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Kaitlyn Canfield & Philip Sterling

(More Than) Friends Forever

Kaitlyn Canfield and Philip Sterling’s unconventional road to romance led to a rundown motel in Colorado—and one gorgeous backyard wedding.

text by Jessica Otte & Photography by NBarrett Photography

Most couples don’t hatch plans to open a roadside motor lodge on their first date. And if they did, most couples wouldn’t actually go through with it. But Kaitlyn Canfield and Philip Sterling aren’t most couples.

The pair met four years ago when Kaitlyn was shopping at Centre, a Mockingbird Station store Philip opened in 2007. Kaitlyn noticed the tall, handsome owner, who she describes as “a young JFK with better teeth and without the womanizer vibe.” But she wasn’t looking to date, and as it turned out, Philip was prepping to travel cross-country for a year.

Yet for all the reasons to say no, when Philip called—yes, actually picked up the phone and called—to ask Kaitlyn on a date, she said yes. It was on that date, over pizza and beer at Eno’s Pizza Tavern in Bishop Arts, that they dreamed up the idea for the motor lodge. After eight months of pretending to be “just friends,” finally admitting that they wanted to be something more, and a year and a half of dating—much of it long distance while Philip traveled—they moved to the tiny mountain town of Salida, Colorado, and began a two-year renovation of a circa-1950s roadside motel they named the Amigo Motor Lodge. A few months later, on a trip to Santa Fe to celebrate Kaitlyn’s birthday, Philip asked Kaitlyn to be his amigo for life. This time, she had no reasons to say no.

A graphic designer by trade, Kaitlyn had a vision for the aesthetics: “Beautiful and romantic, subdued and rustic but elevated.” That included a glass-top tent with flowers hanging from the ceiling and natural lighting in the form of candles and string lights. Philip’s parents’ Fort Worth home was the perfect choice for a venue with its greenery-laden grounds and sentimental value. “We thought it would be special to do it there, because we can go back and visit every year and have those memories,” says Kaitlyn, who tapped Bella Flora and Melanie Tatum Events to bring her vision to life.

They booked their favorite ’80s cover band, The Spazmatics, to play the dance hour, The Absolute Jazz Quartet for the early part of the reception, and a string quartet to play the ceremony and cocktail hour. They also knew they didn’t want a cookie-cutter ceremony. “That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, when you go to a wedding and it doesn’t feel like it’s about the couple,” Kaitlyn says. “Our ceremony was totally personal.”

On May 6, 2017, in front of 200 guests, the couple’s dog, Moffett, strutted down the aisle as their ring bearer. (She also graced the invitations, cocktail napkins, koozies, and more.) The couple selected a passage from The Alchemist and a poem by Frida Kahlo for readings. Bridesmaids wore nontraditional white—though not outshining the bride in an adapted Rebecca Schoneveld lace gown. The bride and groom recited original vows, with Philip promising not to store his outdoor gear in their living room, and Kaitlyn vowing not to spend all of their money on expensive candles.

After two weeks in Bali, they returned to their beloved Amigo, now as not-just-friends forever.

RESOURCES

Ceremony/Reception Site: Groom’s family residence, Fort Worth
Photographer: NBarrett Photography
Bridal Gown Designer/Retailer: Rebecca Schoneveld (New York City, New York)
Hair & Makeup: Chantel Rome (hair); Samantha Landis (makeup)
Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss
Flower Girl Dress Designer: Joan Calabrese
Flower Girl Dress Retailer: Neiman Marcus
Flowers: Bella Flora of Dallas
Stationery: Designed by the bride; Polished Pen (calligraphy); Alyssa Hechavarria (illustration)
Cake: Creme De La Creme Cake Company
Caterer: Cassandra Fine Catering
Food Truck: Salsa Limón
Music: Dallas String Quartet; The Absolute Jazz Quartet; The Spazmatics
Lighting: Absolute Entertainment
Wedding Rentals: Bella Acento
Wedding Planner: Melanie Tatum Events
Wedding Designer: Cesar Diaz, Bella Flora of Dallas