In the midst of planning your wedding, you may have moments where you stop and ask yourself, “Why a wedding? Why are we making such a big deal of this one day?” Bethany and Ryan’s story is one answer to that question, and I thought I’d let Bethany tell it in her own words:
After five years, a wonderful home and endless experiences together, Ryan proposed to me on a trip to visit our parents in Bend, Oregon. Unfortunately we weren’t able to start our wedding planning right away. Ryan had been battling cancer for the past seven months, and we stayed focused on his health first, expecting to plan when it was all over. After three different intensive chemotherapies, a major surgery, and lots of nights in the hospital, Ryan’s treatment was discontinued. We were told there was nothing else to do but treasure the six months he had left. The one thing that remained important to us was to get married, so we set a date for two months out and began dreaming up our wedding. Not long after, Ryan’s health took a turn for the worse and six months turned into only a couple weeks. With three days’ notice and the help of dear friends and family, we were able to do the thing that mattered the most to us: we got married. As emotional and difficult as parts of the day were, it was the most special day of our lives and of our relationship together. Ryan survived against all odds for an additional five weeks, and although it was way too short, we were able to be married and celebrate our one-month anniversary, and that’s a gift no one can ever take away.
For the ceremony we had everyone stand instead of sit, both because of space limitations and because we wanted it to feel intimate. I remember walking in the door with my dad, having to turn a little corner, seeing so many people and just searching for Ryan. He was all I wanted to see. He met me in the middle of the room and we just embraced each other for a minute before the ceremony started. I just remember thinking I’d never felt more sure of anything in my life and that was a wonderful feeling.
I really wanted a chalkboard incorporated in some how. We decided to put one above the fireplace, which was the backdrop of the ceremony. Ryan came up with the idea to use a quote from a card I gave him on our one-year anniversary. The card has always hung in our kitchen so we see it daily and it was a perfect summary of us: “You will not believe how glad I am to have met you.” It was definitely my favorite piece, and I even used the quote as the basis of my vows.
A tradition that was important to us was a Ukrainian blessing. Ryan’s grandmother is Ukrainian and he heard her sing this blessing throughout his whole life. Right after we exchanged rings, we had her sing the blessing over us.
Our wedding took place in the restaurant where Ryan took me after he proposed. It’s closed on Sundays so we had the place to ourselves. Ariana, the owner and chef, was a miracle worker. We set the date on a Thursday and we were married just three days later on Sunday. She helped with everything and let us do anything we wanted. I’ll never forget what she said to me the morning after the wedding when I came to retrieve our stuff. I kept thanking her and thanking her and she said to me “You’ve had to hear no so much this year, I just wanted to be able to say yes to anything you wanted.”
One of Ryan’s passions was food and cooking, and Ariana said she could make anything we liked, so we decided on the menu ourselves, which was one of the few things Ryan was able to help with and he really enjoyed doing so. With some of Ariana’s suggestions, mixed in with some meaningful meals we’d shared through our relationship, this is the menu we decided on:
Hors d’oeuvres: Citrus and Coriander Cured Wild Salmon Gravlax with Accoutrements / Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese Crostini with Truffle Honey // Appetizers: Tri Color Salad of Radicchio, Romaine, Oregon Pear, Olive Oil Croutons, Parmesan Vinaigrette / French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toast // Entrees: Butter Poached Maine Lobster Over Dungeness Crab Risotto / Filet Mignon with Yukon Gold Potato Puree, Mushroom Demi Glace and Crispy Shallots / Cannelloni of Organic Spinach and Fresh Ricotta Cheese Wrapped in Fresh Pasta and Simmered in a Garlic-Parmesan Sauce with Dad’s Marinara // Dessert: Vanilla Bean Crème Bruleè with Fresh Berries / Flourless Chocolate Sachertorte with Caramel Ice Cream / Blood Orange Wedding Cheesecake
Bend is a mountain ski town and is very festive in the winter. I wanted to avoid a Christmas theme, but we were in Pottery Barn and I came across paper-monogrammed ornaments that were perfect for favors. We picked out a letter for each guest’s first name and I wrote a personalized thank you on the back of each one. We hung them on a beautiful birch tree and the guests had to find their ornament during the evening.
One of my favorite parts of our wedding was at the end of the night. Ryan had to leave after the ceremony and taking some photos to go lay down at his parents’ house up the road. I missed him terribly during dinner and wasn’t sure if he would be up to coming back. Although I know he struggled so hard to do so, he did end up returning as things were winding down. At that point there was only a small group left, and we just sat around, laughed, cried, taking turns sharing memories, stories and reflections. It’s such a beautiful gift to receive so much love and support and I was so thankful Ryan was able to experience that.
The best advice I received while planning our wedding actually came from Zach and Clay’s wedding featured on Snippet & Ink. They explained “Just approach the entire event as a blank slate, and don’t do things because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do…Make the day what you want it to be – there are no rules.” As soon as that clicked in my head, wedding planning was a lot easier. Traditions are beautiful, wonderful things, but it’s figuring out which ones are important to you that give meaning to a wedding. A wedding doesn’t need to be what’s expected. It’s deciding what expectations you have and what represents your love. We didn’t have a wedding party or a first dance. We didn’t toss the bouquet or cut the cake. We realized a few days later we didn’t even say “I do” during the ceremony! That might not be okay for everyone but it worked for us, and looking back on it, there was more love in that room than I have ever experienced in my life. That’s what we wanted our wedding to be about: our love for each other and for our friends and family. We may have only had a few days to put it together but we both agreed we would have done it exactly the same even if we’d had years to plan.
Thank you Bethany, for sharing your wedding story with us!
Photography: Clare & Kevin Kubota (Our photographers deserve an immense amount of credit. Not only did they commit so last minute, they went above and beyond our expectations. They had to be so flexible, and they seized any opportunity to get the best of Ryan and the day even when we weren’t sure how it would go. They even turned our photos around in less than a week so that Ryan could have the opportunity to see them. They did a beautiful job representing our day and us, the photos are something I will truly treasure forever.) / Venue, catering, flowers: Ariana in Bend, Oregon / Bride’s attire: J.Crew / Hair, makeup: Salon Essenza (I didn’t have bridesmaids but my closest friends and I went to the place my mother-in-law gets her hair done to get ready. They are typically closed on Sunday and they let us have the entire salon to use styling tools and products. Jennifer styled my hair and helped with my make up. It turned out better than I ever expected, plus it was a lot of fun.) / Groom’s attire: J.Crew / Vintage furniture rentals: Feather & Flea / Stationery: DIY (We didn’t have time to do invitations, so we made phone calls to everyone. Both of our parents live in Bend but other than them, every single guest had to travel from somewhere else with just 3 to 4 days notice. That blew us away.) / Music: DIY iPod