Monday, April 16, 2012

A Winter Wonderland Wedding

Bear Valley is known for it’s simplistic beauty.  Blankets of snow meet your doorstep during the winter, and the sun, himself, will always warm your cheeks in the waning days of summer. My existence began in this small town over 25 years ago when my soul attached itself to my mother.  Who knows how long I waited in the dense forest sleeping with the bears and tossing pinecones from trees.

I’ve only returned a few times that I could remember (less than the fingers of one hand heed that answer).  I was in 10th grade—only a year before my sister and I began to live with our father full-time in Tahoe—and my cousin Jenna, took Ali and I on a car trip to visit her father (my uncle).  My visit previous to this was more than 10 years before high school.  We were passing through the area to go camping at Lake Aspin.

Yesterday, however, provided me with a new memory—a memory that I could really clutch onto without having to chase down the broken pieces of a puzzle.  This, of course, doesn’t mean that those previous experiences didn’t hold significance in my being. I remembered those events, after all (and one would think that the character of your soul develops from such circumstances). My cousin, Lauren Phillips, dropped her last name, put on the most awesome dress, turned up the music and hosted one amazing gathering with her new husband Mike Schimke! In other words: SHE GOT MARRIED!!

 What an amazing and memorable occasion it was!  The Bear Valley Lodge was packed to the gills with family and friends (and even a few people that no one knew—cheers to the mysterious Reggae band).  Trees tangled with beautiful white lights and snowflakes cascaded from every part of the ceiling.  It was a winter wonderland!  Ryan, Elena (my cousin) and I sat right behind my aunt and uncle. Love reverberated from person to person.  Love bounced off the walls and splashed into drinks. People stood in the back of the room and even watched from floors above—hanging over the log banisters—to catch a glimpse of the beautiful bride and her new hubby! The anticipation for everyone was incredibly exciting. Lauren’s dress, of course, was a showstopper. She looked like a beautiful winter princess standing next to her husband (who was also dressed all in white).  I felt so lucky to be there to share such a special occasion with her.

After the ceremony, my cousin and her wedding entourage, went to snap some photos in the snow. I introduced Ryan to parts of my family he hadn’t met, and I got to visit with my cousin, Elena (who I haven’t seen for nearly 10 years).  You always know someone is a family member when you can pick up right where you left off—just as if you saw each other yesterday. Time passed quickly as we ate dinner, and listened to some awesomely incredible toasts (which you can find on YouTube by the way). As the crowd gathered to give their blessings, in what easily could have been mistaken for a extra large group hug, we had the option of raising a fist or glass or hand in the air for the toast.  Man it was cool.

The music took the room by storm. Smiles plastered everyone’s face, and dancing feet shook the room for hours.  By 12:30am we said goodnight, and the party continued for hours. Rumor has it that the DJ didn’t stop the music until after 2am; even after the last song walk through the hotel doors, people continued to carry on until the sun began to rise.

Taking off from my busy schedule of working and wedding planning to celebrate such a union was just right for my soul.  I had the chance to reunite with Bear Valley; I had the chance to breath in the brisk, snow-filled air; I had the chance to party-it-up with some of the most favorite people I know! What more could you want?

Thank you Lauren and Mike for bring together such an amazing group of people. And, of course, congrats to Mr. & Mrs. Mike Schimke!  I wish you a lifetime of happiness! 

Feast your eyes, ladies and gentlemen! Below are some glimpses of the amazing night we had:

Moments after the "I do's"

Me, My Aunt Sandy, and My Cousin Elena Celebrating!

Stealing a moment with the beautiful bride! (Lauren, Me, Elena)

The morning after the wedding!  All the cousins together! (Elena, Jenna, Me and Lauren)

Ryan and I saying goodbye to a wonderful weekend!

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