June 2nd - Sitka, Alaska
This wedding will forever be woven into the memories of the landscapes and souls of this special place. I'm taking a couple pages out of Cathryn's book and not sparing any details, but instead relishing each tiny piece of this stunning story and acknowledging each player in this complex spider web. Each tiny element was so seeped with Jake and Cathryn's personalities and their life together. Cathryn is a writer, and her voice will be woven throughout this visual story to give you a better idea of the work and attention that went into crafting this magical experience.
Meanwhile, Jake and a crew of groomsmen and friends were at the top of Harbor Mountain building the ceremony site from scratch.
"...two days before the ceremony the road up to harbor mountain was closed for grading which meant that we could not set up the day before like we had planned to do. So, the morning of the ceremony, Jake and an amazing crew of his wedding party plus a few others gathered their chain saws and tools and went up the mountain to put together the benches and put up the arch and ceremony benches and boardwalks that Jake made. He made it from driftwood he and my brothers gathered on Sandy beach and put together. So many people made that day happen, especially all of the local people who drove people up Harbor Mountain. "
(Thank you Jess - J. Bollen Photography - for being my unknown second-shooter!!)
"The amazing Laura Ross at Bride. in Kansas City absolutely had the most pleasurable wedding dress shopping experience I could have asked for. She started and owns this small, local business that was amazing and an experience that made me feel like I wasn’t living in an archaic time with some of the most modern, elegant dresses I’ve ever seen. she stayed open hours after she had technically closed to help me. I really cannot say enough good things about her and really want to support her."
"I really want to give a huge thank you to Cheryl Vastola, at Sewing Solutions who not only altered my dress, but altered my mother’s and a couple of my bridesmaid’s at the last minute. She also loaned us her steamer and many Xtra Tuffs!"
"My earrings were made by Jerrod Galanin. He is Tlingit/Unangan artist from Sitka, Alaska. Specializing in silver and copper engraving and jewelry design."
"Two years ago my mother came up to Fairbanks to visit us and we went to the large animal research station where there were Musk Ox. My mother managed to buy two skeins of Qiviut, the underwool of a musk ox, which (you know more than me!) is also one of the warmest and lightest fibers there is (8 times warmer than wool!). She kept the qiviut for two years and then knit the blue shawl for me for my wedding day without telling me until a few days before. It’s both blue, old, and new."
"The always talented Caitlin Woolsey was in top form for the wedding, making flower crowns and hair pieces out of cedar boughs and blueberry flowers. She hand made everything and she is amazing."
On Harbor Mountain. Cathryn and Jake decided they wanted to get married here when they were picking alpine blueberries with her mom a couple summers ago.
A face you should probably recognize by now, Mr. Raph Odell Shapiro.
"The bouquets were made by my mother, Sarah Jordan, and my friends coming all the way from England using flowers from the forest and the garden of a friend—the amazing Florence Welsh. We used local ferns, cedar, blueberry leaves, and kale for the greenery, and forget me nots and blue poppies for the flowers. The forget-me-nots were important to Jake, and went in the boutonnieres, because it’s the state flower of Alaska."
Raph played "Orange Sky" (Alexi Murdoch) as Cathryn descended down the "aisle." It was one of Cathryn's father's favorite songs. She told me that it was a way to have him there during the ceremony.
"Our officiant, Eric Jordan, wrote a large part of the ceremony that he read. He got to talk about fishing with us, how we met, and just made the most personal ceremony that was so beautiful."
Don Snow, Cathryn's advisor at Whitman, read lines from "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman. Dear friend Tammy Parker Song read a personal piece.
Jake's vows were 8 sentences or so. Cathryn's were three pages.
Leave No Trace, yo
Cathryn warned me that she had some killer tan lines that were going to be very obvious in her dress. Why? Because she and Jake had just run a mothereffing ultra marathon in Utah.
Her tan lines ended up being one of my favorite parts of her look that day. The tan lines, messy bun, shawl that her mother knitted, everything soggy in the misty rain...was so Cathryn.
Odess Theater on the Sheldon Jackson campus (Sitka Fine Arts Camp)
"All of the reception decor on the tables was harvested by Jake, myself, and friends. We hiked into the muskeg gathering cedar boughs and were able to make the wooden rounds out of a fallen cedar in a friend’s backyard. All of the abalone that was featured on the tables was harvested by either Jake or myself. Each table at the reception had a particular Sitka animal attached to it. The animals were drawn by either myself, my talented brother Andrew Klusmeier, or the ever-amazing Ellie Schmidt. The different animals were: humpbacks, puffin, abalone (the head table), wolf eel, eagle, brown bear, king salmon, raven, mola mola."
"Edith Johnson at Our Town Catering did the reception food. Edith completely went above and beyond. A couple years ago, Jake and I started making an effort to only eat locally caught meats. Sitka is a place where you can do that really easily, so we wanted to share the experience of local foods with our guests. The dinner was made up of fish Jake’s family has caught, (black cod filets and rockfish ceviche). We had a variety of local sea vegetables and kelp for our appetizer (Jake is a marine biologist studying kelp, so this was big). We also had an Alaskan grown meat Charcuterie platter. For dinner, we had local Sitka sourdough bread—this was a big one for Jake because he is a big sourdough bread baker. There was a caribou stew with Alaskan meats from Indian Valley meats Alaska, a wild mushroom organic Alaskan barley risotto, and local fiddlehead ferns personally collected by Edith in the Tongass forest around Sitka. The black cod fillets were caught by Jake’s mom and the cake was a local huckleberry chocolate cake made with local sourdough starter. The bridal party had flourless chocolate tortes. I cannot say enough good things about Edith."
...oh you don't think we left it at that DO YOU
"We two, how long we were fool’d,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,
We browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings,
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar, we are as two comets,
We prowl fang’d and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other,
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy."
- Walt Whitman, from "Leaves of Grass"