A remarkably untraditional ceremony
January 8, 2013
Traditionally, it is June, not January, when most brides plan to have their special day. And traditionally, when a couple decides to have a destination wedding, they pick a place like Hawaii, or the Caribbean, or some other sunny, sandy paradise where their guests enjoy fruity cocktails with their toes in the sand and everyone looks a few different shades of red in the photos. And traditionally, when a groom gets cold feet minutes before the wedding, it’s not something the bride smiles about.
But David Nibbelin and Jacqui Johnson aren’t ones for tradition. Unless they’re starting their own.
You see, the couple was married New Year’s Day in what can only be described as a remarkably untraditional ceremony. They went heli-skiing, tying the knot on top of a mountain and zipping down it on custom-made snowboards after the "I dos" were exchanged.
And they both had cold feet, at least the literal kind. After all, it was only 10 degrees.
The couple, who met on New Year’s Day in 2007, live in L.A., but the snow, the mountains and Utah are very special to them.
"We had only been dating a couple weeks when, on a whim, I asked Jacqui to come to Park City with me on a last-minute road trip to the Sundance Film Festival nearly six years ago," said David. "When we were there, we took a snowboarding lesson and just fell in love with the mountains and the sport. Until then, Jacqui had never even seen snow. But she just loved it and we have vacationed in Utah every year since. So it was just so fitting for us to get married on the day we met, and be in the snow and snowboard as part of the ceremony."
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In addition to their love of snowboarding and their romantic history in our state, David proposed to Jacqui on top of a mountain in Mammoth. Which just added to their confirmation this was the right way to wed.
"Given all of that, when we were trying to figure out where to exchange vows, it just came to me, ‘Let’s get married on a mountain,’ I thought. And Jacqui was all for it," David said.
Their families, however, were not. "Everyone was sort of trying to talk us into something else. Some were afraid of flying, some were worried about the cold and altitude. But in the end, we wanted our wedding to be our special day to remember, so we stuck with our plan."
Both the bride’s and groom’s families were placated with the idea that the couple could marry as they wished, so long as they promised to come back to L.A. and have a reception. Something the couple readily agreed to.
"Being on that mountain and getting married was just magical. It couldn’t have been more perfect," David gushed. "And the team over at Diamond Peaks Heli Ski Company, they made the whole thing just exceptional. They were so excited for us and made sure everything was top notch."
Craig Olsen, owner of Diamond Peaks Heli Ski Adventures, said while they don’t do many weddings, when they do, they do them right. "It’s the most special day of your life. We’re going to do anything we can to ensure people get hitched without a hitch."
Craig and his team, who fly near Snowbasin Resort, even have a special heli run named for something like this. "We call it ‘The Wedding Run.’ People have proposed on that run, fallen in love on it, and I’m pretty sure some people have even consecrated their marriage on it."
Jacqui and David, though, were just happy to get down it. "Jacqui wore a full, traditional wedding dress," David said. "It weighed about 20 pounds and it was not easy to board in. But luckily the snow was soft and light, so the dress was fine despite the tumbles."
But it’s not just the dress that made the bride quite a sight. It’s also what she had on her feet. David works for an animation studio in L.A. and created special graphics for her custom-made wedding-day-only snowboard. The graphics are a bride and groom in a mountain scene. Which will soon have a dual purpose.
"We’re going to bring it to our reception and have people sign it and use it as the guestbook," David said. "It’s untraditional, but it works for us."
Jacqui and David are now back in Southern California, preparing for their big party with friends and family. Jacqui will wear the same white dress she was married in, and David will don the same tux.
Which is arguably the only tradition in this wedding that these two didn’t start.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley. If you have a story idea, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.