Jennifer Krangle, 29, and Matt Bihlmaier, 29, first met while attending medical school in Kansas City, Missouri. He was a year ahead and offered to be her tutor. Slowly but surely, the pair grew close over late-night study sessions, and Matt, hoping for more time with Jennifer, joined the same volunteer projects. "Our dating phase was not a fairytale by any means," Jenn says. "Our relationship was formed over long hours and a heaping pile of books!"
But Matt knew he'd found the Colorado girl he always dreamed of. Showcasing their shared love for the mountains, Matt popped the question while surrounded by family on a mountainside deck. The surprise proposal brought tears to Jenn's eyes. "A flood of emotions came over me so quickly," she says. "It was so romantic and thoughtful!"
Ten months later, the couple exchanged vows on April 22, 2012, at Devil's Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado, with breathtaking mountain views as the perfect, picturesque backdrop for an intimate, rustic celebration.
Jenn chose an Allure Bridals dress for its simple, lacey look. T-strap heels in blush pink gave her dress a vintage feel. Before the ceremony, Matt sent a gift to his bride: a pearl bracelet. "He had no idea what my dress looked like, but all the details fit together perfectly!"
Bridesmaids donned Dupioni silk dresses in a lustrous shade of blue and variety of styles. "The deep blue contrasted the lighter, earthy hues we chose for the rest of the wedding," Jenn says. "We wanted colors that are naturally gorgeous on their own."
Echoing the palette, the bridesmaids' bouquets mixed cream hydrangea and sprigs of lavender with eucalyptus leaves and dusty miller greens. Jenn added pops of pink roses to her bridal bouquet, and wrapped the stems in burlap and lace. A white bloom in her updo tied the whole look together.
Matt paired his slate grey tuxedo with a black and white striped tie. A cluster of lavender and eucalyptus leaves tied with twine became a rustic boutonniere.
Large white orchids and willow branches filled tall clear vases that flanked the altar. To line the aisle, bud vases of orchids branches hung from blush pink ribbon. "The venue was so naturally gorgeous that we didn't have to splurge on décor," Jenn says.
The ring bearers wore heather grey suits to match the groomsmen. The younger boy played it up with a bow tie in plaid, Jenn and Matt's favorite pattern. That wet spot on his sleeve? The result of a quick pre-ceremony cleanup. "He stuck his head in a pile of dirt, telling his mom he'd rather be dirty than handsome," laughs Jenn. "Good thing he's so cute!"
Jenn found a few Etsy vendors to help with the details of the day. The programs were filled with fun fonts, a design from Paper by JillM. Plantable "love bomb" favors were crafted by Love By Bean using flower seeds and recycled paper. The bride and groom also took part in the DIY department, making small scented soaps for guests to take home.
A solo violinist played "Canon in A Minor" as Jenn walked down the aisle, escorted by her mother, Pattie. During the couple's vows, the Beatles' "All You Need is Love" played softly in the background to reflect their relationship. "We both feel rich with love and believe we don't need anything but each other to make us happy," Jenn says.
For the reception, Jenn accented her dress's strapless neckline with her late grandmother's vintage collar necklace adorned with pearls and ivory chiffon. "I wanted to feel as though she was with us in spirit on the most meaningful day of our lives," she says.
Matt thought up a sentimental welcome to the reception: photos of the couple's childhoods and courtship pinned to a white clothesline. "We wanted everyone to feel welcomed and to know how honored we were to share such memories with them," Jenn says.
The bride and groom wrote their own vows and placed copies, along with a bottle of wine, in a rustic wooden box. At the reception, Jenn's sister and Matt's brother nailed the memory box closed. It won't be opened until the couple's 10th anniversary, when they'll share the wine and reminisce.
In lieu of a traditional cake, the couple opted for cupcakes. "When we first started dating, I would always make cupcakes for Matt," Jenn says. "It was a fun nod to where we started."
The flavor options — including peanut butter and jelly! — were chosen by one of Jenn's dearest friends, Laverna, who was unable to attend the wedding. "I wanted her to feel as though she was part of the day," says Jenn.
Tiny white lights and small candles softened the hardwood in the barn, while mason jar centerpieces of hydrangeas and lavender gave tables a homey feel.
A close family friend carved wooden coasters for the reception. "They were beautiful and thoughtful, which is exactly what we wanted," Jenn says. The newlyweds paired them with personalized, "punny" matchbooks.
The bride's mother brought a live tree for guests to trim with hand-written tags. In place of a guest book, the couple kept all of the tags. "We will plant the tree in our first Colorado home together," Jenn says.
Jenn and Matt sat at a private table beside the stone fireplace while guests nibbled on hearty appetizers like smoked salmon and cheese plates. "We stuck with what we loved and knew others would love as well," Jenn says.
Connecting through their favorite classic rock music, the newlyweds danced cheek-to-cheek to "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young. "I'm so glad we savored this moment," says Jenn. "It's one I'll always remember, more than the colors or the decorations. These memories are what really matter about a wedding."
Post-reception, they set off for Santorini, Greece, which made for a relaxing but adventurous honeymoon. "I couldn't have imagined a more romantic place," Jenn says. Since their big day, the couple has continued to cherish the little moments. "Marriage has been everything I imagined and more," Jenn says. "I married my best friend and the man of my dreams all in one!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Devil's Thumb Ranch || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Allure Bridals || Shoes: Circa Joan & David || Jewelry: Meierotto Midwest Jewelers || Hair & Makeup: Kut Above || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Watters || Groom's Suit: Express || Wedding Bands: Meierotto Midwest Jewelers || Florist: Plum Sage Flowers || Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas || Programs: Paper by JillM || Music: Jacob Lucero of Melodic Motive Music Studio || Catering & Cupcakes: Devil's Thumb Ranch || Rentals: Plum Sage Flowers || Favors: Love By Bean, Recycled Ideas, Blissful Turtle || Photography: Brinton Studios