Beth Walstrom was born and raised in Iowa, so the first time her now-husband Nate took her to visit his family in his hometown of Rapid City, she was awestruck by the beauty of the Black Hills.
“I hadn’t realized how beautiful it is there,” recalls Beth of the first time she saw the majestic Hills and the scenery of Custer State Park. The nature-loving couple, who met sophomore year at SDSU, enjoyed time hiking, swimming, and spending time outdoors against the backdrop of the state park’s rolling hills and trails while dating.
So when the time came to choose a wedding location, Custer State Park seemed fitting.
“It’s sort of ‘our place’,” says Beth. “It’s significant to us, and it’s so pretty, so we thought it would be the perfect place to get married.”
And the couple’s July wedding day was indeed beautiful – clear sunny skies, no wind, and warm temperatures made for perfect weather as they said their vows and celebrated with family and friends. The ceremony was held at secluded Lovers Leap Deck and Lawn in Custer State Park, a beautiful setting surrounded by oak trees and overlooking Coolidge Creek, featuring a deck that extends out over the water. A stone walkway formed the aisle down the center of green lawn where the guests were seated.
Preceding any wedding, of course, is a proposal. And in perfect accord with the couple’s love of the outdoors, Nate proposed to Beth during a vacation at a cabin by Seeley Lake, Montana. While it wasn’t exactly a total surprise (“He kept saying, ‘This will be a vacation you’ll never forget’, so that kind of gave it away,” laughs Beth), she was thrilled all the same.
Months prior, at her then-boyfriend’s request, Beth had chosen her engagement ring: a beautiful princess cut diamond in a halo setting, with a twisted diamond band of white gold, from Zales Jewelers. The ring came in a set with a wedding band, which Beth loved because it made the selection process simple and easy.
After seeing the ring Beth selected, her future husband expressed relief that he had requested her input in choosing a ring.
Nate says, “I had some styles picked out that I thought Beth would like. The one she eventually chose was not even close to the ones I had chosen. So I’m glad she got to choose the one she wanted.”
With the wedding location and ring selected, Beth’s next task was to find the perfect wedding dress, which she found almost by accident at David’s Bridal in Sioux Falls. A friend she was shopping with suggested she try the dress on.
“I probably wouldn’t have noticed it myself, but when I tried it on, it was perfect,” says Beth. In fact, she loved it so much that she cancelled appointments scheduled later that day for fittings at other locations.
“I knew this was the one,” she says of the dress, a strapless A-line style covered in lace, featuring a sweetheart neckline and beadwork on the front and back torso. Beth also chose the bridesmaid dresses at David’s Bridal, in Malibu Blue, to accompany her accent wedding colors of yellow and slate gray.
The reception following the couple’s scenic outdoor wedding at Lovers Leap was held just 200 feet away at the Outdoor Game Lodge Pavilion.
“The really nice thing about having the wedding at Custer State Park was that the reception was right there,” says Beth, noting that the pavilion was the perfect setting for a “low-key” reception, catered by the park in the comfortable atmosphere of nature’s beauty.
One of the highlights of the reception was the wedding cake, which held particular sentimental significance for Beth and Nate, and for good reason: it was made by the groom’s mother.
Nate’s mother makes wedding cakes professionally, so the wedding cake was her special gift to the couple. The simple, yet elegant, three-layer white and chocolate marble cake featured white frosting and decorative accents of burlap and roses, as well as the newlyweds’ names and the date of the wedding.
“It’s a nice keepsake, and it’s special for us because she designed and made it specifically for us.”
Following dinner, the couple shared a special moment during their first dance, organized by DJ Zach of Complete in Rapid City. For Nate, their first dance is one of his favorite memories of the big day.
“During our first dance, it was the first time I felt like it was just the two of us. Even though everyone was watching us, it seemed liked it was just the two of us,” says Nate.
After the first dance, DJ Zach eased everyone out onto the dance floor with the perfect mix of songs, announcements, and banter.
“He was so helpful and interactive, and did such a great job of keeping things going. He seemed to sense what songs the crowd responded to,” Beth says. In this case, the crowd responded to country music. Along with her husband, guests enthusiastically joined in line dancing to familiar country favorites, which got things rolling on the dance floor.
“Our friends are still talking about how fun the dance was!” says Beth.
But one of Beth’s favorite memories of the day was another quiet moment shared between herself and her new husband, immediately following the ceremony.
“We were getting our pictures taken right by the creek where the ceremony was held, and the photographer suggested we go barefoot into the creek. It was a nice, quiet moment, just the two of us together,” reminisces Beth. As someone who doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention, she savored these few minutes of privacy and calm with her new husband.
“I could finally take a breath and enjoy it all, and enjoy the happiness of the day.”