By KJ Philp, August 2016 Issue.
College roommates. Best friends. Girlfriends. Fiancées. Soul mates. Twin flames. There may not be two halves more destined to complete each other than Kristi Branstrom and Molly Gilbert.
The blushing brides exchanged vows Feb. 13, 2016, at Villa Siena in Gilbert, Ariz, but their story begins back at the University of Arizona.
Gilbert, who was born and raised in Phoenix, and Branstrom, who moved to Tucson from Elk Grove Village, Ill. for college, first crossed paths after deciding to join the same sorority their freshman year, and have been best friends ever since.
The proud Wildcats are so much alike, in fact, that they even took turns proposing.
Echo caught up with the newlyweds to find out more about the details of their big day.
Echo: What was the most memorable part of your wedding day?
The Brides: Of course one of the most memorable parts of our big day was saying and listening to our wedding vows. We decided to write our own vows, so it was very special to hear such nice and loving words said in front of all of our good friends and family members. We also decided to have a choreographed wedding party dance with all of the bridesmaids … this is one of the memories that stands out most … because it was so much fun and nobody saw it coming.
Echo: What was the best advice you received while planning your wedding?
The Brides: The best advice that we received was to not worry too much what other people think. Just keep in mind that this was our wedding day and that we should plan it with that in mind. You can’t please everyone, especially when it comes to wedding planning, so make sure that the day goes how you would like it to go.
Echo: Most significant lesson learned during wedding planning?
The Brides: Wedding planning was a challenge for both of us because we are both very indecisive. When we had a strong opinion about a decision to be made it was easy, but when we were trying to decide on things that neither one of us felt that strongly about it became much more difficult.
Gilbert: I learned that I needed to be helpful in the decision-making process, even if I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other. I think that Kristi learned that sometimes it was easier to just make the decision on her own, rather than trying to force me to be helpful.
Echo: Any advice you’d give recently engaged couples?
The Brides: It is a very long process so make sure that you budget the time and energy into it. Don’t be afraid to ask others to help you … a lot of people want to be involved and would love to help. Also, make sure that both people are involved in the planning because it is a good challenging relationship builder and you will feel closer and more accomplished on your wedding day.
Echo: If you had it to do over again what would you do differently?
The Brides: I don’t think that there is anything significant that we would have changed. The day was absolutely perfect. The only thing that [we] wish [we] could change was to have time go by slower because the day goes by so quickly.
Echo: You two took turns proposing to each other – brilliant! Tell us about both proposals.
Gilbert: Kristi planned an amazing engagement night at a place called The Boojum Tree Hidden Garden. Unfortunately her plans were delayed by five days due to a “microburst” in the area. Luckily, it didn’t ruin the surprise for me and they were even able to reschedule and still trick me into getting dressed up again. On the day of the proposal, I arrived at the gardens, thinking that I was attending a surprise party for one of our good friends. Upon entering the gardens I found a computer set up with a slide show taking me through a brief history of our time together. I then travelled through the gardens stopping at various tables to look at pictures, quotes and memories. I finally made it to a large wooden door, behind which, Kristi stood, to ask me to marry her and spend the rest of our lives together. My family then showed up shortly afterward to celebrate with us and take pictures! We then made a night of it and went to Mary Coyle’s for dinner and ice cream!
Barnstorm: Even though we live in a state that gets over 300 days of sunshine a year, Molly’s proposal was also delayed … because of a Haboob! She had planned a night hike up Piestewa Peak, and we had gotten about halfway up the mountain when the haboob struck. Due to the high winds, lack of visibility, and possibility of a lightening storm following the haboob, we decided to return home and reschedule the hike for another day. The following week we made it up the mountain. Molly left for a little bit and just when I was starting to get worried about her, she returned and brought me partly down the mountain to a space she had set up. The views of the city were beautiful from this location, and she had brought candles and lights and got down on one knee, where she asked me to spend the rest of my life with her. We hiked down the rest of the mountain and then did one of our favorite activities and cheered our Wildcats on to a win!