Ari and Rolan’s story, which started under the night sky in Haiti, is “deeply rooted in friendship, love, and fun” and their personalized wedding day at Roaring Camp Railroad was befitting of their romance. The couple enlisted Nicole Presley to help them bring their vision to life with a rustic barn ceremony and reception filled with greenery chandeliers, equine-centric touches like the groom’s custom leather suspenders and a gluten-free donut wall by Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery as a focal point in honor of the bride’s favorite treat. Kristin Lin was behind the lens and captured the details and the adorable couple’s love in these images.
What made the wedding special and unique?
I really loved that all of our vendors were people we knew and felt comfortable with. With the exception of our photographer (who soon became a friend anyway), everyone who was working on our wedding made it feel like a big family party where everyone was helping out. Another one of my favorite parts of the wedding were the dances. This really felt like a joining of families, and it was so special. My dad had passed when I was 16, so getting to dance with my husband’s dad (to the song I danced to with my father when I was little) was so sweet, and pretty emotional for everyone who got to see. As far as decor, we had an incredible donut wall set up! This was my favorite creative part of the wedding, and Nicole did an incredible job of making it come to life. We had hanging hoops of greenery decorating the station, a beautiful wooden wall, and three kinds of donuts– gluten free of course!
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
My gown was simple, but so elegant. I had gone shopping with my family all day, and by the fourth store it was just my mom and I left feeling tired and ready to go. We only stopped by this second hand bridal shop because it was in a town we rarely go to, but it did not disappoint! All day I had been looking for a sweetheart, strapless, bohemian feeling dress, until I saw this dress hanging on a rack at Second Summer Bride. It was unlike anything I had liked, so I tried it on first. I fell in love right when I saw it, and found myself comparing all of my other options to this one. I wasn’t even expecting to buy a dress that day, but when I looked at my mom with tears in her eyes I knew we had found the one. We celebrated with the assistant who was helping us, picked a gorgeous handmade belt to go with it, and ended up leaving with the dress that night. That dress made me feel simply beautiful.
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
Our favors were a little piece of us given to our guests. It was a cute little brown paper bag with a stamp on the front that said “besos” and our names. Besos means “kisses” in Spanish, which is my family’s language, but is also what Rolan and I would say while bidding goodnight to each other while we were dating. The paper bag held a handmade chapstick, that was made and assembled by a sweet friend. The donuts were another thing that made our wedding personal, because I only eat gluten free foods! Gluten free donuts are some of my favorite things ever, so it felt like we were sharing a special treat with our friends and family, and it was something we could all enjoy together. Our first dance song made my heart melt, and we actually chose it for this reason: the first line is “You came like a resolution, under a starry sky…” (My Lover – Birdtalker). Rolan’s and my story started under the night sky in Haiti, on a mission trip, so stars bring us back to our early days of blooming love.
What was the most memorable part of the day?
After the ceremony we took family and bridal party photos, and then Rolan and I got to sneak away to take pictures alone. We got to be removed from the craziness of family portraits, away from our beloved (but 200) guests, and outside of the production of the wedding, and it all just sunk in. Our photographer did a really great job of celebrating with us for a second, but also just letting us be natural together and show affection. When I look back to that pause in the day I well up with tears thinking about how excited we were for our life together. We got to talk about how we felt, laugh, and kiss a little, as we prepared for the rest of the fun that was ahead.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
I met Rolan at the first Cru event I went to. (Cru is a Christian college ministry, that is on a lot of big college campuses.) We were getting boba with a huge group of people and he walked up next to me and introduced himself. I ended up getting pretty involved in Cru, and through that Rolan and I got to develop a sweet friendship. He was someone that I naturally felt comfortable with, and I’ve always thought he was hilarious. He’s someone I always enjoyed spending time with, and looked forward to seeing. I remember towards the end of that year we were doing an outreach with Cru and I was telling Rolan I was bummed that I couldn’t grab coffee before I had work on campus, and after about 30 minutes into work, Rolan stopped by with a big (also nervous) smile and a coffee in his hand for me. That was when I started looking at him with hearts in my eyes. That summer was soooo much fun with our friends, and Rolan and I were just smitten. Dating didn’t work out for us heading into the next year, but fast forward a whole year of crushing and we found ourselves on a mission trip to Haiti. I’ll never forget the night Rolan and I got to sit under the stars and talk about what the past year had been like for us. We got to share our hearts and agree on how hard that year was, but also got to end with the sweet conclusion to *finally* date. After about seven months of dating, I remember being at our favorite coffee shop in Santa Cruz, and Rolan asking where I was on the thought of marriage. Long story short, we started to talking to parents, pastors, and friends shortly after that conversation, and at the eight month marker we were getting engaged! Rolan’s proposal to me was the most thoughtful, in our beloved Santa Cruz. He had a timeline of pictures laying out our story and an empty frame at the end. He told me he loved me for the first time (a commitment we made to save for our future wife/husband), said he had loved making all of those memories with me. Then he asked to make another one, and got down on his knee. Our friend that captured the moment described “the rich roots and branches [of the tree behind us] as a great stage,” and I can’t help but to agree. Our story is deeply rooted in friendship, love, and fun, and would not have been possible without God’s faithfulness.
Coordination/Calligraphy: Nicole Presley // Photographer: Kristin Lin // Venue: Roaring Camp Railroad // Gown: Stella York, Second Summer Bride Sacramento // Handmade suspenders: Kenny Wong // Donuts/Cake: Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery // Rentals: Alexis Party Rentals // DJ: Scott Bolin // Catering: Rubio’s Mexican Taco Catering // Ring Box: The Mrs. Box