Rainbows and Butterflies
Caroline & TJ
It was November 23, 2019, when TJ and I first met in the barn at my family’s ranch. I am originally from Plano, Texas, and grew up visiting my grandpa’s farm in West Texas. My family was looking for a ranch in Montana, Wyoming, or Idaho, and when we visited Jackson, we fell in love! We purchased the Willow Bend Ranch in February of 2019, and I started Jackson Hole Goat Yoga in June of the same year.
I was hosting my first ever winter yoga session and TJ’s sister, Tatum, dragged him to it. I met Tatum a month prior at a Bible study, and we became close friends quickly. TJ and Tatum grew up in Arizona with goats, so when they moved to Jackson during the summer of 2019 and heard about goat yoga, they were excited to attend. (Well, at least Tatum was—most guys don’t sign up for goat yoga without a push from a girl.)
So yes, our love story begins in a barn, with goats!
At first, both of us weren’t looking for anything serious, so we became best friends. We hung out together every Friday at the ranch and took care of the seven baby goats that were born that January.
TJ, Tatum, and I took a road trip to Arizona in February 2020 to visit their family. This is when we started realizing our friendship was turning into something more. I decided to make a bold move and tell TJ that I had feelings for him, and that I loved hanging out with him and his family. When I told him this, I guess you could say he agreed because we kissed for the first time.
Fast forward to March of 2020, when everyone thought the world was ending due to the COVID pandemic. Starting a new relationship in the middle of a pandemic made for creative date nights. We spent a lot of time eating in the truck, while enjoying views of the Tetons. We had picnics by the river, we watched a lot of movies, and we really got to know each other—traveling, cooking, hiking, and just enjoying life in Jackson.
On July 1, 2021, TJ planned a special evening on the banks of the Snake River and asked me to marry him. He was planning to propose for months. (He actually bought the ring in March!) TJ’s aunt and uncle are close friends with the owner of Astoria Hot Springs and asked if TJ could use their gazebo near the river to propose. In the gazebo, he created a whole wall of pictures—starting from the beginning of our relationship. He set a table with champagne and “C & T” wooden letters and had a photographer stash herself in the bushes.
We walked to the gazebo first, and he poured two glasses of champagne. I was admiring all of the photos and just enjoying the company when he suggested taking our champagne on a walk. We walked down to the river where I saw a Pendleton blanket laid out on the ground embroidered with “C & T Forever,” a triangle arch, two huge pots full of pampas grass, and beautiful flowers in tall wooden boxes. We set the champagne down and TJ gave this elaborate speech (that neither of us can remember now). He asked me to marry him, and I said “yes!”
All of a sudden, I heard cheering and screaming coming from the trees. I looked out, and 20 of our closest family and friends were hiding, ready to congratulate us. It was perfect! TJ planned everything on his own, complete with ideas he borrowed from Pinterest.
Our marriage began on August 6, 2022, in the “party barn” on the ranch. I wanted to go with a classic and timeless look for the wedding, so we included over 500 hydrangeas and 900 white roses. Being from Texas, hydrangeas are prevalent because they love humid weather. I hadn’t seen them much around here, but Jean at Briar Rose was able to get them in the night before, and they looked perfect.
Our wedding day was one of the rainiest days of the year. It actually rained right up until the ceremony. Then, the clouds parted at 4:45 p.m., just 30 minutes before I walked down the aisle. Luckily, we were able to have the ceremony outside, among the beautiful mountain backdrop, and though it was still cloudy and dark, the mood made for beautiful photos.
For the recessional, we ordered 225 butterflies (a symbol of change and transformation, comfort and hope). Each guest had an envelope of butterflies with our wedding date on it, and they all opened their envelopes when we were announced as husband and wife. TJ and I also had a cage full of about 25 butterflies that we released before going down the aisle. The butterflies circled around us, landed on the flowers, and some even landed on my veil (which was my mom’s veil 35 years ago at her wedding). It was remarkable!
Once cocktail hour ended, everyone found their seats inside the barn where we served Wagyu beef for dinner from a cow grown on my family’s ranch. The rain began again—this time much harder. It downpoured for about 15 minutes, and then let up again, as everyone was prodding us to get outside quickly to see a double rainbow. We ran outside, snapped some photos, and then our photographer took photos of us with the cows and double rainbow. After an exit filled with the biggest sparklers we could find, TJ and I performed a wedding car getaway in our 1985 Mercedes G Wagon (it’s a big thing in Texas to leave the wedding in a unique, old car). You might also see us riding around Jackson in this car this summer.
Wedding Date: August 6, 2022
Ceremony and Reception Location: Willow Bend Ranch Officiant: Michael Avidon (family friend) Photographer: Jessica Parker Videographer: Kate Fitch Films Hair and Makeup: Ashley Drew Artistry (sister-in-law) and Kayla Igleheart Florist: Briar Rose Music: DJ Drezy Consultant: Tina Sanford of ASC Consultation Caterer: Provisions Dessert Chef: Cindi Biciolis (groom’s aunt) Rental Service: Canvas Unlimited, Aurora Events Transportation Service: Black Diamond Other Specialty Vendors: Bar Sip Bar