top of page

Our Eco-Friendly Elopement

We decided to get hitched last summer with an intimate ceremony, a handful of family members, as many local vendors as possible & little environmental impact. It was the perfect day with a ton of tassels, lots of outdoorsy-ness, and some flying by the seat of our pants.

So essentially, us in a nutshell.

With old(er) age came the decision for a low key wedding sans 80% of the frills I had collected on my Pinterest board over the years. That was the second best decision ever. The first best was tying the knot with Ross (#sappymuch).

We kept the whole thing under wraps from most of the world until it was all said and done. And although the whole thing was pretty low key, there were still plenty of heartfelt flourishes and reasons why we did what we did. Here’s the whole story.

Photo by Kellie Rae Studio

Our Story (The Short Version)

Ross and I started dating when we were 15. Not yet old enough to drive, we had to convince our parents to bring us to the mall so we could awkwardly walk around holding hands, too embarrassed to talk to each other or even set foot in a store. On our first date I wore a hideous handmade outfit decked out in sequins & jeans trimmed in buttons. He must’ve liked my confidence, because I looked like a fool.

We met through mutual friends, lived in different states and would continue to date for 10 years long distance and a total of 15 years before tying the knot.

We’re a True Example of Opposites Attracting

Ross grew up with a love for being outside and appreciating all that the Maine landscape has to offer. An avid hunter, fisherman and all around outdoorsman, he went on to study natural resources and soak up any activity that includes four wheeling, snowmobiling or just plain being outside.

I grew up with a love of all things creative, staying up all night to sew an outfit to wear to school the next day, dreamed of living in a big city and travelling to every other metropolis I desired. I didn’t own a decent pair of hiking boots or a crazy warm winter coat until I finally got tired of being cold or showing up to hang out with Ross in inappropriate footwear.

Once I had the right shoes, and the right guy showing me around- I quickly came around to the idea of being “outdoorsy” (Ross would probably thinks it happened slowly). Encouraging us to take a hike, get in a canoe, buy sandals from a sporting goods store, and teaching me what the heck “portage” and a “clutch” (when not being referred to a handbag) are.

This guy can name a tree by its leaf, point out what type of frog is croaking in the distance, and spot a grouse from a mile away. He’s also the reason why 9 times out of 10 I can start a bonfire with a single match (a great party trick for city folk or you know, if you get lost in the woods).

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

By the time we came to terms with getting married, we both shared interest in doing something small, simple and somewhere in the woods. We originally toyed with the idea of a surprise wedding in our backyard- invite friends & family over, then mid-gathering whip out our vows & walk down the aisle. But the logistics got tricky so we opted to keeping our big day a secret from most of the world until after the big day.

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

The ceremony was low key. So low key, in fact, that we didn’t have an exact time or location until about 2 hours before it took place. Due to the looming rain clouds, we opted for the flattest spot we could find looking out to Gunflint Lake.

The Details

When it came to outfits, we opted for options that either:

A. We would wear again

B. We could rent

or C. Secondhand or hand me downs.

Keeping things casual made option A easier. Ross needed a new pair of jeans anyway (I wouldn't let him wear his favorite pair with a hole), a plaid dress shirt is a work attire staple, and the suit jacket will come in handy for being a guest at future weddings.

I considered borrowing my sister's wedding dress, but opted for option B and found 2 great options from Rent The Runway. This simple number was the winner and ended up purchasing it since alterations were in order. (Thanks for your sewing expertise, Angela!)

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

The leather jacket has a story of its own. I oogled over it in 2016 at the NYC location of All Saints- my kryptonite. I stored the style number in the notes section of my phone & there it sat. Years later, I Googled it, searched on Ebay & every other secondhand site I could find until I found it- the same jacket in my size, pre-loved from Poshmark.

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

Together we picked out rings from the amazing Britta Kauppila who enjoys using recycled metals & sustainably sourced stones.

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

My main request was for an epic tassel backdrop. Ross handled the hardware & woodworking, myself & a handful of friends constructed over 200 tassels to hang. Our lack of engineering experience made for a bit of a top heavy design. It fell over countless times during construction & once right before the ceremony.

Photo by Kellie Rae Studio

One of the most personal touches overall was hiring my sister to be our clergy member. She delivered the most incredible sermon which included 3 epic top 5 lists which eloquently & appropriately summed up our 15 year relationship in true David Letterman style.

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

The one thing that made it from my OG Pinterest board: our unity ceremony. We enlisted both our moms to fill a jar with dirt from a meaningful location. For Ross it was his family cabin (Camp Ripley in Ripley, ME) & for me, the house I grew up in (Superior, WI). We planted the tree using the dirt from our respective locations to symbolize new roots together with the help of our past. “Love fern,” anyone?

Side note: it survived its first Minnesotan winter & is doing just fine so far!

Photo by Kellie Rae Studio

For the rest of the important stuff, we asked our friends for help. Saffron + Grey arranged the most beautiful bouquet, floral arrangements & crown. Pro tip: give those girls a smidge of inspiration, then let them do their thing. Collectively we picked out a loose color palette and I probably incorrectly named a couple flowers I enjoy. Then they rocked the rest!

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

Simply Gypsy Events wrangled up the rest of the décor (& knocked it outta the park, BTW!). Her keen eye helped our backdrop look like it totally fit with the surroundings. She's a resourceful badass who was making sure everything was perfect & in order so we didn't have to.

And then there's Miss Kellie Rae. She's probably shaking her head reading this (if she's even reading this). She snapped a few photos of me at a pop up (ironically at Saffron + Grey) a few years back & I've been bugging her to take product shots & help me with model calls ever since. She's really good at putting the most awkward people (AKA Ross & I?) at ease in front of a camera. Oh yeah, and she usually makes me cry from laughter. But also, that's not too hard to do.

Other Little Things

Heaven help me when my crafty side comes out. From cake toppers, to handkerchiefs (that we didn't even use), to tassels on just about everything, there were plenty of opportunities for little leather details (including a bow tie for our dog).

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

Speaking of hankies- there was one that got its spot in the limelight. On the day I held a piece of family history : a handkerchief that 9 other women in my family have carried down the aisle since 1856 (talk about something old).

Photos by Kellie Rae Studio

We opted for a family dinner at the lodge & picked up dessert on our way to Grand Marais. Betty’s Pies + World’s Best Donuts for an unexpected twist on wedding cake

Having just started the #18BagsProject a month earlier, a wedding purse seemed like a good idea despite everything else going on. It ended up being yet another unused detail, but we still got photographic evidence of its existence! (Please note the fringe falling from the bouquet).

Photo by Kellie Rae Studio

So thankful for this epic day, all the little things that led us to this moment & for the years to come!

Tell me- what's your favorite detail from a wedding you've attended? Could be your own or one you crashed. Spill the juicy deets in the comments below.


bottom of page