Once Ryan Winfield made up his mind to propose, it took only a week to secure both the blessing of his future father-in-law and a ring. “Catching Nicole off guard was the thing that was difficult,” Ryan asserts. So, as if heli-skiing in Park City weren’t exciting enough on its own, Ryan threw some extra exhilaration into the mix at the top of a snowy mountain.

“I was up next, and just as I was asking the guide if I could go, I saw Ryan pull something from his jacket,” Nicole Caya recalls. “Immediately he popped the question because I think he feared I might ski away! It was amazing, and our guide managed to document the whole thing.”

The couple knew that marrying close to home in Southern California would accommodate more family, so they eschewed their initial inclination to marry in the city where they got engaged. “However, we weren’t willing to give up on Utah altogether,” Nicole affirms. “We wanted our wedding to embody the cabin atmosphere that we love and the feeling of family.”

The couple’s nuptial mass was held at a beautiful Catholic church renowned for the Spanish elegance of its exterior and the breathtaking beauty of its architecture. The sanctuary was a vision of sculpted columns and complex carvings beneath a soaring, barrel-vaulted ceiling. A jaunty pair of ring bearers in bow ties and newsboy caps preceded two diminutive flower girls to a massive marble altar with a towering baldacchino. Pinecones and greenery adorned rows of wooden pews, and sunshine poured through glittering stained glass windows.

“Seeing my wife walking down the aisle was my most memorable moment of the day,” Ryan notes – and with good reason. Nicole’s modified A-line gown swept to the floor in a graceful cascade of lace. A glittering sash nipped her waist and added sparkle to her ensemble, while customized, detachable cap sleeves obscured her shoulders beneath her veil. Her bouquet of white peonies was dotted with frosty berzillia berries and accented with miniature pinecones and pretty sprigs of evergreen.

The woodsy accents that were discreetly integrated into the ceremony played a major role in the reception décor. “The look was inspired by our love of hunting, skiing, and family,” clarifies the bride. Antler chandeliers contributed to the cabin atmosphere, as did a faux fireplace situated near the dance floor. “My mother put our vision together. Amazing woman that she is, she thought of all of the details.”

Long wooden tables brought guests together to dine family style. “We wanted the reception centerpieces to look like snow drifts, so we had white flowers with small evergreen trees on some of the tables, and incorporated deer antlers and rabbit pelts to add texture to longer tables,” describes Nicole. A blessing was said over dinner in keeping with Caya family tradition.  “We hold hands and say a very loud prayer over every meal,” the bride explains. “We didn’t want to let that go for our reception, and it was extra special to see all 180 people hold hands and pray together.”

Chocolate mousse, s’mores cupcakes, and mini caramel apples were offered for dessert along with a bevy of sweets that reflected the Flemish heritage of the bride. “My aunt and grandmother traveled to Belgium a little before our wedding looking for cookie molds,” shares the bride. “We served speculoos cookies as well as a profiterole cake that was very special for my grandparents.”

“Also, we had bottles from Alpine Beer Company served to our guests,” adds Ryan. “My buddies loved it and it was special to us because [Alpine] is where my wife grew up. Everyone seems to try and find the most expensive bottles of Champagne, etc., but that has no bearing on who they are. This was neat and different.” 

The calories consumed were aggressively worked off on a packed dance floor. “My wife set it up so there were dance sets,” says the groom. “That really added to the fun because people were always up having a great time. Also, the music was key; it got everyone up and dancing the entire time.”

Dancing was also memorable for another reason. “My father took lessons with me for two months before the wedding and it was special time that we had together,” shares the bride. “We did all right the day of, and we had a great time with it laughing and counting. It was a very special moment for me.”

The couple achieved exactly the type of event they intended. “We didn’t try to be something we aren’t,” says Ryan. “Everything had meaning for us, and that was important to me.”

“It felt like home,” adds Nicole. And everyone knows there’s no other place like it.