This couple planned an outdoor celebration with natural touches and plenty of DIY projects.
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Leah and Ben
Leah and Ben met in the spring of 2011, after a mutual friend introduced them at Whitman College. The pair began stealing curious glances and quick smiles across campus. Then, during a trivia game, Ben was blown away by Leah's ability to recall an obscure variety of pear. Shortly afterward, Leah became speechless as Ben passed while she was leading a campus tour. Ben began visiting Leah during her work hours at an information desk, leading to long conversations and an unmistakable connection. Ben eventually spilled his feelings and asked Leah out on a hiking date—and she was so thrilled she forgot her hiking boots, arriving instead in strapped gold sandals.
Five years later, Leah (who is studying to get a Master's degree in sustainable business) and Ben (who is in medical school) were living just outside of Eugene, Oregon. Ben planned a "surprise" road trip to Crater Lake National Park; the couple had long wished to hike the scenic park, but their trips were always cancelled for weather-related reasons. Fifteen minutes after beginning the hike, Ben set up a tripod, attached a camera controlled by a handheld remote, and told Leah the picturesque backdrop was ideal for next year's holiday card. "We posed for a few photos for a holiday card before I lowered myself down onto one knee. Leah must have been surprised, because she later made me repeat everything I had said in that moment. I took as many photos as I could using my sneaky remote," says Ben. The couple celebrated their engagement by venturing around the park, unable to share the news because of lack of cell phone connection. As storm clouds appeared in early evening, Ben revealed his next surprise: Instead of camping, they would stay the night at the Crater Lake Lodge. "Needless to say, Leah was relieved that we wouldn't be camping, and was even more so when we watched the thunderstorms roll in above the lake while drinking Champagne comfortably from the lodge balcony," says Ben. Adds Leah: "I was touched with each surprise, especially getting to stay in such a cozy lodge, Ben having arranged dinner reservations, and my personal favorite surprise: him bringing all of our photo albums so that we could reminisce about our relationship that night."
And so, almost six years after beginning their relationship, Leah and Ben tied the knot on August 5, 2017. Their shared love of nature drew them to Jasper House Farms near Eugene, Oregon, which has plenty of hazelnut trees and a rustic wooden farmhouse. The day featured a sage and ivory color palette, a personalized ceremony, and 160 guests.
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The Stationery Suite
To create the invitations, the couple purchased a template from TheSunshineGarden on Etsy, then filled in the details themselves before having them printed on 100 lb. cardstock. The greenery graphics hinted at the big day's theme.
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Leah and Ben tied the knot at Jasper House Farms, an active hazelnut farm near their hometown of Eugene, Oregon. "This venue is a hidden gem! The owner does only one wedding a week in the summer, and because he has plenty of business from word of mouth, he does not advertise at all," says the bride. "We knew the moment we drove up and saw the tall evergreen trees, the lush flowers and greenery, and the well-kept wooden barn that this was our venue!" The farm had plenty of hazelnut trees, wheat fields, and a fully-equipped barn—all of which contributed to the rustic theme of the day. "Not only did it have the Oregonian forested look," Ben adds, "but on the same plot of land there were wheat fields, too."
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Leah wore Tadashi Shoji's "Mina" wedding dress from BHLDN, which had a halter neckline, floral pattern, and overall timeless appearance. "I probably tried on a total of 18-20 dresses before I found the one. I did not know it was 'the one' when I saw it on the rack, but the moment I slipped it on, I felt gorgeous, elegant, and most importantly, like myself!" she explains. The bride purchased and returned at least 10 pairs of shoes before deciding on a comfortable and stylish pair of strappy tan Steve Madden sandals. She completed the ensemble with her grandma's gold bracelet, as well as a "Kassia Halo" headpiece and Paris by Debra Moreland "Cloudbreak" veil from BHLDN. Ben sported a gray "Ludlow" suit from J.Crew, which he paired with shoes from Nordstrom.
The engagement rings and wedding bands came from Beaudet Jewelry, a family-owned jewelry shop in Eugene. "Leah was looking for slim bands as she likes to wear delicate jewelry. I wanted something resembling the texture of wood-grain, but that matched Leah's in style. In the end, we had them add drag marks over a simple pipe-cut gold band with comfort fit in the inner rim for mine," says the groom.
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Three days before the wedding, Ben assigned a couple of groomsmen with a task: finding mismatched socks in the same color, preferably navy blue. "It took them nearly a whole day to find just the right set, but it worked out perfectly. I have no idea where they ended up finding them all!" says the groom.
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Leah appointed her nieces and nephews to serve as flower girls and ring bearers. "We didn’t want to choose between them, as they are all close in age and really are a big posse of kiddos, so we just decided to include all five in the wedding!" she says. The girls wore white lace dresses from Zulily, while the boys wore shirts and pants from Old Navy and bowties from Etsy.
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Don Chase, the owner of Jasper House Farms, created floral arrangements for the big day with blooms from the farm's garden. "When we met to talk about bouquets, I brought a few simple requests: include eucalyptus, keep the colors light and summery, and have a cascading look," says the bride. "He told me he had never been given so much freedom in flowers, but that he loved it!" The final result included blooms in a range of sizes, colors, and textures, including dahlias, roses, and hydrangea.
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Leah and Ben had an emotional first look before the portrait session.
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For the ceremony programs, Leah and Ben customized templates from PaperDainty on Etsy, then glued them onto popsicle sticks to create fans. "This project was quite the assembly line we had going on between both of our families the week before the wedding. The idea was the fans would be quite nice for our guests if it were a hot sunny day!" says Ben, who added that the temperature remained around the high 80s throughout the day. The couple also gave guests sachets of dried lavender from a local farm; the favors were assembled by the mother of the groom.
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The Ceremony Site
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Leah and Ben's parents walked them down the aisle to "When You Say Nothing at All" by Alison Krauss, performed on piano by their friend Ken Anderson. During the ceremony, which began around 5 p.m., the couple's close friend, Ilona Davis, played the piano and sang "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. Leah credits the service as being her favorite part of the day. "About a week before the wedding, we climbed to the top of a local butte and wrote our vows together (although keeping them private). The ceremony was the first time I'd read mine aloud, and it was incredibly emotional. We both cried a lot, and the whole audience was crying with us," she says. The couple also incorporated personal touches, like planting an oak tree as their unity ceremony. Toward the end of the nuptials, the officiant instructed the newlyweds to look out onto the crowd. "I loved this as a way to acknowledge and embrace the community that had supported, loved, and encouraged us from day one," explains the bride.
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour in and around the barn. They drank local beer and the couple's signature cocktail (a raspberry mojito); ate cheeses, bread, quick-pickled vegetables, fruits, and onion jam; and listened to a playlist she created during the year that included folk and indie tunes. Outdoor games like corn hole and croquet were also set up around the property.
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To maximize time with guests, Leah and Ben took most of their portraits before the ceremony. "We did reserve a small period of time for sunset photos in the evening, which was well worth it not only because the photos were incredible, but it was a good time to reflect on our mutual gratitude for everything that was happening and soak in all the love from everyone that was there with us that night," says the bride. Oregon suffered from wildfires before the big day, and the smoke collected in the valley near Eugene; Ben says you couldn't see more than 50 yards due to smoky conditions. Fortunately, the smoke cleared a bit before the wedding, and it provided a beautiful background for sunset pictures.
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Leah's younger sister, who served as maid of honor, is a watercolor artist. She painted escort cards for each guest using the wedding's greenery theme as inspiration.
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The reception took place on the grounds of the farm. Guests sat at five tables arranged in rows; they were assigned to a particular area, but not a specific seat. "We thought this would foster a nice communal spirit rather than having lots of isolated tables, and it allowed entire sides of the family to sit together," says the bride. Additionally, Leah and Ben opted for a sweetheart table to spend their first married meal together. "It was amazing to look out at our friends and family, while at the same time having a chance to breathe and actually eat a little something! Plus, we had a steady stream of visitors to our little table, which was a great way to talk with people we hadn't had the chance to visit with yet," she says.
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As a nod to the couple's love of nature, they choose sage green as their reception color. Ivory and gold accents tied everything together and added some "shine" to the tablescape. Rocks were also strewn across the tables. "My dad was an avid rock and fossil collector growing up," says Ben. "I always loved how he kept his rocks on display around the home. I thought this would be a nice theme for the tables at the wedding. We borrowed some of his and attended rock and gem shows to stock up on large crystals to decorate the wedding."
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The Place Settings
The menu template came from PaperDainty on Etsy. "Leah and I brainstormed some fun games and trivia about us to include on the back of the menu to keep our guests entertained and possibly to learn something new," says Ben. They decided to host a family-style meal to create a communal and intimate celebration. "Also, it accommodated any and all eating preferences of our guests—which was important to me as a vegetarian!" adds the bride. As a first course, they served a whipped chèvre Caprese salad and a mixed garden greens salad. For the main course, guests choose between grilled game hens in Moroccan chermoula or grilled salmon in kale pesto, with sides of roasted new potatoes or quinoa salad.
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A Meaningful Speech
A few speeches were given during the reception. Here, the maid of honor toasts the couple. Hannah, the friend that first introduced Leah and Ben, also spoke, reminiscing about the couple's relationship.
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Market of Choice baked an almond poppy seed cake with raspberry jam in the center, which was displayed on a wooden platter surrounded by flowers. The couple also served a custom ice cream flavor created by a local company called Red Wagon Creamery. "We drink more tea than any other couple I know!" says Ben. "The flavor was called 'You're my Cup of Tea' and featured our favorite tea, Townshend's Crème de la Earl Gray, with dark chocolate freckles."
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"Ben's family has a tradition of picking fresh fruit in the summer, and having 'jammin' parties where we make hundreds of jars of jam," says the bride. "We thought this would be a great favor, and made three of our favorite jam flavors for guests: apricot peach, blackberry raspberry, and strawberry blackberry." The couple labeled each jar with a homemade tag reading "Spread the Love."
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As Leah and Ben left the celebration, guests gave them a send-off with bubbles. "We bought bubble packs in bulk for this. Some of the lucky kids got enormous bubble wands," says the groom. He later surprised Leah with a romantic night in a local bed-and-breakfast, complete with music, rose petals, champagne, strawberries, and chocolate.
A few weeks after the wedding, the couple embarked continued their adventurous streak, with a mini-moon to Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park, as well as Los Angeles and Sedona, Arizona.
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Photography, Clara Rice Photography
Location and flowers, Jasper House Farms
Day-of coordination, Emily Beck
Catering, Party Downtown
Videography, Wedding Mix
Cake, Market of Choice
Music, DJ Ross Beck
Bride's gown, headpiece, and veil, BHLDN
Bride's shoes, Steve Madden
Makeup, Lavish Bronzing Boutique
Bridesmaids' dresses, Azazie
Flower Girl dresses, Zulily
Groom's suit jacket, J.Crew
Groom's shoes, Nordstrom