Avid travelers, Kristi and Jacob got engaged during a two-week excursion to Guatemala. In a gesture that would make any globetrotter’s heart beat faster, Jacob popped the question at sundown on top of a Mayan ruin in the Petén Basin. Several weeks before the trip, Kristi had come across a one-of-a-kind black pearl ring at a local jewelry shop and was instantly taken with it. When she stopped by one day to see the piece, she was devastated to discover that it was gone. Little did she know that Jacob had snatched it up. “I opened the little red box, and there it was, the ring I loved and thought I had lost to someone else,” Kristi recalled.
The two, who were married at an old hippie commune near Kettle Falls, Washington, wanted their wedding to reflect their love of all things natural. “We wanted it to feel like an upscale version of Woodstock,” Kristi said. “We affectionately dubbed it ‘Wedstock.’” The flowers were picked from Kristi’s mother’s field on the morning of the wedding and arranged simply in Mason jars wrapped with raffia bows. The caterer that the couple chose—Lovitt Restaurant, where Kristi and Jacob had shared their first dinner out in Jacob’s hometown—served local, sustainable, organic fare that was earthy and hearty.
The ceremony, the most memorable part of the day for Kristi and Jacob, was easeful and heartfelt. “We used a Buddhist prayer bell in our ceremony,” Kristi said. “The tradition is for the bride and groom to write their wishes for each other on the small clanger. When the bell is hung and the wind blows to release its chime, your prayers rise up on the sound of the notes.”
“The whole day was so special,” Kristi added. “From the lanterns hung by our friends to the quick makeshift tents that everyone pitched in to put up when a soft drizzle started to fall, it all feels so wonderful to recall.”
And for Kristi and Jacob, revisiting the day is easy, thanks to the breathtaking photography of Rebecca Hollis, whose organic, artful style perfectly suited the couple’s aesthetic.
Q & A with Kristi
What’s your love story? How did you meet, fall in love, and get engaged?
My husband and I met on eHarmony almost four years ago. We were both busy professionals, and something in my gut said that my future husband was on this website. When I first saw Jacob’s profile, he had mostly professional photos posted, and I almost passed him by. But buried down at the bottom of the electronic pile of pictures was a single photo of him at Siam Riep. He was lying on a rock, and his beard had grown in. He looked organic and natural, like the scruffy man I wanted to find. I could tell from the photo where he was in the world, and I had always wanted to go there myself. Funnily, he later told me that this particular photo was the one photo he didn’t want to post on the website, and he almost didn’t, but at the last second he changed his mind. We went through the “getting to know you” process via eHarmony’s online app. At the end, you’re allowed to write to each other via e-mail. Well, when that stage came, I was a bit tired of not speaking to this man, so I wrote him a one-line e-mail that said “call me” and gave him my number. He admitted to me later that he was terribly nervous because he doesn’t do well speaking on the phone, and he was right—he didn’t. We stumbled through our first conversation, and just as I was about to write it off, he asked me to go to lunch at a place near my home. I thought I should give it a go, since it was just a lunch date and it would be over in an hour. That weekend, we met at Angele in Napa for lunch. At nearly midnight, the staff had to ask us to leave, as we had managed to have lunch, stay through dinner (yes, we ate twice), and close the restaurant down. We were clearly smitten with each other. We wound up going for a romantic drive after dinner, and we talked until the wee hours of the morning in my car, gazing at the stars. Jacob even managed a first sweet kiss under those stars. It was the best first date either of us had ever had, and it was so unexpected. From that point on, we were inseparable. We both love to travel, and we took our first trip together to Bali and Java that December. We haven’t stopped traveling the world together. I still haven’t made it to Siam Riep, but I know it’s only a matter of time.
In true Kristi and Jacob fashion, we got engaged on one of our trips. About two weeks before we were scheduled to leave for Argentina, I had wandered into our local jewelry shop and found a beautiful one-of-a-kind ring with a black pearl in the center and petals of pavé diamonds unfolding around it to form a sparkling flower. Concerned this wasn’t traditional enough, I called Jacob and asked him to come and see it. We both knew that we wanted to get engaged, but since I’m a bit less traditional, I wasn’t sure that I wanted a traditional ring, so there was a bit of a delay in the process. I showed Jacob the ring and asked him what he thought. He said it was lovely, and we left the store. Two days later, I went back to the same store with the intention of putting the ring on hold, and the saleswoman told me it had already been sold. I was devastated. I called Jacob, thinking that if he had bought it for me he wouldn’t be able to lie to me about it. He didn’t flinch when he said he hadn’t bought it, and so with a heavy heart I lamented that my dream ring was gone. That same week, I received another piece of devastating news. Jacob and I had planned a trip to Argentina in December 2011, but my grandmother fell ill a few days before our departure and passed away. Her loss was truly difficult, and we weren’t able to make the long trip. Instead, we opted for a shorter adventure in Belize. I was a mixed bag of emotions on our trip, having experienced the loss of a loved one recently and disappointed that my wait to find the right ring was continuing to delay my engagement to Jacob. We stayed at a beautiful resort on the border of Guatemala. As one of our daily outings, we went over to see the ruins of Tikal. On our way there, our guide, a very jovial young man, inquired as to why we weren’t married or engaged. I told him the story of my ring, and he looked at me slightly puzzled and asked, “How do you know he will ask?” I guess it had never occurred to me that he wouldn’t! We made our way to the ruins, and nearly three hours into our hike we arrived at the very top of the central ruins just as the sun began to descend. I wandered out to the edge with Jacob and was taking in the sight when I realized he was no longer at my side. I turned around, and he was down on one knee proposing. I was shocked! I burst into tears and accepted immediately before he even showed me the ring. When I opened the little red box, there it was, the ring I loved and thought I had lost to someone else. Jacob confessed that he had bought the ring on the same day that we had gone into the store. He had managed to get them to size it quickly before our trip, and since we were sharing a single backpack, he had miraculously managed to keep it hidden from me while he waited for the right moment. I was simply overjoyed.
Can you tell us a little bit about the details of your wedding and your sources of inspiration?
We wanted our wedding to feel like an upscale version of Woodstock. We affectionately dubbed it “Wedstock.” Jacob and I both enjoy the sense of being in nature, and we wanted our wedding to be an organic expression of the love we feel for each other and the family and friends in our life who came out to celebrate with us. We started out wanting to ask our guests to skip wearing shoes and just wander through the wedding site barefoot, but our families convinced us that this should be optional. We did have our friends “sage” the wedding group and Jacob and me before the wedding ceremony began to cleanse the space and ourselves of any negative energy. We used a Buddhist prayer bell in our ceremony. The tradition is for the bride and groom to write their wishes for each other on the small clanger. Jacob and I both took turns doing this. When the bell is hung and the wind blows to release its chime, the prayers rise up on the sound of the notes.
The setting was a communally owned property, bought in 1972 by friends who wanted to live a communal lifestyle. Although they have since moved on to other endeavors, for the past 40 years they have held an annual celebration at the property, spending three to four days camping and living with each other like they did in the ’70s. We have always felt blessed to be a part of this magical event, and we were so honored that they allowed us to celebrate our wedding there. We hired an amazing caterer, Lovitt Restaurant in Colville, to do the catering. They serve local, sustainable, organic food at their restaurant, and it was the first place where my husband and I went out to eat when he first brought me to his hometown. It held a special place in our hearts before the wedding and certainly holds a special place in our hearts now.
What were your favorite moments or parts of the day?
I am truly blessed to say that my fondest memory is of sharing our wedding vows with each other. Laughter, tears, inside jokes just between me and my husband—the vows were so organic and genuine. I felt so lucky to be marrying my best friend, and so did Jacob.
What kind of advice would you offer to future brides?
Advice? That’s tough. Every wedding is so different. I think the one thing I would say is that you shouldn’t overthink the whole process. What brings you to this very special day is the love you have for another person in this world, and even if the right people aren’t seated together, or if your napkins aren’t exactly perfect, that special bond between you and your future spouse will outshine any imperfections.
Photography: Rebecca Hollis / Ceremony and reception venue: A private commune near Kettle Falls, Washington / Catering: Lovitt Restaurant / Cake: Patisserie D’Genevieve / Bride’s dress: Olvi’s Trend from Shadows Bridal / Groom’s attire: J. Crew and Banana Republic / Hair: Heather Washburn
This wedding was submitted via Two Bright Lights.