Two best friends celebrate their love, family, and faith in the state that brought them together.
Michaela Joy Miller & Peter Hamilton Della | Jane Lew | 6.3.17 | Photographed by Kendra Harper Photography
West Virginia is full of natural wonders and stunning scenery. Every hike down a tree-canopied trail or winding drive down a country road could lead to another journey just waiting to begin. For Michaela Miller and Peter Della, West Virginia was more than a state to explore. It was the place where they found each other.
More than just Friends
When it came to pursuing Michaela, Peter was not one to give up easily. The two met in 2013 at West Virginia University through campus ministry group Young Life. Bible studies and outdoor adventures strengthened their friendship—but Michaela wasn’t ready to commit to more. He eventually told her that he couldn’t be the guy in the pews at her wedding. He needed to be the man at the head of the aisle. “Risking our friendship was worth the chance of spending the rest of my life with my best friend,” Michaela says.
The couple’s first date was a picturesque sunset picnic at Seneca Rocks. Peter, uncertain of Michaela’s sandwich preferences, packed five different kinds. They found themselves at the bottom of Seneca Rocks again on a misty October day almost two years later. Despite impending rain, Peter insisted on making the steep, mile-long climb. Unbeknownst to Michaela, two friends were waiting at the summit to snap pictures. “We were like wet rats,” Michaela says. Yet when Peter dropped to his knee, the moment couldn’t have been more romantic. “Somehow, I said yes through sobbing tears.”
Part of the Family
Michaela and Peter wanted their wedding to be naturally beautiful with a family reunion atmosphere. A June wedding at the Sunny Pointe Guest House in Jane Lew checked all the boxes. It allowed both families to travel––his from Maryland, hers from Ohio––and see the West Virginia beauty that had united them.
Every inch of the wedding reflected their community’s love and support. When Michaela called her dad to make wooden doors for her entrance, he sent pictures of prototypes 15 minutes later. Michaela crafted Peter’s boutonniere with duck feathers, a nod to his waterfowl hunting. Peter’s family and groomsmen strung lights in the barn, Michaela’s girlfriends did her hair and makeup, and her mom orchestrated the reception’s homemade barbeque. ”When I think of my wedding day, I imagine a lot of hands helping that made me feel so loved,” Michaela says.
Faith and Love
A chance of rain lingered the morning of the wedding but, unlike the proposal, the sun shone throughout the day. The doors Michaela’s dad had made opened, and Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You” played. “Michaela walking down that aisle to me will be etched into my memory forever,” Peter says. “The pure beauty and joy radiating from her was breathtaking.” She met her groom and pastor underneath a handmade canopy. The couple stood close the entire time and joined their guests in singing hymns.
Instead of a first look, Michaela and Peter spent five minutes alone together after the ceremony. That single, tender moment slowed down an otherwise busy day. “We cried, we laughed, we couldn’t get over the fact we were married,” Michaela says.
As the summer sky darkened, guests played yard games and enjoyed a bonfire. Michaela and Peter served pies from local restaurant Apple Annie’s, where they had gone for several dates. Their first dance was Johnnyswim’s “Take the World,” the winner from a date night where they listened to options and determined which one most stirred their emotions.
Family and friends circled around for “Country Roads.” More than just a West Virginian anthem, the song expressed the couple’s gratitude for the adopted home state where they had met, grown in their faith, and fallen in love. Driving away that night, Michaela was filled with gratitude. “Our brand-new marriage was safe and protected because we had this massive support system that is going to help us nurture, grow, and protect our marriage through prayer, love, and wisdom.”
They spent their honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before settling in South Dakota for Michaela’s graduate school. “A year and a half later, I’m still happy it was her walking toward me that afternoon,” Peter says.
written by Jess Walker
Deb & Derrick Miller
Courtney & Brian Della
Kendra Harper Photography
Handmade by LaceMarry
Selected their own dresses
Groom’s & Groomen’s Attire
Handmade by LuffDo
Anita’s Flowers and Boutique, Buckhannon
Homemade by family and friends
Apple Annie’s, Morgantown
Hemisphere Coffee Roaster, Mechanicsburg, OH
REDBUDSUDS, Canton, OH
Sunny Pointe Guest House, Jane Lew