Hi I’m Hannah Gallardi. I’m 24, turning 25 this year and slightly freaking out about that *if you’re over 25 reading this, don’t laugh at me, I’m sure you felt the same way lol I’m born and raised in Arizona, have never gotten used to our summer heat. I currently live in Phoenix. I work at the University I graduated from, Grand Canyon University, enrolling for our nurse practitioner programs. I am a few months away from graduating with my masters, finally! Getting my masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Just a fancy term for HR or business consulting. Not sure if I’ll use the degree or not but its been really interesting and would be a career I’d like to be in, depending on when we have kids. We just got our first dog together, so currently she is my hobby…just obsessed with her and hanging out with her. My husband and I really enjoy finding new restaurants in Phoenix, bike riding downtown, going on small day trips to Sedona, Payson, Flagstaff, etc. Always love going to California, my husband is from there so it’s a very frequent travel spot for us, and we just love the beach. I do high school ministery at my church and LOVE my small group girls and the girls in the high school group, I have so much fun with them! I’m a big sports fan, except my husband favorite sport, basketball haha I enjoy lots of Netflix also! And just hanging out with my family and my husband!
Our Love Story
Our story begins in Williams, Arizona on August 11th, 2015. Elijah and I were both there for a leadership retreat with Grand Canyon Univeristy. On our last night at the camp, he sat down for dinner at my table. This wasn’t his regular table, and he sat right across from me. I was captivated by his long hair and amazing smile and he says my eyes and smile had him intrigued and apparently so nervous he couldn’t remember my name haha (took him 3 or 4 times to remember). All night Eli was trying to keep conversation with me and I kept trying to seem fun to this adventurous California guy. I ended up losing a dare (on purpose) and having to sing Living on a Prayer on stage in front of the whole dining room (over 500 people from our college lol). I thought it might impress him-no idea why haha. The night ended and we both felt that we had to find each other when we got to campus. I was busy running events during Welcome Week at GCU but every night during Welcome Week, Eli and I “ran into” each other. Little did I know that he had planned all our random run ins. He planned these “random” run ins quite often throughout the first month of school. We finally exchanged numbers and as months went on, we continued to hangout and go on walks, some lasting until the next morning-no joke one morning, we were on the balcony of one of the classroom buildings and Eli’s alarm went off to get up for work, we had no idea, just so intrigued in conversation. We somehow would never run out of things to talk about, always wanting to know more about each other. That is something that hasn’t changed since we started dating. Over the last two years and some odd months, we have grown together as a couple and encouraged each other to grow with God. We have tried to put God first in everything. We have learned to love each other through hard stages we have faced and learned to laugh more then we ever thought possible. We have gone on some fun adventures and are always planning for more! We dated for 4 months before we both said we wanted to marry each other. We wanted until Eli graduated before getting engaged, so about a year and half into the relationship.
Oh man the engagement is my favorite story! As most girls do, I dreamed of the man I would marry and the life we would build together. Sometimes I would think about how I would be proposed to, but never in my dreams could I have imagined something as sentimental and sweet as Eli planned.
I woke up on May 6th thinking I was going to a bridal shower–little did I know the events that would unfold. My mom and I got out of the car at what I thought was the house for the bridal shower. As I was getting items out of the car, I heard my brother, Adam, (who I thought was in Wisconsin) say “Hey Ding” (his nickname for me). I hugged him so hard and started crying, knowing what he was in town for- I told Eli that he couldnt propose unless my brother was in town. I was then blindfolded by my dad and got back into the car with my dad and brother. When we got to our destination, my dad and brother held my hand as we walked. We stopped and my dad said “Now your brother and I get to walk you to your future” and prayed with me, telling me how much they both approve of this man and how they both trust that he is the one for me. (Trust me, I was crying A LOT). We walked a little more and my dad then took off my blind fold. I opened my eyes to the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Instantly, I began asking if I was at the Wright House. The Wright House was where my parents were married in 1992, they were the second couple to EVER get married there. It was a breath taking view with Eli at the alter. I walked towards him, unable to make myself run to him. He held my hands and told me how he had dreamed of this day since he met me. Told me that he wanted to always pursue me and love me how God intended for. He told me he wanted us always to put God first and reminded me that we wouldn’t be standing at the Wright House without God’s love. Then he got down on one knee and pulled out the prettiest ring I have ever seen! I SAID YES! After, my great grandma (who’s 104), grandma, mom, dad, and brother were there to hug us both. Not to mention two of my best friends taking pictures and videoing the day (seriously, he thought of everything). Then Eli took me over to the exact spot that my parents said their vows and read me a letter he had written, which was basically what he said when he was proposing. I had told him beforehand that I wanted him to write down what he wanted to say in that moment because I knew I’d never remember. We then went to Tempe Town Lake-where he first asked me to be his girlfriend and had a mini engagement session. After that, we went to my house which to my surprise was FULL of all of our closest friends and family for the sweetest engagement party ever! It was a magical day and I am so thankful for Eli and all the thought and planning he put into making that day so special for us!
Short story on the ring.. The center diamond was originally a diamond earring that my grandma wore that she then gave to my dad when he was in his band in Hollywood (not many girls can say their dad also wore their diamond haha). Fast forward a few years, my mom’s original wedding ring center diamond fell out shortly after being married. For their 5 year anniversary, my dad had that diamond put in her wedding ring. He blindfolded her and took her to the Wright House and gave her the ring. How sweet! My mom told me a few years ago that I could have her center diamond for my wedding ring. So when it came time, my mom gave Eli the diamond. When Eli planned our engagement, he had no idea that my mom was also blindfolded and taken to the Wright House to get the diamond that is now in my ring. God is so good and so intentional with us and our stories! My mom actually found the setting that we used. It was at a custom jeweler my mom has gone to for years. The original setting at the store, had a bigger chocolate diamond, so they added the small halo and then my diamond. So I knew what the setting sort of looked like beforehand but didn’t entirely know what it would look like with the elevated halo and my diamond.
Let’s Talk Wedding Planning
Wedding Date, Geographical Location, Venue
Venue: Whispering Tree Ranch
October 5th, 2017
For our venue, I actually wanted to just go in the middle of the woods and get married but that didn’t fit with having a reception and traveling guests lol. We also decided to have a short engagement, it was about 5 months roughly. So our first priority with venue shopping was the cost. The next was the feel, I still wanted to keep that forresty feel to the wedding. Our venue had a whimsical feel that we added “forresty” things to lol. With the wedding date, we just wanted to be married so we picked the soonest we could, without it being too hot in Arizona and made sure my brother could make it-he was playing college hockey in Wisconsin at the time, and made sure it worked with our officiant. We looked at around 3 venues, ours included.
The guest count was made a little easier by the venue, they had a 125 cap. So that was our guest count. My now husband and I only invited family that he and I had met, we didn’t want a ton of third cousins that we never knew existed until that day. We also wanted to keep a smaller guest count to be intentional with the people we chose. When it came down to the last few spots, we asked ourselves, will these people be people we go to when our marriage is hard? Are these friends that will be in our lives in 10 years? That really helped us with prioritizing things. But it was hard, I think both my husband and I wished we could have had 150, that seemed like the number we always got when we wrote down who we’d want there but just had to limit it. But we did enjoy the small intimateness that the smaller guest count brought. We actually got to talk to every one of our guests which we both loved.
What was your wedding budget?
Oh the budget. Our budget was $10,000, from my parents. That was all they could afford. At first we were trying to keep track of everything but after a while it was so hard because there was so many random little purchases that we’d make. I paid for the photographer on my own, that would’ve broke the budget,but she was a must have! She was my old high school small group leader and is just simply amazing!!! I also paid for the flowers and greenery. I’m sure we went over the $10,000, just on small things that we didn’t pay attention to necessarily. Our venue also provided A TON of decorations. We really only brought a few signs, and a few table decorations but they had a lot of what we used for the wedding is it made it easier to have a smaller budget.
How did you prioritize your budget, what factors were most important to you?
I don’t think we necessarily prioritized the budget, we kept everything pretty simple. My husband and I are simple and the venue supplied SO much stuff for us that we just had to get the basics. The venue: which came with food, and the DJ, dessert–we had two 2 pound donuts stacked for our wedding cake and had donuts for dessert, alcohol, photographer, videographer, flowers and greenery, my dress and accessories, we had a photo booth trailer we used, and the favors.
What was your overall vision or theme?
Overall vision was just creating a forresty whimsical feel to the venue and the wedding.
If you had to describe your wedding style in one word what would it be?
How did you find your vendors?
For vendors, our venue had a few choices for food vendors, and for DJ vendors. For catering, we just went with the vendor that we liked their menu the best. They were amazing! For the DJ, one was super hard to get ahold of and the other was so well prepared and SO responsive! We loved them! We met with the food vendor about 2 months before the wedding and we met twice with the DJ; once to meet them, go over what they offered, talk through how they run the weddings etc. the second meeting we went through the guide they had us fill out of the flow of the wedding, names, games, songs etc. For our photographer, I grew up with her and she’s just amazing, I’ve always wanted her to photograph my wedding day. For our videographer, he was a recommendation from a friend who used him for their wedding. For the photobooth, my mom found her on Instagram and fell in love with the trailer! For the donuts, they’re just really good donuts and my husband and I didn’t want a cake and while we were in the donut store one day, they talked about a 2 pound giant donut they make and we both knew that we needed it. For flowers, my mom had heard about them from other friends who used them and we had a family friend put together all of the greenery, bouquets and boutonnieres, she’s AMAZING. *All vendors will be linked below in the details section*
How did you design your table layout & decor?
Lots of pinterest, and my mom. She had a great vision for what I was wanting. Our venue supplied vases, table clothes or runners, vintage place settings, and a few other things I cant remember. We just added greenery and some flowers.
How involved was your fiancé in the planning process?
He was involved with everything, he didn’t always have an opinion on things, like the donut flavoring or the flowers but he just wanted to know what the plan was. He wanted to be at the meetings with the DJs, the vendors etc. He wanted to see everything but he wasn’t picky about much, just okay with whatever I wanted really.
Did you use a wedding planner?
We had a day of wedding planner. She is a family friend that I grew up with and she was AMAZING! She went to the meeting with the venue-after we picked them. They had a meeting to go over everything we wanted to use from them, the flow of the wedding, etc. She was there for the rehearsal, walking us through everything, she was a buffer for me and my mom as well. She handled any issues that came the few days leading up to the wedding. The day of, she did everything! She organized the decorations, along with another family friend. She made sure my husband and I never saw each other. The venue also had a day of planner there too.
Did you have a Day-of Coordinator present on the day of your wedding?
Oops answered that above. Yes she was great!! I never knew there was any issue at all. Apparently, everyone was late to the wedding because of an accident, including the donuts and the photobooth, and all the guests lol one of the groomsmen forgot their tie, we started like 20-30 minutes late, no idea! She was amazing!
Did you guys do a “First Look”, or did your fiancé see you for the first time walking down to aisle?
We didn’t do a first look. I was really happy that we didn’t. I had never worn a white dress my whole life, purposefully for my wedding day so it was important Eli hadn’t seen me before it was time to get married and he didn’t want to see me before either. I would do it again if we had to, it was the best just seeing his face for the first time that day as I walked towards him, it was so sweet! I think I would’ve wanted a little bit more time with our pictures but if we would’ve started on time, we would’ve had more time for that.
What would you recommend as “must have pictures” for future brides?
I wanted pictures with my dad before the wedding, we did our own first look and it was so precious! That was one of the major big ones for me, other than that our photographer had a list of pictures she normally takes and we basically said yes or no to those, with family members and such.
Did you have a videographer?
YES! SO DANG HAPPY with our videographer! I mean really, he’s just AMAZING!
Escort Cards or Seating chart?
We did have a seating chart, our family friend made all the name cards-seriously family friends are amazing!
What song did you choose for your first dance?
Eli had our first dance song playing when I walked to him when he proposed, which we actually didn’t realize when we picked the song. We both just loved the lyrics. It was Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran.
Buffet or sit down meal?
It was buffet, we had tacos! So amazing! We had time to eat but neither of us were hungry haha we just wanted to talk to everyone.
Live music or DJ?
We had a DJ, Amani Jae Entertainment, seriously they’re the best! They are so professional, were so prepared, asked us things we hadn’t even thought about and they were so responsive and just wanted to make sure the day was everything we wanted.
Cake or Desserts?
Top 3 most memorable moments of your wedding day
First look with my dad, seeing Eli for the first time and our first dance.
One thing that made your wedding unique or something special and personal you added to your day that stands out from other weddings.
We washed each others feet, and took communion. I had also been writing in a journal to my future husband for 10 years and hadn’t told anyone but family about it until the wedding day. Our pastor does an amazing job of telling our stories and blending them together and in the story he included the journal and I wrote my vows in the journal and explained it a bit before I started.
Total months planning?
About 5 months, our first few months were the most active. We had everything planned within 3 months. It wasn’t too stressful. What was stressful was certain issues that came up, and just needing to be on top of things quickly.
What was one thing that you had difficulties with during your planning and how did you overcome it? & What was one of the easier things for you to plan?
We didn’t have a ton of difficulties with planning, for us there was family issues that causes stress for Eli and I. The easy thing to plan was probably the venue, well picking the venue. It had everything we wanted and then some!
One thing you wish you knew when you were planning your wedding?
I wish I remembered that certain things just weren’t important. Towards the end I was caring about the silliest things like table placements and such. No one really cares where they sit at a wedding, theyre just happy to be there!
Anything you would have done different?
The only thing I can think of that I would do different is make sure our invitations were at least 30 minutes early. So if the wedding was starting at 5, have the invites say 4:30. Our venue told us to do this and we just forgot when we ordered them. But if we would’ve, we would’ve started on time and had more time for things.
One thing that helped you stay stress free throughout your planning and on your wedding day?
My husband, really he was great! He would take me outside and just hug me and remind me that he gets to marry me in __ days and that he loves me and he just wants to marry me and nothing else matters. Other than that, I just worked out a lot haha on the wedding day, I was the calmest I have ever been in my whole life! It was the weirdest thing. I kept trying to get anxious or nervous and it wouldn’t come. My maid of honor kept asking how I was because I was just quiet and content, I was just so sure about Eli that I didn’t have a care in the world.
Did you go on a honeymoon? If so, where to? Did you go right after the wedding or wait?
YES! Honeymoon is the best thing ever given to a newlywed couple haha we went to Puerto Penasco, friends gifted us their condo down there, so amazing! We went 2 days after the wedding, we stayed at a resort in Phoenix until we left for Mexico. Originally my Eli wanted to plan it without me having a clue where we were going, I would find out when we got to the airport. But about 2 months before the wedding, he got in a car accident and so the funds he had for the honeymoon went to that unfortunately but so thankful for sweet friends that gifted us the best honeymoon ever!
Last but not least if you could give ONE piece of advice to a bride-to-be planning her wedding what would it be??
Don’t stress. Seriously, I know it seems like the most stressful thing ever, but it isn’t. It’s about you and the love of your life getting married. That’s the most important thing, nothing else comes before that. And just remind yourself of that. People will enjoy the day no matter what, and ultimately it’s about the marriage you’re entering, not the wedding you’re having for 8 hours. And just have fun! You’re only engaged for so long, you’re only fiances for so long! Have fun with it!
Hannah & Eli’s Happily Ever After
We are just living life now. We got our first puppy in January and are just loving life with our little goldendoole. My husband got a new job, which he wont be starting until the end of summer but excited for this career move and job start really. I also tell people that this season for us is just so fun! I really never thought I could love Eli more than I did on our wedding day but holy cow! We just have so much fun with so many new experiences together, like brushing your teeth together before bed? Seriously the best, we just laugh A LOT and have learned so much about each other and have fought and cried but become better and closer because of it all.
Venue & Catering & Rentals: Whispering Tree Ranch // Wedding Dress: Designer – Mia Solano purchased at Luv Bridal // Photography: Kelsie Pinkerton // Videography: Cody Carlson // Florals: Arizona Flower Market // Donut & Donut Wall: Hurts Donuts // Photo Booth: Phoenix Photo Camper // DJ: Amani Jae Entertainment
To see more pictures from Hannah’s whimsical wedding, keep scrolling!
A love hotter than the Arizona heat, Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Gallardi!