A Destination Wedding and How it Strengthened the Sense of Community Back Home

When Draper local Austin Bingham moved to Ohio to work on the campaign of U.S. Representative John Boehner, he did not realize how much it would change his life for the better. One night while country dancing with some friends, he met Christina Rief, a beautiful and ambitious local entrepreneur who owns Wyndrose Stables—a premier dressage facility for horses in Southwest Ohio.

Austin and Christina dated for two years before they realized that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

As they began to plan their wedding, the idea of a destination wedding grew more and more appealing. It did not take long for Italy to become their choice. Austin had served an LDS mission in Milan and Christina said that Italy had always been at the top of her bucket list.

Friends and family were invited, but given the expense, just a small number of family members were able to attend. The couple decided to hold their wedding ceremony in the beautiful port city of Genoa.

Austin and Christina found that planning a destination wedding was easier than they had expected. The only real problem they encountered was that on the day of their wedding, Genoa experienced torrential rain and was completely flooded out. They made some last-minute adjustments and instead got married in the picturesque area known as Cinque Terre—a rugged, yet enchanting portion of the coast of the Italian Riviera consisting of five towns and villages.

“It was everything we had hoped it would be,” reflects Christina on her magical day.

The newlyweds spent the remainder of their honeymoon in Italy. They did something a little unconventional, but as Austin says, “It was one of the best decisions we made.” In each of the cities, they chose a couple of landmarks and had photographs taken in their bride and groom apparel. They had pictures taken while riding in a gondola in Venice, kissing in front of the historic coliseum in Rome and walking hand-in-hand along the quaint cobblestone streets.

Upon their return to the States, the bride’s family hosted a reception in Ohio.

The grooms parents, Pamela and Tab Bingham of Draper, had never planned on throwing a local reception for the couple, but it pained them to know that very few of their dear friends and family had been able to attend either of the wedding events.

The Binghams wanted desperately to pay tribute to the couple, but after the travel expenses to Italy and Ohio, the cost of hosting a local reception proved to be too much. They concluded that a small open house was the best they could do.

As they began to brainstorm with friends and neighbors to see how they could pull off the last-minute event, something remarkable began to happen, or as Pamela described, “That is when the magic began. Our friends began to rally around us in a way that we could never have imagined.” The Binghams were overwhelmed with gratitude as they watched over 25 friends and neighbors volunteer their time, talents and personal items to be used for the reception.

Homes were offered to host the event. Floral arrangements were donated. Centerpieces and tablecloths were provided and countless helping hands rallied to pull off the special celebration.

One of the Binghams’ dear friends offered her event planning skills. Other local friends offered countless items, which had recently been used for their own daughters’ receptions. Tablecloths, picture frames, easels and candlesticks, were delivered and displayed. A local florist and friend created and delivered the floral arrangements and several nine year old girls volunteered to be the servers.

The Binghams reserved the State Capitol Building Rotunda. It proved to be an economical choice and the perfect setting for their politically minded son, Austin—currently a lobbyist for Education First.

On the night of the reception, Pamela said that she would never forget what it was like to watch so many people come together on their behalf. Countless friends donated their time to help setup, facilitate, serve food, and then take down all of the tables, chairs, and decorations. One friend offered to take photos, others manned the photo booth and several just waited around to help clean up.

Pamela says that the humbling outpouring of support made her feel a connection to Draper that changed her life. Friends saw her distress and didn’t turn away and instead rallied to help. Neighbors looked past the fact that it was going to be her son’s third wedding event and instead helped to throw a meaningful celebration for a remarkable couple.

“It was amazing and it created a sense of community that is difficult to describe,” Pamela reflects. “I have never felt such a connection in my heart. It made me proud to be from Draper.”