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Sandy and Dwight
After four and a half years together, Sandy mentioned the idea of a spontaneous elopement to Dwight. But once he shared that idea with her daughters and they voiced that they wanted to be there, he knew he'd have to take matters into his own hands.
Dwight wanted to surprise Sandy with a proposal that was something special -- so special that a wedding followed just a few hours later. With help from her daughters and event planner and designer Kristen Burgess of By Emily B, he crafted a double-special day never to be forgotten.
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The Friday began in the scenic White Mountains in Lincoln, New Hampshire. A hike together with Sandy's two daughters, son-in law, and two grandchildren was the perfect cover and a way for the family to be involved in the proposal. Along the way of the nearly three-mile trail, they started to pass by familiar faces. First, friends from the area, which didn't raise an eyebrow. Then, a high-school friend of Dwight's, which created some suspicion as to whether a pre-engagement party of some sort was in the works. Sandy's daughter coached her to keep walking toward the final hill.
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The scheme had been hatched up more than four months prior with help from Sandy's daughters, Dwight's planner, and photographer Lindsey Ocker. They scouted the hike ahead of time to plot out where everyone would stand, sending pictures and information with the wedding invitations. In total, 47 people were planted on the trail and were there to witness the proposal.
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The Big Question
At the peak of the mountain, looking out to Mt. Liberty, Marc Anthony's "I Need You" was playing from some speakers and Sandy had an inkling that something was about to occur. The song, a favorite of Dwight's, has lyrics reflecting a proposal, and when the song ended, Dwight got down on one knee.
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She Said "Yes"
Sandy gleefully said "yes" and accepted the MJ Harrington & Co. ring. "Once he got down on one knee, I was thinking that I have waited and dreamed of this moment for so long and it was now happening," Sandy said. "I couldn't believe it. I was just so happy. I was so happy our family and friends were there to witness the moment. I was also thinking that I want to listen to what he is saying."
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After Dwight popped the question, the betrothed duo popped bubbly in celebration.
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With Sandy thinking that the day was just an elaborate proposal, the couple walked a bit further down the path and then stumbled upon a sign pointing down the way that read "wedding." Sandy saw it and asked what it was for. Dwight's response? He knew she wanted a short engagement, so they were getting married that night. Shocked, she then turned to the crowd, asking who of them knew. In near unison, everyone responded with "We did!"
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They traveled 30 minutes south to The Common Man Inn and Spa to prep for the I Do's.
Dwight had done some online research for Sandy's dress before venturing out to a handful of department stores with a few ideas in mind. Sandy's daughter Whitney joined him on one excursion. In the end, Dwight picked out nine dresses in various sizes, with shoes and other accessories so his bride would have some options.
Sandy ended up selecting a lace shift dress from Macy's -- the first of the dresses Dwight had purchased. Her daughters did her hair and makeup. Dwight sported a khaki vest and pants from J.Crew with a floral-printed bow tie.
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The Bride's Bouquet
Inspired by the colors of Dwight's bow tie, Sandy’s bouquet consisted of roses, ranunculus, chamomile, scabiosa, and zinnias.
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Sandy's son Dallas walked her down the aisle following Sandy's grandson and granddaughter, who served as ring bearer and flower girl. In addition to the guests that had witnessed and participated in the proposal, another 30 joined for the wedding and reception.
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A wooden frame draped with white fabric and fresh ferns anchored the ceremony, during which Dwight's brother-in-law sang and played guitar for the Steven Curtis Chapman song "I Will Be Here."
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Since Sandy had built all of the stone walls on the grounds of her home with Dwight, planner Kristin Burgess suggested that rocks be used instead of traditional paper escort cards. Dwight told guests they could take the rock as a memory of the day or could leave them for the couple so that the rocks would be added to the walls at their house and symbolize the support their loved ones gave to the couple's relationship.
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A Lovely Display
The stone-and-moss seating display was set up under a wooden frame, a glittery garland spelling out "love," and fresh blooms.
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Following the ceremony, guests walked to the greenhouse for the reception.
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Arrangements of roses, zinnias, chamomile, ferns, zinnias, and scabiosa were surrounded by mercury glass votive candleholders, loose succulents, and framed calligraphed table numbers.
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The Place Settings
Sprigs of lavender adorned each place setting. The couple has perennial flower gardens and the fragrant plant is one of the bride's favorites.
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A Special Touch
Instead of their names, Sandy and Dwight's rocks were labeled with "bride" and "groom."
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The Guest Book
Guests able to participate in the hike received photos of the location in which they'd wait for the couple, and those only able to attend the reception received a photo of the venue with their invitations. Guests wrote special messages on the back of the photos they had received, Dwight added photos he had taken during the four months leading up to the big day, and with help from his event planner, the final scrapbook showcased the process of the surprise wedding with added sentiment.
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The First Dance
John Berry's "Your Love Amazes Me" played as the couple hit the dance floor for the first time as husband and wife.
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A petite two-tier cake was festooned with lavender sprigs and greenery and topped with a succulent.
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