A Moody Outdoor Wedding at Sacred Mountain Julian
Tell us your love story.
This probably won't surprise you, but Nick and Lee first met in person at a bar. The Dubliner isn’t just any bar though. This place has been Nick’s favorite Irish bar ever since he moved to San Diego in 2016. Nick brought many friends here and he just so happened to be out with a group of his shipmates that night when he met Lee. “Do you like Irish car bombs (an unfortunately named popular drink)?” Nick asked. He lost the race then and still loses to this day! Lee fit in so nicely with the group that he spent the rest of the evening bar-hopping. That one night turned into a whole three day weekend hanging around San Diego. Their unusually lengthy first date led to more adventures. Even though scorching 29 Palms is around three hours northeast of where Nick lives, Lee still commuted down every weekend.
From traveling all over New England while Nick had six months of school in Newport, Rhode Island to Lee dragging Nick up and down the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the adventure continued. From exploring the geologically stunning country of Iceland to bringing home their now 6-month-old Australian Shepherd named Cooper (the ring bearer), the adventure continued! There is a lot of uncertainty coming with Lee getting out of the Marine Corps and Nick having to move to Alabama with his ship, but one thing is for sure. The adventure continues!
What about the proposal?
Visiting Iceland had always been a dream for Nick. Having an adventurous spirit like Lee in his life was a perfect way to make this dream become a reality. One day they were both listening to Ed Sheeran’s album, “Divide” when Lee mentioned that they should look up his tour dates. Unfortunately, by then he was no longer touring the US. Fortunately, he would be in Reykjavik, the Capital city of Iceland, right around both Nick and Lee’s birthdays in August. So sparked Nick’s imagination! He created an eight-day itinerary to travel around the famed Ring Road. Tickets were purchased in March and thus began the waiting game. Nick had actually had the ring designed, ready, and waiting hidden in his closet only a month after that. Were there other opportunities to propose? Sure. But Nick knew he wanted a huge ending to what was already going to be a trip of a lifetime. Nick carried the ring box hidden inside the case that usually houses his drone; taking extra care to not let Lee lay a finger on it. Nick was beginning to feel restless that he would never find a location that was surreal yet private enough to keep the proposal intimate. That moment finally came nestled in a quiet valley next to a glacial river. Nick shared some thoughts on whether Lee and he were sure forever is what they could see themselves doing, so there was only one thing left; urging Lee to stand up so that he could pull out the ring and get down on one knee.
When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?
Nick knew he wanted to be with Lee forever the moment he realized that he would never get bored of staring into Lee’s crystal blue eyes. He loves the way Lee challenges him to spend as much time experiencing all that nature has to offer. Lee knew it was meant to be after the first time they went camping together in Joshua Tree; spending the weekend aimlessly adventuring beyond the beaten path.
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
We definitely knew we wanted an outdoor rustic wedding in the mountains. The trouble with that is it isn't always easy finding a common location near an airport that people can get to easily. For example, Mammoth Lakes has a regional airport, but that is super expensive to fly into. Lake Tahoe is stunning, but the nearest international airport is in Nevada. Julian was the perfect place for us.
What surprised you during planning? What was easy, what was difficult?
Nick never thought he would need any sort of wedding coordinators since he is so good at event planning and itineraries, but it was incredible how much stress was lifted off of our shoulders with our fantastic day of coordinators. The family affair wedding team really made everything super simple. We just had to show up where and when they told us to and it was all ready to go! The most difficult thing for us was the guest count. Our wedding venue caps off-season weddings at 100 people due to the potential of inclement weather (which we did have). It was really hard trying to figure out if our guests could come or not and then asking friends who we couldn't originally invite closer to the wedding day than we would have liked.
Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?
Nick wishes he knew that the weather doesn't necessarily make or break the day. I trained almost the whole weekend and stressing over it doesn't help. The weekend went absolutely perfect and Nick wouldn’t change a single second. Lee wishes they had hired the day of wedding coordinators sooner than they had. Having the coordinators from day one would have helped to iron out so many little details that they didn't think of until it was almost too late.
Any advice for couples planning weddings now? Anything you would have done differently or anything you’d like to add?
We got engaged in August and immediately picked a date in march before Nick deployed so that we could get married. Having such a quick turnaround can be stressful, but it is totally doable with the right people involved. We would definitely have roped in our day-of coordinators a whole lot sooner. They had so many recommendations and great points of contact that would have made searching for vendor options a whole lot easier. Their experience made us feel a whole lot more stable and confident with our decisions. Find yourself wholesome vendors!! Every team we met with, whether it was food, floral, or photographer became an instant family member. Everyone was so kind and helpful.
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
For Nick, it was his synchronized surprise dance with his mom. The DJ was fantastic and dancing with all of our closest family and friends while knowing that the country was literally shutting down around us (COVID-19) made it all the more unique. If the wedding was the following weekend, over half the guest list would have had to cancel. We are incredibly thankful and lucky we were able to celebrate our special day.
Nick is in all white and Lee is in black and white.
- Location: Sacred Mountain Julian
- Photographer: Samantha Phillips Photography
- Florist: With-Flourish
- Caterer: John Little Catering
- Baker: Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.
- Desserts: Mom’s Pies
- Music: My DJs
- Hair & Makeup: Pretty Parlor Salon
- Jewelry: Harold Steven’s Jewelers
- & Jackson Hole Jewelry Company
- Cocktail Bar: Snake Oil Cocktail