkle-free. When Chris saw it, he decided to change into his wedding outfit right there in the van since it had more headroom than our ultralight tent!

Chris getting ready in the cargo van (photo by Kent Meireis)

Chris getting ready in the cargo van

Anna slipped her dress on near the creek in the privacy of the trees. As we mentioned in our previous post, there had been a lot of rain the last few days. Today was as clear as could be and we were thrilled. The whole group happily applied sunscreen.

Applying sunscreen (photo by Kent Meireis)

Applying sunscreen

We then all left the Silver Queen Campground and headed up to the Maroon Bells amphitheater for the ceremony. Chris’s sister Becky played Wild Mountain Thyme on the concertina as we walked down the path into the amphitheater with our parents.

Anna processes in with her parents (photo by Kent Meireis)

Anna processes in with her parents

Our good friend Noah served as our officiant. He welcomed everyone and said a few words remembering our grandparents who couldn’t be there with us. Next came the ring warming. Noah explained that our rings were created using a Japanese technique called mokume-gane where two different metals are bonded together. He passed the rings to the audience and invited each person to hold them in their hands and instill good thoughts, make a wish, or say a prayer.

Wedding bands on top and engagement rings on left (photo by Kent Meireis)

Wedding bands on top and engagement rings on left

Anna’s brother Jim then read a passage from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres:

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love’, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Jim reads a passage (photo by Kent Meireis)

Jim reads a passage

When Jim finished, Noah shared some beautiful and heartfelt thoughts about us individually and as a couple. Noah is honest and very perceptive. His words meant a lot to us.

Becky’s reading came next. She stood and recited a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale stars rising,
blooming over the oaks.

I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.

After the poem, we paused for a minute of silence. We listened to quaking aspen leaves and birds chirping. Being present in the moment, we allowed nature to participate in the ceremony.

Anna’s brother Joe and his partner Lili added some humor in the form of Shel Silverstein’s poem Ations (with adaptations by Brian Leahy and us):

JOE If we meet and I say, “Hi,”
That’s a salutation.
If you ask me how I feel,
That’s consideration.
LILI If we stop and talk awhile,
That’s conversation.
And if we understand each other,
That’s communication.
JOE If we argue, scream and fight,
That’s an altercation.
LILI If we later apologize,
That’s reconciliation.
JOE If we help each other home,
That’s cooperation.
LILI And all these “ations” added up
Make civilization.
JOE Now Chris and Anna — their paths crossed
At a place of higher education.
Two kids bonding in Berkeley
Exploring mutual fascinations
LILI And call it what you will —
Be it coincidence,
Or … electromagnetic radiation —
They bonded instantly.
They were meant for each other.
No exaggeration.
JOE And after five years of flirtation,
And co-habitation,
And one cross-country relocation…
LILI …we’ve made it here, to the celebration
of this perfectly logical pair formation.
JOE And if there’s one thing they don’t have today,
….it’s parking validation?
LILI No.
JOE …a Spanish translation?
LILI Nope.
BOTH (lots of other funny -ation ideas from Joe that Lili shoots down one by one)
JOE Oh! If there’s one thing they don’t have today it’s hesitation.
LILI If there’s one thing they do have,
It’s each other —
[PAUSE]
BOTH — ation.
Joe and Lili's reading at the ceremony (photo by Kent Meireis)

Joe and Lili reading at the ceremony

Next we exchanged vows and rings with these words:

I promise today to be your best friend, partner, and husband/wife; honor, love, and cherish you through all of life’s adventures. I swear to always and forever be your confidant and you mine. I pledge to support your dreams and encourage us to try new and strange things. I vow to grow old with you and to keep the kid in you alive. I take you today to be my wife/husband.

I give this ring as my gift to you. Wear it and think of me and know that I love you.

Exchanging vows in front of Maroon Bells (photo by Kent Meireis)

Exchanging vows in front of the Maroon Bells

We knew our family and friends would continue to support us in our life together. To make that support formal, we had Noah invite them to take vows of their own by responding “I do” to Noah’s questions. Their participation in this part of the ceremony mirrored the important roles they take in our lives.

And with that, Noah pronounced us married! Woohoo! We even signed the official paperwork.

Cheep Cheep cheers us on as we sign the marriage license (photo by Kent Meireis)

Cheep Cheep cheers us on as we sign the marriage license

Everyone was so happy, and the scenery so beautiful, that we took lots of photos in the wildflowers and around Maroon Lake.

Chris's parents snapping photos (photo by Kent Meireis)

Chris’s parents snapping photos

Having fun at Maroon Lake (photo by Kent Meireis)

Having fun at Maroon Lake

We could have stayed for hours, but guests’ grumbling tummies reminded us it was time to feast. We dragged ourselves away from the ceremony site to the East Maroon Picnic Portal, just one mile down the canyon where the caterer had prepared a lovely display of appetizers and cold drinks.

Reception table setting (photo by Kent Meireis)

Reception table setting

The food didn’t keep us or our guests stationary for long though. A short path near the tables led to a beautiful pond. Several of us kicked off our shoes and started splashing through the water and skipping stones.

Richard and Becky playing in the water (photo by Hilary Hertzler)

Richard and Becky playing in the water (photo by Hilary Hertzler)

But when we heard word that our wedding feast was ready, we all scurried back to the shade tent. We filled our plates with vegetarian tamales, pesto orzo stuffed red bell peppers, beets with goat cheese, a kale quinoa strawberry salad, and blue corn muffins. Before eating, we held hands and had a moment of silence to be thankful.

Holding hands and a moment of silence before our meal (photo by Kent Meireis)

Holding hands and a moment of silence before our meal

Family members gave toasts. Family and friends clinked their glasses as a signal for us to kiss. Chris’s dad George and sister Becky sang The Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields while Becky played her ukulele. It was very touching.

George and Becky sing us a love song (photo by Kent Meireis)

George and Becky sing us a love song

And then there was cake! Becky had created a very cute cake topper. The two clothespin figures represented both of us, right down to the backpacks with real buckles. We were amazed. At one point clothespin Anna came unglued and fell, but clothespin Chris held on and caught her.

Cake topper people with backpacks, glasses, and a mini camera (photo by Kent Meireis)

Cake topper people with backpacks, glasses, a mini camera, and of course Cheep Cheep

Food, friends, family, and a dramatic setting came together for an amazing meal! Afterwards, people gradually left to relax and nap. We were glad to have some quiet time to ourselves by the pond. We shed some happy tears: we were really touched how supportive everyone was of our relationship.

Time to ourselves by Maroon Creek (photo by Kent Meireis)

Time to ourselves by Maroon Creek

As evening approached, we decided to change out of our wedding clothes and into comfortable campground attire.

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Where wedding meets camping. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Dinner was casual. The Smuggler Mountain Boys entertained us with all sorts of bluegrass tunes while we ate. As darkness fell and the fire grew stronger, we started getting requests for a first dance. We gave in, but only on the condition that other people would join us after 30 seconds. They soon did, and the dancing began in earnest.

The first dance (photo by John Willig)

The first dance (photo by John Willig)

Mags asked if she could call a square dance. Of course! Everyone’s wide grins and enthusiasm felt like the perfect sendoff into married life.

Dancing to bluegrass music around the campfire (photo by Kent Meireis)

Dancing to bluegrass music around the campfire

At night’s end, we cuddled in our little tent on our backs, watching the dark sky through the open door. A shooting star blazed past. The Milky Way was as long and bright as we’d ever seen it. Maroon Creek provided background music with its constant motion.

Our wedding day was incredibly wonderful and very special for us, our family, and friends. We are grateful and will treasure it always.

All photos in this post were taken by Kent Meireis Photography, unless otherwise specified.

46 Comments Post a comment
  1. awesome!

    August 15, 2014
  2. Ryan Firestone #

    Congratulations Anna and Chris!!! What an amazing event :)

    August 15, 2014
  3. Congratulations on your wedding. It looks like it was a blast!

    August 15, 2014
  4. Aaron #

    Very awesome! Congrats to the both of you!

    August 15, 2014
  5. Stephen #

    Wonderful ceremony, Congrats!!!

    August 15, 2014
  6. Gorgeous! Congratulations!!
    And what a beautiful poem by Rainer Maria Rilke : )

    August 15, 2014
  7. Chipper #

    Thank you for sharing. What a perfect wedding! Best wishes to you both.

    August 15, 2014
  8. Gina Willig #

    Committed love in a setting of nature and with loved ones! Enjoyed your wedding story. Thanks for sharing.

    August 15, 2014
  9. Steve Weimar #

    Congratulations! Wishing you all the best! Reminds us of our beginnings as well 39 years ago. Thank you. – steve and ann

    August 15, 2014
  10. Elif #

    made me happy to read this :-)

    August 15, 2014
  11. Roger Dittus #

    Yours has to be one of the most unique weddings ever. Congratulations to you both and best wishes for a great future together.

    August 15, 2014
    • Thank you Roger! We are really happy we could create a wedding with lots of personal touches, in a place we love. Now we can relax a bit and decorate our new home. :-)

      August 18, 2014
  12. Chanda #

    Congratulations! Lovely post, as always. I’m so happy for you both. Best.

    August 15, 2014
  13. Absolutely beautiful! I wish Anna and Chris all the love and joy that the universe has to offer.

    August 15, 2014
  14. Mary Goodkind #

    Congratulations! What a perfect wedding and celebration.May your life together be long, happy, healthy, and full of wonderful adventures. Thank you for the photos and text.
    Love,

    August 15, 2014
  15. Aunt Marilyn #

    Love it!

    August 15, 2014
  16. Jeff Higginbotham #

    Congratulations to the both of you. I’ve been following you, and it’s been quite a journey.

    Best Wishes,
    Jeff

    August 15, 2014
  17. Darlene SCheer #

    What a wonderful celebration. So typical of the two of you which made it extra special. I so enjoyed the pre-wedding and wedding photos and story. Thanks for sharing and congratulations and may you grow old together in love.!

    August 15, 2014
  18. That’s very cool. Congratulations!

    August 15, 2014
  19. swollenfeat #

    So happy for you both! It’s been a joy and a pleasure to follow you on this journey since we first discovered your blog of the PCT. Congratulations!!!!!

    August 15, 2014
  20. margaret alexander #

    Thank you for letting us catch a glimpse of what you created (in all senses of the word)! See you anon.

    August 15, 2014
  21. Phyllis Ngin and Drew Kraisinger #

    Hi Anna and Chris, What a wonderful celebration! Congratulations and keep on celebrating your lives together each day. Thanks for sharing your wedding with us.

    August 17, 2014
  22. Alison Kraisinger #

    Beautiful, perfect. Thanks for sharing the details of your magical day.
    We send our love and best wishes to both of you.

    August 18, 2014
  23. Shannon #

    I truly love everything about your wedding. I keep re-reading this blog post because it blows my mind how similar your wedding experience is to the one I’ve been planning in my head for a long time now. I keep coming to the question, “how did they pull everything off so well?”. Thanks for posting and for validating the notion that a non-traditional, camping wedding isn’t as crazy as some try to make us believe. I hope you both are happy and well!

    November 21, 2015
    • Thank you, Shannon! We loved the wedding too :-) Here are a few logistical things which might help:

      1) Keep the guest list small. We had 20 people, and that was perfect. We actually got to have meaningful conversations with everybody, compared to the massive weddings where you hardly see the bride and groom.
      2) Find nearby lodging for guests who prefer not to camp. Not everyone will want to camp, and that’s fine.
      3) Create thorough lists/spreadsheets for what to pack from home, grocery list, etc. But if things don’t turn out exactly how you planned, improvise and go with the flow.
      4) If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our blog post about the days prior to the wedding: https://wanderingthewild.com/2014/08/12/pre-wedding-camping-and-aspen-mountain/

      Have fun with the planning!

      November 23, 2015

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