When Miranda Striggow got to Bellingham International Airport in November 2015 after a trip to Montana, she was expecting her then-boyfriend Denver Vander Yacht to pick her up.
He was there, dutifully waiting, holding a sign with her last name on it – ha ha, nice joke. But as she walked up to him, he flipped it over and on the other side in crimson and gray were the words, “Marry me?”
That more than made up for earlier, when Miranda had a 4-hour layover in Seattle and didn’t understand why Denver couldn’t just come pick her up when she called and asked him to.
The crowd in the arrival terminal applauded and cheered, and the couple celebrated afterward with an engagement party with their families in Birch Bay.
The two met through mutual friends about a year before that, and dated long distance for the beginning of their relationship while Denver finished college at Washington State University.
Once he got his degree, Denver moved back to Lynden and the couple planned their wedding for Aug. 20, 2016.
“I wanted a year-long engagement, but it’s your fiance’s decision,” Denver says.
“We bought (our) house in May, but didn’t live together till we were married,” Miranda says. “I couldn’t imagine waiting longer.”
When figuring out where to hold their wedding, they had to factor in the number of guests.
I have no family in Bellingham, even when my parents lived here. It’s interesting to go from none to everybody.
While Miranda has some family living in California, Olympia and Nebraska, Denver has an extensive family here in Whatcom County.
“I think there’s over 1,000 Vander Yachts,” Denver says. “Miranda’s the 100th Vander Yacht in my family.”
“I have no family in Bellingham, even when my parents lived here,” Miranda says. “It’s interesting to go from none to everybody.”
They were married outside at Marine Park in Fairhaven, “right under the big oak tree.”
The park was easily able to accommodate their roughly 260 guests.
As for the theme?
“Well … ‘spicy’ is kind of the hidden joke,” Denver says as he and Miranda laugh.
Miranda’s mom bought them a wedding planning book after they got engaged, and one of the prompts was to figure out a theme. The book offered suggestions, such as formal, winter, or “spicy.”
They had to go with that one.
Really, it was more of a late summer or fall theme, Miranda says, with sunflowers decorating the aisle and making up part of her bouquet.
Denver’s aunt, who got ordained just for their wedding, married them, and each of them had seven people in their wedding party – the women in crimson dresses, and the guys in gray suits.
Before the ceremony they traveled with their wedding party by rented bus to several locations for pictures. Their first look was in Birch Bay, then the group stopped in Ferndale and made a few stops in Bellingham, before making their way to Fairhaven.
Their reception was at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, where birch wood rounds and mason jars with sunflowers in them decorated the tables along with succulents and candles.
Take time for each other. It’s such a process, nerves are high and everything, so take time and relax, don’t stress about everything.
Denver Vander Yacht
To get their guests from where they ate dinner to the dance floor, they played the “shoe game,” where they sat back-to-back and were asked a series of questions like, “Who is the better cook?” and held up either one of Denver’s shoes or one of Miranda’s shoes to show their answers.
Speaking of shoes – if they have any advice for others, it’s to make sure you have comfy shoes.
Also, remember not to sweat the small stuff.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to be married regardless,” Miranda says.
“Take time for each other. It’s such a process, nerves are high and everything, so take time and relax, don’t stress about everything,” Denver says. “At the end of the day, you’re getting married, everyone is there to celebrate.”
“I still think parents should go on a honeymoon afterward,” Miranda adds. “They put so much time and money into it. My mom planned so much of it.”
The two live in Lynden, and hope to someday build a home with some property where their future family can run around.
By: Toni Lynn Photgraphy