Real Life Ranch Wife

Shotgun Wedding Checklist

I look online and see pictures of beautiful Western weddings and can’t help but wonder — does nobody have shotgun weddings anymore?

We didn’t have an actual checklist, but here are the elements of our wedding on August 16th, 2012.

I look online and see pictures of beautiful Western weddings with scenic mountain backdrops and hand-carved leather everything and can’t help but wonder — does nobody have a shotgun wedding in Reno on a random Thursday night anymore? This month marks 11 years of marriage to my cowboy husband, and we got our start at a walk-in chapel at 10:30 p.m. But he still comes home every night after work, and I always leave the door unlocked, so I guess it worked out.

There were five main elements of our wedding.

Wedding colors

Can “clean” be a color? Jim went to work that morning, then changed into a clean white shirt, fresh from my ironing board, his best Cinch jeans, and a custom felt cowboy hat delivered the day before. If the UPS guy hadn’t arrived on time, Jim would have married me wearing either his dirty, sweat-stained work hat or a Clayton Edsall ball cap. We like Clayton just fine, but I feel like I dodged a bullet on that one.

Guest list

We opted to keep the ceremony simple and attended by just the bride, groom and an officiant, who looked kinda like Elvis. My new husband met my dad the day after we got married, and I met my in-laws four months later holding a 6-day-old baby in a snowstorm. I was standing indoors, but every time the door opened, a blast of frigid December air blew inside the trailer house, and my mother-in-law yelled at whoever opened the door. It was stressful.  

Wedding day transportation

It’s not a popular choice, but we opted for an 18-year-old Dodge pickup pulling a 20-foot stock trailer with no brake lights. I understand why most people would not choose this rig for their big day because we definitely were on the receiving end of a few honks and hand gestures while driving through Reno traffic, and they were not congratulating us on our upcoming nuptials.


We had a “no-ring ceremony,” which I didn’t know was an actual thing until I showed up at a chapel without wedding rings to exchange with my betrothed. I already wore a pawn shop ring Jim had bought me the month before, and we decided to hold off on purchasing him a ring because we had no money. Later that year, I saw a sign in a jewelry store in Elko advertising 50% off gold rings while grocery shopping, so I bought one, had the inside engraved, then surprised him back at the house.

The ring snagged on his saddle, and he almost lost his finger while roping one day, so he took it off and replaced it with a tattoo. I probably should have just bought him a rib steak instead.

Honeymoon destination

We didn’t hop on a plane and jet off to a sandy beach for a week after saying, “I do.” For our honeymoon, we went to work. It was a northern Nevada cow outfit, so sand was indeed everywhere, but it didn’t have quite the same effect since the wind was blowing it in Jim’s face at 40 mph while he held rodear. 

As for me, I spent the weeks before and after our wedding scrubbing animal feces and more out of the house we planned to bring our baby home to in four months. More on that in my upcoming book, Never Burn Your Moving Boxes.

What details stand out about your wedding day years later? Share your memories in the comments below, because lasting love (no matter how it starts) is always worth celebrating.

1 thought on “Shotgun Wedding Checklist”

  1. Unequivocally hilarious is the incident of the ring. Anyone who read this would not meet the good man for the first time without laughing to death


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