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!