Lake McDonald Elopement – Melanie and Cody

 (Wayne Murphy, JMK Photography)


How did you meet?

We met at the gym! Cody was working there, and sold me my membership. I liked to work out late at night when not many people were there, and Cody would come sit on the machine next to me and we’d talk the whole time.

Tell us about the engagement.

Cody proposed on our two year anniversary, which happens to be New Year’s Day. Since I had to work that day and wouldn’t be home until later, we planned to go to dinner the following night to celebrate. When I got home on our anniversary I was a little irritated; I got home late, and I was starving. I quickly threw a pound of ground beef in a skillet, and ran to the bathroom to change (straight into pajamas, as is my style). I just finished changing when I heard Cody yelling for me to come out, and I thought surely the apartment was on fire from the unattended skillet. I rushed out of the bathroom, and Cody pointed down the hall. There was my dog, Gus, with a box tied around his neck! Cody took the box, got down on one knee, and proposed with “Marry Me” by Train playing in the background. I know some people want extravagant proposals, and while Cody did not expect to propose while I was in pajamas and cooking tacos, the proposal was perfect, a little hilarious, and true to who we are.

Did you enjoy planning your elopement? Why and Why not?

Overall I enjoyed planning the wedding. In the beginning, we toyed with a destination wedding and a small local wedding in Kansas City. It was fun getting into all of the creative details, but it didn’t take long before I felt I was going crazy. We started getting so involved in the little things that we were losing sight of the whole point of getting married. For us, getting married is not about the party. It’s not about a show, or the favors, or the food. It’s a commitment to each other, not to the crowd. When we realized that an elopement was the perfect choice all along, a huge weight was lifted and it didn’t take long to plan. In fact, because the planning went so quickly and smoothly, it almost felt that the engagement was too long. By June we were ready to be in Montana.

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Why did you choose Glacier National Park as the location for your elopement?

A family friend had gone on an elk hunt in Montana a few years ago, and after seeing pictures of the landscapes I knew I had to see it myself. Cody and I discussed the idea of honeymooning there, and when Cody proposed with a ring set with a Montana sapphire I knew there was no other choice! Originally we picked a date in September, but after discussing our plans with Wild West Vacations, we moved it up to August to avoid the possibility of closed roads due to snow in Glacier National Park. Our honeymoon started on the West side of the park, so we tacked on a few days at the beginning for the wedding. I used the Glacier National Park website as well as photographs on Flickr to get a few locations in mind. Our officiant, Marty Stuehler, helped us choose the actual wedding site on Lake McDonald.

Tell us about some of the details of your wedding.

The weather was perfect that day with evening temperatures in the 70s, and we were still comfortable as we reached Logan Pass at sunset. We really wanted sunset pictures, so we worked with our photographer Wayne Murphy, JMK Photography and our officiant Marty Stuehler to coordinate times. The wedding was set at 5 pm, with pictures following. We were worried that four hours of pictures would be excessive, as we had neither guests nor a reception, but Wayne offered to take us to different locations within the park, so the drive time factored in perfectly. It was such a great experience to have a “personal tour” of the park for our first experience of Glacier National Park. We were definitely very impressed with Wayne’s knowledge of locations within the park, right down to where the setting sun would be and when! Some traditional elements we included in our wedding were my wedding dress made by my mom (with a piece of her wedding dress sewn in), a ring box made by my dad (from a piece of wood from chairs made by my grandfather), jewelry from my grandmother, and the color blue in my shoes. Cody’s “ensemble” was a little less serious: lavender shirt and socks, blue dress pants, suspenders, and my favorite – a bowtie with a map print! No other bowtie seemed as perfect for this elopement.

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I feel that because we had an elopement, every aspect was personalized. We didn’t have very many decisions, so each one we did make was exactly what we wanted. Cody’s favorite part of our day was the wedding itself, and I would have to say my favorite part is the memory I have of the entire experience. Glacier National Park is a beautiful setting in which to exchange beautiful vows that signal the start of a beautiful life together.

We were touched by the friendliness of and the congratulations offered by other people enjoying the park that evening as we went around doing our pictures. A neat part of our wedding that we didn’t plan was that the moon phase was not just a full moon, but a super moon. What a spectacular view at Logan Pass to finish our amazing day!

For our honeymoon, we looped through Glacier National Park. We started on the West side, and then traveled over to St. Mary, East Glacier, and back to Kalispell. We white water rafted, kayaked, paddle boarded, golfed, rode horses, picnicked, hiked, and enjoyed a lake cruise. Cody is a brewer so we made sure to stop at several breweries and distilleries along the way!

I didn’t pay much attention to the flight in to Kalispell from Kansas City – we were set to arrive on that Friday afternoon to give ourselves at least a day to adjust before the wedding. I was focused on almost every other detail except getting our marriage license. Luckily we had plenty of time before the courthouse closed for the weekend, but being unfamiliar with the process, drive, and location it gave me a little anxiety.

As far as actual wedding advice, Cody and I both agree that the wedding should be about the couple and their commitment to each other. If that happens to include 500 guests, that’s fine, but it’s also fine to include none. In the end, it’s your memory, your experience, and your commitment and it should true to who you are as a couple. Cody and I discussed at length what our visions were and what the wedding meant to us, and we were lucky enough to have friends and family who supported and understood our vision.

Wedding couple on Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park
Wedding couple on Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park
Lake McDonald Elopement – Melanie and Cody