When a teenage Lindsey Bordner threw a surprise party for her best friend, the real surprise was that she ended up meeting the love of her life.
As hostess and avowed Type-A personality, Lindsey, who was 16 at the time, cooked all the food and spent the evening watching over the festivities.
That's where she saw the boy who would turn out to be her future husband — and he noticed her too, the pretty blond laughing in the corner. Though they were students at the same Florida high school, as a laid-back sophomore to Lindsey's sophisticated junior, Jack Bullers had never even seen her before.
While Lindsey was immediately into Jack's “hippy-dippy” looks (at the time, he sported long blond hair), not to mention the fact that he was in a country band, he found the former competitive swimmer more than a little intimidating. “He thought, 'You were sixteen years old with your life together,'” Lindsey recalls.
But a few months later, Lindsey became Jack's first girlfriend. “He always says he fell in love too fast,” she says.
And Lindsey fell fast, too. “I was into him pretty much right away. He always had a joke, was always ready for a good time. He mellowed me out.”
Lindsey says she knew pretty much from the moment Jack asked her to be his girlfriend six years ago that he was her one and only.
“I knew he was going to be this great father, this great man," she says. "He was such a loving person and respected everyone 100% — that's where the country boy comes in.”
Jack, now 21 years old and sans the long hair, is a combat engineer in the U.S. Army. Lindsey, 22, is completing her senior year at Murray State University in Kentucky and is soon to be a registered dietitian.
“A month into our relationship, we said we loved each other,” Lindsey remembers. “A few months into the relationship, we knew we'd always be together, forever and ever.”
Jack proposed a year and a half ago over the Christmas holidays, Lindsey's favorite time of year. Still, it was giant surprise — she wasn't expecting to see Jack after his 16 weeks of boot camp, let alone become engaged.
“With combat they just go straight through, so you don't usually get to see them after they graduate," she says. “But he ended up getting to come home, because it was right around when the base shuts down for Christmas...He woke me up one morning and asked me to go for a walk. At sunrise. I'm not usually the best morning person, so I was really shocked.”
Jack asked her to close her eyes and when she opened them, he was on one knee, his mom's wedding band in hand.
Lindsey then decided to move to Fort Campbell so they could spend as much time as possible together, and she started planning their wedding. With big families on both sides, her mission became finding a venue to hold them all, a setting that would be intimate without making guests feel crowded.
“We'd wanted a rustic wedding venue and everything was so expensive — most of the places we looked at had never even heard of doing 250," she says of their guest list. "That was one of the hardest things, the sheer amount of people.”
That's when it dawned on Lindsey — if they wanted to include the whole family at the event, why not include them in plans? “My grandpa has a Christmas tree farm and we grew up there. We've had Thanksgiving there. So we asked him and he gave us his blessing. I didn't know it, but that was one of my his dreams, that one of us would get married on that farm.”
And so it was decided: Lindsey and Jack would be married on a Christmas tree farm in Oak Hill, Florida, a town, Lindsey jokes, “without even a real stoplight.”
As she spent the next year and a half planning, Lindsey — a DIY pro (wedding décor is a hobby and side-business of hers) — took on some serious projects: hand-dyeing all the mason jars for the wedding, making her own ring toss game with bottles, and fashioning pieces of a tree and slivers of its trunk into centerpieces.
She started with a theme — rustic, country, vintage — which she built on, literally. “I've always loved woodwork, distressed wood, antique furniture," she says. "I'd always pictured a living room setup for the cocktail hour. I thought, 'I could do this. I've just got to design what I really want.' That was the most fun, doing all the crafting.”
Of course, it also made for a great deal of hard work, but a day that was totally custom-made.
“I wanted it to be my own,” Lindsey says. “I loved finding those cool pieces, like Victorian settees in pink and green. And I wanted spring colors. You're at a farm where everything is green, with huge oak trees, so I wanted to add some colors. My mom wrapped garlands around every single tree. Every spring flower was there.”
And on the big day, everyone came together to make it exactly as Lindsey had dreamed. “Caterers made chocolate covered cream puffs for me, even though they don't really do that, because I love cream puffs,” she says.
And the wedding party spent the afternoon before the wedding on the farm putting on the finishing touches — the maid of honor's mom actually baked many of the treats, pies and cobbler that they'd have for dessert the next day.
When the wedding rolled around, it was all about enjoying each other.
Lindsey married Jack on May 24, 2014, in a service led by Jack's grandpa, a Methodist minister. Though Lindsey grew up Catholic, and Jack converted to Catholicism his senior year of high school, there was no doubt that his grandpa, who'd married everyone in their family, would marry.
“To have his grandfather marry us, it was very special. It was important to us that we be married in a place with a lot of loved shared," Lindsey says. "It's a family place. And that's what we always wanted, family.”
The ceremony was quite traditional, but included moving, personalized vows from the bride and groom. "That moment, when we were reading our vows to each other, it felt like it was just him and me," she says. "That moment was ours.”
The bride wore an A-line gown, with “a little lace, a little sparkle and a small train,” that she adored for remaining “fluffy and light” despite its fitted shape.
After the ceremony came the dancing — and the sweating. “It was so hot that day," the bride reminisces. “There was sweet tea and a lemonade stand, which was just an old flower cart, for people before the ceremony. Lots of the old-fashioned sodas. All the drinks were gone by the end of the night, that's how hot it was.”
There was also classic candy to snack on and popcorn in red and white striped bags. Dinner consisted of comfort food: apple-glazed pork, four-cheese macaroni and cheese, and green beans.
The night moved pretty fast. Sticking to tradition, the bride and groom soon found themselves shoving cake into each others faces. Then the garter came off. Then came Lindsey's highlight of the evening, the traditional serenade. That's right, traditional serenade.
“All the guys sing to the bride, it's a family tradition,” Lindsey explains. “So I had forty guys singing 'My Girl' to me, with my niece on my lap on a chair in the middle of the dance floor. It was just so funny, to see all those guys get up there, half of them can't sing, reading the lyrics off their phones, and they're just going for it. Most of my family is fearless, especially after an open bar.”
Before they knew it, everyone was piling back on the buses, headed back to the hotel. Which is when the night would have ended, had the bride and groom not gotten stuck in the hotel elevator with a handful of the wedding party.
“We had to have firefighters come and get us out,” Lindsey says. “One of our cousins ended up peeing in a mason jar.” A hand-dyed mason jar.
And while that might have been the most surprising element of the evening for most brides, the self-declared Type-A Mrs. Bullers was most taken aback by her own carefree attitude toward the whole day.
“The day of, I was just like, 'Whatever, I don't even care,'" she remembers. "And it was just perfect.”