From Spark to Flame
Mckinley & Will
Like most love stories, ours starts out with a spark. But, the difference between our story and others is that our spark was literal.
Will and I met in 2014 on a beach in Thailand—at a full moon party—when my hair caught on fire and he ran to the rescue and put it out. We hit it off immediately and spent the rest of the night dancing on the beach. We were both backpacking through Southeast Asia with friends and went our separate ways just days after we met. Will is a Kiwi (from New Zealand), and he moved to London right after he finished backpacking, so I thought we’d probably never see each other again.
But that spark between us never dimmed, even when we were continents apart.
Throughout the next couple of years, Will and I kept in touch on Facebook and eventually started rendezvousing all over the world just to spend time together. We got to know each other better while visiting San Francisco and London. We fell in love in Ireland, and then again in New Zealand. And eventually, we decided to move to Australia together.
In Australia, we lived and worked all over the country—from Sydney to the Outback—staying with friends and living out of our car. It was one of the happiest and most carefree times of our lives. It was also during this time that the spark between us turned into a flame, and we realized it wasn’t going out … ever. This was a forever type of love.
We knew that home would always be wherever we were together. Still, we needed to find a place to live and settle down. After a four-month safari through Africa, three months in New Zealand, two years in Sausalito, California, and one proposal made while flying over Idaho Falls, we landed in Alpine, Wyoming.
In 2020, my parents built a small house on the airport in Alpine, and Will and I just bought a 1977 motorhome, with plans to feed our gypsy souls while driving around the U.S. We spent the winter renovating the motorhome in my parents hangar, and then never left. The tiny mountain town in Wyoming soon became home, and we knew this was where we wanted to get married.
I’m the type of woman who’s had my wedding all planned out since the time I was six. And one thing I always knew was that I wanted to get married somewhere special to me, preferably in a backyard. So, we decided to have the ceremony on the lawn in front of my parents’ new property, with the mountains as our backdrop.
Meanwhile, when we weren’t busy wedding planning, Will and I were starting a business—a mobile bar business to be exact. Will rebuilt an old travel trailer, and slowly but surely, our gig, Palm to Pine, was born. Our dream of working for ourselves was becoming a reality, and our wedding celebration was the perfect time to unveil our new mobile bar.
We also wanted to infuse our wedding with our passion for travel. So, we began collecting vintage furniture that reminded us of the beautiful places we explored together. We wanted to create spaces that would bring a sense of wanderlust to Alpine, and give people that “best day ever” feeling you get while traveling.
It was going to be perfect. Then, the forecast changed.
A few days before our ceremony, it became clear that our wedding day would include rain. We wouldn’t be able to get married on the lawn. We wouldn’t be able to showcase our vintage furniture collection. We wouldn’t be basking in the sun with the mountains in the background. … It was, I’m embarrassed to say, devastating.
We grieved our dream wedding, and then jumped into action. We had to come up with a wet weather plan. Luckily, we have the best neighbors, and, luckier still, our neighbors all have airport hangars—the perfect place for a wedding ceremony and reception. We secured the most beautiful hangar for our ceremony, and then transformed my parents’ hangar into a bohemian dream reception venue. But our arrival was the clincher: We “wowed” our guests by arriving to the ceremony in three antique airplanes. During our flight, Will and I snuck in a few minutes to ourselves while our guests enjoyed our signature happy hour sloshies.
We designed, styled, and built the entire event ourselves as a reflection of our love, but also as the launch of our business. And all of it was made possible by our incredible support system of friends, family, and vendors (who became friends in the process). We all worked tirelessly to transform the hangar into a wedding venue, and then break it down again. Our groomsmen set up the tables, chairs, tents, and lights. Our bridesmaids brought my tablescape designs to life. Our mothers created the flower arrangements. Our caterer made sure all the food was done on time (and that we didn’t lose our minds in the process). We danced the night away with the people we love most and started our lives as husband and wife.
Even though it wasn’t the wedding we planned, it was a party for the ages. And while nothing went according to plan, everything was perfect.
The spark may have started in Thailand, the flame may have grown in Australia, but our love continues to burn in Wyoming, as we start our lives, our business, and maybe even our family, in this beautiful place. We are excited to call the Tetons home for many years to come.
Have a Wet Weather Plan
Definitely have a wet weather plan. Even in the middle of August, mountain weather can change on a dime. You don’t want to be caught scrambling to find a makeshift venue option in the days leading up to your wedding. But if it does happen to rain on your wedding day, I highly recommend blasting Ironic by Alanis Morissette at full volume!
Wedding Date: August 6, 2022
Ceremony and Reception Location: The Refuge at the Alpine Airpark Officiant: Wendy Morrison and Andy Cunningham (bride and groom’s mothers) Photographer: Elisabetta Redaelli of Lilly Red Hair and Makeup: Tanya Croker (Hair & Makeup by Tanya) Florist: The Floral Artist DJ: ADM Productions Caterer: In Season Jackson Hole Desserts: In Season Jackson Hole Rental Service: Signature Rentals Transportation Services: Mountain Resort Services Stationary Design: Bride Other Specialty Vendors: Palm to Pine (mobile bar)