I had planned on working Monday and then a half day on Tuesday before the wedding but things sort of fell apart when, on Monday morning, the office manager asked me if I was working a half day and then hitting the road. Right there my motivation to be in the office drained away. Since I’d sort of been given permission (I mean, she had suggested it, right?) I called F and told him I’d be home by 3 and we could go.
When I got home, he had the van all ready to go. We put the hitch on the front of the jeep, hooked it up, put the bike on the back of the jeep, and hit the road.
We made a stop in Missoula to hit up Costco, Walmart, and Albertsons for the fresh ingredients and food for the week. The Costco Polish dogs for dinner hit the spot! It felt really good to get back on I-90 and feel like we were on our way “for real.” Monday night we made it to the truck stop in Butte, filled up both the van and the jeep, and crawled into our cozy Sprinter bed.
Tuesday morning we were up way before the sun and it started to crest the mountains just as we were passing (back) into Idaho. We made good time down to Salt Lake, fueled up and grabbed lunch at In-N-Out. The haze we’d driven in through most of Montana and Idaho seemed to still be surrounding us but we hoped that in the next few hundred miles it would dissipate. As we descended into Price we were disappointed to note that the haze was still following us. Reaching I-70 I was elated to be almost there but really sad to note that we could barely see the La Sals.
Once we arrived in Moab though, the smoke didn’t matter at all—it felt so good to finally be there! We drove to Danette’s house where we washed the van and the jeep and just finished as she and Robin pulled into the driveway. We got to catch up and discuss our plans for the wedding and relax with a beer or two before heading to bed.
Wednesday morning we found ourselves with an entire extra day at our disposal (remember we left Monday instead of Tuesday). In the morning we visited with Joyce and Ron, friends F made when he lived in Moab. They fed us coffee cake and were really excited to hear about all of our travels and adventures.
Leaving their house, we took Mill Road to downtown. It was time for us to pick up our marriage license! The clerks were only a bit confused about the fact we already shared a last name but were very happy to congratulate us on our wedding.
Licensed to wed, we headed back to Danette’s to retrieve Sprocket and make lunch. When we were done eating, we pondered where we could go for the afternoon and settled on taking the Jeep out to Steelbender (or Metal Masher if you’re a mountain biker).
Steelbender starts in Mill Canyon. Mill Canyon is a really beautiful place. I really love this first part of the trail.
After we let Sprocket play in the creek for a little bit, we started the climb out of the valley onto a large flat between the North Fork of Mill Creek and the main fork. We tried to head out the Ken’s Lake exit however there was an eight foot drop that needed to be negotiated and we decided not to attempt it. On our way out, we did the northwestern loop of the trail which afforded us some distant views of Arches National Park.
We made our way back out the trail, stopping again to let Sprocket play in the creek. Back at Danette’s we decided to get some takeout sushi (for Danette, Robin and I) and Chinese food (for F and Kirk). Robin and I did some college browsing and we all relaxed on the deck as the sun sank behind the La Sals.
Thursday morning, we got up, gathered our things, and prepared to head out to Castle Valley. I drove the jeep out to the house (after making a quick stop at the grocery store for the last pie ingredients) and was really quite delighted to see we’d found a beautiful spot for the wedding. I really wasn’t expecting to have Castleton Tower and Parriott Mesa so right there at our venue.
F arrived not long after I did and we set to work unpacking the van. It didn’t take us too long to get everything unpacked and sorted. I put some elbow grease into cleaning up the BBQ while F washed the patio…there were some rough edges to soften to make it wedding ready! We even took this opportunity to hang up Christmas lights in the trees around the patio—no reason not to enjoy the festiveness for a few extra days!
Tony and Vanessa came out to say hello in the evening and stayed for dinner before heading back to town.We were sort of expecting Thomas and Tasha to arrive in the late afternoon but apparently they had fun exploring in the Salt Lake area and didn’t arrive until nearly 11pm. We stayed up and chatted for awhile trying to wait for Ezra and Jolleen but they didn’t pull into the house until around 1am.
Friday morning, we were up bright and early. Steve, Ezra’s dad, arrived in time for coffee. F was anxious to get out and go riding and I had PIES to bake. Turns out he had to wait for Jason to arrive and I had to wait for measuring cups since there were none in the house (fortunately, Jason called to ask if we needed anything before he drove from town and he brought me some measuring cups and spoons).
Once Jason arrived, it was a flurry of activity as I started furiously making pies and F geared up to head out. Several pies later, my mom and aunt arrived from town to assist me. Several more pies later, Amanda (our photographer) arrived at the house. Pie making continued as the dirt bikers returned and others filtered in from adventures in Arches and the greater Moab area. F’s aunt and uncle arrived from Wyoming with their daughter and her husband.
By the time Stacia and Andrea arrived after their long drive from Denver, it was time go visit Castle Creek Winery. We were all pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines. The sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and the cabernet sauvignon were all favorites. I had so much fun tasting wine with everyone, it was a really great way to wind down the day.
Back at the house, we had a frozen pizza feast for dinner (thanks Mom!), while people enjoyed some beer and wine on the patio and throughout the house, and then headed for bed.
The run was awesome—I glanced down at my watch as we passed the 5K turnaround just before entering the portal and we were making awesome time. Once we entered the canyon though, neither of us were particularly worried about our time and the scenery left nothing to be desired. As we neared the end of the race, I was feeling awesome. With about four blocks to go, Jolleen encouraged me to push on ahead. I crossed the finish line in 54:34 (8:48 min/mi!); a PR for me!.
After we took some post race pictures, we headed to Danette’s to borrow her truck so we could pick up the tables and chairs. (We also picked up her daughter Robin who was a huge huge help.) A few quick stops later (at the rental company, at a friends for a crockpot, and at the grocery store for bread) we were cruising down the river road ready for a wedding.
While Jolleen and I were running, F, Ezra, Skye, and Jason were out motorcycle riding at Slickrock. F: “Ezra rocked it. Skye hauled ass. Jason beat the crap out of his poor Reflex. It was awesome.”
We were really conscious all the way through our wedding planning of what was really important and let that guide how we spent our money. One of the big ticket items for a lot of people planning their wedding is food. Catering is expensive wherever you are but we didn’t have many choices in Moab and our wedding wasn’t even going to be in town. I did some checking around to be sure and the final answer was, “Yup, won’t be paying someone to cater!”
Instead, we decided that self-catering was going to be the thing. While there’s a lot of information out there on the internet about how “self-catering” your wedding it seems like even more sources talk about how it’s a lot of work. They also warn you that if you don’t really like to cook and haven’t ever cooked for a crowd that your wedding is probably not the time to start. I really don’t like cooking. And I’m not particularly good at it. Given budget goals, the location, and the relatively small guest list we decided to do it anyway. (I rationalized to my mother that we have fed more people for Thanksgiving…)
Our menu wound up looking like this:
We made two big crockpots and two smaller ones worth of lasagna and it was about perfect for 27 people. For the Caesar salad, we used 5 heads of romaine, also about perfect. For bread, I think we had four loaves. The lasagna went together really fast and if you had access to more crockpots this could absolutely be scaled up to a little bit bigger wedding.
Before the wedding, I tested the lasagna recipe to make sure it was okay in the refrigerator overnight and accidentally found that it was okay to make two days in advance (we forgot to eat it the day after I made it). Between piebaking and relaxing, the lasagnas didn’t get made in advance but Jolleen, Stacia, and Andrea threw them together pretty quickly on Saturday. They also buttered the bread I’d picked up at the grocery store that morning and put it in aluminum foil for heating.
I’d talked to Tasha several weeks before the wedding and asked her to be in charge of wedding meal logistics. Basically this involved putting the bread in the oven to warm, tossing the Caesar salad, and taking the whole lot out to the serving area. From what she told me it was pretty easy to get everything on the table, especially when Vanessa jumped in to help.
Bottom line? This was a totally workable solution for us. I have really no complaints or things that I’d adjust. And since Tasha doesn’t either and the food got rave reviews, I declare this a major success.
8 curly-edged no-cook lasagna noodles broken in half
15 oz. ricotta
1 1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c. minced fresh basil
1 large egg
1 1/2 jars pasta sauce (I use whatever’s on sale.)
1 lb italian sausage removed from casing
4 c. shredded mozzarella (1lb)
In a bowl, mix ricotta, 1 c. Parmesan, basil, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Spread 1/2 c. tomato sauce in slow cooker.
Arrange 4 lasagna noodle pieces in slow cooker (overlapping is okay, make them fit the best you can.), then dollop 9 rounded tablespoons of ricotta mixture over noodles. Pinch off one-third of sausage into tablespoon-sized pieces and drop over ricotta (yes, raw…it cooks, promise). Sprinkle with 1 c. mozzarella, then spoon 1/2 c. sauce over top.
Repeat layering of lasagna noodles, ricotta mixture, sausage, mozzarella, and sauce twice more.
For final layer, arrange remaining 4 noodles in slow cooker, then top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzerlla and remaining Parmesan.
Cover and cook until lasagna is heated through. About 4hrs on low. Let lasagna cool 20 mins and serve.
Just a random note since this post gets found by Google fairly often (hi, Googlers!), I also did this for a big family meal after my dad’s funeral and it worked out really well. I assembled everything the night before in crockpots and started them when we left for the service. Lasagna is a real crowd pleaser so this makes for an easy way to serve a big crowd.
Once Robin and I arrived back at the house with all of our rental items, it was time to get to work. Steve and I moved tables around to the back of the house while Robin took charge of arranging all the chairs for the ceremony. Next, we pulled out the decorations stash from the storage area and discussed what would go where. I thought that we should wait a few hours to put out the tablecloths but Steve thought that now would be as good of a time as any. I told him which jars we were using to decorate the table and suggested that some rocks would make a good accent and just turned him loose.
While Steve was outside decorating the tables, Robin and I started getting things ready to make my bouquet. We started by making stems out of some of the succulent blooms to mix in with the roses we bought at the grocery store. (I’d decided to just take whatever flowers I could get and used a dozen white roses and a dozen blush roses.) Robin was quite the pro at making excellent stems. Since she was so good at wiring the succulents, I put her in charge of F’s boutonnière and my mom’s corsage.
About this time, Jolleen got back from town and insisted I have a bagel (she even toasted it and put butter on it for me). Then she set to work making a tie to go with her class As; it turned out quite well! You’d never notice it wasn’t the official tie. (She’d lent her black tie to her husband and it never made it back to the uniform bag.)
As I was eating my bagel, I wondered outside and was absolutely delighted by Steve’s decorating job. He’d built a small rock tower as a centerpiece to the tables, scattered the candle jars around super artfully, and found great places to use more rocks to hold the tablecloths down against any wind. He’d also put some candles on the pie table and put out the log rounds for pie stands. (F cut the tree for the log rounds on our property.) Everything looked AMAZING. (And I didn’t have to do a thing.)
Next, Robin and I assembled my bouquet. I don’t know what I would have done without her! She’s much more artistic than I am and was great about seeing where we were getting holes, where a succulent should go and what color rose we should add next. I just did a lot of bouquet holding while she did the arranging and wire wrapping.
Around this time, Stacia and Andrea returned from visiting Arches (sounds like they had a great sunrise visit!) ready to help. I handed copies of the lasagna recipes to Jolleen and Stacia and away they went. They turned into a regular lasagna making assembly line while I jumped in the shower. Jollene mixed up the ricotta mixture while Stacia and Andrea assembled them in the crockpots. Meanwhile, Robin made sure that all the dishes were being done.
Just as they were finishing up, the boys got back from their motorcycle ride. This is when time started going fast for me. F, Jason, and I took some time to go over our ceremony in the front yard and it was then that I realized I was nervous. Jason asked for our input on something and whatever I said must have either sounded stressed out or weird because F just looked at me and said, “Calm down.” I proceeded to put my arm around him and stand there while he and Jason hammered out the last minute details.
Just as we finished up with Jason, Stacia finished washing Sprocket and was heading out for a walk. Since it was time for me to get dressed, I suggested that when she got back, she should bring him upstairs to the apartment where he could hang out with the girls and I could keep an eye on him so he wouldn’t go find some red dirt to roll in while he was still damp (because he absolutely would).
I had a quiet few minutes starting to put my hair in hot rollers before Stacia and Andrea burst in, Sprocket in tow, with two cans of Coors Light for “old times sake.” Andrea even brought in a bowl so I could share my beer with Sprocket. Since I was sort of struggling with the rollers (it’s hard when you can’t see what you’re doing!), Stacia decided to help me out. Fortunately, Amanda made an appearance about then and was able to capture my bridesmaid working wayyy out of her comfort zone. Soon, Jolleen joined us and they worked together on finishing up while Andrea opened a bottle of champagne.
While we were waiting for the curling iron to warm up (we’d run out of curlers for my thick hair), I did my makeup. Sandi and Ashley joined us for some champagne and Ashley helpfully did the final curls and helped me take out the rollers. My mom, aunt, and godmother arrived just in time to help me get into my dress. We all finished off our champagne as Jolleen went to find out where our first look would be and if they were ready.
When she came back upstairs to tell me that we were ready, I felt this big sigh of relief. F and I originally hadn’t planned on seeing each other before the ceremony but I wasn’t nervous exactly, just more a big bundle of energy and being beside F sounded like the place to be.
Benedictio May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottoes of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you—beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. -Ed Abbey
F and I wrote our ceremony and vows together. We used traditional Christian wedding ceremonies (specifically the one from The Common Book of Prayer) as a basis for writing the ceremony but made it completely our own. We decided to ask Jason to be our officiant. This ended up being a great choice. Jason played the role well not only during the ceremony but in the lead up to the wedding as we spoke on the phone a couple of times about the ceremony and when he would call to jokingly ask us if we were nervous yet. F and I both felt really great that we had someone who knew us and what we wanted (and didn’t want) from our ceremony.
After we finished with our portraits, it was ceremony time. We walked into the house and directed people out to the ceremony site. The last person we found in the house was Chris who helpfully handed us his full can of Johnny’s American IPA*. We shared the beer and joked with Jason as we waited for everyone to settle in. This quiet moment, with some awesome levity added by the addition of the beer, was really very nice.
Once it was time to start, Jason walked in, followed by F. To the opening strains of Zac Brown’s Free I started my walk down the aisle. I remember looking at everyone looking at me the moment I walked out the door, but after that? I was just looking at F and grinning. I hardly remember getting down the aisle.
I hardly remember the start of the ceremony. Things started to slow down a bit for me when Stacia stepped forward to read Benedictio from Ed Abbey’s EarthApples; I tried to hold onto each phrase and savor it but as she read the final phrase, “where something more strange and beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams awaits you—beyond that next turn of the canyon walls” I felt the first tears prick at my eyes.Next, Sandi, F cousin, read Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road.” The poem states so much so perfectly for F and I.
Jason spoke briefly about how he met F and how he’d watched F and I grow together.
Then it was time for our vows. Although teary, I mostly made it through the vows with a fairly steady voice. When I got to the last phrase (the one I could never read at home without tearing up) my voice broke. I’m not sure how much anyone could understand me, but F’s reading of it was nice and clear.
After we finished our vows, Jason tried to jump right to pronouncing us man and wife while F was still trying to get my ring out of his pocket. I’m pretty sure I interjected, “Hey!” and I remember at least a few other people (probably F and my mom) jumping in as well. We all laughed and moved back in to the ceremony.
After Jason (finally) got to pronounce us husband and wife and our kiss, rather than recessing, we invited everyone to the front to take a group shot. Following the group shot, we asked everyone to take their chairs over to the dinner table (just around the corner of the house), and broke out the wine, champagne, and beer.
Song of The Open Road by Walt Whitman
Allons! the road is before us! It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d! Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d! Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher! Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
*Turns out, the Moab brewery unexpectedly has developed a pretty yummy session IPA.