The Peterson wedding party poses under the willow tree on the bride’s family farm. The willow holds special memories of the bride and her father. From left, are Carly Benson, Danette Hoff, Brandy McDonald, Kayla Otterness, Nicole Stene, Chelsey Peterson, Hunter Peterson, Mitchel Boice, Jacob Johnson, Adam McDonald, Brayden Hebl and Cody Hackbarth.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LULUBELLE PHOTOGRAPHY
The Peterson wedding party poses under the willow tree on the bride’s family farm. The willow holds special memories of the bride and her father. From left, are Carly Benson, Danette Hoff, Brandy McDonald, Kayla Otterness, Nicole Stene, Chelsey Peterson, Hunter Peterson, Mitchel Boice, Jacob Johnson, Adam McDonald, Brayden Hebl and Cody Hackbarth. PHOTO COURTESY OF LULUBELLE PHOTOGRAPHY
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When Hunter Peterson asked Chelsey Johnson to be his wife, there was no question in her mind where the ceremony would take place.

“We had our wedding at the farm I grew up on, out by the windmill. I had always wanted to get married on the farm,” said Chelsey.

It seemed like the perfect fit, as both had grown up in the country.

Chelsey is the daughter of Elaine Johnson and the late David Johnson of Mabel, and Hunter is the son of Ron and Michelle Peterson and grew up on a farm outside of Lewiston.

Meeting up

The couple met while they were both attending Southeast Technical College in Winona.

“I remember the first day we met … It was after class one day and our friends wanted to go to Erbert and Gerberts to have lunch,” recalled Chelsey.

A few weeks later, Chelsey saw Hunter again when they were out with the same friends.

“That night after I got home, I received a message from an unknown number. As I responded 'Who is this?' I got a message back saying 'Adam Sandler' … and that is where it all began,” said Chelsey.

Popping the question

Soon after receiving the text from “Adam Sandler,” the couple started dating.

On their four-year anniversary, Dec. 8, of 2016, Chelsey was surprised when she looked across the valley where they live and saw the words “Be My Wife?” illuminated in Christmas lights.

“As I looked down into the valley, there he was on one knee in front of me,” she said.

Indian summer

Chelsey said they both liked the idea of having a fall wedding, but they also wanted an outdoor wedding.

They settled on the end of September and hoped it wouldn't be too cold. 

“To our surprise, it was one of the hottest days of summer. I believe it was a high of 93 degrees. Luckily we had a good breeze and no rain,” said Chelsey, adding they brought in a few umbrellas and coolers full of water at the last minute so the 100 guests at the ceremony could stay cool.

Chelsey said her personal attendants – cousin Laura Wilford and friend Lindsey Curran – made sure everyone kept hydrated, and knew exactly where things needed to be throughout the big day.

Chelsey said the only potential hazard – which no one told her about until after the fact – was that a skunk had apparently taken up residence near a big oak tree right near the site of the ceremony.

“Luckily, it went away in time for the ceremony, and it never sprayed!” she said.

Helping hands

Chelsey said in addition to having the wedding in her dream location, family and friends added many accents to make the event extremely special.

“Hunter made the wood benches that we used for seating at the ceremony and the ring box my nephew used to carry the rings to Pastor Mary (Waudby). He also made the wedding cake and cupcake stand, and also the card box, all out of wood,” said Chelsey.

“My father in-law grew the pumpkins and wheat for the decorations. My aunt, Pauline Vigeland, took care of all of the plants and flowers for the decorations. She definitely has a green thumb! We crafted a variety of different center piece arrangements that contained pumpkins, deer horns and wood,” she said.

Hunter's cousin, Elvis impersonator Brad Boice, sang at the ceremony.

Nostalgic themes

Chesley said two important themes during the ceremony were the windmill, which can be seen in the distance across the field out of the back window of the house where Chelsey grew up, and the willow tree.

“My mom and dad planted the willow tree when they first moved to the farm. The tree has given me many memories of the farm: having picnics under the tree, swinging from the branches on top of snow piles, the tire swing … and we kids would lie on a blanket with our dad under the tree,” said Chelsey.

The ceremony

The wedding, which took place Sept. 23, 2017, included many friends and family.

Maid of honor was Nicole Stene, sister of the bride, and best man was Mitchel Boice, cousin of the groom.

Bridesmaids included Kayla Otterness, friend of the bride; Brandy McDonald, sister of the groom; Danette Hoff, friend of the bride; and Carly Benson, friend of the bride.

Chelsey's mother, Elaine, walked her down the aisle. 

Groomsmen included Jacob Johnson, brother of the bride; Adam McDonald, brother-in-law of the groom; Brayden Hebel, friend of the groom; and Cody Hackbarth, friend of the groom.

Flower girls were Nora McDonald, niece of the groom, and Gabrielle Stene, niece of the bride.

Ring bearers were Kannen and Dylan Stene, nephews of the bride.

Ushers included Andrew Otterness, friend of the bride; Nathan and Nolan Boice, cousins of the groom; and David Stene, nephew of the bride.  

Other local vendors that helped make the day special included the Mabel Historic Hotel, Mabel Floral and Gifts, BBG's catering, LuluBell photography and more.

Around 330 guests attended the reception at the Mabel Area Community Center.

“I had no worries that day, I was able to completely enjoy every moment,” Chelsey concluded. “Thanks to all of our friends and family for helping. The day went so smooth and stress free.”