By the end of their 4.5 mile hike through the National Glacier Park in Northern Montana, Drew Scarff and Mariah Martin were exhausted.
The pair had trekked through snow up to their thighs from a storm that blew in a week prior. Trails were completely obscured by several feet of white powder and all that was left were the prints of bears and cougars, who roamed the wilderness the couple were attempting to navigate.
“It was exhausting. I was like, ‘Let the bears eat me, I don’t care,’” Mariah said of the hike.
“I just kept telling her, ‘We’re almost there, just a little further,’” Drew said.
Eventually the Mt. Pleasant residents would find their way to a clearing in front of Grinnell Lake, surrounded by the Montana mountains. While Mariah was distracted and taking a picture with a special teddy bear made in honor of her late brother, Drew quietly grabbed the ring he had placed in Mariah’s own backpack.
He got down on one knee. “Will you marry me?” he asked.
“I wanted to do it in a unique way … but really what it was about is having an excuse to go back to Montana someday,” he joked.
While the proposal itself was a surprise, Mariah noted that she was anticipating something to happen during the trip.
“I didn’t know, but in my head, I was like, ‘If he doesn’t, I’m going to be pretty mad,’” she said, laughing.
The proposal on Oct. 6, 2018 marked five years together for the couple. But, while the Henry County natives only began seriously dating in their twenties, their love story actually started at a high school New Year’s Eve party.
Drew, who is now about to turn 30, said Mariah made the first move in their relationship.
“She was about 17 and I was about 19 … she made the first move, actually. I think she Facebooked me after we met and we just kept talking throughout the years,” Drew said.
“It’s sort of funny because I remember telling my friend at that party, ‘I’m going to marry that guy, he’s so handsome,’” Mariah added.
From their first meeting, the pair went their separate ways, attending different colleges, but kept in contact before reuniting in Mt. Pleasant in 2013.
“We decided to hang out one night and have been together ever since,” Mariah said. “We just sort of knew.”
Following the proposal, the couple planned the wedding a year out, tying the knot on Oct. 19, 2019 at the First Presbyterian Church in Fairfield and hosting their reception at the Fairfield Convention Center. Their wedding date was just one day shy of their six-year anniversary as a couple.
“We had a really good time. It goes by so fast,” Drew said of the wedding day.
The couple invited over 250 guests to celebrate with them and spent most of the evening dancing and having a good time with loved ones. To the guests, the reception and wedding seemed to go by without a hitch but for Mariah and Drew, many of the most essential elements of their wedding came together at the last minute.
“Somehow we pulled it all off. Everything just miraculously came together,” Mariah said.
Mariah, who works as a hair stylist and makeup artist, did the bulk of the planning.
“I said, ‘You can have it whichever way you want it … just keep it cheap,” Drew said of his part.
To keep costs low, Mariah traded her own hair styling and makeup services to other vendors, as well as handmade many of her decorations. Drew also utilized his carpentry skills to help build some of the larger decoration pieces.
Mariah credits her florist, Amanda Smith, from Myers Tree Farm in Sperry, for helping her conceptualize and come up with the look for her reception. Going into planning, the bride-to-be didn’t have a vision for what she wanted her wedding to look like.
“I had a Pinterest board but everything I had, I didn’t like any of it. So it was like starting all over,” she said.
Mariah’s biggest concern was “doing the same thing everyone else was doing.”
“It was always a lot of white, they always served pulled-pork ... I wanted it to be different,” she explained.
Ultimately, Mariah decided on a Bohemian style, which included decorative arrangements that heavily featured pampas grass and unique table centerpieces with clusters of colorful flowers. The wedding’s color scheme included shades of wine and taupe, which matched the groom and the groomsmen’s denim blue suits and vests, as well as Mariah’s dress, which included a light blue detachable piece in the front. The couple also found ways to individualize their wedding with fun fall-themed food like providing a caramel apple bar and pumpkin-flavored sweets.
“It was really stressful, getting everything in order,” she said.
“You sort of book all the big things like the venue, catering, photographer and DJ ahead of time. There are a few months where nothing’s really going on, and then the last couple of months are crazy,” Mariah said.
While the pair had their wedding in Fairfield, the Mt. Pleasant residents utilized many businesses local to Henry County, including Little Mexico Restaurant as well as Portable Playlist DJ & Karaoke.
But even with the big pieces of the wedding booked ahead of time, the couple worked up until the last minute to finish decorations. Drew remembers crafting the wedding party’s table centerpiece the night before the wedding, as well as asking for a helping hand from his father to construct an entryway photo backdrop for guests as they entered the reception hall. Mariah and her florist decorated the Convention Center with their handmade center pieces the day before the wedding as well.
Perhaps the most stressful last-minute item to come together was the groomsmen’s outfits.
“We ordered them online three months before the wedding and when they came, some of them didn’t fit. Literally the day before, I had to take some guys to Walmart to buy shirts,” Drew explained.
Mariah’s dress shopping was similarly hectic. The bride spotted a new dress by designer Hayley Paige on Instagram that was not yet available in stores.
“The only place that actually carried the designer was in Wisconsin or Kansas City. So when I went to Kansas City, I had to call ahead of time to make sure that it was there when I was there. It was the dress off the runway. I tried on a few dresses because I knew, if I put that on, I wasn’t going to put any other dress on,” she said.
Because the dress was so new, the bride-to-be had to wait until the dress was shipped out to stores in late-July.
“After they shipped it to my store, they had to ship it to me and it came in August ... after I did the fitting, it was like a week before the wedding, so do-or-die,” Mariah noted.
But even with the stress of planning, Drew and Mariah only recall happy memories from their wedding day.
“It all clicked and came together almost seamlessly on the day,” Mariah said.
“I remember walking down the aisle and the both of us were tearing up … I remember wanting it to go by slower and to last forever because you put so much effort into planning this one day that you want it to last forever,” she continued.