The Love Story
Melinda: “Ian was someone I had known of my entire life. I come from a big wrestling family in Montana, my dad and uncle serving as co-head coaches at the high school in Polson for over thirty years. Ian’s dad started and coached the wrestling program in Whitefish, a high school in Polson’s district, so for a while our dads were pretty good friends. In January 1984, the Whitefish wrestling team was on their way back from a duel when their bus collided with a jack-knifed gasoline truck. Ian’s dad was killed in the accident, along with eight other people. It was a horrible tragedy, one that rocked the entire state. Ian was only two-years-old at the time.
Ian and his mom moved to Missoula shortly after the accident, where he went to school and became good friends with my cousins. I’d heard all sorts of stories about him, but we never actually met. It wasn’t until my sister and I crashed the wedding of a mutual friend that I saw him for the first time as a grown man. I instantly fell for him. I spent the rest of the night trying to set up situations where he would come and talk to me. At first I could hardly put a sentence together, but it didn’t take long before we were talking like old friends. I’d never met a more respectful, smart, funny guy—and everything felt so easy and so right. As soon as I saw my sister the next day, I told her, “Mark my words, Becky. I WILL marry that boy.”
Ian: “It took seven years before I popped the question. Not because I had any doubts. From the moment we started dating, we both knew that we’d get married. Of course our relationship had a few ups and downs—every relationship does. But there was always that certainty, an underlying confidence. Together is where we were always meant to be. Besides…Melinda had already told her sister she was going to marry me, so we really didn’t have a choice.
The reason for waiting was that for a long time we were doing the long-distance thing. She was down in San Diego training as a pole vaulter at the Olympic Training Center, and I was working toward my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine (in addition to packing cheese at a dairy farm, selling NASCAR memberships in Phoenix, working at a nuclear reactor in eastern Washington). In the fall of 2012, we took up residence back in Missoula. In the winter of 2013, I got the ring.
In terms of asking, I had these plans for this romantic and elaborate proposal. But as soon as I got the ring, something came over me. I couldn’t wait. It was Valentine’s Day, and as I drove the ring back to our shabby rental house I remember thinking, “Are you REALLY about to propose on Valentine’s Day? Seriously. Are you that cliché?” Apparently I am, because I had already waited seven years. I didn’t want to wait another minute. My pitch to her was, “I was going to wait, but being romantic isn’t really our style. So you want to do this or what?”
I know, right? …She’s the luckiest.
Ian: “The reception was so much fun. We held it in an old private airport located at the base of the Swan Mountain Range in Seeley Lake. Just an exquisite building, and O2 DJ Productions kept the party going all night long. Melinda and I thought we’d be clever and do a little choreographed number as our first dance. Of course Melinda looked incredible. Me on the other hand…You wouldn’t know it by the performance, but it actually took me over 30 hours of rehearsal to look that bad. One of our biggest compliments after the reception was what we offered for dessert: crème-stuffed maple bars from the Bakery in Polson, and a multi-tiered book cake from Bernice’s Bakery in Missoula. Other than that, it was just a lot of dancing and laughing and celebrating…You want to be able to go around and thank everyone that came individually, tell them how much it means to you that they made the effort to be there. I don’t think people will ever fully understand how thankful we are for them. Melinda and I are two of the luckiest people in the world.”
Melinda: “Our wedding was the best day of our lives. Fairly last-minute, we decided on holding the ceremony outside at the Lodges On Seeley Lake, which was a bit of a gamble seeing as it was October in western Montana. But it was such a beautiful afternoon, and everyone went above and beyond to make sure everything went off without a hitch. It’s a humbling experience, and maybe that was the most incredible aspect of the whole thing. Our wedding happened because our friends and family were there every step of the way, which is exactly how we wanted it. We wanted to look back and say, “See those flowers? Remember those candles? Our family did that. That was because of our friends.” My brother served as our Officiate and did an outstanding job. The ceremony was relaxed and we just laughed a lot. My husband even made a fart-joke during his vows. Yep. You heard me right. Back off, ladies…he’s all mine.”
Advice for future Montana Brides.
Melinda: “You have to accept going in that not everything is going to go exactly as planned. If you do that, if you don’t let the little things get to you, then your wedding will be perfect. You can focus on the real reason for being there and the important things will stand out.”
Ian: “One thing that worked for us…We set up a code word. It was just between us. No one else knew what it meant. When one of us used the code word, you had to immediately stop being upset (or frustrated, or stressed, or whatever) and you couldn’t think about whatever was bothering you until one week after the wedding. This worked out really well for me. For example, if Melinda came up to me saying, “We need to talk. I’m not sure this is a good idea…” I’d say, “BananaJamma.” And she couldn’t think about it until the one week after the wedding was over.Melinda: “As you can see, I married a man with an amazing sense of humor!”
Ceremony Venue: Lodges On Seeley Lake
Reception Venue: Eagle Port,
Wedding Planner: Sandi Owen
Florist: St-Char-Ro Floral & Events
Catering: Family & Friends
Cakes & Desserts: Polson City Bakery (Donuts) Bernice’sBakery (Grooms’ Cake)
Bar Service: Sports Page
Photo Booth: Montana Sunset Photobooth
DJ Sound & Lighting: O2 DJ Productions
Rentals: St-Char-Ro Floral & Event
Hair: Holly Lewing
Makeup: Alchemy Mineral Blend (Jacqueline Kukay)
Wedding Dress-Designer: Sandi Owen
Veil: Johanna Lozar
Accessories: Keenan’s Jewelery
Accessories: Keenan’s Jewelery
Rings: Keenan’s Jewelery
Lodging: Lodges on Seeley Lake
Cinematorgrapher: Todd Jackson
Officiant: Patrick Robert Owen