Okoboji is the start of Joel and Regan’s story! Not just where they were born, but where they fell in love!
When the two were trying to pick the perfect location for their wedding day, it all came down to home. West Lake Okoboji – the heart of their story! “We were looking around where we lived in Colorado and nothing felt right, until we thought of Okoboji,” Regan shared. “Okoboji is where our story starts. It’s where we got engaged and our families both live there. It just felt special to have our wedding back home in Okoboji.”
June 2, 2023, is a day forever engraved in both Joel and Regan’s hearts - a day when they became Joel and Regan Guthrie. A day where a beautiful princess walked down the aisle to her handsome prince.
Both grew up in the Iowa Great Lakes area, with Joel graduating from Okoboji in 2011 and Regan from Spirit Lake in 2012. Like many from the area, employment opportunities abounded for high school and college students. Joel and Regan initially connected at the Barefoot Bar, where they both worked.
Joel was a manager, while Regan bussed tables. During college, the two officially met and started dating. Any free time was often spent back at the Lakes. Joel attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids before moving out to Colorado. Regan was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design in Los Angeles. Over the next five years, she would spend time in places like LA and New York City for her fashion career, and Joel supported her throughout each step.
“We lived long distance for five years, so really had to get to know each other in a different way than most,” she said. “Then we got to the point of who moves so we can be together. I took the leap and took the chance and moved to CO. It took a year, but then we knew that we were the ones for each other.”
Initially, Joel was attracted to Regan for her physical beauty. As they got to know each other, he was drawn to her sense of humor and adventure.
“She has the type of beauty normally out of grasp for a boy like me,” he said. “She is also always willing to go and do the unknown and laugh along the way. I was also attracted to her emotional maturity and ability to not get distracted and caught up in life’s little detours.”
On paper, Regan says the two wouldn’t have met or probably stayed together. She said they’re vastly different and their hobbies are opposites, but the couple is a perfect fit and works hard to enjoy each other’s favorites. Regan loves fashion and design – culture and city – while Joel prefers outdoor space and hiking and hunting. He prefers the small town or being on the outskirts, near the mountain. Regan loves a busy, crowded restaurant and the hustle and bustle of city life.
“However, we both love to travel, go to concerts, try new restaurants and be active,” she said. “You find common areas and enjoy each other’s favorites together. Joel has always been my biggest cheerleader. I speed him up, he slows me down and holds me accountable. Most of all, he makes me laugh.”
Their fairytale romance continued to blossom, and it quickly became apparent that they were meant to be together. On a visit back to Iowa, Joel enlisted the help of Regan’s friend Mackenzie Veldman to ask the BIG question!
“The Lakes area is where we were both born and raised and have shared memories together. With that, I thought we should continue our memories here and start a new chapter of where it all began,” Joel said. “Knowing I’m not great at planning, I pitched my idea to Mack, and she helped me put it all together.”
On a night where Regan thought she was having a girls’ night out with friends, Joel waited on Veldman’s dock overlooking the north end of West Lake. Mackenzie was hiding and ready to take pictures, when Joel completely surprised Regan and asked the question, “Will you marry me?!”
Regan didn’t realize that her parents had known. Joel had ridden along with her father on a work call a day before and that’s when they discussed engagement and desired marriage.
“He wanted to do it in person, so he took time to talk to both my dad and mom. My brother grilled him too,” she said with a smile.
After the special moment, the couple went back into Veldman’s house and had champagne with excited family and close friends, before going to Yesterday’s to continue their celebration.
As the couple discussed wedding plans and the location, nothing felt right to them except having their special day at Okoboji. “It’s where our story started!” Joel said.
Regan relied on her mother Karla to do a lot of the in-person planning around the Lakes area. She came home as much as she could but also depended on email and phone calls to finalize decisions.
Her desire for their special day was to embrace Okoboji life. The ceremony was where they had their first date and she wanted to include the lake.
“Our love story involves Okoboji lakes life and so I elevated that idea and planned the day to be a bit glamorous. It was like an elevated yacht chic type of feel for a wedding,” Regan explained.
Regan found her gorgeous wedding dress in Denver. Karla had come to town so the two went shopping for a dress. It wasn’t a dress Regan initially planned to get, especially when her first thoughts hadn’t been a traditional wedding dress. However, she found the one, and it was unlike anything she had dreamed of! Israeli designer Liz Martinez was having a trunk show with her newest collection of gowns in Denver, and Regan tried on a number of different dresses.
“Everyone in the shop said you have to have that one,” she said. “I went back and forth but always felt called back to this dress. It was perfect! We Facetimed friends and family and they loved the long, big, poofy sleeves and embroidery. It was so me.”
Regan said she followed several wedding bloggers and utilized Pinterest for inspiration. Her idea of having their wedding on the Queen II came from a post she saw of an Australian couple having a yacht wedding.
“I loved the whole vibe and drew inspiration from them,” she said. “While I’ve attended beautiful weddings all over the country, our wedding was so different than anyone else’s and we loved every part.” Some of the little touches Regan added to the day were personalized napkins, a cigar bar, and lining the ground with beautiful flowers.
It was the day! Everything was planned and it was time for the next chapter in the Guthrie fairy tale story!
Regan began getting ready for the day at 10 a.m. They didn’t have a traditional wedding party, so her mom Karla and some of her friends hung out with her. Kylie Clare Photography out of Des Moines captured all the special moments. The first look and family photos were taken at The Inn Hotel in Arnolds Park, before they all gathered for the ceremony at Gull Point. Everything about the day was “Embrace the Okoboji Life!”
“We included details throughout the day with things we love about Okoboji. Like, our first date was at Gull Point. Our love story is Okoboji Lake Life and we just elevated it a bit and made the day a bit more glamourous,” Regan exclaimed.
The ceremony was held at Gull Point State Park, where a cocktail hour followed and included a violinist, champagne, a lakeside charcuterie table, and a cigar bar. Regan said it was a beautiful garden party in front of the lake, with the guests in guest formal.
“This allowed us to relax and talk to more people,” she said.
Joel’s favorite memory of the day was their car ride from The Inn to Gull Point for the ceremony. His good friends the Dubois’ lent them their 1967 Camero. “It was so nice to have time alone with my bride and have the windows down in a classic muscle car,” he added.
The couple’s reception was held on the Queen II, which featured signature cocktails, food from the Ritz, and a live band. Bloomsie Flowers in Spirit Lake did all the beautiful, whimsical flowers for the day, transporting them from Gull Point to the boat. Boji Balloon Bar had balloons displayed and the Nutty Bar Stand provided the dessert.
“The flowers were green and white and fit both places just perfectly. The entire feel was whimsical and garden,” she said. “The reception was a ton of fun! We just danced and enjoyed ourselves, while the boat cruised around for three hours! It was everything us – Okoboji lake life!”
After their cruise, the wedding party went to Captains and later stayed at The Inn. Later, the couple enjoyed viewing the night through their guests through disposable cameras. “It was the perfect day with beautiful weather! The whole day felt so special,” Regan said.
Enjoying their Life Together
Joel and Regan said to especially enjoy the special day and even the process leading up to the wedding. “Everything goes by in such a blur, and it’s done,” Regan shared. “You plan so much and then you want it to slow down. Enjoy every moment.”
She also said unplanned things will happen, but you just have to let it be and enjoy the day.
In Colorado, Joel is a project manager for 970 Services, a roofing and restoration company. Regan owns her own business, The Wardrobe Edit by Regan. After her experience, she’s thought about adding a wedding package to her services.
Regan says Joel is her best friend and is so thankful for her prince. They are learning the value of communication, from dating to marriage and hopefully children in the future.
“Having good communication in a relationship is super important. Something you always have to work on,” she added.
Joel’s advice for newlyweds is something he heard his grandfather say when he was 15-years-old. “I overheard him tell one of my uncles, ‘Sometimes in marriage one of you has to shut your mouth,’” he remembered. “Coming from a man that jumped out of perfectly good airplanes during WWII and was married for 50+ years I listened when he spoke. That one quote has stuck with me not only in marriage, but in daily life. Somethings we need to set our ego aside when it comes to us wanting to be ‘Right.’”
In October, the couple enjoyed a beautiful honeymoon in Tuscany, Italy.