Space and Time
Kelsey & James
Words by Kelsey Mitchell + Photography by Amy Galbraith
I grew up in the rolling farmlands of rural Maryland, and James grew up in a small, crunchy D.C. suburb, Tacoma Park. We each spent our childhoods running around in the woods. Our early passion for adventure—and basically anything outdoorsy—turned into college majors, seasonal jobs, and, eventually, careers. Our paths led us independently to the Triangle X Ranch in Moose, Wyoming, where James guided river trips and I led horseback rides.
Our work seasons first overlapped in 2010, yet we ran in different circles. My pursuit of a master’s degree took me away from Jackson Hole for several years. Then, only days after finishing my degree, I headed back to the ranch where James was beginning his seventh summer floating tourists down the Snake River. At first I thought James might be trouble, as he had quite the reputation of being a “player.” So when James first showed interest in me, I effectively rolled my eyes and thought, “I’m not going to be another one of your conquests.” Turns out I was wrong, as we soon became friends, embarking on adventures in and around the Teton region. After many escapades, tons of laughter, countless sunsets, and perhaps a small amount of tequila, I saw a side of him I hadn’t seen before and something sparked between us.
As a couple, we enjoyed our seasonal life in the valley until career-aligned job offers got too good to pass up, pulling us both away to California. I took a job as a researcher for a biotech start-up in San Francisco, and James became a law enforcement ranger with the National Park Service. Still, we schemed to someday return permanently to the Tetons.
On December 23, 2017, James and I got engaged while visiting Jackson to celebrate Christmas with my sister. After I unwittingly shot down several proposal attempts, he finally convinced me to go on a walk with him in the snowy hills behind Triangle X. We stopped at a favorite plateau and admired the view together just as the clouds broke. Then, James knelt down into two feet of fresh snow and pulled out a white gold ring with three diamonds. Unknown to me, James had collaborated with a goldsmith in San Francisco. His guidance helped James (who had previously dabbled in silversmithing) craft an engagement ring for me. It was stunning!
James and I reveled in engaged bliss for months before we started thinking “wedding.” (I highly recommend this.) We toyed with the options: Big wedding or small? Maryland or Wyoming? Elopement? Backyard picnic or formal reception? The list goes on. The hardest part of the planning process was settling on one vision. We would both get into one idea, and then, three days later, one of us would feel strongly about a different direction. It became a nearly impossible mix of sticking to your guns and a ton of compromise. Good practice for marriage, I suppose.
After sifting through possibilities, a wedding at Triangle X Ranch seemed an easy and natural choice. It represented the beginning of our history, and it was where each of us felt the happiest. The Turners—the owners of Triangle X—were so gracious when we inquired about using their ranch as our venue. I remember Harold Turner saying, “It would be an honor,” and feeling that the same was true for us. Selecting this location set the tone for other pending decisions: We identified what was the most meaningful to us and spent our time and money there.
Neither of us cared about typical wedding details. We didn’t pick colors or have matching tablecloths. We chose not to have a wedding party and instead asked siblings and friends to participate in the ceremony and reception in meaningful ways. My sister, Lauren, was effectively my maid of honor, as she gave a toast at the reception. James’ life-long best friend Dana was his stand-in best man. My brother was our officiant. We invited our siblings and just a few of our closest friends to get ready with us pre-wedding. And James’ younger brothers acted as ushers, helping people from the parking area to the ceremony—after a grueling one-hour traffic delay due to migrating bison.
We decided to handle ourselves the details we deemed important or enjoyable. We led our families into the national forest and gathered pine, sage, and willow sprigs for each table centerpiece. We assembled them and valued the extra time it gave us with guests. We kept our wedding small and affordable and most importantly meaningful to us.
We’ve since returned to Jackson—hopefully for good this time—and love how our wedding photos mirror the view we see outside every day.
February 23, 2019
Ceremony & Reception
Triangle X Ranch
Matthew Mitchell (bride’s brother)
Amy Galbraith Photography
Hair & Makeup
Athena Beauty Artistry
Bridal Bouquet: Albertsons
Table Centerpieces: self-made
A&B Productions Inc.
Triangle X Ranch
Teton County School District Transportation Services