Happily Elser After

“Will you marry me?” he asked, more in doubt rather than a direct question.

I finally focused my eyes on him, and I saw the most nervous Shane I had ever seen. His eyes wide, you would’ve thought I had already answered with a no. He was still on one knee, his hand still posed in the air from handing me the little carved wooden box, panicked eyes locked in on mine. He was waiting for an answer, and all I had said thus far was, “Are you serious?”

“Yes!” I finally answered.


It wasn’t until later he explained that he had asked twice at that point the big question. I just hadn’t tuned in yet. We had been out on the river, trying to get the perfect shot of us fishing for my uncle to paint, and this time, when I set the camera up and ran out to the middle of the creek, he was there on one knee, hand up with a wooden, rectangular box. I had taken it, and with a million thoughts in my head, one being that the camera was about to snap about a dozen pictures in a row, I knew I needed to get that box open for the picture. I couldn’t figure it out, I kept turning it, finally I turned it to the long side that opened, and inside the box was a menagerie of flies and a silver ring smack dab in the middle. Honestly, he can be such a kidder, that “are you serious?” came out of my mouth first, and then I saw his face, and knew it was not a joke.


Finally getting a real answer from me, I said I needed to get out of the river. I didn’t cry like some girls do, but I was hyperventilating a little bit, and I was really fearful that I may drop the ring in the creek. We got the ring, safely, on my finger, and I was excited to go back and tell my parents, and the whole world quite frankly.

Now, as soon as we told people, we immediately got volleyed the question, “When’s the date?” Him proposing on Memorial Day, left us with an undesirable wait time if we were to hold our wedding the following summer, so we took an afternoon and really looked at our schedules. Spring would not work for various reasons, fishing season being one, and because everyone does spring weddings. Fall was also out because of hunting. It really only left winter or summer, and as noted before, the wait time was too long for a summer wedding.

January 28th it was!

This was exciting for us, but not for my mom, who was, at first, certain that this would be impossible to pull off. We did learn fairly quickly that our timeline was considered fast, but people would label it with cute titles like “whirlwind wedding”, “short and sweet engagement”, or “express engagement”. This didn’t daunt our enthusiasm over our winter wedding. I had always had in the back of my mind, an enchanting winter wedding, though it would be hard to tell from all my Pinterest board. I had at least a half a dozen different themes pinned up, but winter was one that was especially appealing and special to me, so I had actually never done a specific board for it.

We knew we wanted winter. We knew we wanted intimate. We knew it could be nothing less than us, and not what people thought of when they thought of January weddings.

When I finally began to really think out that idea, a January wedding for Shane and I, I knew it could not be what everyone assumed when it came to a winter wedding. Glittering snowflakes and crystal were out for me, and buffalo check and antlers was in. Caterers, planners, and curious friends would ask for our “theme” or our “feel”, knowing when I said January most people pictured sparkling white snowflakes, I began to label our wedding “Rustic Lodge Winter Wedding”, or some variation of those words. Where better to have this type of wedding than in some sort of lodge setting itself, so I Googled “Pennsylvania lodge weddingg venues”. The first place that popped up, I fell in love with. The Oak Lodge in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania. I hadn’t even been there, neither had my groom, but we were sold pretty quickly.

“You haven’t been here?” asked Matt, the man who ran everything when I called to make it official. “Well, you will fall even more in love with it when you come to see it then!”

He was right. When we went to visit it that summer, we fell even more in love with it, and couldn’t wait to see it in the winter!


I am very detail oriented, and my details were to be buffalo check, pines, antlers, red lanterns, and sleds; these details were important, but it wasn’t necessary that I be the one to find every single accessory for my wedding. I set my bargain hunting aunt and mom out on the hunt for those things to dress up our “Rustic Lodge Winter Wedding”. Though detail oriented, delegating others to tasks is no problem or me. I knew I wanted red lanterns as center pieces with antlers and trusted my mom and aunt to create something beautiful. When I found the fabric for the “snow-girls” dresses, I trusted my Nene, grandma, could make their little dresses. When I found the cake maker, I knew the look I wanted, but I trusted her to dress up our “naked” cake the day of the wedding.

It was amazing how everything worked out. So many pieces didn’t come together until the day of the wedding, like what the groom and groomsmen wore. We had gotten the men’s vests separately from the shirts, and even later we had bought the pants. Shane was able to wear the vest his mom had made his dad, which was very special since she would be watching from heaven. Shane wore the bolo I had found on Etsy that had a mayfly and was made from an antler.


My little fishermen, or ring bearers, wore vests that Rin made. You can’t tell, but the lining was buffalo check.


JoyfulCousinsMy bridesmaids wore dresses we had found online, after much searching. They were wrapped up in knitted shawls that another one of my aunts made. It was a pattern we worked on finding together, my aunt and I, so she had never done it before. This proved a little tricky when she only had one bridesmaid to try it on because the other lived hours away from her. We got antler buttons for the shawls, keeping my details I wanted ever present, but we did discover, unlike what the pattern called for, we would need two buttons to make the shawl more wearable. The buttons were hidden during most of the ceremony behind the bouquets that I made.


After days worth of group messaging, forwarding links to matching boots, or colors of boots they already owned, cowgirl boots were decided on. I actually wasn’t part of that final detail, and my poor bridesmaids probably made that choice after several, “What ever you guys like best.” messages from me. Leah, my made of honor, and country girl, brought extra cowgirl boots for Carlie to wear.

I so wanted a tea-length gown. I loved my Nene’s dress, tea length and lace, and knew, since I loved the 50’s look, it is what I had to have. That was nearly impossible to find, and in the end, our local bridal shop was able to customize a full length gown and make it shorter for me. It actually turned out to be a bit of a high-low hemline, which kept it modern.


My shoes were a fun accessory! And also my something new. I love shoes, and had a pair of Bettie Page shoes already purchased for the big day, a lovely, creamy pair of heals that smelled like fresh leather. There happened to be an online contest though for Bettie Page shoes, I entered the Instagram contest figuring I would never buy a blue pair of heals, but if I won them, they would be my something blue. And I won them!

My something old was my fur. I found a vintage fox stole and vintage rabbit muff both from Etsy retailers. When I told my mom I was going to have those instead of a bouquet, she wasn’t completely on board. Actually, my dad even wanted me to carry a bouquet, but that was something I knew I didn’t want. In my ideal winter wedding in my head, my hands hid in a muff, they didn’t carry a bouquet. It was yet another detail I just knew I wanted.

My something borrowed and something new were both jewelry pieces. My beautiful snowflake necklace was a recent Christmas present from my father, and I had a bracelet on that I had borrowed from my grandma so that I could wear the charm I had received the mother’s day JT was here. The bracelet was subtle, and that was how I wanted it.


I actually didn’t trust anyone to do my pin-up style hair. I had talked to hairdressers before about the styles I do, and they said that they could not do looks like that, because they simply didn’t practice them anymore. I knew I had to do my own hair. I practiced at home a few times and knew the look I wanted, a modern take on a pin-up look.

My make-up on the other hand, I did not practice. I didn’t even want to think about it, until finally I had to at the last minute. I was so relieved to have a true artist do my make-up, my bridesmaids and my mothers. That is one experience that I would recommend to anyone having a wedding! It was so stress free having a make-up artist, and she just made us feel glamorous. I love that her products were all natural too with my sensitive skin, I was able to dance all night, still look great, and did not break out like I would’ve with other products the next day and following weeks.







Walking down the isle of the beautiful log chapel to the plucking of the guitar by my soon-to-be brother in law, was a dream. It was a dream that went all too quickly, even though my dad had said before we started, “Walk slowly.” I was so excited, and thrilled to see my groom. I tried looking at the crowd as I walked, but at the site of one of my friends tearing up, I decided to keep my eyes on my handsome soon-to-be husband at the end of the isle. He was grinning from ear to ear. Before I knew it, my dad was removing my fur and handing me over to Shane.



All during our vows, our little snow-girls kept tossing out their snowflakes onto parts of the floor they “missed”. I barely noticed, too excited it was finally happening. I was marrying the man of my dreams with my grandpa officiating, and we were repeating vows that my own parents had made. He had given us the vows and message that went along with them before the wedding, and I was pleased to be able to slip in the fruits of the spirit, knowing I wanted to hold those to a high priority in our marriage.


Before I knew it, we said I do and we got to seal our marriage with a kiss.


Followed by a prayer.


Then we got to ring the chapel bell!


It has taken me a while to get this posted, and I still plan to post little details from our beautiful winter wedding. More recently when I was asked to describe it, after ruminating on such a wonderful weekend, I thought the look and feel actually came across as a rustic western winter wedding with all the boots, vests, and bolo’s. I wouldn’t change a thing though! I loved every detail, from the ones I had my hands on like the bridesmaids bouquets and my mom’s necklace to the details I let other people create like the bridesmaids shawls and my make-up. It was a weekend woven together with love nestled in the middle of winter and was a dream come true.

I want to give a special thank you to my cousin and photographer Steve Richards for taking these awesome photo’s. Almost everyone you see here is from him.