Jessica and Kelsey met online, both traveled to Seattle for their first date where dinner turned into four days and the rest is history! Just over a year later the lovebirds were engaged and enlisted Aranza Grant of White Event Studio to plan and design their wedding at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse. Recognizing that their big day could be the only opportunity they might ever have to bring together all their loved ones, the couple worked with their vendors to craft a wedding that was centered around their guests, reflecting everything they love about each other and the wonderful city that they were asking everyone to visit. Garden florals by Thorn and Thistle are stunning in peachy, dusty hues. Wax seal details and calligraphy by Plume Calligraphy are timeless. An outdoor ceremony showcased the best of the orchard venue, while tented reception was both romantic and relaxed with a subtle French undertone. We’re loving all the gorgeous details on Jessica and Kelsey’s big day captured so beautifully in these images by Kelly Brown.
What made the wedding special and unique?
Jessica: With family and friends scattered all over the world, one of the things that we felt very acutely was not only that this would be a rare chance to spend time with our loved ones, but also that it might be the only time that all of these incredibly important people were able to come together. With this in mind, we worked with our vendors to craft a wedding that was centered around our guests, and reflected everything that we love about each other and this wonderful city that we were asking all of them to visit. We brought our bridesmaids to the Empress to get ready with us, in an effort to share one of our favorite local landmarks, and our ceremony was held at the farm where we had one of our first dates. Our officiant created an intimate, emotional ceremony that had our guests reading letters, issuing vows of their own, and holding hands. Our caterer worked with us for over a year to pull together a menu that featured local, seasonal, sustainable food, such as Fanny Bay oysters and cedar plank salmon, as well as dishes that were special to us, like a replication of the whiskey sauced steak that Jess cooked for Kelsey on an early date, and individual tiramisu. A local jazz band provided the music for our ceremony and reception, as well as a nod to my absent great grandfather. Our photographer helped us to schedule our photos in a way that allowed us to maximize our time with our guests, and our wedding planner kindly arranged for us to share a loveseat at our reception, so that we could hold hands under the table while talking to friends and family.
Tell us about the gown/suit and how/where you found them?
Jessica: When I was in college, my winter and summer breaks consisted of evenings spent with my mother, whipping up batches of brie fondue, sipping sparkling wine, and watching TLC wedding programming – high quality “girl time”. It was during one such evening that a Claire Pettibone dress was featured, and I fell in love. The vintage-inspired lace was elegant, refined, and timeless, the detailed back was architectural and dramatic, and the silhouette was both feminine and modest. My mother watched as I pinned nearly every Claire Pettibone dress on that “secret wedding” board that we all have, and when the time came to shop for my dress, she reminded me to make sure that I found a shop that carried her designs.
The Dress Theory was our first stop, and my dress (Eden, from the Couture collection, inspired by Gothic cathedral stained glass), was the second dress that I tried on. Everything about it felt perfect, from the hint of blue from the underlay, to the beautifully framed keyhole style back, to the “champagne” floral vine embroidery that shimmered alternating silver and gold in the light. I loved the lace so much that I asked The Dress Theory to order a little more, to make sleeves for me, and their seamstress did a lovely job with them.
Kelsey: The suit is from Indochino, a Vancouver company that makes made-to-measure suits. I appreciated the custom details on the inside lapel and embroidery on the shirt cuffs. Final tailoring was done in Victoria by The Russian Tailor. Of all the elements that were pulled together, I was most excited about the shoes. It is nearly impossible to find quality masculine shoes in small sizes, and I spent months searching before finding Tomboy Toes. I ended up with the perfect size 35 oxfords, and the local men’s store was able to source a matching belt and tie. My favorite elements were touches that Jess gifted the day we got married – vintage Tiffany cufflinks, and a cologne just for our wedding.
What were some touches added to make the wedding more personal.
Jessica: Everything about the day, from the food to the music, and even our flowers (one rose was a cultivar of a variety my parents had at their own wedding), was exceptionally personal. However, the ceremony really set the tone for the entire experience. Barb was wonderful, sharing snippets of things we had told her, like the fact that I had kept a list of 29 traits a potential partner would be required to have, and our mutual disdain for bananas. She even made room in the ceremony for my grandma to read a letter of blessing and advice from my great grandpa, whose marriage to my great grandmother was the model I had sought to emulate. Finally, our officiant also asked our immediate and then extended family to take vows in support of our marriage, and before we knew it, everyone was holding hands and had surrounded us. That was an incredibly powerful, spine-tingling moment.
What was the most memorable part of the day?
Jessica: I have three very sharp, very happy memories:
I woke up to a letter that Kelsey had slipped under my door the night before, detailing her excitement about the day ahead. She couldn’t have known, but I had arranged for her sister to deliver a gift while we were all getting ready – her “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue”. Included in her gift were a bottle of cologne I knew she liked, my ugly doll from college, a journal that chronicled the last 100 days of our engagement, and some vintage Tiffany cufflinks for her to wear during the ceremony. I couldn’t be there to watch her open her gift, but the photos of her smiling are the next best thing, and all that I had wanted.
We had agreed to do a first look before heading up to the farm, and our photographer arranged for us to do so on the rooftop chef’s garden at the Empress. We hadn’t even known that garden existed, and it was the most perfect hidden Eden in the middle of the city, secluded but boasting an impressive view of Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour. Having a couple of moments to ourselves, and being able to soak in that this was it, this was us, and we were actually getting married was so important. By the time our ceremony rolled around, I was so emotional that I don’t even remember hearing our jazz band playing – I had to ask Kelsey about it afterwards! I would highly recommend a first look, both for the privacy and for the chance to be together before everything really starts to happen.
And lastly, Kelsey tried to kiss me when my dad brought me up the aisle – I had to tell her “not yet!” By the time our officiant told us to kiss, she was REALLY ready for it, and she dipped me in her enthusiasm.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
Jessica: The events leading up to and during our first date would be the perfect set up for a romantic comedy. I had been having a very bitter evening at home, and was curled up with my computer, my roommate Christina, and a bottle of wine. I read OK Cupid profiles out loud to Chris, criticizing them the way someone who has had a bad day and three glasses of Syrah might, but I stopped short when I saw Kelsey’s. It was verbose, and littered with words I hadn’t usually seen outside a GRE exam guide. I found myself giggling at some of the things she had written, and perusing her photos more than a couple of times. With Chris teasing me gently, I sent a message. I didn’t think anything would come of it – and if it did, I reassured myself, she was far away (in Victoria, BC, while I lived in Seattle). The distance would keep us from developing anything too serious.
Much to my surprise, Kelsey responded. Two weeks later, we were meeting up for what was supposed to be “just dinner” at a tequila bar in Seattle…but dinner took three hours, and involved more talking than eating. Then we found ourselves singing karaoke at a gay bar, and staying the night…for three days. That distance that I had foolishly thought would keep us apart didn’t even give us pause – and we’ve been commuting internationally to see each other ever since.
Kelsey proposed a little over a year later, while we were exploring Hatley Castle and the nearby trails. A few weeks later, I proposed on my own, with a watch. The morning after my proposal, we awoke to marriage equality, and Justice Kennedy’s words: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.”
Photographer: Kelly Brown // Wedding Planner, furniture, and decor: Aranza Grant of White Event Studio // Flowers: Thorn and Thistle // Calligraphy: Plume Calligraphy // Venue: Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse // “Getting ready” location: The Empress // Dress designer: Claire Pettibone // Dress shop: The Dress Theory (Seattle) // Suit: Indochino // Bridesmaid dresses: Jenny Yoo // Caterer: Toque Catering // Macarons: Bon Macaron // Cake: Ruth and Dean // Officiant: Barbara Densmore // Band: Mildly Wild // Rings: James Allen // Handfasting ribbons: Silk and Willow // Hair: Katie Maclean and Lauren Dejong from Copper and Ash Collective // Makeup: Melanie Baird // Cufflinks: Tiffany // Ring Box: The Mrs. Box