According to James McNulty and Jennifer Portmann, last-minute decisions lead to the best things—or in their case, to each other. A mutual friend had arranged for them to meet, but two cases of cold feet nearly derailed the night when Jennifer and James decided to stand each other up. But a change of minds to go through with the blind dates quickly lead to a change of hearts.
The two hit it off right away with their passion for the outdoors. At the time, Jennifer was attending Montana State University, pursuing her master’s degree, and James was working at Big Sky Resort. Montana served as the perfect location to foster their budding relationship. “We’re both adventurous,” Jennifer says. “We love being outdoors.”
After two years of dates that involved fishing, skiing, and hiking, James proposed to Jennifer at Half Moon Bay on a visit to his parents in California. This time, however, she didn’t have to think twice before giving her answer.
Although Jennifer and James love Montana, Jennifer couldn’t imagine being married anywhere other than Minnesota. After all, she’d been dreaming of a wedding reception in her parent’s backyard since she was young. “That was one of the things I needed when I got married,” Jennifer says. So during a weekend trip to her hometown of Orono, family and friends gathered and began planning the DIY-themed wedding.
Jennifer and James were decisive about what they wanted, helping to cut down on the level of stress that often accompanies the wedding planning process. When it came to the dessert, for example, James, an ice cream fanatic, had one request: that the wedding cake be made of ice cream. Jennifer and her mom did him one better, with a total of 14 ice cream cakes for the reception. As for the bridesmaid dresses, Jennifer knew the color of green she wanted, but couldn’t find it in any stores. She did, however, find the perfect fabric, so her mom designed and sewed all six dresses. “I like to think that I’m crafty, but not nearly as much as [my mom],” Jennifer says.
Six months following the proposal and countless hours spent crafting, the couple had their perfect Minnesota wedding. After the outdoor ceremony at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mound, the celebration commenced in the bride’s parent’s backyard, just like Jennifer had always dreamed. The intimate setting was personalized even further with homemade décor, as seen in the Minnesota lakes table cards drawn by Jennifer’s cousin and flowers picked from a friend’s garden.
While these personal touches enhanced the specialness of the night for the newlyweds, Jennifer’s favorite part was seeing the reception filled with all of their friends and family. The couple’s choice of classic rock music was a hit and kept the dance floor alive. “Everyone from 10 to 70 and up were dancing the entire night,” Jennifer says.
And despite the fact that nearly 1,000 miles separated James and Jennifer from their wedding site, they still managed to put together a day that was beautiful, unforgettable, and uniquely them. “During the wedding planning, I was called plain or simple quite a bit,” Jennifer says. “At first I was kind of put off, but now I know that’s OK. I had a simple wedding—and that’s OK.”
Date: September 6, 2012
Ceremony: St. John’s Lutheran Church
Reception: Bride’s parent’s backyard
Dress: Posh Bridal Couture
Bridesmaid Dresses: Made by bride’s mom
Groom’s Attire: Savvi Formalwear
Groomsmen Attire: Savvi Formalwear
Rings: Groom’s from his grandfather; bride’s from Shane Co.
Flowers: Weber’s Westdale; friend’s garden
Cake: Ice cream cakes made by bride and her mom; cake from Buttercream Cakes & Desserts served the day after the wedding
Music: Java Jam; Instant Request
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