In November 2018, Jordan Eller got out her backpack, one of her favorite possessions, and traveled with a few friends to Koh Phi Phi, an island in Thailand. Ms. Eller, 25, lives in Denver and is a transportation-engineer-in-training at HDR, an engineering and architectural firm where she helps design a variety of structures like highway bridges and wheelchair accessible trails in the wilderness.
One night on Koh Phi Phi, Philipp Leiminger, a welder and furniture designer from Germany who was also on a backpacking trip with friends, joined her group for drinks. Ms. Eller couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t notice her at all.
Actually, he felt such a strong connection to her that he was afraid to make eye contact. “She’s super open and not a fake person and super smart and so beautiful,” said Mr. Leiminger, who is 25 and graduated from Staatliche Berufsschule 1 Deggendorf, a trade school in Deggendorf, Germany. “It was overwhelming.”
That night they ended up dancing on the beach. “He looked me straight in the eyes and told me he would marry me someday,” Ms. Eller wrote in an email. “Of course, I told him he was crazy. He didn’t even know me yet, but I knew deep down I had just run into the love of my life.”
While he grew up in Straubing, a city in southern Germany, and she grew up on a hay and livestock farm in East Orchard Mesa, Colo., they have a lot in common. Both love traveling, surfing, rock climbing, yoga, cooking and sleeping outside, ideally without a tent and with a lot of stars. Like her, he has a strong work ethic. “He never does anything halfway,” said Ms. Eller, who has an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Arizona State University. “You do it right or you don’t do it at all. I love that.”
Before Ms. Eller left the island, they made a plan to meet again in Thailand over the New Year’s holiday. Once home, she asked several people if they thought that was a good idea. Her father, Dave Eller, did not advise it. Her mother, Gwen Eller, told her to follow her heart.
She got out her backpack again and went. “I cannot describe what it’s like to have someone travel across the world just to see you,” Mr. Leiminger said. “It was like, ‘This is going to happen. This is the one.’” They spent that trip on Koh Lanta, a quiet island, riding scooters and having long talks, especially after a hurricane blew in.
On July 4, 2019, while they were vacationing with Ms. Eller’s family on a houseboat on Lake Powell in Utah, he asked her if she wanted to sleep outside on the shore. “He brought out these nice blankets and made it look very boho-camping-cuteness,” she said. “There were 20 billion stars.”
He proposed that night. “I didn’t think, ‘Should I say yes?’” Ms. Eller said. “There was no other answer.”
Last February, Mr. Leiminger was granted a fiancée’s visa and moved to Denver, weeks before international travel was shut down because of the coronavirus. For Mr. Leiminger, falling in love with Ms. Eller brought more adventures as well as more paperwork into his life. He is currently awaiting his work permit.
On Aug. 29, they were married in a self-uniting ceremony at Top of the Pines, a 175-acre former Girl Scout Camp in Ridgway, Colo., that is now open to the public. Before the wedding, which was livestreamed to the groom’s family in Germany, Ms. Eller got ready in a white tepee.
The bride wore a white slim-fitting gown with sheer sleeves that showed off her tattoos, while the groom wore a granite-colored suit, collarless shirt, bolo tie, one earring and pointy brown shoes. “He’s very unapologetically himself,” she said.
When Ms. Eller and her father walked into the open field where the ceremony took place, it began to rain, after weeks of dry weather and widespread wildfires in Colorado. Dylana Gross, a friend of the couple who led them through the ceremony, said to the 95 guests: “Please stand for the bride and the rain.”