From Caitlin Thomas Photography: Allison and Tim were married in the beautiful and serene silence of nature at the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park. Their laid back fête was so incredibly genuine that every guest felt as though they were truly a part of the celebration. From the rolling hills in the background to the wild flowers in Allison's hair and bouquet, their day was perfect.
Allison + Tim
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle, Bald Eagle State Park, Howard PA
June 13, 2015
Wedding day weather: Warm and cloudy with a little rain in the morning
Number of guests: 65
Biggest splurge: Photography! Caitlin Thomas Photography did an amazing job photographing our wedding day. It was one of our best wedding-planning decisions.
Biggest savings: The venue and a DIY-attitude! The venue had such great natural beauty that we only had minimal decorations that we mostly made ourselves.
Why did you choose the Mountains for your wedding?
We wanted to choose a venue that was unique and somewhat non-traditional. We decided to get married in central Pennsylvania, where I’m from, which is home to many beautiful forested and mountainous state parks. A family friend suggested the venue, and once we saw how beautiful it was we easily made our decision!
Wedding day theme:
Seeing that our wedding was at a place called The Nature Inn, it seemed only natural that our wedding theme revolved around nature. We incorporated a lot of wildflowers into various aspects of the décor such as in the bouquets, in my hair, in the centerpieces, and on the cake. We also made the centerpieces from planters and vases with natural wood bark on the outside, and there were a lot of other little details with either trees or flowers on them.
Where did you find your inspiration?
Most of the décor inspiration came from Pinterest and Etsy, and a lot of wedding planning advice came from blogs such as apracticalwedding.com and offbeatbride.com.
How did you choose to personalize your wedding?
One way we personalized our wedding was to ask family and friends to help get involved. Although we’re both scientists, we’re lucky to be friends with many creative professionals who offered their services! Our friend and Maid of Honor, Sarah, is a graphic designer and she designed the invitations, ceremony programs, and website. Our friend Clayton, a musician, performed during our ceremony and helped us choose the perfect ceremony music. Our friend Alex has officiated weddings before and served as our officiant. We also had lots of help from friends and family during the wedding weekend, from setting up the decorations to transporting and grilling food for the rehearsal dinner BBQ. We couldn’t have done it all without them! It also made the wedding very personal. We also wrote our own wedding ceremony and our own vows which made the day that much more unique.
What was your favorite part of the reception?
Dancing! I love to dance. After all of the “planned events” were over, getting to relax and spend time celebrating with my husband.
What are three things you're super glad you did?
- Chose our park venue. We really wanted a place where we could go for the weekend and not have to worry about traveling once we arrived. We and most of our guests all lodged at the Inn for the entire weekend, so we were able to have all of our wedding events there- the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (which was a casual BBQ outside), getting ready on the day of the wedding, the ceremony, and the reception. That also saved us a ton of money on transportation and renting multiple venue spaces. Choosing the right venue made everything else fall into place.
- Wrote and officiated our own ceremony. Since self-uniting marriages are legal in PA, technically we officiated our own wedding! (Although we had our friend and best man Alex officiate and lead the ceremony). Everything about it was very personal, since we wrote our own vows and picked all of the readings, rituals, and songs.
- Had a first look before the ceremony. We did a first look as well as the wedding party and family photos before the ceremony. It was a great decision because we were able to spend the cocktail hour and reception with our guests and not have to worry about the timing of taking pictures in between the ceremony and reception. It worked well with the flow of events since everything was in the same space. Another nice thing about doing a first look was that Tim and I had a few moments to ourselves to just relax and enjoy the moment right before the ceremony was about to start. It calmed my nerves a bit.
What was the biggest challenge in planning your mountain wedding and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was that we planned the wedding from out of state, since we live in Massachusetts. We had to do a lot of the planning over the phone and by email. We ended up scheduling meetings with our venders over the holidays when we were visiting the area or during the week before the wedding. It worked out well since we had over a year to plan everything once we booked our venue.
How did you find and choose your vendors?
Since we were married near where I grew up, we got a lot of recommendations through friends and word of mouth. Our photographers shot a friend’s wedding, our DJ was a recommendation from a friend, our hair and makeup team were friends of our family, and most of the other venders came highly recommended as well.
What is your best piece of advice to other mountain brides who are planning their weddings?
Don’t stress about the weather! We rented a tent for the outdoor ceremony space in case of rain. It did rain a bit during the morning of the wedding day, but for the rest of the day it was perfect. Having the tent set up gave us piece of mind that no matter what, we and our guests would be dry. Worrying about things I couldn’t change such as the weather was a waste of energy! Focus instead on things you can control or plan. It’s always a gamble with the weather when having an outdoor wedding, but trust that everything will turn out great regardless of the weather! Your guests are there to celebrate your marriage with you and your partner regardless of whether it rains or not, and that is the most important thing to keep in mind.
Howard, Pennsylvania Wedding Vendors
Wedding Photographer: Caitlin Thomas Photography | Cake Designer: Delectable Delights by Heather Luse | DJ: Mint Events | Hair Stylist: Naomi and Co | Invitation Designer: Sarah Muscarella | Event Venue: The Nature Inn | Floral Designer: Woodrings Floral Garden | Ceremony Musician: Clayton Mathews | Makeup: Devan Bechtol | Bartenders: J Rose Bartending | Event Rentals: Pegasus Wedding and Party Rentals | Bride’s Rings: Studio1040 on Etsy