A Dreamy Pacific Northwest Wedding
How We Met (according to Brenna)...
We met at a Starbucks in 2004, Tara the customer, I was the Barista. Although we didn't connect romantically for another 6 years, we were fast friends. After being in and out of touch, and relationships, we ran into each other at a show in downtown Austin, we were both single, and the timing was right. We began dating in February 2010. Barely a month later, we both knew this was it. I remember having a conversation in the car, while Tara was driving me home, about how precious our relationship is. Our new love felt different, acted different, WAS different than anything we’d ever known. And now it’s our job to take care of it, to keep it healthy and strong. We’ve been doing just that for 6 wonderful years.
The Engagement Story...
By 2013 we both began dropping hints about marriage, and agreed that whoever proposed first, proposed first. We both had grand ideas, but ultimately Tara proposed to me. From the very beginning, our relationship always included some clever dewey decimal coding (I’m a librarian, and she’s a geek). We used to communicate with dewey numbers that the other one would have to figure out. So naturally, the proposal consisted of a LOT of dewey classifications, plus a scavenger hunt. It started May 2014 in New Orleans. We were vacationing with family and happened to run into some friends as well. We took them to The Old Absinthe House, to take photos of their faces when they try the Absinthe Frappe (a tradition of ours). The bar walls are covered with business cards and flyers that people have stapled up, but this time there was an old library catalog card... it had a riddle on it, containing dewey numbers. This card sent me to Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest, consistently operating bar in the nation. The clue here was hidden in the fireplace (where you can sometimes see a ghost). This card sent me, heart racing, to Pat O’Brien’s where I found a third and final card under the sofa cushion in the women’s powder room. Much to my surprise, this was not the proposal! It was only the beginning... I was to keep these cards, as each one had a letter written in the top corner, and once I had all the cards, I had to figure out the word they made.
When we got home from New Orleans, there was an old school card catalog drawer for me to store the cards in. The following August, we took a trip to the Texas coast for our birthdays. This trip provided me with two more cards... still not enough to make the word I needed.
Then in November 2015, the final day of scavenger hunting arrived! Tara had set up a brunch for me and a close friend, at the end of brunch, my friend handed me a card, and some waterproof mascara. The card sent us to a karaoke bar we’ve been to several times with friends. Where another dear friend was waiting with champagne and a karaoke room, after we sang karaoke for about 30 minutes, this friend handed me my next card. This card sent me to a coffee shop where another friend and I used to meet every Sunday. I was not surprised to find this friend, waiting with my favorite drink and tears in her eyes. We visited and had our coffee, then she gave me my next clue. This clue sent us to a park where Tara and I looked at wildlife and explored “dinosaur pits”. I was happy to find Tara’s drummer and his family there, digging for bones and running around the park. After walking around the park and playing, his daughter Eleanor handed me my next clue. This was the final clue card, and luckily, my amazing friend who had driven me all over town had the rest of the cards with her. The word was “Saint-Exupery”, the author of the Little Prince. Once I figured this out, Tara’s drummer handed me the book along with a clue card guiding me to chapter 6 where on the first page of the chapter I found the sentence: “For a long time you had found your only entertainment in the quiet pleasure of looking at the sunset” It was then I knew that Tara was waiting for me at Mt. Bonnell, the most romantic sunset spot in Austin, where we went when we first started dating, while I was reading that book she had loaned me. I was choking on my own tears when I finally got to the top of the steps, and found my brother and sister-in-law waiting at the top, taking sunset photos. Tara was nowhere to be found. After taking photos with them for what seemed an interminable amount of time, I was finally handed my real final clue: “Remember when we stumbled upon that magical space? Under the stars and the lights I held your embrace, Being too nervous to kiss was our only crime, Meet me there now, I won’t be too nervous this time, At the end of the stairs your chariot awaits, Tell the driver where to go if you remember the place” I did remember!! I found a friend waiting at the bottom of the stairs, she offered me a ride in her Uber car.
We rolled up to the magical space, I saw Tara standing under a gazebo lit up with a million white lights and surrounded by hundreds of red roses. She was alone, except for her guitar. I walked up, she played me her song “Sand Dollar”, written after our birthday trip to the beach, and asked me to marry her. As soon as she got the words out I screamed yes and then every friend I had seen throughout the day came out of the shadows cheering and yelling. We did a champagne toast under that gazebo, then Tara and I rushed away to our dinner reservations while our friends took the roses to our hotel room. Tara had arranged for me to work late the next day and gotten us a room at the historic Driscoll Hotel. The whole day still seems like a dream, the most incredible day of my life, until the day we got married.
When we started planning, we made a few very specific requirements:
•We wanted to get married outside, in an environment that makes our hearts soar.
•We wanted a very small wedding, no wedding party.
•We wanted to be as DIY as possible, not only to save money, but to also have complete creative control.
The wedding and reception site found us, really. We decided the Columbia River Gorge would be the perfect location. Tara found the Cape Horn Overlook online, at the same time that I found the Columbia River Gorge Guesthouse. After learning these two places are 1/4 mile apart, we knew we had found it. We booked the house for a full week, paying all of the lodging for most of our guests who were flying in from out of state. We wanted to make it as affordable as possible for our loved ones to be there.
We also wanted to give back to the community, we donated a portion of our gift money from Tendr to the “Friends of the Columbia River Gorge” who maintain the Cape Horn Overlook; we hired Simply Thyme Catering out of Vancouver, WA; our hair and makeup stylist, Lisette, is an independent artist living in Portland, OR; our rings are made of recycled gold by Lily Emme Jewelry in Seattle; our photographer, Alexandra Knight is also based in Seattle; our cake came from a local gluten free bakery, New Cascadia. For our flowers, we created a pre-wedding flower picking event on Sauvie’s Island. Most of our guests accompanied us to a u-pick farm on the island and we spent a morning picking flowers for our bouquets and centerpieces. This alone saved us hundreds of dollars, and was a memorable and fun event. We held our “non- rehearsal” dinner at McMenamins, a local, unique chain, then took those willing on a "Brides and Brews" pub crawl to showcase some pacific northwest beers.
We are so lucky to have the talented and supportive network that we do. We had people volunteering to handle everything. From building the flower arrangements and bouquets, to getting ice at the store, to pushing a wheelchair down the gravel trail to the Overlook, to even being the day-of coordinator!
Our reception was at the guest house where we were all staying and when we got there after the wedding we found the place transformed. It was incredible. Our friends and family had tended to every last detail and the place looked perfect! The whole wedding was a group effort, it felt like a gift from them to us. We are forever grateful for this gift!
Advice for couples planning their wedding:
1. Do what YOU want to do, it’s not anyone else’s day but yours.
2. Delegate what you can, and be specific.
3. Spend some time alone with your spouse, it’s easy once the party gets going to get caught up in the fun, but sneak away for at least a few minutes.
- Photography By Alexandra Knight Photography
- Ceremony Location By Cape Horn Overlook
- Reception Venue By Columbia River Gorge Guest House - AirBNB
- Dress By Watters
- Dress By BHLDN
- Hair & Makeup By Lisette Murphy of Lisette Studio
- Florals By Sauvie's Island U-Cut Farm
- Officiant By Alycia Erickson
- Rings By LilyEmme Jewelry
- Catering By Simply Thyme Catering
- Cake By New Cascadia