The first time I saw Howard, I knew he was the one. We’re both avid outdoorsmen, and we spent our first date together wake surfing, paddle boarding, and laughing beneath the aurora borealis at Lake Pend Oreille. When Howard proposed less than two years later in Valdez, Alaska, the northern lights again graced us with their presence: we were curled up in our sleeping bags watching waves of green and purple dance across the sky when he asked me to be his wife.
As soon as we returned from Alaska, Howard and I started planning. We knew that we wanted an outdoor venue, and we liked the idea of having our wedding in a tropical setting, like Hawaii or the Caribbean. But being surrounded by family and friends was equally important to us, so I proposed we have our wedding at home on the lake where we’d shared our first date. “Our challenge was transforming the forested northern Idaho setting into our own tropical paradise.”It didn’t take much convincing to get Howard on board; our next challenge was transforming the forested northern Idaho setting into our own tropical paradise.
Handmade details were very important to us, and it took the creativity of three generations to make our wedding happen. For starters, my mother (of Lillianschmoo) made all the jewelry. My style is non-traditional and I wanted jewelry that was chunky and raw, so she made me a beautiful white stone necklace and a pair of wire-wrapped chartreuse-stone earrings. My bridesmaids wore the same style earrings in a stunning dark purple, and they glistened in the afternoon light.
We also made a lot of the décor, including a driftwood wedding sign and repurposed wine barrels that we filled with ice and bottled water. We collected cards in a wooden heart-shaped basket crafted by my late grandfather, and our guestbook was made with a photo from the hike we took on our first trip together in the Tetons.
Our ceremony took place on our sandy jetty, and I made bamboo flags with ivory chiffon that danced beautifully in the soft breeze. Our color palette was inspired by the Northern Lights, and we lined the aisle with purple and chartreuse orchids. My friend Amanda helped me create programs, and we placed them on the bamboo-style chairs with colorful sunglasses that we gave as favors.
My father walked me down the aisle barefoot in the sand to the tranquil sound of an acoustic guitar. The light breeze and gorgeous afternoon light made the whole scene very dreamlike. Howard’s best man Todd performed the ceremony, which added to the lighthearted feel of our event. After reciting our vows, which included lines like “I vow to let my husband ski and surf whenever he pleases” and a speech from Howard’s father, we took a ceremonial stand up paddle. We surfed into the sunset, and created one of our fondest memories: looking back at all of our friends and family gathered together on the beach.
After the ceremony, we held a cocktail hour on the deck under paper lanterns. We decorated the dinner tables with centerpieces featuring found driftwood and handmade doilies my grandmother had given my mom over the years – her face lit up in surprise when she saw her work on display! We also used a collection of small vases of wildflowers from the fabulous Petal Talk, and Amanda and I cut burlap squares to add a rustic contrast beneath the dainty doilies. Our friend Chris prepared the dinner, incorporating foods from our various travels, like filet mignon with chimichurri sauce (inspired by our time in Argentina) and bacon-wrapped halibut skewers (inspired by Alaska). The delicious almond cake (complete with handmade sugar orchids) was made locally by Sheila at Sandpoint City Sweets.
After dinner, my dad surprised us with a sweet and funny toast that didn’t leave one dry eye in the house. Our celebration went well into the night with dancing under the glow of the moonlit sky.
All photographs by Haley Sierra.