Jessie + Gus made plans to road trip to their elopement destination — from Los Angeles to Seattle, for the ultimate ceremony in the forest at Snoqualmie Pass, photographed by Benj Haisch. They spent six months renovating their 1977 travel trailer and had it ready to make the trek up to Washington for the wedding… However, once they started the drive, their car had other plans. Here’s Jessie with all the details:
Four days into the trip AND four days before our wedding day, our brakes failed while driving about 50 mph on a mountainside highway, heading straight towards a sharp left turn edging a cliff. After a moment of sheer panic and disbelief, our instincts kicked in just in the knick of time. I reached for the emergency brake and slowly pulled on it while Gus carefully steered us around the turn. Fortunately there was a turnout just after the turn where we were able to come to a safe stop. Our engine had died completely and the car wouldn’t start, and we found ourselves stranded on the side of this mountain with no cell phone service, 20 miles away from the nearest town. The entire experience was absolutely terrifying. After 4 hours of waiting, we were saved by a volunteer fire department, and they helped us find a tow truck to bring us to a little town called Gardnerville, Nevada.
We lived in our trailer in the parking lot of the mechanic’s for three nights while they tried to fix our jeep in time to leave for our wedding (a 15 hr drive away), but no such luck. We’d spent those three days trying to figure out other ways we could get there, but no rental trucks with towing capacity were available in the area. We had both our cat and dog with us, no luggage, and all of our valuables, so leaving our trailer behind and flying wasn’t an ideal option.
Curious to find out what happened? Read on for more!
After looking at everything we could possibly think of, we reached out to our friends on social media for help, asking for any advice. Our dear friend, Nicola, graciously created a Go Fund Me page on our behalf to help spread our story and collect funds to either pay to fix our Jeep, or put towards a new car. We were humbled by this, but truly didn’t expect anything to come of it.
The morning after (two days before our wedding), our story spread across the internet, thanks to two complete strangers: Azita and Erica. They stumbled on the GoFundMe campaign and called us informing us not to worry because they would take care of us. It was then shared by Sophia Bush, Constance Zimmer, and Kate Walsh, each of them reaching out to rental car companies to see if they could loan us a car. Donations were pouring in, and hundreds of people were sharing our story in hopes of helping us get to our wedding!
Within hours, we received an email from Audi informing us they would be delivering a 2017 Audi Q7 to us so that we can not only make it to our wedding, but finish our road trip honeymoon. We were in absolute shock, crying tears of joy, gratitude and disbelief. By that night, an employee had driven eight hours to deliver the car to us. We left the next morning, completing the full 15 hour drive in one day, making it there safely just before midnight; the night before our wedding day.
We knew that we wanted to get married in a forest and we knew we wanted Benj to capture it. So we left the specific location up to him. :)
P.S. That stunning dress that caught the light perfectly is by Melissa Sweet.
The story gained attention in the media. During our drive, we were receiving phone calls and emails for interview requests from local news outlets, Good Morning America, People.com, and we even got a full page spread in an issue of InTouch Weekly. It was absolutely surreal, we genuinely could not wrap our heads around the events that unfolded all within 24 hours (and we still can’t!).
Our wedding day was the most magical day of our lives, we were able to safely finish our honeymoon and make it home as scheduled. We returned the Audi and used the GoFundMe donations to ship our Jeep back to Los Angeles and have it fixed. And we used the issue of InTouch Weekly magazine as a guest book for the intimate dinner reception we had with our families a few months later to celebrate our marriage!
Jessie shares The biggest DIY project for the day was definitely Pierre, our 1977 14 foot trailer. We saved a lot of money, sold a lot of our possessions, and really changed our lifestyle to be able to pay for all the expenses involved with it. We gutted the entire thing and built all of the interior from scratch together. It was no easy task, but so much fun. It feels like home to us. The details for the project can be found on our blog: Ragmop and Goose.
Isn’t their story the absolute sweetest?! It tells the story of love, compassion, teamwork, and all around good people just trying to do something nice for someone… Giving us the chills in the best way possible!
We loved having our best friend who flew in from LA to officiate our ceremony. His presence meant a lot to us because he knows us better than anyone else!
I loved our "mini reception". While waiting for the sunlight to be just right for photos, Benj suggested we go grab a beer. We followed him to a restaurant where we dined with him, his assistant Anje, and our videographer, Justin. When we walked into the restaurant in full wedding wardrobe, the other patrons clapped for us and congratulated us. On our way out, Anje mentioned we got to have a little reception and it warmed our hearts. In that moment, Gus heard a slow song playing on the speakers above us and grabbed me for our first dance. He spun me around on the sidewalk entrance of the restaurant as strangers dining outside clapped for us. It was magic.
So why the road trip? Our darling bride shares A month before getting engaged, we were planning a West Coast road trip, but we postponed it due to El Niño. We were worried we’d run into some pretty nasty storms and decided we’d do it later in the year. We always knew we wanted to elope even before getting engaged, so once everything was official, I searched for elopement photographers. Benj was the first one I came across, but he was all the way in Seattle… We couldn’t find any other photographer whose worked we loved as much as his. After some brainstorming, we thought, “What would be more fitting for us than to make an adventure out of our nuptials and do the road trip as our honeymoon?” So we did, and it definitely was an adventure to say the least. :)
I made my own head piece the night before we left for our road trip! It was a last minute project that I quickly sprung together.
There will be some stress involved and you will have to make hard decisions. The best piece of advice I can offer is to do what you feel comfortable with and ONLY that. Everyone around you will have an opinion, but what matters most is what you and your partner want from your special day. Follow your heart, you won't regret it.
It’s all part of the adventure… And what an adventure it was!
Congratulations, Jessie + Gus, and thank you so much for sharing your story with us!!
For a little bit more from their wild day, check out this video by Northwest Wedding Films!