The Bears – Griffiths’ Wedding – 05.18.13

Being an event planner, I am constantly getting asked what my craziest experience has been. This beautiful, crazy wedding is currently the winner!

I was hired by the Groom’s mother, Suzanne, to make sure Chris & Shannon’s wedding day was absolutely perfect. From the first phone call with Shannon, who was living in Spokane, Washington and planning her wedding long-distance, I knew that her and her fiance were going to be great to work with.

On the day of their wedding, a nervous Groom and glowing Bride showed up at The Pines at Genesee to begin their unforgettable day. I don’t think the smile on Chris’ face left the entire day, seriously, the entire day! He was so happy. And when he got the first look at his bride walking down the aisle toward him, his smile got even bigger.

The ceremony began like most other ceremonies – guests all facing forward and looking at the Bride & Groom. I made my way down the long aisle so I could get a better view when through my walkie talkie, my side-kick (my Dad) says – ‘Sarah, there is a bear coming toward the ceremony’. I was MAD!!! Thinking he was playing a very cruel joke on me. Then, again – ‘Sarah, seriously, there is a bear coming toward the ceremony.’ I turned around and behind me was a bear heading down the hill right toward the ceremony. No Joke! EEKS!!! Having to make a quick decision, I stopped the ceremony. First time I’ve ever had to do that. Guests’ initial reaction was to jump out of their seats, but I quickly reminded them to stay calm and sit down – and they did. We all watched the bear for what seemed like forever as he made his way to an empty stroller with snacks, then almost walked right down the aisle. Something changed his mind and he went over to the musicians to check out what kind of tasty treats they may have. Everyone was calm. The vendors were amazing. But this bear wasn’t going away, so eventually we all started cheering and clapping and he decided it was time to leave. After one last look at the crowd, the bear went back over the hill and on his way. Once everyone took a deep breathe and calmed down, the ceremony continued.

Why was this experience so perfect for this wedding?
#1 – Shannon had mentioned how much she wanted to see a bear during their rehearsal dinner the previous night at Boettcher Mansion. Be careful what you wish for!
#2 – Shannon’s family has been called the ‘Bear Family’ for years.
#3 – The experience created a great story for the Bride & Groom to tell time and time again, especially since everyone was safe and no one got hurt.

So, the ceremony continued and it was absolutely beautiful! Chris and Shannon exchanged vows and there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd as they shared their personal stories. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails and live music while the Bride & Groom took pictures with their families. Once everyone finished up dinner and all the traditions were complete, the party really got started and the dance floor was packed for the rest of the night.

Watching Christopher and Shannon, you can tell they truly are a team. They’ve already experienced a lot together and the next journey was just beginning with a recent move to Colorado right before the wedding. The two are constantly sharing smiles, kisses and high fives and it’s evident that they have their friends and families’ support in all that they do.

Congratulations Chris & Shannon on your happily ever after!

April O’Hare Photography not only captured the day wonderfully, she also was able to keep shooting during the stressful experience and get great shots of the bear. Thank you for sharing these unforgettable moments with us April! To see more pictures from the wedding, click here.

The film that Locker Partners created really shows the personality of the couple and how great the day was! Click here to watch the video and make sure to stay tuned until the end for the bear footage.


Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris89372_lowThe ceremony took place at The Aspen Wedding Terrace, which has such a beautiful and natural back drop.

Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris9308_lowThe ‘little’ fella makes his appearance.


Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris89952_lowShannon & the Bestman’s reactions tell it all as the
bear almost makes his way down the aisle.

Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris9329_lowOne last look at the crowd before he disappears over the hill.

Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris96872_lowAnd the day continues…


Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris90762_lowThe table decorations were simple, elegant and perfect for the venue.


Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris0207_lowChris & Shannon get the party started.

Ryan_Griffiths_April_OHare_Photography_ShannonChris97132_lowSuch a wonderful couple!

Words from our client : “Throughout the initial planning process, Sarah was kind, efficient, and professional. She invested a lot of time in my wedding, and thought of details I would have otherwise missed. She eliminated so much stress for me, and I felt incredibly calm and relaxed on my wedding day. My special day was interrupted when a black bear actually arrived in the middle of my ceremony and Sarah handled the situation in a most composed and graceful way. I work with many meeting planners in my career, and Sarah is truly the cream of the crop. Overall my experience with Sarah was truly a wonderful one, and I highly recommend her for any type of event in the future.” ~Shannon (Bride)

Click here to see more pictures from the wedding.

Click here to see the video of the day.

Thank you to the incredible team of vendors who made this day so great!
Day-Of Coordination : Ansley Event Design
Event Venue & Caterer : The Pines at Genesee
DJ : Brian Martinez of Kantrast Media
Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Musicians : Nobility Strings
Cake : Safeway
Photographer : April O’Hare Photography
Officiant : Reverend Kim Tavendale
Florist : Danette Maas
Videographer : Locker Partners
Transportation Company : Premier Charters
Hair : Kim Jerome

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