Our Wedding: Cocktail Hour

I’m not sure, on average, what kind of time couples spend nailing down a venue for their wedding. To Matt and I, two solid months of venue shopping felt eternal.

We had our minds set on a elevated, backyard wedding in Seattle. Timeless feel, organic look and outdoors if manageable. How about availability for a Saturday? During the Summer? With 6 months notice? Probably 150 people. And please, don’t break the bank.


When it felt like we had exhausted all options, one of our wedding planners, Hannah, suggested we take a look at Dunn Gardens. Hannah saw the venue in a bridal magazine, hadn’t heard much about it, and their website wasn’t the most convincing thing. Nonetheless, we took our chances and Hannah set up a tour.

On a rainy day, in late January, my parents, Matt, Hannah and myself toured Dunn Gardens. Even in the rain, I was amazed at the lushness of the gardens. In the dead of Winter, the garden was well kept and plants in bloom. I was in total shock that a venue like this, 7 acres of beautiful gardens, existed just up the road from our home in Ballard. I was in even more shock that they had Saturdays available for a wedding that Summer and there was no rush to secure a date. This single photo of the venue sealed the deal for me. We slept on it, even though I knew in my heart that Matt and I would get married with these gardens as the backdrop.


Like any venue, Dunn Gardens came with some drawbacks as well. One drawback in particular led us to make a decision that I feel enhanced the guest experience at our wedding. In short, our venue had no parking and no clear signage from the road. In fact, the entrance to the gardens is on a beautiful but unassuming street. Even after incorporating signage, I felt anxious with the thought that guests would get lost or pass by the venue without even knowing.


The other half of our wedding planning duo, Elsa, suggested having a welcome drink prior to the ceremony. Meaning that when guests made it to the venue, (after navigating a no parking situation, multiple signs and many forks in the road) they would be greeted with a glass of rosé and a snack. Our wedding website included information regarding a welcome drink at 3 o’clock and ceremony beginning at 3:30. This addition to the timeline helped guests feel more relaxed about their arrival time.


Like any couple, Matt and I wanted our guests to feel well taken care of. We felt like having a welcome drink helped accomplish this goal and set the elevated, yet comfortable and inviting tone for the wedding.


Following the ceremony, guests were escorted through a path that led to another area of the garden where the cocktail hour and reception were hosted.


Reliving the wedding day through these photos is enhanced by listening to the arrivals and cocktails playlists Matt and I made for the day. Only thing I need to complete this walk down memory lane is a glass of rosé!


Our Wedding: The Ceremony

Calm, peaceful, fulfilling, emotional and sincere.


The ceremony was by far my favorite part of the entire day. Our bridal party walked down the aisle to The Ghost on the Shore by Lord Huron. My dad walked me down the aisle to River by Leon Bridges, which was a feeling that I still don’t have the word for. A dear family friend officiated the wedding, My aunt read Union by Robert Fulghum. Our niece and flower girl, Sawyer, adjusted and readjusted my veil the entire ceremony and our nephew, Ford fulfilled his ring bearer duties — but not before sneaking away mid-ceremony to go the bathroom and returning right before handing off the rings.


Despite my body shaking from head to toe, I stood at the end of the aisle with Matt feeling so sure of myself and my love and commitment to him. I looked out at our guests and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude knowing what each of them mean to Matt and I. The ceremony was completely us.


My favorite part was the exchange of vows, which we had both personally written. To be affirmed in this public way was humbling. Likewise, I was honored to share my vows to Matt in front of our friends and family. As you can see from the photos above, I cried. A lot. The kind of crying where you have to laugh in order to get a break from the crying. When people ask about what I loved most about our wedding, I always say the vows. Our words were so tender and true.


When we were announced as husband and wife, Seeing Stars by BORNS played. I felt an adrenaline I had never felt before. As if I just won the gold medal. Essentially, I did. I was seeing stars. I felt and still feel so proud to be Matt’s wife.


Our Wedding: Getting Ready

Somewhere along the wedding planning process, after nailing down our venue, we decided that Matt and his groomsmen would get ready at our little apartment before the wedding. It was my mom’s suggestion and I am so glad that’s what we decided to do. I love that our first home together is the backdrop of these photos. I feel sentimental looking at Matt tie his wedding shoes and seeing our felt letter board at zero days, when I remember starting the countdown so many days prior.


Much different than Matt’s morning… me and my ladies were 15 minutes up the road getting ready at a house on the venue’s property. Unlike what any of these pictures below suggest, I was losing my marbles. A nervous wreck. I was having second guesses about my wedding dress and very frustrated that the wrinkles weren’t steaming out. When everyone was nearly ready, I tried to be a fun bride, popped some champagne and had plans to say nice things about each of my bridesmaids and then I just couldn’t speak without sobbing. So i just stopped speaking and frantically tossed their bridesmaids gifts at them. When it came time to put on my dress, I felt so stressed for time, I just dropped my robe in the middle of the living room. My mom’s jaw dropped and before she could say anything about manners, the dress was on. Thank goodness our photographer is a master at her craft because these photos make me look like a calm, happy-go-lucky queen of a bride. One day, I’ll forget these minor details and just have lovely photos to look back on.


Our Wedding: First Look


There’s no denying, I’m a big fan of weddings. In high school, I would have friends over on Friday nights and we would watch the wedding films of complete strangers. I would cry as if the woman in the white dress was me. We’d start saving inspiration to our Pinterest boards and planning as if the wedding was 6 months away. Then I’d go to sleep dreaming of my future husband and pray I’d meet someone whose love would inspire and move me emotionally like those films.

It’s been nearly 10 years since those wild Friday nights and now I am 4 months married to Matt. Even if my 15 year old wedding Pinterest board didn’t come fully to fruition, the man I married… his character, strength and tenderness far exceeds any person I could have ever dreamed up.

I am in the process of making our wedding album and when you’re lucky like us, it’s a daunting task because your photographer (hi, michele!) sends you entirely too many good ones. As I pull out the favorites, I thought I would share some here too. This day is so special to us and looking through the photos brings me such joy and so much gratitude. First up, our first look!