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Real Wedding | Samantha + Ryan

Tell us a little about yourselves!

Ryan and I met in 2016 on a backcountry ski trip in the Canadian Rockies, and bonded over our shared love of the outdoors, music, math, food, and photography. We spent the first 4 years of our relationship traveling the world climbing, skiing, surfing, eating, cultivating a garden and raising our puppy, Yuzu. In 2020, after cancelling our original 170 person wedding (due to the pandemic), we eloped at sea and The Anti-Bride generously featured our intimate ceremony (see it here!). It was the best day of our lives, but we continued to hold onto our dream of celebrating with our closest loved ones.

Why did you decide to get married where you did?

After our elopement, we looked into venues for our eventual vow renewal and reception, but nowhere felt personal or frankly, 'worth it'. I think our biggest fear was committing to a venue that would hold us to a minimum guest count or restrict us to using certain vendors. We didn’t want to be forced into a plug-and-play event. Our elopement was everything that we wanted it to be, so we knew we’d rather keep waiting for a space that felt true to us than have a wedding for the sake of having a wedding. Then we came upon not only our dream venue, but also our dream home. It was a Cape Cod-style home in Seattle’s little beach town, Madison Park, where we dreamed of raising children one day. The property boasted an 80 year old garden just big enough for an intimate ceremony and dinner. We took the savings from our original wedding and invested everything back into the home and garden, which we revived under the caring guidance of our amazing horticultural preservationist, Bre. Our event gave us an opportunity to invest in our home and rethink what mattered most to us given the intimate venue. What’s more, we relive the experience nearly every day, and that is a true gift.

How many guests did you have?

44. The absolute maximum we could fit in our backyard.

What was your budget?

About 45,000 USD. Less than half of the budget for our cancelled 170 person wedding. We did, however, keep the reception meal budget the same!

Tell us about your outfits.

To be honest, I really struggled to find a proper wedding gown, and I could not be happier with the end result. I have a more athletic build: A longer torso, broader shoulders and a modest bust. For years, I searched for a gown that not only fit properly, but also allowed me to feel both feminine and true to myself. Our ceremony was about six months out, and I still hadn’t found anything. It was too late to order a custom gown. As luck would have it, our incredible photographer and friend, Kristen Marie Parker, spotted a sample Lola Varma Fredrick gown for sale via the designer’s Instagram stories. It was my size and in the original jersey fabric, which they are no longer able to source. I purchased it sight unseen and it was an absolute dream! I paired my gown with a set of Loeffler Randall Camellia shoes to harken back to our elopement day. Knowing I wouldn’t be traveling far, I opted for the tallest version of their limited edition botanical print in keeping with our theme. After hauling three pairs of shoes to our elopement, I promised Ryan I’d stick to just one this time. On that note, he re-wore his original tux in the interest of practicality (and perhaps keeping me accountable)! I’ll add that the irony of having several outfit changes at sea and only one in the comfort of our own home is not lost on me. My Zimmerman afterparty dress was one I’d been holding for years for the right occasion, and it set the theme for our 'psychedelic garden' Hora Loca. Another favorite piece of the day was my mother’s silk lavallière dress, which is a cherished original Givenchy piece. I may be biased, but I thought she looked absolutely stunning.

What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?

In general, just being intentional was priority number one for us after so many years of replanning. If there was one silver lining to the pandemic, it was the distillation of relationships. With such a small headcount, we decided to minimize travel and bring together a group of people who all knew one another. That inspired the single-table layout for our reception, and the vision for a truly memorable meal. With that said, the reception dinner was the single most important aspect of the day and we felt so lucky to work with Chef Aaron Tekulve of Surrell Seattle to design a five course tasting menu that both drew inspiration from Lima, Peru (the culinary mecca where Ryan’s parents were born and raised) and also showcased the Pacific Northwest’s incredible local seafood.

Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?

We wanted the outdoor space for the wedding to seamlessly blend with our home’s interior and our existing garden. The oversized paper lanterns, the bentwood chairs and beautiful linens that our designer chose reflected our home perfectly. Our florist Britlyn Simone Floral actually received a plant list from our gardener, and designed our ceremony pieces so that they appeared to pour out of their surroundings. We actually repurposed those lanterns in our home and replanted some of the potted ceremony pieces into our garden. We also wanted a moment to symbolize the merging of our families, because they could not be present for our original elopement. At the beginning of our ceremony, each of our mothers read Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII–Ryan’s mother read the original in Spanish and my mother read the translation. I’d sent that poem to Ryan in a love note during the first year of our relationship. It set the tone so beautifully. At the end of dinner, our guests also lit the candles my sister had so thoughtfully crafted for our original event. It was a wonderful moment of reflection on the multi-year long journey that brought us to our wedding day. It was beyond anything we could have imagined.

Any tips for couples getting married?

I am a big believer in smaller weddings now. Pre-pandemic, a 40 person wedding would have been unfathomable to me; but in a smaller group, you have the opportunity to spend time with each of your guests and they have the opportunity to connect with one another. You can also be very intentional with giving every guest an incredible experience. More generally, my advice to any couple getting married is to remember that this day is about celebrating your love and commitment to one another—not about making other people happy. I think that is one of the most difficult aspects of planning, and you have to stay true to yourselves. Lastly, on that note, I once read that you should pick one aspect of the day where you refuse to compromise–for us, it was food–and let the rest fall into place. Looking back, I don’t feel like we compromised on any aspect of our wedding. However, compared to our experience trying to plan a large, traditional, wedding–which felt intractable–having the meal as our focal point really streamlined our vision. We were also able to put a lot of trust into our vendors at that scale, and the day was resultantly full of pleasant surprises.

Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?

Erika of Array Creative Design and Britlyn Simone Floral really came through for us: Working within our budget to create ceremony and reception spaces that felt like natural extensions of our home and garden. The entire staff of Surrell were phenomenal in transforming our backyard into a fine dining experience. Lastly, we are so indebted to all of the vendors who stuck with us through 3 years of replanning–especially Kristen Marie Parker, who photographed both our elopement and our wedding and has been a source of endless support and creative inspiration. She is a true talent and a true friend.

Photographer : Kristen Marie Parker @kristenmarieparker | Ceremony + Reception Location : Bride and Groom’s Home | Celebrant : Friend of Bride + Groom | Planning + Styling : Array Creative Design @array_creative_design | Hire : Wander Event Rentals @wandereventrentals | Flora + Ceremony Space : Britlyn Simone Floral @britlynsimonefloral | HMUA : Pacific Brides @pacific_brides | Catering + Beverages : Surrell Seattle @surrellseattle | Cake : Lady Grey Seattle @ladygreyseattle | Stationery : Fancy Cat Studio @thefancycatstudio | Landscape Design : Gaia Gardens | Gown : Lola Varma @lola.varma | Tux : Theory @theory__ | After-Party Outfit : Zimmerman @zimmerman | Wedding Rings : Mociun @mociun + Marke @markenewyork | Shoes : Loeffler Randall @loefflerrandall | Earrings : David Yurman @davidyurman | Hora Loca Masks : Curious Fair @curiousfair | Wedding Party Attire : Leave Her Wilder


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