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By Amy Eley

When Megan Schmidt met Casey Collar during a half marathon in 2011, she thought she found a new running buddy. He would also become her husband.

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Megan drove to Las Vegas from her Southern California home to run the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and met up with some friends to go out dancing after the 13.1 mile race. A friend introduced her to Casey, who also came out from California for the half marathon.  

“He was a terrible dancer,” Megan said. “I thought maybe he was sore from running.”

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Fortunately, their new friendship wasn’t dampened by Casey’s subpar dancing skills and the two became fast friends after returning to California, bonding over their love for running.

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Because Casey had three kids from a previous marriage, the two were very careful about recognizing growing feelings for each other. But on Valentine’s Day of 2013, the two couldn’t deny their attraction any longer and finally began dating.

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“He was very mature and grounded,” Megan said about what attracted her to Casey. “He had a good character.”

After only one year of dating, the couple knew they wanted to marry. On Valentine’s Day of 2014, Casey planned a romantic nighttime walk on the beach where he had written “Will you marry me?” in the sand.

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Unfortunately, the two didn’t leave for their moonlight stroll until later in the evening and when they approached the spot where Casey had written message, the tide had risen and swept the big question away. So he got down on one knee and popped the question himself.

“It didn’t go as planned, but it was good,” Megan said. They set the date for June 21 — giving the two only four months to plan.

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For some couples, throwing a wedding is a grand affair with hundreds of guests and a soaring bill. For Megan and Casey, their nuptials were all about sensibility.

“We really tossed around the idea of just eloping,” Megan said. “Having a big expensive wedding seemed impractical.” They decided to invite family and close friends for a wedding on a vacant lot overlooking the ocean followed by a casual reception in their backyard.

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As they moved forward into wedding planning, staying relaxed was the most important task.

“We both felt like if we spent too much time agonizing over every detail, it wouldn’t really be fun,” Casey said. 

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Fortunately, friends stood up to help with most of the planning. As a hair stylist, Megan had several clients offer their services as wedding gifts, including a florist, a caterer and a photographer. Casey put his artistic skills to good use by designing the wedding invitations, which included a sketch he drew of the couple holding hands, and he made a wood table for the reception desserts to sit on.

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Picking out the dress was a little bit more complicated. Megan originally wanted to wear her mother’s wedding gown, but when Megan pulled it from storage, she said "it was crumbled into a little ball and had a red wine stain on the front of it.” She and her mother went to David’s Bridal where Megan tried on several dresses with no success. Just before leaving the store, the store manager pulled out one last dress for her to consider.

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“It was exactly it,” Megan said. After putting the gown on, the manager asked Megan to close her eyes and imagine her wedding day. “The minute I did, I burst into tears.”

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When their wedding day arrived, Megan and Casey started it as they started any other day — with a run. Both separately went for a three-and-a-half mile run, then Megan and her family went to the ceremony location to clean it up and get it staged for the wedding while Casey and his family prepped Casey and Megan’s backyard for the reception.

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Once everything was set at the wedding location, Megan went to a nearby hotel to get ready, which was where Casey met them and and waited to see his bride.

“I just remember trying not to cry,” Casey said. “She looked absolutely beautiful.”

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After seeing each other and taking couples’ photos, they went to the ceremony, where Megan walked down the aisle to two friends playing “Bicycle Built for Two,” originally written by Harry Dacre, on guitars. The ceremony included handwritten vows, two readings from their mothers and a musical number — “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. With that, Casey and Megan were husband and wife.

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“It flew by,” Megan said. “Saying my vows to him though, that was my favorite part.”

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The wedding party and guests then went to Megan and Casey’s home for the reception, which included a barbecue, homemade macaroni and cheese and a piñata.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party without a piñata,” Megan said about their decision to have one. “It just seemed fun.”

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Also among the party décor were pink flamingos.

“Our theme was ‘intentionally tacky,’” Megan said. “What could be more tacky than a pink flamingo?” Flamingos have since appeared at three other weddings among their group of friends.

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The newlyweds spent the night eating, visiting with guests and hitting the dance floor for their first dance to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.

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“I feel like I just cried the whole day,” Megan said. “Happy tears.”

For Megan Schmidt and Casey Collar's nuptials, friends, family and a flamingo all played a part.

All photos provided by Brit Jaye Photography. Check out more TODAY real weddings here.