For a couple of guys raised in the city, Randy Pierce and Kyle Rodenberger had one rustic wedding in mind.
Randy grew up in Vancouver, B.C., and Kyle grew up in Bellingham. However, Kyle spent a lot of time growing up at his grandfather "Popo's" wooded property on south Lake Whatcom.
Because of their access to Popo's land, Kyle and Randy decided they wanted to make much of the furniture and decorations for their wedding by themselves, using trees from the property. Popo helped hire a crew to cut some of his trees into chairs, and selected cedars to be used for a decorative arch for the couple to stand under during the ceremony.
Even the wedding album is made of wood. Randy found the idea online while researching the "woodsy" theme, and approached Kyle's dad about helping him make the book. They cut pieces from a 45-year-old cedar, and Randy used a wood-burning kit to engrave the cover.
"It's special because it's so local, and the tree is the same age as Kyle, so it holds a lot of meaning for us," Randy says.
Randy and Kyle hosted their late-summer wedding in their backyard, which overlooks Whatcom Falls Park. They wore green vests that Randy made by hand, and matching brown suits.
They also made their own boutonnieres and corsages for the 16-person ceremony, and arranged their own bouquets. They bought 36 dozen white roses for $200 by buying them in bulk and arranging them on their own.
Before the service began, nature took the rustic theme to the next level when a deer and her fawn knocked over a small vase of flowers Randy had placed out in memory of his father. They settled down and lay in the woods behind the couple throughout the ceremony.
Randy and Kyle met through an online dating service and, despite living in different countries, decided to meet. Their cross-border relationship fell into place, but not without some struggle.
To start with, they took turns travelling on weekends. Randy would visit Bellingham for a weekend, then Kyle would visit Vancouver the next. After two years, they wanted to buy a house together in Bellingham, but had to check the legality of having Randy move to the U.S.
Because he wasn't a citizen and lacked a green card, he could own the home as a second residence, but would have to maintain his condo in Vancouver and live there at least half of the time.
"We probably would have gotten married about the time we bought our house in June 2011, but that wasn't a legal option at that point," Randy says. "We could have gotten married in Canada, but a lawyer told us to wait it out in case the laws changed and made it so we had to get remarried, or divorced and remarried, to have our marriage recognized here in the states."
Though it meant spending only four nights a week together at their home in Bellingham, Randy says it's a good thing they waited.
"Washington legalized same-sex marriage, and then in November it was upheld," he says. "Then, the best case scenario happened: DOMA (federal Defense of Marriage Act) was overturned."
Now that they're married, Randy will be able to apply for citizenship. If approved, he should be able to get a green card and move to Bellingham full-time.