By Marlee Cardin
Photos by Gideon Photography
If there ever comes a time when someone hands you a piece of paper that reads “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’VE WON A DREAM WEDDING” you might find your eyes suddenly filling with salt water. I did, and I would hardly say I’m the emotional type. Wedding daydreams previously dismissed because- let’s face it-money doesn’t grow on trees, suddenly resurfaced, along with a new idea of what was to come. Tyler and I had entered Southern Utah Bride’s contest with no expectation to actually win. We hoped, naturally, but with so many applicants and so many great stories submitted we figured our chances were probably slim. A whirlwind of emotions hit us the day we received that news, and not only did we feel unbelievably lucky for winning our prize, but for the road that got us to that point.
We saw each other for the first time at a wedding reception. I say saw instead of met because we didn’t actually meet until a few weeks after that. All strategic, according to him. He made me nervous and curious, the kind of curious that made it hard to mask my ridiculous excitement when he finally did introduce himself and asked me to dinner. There were many more dinners after that, along with late night walks, and concerts together. It didn’t take long for me to learn that he was passionate about law and political science. It didn’t take long for him to learn that I was passionate about literature and writing. We dated for five months, until it came time for him to spend a summer in Ecuador with a non-profit. I spent those four months missing him and letting my skin go brown in the summer sun. We wrote letters to each other, and I wrote music about him. I thought I was smitten then, but when he returned was when we really fell in love. It was better than anything I’d read in books or seen in cheesy chick flicks. We soon said those three little words that are so often uttered cavalierly, but taken so seriously by both of us: I love you. I’d been saving that phrase my whole life-never to waste on the wrong person-and was glad to finally say it with complete meaning.
While dancing to Ray Charles in his living room on March 11 he got on his knee and asked me to marry him! It was so spontaneous and I was so excited that I actually forgot to answer him. I went right into muttering nonsensical phrases while my heart beat to a faster rhythm. Without me knowing he had picked a little pearl ring out, all on his own, and had been keeping it in his pocket for the right moment to give it to me. We’ve never been conventional, and I loved that both my ring and our proposal were so unique and true to us.
We wanted that uniqueness to carry on to our engagement photos, and were so excited at the prospect of taking them in St. George and Springdale. The old Judd’s ice-cream parlor, a orchard just beginning to blossom, and an afternoon with nothing to do but eat treats with Tyler could not have sounded better. The parlor pictures are totally representative of our relationship for a few reasons…first off, I am a dairy lover and ice-cream addict. It’s probably not a good habit, but I sometimes eat the stuff for breakfast. A break like that was much needed too, with him having just finished his law school applications and me in the midst of finishing my winter semester. The images completely blew us away when we saw them afterward. We knew right away that if we were going to have a problem in the process, it would be settling on just one image to send out with our invite.
Literally every single day we talk about how excited we are about our upcoming day, and how thankful we are for everyone involved with it. We talk about how this is really just our start, and how we’ll never understand what we did to deserve this. We’re lucky our love came so easy, that we don’t have fights like other couples, that we got to know one another across the country and in letters, that we have more fun with one another than anyone else, that it never gets old and we never feel bored, and that we both are our own people and love each other for exactly that.