This Couple's Wedding Is a Dream for Festival Lovers
There are some wedding videos that are just so emotional, so over-the-top or so absolutely stunning, we feel they deserve a bigger accolade on our site, like the title of Love Story of the Week! This wedding video gets this title because of the utter awesomeness of the couple, the festival vibes of their wedding and what is quite possibly the best, and sweetest, first dance we've ever seen!
Watch the video by Jay and Mack Films and then scroll on for an inside look at Kaitlyn and Alex's planning process, tips and vendors!
1. How did you two meet?
Kaitlyn: What a long and complicated tale haha - The short of it, our dads are business partners and we met at a convention in Vegas! The long of it is a little more woven than that, but it’s a story I love to tell. I was actually married previously and going through a divorce, it was a super rough time personally and I was keeping a lot of it under wraps, especially at work. Alex’s dad had been my business mentor for years, I always considered him a good friend and someone who I could talk to and knew he would always have my back. We both worked in the same industry and were going to be at a huge convention in Vegas, so I asked if Nick (my now FIL) if we could grab lunch and catch up. We ended up grabbing lunch and he goes “Oh, Alex, my son is actually going to be here this week too so you’ll have someone to hang out with” (everyone else in our industry was like over 50 haha). So as I’m knee-deep in a burrito, Alex walks up and I remember thinking ‘Oh, he’s much cuter than I remember him being…’ If you ask Alex about this moment, he’ll tell you he was thinking ‘Damn, where’d she get that burrito?!’ hahaha. But we ended up working together and hanging out all week, Alex was so open-minded and caring, he made me feel safe to talk about my divorce without any judgment and we became quick friends. After that, we ended up talking on and off for a few weeks (I lived in Chicago, he lived in Los Angeles) until I got a call from him one day and he said “I can’t stop thinking about you and I’m not sure if this is crazy, but you should come to LA this weekend. I have a flight and I’m ready to hit book, all you have to say is yes.” So I said yes! I’m so thankful to this day that Alex had the courage to be so bold, and I’m thankful to myself, despite the 1,000,000 reasons I had to say ‘no’, that I swallowed my fear and pride in that moment and said yes. Those early days took a lot of navigating and a lot of patience and A LOT of communication, but I think it’s made us the strong and resilient couple we are today. I still love his crazy impulsiveness that brought us together. And that damn burrito :)
2. How did the proposal happen?
Alex: I knew I wanted to propose. How or when still was a mystery to me. Kaitlyn likes so many different things, she’s so complex and beautiful, it was tough to imagine a single place being worthy of asking the biggest question of my life. I am romantic, a big dreamer, so the simple and classy restaurant dinner on one knee didn’t fit me. After spending a few days scouting local locations (in Southern California we have lots of options) I decided on a private cave in Laguna Beach. It’s in a small community tucked away. The sandy beach opening to the cave was big enough for us to spread out but still a cozy view for the sunset over the Pacific. My cover story was simple: meeting my best man and his gf for a hike in Laguna. In reality, Matt would be setting up blankets/music/food/champagne/candles in the cave prior to our arrival. The day of, Kaitlyn was immediately onto me. She knew something was up, saying I was dressed too nice for a hike. I changed out of my jeans and flannel into something more ‘hike appropriate’. Also, I seemed overly stressed about leaving on-time, but was then stalling. Finally she called me out “What’s your deal? Why are you acting so weird?!?” I confessed that Matt and I were surprising her and Matts gf with drinks and food on the hike. Ok, she replied “”You’re really bad at lying to me, you better not act like this on the day you propose!” and she laughed it off. I nearly fainted and burst out laughing at the same time. But finally we were on our way, I put on a classic 90’s playlist so she’d be singing along and not ask any more questions on our drive. Then, as is life, I got the text from Matt. “STALL …. The cave is packed! There’s kids and people everywhere!” The beach wasn’t private but with the weather still being a little chilly at the end of March, I thought we’d have the cave to ourselves, so I went into plan B mode. I pulled off to a rooftop bar for a cocktail, citing Matt’s make-believe tardiness. Matt spent over an hour shoo-ing people out and setting up. Once again, we were good to go. When we arrived down at the beach, Matt started a polite conversation with Kaitlyn, giving me time to get into the cave and down on one knee. After what felt like forever, Kaitlyn finally comes around the corner, sees me and immediately starts crying. I don’t think she remembers a word I said, and I don’t really for that matter, but I just remember being over-the-moon when she said ‘yes!’. We spent the rest of the night drinking wine, eating lobster rolls, watching the sun go down and dancing in the cave by candlelight. The tide came in quickly after the sun went down, so in the dark, we quickly gathered our things to get out of there. We both earned a few scratches on the way out (Kaitlyn carrying the champagne and climbing over rocks yelling ‘save the champs!’), but I don't remember one complaint. We adventure together. The wedding and life with her is the best adventure of my life, why should the proposal have been any different?
Kaitlyn: I was such a brat the day Alex proposed as you can tell from his side of the story haha… he’s so bad at lying and I just knew he was hiding something!! Once I knew the whole picture, of course, I was just laughing and crying and the entire day was just so us. I don’t remember a lick of the sweet romantic things he said to me, I was so shocked, but I remember crying and absolutely dying over the gorgeous Heidi Gibson ring he picked out. Alex has always been a hopeless romantic, I love that he kept our proposal private, I get so uncomfortable being the center of attention. Every detail was perfect and I will forever love dancing in that cave with him until the sun went down.
3. What is each of your favorite things about your relationship?
Alex: We communicate really well. We honestly tell each other every uncomfortable thing, and truly believe that it makes our relationship stronger. If we didn't both believe that, it wouldn't work. But we do, and it does. Then you're left with someone you trust completely. We accept each other but still encourage each other to want more. That's a tricky line to walk. I try to remind her of what she's accomplished. If you can go out and get that awesome job at the cool company and be the best salesperson there…tell me why you can't do the next thing you want to do?!? Be patient, be kind. These are the two things I try to do with everyone I meet, but Kaitlyn's my wife so I'm going to give as much of those two things that I have, to her. And have fun. If we're ever in a funk, we plan something to shake our lives up. Go on an adventure, get out of our heads and our bubble. We spend money and time on so many other things that will never be as important as our relationships. Sometimes it's nice to spoil yourselves with a good time. It doesn't even need to cost anything. Just put in the time. I'm going to have fun with this girl for the rest of my life, I might as well start now.
Kaitlyn: That I never feel the need to be anything other than myself. With Alex, I just get to show up, with whatever version of myself I have to give that day and I know that that’s always enough. Our communication and ability to put away our pride/ego is another big one. We’re both quick to apologize and we trust each other to tell the other exactly what we’re feeling and why we’re feeling that way. I never have to guess why Alex is upset, he tells me and I trust him to tell me the whole truth so that we can get through it together. And the last, and probably my favorite of favorites, is the little things Alex does every day to make me feel loved. The other day he changed all of my alarm names on my phone to things like \"It’s Alex…. I love you!\" and \"I’m so proud of you!\" or \"You’re so strong, there’s nothing you can’t do!\" I have a ton of alarms for meetings and reminders and seeing those throughout the day made me feel like I could conquer the world. It’s the little acts of love that he shows me every day, it’s truly magical to never doubt someone’s love for you, not even in the hardest moments, and that’s a love I know we’ll always fight for. [Editor's note: If this isn't the cutest thing I've ever heard…then I don't know what is!]
4. What was the first thing you did as an engaged couple?
Drank too much champagne, haha. That’s real, but I think what you mean is more an ‘act’ that we did as an engaged couple :) So fun fact, we actually had already booked our wedding venue before getting married. We knew we’d be getting engaged and REALLY wanted to make sure we got a date we wanted at The Hideout. We had gone to see the venue in February 2018 and put a ‘hold’ on our date for August 2019. So one of the first things we did was tell our venue that we were 100% IN and to send us the contract, any other info, etc. that we needed to secure it.
We actually were taking a trip with both sets of our parents that following weekend, so we got to spend the first week of our engagement just celebrating the two of us. It was nice in those early days to kind of have this little ‘secret’ we were keeping, but it was amazing and I loved that it was just ours for a bit. That next weekend we took a trip with our parents and told them we were engaged, it was so wonderful celebrating with everyone!
5. If you don't mind sharing, what was your budget and how did you decide on it?
Our budget was right around $60 - 65K. My parents were kind enough to cover the cost of the venue for us, and Alex’s parents also contributed an amount they were comfortable with. There were certain vendors that we wanted to spend our money on (videographer, photographer, wedding planner) and so we covered the cost of those ourselves. We also were very fortunate to have family and friends contribute everything from wine to the eucalyptus on our table to my mom who hand-made all of our macrame details scattered throughout the wedding. When it comes to budget, my biggest piece of advice is to ask what people are comfortable contributing and working backward from there. The Hideout included SO MUCH in the cost of the venue, which really helped us focus on hiring all the ‘extras’ that were going to make our weekend special and unique to us.
6. What were your top three priorities when planning your wedding?
Kaitlyn: (1) For it to reflect who we are as individuals and who we are as a couple. (2) For our family, friends and loved ones to get to spend quality time together in a beautiful setting without the draw and distractions from the \"outside world.\" (3) To plan everything out ahead of time so that, the weekend of, we could relax and enjoy!
Alex:(1)That it is true to who we are. The beauty of a wedding is all your guests get to experience a piece of who you are as a couple. (2) To remember that, if at the end of everything we are married, it was a complete success.(3) Not to put our relationship on hold while we're planning our wedding. Just because we're busy, it doesn't mean our relationship should suffer. Date nights, visiting with friends or going to a concert is a much-needed break from planning to reconnect and enjoy our time together.
7. What did you each think the first time you saw each other on your wedding day?
Alex:It was so great to wake up with Kaitlyn and start our day together. It was completely a personal choice for us and us alone. Starting our day together helped us deal with the stress and anxiety that creeps in when your big day is finally there. Having my best friend by my side, the only one who truly knows the full extent of what has gone into making this day possible, was everything.
When I saw Kaitlyn, in her dress, walking down the aisle, I was overcome with emotion. I'm normally an emotional guy, so I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it together. I don't know how to describe it. My heart stopped while somehow also beating faster. I couldn't help but stare. I slightly rocked back and forth with nervous and excited energy. Above all else, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. I was excited for Kaitlyn to finally be standing up there with me. Pure joy.
Kaitlyn: So this is a bit tricky because there were two \"first times\" on our wedding day lol. Alex and I had talked a lot about what we wanted our wedding day to look like and for both of us, it included a lot of time together. Traditionally speaking, we just weren’t on board with going the whole day without seeing one another. So we decided early on that our wedding day would look the way that we wanted it to, not the way that tradition told us it should. Morning of our wedding day we woke up giddy and excited, put on some comfy clothes and slowly made our way downstairs to make coffee. Our entire wedding party (minus a few with kiddos!) stayed on-site with us at The Hideout so the kitchen was already bustling when we got downstairs. We said our hellos to all our family, friends and loved ones, ate a quick breakfast and then took off on a hike, just the two of us. We left the morning for everyone to explore the 40 acres The Hideout sits on or to swim in the lake, relax in the hot tub, whatever they wanted to do. Alex and I spent the morning doing what we love the most, exploring unknown spots with each other. At 11 o’clock we got back to the house and went our separate ways. Since our ceremony wasn’t until 5 pm we had a ton of time to celebrate with our wedding party, take time to be alone and reflect, and just enjoy the day!
The second-first time I saw Alex was when I walked down the aisle. Technically, I saw him help our flower girl down the aisle as I peeked through the trees, to which I thought ‘That’s so Alex, always being helpful\" But seeing him as I walked down the aisle, knowing he’d soon by my husband was a feeling like no other. I was just so grateful in that moment to be surrounded by such beauty and love and to know he was there, at the other end of that aisle, waiting to be my forever. Oh, and that I had won our bet (I knew he’d be the first to cry!).
8. Did you write your own vows? If so, what personalized details did you add? If not, how come?
Kaitlyn: We did! We actually wrote our entire ceremony ourselves, which was a ton of fun and made the ceremony feel the way we wanted it to. We took a Sunday afternoon and went to our favorite cafe to compile and write our ceremony. We ‘borrowed’ the flow of some ceremonies we found online, but wanted our ceremony to reflect what marriage means to us.
For our vows, we both wrote our own. I’d say both of us had probably been writing them on and off for about a year. My process was to have a notes tab on my phone that was just filled with ideas, quotes, memories, moments that meant a lot to me throughout the year that we were engaged (and before!). About 2-3 months before the wedding, I went back and read through all of my notes and started compiling them together so there was a flow and story to my vows. It was really fun to go back through those memories and even after the wedding we both shared our ‘outtakes’ of things that didn’t quite make the cut!
Alex:I added a ton of personal details. I spoke about struggles we've overcome as a couple. I spoke about my feelings for Kaitlyn and how she has impacted me. I told her how proud I am of her, how she inspires me. My vows were less about promises and more about the person that stood in front of me. I wanted her to know that I see her, and accept her and love her, for exactly who she is.
9. Why did you choose the outfits you did for your wedding?
Kaitlyn: I really don’t enjoy the process of shopping to be honest. I’ve had a lot of friends that have gone to try on dresses and brought people who had different styles, different tastes and it made their experience really hard, especially if you’re a people-pleaser like I am! For my dress, I knew that I loved Grace Loves Lace dresses, they looked comfortable and boho and like something I could run around in all day and feel beautiful! Fortunately, I live in Southern California and the flagship store for the US GLL is in Venice Beach. Once a year they have an incredible sample sale so I got tickets, waited in line early in the morning, had my best friend meet me with coffee and found my dream dress all before 9 AM. I did Facetime with my mom when I found the dress I loved, she cried and was so happy I’d found something I loved. The process was perfect for me and really allowed me to focus on what I loved and what I wanted to look like on my big day. The rest of my look kind of came together naturally. I’ve always loved Opal Milk jewelry and knew I wanted one of her pieces for my big day, Alex found a piece that he knew I’d love and bought it for me as a surprise. I wanted a wooden heel shoe so found some vintage ones online, I knew my shoes would only last a few hours (I live my life barefoot when possible!) so that wasn’t a huge decision! Basically I found things that made me feel beautiful and comfortable and ran with them!
Bride Tip: I HIGHLY suggest going to a few places to try on dresses first either by yourself or with one close friend, even just to get an idea of what you like on your body and narrow down styles. There are so many options out there and it can be really overwhelming (and a lot of pressure!) if the first time you’re trying on dresses is in front of your entire crew. Some people that TOTALLY works for and they love it! But if that doesn’t sound like you, it’s 100% okay that your wedding dress shopping experience is a little different than what it’s ‘supposed’ to look like!
Alex: Because DAMN, WE LOOKED GOOD. Lol, Kaitlyn is the visionary. I picked things I liked and would be excited to wear. Kaitlyn and I were very involved with each other's outfits/decisions. Other than the dress, we helped each other pick out everything. I'm not opposed to shopping for the perfect accent belt if you'll help me find some cool leather suspenders. We'd get lunch and make a day of it.
P.S. If your suit isn't crazy expensive, get extra pants, back up ties, etc. It's worth the peace of mind and chances are a groomsmen or wedding guest can use whatever you don't (speaking from experience here!)
10. What is your favorite memory from your wedding day?
Kaitlyn: Probably our first dance or climbing up a mountain barefoot at midnight with a glass of champagne to take an epic photo with the meteor shower in the background. Being up above our wedding and looking down at everyone we love to deeply dancing, laughing, and just having the best time made our hearts swell with pride and love. Just taking that moment to soak in what had just happened was so magical.
Alex: I can't pick a favorite. We had so many moments. All gone by too quickly. We took a quick walk together after the ceremony. No people, no cameras, just us. I loved that moment.
11. What's your top tip to all soonlyweds out there planning their weddings?
Alex: Communicate!! Obviously with each other. Clearly ask your partner for what you need. This process can be stressful enough when you're on the same page. Don't turn on each other. Communicate with your family. We asked our family one year before the wedding, \"Is there anything you care about?\" We will take every request under consideration. I don't want to hear from you a week before the wedding that you don't like the napkins. Too late, you missed your chance. Luckily our families were super supportive and communicated any important requests early so we were able to address them. [Editor's Note: This is SUCH a great tip! 100% think everyone should do this.]
Kaitlyn: Stay true to yourself. It’s not easy to plan a wedding. There are so many personalities and opinions and choices to be made along the way. It’s easy to compromise on little things, but don’t compromise on the big things that really matter to you. Be respectful to everyone contributing (i.e. paying for!) any part of your wedding, but communicate why you want things a certain way or your vision for the day clearly - trust me, our parents thought we were CRAZY for getting married in the middle of the woods with no service for miles. But they trusted us (even though I’m sure it was hard at times!) and in the end, they knew that we all planned a weekend that was perfect for Alex and me and that we stayed true to ourselves, which is all they ever wanted.
Side Tip: We asked our parents to make a list right after we got engaged of everything that was important to them for our wedding day. We told them that we’d take all of that into consideration while we planned out the weekend. It helped put everyone at ease and really focus on what mattered most to those that we loved most! Trust me, when you’re in it, it feels like the napkin color could MAKE OR BREAK your wedding. It won’t. Make the list, remind yourself what it’s really all about.
12. Why would you suggest hiring a videographer?
Alex: I wouldn’t suggest hiring a videographer, I would suggest hiring OUR videographer!
Kaitlyn: Yes, what Alex said - if you’re lucky enough and Jay and Mack are available for your wedding day. Book them. Now. Seriously.
In general, there are so many moments you’re going to miss on your wedding day—from your brother getting into a dance-off with your cousin to your grandma shimmy-ing with your sister-in-law—there’s just too much going on for you to really soak it all in! A videographer captures all of those moments and creates a story that you will treasure forever. The feeling of watching Alex cry when I walked down the aisle, watching him help our niece throw flowers, seeing how much fun he had with his guys while getting ready—those moments are special and don’t stay in your memory forever. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched our wedding videos. Way too many to count, but on a hard day, a good day or just a Tuesday, the second I see those videos, I get a huge smile on my face and it takes me right back. I could never replicate the feeling of marrying Alex, but having a video of those moments comes as close as humanly possible to putting me right back there, standing under the sun and saying yes to the man I love more than I ever thought possible.
13. Tell me about the shoot where you jumped into the lake with all your clothes—I applaud you!
Kaitlyn: Ahhhh the cliff jump moment! What a rush. So we get a lot of questions about that moment and, NO, it was not on our actual wedding day! Alex’s one traditional rule was that he didn’t want to see me in my dress before I walked down the aisle, so we didn’t have a first look. I knew that the sun set in Tahoe right around 8 pm which was when there were speeches and dinner and lots of stuff going on, so we were going to miss that \"golden hour\" that every photographer/videographer loves (I mean, of course they do, it’s the best time of day!). So instead of being super stressed about squeezing in those shots, we decided to do a day-after photoshoot… one of the BEST decisions that we made! We didn’t need engagement photos, but an engagement session came with our photography/videography package so we asked if our vendors would be down for a day-after shoot instead - they were 100% in and I think made them feel better about not having to capture every single little moment jam-packed into one day.
So, the jump!!! We’ve always been ones to push the limits, we’ve been caving and cliff jumping around the world. I always say if there’s something slightly dangerous to do nearby, Alex will find a way to do it. Because I didn’t want any broken bones or injuries before the wedding, our adventure shoot on Sunday was the perfect moment. Once we got up there, it was definitely higher than we originally thought, but we were committed! It was such a rush and so much fun to literally take the leap together into the next stage of our lives. Swimming in the lake afterward was a hoot in that dress, but I’ve always loved underwater photography and the images of us are some of my favorites from the entire weekend. So, if you’re thinking of doing something crazy (like jumping off a cliff in your wedding dress), DO IT! If your dress is too heavy, buy a cheap white one that you don’t mind getting a little messy! You only live once.
14. Talk to me about the \"wedding festival weekend\" vibe. Why did you come up with that concept and what were the biggest details that you think made your vision come to life?
Kaitlyn: Honestly, it wasn’t something we planned, the name came about organically. With The Hideout, you get the property from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning. As we started explaining to our friends our vision for the weekend - Family/Bridal Party Game Night on Thursday, Lake Day and BBQ Open House for Friday, Rehearsal Dinner under the stars, late-night hot tub, hikes and family breakfast Saturday, THE WEDDING, another late-night hot tub, another lake day on Sunday, our friends would all go \"Oh, so it’s like your own mini Coachella\" or \"Damn, this isn’t a wedding, it’s an EVENT!\" I’ve been involved in music my whole life—I sang in an acapella group in college—and so I’ve always loved music festivals, arts festivals, anything that allows people to express themselves creatively. Once we leaned into that idea, the entire weekend really came together.
For the details and to accomplish that vibe, I’d say we really spoke a lot of it into existence haha. We’d mention ideas we’d have to friends like, \"Wouldn’t an axe-throwing station be cool?\" and the next thing we know our friends gifted us two throwing axes. Cool—guess we’re doing the axe throwing station! I’d really say, just talk about your ideas, you never know if others have done something similar or have ideas to contribute! Our wedding was such a group effort to accomplish and the vibe wouldn’t have been possible without the support, love and encouragement of our friends.
Alex: All we wanted was to find the perfect way to celebrate with our friends and family. Kaitlyn deserves all the credit. She found the venue that allowed us to have a five-day wedding. Thursday night, unpacking with close family and friends. Toasting to finally being at the venue. Sitting around a bonfire. Friday swimming in the lake and having every invited guest welcome to join our bbq day. To the big day that ended under a meteor shower in a giant rock hot tub. To the relaxing Sunday….every day was one of the greatest days of my life. Every day was unique. Special. Original.
15. We love love looove your first dance! How did you plan/choreograph it or was it just an in-the-moment thing?
Kaitlyn: I’m going to let Alex answer that one—it was ALL HIM!!
Alex: One Christmas in Chicago, we went to the movies with Kaitlyn's family. We saw The Greatest Showman. The music hit me, stuck in my head. I listened to \"From Now On\" over and over. I imagined dancing to it. In the shower every morning, I would plan out one step further in the dance. Finally, one night after a few glasses of wine, I felt it was finally ready to show Kaitlyn. I danced around the front room while the dogs went crazy. Kaitlyn sat in awe, eyes wide with confusion and love. Neither of us really loved the idea of dancing in front of a bunch of people, so we loved the idea of starting with just us and then after a bit, we’d give a nod to our wedding party and they all would come rushing in to finish out the song with us. This way, we start with simple slow dancing, that picks up and we can bust out some fun moves, then finish the song with everyone. A little bit of everything all wrapped up into one. Sharing our dance with each other, and the people we love most. Honestly, it was so much more fun than either one of us thought it would be. We meant to practice the beginning part more, but, honestly, we didn’t have time and so most of us it was just made up on the spot. Kaitlyn’s brother Dylan is an incredible dancer and choreographer so he showed us some moves to try out, I think we did him proud and threw a few in there!
16. Who were your favorite wedding vendors and why?
Honestly, every vendor we hired I’m slightly in love with. Where to even start—our photographers, our videographers, our caterer, our wedding planner, our DJ, our venue team… I could go on and on. Hire vendors that you vibe with, hire vendors you admire, hire vendors that you want to hang out with all day because they are there all day and will make your wedding weekend a dream. I consider every single one of them a friend now and I love supporting them on their own dreams and journeys as they grow in their passions and careers.
17. Anything else you'd like to share about your wedding or some details I didn't ask about?
We’ve probably inundated you now with details, lol, so I think we covered it all! My last bit of advice for other couples is: Your wedding should look how you want it to look. It’s so easy to get into competition for likes and blogs and retweets, to compromise because your great-aunt doesn’t understand the concept of open-seating and asks a million times where her seat is, trust me, my sister almost fainted when she saw bats flying around at night, but your wedding day is something you want to look back on with love and pride. And on her wedding day, I will be right by her side, dressed up in an evening gown, Alex in a tux in some fancy, elegant corner of the world. Every relationship is different and so every wedding will be different. Weddings are not a competition, they’re a reflection of the love and the life that two people are starting together and we should all take the time—whether you’re the one getting married or supporting a loved one who is getting married—to celebrate our differences and celebrate the uniqueness that makes up this big, crazy world. Compromise on the little things, stick to your guns on the big decisions and take your time to soak in all the love around you.
We wouldn't be here without the help, support and love from our family and friends. Too many people to count. Our parents were supportive in every sense of the word. Every family member helped in some way or another. Our best friends organized, planned, and poured a stiff drink at the end of long days. Family friends helped get us deals on wine and transport stuff to our venue. We are truly lucky to have the people around us that we do.
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