Sammi Boyd and Matt Mendez tied the knot at Wold Strawberries Oct. 14, 2023. (Photo courtesy Teri Ziegler Photography)
By Zach Jensen,
Sammi Boyd and Matt Mendez aren’t a traditional married couple. The Spring Grove, Minn., couple grew up just five houses apart, were one grade apart in school and were in a relationship together for 10 years before they decided to tie the knot. So, it’s only natural that they wouldn’t have a traditional wedding. Instead, when they got married, they held a celebration for their friends and family — with a few personal touches just for them thrown in for good measure.
Sammi and Matt were married Oct. 14, 2023, at Wold Strawberries in rural Mabel — a place sacred to Matt since he was a young boy.
“I spent almost every day after school on the strawberry farm, because my grandparents (Wayne and Janet Wold) would watch me, when my parents were working,” Matt said. “I just always clung to Wayne’s hip. We were inseparable. So, from the get-go, I knew it was important to have our wedding out there, because without a doubt, it holds such a strong place in my heart. It’s bigger than words.”
“We had to figure out how to get all the parts of the day and the party that we wanted at a farm; not an established venue. So, that was super fun,” Sammi said. “The farm is more representative of us working as a team. We’ve always joked that two of us make one Grandpa. Matt is the hard work and logic side of it, and I’m more of the dreamy green thumb who’s gonna plant whatever I want, because it’s pretty or it sounds fun. We’re the Yin and Yang of production.”
But, just because they had the perfect location picked out, that doesn’t mean that it went off without a hitch. They planned for their wedding to be outside, but it rained prior to their wedding day, which caused a memorable experience in and of itself.
“We called an audible,” Sammi said. “We asked everyone (125 people), except for those that needed a chair, to stand for our ceremony. The weather leading up to our wedding day was super rainy, so it would have caused the chairs to be soaked if they were out overnight, and the chairs would have sunk into the ground.”
Standing for the ceremony wasn’t too difficult, however, because the entire ceremony lasted just two minutes.
“For us, the big part of the wedding was having everyone there, and we wanted that to be highlight of the evening,” said Matt.
“The reason why it was so short is we’ve been together for, it’ll be 10 years this year, all through college, and we lived together,” added Sammi. “We knew people that had gotten together at the same age were getting married, but we wanted to do it our way, and in our hearts, we didn’t need that ceremony.”
The more-personalized ceremony wouldn’t have been complete without the couple’s dog, Poppy, making a contribution of her own.
“She’s our baby,” said Sammi. “She walked down the aisle with my dad and I, about halfway, and I just let her go to go see Matt. And, when we were leaving, my dad handed the leash back to me, and we had just gotten past the end, where everyone was standing, and she had to ‘go’, and so she went. I’d say half the people saw, and everyone was like ‘Oh my gosh’ and thought it was the funniest thing ever.”
“We were talking about it later, and we were like, ‘Well, it happened, but at least it didn’t happen up front, during the exchanging of rings,’” Matt said. “Everyone thought it was hilarious.”
“It was mortifying in the moment, but it’s funny now,” Sammi added.
Also unique to their wedding was the exchanging of their vows. Matt and Sammi exchanged traditional vows during the ceremony, which was officiated by Elliot, Matt’s best friend since childhood, but after the ceremony, when everyone else was at the reception, the newlyweds escaped to a more-private location at which they exchanged the vows they’d written for each other.
“It was just kind of our own moment set aside for just us,” Sammi said.
“I don’t know if we planned it to be like that, but looking back on it now, it was nice,” Matt added. “The whole day up to that point had been so fast paced and nerve-racking that it was nice for us to be able to take a breath and kind of collect ourselves and have a one-on-one moment of just ourselves. It was definitely nice to have that.”
After they exchanged vows, it was time to celebrate, and even their choice of music wasn’t traditional. Instead of a band or DJ, the couple made a playlist using streaming music and played it through amplified speakers.
“We were looking for ways to save money,” Matt said. “We were already spending a fortune. So, I thought, ‘With all the streaming services out there, why don’t we pick music we like?’”
“Part of that is that Matt’s top 10 most-hated songs are the songs played at every wedding ever,” Sammi added, “topped off by ‘Don’t Stop Believin’.’ So, that’s why we started looking at other options.”
Matt explained that they made their own wedding playlist, but they also wanted to play songs their guests liked. So, their invitations contained a QR code, which directed friends and family to the playlist, so they could add songs they liked as well.
And, of course the playlist included “Everglow” by Coldplay — which Sammi and Matt consider ‘their song’, which was the first song to be played at the reception … under a tent on the farm not far from where they exchanged vows.
“In our earlier years, when we were best friends, before we decided to be together, Coldplay was our mutual favorite band,” Sammi said. “We had some other songs that were more like ‘our song’ but weren’t appropriate for our first dance.”
Other songs from what Matt called the “multi-genre playlist” included “Party Rock Anthem” by the band LMFAO, the “I’m a Believer” cover by Smashmouth, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, The Foo Fighters, CCR and more. Additionally, the mother-son dance song was “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty, and the father-daughter dance song was “Only the Strong Survive” by REO Speedwagon.
“The first half of the playlist was tailored to a wider audience, and then, as the night went on, we had more music for younger people,” Matt said. “There wasn’t any rap in the first 20 minutes. It was funny to be outside that night and realize that ‘This is the first time, in the history of the Earth, that this song was played on this piece of land.’”
Sammi said that a big part of what made the night so memorable was their vendors. She said Oak and Olive Flowers of Decorah was their florist, they rented their tents from Decorah Rentals, and Fat Pat’s Brewery of Spring Grove was their caterer. Sammi’s bridal gown was from The Dress by Morgan Lynn of Decorah, and Skies the Limit Events of West Salem, Wis., provided “Gertie”, an old recreational trailer turned into a mobile full-service bar.
“Overall, our vendors were just amazing,” she said. “Some of them were family friends, and some of them are new friends. Going through small, local businesses really makes a difference. The amount of personality and love you see coming through their work, and the friendships and relationships that come out of that, is night and day. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
But, most importantly, the newlyweds agree their favorite part of their special day was celebrating all the people who helped make them who they are today.
“Overall, we wanted it to be ‘our’ day with ‘our’ people,” Sammi said. “Being able to celebrate our love with the people we love in the place we love was the best feeling. We wanted the event to be not formal, not stuffy. We wanted it to be fun. We wanted people to leave it and look back and remember how fun it was.”
“We wanted our wedding to be a time to celebrate the people we care about, who have helped us grow and develop over the years and have that be the focus,” Matt added. “Our families guided us, taught us and molded us to make us who we are today, and they also made our wedding what it was. So, our wedding was more about celebrating them.”
“We will both remember the overwhelming outpouring of positivity and love from everyone attending,” Sammi added. “It was such a special feeling.”
Additional photos in the February 6 Driftless Journal.