Love story…

Austin Dame & I met in Theory Collaborative coffee shop in Redding, California shortly after he moved there. I wish I could say it was love at first sight! However, despite the lack of an initial spark, we quickly became close friends. 

Within a few months of knowing one another, I was accepted to a post-grad school in Italy. I had four weeks to move countries (during the pandemic), and lots of things to sell in order to finance my trip. Due to Austin’s recent relocation to Redding, he had a need for many of the items I was trying to sell: including my car. 

Fast-forward five months, after selling 70% of my belongings to my dear friend, I moved back to Redding. We hadn’t communicated much while I was abroad but, the first full day I was in town, we went on our first date. Talk about not wasting time! Austin was persistent, communicative, kind, and thorough in his pursuit of me. 

We dated for six months (April 2021 – October 2021) before we got engaged. Austin pulled cash out every time he was reminded of his love for me, starting in May, in order to have the savings necessary to purchase my engagement diamond, though I was unaware of his savings. This beautiful diamond replaced the original center diamond of my grandmother’s engagement ring; I had worn the wedding band portion of the ring for 8 years!

Austin proposed to me during a stunning sunset at Carmel Beach, a 6-hour drive from Redding. My three best friends flew out from Texas for one night to surprise me there! It was magical. There were dolphins jumping, and people cheering, and me smiling non-stop. That night during dinner, Austin brought out a bottle of wine that I gave to him from Italy when I returned to the country in March; he had saved it specifically to enjoy on the day of our engagement. 

I had never much considered what the perfect wedding dress for me would look like! So, engagement awakened all the dreams of being a beautiful bride that I had never dared to dream before. I spent the first month looking online for inspiration (and admittedly, for used dresses, because hello budget)!

Given that none of my bridal party lives in California, hunting for a dress was something I only felt comfortable doing with my mom. We set up one Saturday in Chico with an appointment at A | E. I tried on merely three dresses with my stylist Emily, before she handed me a fairytale dress. I tried it on and the train fell to the floor with such grace. It was simple, elegant, and perfect for a wedding in the trees. I knew immediately it was the one! I purchased it within 10 minutes of trying it on; easy-peasy and ideal!

When we began the process of selecting a wedding venue, I repeatedly told Austin that I was searching for a place so beautiful that only minimal decoration would be required. I knew it had to be outdoors with beautiful light, and that simple elegance was the vision. 

The ceremony venue was a redwood grove located outside of Muir Woods in Mill Valley. The regal trees surround a secluded amphitheater nestled next to a bubbling brook, and the evening light filtered through to delightfully illuminate the wooden stage. It was pure, and felt as though God was smiling down upon us.

Another unique element to our wedding is that we took communion together, and invited our guests to hear the gospel. This was important to us to include, as our faith is foundational to our relationship.

Perhaps the most unique elements of our wedding are the components we excluded. We did not do either a garter toss, or a bouquet toss. We also decided against a lavish cake, though one was gifted to us from one of the attendees, and provided our guests with donuts galore. 

Our wedding favors were dual-purpose; each guest received a stemless wine glass that they were able to use during our reception, and keep afterwards! We also had Chipotle catered, which helped to appease every picky eater in the crowd! 

My favorite memory from our wedding day.. so difficult to choose! It must have been when Austin & I left the reception in our ‘getaway car.’ We drove across the Golden Gate bridge at 11PM, towards San Francisco where we would spend the night together, and felt as though we were in a movie. Since neither of us are from California originally (Austin is from Oregon, and I’m from New Mexico) the reality of us getting married here and spending our wedding night in SF was quite surreal! 

Advice for Future Brides:

Don’t waste time during your engagement season on being stressed about wedding planning. It’s a lot to handle, but rest in the truth that the bottom-line goal is the marriage, not the wedding itself! 

If you can, spend more money on your honeymoon than on your wedding! Take the honeymoon immediately after you get married; trust me, you’ll want a vacation.

Don’t be afraid to ask your fiancé for help with wedding planning! It’s an antiquated assumption that the man won’t assist in this process, when the wedding is about both of you. Divide the tasks and conquer!

Soak in every moment as best as you can, and allow others to celebrate you. 

Photographer: Michael Buss | Venues: Old Mill Park Amphitheater & Mill Valley Community Center Cascade Room | Dessert: Donut Alley | Caterer: Chipotle | DJ/Music: Colin Olof | Rentals: The Barn Door-Elegance & Rust Event Rentals | Invitations: WithJoy.com | Hair & Makeup: Enhance Artistry | Rings: Karat Patch