By Aleynah Stoutenburg

Christa Carter didn’t “dream about my dress or stress over our wedding day.” She married her husband Josh (better known as Carter) in an intimate ceremony in the Willamette National Forest this past summer. Carter is a native of Alabama and Christa hails from Indiana, but they both have a passion for the Northwest.

In October 2014, they held an engagement party with over 100 people in attendance in Carter’s hometown. This was their way of keeping their ceremony small the following summer, while still involving loved ones who would not be able to travel to Oregon for the wedding. During the engagement party, guests wrote letters to Carter and Christa, which the couple later incorporated into their summer ceremony. Guests at the wedding also wrote letters for the couple. These letters were put into a vintage box to be read on their first anniversary.

Their ceremony took place on June 27, 2015 at Horse Creek Lodge. However, they had a full celebration leading up to the main event. Just under 50 guests attended, most from outside of Oregon. The guests arrived on June 24 and left on June 28. Everyone stayed together at Horse Creek Lodge in the days prior to the ceremony. Their days were filled with hiking, swimming, rafting, playing yard games, dancing, and music. Reflecting back, Christa says, it was like being at summer camp with all of their closest family and friends.

Christa recalls the day of her wedding: Towering Douglas fir trees created a canopy, with hints of sunlight breaking through, and the sound of birds sharing their morning song could be heard. Love was certainly in the air, says Christa. “The forest was alive, still holding morning dew as the guests made their way down a short hiking path to the ceremony.”

Friends and family are very important to the couple, so it was only fitting that Carter’s childhood friend, Lakin Garth, officiated the ceremony. The readings and vows had nature themes centered around “lives being intertwined.” An Apache blessing closed the ceremony and Skip Jones, a local pianist, played his New Orleans-style love songs.

The reception was in a beautiful meadow surrounded by ferns and giant trees. Tables were adorned with arrangements of succulents and other natural touches. The reception featured a brunch buffet from Park Street Café, an extensive Bloody Mary bar, and an assorted dessert table.

Holding to their love for the Pacific Northwest, the food served during the celebration was organic and locally sourced, and the beers on tap were local as well. Steps were taken to create the least amount of waste possible. All plates and utensils were reusable, mason jars were used in place of Solo cups, and the succulent arrangements were turned into a beautiful garden in the couple’s yard. Even during the planning, the couple was eco-conscious, having the save-the-dates and RSVP cards electronically distributed.

Christa gives this advice to future brides: “It’s not about whether the caterer shows up on time or if the flowers are just right. It’s about witnessing your love becoming one and all the love that surrounds you on your wedding day. Simply be present in the moment.”



Wedding date: Guests arrived on June 24, 2015; ceremony was held on June 27, 2015

Wedding and reception venue: Horse Creek Lodge

Number of guests: Just under 50

Officiant: Lakin Garth
MUSIC: Skip Jones

Guest favors: Prints of the group photo at the ceremony, local guests received a small succulent

Honeymoon: Channel House in Depoe Bay, Oregon

Photography: Chea Studio Photography

Catering: Park Street Café

Desserts: Assortment of desserts made by Shelly Pruitt with Soft Peaks Cakery

Drink Menu: Cornerstone Tailgates & Events with four taps of Northwest micro brews, Manhattans, Bloody Marys, mimosas, iced tea

Rings: Christa opted out of getting a wedding band, instead keeping her antique engagement ring, circa 1890, which Carter found at Pewter Rabbit Antiques in Eugene. Carter’s ring is a family ring given to him by his father.

Dress: Rosebud’s Boutique


Jewelry: Grandparents’ wedding bands as pendants for one necklace; second necklace made by Samantha Howard from Wings Hawaii; vintage bracelet from bride’s grandmother; toe ring from bride’s sister.

Flowers: Dancing Lizard Garden, The Shamrock Flowers & Gifts

Groom’s outfit: Suit from Men’s Wearhouse, bow tie handmade by owner of Durian and the Lyon

Hair/makup: Heidi Winklepleck, friend of bride

Decorations and setup: Stepping Stone Wedding Rentals and Events

Invitations: All sent electronically from the bride

Activities: Hiking, soaking in the Belknap Hot Springs, visiting Sahalie and Koosah waterfalls, swimming, yard games, dancing, live music each night, white water rafting