As a wedding blogger, you get to see a lot of beautiful weddings. But this one is different. Because after a terrible tragedy left this bride in a wheelchair, her brother and father were able to walk her down the aisle – something she never thought to be possible. And with stunning florals from Mum’s Flowers’ blooms + Shannon Hollman’s absolutely beautiful images…this is the definition of a true fairytale. Read on for more!
From the stunning bride… Jason and I first met on the sidewalks of Whitefish in 2006, during the Whitefish Winter Carnival. After that time, I slowly got to know Jason through mutual friends and get- togethers. During the summer of 2008, when what we thought we had was nothing more than an innocent friendship, something between us began to grow and we knew we would never want to let go. Before we knew it, Jason and I were spending more and more time together, just the two of us sharing laughs and going out on little adventures. Somehow we found through our friendship that we both have the same drive for the outdoors and love for trying new things, even though Jason was way better than me at most new things we tried. He somehow pushed me to levels that I would never have gotten to on my own. This is why I love him and why I realized at the end of that summer in 2008 that I didn’t want to spend another day without him.
Two years into our relationship, everything came crashing down on us. On April 10th in 2010, driving home, we hit black ice and our vehicle rolled twice, ejecting me from the vehicle. You always hear about these stories or see them on the news but never do you believe that one day it will happen to you. The sound of the alert helicopter was so pronounced that night and I knew it was coming to get me. I knew this because I could not move my legs. I knew something bad had happened but tried to stay calm in the situation. Sure enough, I was flown to Harbor View Medical Center after a quick stop at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. It was in Seattle where I was diagnosed T12 Paraplegic. I would never walk again. Since the accident I have continued rehab and upper body strengthening. Despite being paralyzed, I continue to do almost all of the same activities that I did prior to the accident with the support of Jason, my family and friends.
Just a couple weeks following the two year anniversary of our accident, on April 24, 2012, I came home after work to find my perfect diamond waiting for me. Well, not quite like that! We went out back on our porch to eat dinner and when Jason told me that the resident fox was in the field, of course I turned to looked, right? When I didn’t see it, I turned back around to find my diamond ring sitting on the table. It was then that Jason asked the big question, and without a doubt, I said YES!
Oh, the wedding! So you would think I would be ecstatic, right? Well, I was excited to be marrying Jason, but about the actual wedding, I had mixed emotions. This is the kind of thing I think every girl dreams about from the time that she is a little girl. I know I did. I had a vision of what my wedding was going to be like and I will tell you, it did not include a wheelchair. If you think there weren’t tears during the planning process, well you can think again. I didn’t know if I should just go to the courthouse or maybe have a destination wedding. I knew I didn’t want to “roll” down the aisle. One day, my mom showed me a video on YouTube of a girl who walked down the aisle with her leg braces on; braces which I own, too. It appeared that she walked with what looked like her father and a sibling. I thought to myself, I can do that. So, I decided and I set my mind to it that that was what I was going to do. I would walk down the aisle with my father and my brother. Now, practice, practice, practice!! The thing was, I could walk great with my walker and braces, but I have to watch my feet because I cannot feel them touch the ground. At my wedding, I would be in a dress and maybe only be able to see the tips of my shoes. Also, I would be replacing my walker with the arms of my father and my brother. Everything was a learning process to us all but eventually we would figure it out. And so, the planning began. I knew I was going to walk down an aisle, stand through my vows and once we said “I do”, Jason would carry me out. Since we had a plan, we set a date. July 13, 2013, we would get married.
We decided to book our wedding and reception at Diamond B Weddings in Kalispell, MT. Our theme for the event would follow in the direction of vintage/shabby chic with a splash of rustic. Having our ceremony at Diamond B, we could all gather down by the shore of Flathead River and enjoy the view of the mountain range in the back drop. I also chose to arrange the seating in a semi-circle to create a shorter aisle for me to walk down and to allow a better visual of the ceremony and beautiful arch hand made by our good friend Jon. When the time came, and it did, I walked arm in arm with my father and oldest brother, John. In my eyes, it seemed flawless. If you can only imagine, there were just a few tears and I even got a standing ovation for my efforts. Jason and I stood face to face through our vows and once we were announced husband and wife, with some help from our wedding party, Jason swept me into his arms and carried me down the aisle.
We were honored to have Jason’s brother-in-law, Joe Kola as his best man and Chance Buckallew as his groomsman. Also, I had my sister, Sarah, as my Maid of Honor and Hilary Shepard as my bridesmaid. We had all four of our nephews for ring bearers, Jack, Caden, Michael and JW. Our flower girl was my niece, Maura.
Following the ceremony, everyone would gather up at the red barn for wonderful food and appetizers served by Johns Angels Catering and cocktails by Scotty’s Bar. While we let everyone get comfortable with their favorite drink and a bite to eat, we took advantage of the setting sun and got a few more amazing photos by Shannon and Jeremy with Shannon Hollman Photography. Once the photos wrapped up, everyone gathered in the barn and we shared some laughs and memories with a slideshow. The last song during the slideshow, we got up and did the best of what we could and had our first dance. We like to call it “an eighth grade sway”. It seemed to fit.
After we cut into our gorgeous cake from the IGA in Bigfork, it was time to get the party started. Chance broke out the limbo bar made from the glow sticks at the reception and got the DJ from Mobile Beat to start playing her top hits and that was all it took. The party took off from there. If you can imagine, Jason and I went side by side under the limbo, wheelchair and all. I’m pretty certain that I even got a few jitter bug dances in as well. One thing I miss for sure is dancing, but I made up for it at my wedding. I never thought that I would ever dance so much in my wheelchair. We kept that place rocking until one o’clock and continued back at our place gathered around a bonfire with a group of our close friends until the early morning. It was absolutely a night that I will never forget.
I never thought that I would feel so calm and stress free on my wedding day. I feel a huge part of that credit goes to Michelle and the crew at Soucie and Soucie for doing my hair and makeup so perfectly. All I really had to do that day was put on my dress. And walk down the aisle of course! A huge thanks to Don Bestwick and the crew at Northern Physical Therapy because they helped make my walk possible. Of course, thank you to my dad and my brother, John, for helping make that walk possible, too. I also could never thank my mother enough. This wedding would have never happened without her and my sister, Sarah. With their help, all of the signs, so much shopping, and any idea I had, they helped make it happen. My sister-in-law Elena, thanks too, for all that she did before and during the wedding. She was literally there for anything that I needed on my wedding day. Any many thanks to so many friends and family, including my brother Matt and Jason’s sister, Tracy, and parents, and grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and more, that helped make it all happen and for being there to support us on such a momentous day in our lives! Thank you to Eileen at Diamond B Weddings; she is one of the hardest working women I know, and the Party Store for all of my tables, chairs, linens and more. Thanks to Jacqueline at J Scott Couture Bridal in Bigfork; she was so patient with me as we got my dress to fit so perfectly, and trust me, it wasn’t an easy process. John’s Angels Catering and Scotty’s did a great job serving food and drinks to our 250 guests. Mobile Beat kept us dancing all night. Thank you! I can never say enough about how beautiful the flowers were from Mum’s Flowers in Whitefish, and I certainly had plenty of them to enjoy. I felt like the flowers were the finishing touch on the rest of the decor. They truly were stunning! Last but not least, my photos. Ahh my photos! Maybe this truly does become the only memory you have left of your wedding, but one thing is for sure, I chose a photographer that truly was amazing, not only at capturing these memories, but to work with as well. Thank you so much, Shannon and Jeremie with Shannon Hollman Photography.
From the handsome groom… Annie is unquestionably the strongest woman I know. She has taken such a painful loss of being able to use her legs and turned it into such powerful accomplishments. I am so blessed to be with a woman, that no matter what we do, people come up to her and say what an inspiration she is. It is an amazing sight to be on the ski slope with her, and everywhere I look all of the attention is focused on her. When people are either yelling from the chair lifts ‘you go girl!’ or skiing by her saying ‘never give up!’, she brings out the best in everyone. So, I guess one of the many things I love about Annie is her amazing amount of will power.