Lindsey & Jack’s Playful Rocky Mountain Elopement Ceremony
Many couples choose to elope for a variety of reasons: the affordability, the minimal stress, or simply because the bride and groom don’t want the spotlight on them. Lindsey and Jack hit on a number of these reasons, and decided to go with their gut and plan a winter elopement at the beautiful 3M Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado on February 29, 2020. And believe us when we say that their love story is just as beautiful as the location where they recited their vows. Read all about their picture-perfect day (and the days leading up to it) below!
How did you meet? What was your first impression of one another?
We met in the summer of 2014 when we were both at the University of Oklahoma. Jack was starting his Engineering degree at OU after graduating from Boston College, and I was interning for the summer. We were living in the same apartment complex and met out by the pool after moving in to our respective apartments. We couldn’t believe the first person we met after driving halfway across the country from New Jersey had also just drove halfway across the country from New Jersey. Aside from that, we could not have been more different. Jack was a city kid who drove a Prius and I grew up on a farm and had a lifted Jeep with mud tires.
When did you first fall in love? How did you know?
Jack: If I had to pick a specific moment where I fell in love with Lindsey, it would actually be when we “broke up.” At the end of that first summer, I went out to dinner with some of her family in Oklahoma City. After dinner, in the parking lot of the restaurant, Lindsey and I had a discussion about what we were going to do with her going back to Penn State for her senior year. We agreed we weren’t going to do the whole long distance thing, and parted ways. As soon as I got in the car to head back to my apartment, I broke down. The foolishness of my decision to let her go came crashing down on me like an avalanche. It would continue to eat at me for months. Finally, I got a little help from the higher power of college football to bring her back into my life. Fate would have it that Boston College and Penn State were playing in a bowl game in Yankee Stadium. I went to the game with my old roommate, and I ran into Lindsey in the concourse. It turned out we were only sitting a few rows apart from each other. I knew I wasn’t going to let her go again.
Lindsey: I was still hesitant on starting a relationship while in school as I was focused on my future career and didn’t want anything to get in the way as I didn’t know where I would end up with my dietetic internship or going for my master’s. However, Jack was persistent and I could tell there was something different about him. He was determined to stay in touch after that summer even with me giving him the cold shoulder for months. Then on Valentine’s Day in 2015 he sent me my own pair of sweat pants that I would always steal from him and cookies. The man knew the way to my heart – food and comfort. At this point I knew he was the one for me because he was creative, intuitive into actually listening and knowing me better than myself. The man just wants to make me happy.
How did you propose?
Jack: I wanted everything to be perfect. I had come up with countless plans for when and how to propose. I knew Lindsey didn’t want anything too public or too showy … Lindsey is extremely family-oriented and really struggles being away from her family on holidays. She had to work at the hospital on Thanksgiving, so we were going to be on our own for Thanksgiving dinner. I figured if we couldn’t be with her family, maybe asking her if she wanted to start a new family with me might take her mind off of it. I did my best to make it seem like it was going to be an unassuming dinner and really tried to undersell it. Meanwhile, once she left for work I was running around town like a madman to get everything I needed to have dinner ready by the time she got home. I also could get the 40 or so tea candles I had ordered the week before out of hiding. Once I had dinner cooking and the candles set up, I felt like I needed to get myself dressed up. I couldn’t have this elaborate romantic dinner and propose in ratty sweatpants. So naturally, as anyone would do, I opted for full evening dress. Tailcoat tuxedo, top hat, gloves, the whole nine yards. Why I had that in my closet is beyond me. Anyway, dressed like a third-rate magician with dinner cooked and the candles lit, all that was left to do was wait … She opened the door, and I came around the corner as a playlist of our favorite songs started playing. I got down on one knee and as I opened the ring box all those lines I had been rehearsing all afternoon left my head like a bunch of balloons slipping through the fingers of a careless child on a windy day. I just sat there on one knee, mouth agape. Thankfully, Lindsey was able to piece together that I was asking her to marry me based on the context clues and said yes.
Lindsey: After 4 years of being together (3 of those years long-distance) Jack popped the question. I had suspicion it was coming because we’ve been talking about it for awhile and have done extensive ring shopping since we have vastly different taste still even years later. Anyway, it was Thanksgiving and I was just finishing my shift at the hospital, coming home to our apartment. Jack had the lights off and mini candles spread all throughout our apartment with Leon Bridges playing and dinner on the table. Jack is the romantic type, so I was just thinking, “Oh this is nice since we can’t be back home with our families and I had to work.” But then he came out of our bedroom in a tux and top hat and I just started laughing because I knew what was really going on. Jack got down on one knee with our two dogs sitting beside him. Afterwards, we danced in our kitchen to “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain until I got paged by the hospital since I was on-call. I still wouldn’t wish it any other way, it was absolutely perfect.
What do you love about your partner?
Jack: It is really difficult to pick out just one thing. To put it succinctly, we make a really great team. We complement each other’s personalities well, and bring out the best in each other. Lindsey knows how to push me to be the best version of myself I can be but also knows when I really just need a hug. I love how hard-working and driven she is, and I am envious of her ability to be so career-oriented yet still be able to maintain a strong work/life balance. I love how great she is with our two dogs, and I know she will make a great mother someday.
Lindsey: There’s too many things to list on why I love Jack. I never thought about marriage before and used to think people were crazy vowing their life for another, until I met Jack I understood why. Now I can’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else. He makes me a better person. I love his drive to be the absolute best he can be whether it be with work, Rugby, or my husband. He never settles and always strives for improving himself from the day before. I know he is going to be a phenomenal father one day. He is the only person who is able to soften my hard edges, supports all my crazy ambitions and share the same values as me.
What is the greatest strength of your relationship?
I think the greatest strength of our relationship is our communication. With our relationship starting out long distance, communication was vital to keeping our fledgling romance alive. When we moved in together, it allowed us to have productive discussions and remedy issues as they arose. As our relationship has grown stronger with time, the time has also strengthened our ability to communicate with each other. We continually work to better understand how the other expresses emotion and copes with both stress and success. We can’t help each other if we are unable to understand what the other is going through.
Why did you decide to elope?
Lindsey: Walking down an aisle gives me anxiety. As mentioned earlier, I’ve never imagined myself getting married. I don’t enjoy the spotlight on me and am a very practical person so I never wanted to share the burden of expense of having a traditional wedding … We didn’t want to spend our time and money planning an elaborate wedding that would put us in significant amount of debt that neither of us particularly cared for anyway. We were going to do a small intimate wedding, however you have to draw the line somewhere with invitations and we just couldn’t do it. It would either have to be everyone or no one. We almost lost focus of the reason for getting married – us. So then we decided a traditional wedding is not reflective of us.
Jack: Unlike most couples, I was the one who dreamt of the fairy tale wedding, and not Lindsey. However, the more weddings I went to, the more I realized the emphasis was never really on the couple. They were the center of attention, but it seemed like a thoroughly grueling experience. What is supposed to be a joyous occasion and a celebration of a couple’s love for one another has morphed into this ostentatious display of excess for the couple’s parents’ friends and social media. It was more of an excuse to throw a party than a celebration of the couple’s commitment to one another. Most couples we talked to always talked about the stress of planning, how exhausting the day of was, and the relief when it was all over … The more I thought about it, the more I was inclined to just elope and do something we would enjoy. Lindsey, the planner, happened to come across Simply Eloped and the idea of an adventure elopement. Once I saw what it entailed, I knew it was something we would enjoy. Throughout the process I admittedly had some doubts, but having done it, I wouldn’t change a thing. It really was the perfect day, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
How did you find Simply Eloped?
After coming to the realization that a wedding wasn’t for us however we wanted to do something more special and unique than going to a courthouse, we did some digging and came across Simply Eloped. We immediately fell in love with the idea of clicking the button and being told where to show and when. Just letting the true professionals do all the planning. It was absolutely hassle-free and no stress. Some of our family and friends were skeptical at first but after explaining to them our reasoning and seeing the photos they thought we were geniuses!
How did you know Simply Eloped was the right fit for you?
As a terrible planner and someone who flies by the seat of their pants through most things in life, the Simply Eloped process was EXACTLY what I needed. It took all of the stress out of planning the wedding. We had two calls with the Drawhorns, they asked us a handful of questions, and that was it. Wedding planned. It was easier than ordering takeout. Not only was it easy, but we ended up with the perfect day. Our families were a little skeptical, but after seeing how it panned out, I think they are even bigger advocates for the process than we are, and we tell everyone who wants to know.
What attracted you to the venue you eloped at?
We were immediately drawn to Rocky Mountain National Park because we both absolutely love Colorado and if we were ever to leave Kansas City, then Colorado would be the place! I love exploring, hiking the mountains and snow. Plus, you can’t take one bad picture there, it’s impossible!
What activities did you do before the wedding? How did you prepare? How did you feel leading up to the moments of your elopement?
We took off a week from work and drove up a few days beforehand. We wanted to explore and really enjoy what Colorado has to offer. We wanted to try out breweries, wineries, distilleries, exotic meats, and snowboarding/skiing. Our mom’s even came out for the elopement. Me and my mom got massages the day before while Jack and his mom explored Estes Park downtown. Afterwards, we met up for a nice dinner at Bird and Jim’s. Jack stayed the night with his mom at their VRBO and my mom stayed with me at my VRBO. It felt surreal, like I couldn’t believe it was actually here and happening since we booked it over a year ago. To prepare for the wedding I looked at other Simply Eloped couples and on Pinterest for ideas of attire because I knew there’d be snow, it’d be cold and we’d be hiking up a mountain! At first I was going to go for an all white snow suit but then I came across a gorgeous vintage, lace dress. It was perfect! Inexpensive, flowy and practical for the hike. I research fleeced leggings, warmest socks, and hiking boots – I was then good to go. To complete the look I wanted statement pieces, which were my fur shawl for the ceremony and then a Pendleton coat for the hike.
Tell us about your experience with Simply Eloped leading up to and on your big day!
Simply Eloped provided updates throughout the year and suggestions for the day of and even places to stay, things to do and where to go. They covered it all! I was left with no unanswered questions or hesitations. They were there through every step of the way to make it the best day of our lives and everything we could possibly dreamed. They worked with us on how we could have our moms witness the vows and Jack and I being able to successfully pull off the first look. I wrote a personal letter to our parents to open on wedding day. I also Face-Timed my family and received greetings from friends. My mom and I then got brunch at Claire’s that morning to then have the bridal experts come to my VRBO to do my hair and makeup. We drank mimosas by the fire and chit chat leading up to the final moments of putting on the dress. My mom and I met Jess, Austin, Jack and his mom in the car before driving to 3M Curve. Austin walked Jack down to the spot while I stayed in the car so he wouldn’t see me for the first look. Jess then walked me down and turned jack and I back to back. Jess also was kind enough to help our moms down the slippery slope. Afterwards, our moms departed and we hiked to Dream Lake … There were so many emotions that day and the views were breathtaking. Jess and Austin were really able to capture how much fun we were truly having in the photos. It didn’t feel posed or forced one bit. We were in true bliss. The day of my mom and I went out for a nice relaxing breakfast. We didn’t have to stress about the logistics of family coming into town or if a tux was going to be pressed or anything. We got coffee and went back to our VRBO and got ready. I was jittery with a nervous excitement. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. It was nice to only have to focus on getting ready and seeing Lindsey in her dress. The focus was just on us and our love for each other. There wasn’t any fretting over whether the band would be good or if people would like the venue. It all just felt so right.
How did you celebrate after?
Afterwards our moms met us at our VRBO bringing dinner. Jack shared a dance with his mom while me and my mom set up plates. We shared thoughts, experiences and laughs of the day while enjoying some Italian food and a fancy chocolate basket Jack’s dad sent. Afterwards, we drank wine and played Cards Against Humanity with our moms. When they left to go back to their VRBO, Jack and I sat in the hot tub, drinking a whiskey on the rocks while gazing at the stars reminiscing about the perfect, relaxing day we just had and what our future holds. We are still so excited to celebrate with our friends and family later in the summer for a casual party.
What words of encouragement do you have for those considering eloping?
Do what YOU want! Don’t try to please everyone else because 1. That is impossible, and 2. Not enjoyable. This is supposed to celebrate you and how you want to reflect your marriage, not what others want. They will come around when they see how happy you are, trust me. We do not regret eloping one bit. In fact, we highly encourage everyone to do it! You can still celebrate with friends and family at a later date like us!
Coordination: Simply Eloped
Officiant: Jess Drawhorn
Photographer: Austin Drawhorn
Hair & Makeup: Kim Angel