Melissa knew Rhyon's voice before she knew his face. Introduced by a friend and cousin, the pair struck up an intimate long-distance phone relationship that lasted four years before their first in-person introduction. "During that time, we were each other's best friends," Melissa says now, "always there to talk to each other, console each other."
When a research internship brought Melissa within a few hundred miles of Rhyon's U.S. Marine Corps' base, the couple finally got to see each other consistently—and Rhyon got a chance to propose. "I instantly knew what he was going to do when he came in and asked if I wanted to go for a walk," Melissa insists of their sunset stroll along the beach. "He was shaking." A nervous Rhyon knelt near the water and popped the question.
"My first answer was a resounding yes, to the point I can't even remember what he said," Melissa recalls. "My second was for him to please move away from the water so he wouldn't drop the gorgeous ring into the ocean."
Lace cap sleeves and a subtle sweetheart neckline drew Melissa to her Venus wedding gown. "I had originally felt that I wanted an A-line all lace gown with an open back," Melissa says. "However, after trying on my dress, I knew it was the one."
A pair of white BHLDN shoes paired well with the vintage-inspired gown.
Fragrant David Austin roses and water lily dahlias filled the bride's bouquet, which was wrapped in vintage lace and pinned with rhinestone gems.
Pale pink was a staple in the couple's light color palette, from the bridesmaids' layered, ombre Ann Taylor Loft dresses to the full rose bouquets they carried.
The bride and bridesmaids' pastel bouquets popped with bright hypericum berry accents and dripped with seeded eucalyptus leaves.
The bride's grandmother sewed ties for Rhyon and his groomsmen from pink and gray polka-dot material. That same fabric can be found in the men's homemade boutonnieres, constructed of faux leaves and brown buttons.
The bride's childhood church, Sacred Heart Tillamook in northwest Oregon, became the site for the couple's September wedding. With its spacious sanctuary and attached gymnasium, the Catholic church was "perfect," Melissa says, calling the space a "blank canvas" for their do-it-yourself wedding. Using vintage and country as their catchwords, the couple crafted a rustic fete full of eclectic flare. "The idea was simplistic grandeur," the bride explains. "We didn't want to overwhelm anything."
With a focus on their vows, the couple kept the ceremony decor simple, opting for a two white and pink arrangements that flanked the sides of an altar.
Burlap bags adorned with lace and fabric flowers hung from the church's pews, and were filled with live baby's breath.
By reusing reception decor from her sisters' weddings, Melissa saved time and money in her own seventeen months of planning. "We played off the pieces they already had," she says.
But when it came time to decorate the head table, the couple wanted something extra-special. They scoured local thrift shops in search of vintage china, then topped their table with the one-of-a-kind pieces.
Melissa credits her mother, Lonnie, as the artist behind their wedding's creative decor. "It would not be without her genius that our wedding came to be," she says.
A gutter—yes, you read that right—hung above the head table, filled with flowers from the couple's home garden.
Using salvaged wood from a family barn, the couple made bride and groom signs for their chairs. Rhyon's seat was wrapped in burlap—Melissa adorned her chair with white fabric.
To dress up an otherwise dull ceiling, the groom—with the help of his soon-to-be in-laws—crafted a three-tier chandelier from string lights, branches and tulle. "My mother came up with the idea of using an old parachute to drape from the ceiling," Melissa says, recalling guests' amazement as they caught sight of the structure for the first time.
The bride's mother made the couple's guest book, a decorated journal with its pages left blank. With a Polaroid camera positioned at its side, guests had the option of including a snapshot with their well-wishes for the bride and groom.
Photos: Imago Dei Photography
Burlap and canvas bags printed with photos of the couple held multiple goodies for guests—250 friends and family left the wedding with favors of candy, bottle openers, wildflower seeds and even a mixed CD with the couple's favorite love songs.
Reception fare was a family affair—the bride's sister, a culinary school graduate, her mother and several other family members and friends banded together the day before the wedding to prepare a feast of fresh fruit, salad, mashed potatoes and rotisserie pork.
Willow branches wrapped around the couple's white wedding cake, which was topped with David Austen roses. The cake stand? A wine barrel purchased with the help of family friends.
Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Tillamook || Reception Venue: Sacred Heart Tillamook || Bride's Wedding Dress: Venus || Bride's Shoes: BHLDN || Bride's Accessories: Macy's and Romance The Bling || Groom's Tux: Express || Groom's Wedding Ring: Fred Meyer Jewelers || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Ann Taylor Loft || Bridesmaids' Shoes: Nordstrom || Groomsmen Attire: Express || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Ann Taylor Loft || Flower Girl Dress: Gap Kids || Florist: Sunflower Flats || Cake Baker: JaCivas || Photography: Imago Dei Photography