This Couple Gave Guests Just One Week Notice Before Their Riverside Ceremony in Olympic Valley, California

bride and groom smiling at each other outside
Kari Henrichsen

When Kacey and Stephen met through mutual friends at Troy University in 2011, they quickly realized they had more in common than they expected: "As we talked, we learned that our grandparents live on the same road in Troy, Alabama," says Kacey. "It is a very small town, so it was very surprising we had never run into each other before. We instantly clicked and began spending all of our free time with one another. I think I knew from the beginning Stephen was going to be my husband—I had never felt so at home with anyone else."

After graduating, Stephen moved west to work as a wildland firefighter. Kacey ultimately joined him in Reno, Nevada, in 2017. A fire caused Stephen to be away from home for the holidays that year, but he made up for it on a walk by the Truckee River—a spot with sentimental history for the couple—with Kacey and their dog in January. "We had shared a special moment here one night when we saw a duck pair and discussed how they mate for life and how we plan to be together forever," says Kacey. "When we made it to that spot on our walk, Stephen dropped to one knee and proposed. It was so special to be back in that spot where we shared such an intimate moment. Of course, I said yes, and then we took pictures in front of the big 'Believe' sign by the river."

As they began planning their wedding, they considered Tahoe, their current home, before deciding on a small destination wedding in Mexico in May 2020—a plan they had to postpone when COVID-19 made travel impossible. And then tragedy struck. "In July of 2020, we lost my grandparents to COVID, and Stephen lost his father to a stroke," says Kacey. "After the unexpected loss of our loved ones, we decided we did not want to wait any longer to be married." On a whim, they entered a giveaway hosted by Tahoe Unveiled and One Fine Day Events—and won.

"On Wednesday we found out we won the giveaway, and the following Wednesday was the wedding date," says Kacey. "We each had our surviving parent attend and our dearest friends who could come on such short notice." The outdoor ceremony and al fresco reception for 10 was held at a private home along the Truckee River in Olympic Valley, California, on October 14, 2020. "This location was pre-selected for us in the giveaway, but seemed meant to be because the Truckee River is such a special place for us," says Kacey. "It was intimate and so special that we could be married at the same river we were engaged by, only in a different city. We were able to celebrate like it was a big wedding, but had the intimacy of the micro style—and we were able to share it with our friends and family. The ceremony was an absolute dream."

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Couple's Choice

bride in lace cap sleeve wedding dress holding bouquet
Kari Henrichsen

Though Kacey had already found a wedding dress for her original celebration in Mexico, "that style and design was not going to work in Tahoe in October," she says. "As a part of the giveaway, I was linked to the adorable shop Moonlight Lace and was able to find my beautiful dress." Stephen joined her at the boutique where she tried on multiple gowns before coming across her scalloped eyelash lace frock from Daughters of Simone. "When I saw his face and excitement, I knew it was the one," she says. "I was able to find something about all the other dresses I had tried on that I just did not love. When I tried on the dress I was married in, I could not find anything I did not like about it."

02 of 22

In Spirit

white, yellow, and orange floral wedding bouquet
Kari Henrichsen

Kacey anticipated the sadness of experiencing her wedding day without her late mother. "My wedding day was something I really felt I was going to struggle with after losing her and knowing she would not be there to help me get ready," she says. Her aunt stepped in, sending a pair of Kacey's mother's earrings that, by coincidence, matched the aesthetic of the wedding perfectly.

The bride describes her bouquet from Twine Floral Co. as "the perfect loose and effortless gathering of greenery mixed with a few pops of peach-and-white florals." She wrapped a locket with her mother's picture around the stems, adding a charm that said, "I know you'd be here today if heaven wasn't so far away," and wore a David Yurman topaz bracelet her father gave her as something blue.

03 of 22

Gray Area

bride and groom sitting on chair outside smiling
Kari Henrichsen

Stephen accented his dark gray Joseph Abboud satin with a deep blue bow tie and a boutonnière that matched Kacey's bouquet. The couple put a modern twist on tradition by getting ready together—though that didn't spoil the moment when they finally saw each other in their full outfits. "I was very anxious for Stephens's reaction. I do not normally wear a lot of makeup and I did not want to not look like myself," says Kacey, who was thrilled with the natural look she requested from Love Is in the Hair. "His response gave me all the confidence in the world—he made me feel like queen."

04 of 22

Pretty in Pink

flower girl wearing pink high-low dress standing on tree stump
Kari Henrichsen

Kacey and Stephen opted not to have bridesmaids or groomsmen, instead asking their niece to serve as flower girl and hold Kacey's bouquet during the ceremony. Her high-low dress in a light pink floral lace complemented the earthy tones of the day's color palette.

05 of 22

Natural Beauty

clear chairs seating area outdoor wedding ceremony space
Kari Henrichsen

The private property where Kacey and Stephen held their wedding featured waterfront access to the Truckee River. "One Fine Day Events designed the entire wedding and it matched our style and aesthetic perfectly," says Kacey. "As this was a giveaway, I didn't actually contribute much to the vision, but it worked out so perfectly."

06 of 22

Arch of Blooms

greenery covered wedding ceremony arch with floral accents
Kari Henrichsen

Transparent ghost chairs let the round arch, organic florals, and shimmering water serve as focal points.

07 of 22

Father and Daughter

father of the bride smiling with bride outside
Kari Henrichsen

As Kacey's father escorted her down the aisle to begin the ceremony, an acoustic guitarist from Tahoe Music Professionals performed their favorite tune. "It was sweet to be walked down the aisle by my father to 'My Girl,'" says Kacey. "That song has always been 'our song.'"

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08 of 22

In Their Own Words

bride and groom exchanging wedding vows outside
Kari Henrichsen

The couple's spiritual ceremony included a prayer and scriptures about love, along with custom vows from their officiant, Meredith of Ceremonies by Meredith. "Our officiant was amazing and gave us a questionnaire to complete to help us develop our own vows—or for her to personalize vows for us," says Kacey. "She was able to form our answers into an intimate personal set of promises that left me teary eyed at the altar."

09 of 22

Sunny Days

bride and groom hold hands during recessional
Kari Henrichsen

Kacey and Stephen left the ceremony to The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun," a song the bride had always imagined hearing at her wedding.

10 of 22

Wading In

wedding guests standing in river
Kari Henrichsen

Guests dipped their toes in the cool river during the cocktail hour.

11 of 22

Words of Love

wedding letters hanging on wall
Kari Henrichsen

A freestanding wall adorned with fresh flowers displayed personalized letters from the couple to each one of their guests. "One of our favorite parts of our micro wedding was the love notes we wrote for our guests," says Kacey. "It was so nice to hear their reactions."

12 of 22

Flower Bar

white wedding reception bar area
Kari Henrichsen

Shine Bar Catering created several unique libations for Kacey and Stephen's reception, served from a custom bar. "I loved the bar that was designed by Tahoe Unveiled—it was so beautiful and had fresh flowers," says Kacey.

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13 of 22

Lounging Around

orange and cream toned wedding lounge area
Kari Henrichsen

A lounge, curated around the celebration's earthy color palette, was positioned just in front of the river for ambience.

14 of 22

Soft Tunes

musician playing guitar and singing
Kari Henrichsen

Their guitarist serenaded the crowd during the interlude and through dinner.

15 of 22

Table for 12

wedding table outside with cream colored linens
Kari Henrichsen

The intimate dinner table was placed under an open-air cabana edged with breezy curtains; woven pendants suspended from above added a warm, natural element.

16 of 22

Green Party

neutral toned wedding reception table decor
Kari Henrichsen

Olive branches and other simple greenery were loosely gathered in a collection of earth-toned vessels in different sizes and shapes.

17 of 22

Tonal Grays

muted tones wedding reception place settings with menu
Kari Henrichsen

Gray place settings and knot-tied napkins complemented the other organic elements within the design.

18 of 22

A Memorable Meal

sandwiches and salads wedding food truck
Kari Henrichsen

A menu of grilled tri tip, lemon rosemary chicken, and three-cheese truffle macaroni from Tahoe Fullers was served from an on-site food truck. "The food truck was such a fun, nontraditional catering idea," says Kacey.

  • 5 Tips for Having a Food Truck at Your Wedding
19 of 22

Hot and Cold

outdoor wedding reception gelato bar
Kari Henrichsen

Instead of cake, the couple opted for espresso and two flavors of gelato—chocolate or pumpkin—from Café Apae, which set up two vintage Vespas to display and serve the treats.

20 of 22

Best of Both Worlds

espresso gelato in white serving dish
Kari Henrichsen

The ultimate dessert? Espresso with gelato.

21 of 22

So in Tune

bride and groom embrace during first dance
Kari Henrichsen

Kacey and Stephen didn't make an official choice for their first dance, but took advantage of a serendipitous moment. "Our first dance was to 'What I Got'—we did not plan this, but when the song came on, we locked eyes and knew it was time to dance," says Kacey. "This is one of my favorite songs, and Stephen has learned to love it through me."

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groom facing water while bride smiles holding his arm
Kari Henrichsen

Photography, Kari Henrichsen
Event Planning,
One Fine Day Events
Tahoe Fullers
Twine Floral Co.
Hitmaker Films
Ceremonies by Meredith
Tahoe Music Professionals
Celebrations Event Rentals; La Tavola; One Fine Day Events
Bride's gown,
Daughters of Simone
Bride's bracelet,
David Yurman
Hair and makeup,
Love is in the Hair
Groom's tuxedo,
Joseph Abboud
Shine Bar Catering
Café Apae

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