One foot in front of the other. Your calves are burning, heartbeat accelerated, lungs fighting to take in the cool Alaska air. The adrenaline races through your body as you push to keep pace with him. He is such a natural runner, and you love running right behind him, even more so because you know what is about to happen. It’s a gorgeous day. You feel completely in tune with yourself and with the world around you. You know that this is the right moment, because everything feels so natural.


One foot in front of the other, and then down on one knee. There was no planned photographer, no elaborate decor. Bryce asked Richard to marry him in a moment that was true, in a moment that was real. It is a proposal story that shines with authenticity that was meant not for a magazine or an Instagram account, but for two people committing themselves to one another. The couple was on one of their travelling adventures in Alaska, out on a routine jog, when Bryce asked Richard to marry him. The photo he shared on social media wasn’t taken by a paid photographer waiting in the wings; it was a hiker who happened to witness the special moment and offered to capture it on a cell phone. But for all the privacy of their proposal, Richard and Bryce’s story is celebrated by a loving circle of friends and family.

It was their friends, in fact, who planned to introduce them while they were both on vacation at Disney World. As destiny had it, their friends didn’t need to make the introduction. When Richard saw Bryce through the crowd at a beach party, he says he nearly knocked someone over to make his way over to the tall, handsome man and introduce himself. From there, it was smooth sailing. From the moment they met, he tells me, it was as if they had always known one another. After a year of dating long distance from Chicago to Orlando, Richard moved up to the Windy City to live with his Disney beau.

I asked the two what advice they had for couples planning a wedding. “Don’t get caught up in the details,” they offered, “it’s the people who are there who make the event.” That couldn’t be more apparent when looking through their wedding photos. In addition to loving pictures of the handsome couple, there are playful images of best friends, cousins, grandparents. The grooms honored their families by processing down the aisle together with their mothers, after their brothers entered side by side as the best men, as well as their fathers and grandparents. Extended family flew in from all parts of the country to celebrate the young grooms. When Bryce’s childhood minister saw their engagement announcement on social media, he offered to perform the ceremony. It was a beautiful, formal, and traditional wedding. Both grooms simultaneously tossed a bouquet, and were pleased to share that the recipients of both bouquets--one guy, one gal--are currently in serious relationships (although not with one another). They entered the room for the first time as Mr. and Mr. to a Taylor Swift song, danced their first dance to Elton John’s “Your Song,” and cut their cake to Britney Spears’s “Lucky.”

The guests at Richard and Bryce’s wedding were truly fortunate. Too often, couples planning weddings focus on themselves: How are we going to look? How will we impress the guests? How do we go bigger and better than the last wedding we attended? These gentlemen put all that aside and let the authenticity of their relationships foster the fun-spirited atmosphere of the big day. They brought their friend groups together at a joint bachelor party in Las Vegas, which allowed the wedding party to get to know each other prior to the wedding weekend. In some ways, it may have been a struggle accommodating so many family members wanting to celebrate the couple with engagement parties and events. Another piece of advice from Richard & Bryce: Don’t worry too much about who does and doesn’t come. Just focus on the people who want to be there.

The entire wedding process was inclusive. The couple drew inspiration from weddings of friends and family and relied on the tasteful guidance of each other’s mothers. They spoke so highly of their photographer, Cat Lemus, whose work reflects the loving atmosphere so well with her captivating images. The day after the wedding, the newlyweds hosted their friends at Epcot for an informal gathering before everyone left to travel home. I asked how they plan to celebrate their first anniversary, and the response is unsurprising: “With friends.”


Photography: Cat Lemus, found via Fearless Photographers

Cake: Sprinkles Cakes