Alex and I had discussed marriage several times previously and had already decided that we wanted to spend our lives together. Alex had asked me several times what my ideal proposal would look like, and I’d responded that I didn’t care much for a big show. Instead, something small and heartfelt would mean the world to me. We’d also looked online and visited several jewelry stores to get ideas for a ring that suited me. While I didn’t have a specific ring in mind, I knew I wanted something classic, clean, and nothing trendy. We decided that an emerald cut-stone would offer everything I wanted.
The proposal took place at Alex’s parents’ home in Lake Oswego on August 22nd, 2013. I’d gone over for a visit that afternoon and I couldn’t help but notice the big silly grin on Alex’s face. He could barely look me in the eye for all his giddiness. Unable to handle the suspense, I stupidly blurted out “oh my gosh, the ring is here, isn’t it?” I immediately regretted saying anything at all for fear I may have ruined whatever Alex may have had planned for me. Instead, Alex’s grin widened even further (as though that were possible) and he even blushed a bit. He knelt at my side and pulled a small velvet box from his pocket. He leaned into me and whispered the simplest, sweetest proposal ever. Speechless, I nodded in response and threw my arms around him tightly. After a moment of hugs, kisses, and a few tears, Alex slipped the most perfect ring onto my finger. The classic simplicity of the ring could not have been more perfect: thin micro pave’ band gave way to a solitaire emerald-cut center stone. No embellishments, no halos–everything about it was beautiful for was without silly flourishes. Alex had selected something that encompassed everything I’d wanted.
VISION FOR THE DAY
We wanted the wedding to have the intimate feel of a family gathering and felt that a small ceremony with dinner and drinks to follow would suit our needs perfectly. We had around 75 guests in attendance made up of our family and closest friends. It was important to not have a wedding that was too theme-y or showy. Much like the ring that Alex had selected for me, we preferred an event with a more timeless, classic feel. Simplicity was key because of our tight timeline, but we also wanted to maintain an air of elegance. We settled on a palette of creamy ivory, black, and a smoky/silvery gray for our big day, letting the surrounding colors of fall speak for themselves. We also opted for a small wedding party: my sister, Alisa, would stand with me as my maid of honor and Alex’s fraternity brother and friend, Andrew, would stand as his best man.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
The planning process took just over 12 weeks! What a whirlwind! I must have had two or three appointments booked for each week and soon I felt like wedding planning had become a part-time job. But since it was a second wedding for both of us we knew what we wanted in vendors and we had a clear picture for our wedding day. In an odd way, the tight timeline made things easier to plan in some ways. There wasn’t time for us to be indecisive. Once we’d made up our mind about something, it generally stuck. We also had a great deal of planning help from Alex’s mother, Cynthia, who has a natural flair for hosting big family events. We would have been so lost without her help!
Together with Alex’s parents, we decided that Waverley Country Club
in Portland would serve as the perfect setting for our fall wedding. The grounds offered a panoramic view of the Willamette River as well as clusters of trees with golden yellow and fiery red leaves. I was excited to see what Aaron would do with the sweeping landscape as a backdrop for our photos. The clubhouse offered the intimate space we were looking for but was still ornate and beautiful. The North Hall would serve as our ceremony space; it was a smaller room with a grand fireplace and had stunning crystal chandeliers overhead. Cocktails would take place in the foyer and dinner was in the ballroom where gold chandeliers and mirrored doors reflected the light pouring in from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Where wedding dresses were concerned, I was never a fan of glitz, glamor, and sparkle. I also didn’t care for trendy silhouettes and wanted something that wouldn’t make me cringe when I looked back at my wedding photos. My dress came from Vera Wang’s White collection for David’s Bridal. It appealed to me because it was grand enough to suit the country club without being stuffy or stiff. The ballgown flowed with layers upon layers of sweeping tulle in a creamy shade of ivory. I altered the dress a bit and switched out the original ivory sash for a simple black satin sash to coordinate with my maid of honor’s dress. My sister wore a black floor-length chiffon dress that was also Vera Wang. The two dresses next to each other complimented each other nicely.
I decided that ivory pearls would flatter my dress, and my grandmother offered to pair her pearl earrings with my necklace. My shoes were matte black stilettos to match my sash. My makeup was crafted by the artists at Dosha Salon on Hawthorne in Portland, and my hair was done by my friend Rachel.
Alex looked oh-so-handsome in a gray suit and patterned black tie. The light color was formal but also fit the afternoon wedding.
The flowers were done by the incredibly talented Jennifer of Green In Bloom (greeninbloom.com
). What I loved most about working with Jennifer was how helpful and accommodating she was. We spent our initial meeting pouring over the pictures I’d collected online through Pinterest. She was very thorough and asked me what appealed to me about each image, as well as asking me how I felt about each particular flower. She had extensive knowledge of which flowers would be available our time of year, what colors would be available, and what would coordinate well. Our vision continued to grow and evolve until our final product was emassed: creamy hydrangeas, full garden roses in an ivory tone, and large cymbidium orchid blooms were accented by gray brunia berries, velvety dusty miller, and dark mocha fiddlehead fern curls. Not only did the flowers reach all the tones in our color palette, but they were lusciously elegant. Jennifer expertly crafted what I had pictured in my mind, though what she brought to reality was perhaps even more beautiful than I could have imagined. My flowers were my favorite wedding detail and what I’d spent most of my time concentrating on. I’ve asked that Alex have my wedding bouquet re-made for all our anniversaries!
Alex and I sought our cake creation from Le Cookie Monkey (lecookiemonkey.com
) in Portland. Three tiers offered three different flavors to our attendees: lemon, red velvet, and champagne. Ivory buttercream covered the round layers, accented by a large, ornate flower with silvery gray sugar powder lining the petal edges, and silvery gray ribbon circled the base of each layer. I will admit that the cake was one detail that had slipped my mind in the planning process, and before I knew it our cake consultation snuck up on me. Amber couldn’t have been more helpful though in shaping a vision for our big day. She listened to my (vague) ideas and somehow knew what I wanted even before I did. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when she sketched our our design–Alex and I were in love with what she’d put together for us.
Photography was something we knew was very important to us, and something that we were determined to find just the right person for. It seemed everyone knew someone to suggest, but it wasn’t until an old schoolmate mentioned OneBloom that something clicked. I recognized the name and after a quick internet search was reminded how much I LOVED Aaron’s work. It was clear that photography was more than some mere hobby to him. Aaron was beyond talented and the way he played with light in his shots was stunning. I honestly have not seen work like his anywhere else and his gift remains unmatched. Aaron is an artist in every sense of the word and Alex and I were on pins and needles waiting for our shots to come in after the wedding. (Wow thank you so much Rachel + Alex! - Love you guys! OneBloom, Aaron Potter)
INVITATIONS AND STATIONARY
We selected our stationary from Wedding Paper Divas (weddingpaperdivas.com
). Their selection was massive and the customization options were endless. We were very pleased with our gray and white invitations.
FOOD AND DRINK
Our food was expertly crafted by the chefs at Waverley, and our menu was selected by Alex and his mother, Cynthia. Appetizers started with firecracker prawns, crab cakes, and Waverley bacon. We served seafood pasta salad, a mezze platter, Thai beef salad, Asian chicken salad, green salad, vegetable risotto and mashed potatoes. Entrees were pan-roasted wild salmon filet and house smoked boneless pork sirloin. Wine, beer, and champagne were passed, and a gourmet hot chocolate and hot cider bar was set up with all the trimmings.
Alex and I spent the week following our wedding in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. Alex’s family has a stunning vacation home there and we spent our time soaking up the warm sunshine, walking the nature trails in the area, and enjoying the backyard fire pit under the stars. It was quiet and peaceful–everything we needed!
I have two memorable moments that come to mind: the first is when I saw my flowers for the first time and the reality of the day sank in. It was my first super giddy moment of the day! The second moment is one that both Alex and I share: the first look! I remember walking toward him with his back to me and thinking “Oh my gosh, this is really it! This man is going to be my HUSBAND!” And Alex can’t help but blush and feel butterflies when he thinks back to that moment.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
In regard to the wedding, our advice is to follow your instincts. Pick a style and theme that you are comfortable with. Hire vendors that you trust completely–after all, this is going to be one of the most treasured days of your life! Don’t sweat so much over the small details–who is going to notice if the napkins don’t EXACTLY match the invitations? People will be too focused on the two of you to care.
In regard to a successful relationship, the biggest piece of advice we can offer is to ALWAYS LOVE. Respond to each other with love and kindness always. Remember that your relationship is only going to be made up of what you care to put into it so don’t expect anything that you’re unwilling to contribute yourself. Speak with your partner about the kind of relationship you want and discuss ways you’ll bring it to a reality. Lastly, treat your relationship as sacred. Your marriage is between the two of you, no one else. Don’t share your struggles publicly and never say anything negative about your partner to anyone. Your relationship will only be as respected as much as YOU respect it.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
Our biggest thanks must first go to Alex’s parents, Peter and Cynthia, for their generosity in putting our wedding together. We are so very blessed to have their love and support and there are no words to express the depth of our gratitude for their incredible gift. Another is due to Roseanna of Waverley Country Club for her help with organizing and planning our big day. If anything went wrong that day, I literally had no clue. Roseanna and her staff were on point the whole day, and every request was met with the highest level of customer service and professionalism imaginable. Next would be our vendors: Aaron of OneBloom, Jennifer of Green In Bloom, Amber at LeCookie Monkey, Reverend BJ, and our talented musician Aaron Meyer. We trusted you with our special day and each of you went above and beyond. You are all blessings to us and people that we will forever be grateful for.
Lastly, we extend our gratitude to our loved ones for their endless love and support. This was a second wedding for both of us. Alex lost his first wife, Kathy, to cervical cancer. My previous fiancé was diagnosed with brain cancer that changed everything about who he was. Alex and I were compatible to begin with, but once we’d learned about the painful pasts we both had in common it cemented our bond immediately. Our relationship accelerated quickly and we married almost seven months to the day after our first date. Our families and friends were so supportive and were excited to see us so happy again. We appreciate more than anything how warm and welcoming they’ve been to our new partners.