Better Than Perfect

Bree & Mark

I met Bree at a college party. She charmed me with her stories of the Jackson area, especially her ascent of “the Grand.” I joke that it was love at first climbing story. In reality, though, it wasn’t until three years later—when Bree moved to Denver—that we started dating. In Colorado, we bonded over our shared love of the mountains, laughed ourselves senseless with our quirky wits, and learned that we wanted the same things from life. It was love.
Six years later, we moved to Spokane, Washington, where we currently live.

Bree is a retail manager, which means she often works over the holidays. However, last Christmas she was able to take vacation time. We had six whole days to enjoy the holiday together with her family in Jackson, so we were anxious to get a move on it! At 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we started driving toward the Tetons. Twelve hours later (4 a.m.), we arrived at her parents’ house, just in time for Christmas morning with the Warners.

I was extra excited about this trip because I planned to propose to Bree while backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park. I had six days to pop the question; I just needed the weather to cooperate. The high temperature during the first five days of our stay was 10 degrees below zero. Weather forecasters predicted New Year’s Eve day to be 23 degrees with blue skies and sunshine. With avalanche conditions forecasted as stable, we planned to ski 25 Short, a local favorite for intermediate to advanced backcountry skiers.

I barely slept the night prior, but when the alarm went off at 7 a.m., I jumped out of bed for a temperature check. It was minus 22! I was afraid I might have to go with “Plan B,” which I hadn’t formulated. We decided to sleep a couple more hours in hopes that the temperatures would rise. At 9 a.m., it was a balmy 12 below. Bree was a great sport, and we decided to give it a try. An hour later, we donned skis, skins, and warm clothes and left the parking lot toward the Tetons. It was actually pretty warm in the sun as we crossed the flats to the hill. Once we hit the canyon, dropped into the shadow of the mountain, and started to climb, the temperature seemed to plunge 40 degrees. After climbing for more than an hour, we reached the ridgeline. Since it was getting late in the day, we decided to make that our turnaround point. Without a cloud in the sky, the Grand to our right, and the Jackson valley behind us, it was the perfect place to drop down on one knee and ask the most beautiful woman in the world to marry me. As I cracked open the ring box, I realized the box was upside down, and the ring slipped halfway out before catching on the cushion. Good thing I didn’t have to add a ring search in deep powder to my already frayed nerves. And, thankfully, Bree said, “Yes!”

We descended in knee-deep powder and chased the shadow of the Grand all the way back to the parking lot, where the truck thermometer still read 12 degrees below zero. I popped open a few single-serve champagne bottles and poured the bubbly into plastic flutes to toast the occasion. As we drank our champagne, we watched the last bit of daylight fade behind the Tetons.

Six months later, after a surprisingly low-stress planning blitz, we gathered our very closest family and friends at Dornan’s in Grand Teton National Park. It was a small group, which was how we wanted it. My sister-in-law, Heather, was our officiant, and she did an extraordinary job capturing our individual personalities, quirkiness, and the essence of our wonderfully fun relationship. Bree walked down the aisle to Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You,” and we danced our first dance to James Blunt’s “Bonfire Heart.” Originally, we planned to dance slowly for the whole song, but the energy of the evening got the best of us, and we danced as we normally did—matching the beat with dips, twirls, and smiles so broad our cheeks hurt. As the sun dropped behind the Tetons, with our amazing community surrounding us with love and laughter, I realized that our wedding had become better than perfect; it was an extension of who we are as people and as a couple. It was wholly and completely “us.”

Wedding Details:

wedding date
27 June 2015

ceremony & reception location

Heather Westfall

hair & makeup
Tanya Crocker

Taylor Glenn Photography

Jackson Hole Flower Co.

Jackson Hole DJ


Lauren Estay

Jackson Hole Limo Lounge

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