Story by LEIA LARSEN • Standard-Examiner staff
OGDEN — Lisa, 31, and Kylee, 26, were wed at a place where their roots run deep — a local Ogden coffeeshop.
The Kaffe Mercantile is where the couple met after being set up by a mutual friend. It’s where Kylee still works when she’s not running her record shop, Lavender Vinyl. It’s where they both have a community of supportive friends.
“Nick (Morris) and Lance (Smith), who own the shop and are some of our dearest friends, let us have it here for free,” Lisa said. “They didn’t charge us anything. We had a very expensive-looking wedding for a lot cheaper because we have amazing people who ... wanted to help out.”
Kylee and Lisa met in January 2016. By July, they were engaged. Being together was easy, they said, from day one.
“We love to do the same things. It’s fun, not a chore. It’s so smooth,” Kylee said.
They set a wedding date for Oct. 2, which gave them only three months to plan. In the end, the universe seemed to conspire for the couple to have a “perfect day,” Lisa said.
“We were so stressed about the weather. The few days before were rainy. And we did it ... outside, we didn’t have a Plan B,” she said. “We thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, we’re screwed.’”
The morning of their wedding, the clouds parted. Temperatures rose to 70 degrees. Morris, owner of the coffeeshop, helped plan and decorate for the event. He sent the couple off that morning searching for branches and twigs that had washed up from the previous days’ rainstorm.
“We made an arch out of twigs that we got married under,” Lisa said.
The Hallows’ Wedding Day
Venue: Kaffe Mercantile in Ogden
Most creative cost-saving strategy: The Hallowses tapped friends to hold their wedding in the beautiful backyard of the place they first met — for free.
Worth the splurge: The couple wanted a delicious meal that expressed their personalities. They had a vegan taco bar dinner catered.
Who paid: Kylee’s parents
Final wedding cost: $3,000
That “do-it-yourself” attitude, along with support from friends and family, helped the Hallowses create a beautiful event on a budget.
“That was one of the biggest things that came to mind … kicking the trend of this huge expensive thing,” Kylee said. “I guess if your parents are paying for the wedding, this $20,000 event, fine, but all these couples that get married and start off their marriage with a huge lump sum of debt, that seems absolutely crazy to me.”
Lisa and Kylee helped decorate and set up for their wedding. They also recruited help.
One of their favorite ideas was stringing Christmas lights from a big tree in the Kaffe Mercantile’s back patio — where they held their wedding. It served as a focal point for the ceremony and it didn’t cost a cent.
“Everyone just dug out their Christmas lights from their garage,” Lisa said. “It was free and it had so much ambiance and such a beautiful vibe.”
Kylee’s friend and a regular customer at the Kaffe Mercantile donated the couple’s vegan cake as a wedding gift. Lisa found her wedding dress from a China-based website for $169. She sent in her measurements, the company made it custom and shipped in 12 weeks. She admits she took a gamble ordering it from overseas.
“But I was paying for my wedding dress out of my pocket,” she said. “I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a dress I was going to wear for three hours. And it was my dream dress. I was so nervous, but when I opened it, I cried.”
Kylee wore a black button-up shirt, black slacks and gold shoes.
“Fancy is not my forte,” she said.
As they planned, Kylee said she was most surprised by the high cost of a professional wedding photographer.
“One of our friends recommend a fine art photographer ... he gave us a great price,” she said. “He had just graduated from Weber State a year prior. There are so many students looking to build a portfolio. That’s a huge way to save money.”
Their wedding day featured a mix of traditional elements and unique touches that made it their own. Instead of walking down an aisle, the couple entered from separate sides of the yard and met in the middle. They had an elegant wedding cake and also a vegan taco bar for dinner.
“Not only did we want it to be really us, but where we’re a gay couple, you kind of get a free pass to do whatever you want,” Lisa said.
Both Lisa and Kylee were raised in traditional LDS families. Kylee admitted she felt some anxiety on her wedding day, having her entire extended family together mingling with her less-conservative friends.
“I was blown away about how supportive they were about it,” she said. “It’s been a long tie coming for my parents, they’ve had a long time to adjust to it, I came out when I was 14. They were supportive and here doing everything and not weird about anything.”
With attitudes about the role of weddings and marriage having shifted considerably, especially in the last decade, the Hallowses said having a celebration of their relationship and decision to share life’s highs and lows together felt important.
“People think about it in all the wrong ways. I think a lot of people these days are very against getting married,” Kylee said. “Fewer people want to get married, and that’s fine, but I also don’t think there should be a stigma for the people who do.”
Lisa said she began holding marriage in a higher regard once she came out.
“I didn’t come out until I was 27. It means so much more suddenly being in this smaller minority group that didn’t have the option for so long,” she said. “To be able to show our commitment, and have it be legally recognized, that I can say, ‘this is my wife,’ that has so much more authority and respect.”
To make a wedding day truly special — and cost-effective — the Hallowses also said it’s important to reach out to your network.
“Seeing how much it brought them all together to help us and be a part of it was really rewarding,” Lisa said. “Don’t be afraid to ask and to let people help you.”