No Need for a Redo

Payson & Nicholas

Words by Payson Houfek + Photography by Lindley Rust

Nicholas and I met when we were purposefully seated next to each other at my sister’s rehearsal dinner in 2016. About a year later, our first date was a trip to Terreton, Idaho, (with a wake-up call at 6 a.m.) to “see” a new litter of white Labrador puppies. That day, I put down a deposit on a pup who would become our Greta just a few weeks later. 

We quickly went from raising two puppies together to talking about marriage, and in August of 2019, Nicholas proposed during a mountain bike ride to the top of Ferrin’s Trail. We spent the day driving around the valley, visiting our families, and sharing the good news. Then, just when I thought we were returning home to decompress on the couch, Nicholas surprised me with an engagement party in our backyard, complete with the nearest and dearest people in our life. 

Like most newly-engaged couples, 2020 threw a curveball into our wedding planning once COVID-19 came into the picture. In May, we postponed our original 200 guest celebration until 2021—prioritizing our marriage over a party—and began planning a micro wedding for our original date, September 5, 2020. With a completely new plan, we had the opportunity to reconsider what was most important to us. “People” and “place” immediately stood out. 

Our new guest list consisted of our immediate families, bridal party, and  groomsmen. One of Nicholas’ best pals, Mike Trombetta of Farm to Belly Catering, was originally booked to cook our rehearsal dinner. Within our new plan, however, he swiftly changed gears and provided the most delicious hors d’oeuvres, plated dinner, and dessert. Our bartender and servers were all dear friends that work at Sidewinders—our favorite local haunt—adding to the familial feel of the night. 

As for “place,” luckily, we have no shortage of family history in the valley. Nicholas’ family homesteaded in Wilson in the 1880s, while my family arrived to the area in the 1920s. His grandfather even warned us, “You all better check that you’re not related before this goes too far!” 

We were married in St. John’s Episcopal Church chapel where both sets of Nicholas’ grandparents married a week apart in 1955. We followed the ceremony with a cocktail hour and seated reception on the front lawn of the cabin that my great-grandparents built in the 1930s. 

Yet, the biggest surprise of the day was when the chapel doors opened. 

I ordered my wedding dress from a boutique in New York City which closed during the pandemic. After making many calls and sending emails and Instagram messages begging for an update, my dress finally arrived in Jackson two weeks before the wedding. I sheepishly texted the local alterations magician, Calla Grimes, asking if she would even consider looking at my dress under such a crunched timeline. 

“It’s not a definitive ‘no,’” she responded. “We’ll see how much work needs to be done.” 

Low and behold, Calla turned my dress around in seven days and Nicholas knew nothing of it. When the chapel doors opened and Nicholas first saw me in my dress, his best man leaned in and whispered, “She freaking tricked us!” Nicholas was floored. And, I was able to wear my dress and cathedral-length veil—as I had always dreamed of—when my dad walked me down the aisle. 

For us, the little details made the day perfect. I FaceTimed my 94-year-old grandmother in New Jersey while I was getting ready; my two-year-old nephew, Wyatt, joyfully yelled “Hi Pace!” throughout the ceremony; our dogs joined the reception (in fact, Greta the Labrador played an instrumental part in “assisting” the food runners); my necklace, which contained a pearl from my great-grandmother, was a gift from my sister that she designed with Jeter Case of JC Jewelers; Nicholas’ mom, an avid quilter, sewed stunning napkins for each place setting, and the weather cooperated, making my open-air dinner dream a reality. 

A playlist my brother created on Spotify played quietly in the background while we ate and drank the night away under the stars. Our friend Cody, who played ceremony music earlier in the day, brought his guitar out after dinner and, spur-of-the-moment, played a song for us to enjoy our first dance as a married couple. All told, it took us about 24 hours after the wedding to decide that there was no way to top our perfect celebration. We immediately canceled our 2021 plans and haven’t looked back since. 


Wedding Date
September 5, 2020

Ceremony Location
St. John’s Episcopal Church 

Reception Location
Snake River Ranch

Officiant
Jimmy Bartz

Hair and Makeup
Jackie Harmon of Frost and Stephanie Broome (makeup artist)

Photographer
Lindley Rust 

Florist
Flowers by Chloe

Musician and DJ
Cody Barber

Consultant
In Any Event

Caterer
Mike Trombetta, Farm to Belly (Truckee, CA)

Rental Service
Canvas Unlimited and High Country Linens

Stationery Design
Xowyo Paper Press

Other Specialty Vendors
Bobbin Grey 

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