Early morning on June 3rd my family and I packed both the Nissan and the Chevrolet full of food, centerpieces, sound equipment and other wedding related items and hit the road southeast toward Raccoon Creek State Park. It was only about 180 miles without complicated directions, but we managed to forget both the marriage paperwork and a wedding ring on the way out.
All of these issues combined for a much longer trip, but all of this was quickly forgotten when I was reunited with Apryle once again. When we arrived we checked into our cabins, which were situated at the top of a tree-covered ravine. Conveniently they were less than 200 meters from the recreation hall and our guests had reserved much of the cul-de-sac. The plans that we began over a year earlier were finally coming to fruition.
I was energized with the excitement of the weekend as our friends and family began arriving. The pre-wedding festivities were to consist of a rehearsal dinner, a rehearsal, and a campfire. I was reluctant to leave the park behind, but my mother and I had to travel into the nearest town to pick up the subs for the dinner. Much to my surprise we did not get lost and arrived back in time to practice for the big day. Following subs, we assembled along with our officiant, “Friar Dan” for a walk-through. We moved six heavy wooden picnic tables into the formation of an aisle.
After the rehearsal, we converged on Dan and Kristina’s cabin for a bonfire and some fun. We closed out the evening with a campfire outside one of the cabins and reminisced about times past, while Apryle went through Backstreet Boys songs/choreography with her matrons of honor.
The morning of the June 4th wedding I woke early and hit the vast trail network surrounding Raccoon Creek State Park. It was an ideal morning, slightly overcast, mild temperature; the plants were glistening in the morning dew. There were so many intriguing offshoots and trails that I did not know where to begin, so I just went out a few miles on several different paths. It was not long until my shoes were soggy, my calves covered in mud and my thighs cut open from wild rose thorns, needless to say it was everything I hoped it would be in my last run as a single man. After the ten miler I felt ready to tackle the next task, setting up the reception hall!
After the run, Apryle and I headed over to the Recreation Hall to set up for the pre-wedding breakfast. Our bridal party filtered in to share muffins and bagels. As friends and family finished breakfast, they began setting up chairs and tables for the reception. Vans and trucks of family members who had helped haul or store things for this big day, pulled up to the back of the reception hall and piece-by-piece, the party was unloaded.
Each table received a white table cloth, glass mason jar with blue straw, a heart-shaped birdseed ornament homemade by Apryle and her mom, a white or blue napkin with silverware, and burlap table runner on some. The centerpieces were wood rounds cut by Zach and his dad, with holes for candles. We tied a blue ribbon around the wood round and sprinkled blue heart-shaped confetti made by Apryle’s Aunt Paula. From the wood ceiling beams, we hung blue paper balls and white bells, recycled from Apryle’s Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Jim’s wedding. In the kitchen, Aunt Judy and Apryle wrapped three baby’s breath bridal bouquets while my mom and I wrapped corsages. All the while we had the computer set up with a wedding slideshow and playlist.
The wedding prep went quite smoothly and it was great visiting with our friends and family while we set up for the event. Zach’s parents, Aunt Deb, Uncle Jerry, Aunt Jane, Uncle Ken, and Aunt Kathleen all pitched in to cut up the vegetables and fruit for the appetizers. All the while our photographer Johnny Hootie Vogel was documenting the day with his camera. The decorating/visiting remains one of Apryle and I’s best memories of the day.
As the day progressed the remainder of our friends arrived and many people went for a swim in the lake. A few hours prior to the ceremony Apryle went off to get ready while I finished up the dancing and procession playlist.
When it came time for the ceremony my groomsmen and I walked over to the recreation hall. Apryle and I bought mismatched blue ties for the groomsmen and each of my guys chose the one that went best with their mismatched blue shirts and khakis. We pinned the baby’s breath boutonnieres on each other and watched through the window as guests were seated. Kyle played “Stand by Me” and the procession began. I walked my mom down the aisle, with my dad following right behind. I took my place at the front next to Dan and my groomsmen. Ezekiel escorted Apryle’s dad’s mother and Apryle’s mom escorted her parents. I watched the flower girl, ring bearer, and bridesmaids, each in their mismatched shades of blue, step out of the hall and walk the grass aisle between the picnic tables.
The ceremony was exactly how we imagined and Dan executed Apryle’s reading perfectly. We exchanged vows we wrote for each other, promises that meant something special. The ceremony Apryle wrote described our union through the analogy of two streams joining. To symbolize this joining, Apryle designed a water pouring which is similar to the more commonly used sand. Our parents handed us a water pitcher with water from our homes and we poured it together into one. We exchanged rings – mine from my dad and Apryle’s chosen from an antique store along the Oregon coast during the previous weekend’s trip.
After the vows all the guests gathered for a group photo and a blessing led by Apryle’s mom. We headed inside for the fruits and vegetable appetizers while the wood-fired pizza oven heated up. Zach’s mom and family had so many beautiful and delicious appetizers that many guests thought it was the main course! The wood-fired pizza was an idea that stemmed from a trail race in Washington, that we thought would be great to implement at our wedding.
While the pizza was steadily being cooked and served we cut the cake. It was difficult to even cut into such a visually appealing array of deserts. The raccoon and wilderness theme was carried out quite well throughout the hall and ceremony. My co-best men and Apryle’s co-matrons of honor capped off the reception with some excellent speeches. Thanks to all the hard work from our parents, family and friends the wilderness wedding really came to life.
The reception was everything that we hoped it would be and we continued the celebration into the night with another campfire at the cabins. We were sad to say goodbye to Apryle’s parents and Aunt Paula and Uncle Jerry that night.
We awoke early June 5th for the post wedding run, but it was a dreary rainy morning and many of our friends headed home instead. However, my wife and still I went for a run, and then a hike with my co-best man Craig and his wife Emily to the Mineral Spring Falls. Although it was not quite 19 miles, we still explored some more of the area before we made our way back to Tiffin.
It was our first road trip as a married couple in my dad’s 2001 Chevrolet. We passed through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Ohio on our way back to my parents house in Tiffin. It was a pleasant drive, and after arriving back at my parents house we had just enough time for a quick swim before opening gifts and writing thank you cards.
The next morning we finished packing for our trip to Peru and were back on the road to Cleveland, where we were to fly to Fort Lauderdale and then to Lima. It was a whirlwind six weeks, between the PT exam, the trip to Oregon, the Ohio/Pennsylvania visit, coordinating the Tonasket job, the wedding and the Peru honeymoon, we were ready for a vacation.
Rehearsal Dinner June 3rd Gallery
Wedding Day June 4th Gallery (PC Johnny Vogel)