Emily and Jon's intimate wedding took place in June Lake, 30 miles from the official Mountainside Bride HQ. They chose a gorgeous vacation home and kept the guest list small and intimate. Husband and wife team and adventure wedding photographers Brenda and Marc from Bergreen Photography were on hand throughout the day to capture each moment and take bridal portraits.
Emily and Jon
January 18, 2014
June Lake, California
Why a Mountain Wedding?
We have always been drawn to the mountains – the wildness and beauty are so awe-inspiring. We wanted to have a small wedding, set within the vast landscape of the Sierras. We didn’t need to decorate much because the natural scenery was so gorgeous.
Where did you find your inspiration?
The mountain environment was a key inspiration for us during the wedding planning. Some of our fondest memories are of time spent with a backpack in the mountains. When you’re in the wilderness you’re constantly reminded that you don’t need much to get by, and that less truly is more. There is so much beauty in simplicity. We drew inspiration from online resources (Pinterest, Mountainside bride, the Knot, Martha Stewart wedding, Offbeat bride, etc.) but then tried to keep perspective and avoid the temptation to keep adding more and more unnecessary details.
The photographers. We have never hired photographers before, so were hesitant at first. We debated asking friends to take photos for us, but in the end decided to splurge for professionals. I had heard stories from friends who had negative experiences with amateur photographers, so we wanted to avoid that frustration at all costs. It was absolutely worth it!! We researched different options online and decided on Bergreen Photography because they had beautiful outdoor wedding photos in their portfolio, and adventurous spirits. I would recommend researching photographers and being open with them about the type/look of photos you are hoping for.
The ceremony site. The location was off a side road, in a beautiful clearing with a magnificent juniper tree as the backdrop. It worked well having a small ceremony, we left only footprints (and a row of pinecones collected from the area).
What were some personal details you incorporated?
At the ceremony site, pinecones were collected and used to define the entry and the aisle. I loved this because they could be used and then left behind without impacting the environment. My mother (with the help of my sister) did all of the flower arrangements and bouquets. My mother has a great eye for arrangements, so it was really special to have her help. In my bouquet I incorporated delphiniums, the same flower that my dad gave to my mom in the hospital when I was born. My sister-in-law made our cake – 3-tiers – with a special rum cake top tier for us to enjoy!
Your favorite moment of the day.
I have a few favorite moments of the day, I’ll mention three… 1) The ceremony itself. The location and lighting were beautiful, and that brief period of time spent standing together really is the culmination of months of planning and waiting. I tried to pay close attention to every second because I was told that the ceremony flies by. That was really great advice. 2) The time spent taking photos after the ceremony because it gave us a chance to be with each other and talk, laugh, and hike around the forest. The photographers even surprised us with a bottle of champagne (chilling in the lake) when we walked down to the beach. 3) Popping champagne at the cabin to pour drinks for toasting. We, along with our fathers, grabbed bottles and let the corks launch. The atmosphere was so fun and full of love.
Three things you're glad you did.
- Kept things simple. We worked really hard to keep a balanced perspective during the planning process. There’s so much temptation to add more and more, and to second-guess yourself. It really helps keep the stress down if you remember to look at the bigger picture from time to time.
- Hire photographers. We were so happy with the experience we had with Brenda and Marc Bergreen, and the photos are really special. Definitely worth the money.
- Choose to do an outdoor ceremony. We were ready for a blizzard, but instead got clear skies and a light breeze. It really was important to us to have an outdoor ceremony, and despite the unpredictable nature of the mountains, it was wonderful.
Anything you wish you had done?
Stress less. I was concerned about the guests having enough to entertain them at the reception, but in the end there was no need to worry. People had a great time talking, drinking, eating…they didn’t need anything else!
What was the best piece of wedding advice you got?
To slow down and remember to take it all in. To try to be present and just enjoy the experience because the day goes by so quickly.
What piece of wedding planning advice do you wish you followed?
None actually. We broke some of the rules and were happy with the results. There were five months between the proposal and our wedding, and it’s absolutely possible to plan a wedding in that time.
Anything you wish you hadn't worried about?
My main concern was worrying about everyone else having a good time. Unnecessary to worry about, and once the wedding day actually comes, definitely stop worrying!
Anything You wish you had known about sooner rather than later?
The weather conditions would have been nice. Had we known that January 2014 was going to be the driest on record in the Sierras, I could have saved some money and skipped the long underwear and coat! But the mountains were beautiful as always, and we were really fortunate to have such pleasant weather.
How did you choose your vendors?
We looked online and cross-checked information with various websites to make sure we were getting a balanced view/review. Blogs were helpful when searching for photographers because you could see what their work looked like without too much bias. Once we narrowed down the photographers and caterers, we called them and went off of feel. If we clicked, we went with them.
What is your very best advice to other mountain brides?
Enjoy the experience! For planning – the simpler the better in the mountains, because the setting is so beautiful. For the wedding day – slow down and just enjoy, there’s no more planning that you have to do, so have fun!
June Lake Wedding Vendors
- Photographers: Bergreen Photography: We cannot say enough about Marc and Brenda Bergreen – they are such sweet people and absolute professionals. They made the experience fun and relaxing rather than awkward, and we all truly had a blast. They worked beyond the 8 hours we had agreed to, and surprised us with a long-exposure night shot that they set up down the road from the cabin.
- Catering: Chef Dan Molnar: He was fantastic and cooked in front of the guests in the kitchen, filled wine glasses, and lit candles. The food was delicious – particularly the mac n’ cheese!
- Officiant: Jill Orozco: She was great and helped create really special vows that incorporated the mountains and quotes by John Muir.
- Flowers: Vons in Mammoth Lakes: They were really helpful and the prices were great | Fiftyflowers.com is a good way to get bulk flowers delivered anywhere | Pinecones at the ceremony site; and willow branches that my sister brought from her home in Montana.
DIY Projects and Details
Since our guests drove from out of town, and some arrived early on Friday, we planned a cross-country skiing outing for whoever was interested. It was really fun to have a group of friends and family skiing and falling together through the woods.
- Pinecones were a recurring theme – they’re perfect because they can be returned back outside once you’re done with them. I made tiny pinecone cake toppers – one with a scarf and one with white flowers, silly but fun.
- I created my own hair piece from silk flowers I ordered through Etsy, there are tutorials online.
- Apothecary jars (Ebay) to hold flowers and others to create mini terrariums with moss, sticks and small woodland animals.
- A warming drink for guests to enjoy when they arrived at the cabin – a fortified wine (BevMo) poured into small glasses (Ikea), was a fun way to transition to the reception.
- Hot chocolate and coffee with different toppings and various types of liquor. Assorted candles from friends, family, Ikea, made for a really fun eclectic mix.