Real wedding: Spring break set-up leads to winter nuptials
Spring break trips are known for parties, beaches and wild nights — and they don't usually lead to saying "I do." But for Morgan and Bryce Von Ahsen, spring break marks how the newlyweds first met.
Morgan, 24, tagged along with one of her friends from Central College in Pella, Iowa to Florida for spring break in 2011. When she arrived at the vacation house, she met Bryce, 25, a farmer also from Iowa who joined the trip.
“We knew that our friends wanted to set us up,” Morgan said. “I just wanted to go on spring break and lay in the sun, but we started talking.” They became fast friends and kept in touch after spring break ended. After a few months of friendship, the two began dating.
As Morgan’s birthday approached in 2013, Bryce knew it was time to pop the question. Morgan had planned a birthday party with Bryce and their friends for Feb. 1, 2013, but when she got to Bryce’s house for the party, he was the only one there.
“I was confused and started asking questions, but he acted pretty normal,” she said. “Then he told me he had one more birthday present for me.” It was a letter, and as Morgan read it, Bryce went down on one knee and asked if she would marry him.
“I was pretty nervous,” Bryce remembers. “I didn’t really know how I was going to do it, but it all fell into place.”
Morgan said yes, and their friends showed up soon after to celebrate.
“The birthday party turned into an engagement party,” Morgan said.
Morgan always wanted a winter wedding with a fresh blanket of white snow. “That’s not something you can order, unfortunately,” she said. But they set the date for Feb. 1, 2014 and hoped for the best. The couple booked a venue near Morgan’s hometown —Bonaparte, Iowa — that was once an old warehouse and had since been refurbished into a hotel.
In September, however, Morgan’s mother received a letter saying that the hotel was closing and would no longer be open for the wedding. Around the same time, the couple also learned that their photographer was pregnant and due near their wedding day. While these bumps in the road may have turned most brides upside down, Morgan knew it would be okay.
“I just laughed,” she said. “It wasn’t a big deal.” Morgan and Bryce found a replacement photographer, and also learned about a winery that had recently opened nearby, so the two decided to book a church for the wedding and the winery for the reception. “It was meant to be,” Morgan said.
In preparing for the big day, Morgan decided to make her wedding programs to incorporate different details of their relationship.
“I tried to incorporate our proposal story and how we met, and put a crossword puzzle on the back about Bryce and me,” she said. “It was a fun way to not do the standard program.”
Feb. 1 arrived, and Morgan’s wish for a white wedding came to fruition.
“It was kind of dreary and I told myself we’re probably not going to have a white wedding,” Morgan said. “But we woke up that morning and there were four perfect inches of snow.”
Bryce and Morgan got ready separately that morning.
“I feel like we woke up and five minutes later, we were supposed to go to the church,” Morgan said. “But it was really five hours.”
When the bride and groom arrived at the church, they decided to do a “first look” with just the two of them and the photographer before starting the ceremony.
“I was ready to see her,” Bryce said. “We both just smiled at each other. She looked great.”
As part of the wedding ceremony, the pastor read letters the two had written to each other about why they wanted to marry the other person.
“There weren't any dry eyes,” Morgan said. Bryce wrote about meeting Morgan for the first time, and how he loved how important family was to her. Morgan’s letter was about how much she appreciated his calm demeanor.
“I don’t typically get worked up, and she likes that,” Bryce said. “She likes knowing I’ll be there for her.”
After Morgan and Bryce were pronounced husband and wife, the bridal party boarded a bus and made their way to the reception, while the remaining 300 guests hopped in their cars and followed. There, a hot bar with treats, coffee and hot chocolate was waiting. Later, everyone enjoyed dinner, and Morgan and Bryce shared their first dance to “When I Say I Do” by Matthew West.
“Having all of your favorite people in one room is pretty awesome,” Morgan said.
The newlyweds are now enjoying life in Williamsburg, Iowa, where Morgan works for the University of Iowa and Bryce continues to work on his family’s farm. As far as married life, they say they are getting the hang of things.
“I feel like we’re getting used to it,” Bryce said. “We’re kind of getting a routine now. But sometimes it’s like ‘Whoa, that really just happened.'”