Craig and Andrew’s Handsome Washington Wedding
In November 1999, Andrew Burich was doing his postdoctoral work to become a veterinarian, when he met Carissa, a close friend of Craig Labenz’s. She thought the two should meet, so she invited them both to a small birthday dinner for her at a Seattle restaurant. “I remember being struck by Andrew’s smile and laughter,” Craig says. “And I remember how beautiful Craig’s eyes were, and I felt an immediate attraction that made me nervous,” Andrew recalls.
With sparks flying, Craig gave Andrew his business card and offered him a ride home. But Andrew had already sorted out a ride with another friend. So Craig waited and waited to hear from Andrew, and after a couple of weeks finally broke down and got his email address from their shared pal. He invited him along to walk a dog that he was pet-sitting, but the rain came pouring down, so the walk was short. But their relationship was anything but. The two went to dinner, and they’ve been together ever since.
Fifteen years later, they got married, on October 4, 2014, at the Roche Harbor Resort on San Juan Island in Washington. They looked into each other’s eyes, walked the dog (this time their own), and once more shared dinner.
Tara Bliven of Ephemera Press designed the elegant suite, which was evocative of the location (incorporating a ferry and a map of the islands). “Washington State has the largest fleet of ferries in the country,” Craig says. “Ferries are a part of life here and we knew most of our guests would be taking one to get to San Juan Island—a beautiful hour-long trip. So we used the image of the boats repeatedly throughout the design.” Tara also calligraphed the sea-blue envelopes, which were mailed with vintage stamps Craig sourced in the color palette of shades of blue.
Craig, a designer and website developer, made a poster-size map to pair with the invite. With cell-phone service spotty on the island, he wanted guests to have an in-hand guide to things to see and do, places to eat, and where to stay.
A Sweet Welcome
Craig baked 11 dozen chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt as a treat for guests at their welcome happy hour held the night before the wedding. His mom, sister, and brother-in-law packed them up in cellophane baggies, tied off with orange ribbon and finished with a sticker designed by Craig.
The couple chose Roche Harbor Resort, close to their home in Seattle, for their wedding locale. The spot dates back to the 1800s, offers a variety of activities (kayaking, hiking, wine tasting, and whale watching to name a few), and highlights the Pacific Northwest and its beauty.
The setting also established the mood for the big day, which was classic, casual, and full of natural elements. The autumnal colors of the foliage, the blue-green water of Haro Strait, the weathered lighthouse at Lime Kiln state park, the crisp white buildings, and the driftwood and gray stones lining the beaches all inspired the color palette and décor.
The grooms didn’t think twice about getting ready together. “It was one of the only times we weren’t surrounded by people the whole weekend and that quiet time was nice,” Craig says. “It helped ground us for the ceremony and celebration ahead. Although it got a little stressful when it came to tying the bow ties.”
Marigold and Mint created boutonnieres of blue hydrangeas, rose hips, and dahlia buds, tied off with silk ribbon.
Among the Trees
The couple took to the woods near the house they rented for the weekend, for a portrait among the trees.
Portraits About Town
Since many of their guests stayed at the resort, Craig and Andrew kept running in to them as they took their pre-ceremony portraits at the hotel and around town.
The Ceremony Spot
The late-afternoon ceremony took place in the garden at Roche Harbor Resort. Craig put a dozen bouquets together to line the aisle.
Craig designed, built, and painted signage posted throughout the wedding, like this one welcoming everyone to the ceremony. “I wanted them to look like they belonged at Roche Harbor—a little vintage and appropriate for the surrounding architecture,” he notes. “But I also wanted them to tie in to the wedding design, colors, and graphics.” He used custom adhesive laser-cut stencils from SayWhat? and aged the wood with crackle paint and a wash of brown and black acrylic paint.
Love songs from the 1970s played as guests were seated, and the service kicked off as the grooms entered—Andrew with his father, and Craig with his mother—to “Eveningland” by Hem.
Both cite the ceremony as a truly memorable part of the day.
Their Beloved Dog
The couple’s pup, Cooper, was an important part of the day. He had flunked out of a service-dog program when the duo adopted him about eight years prior, but was still highly trained. They put his experience to use, and the pooch carried the rings down the aisle in a basket that Craig’s mom had outfitted with a blue linen ring pillow with orange silk ribbon. Cooper performed the task with flying colors after hearing his dads call him from the top of the aisle, and he looked dapper doing it in his Harding & Wilson bow tie.
A Happy Moment
“We don’t take the privilege of getting married lightly,” Craig says of how special the day felt. “And we were so moved and humbled by the love and support of the family and friends who were able to come and celebrate with us—and those that couldn’t attend, but had us in their thoughts that day.”
All Together Now
Cocktail hour took place in a nearby courtyard. Andrew curated a playlist, which was a mix of soul, electronic, and electro-soul tunes, with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Chet Faker, and Little Dragon.
Guests sipped on Manhattans and other libations, while noshing on appetizers. On the menu: Black tiger prawns with wasabi-infused cocktail sauce, ahi tuna and wasabi créme fraîche on sesame crackers, wagyu beef sliders, double cream Brie and Yakima Valley pear tartlets, and a selection of Northwestern cheese, fruits, and nuts.
The Selfie Station
In lieu of signing a traditional guest book, attendees were encouraged to snap selfies with a digital camera provided by the grooms. The images were later made into a book as a special keepsake.
The Escort Cards
Escort cards were printed by Moo (a company that specializes in business cards). Since you can customize them by varying one side of each card and keeping the other constant, the couple opted to use photos Craig had taken on a visit to the island the previous year (some of the same pics were used on their wedding website, too). They were held upright with little wood stands that Craig made by slicing into pieces of downed branches, and displayed in a vintage silver-plated platter.
On the Flip Side
On the back of each card, the words “Table No.” were printed in blue above an orange circle. Table numbers were later rubber-stamped using white ink, and guests’ names filled in by hand.
Centerpieces made by Craig’s sister Tammy and mother, Carol, consisted of five different varieties of dahlias, garden roses, tea roses, spray roses, crab apple branches, rose hip branches, seeded eucalyptus, and raspberry leaves. The flowers were all grown at farms in Washington and Oregon.
The centerpieces, surrounded by gray glass votive candle holders, sat atop wooden platforms to add a natural element to the mix and reference the driftwood on the island. Craig made the platforms using framing-grade 2” x 12” Douglass Fir lumber, which were cut down to size, sanded, and stained with a mixture of white vinegar, steel wool, and a few rusty nails (left to sit for a few days, diluted with water). A white glaze was added to finish them. Inky blue linen runners (another project by Craig’s sister) tied it all together.
Organic McIntosh apples from Grouse Mountain Farm in Chelan, Washington, brought another pop of color, and local element, to the tables. Pieces of blue silk ribbon were tied to their stems the night before.
Streamers hung overhead and were draped along the stone fireplaces and railings of the pavilion in which the dinner took place. To make them, Craig cut out 1,100 pieces of blue Nepalese lokta paper, and his mother and sister made a production line, gluing the squares to lengths of cotton cord and adding a small square of brass between the layers of paper to add some weight and help the garland hang well.
“We planned the décor for months leading up to the wedding. It was a big hands-on family effort,” Craig says. “It was really one of my favorite things about the whole wedding experience—having the opportunity to work with them and collaborate.”
Family and friends alike dined at the buffet, which boasted organic baby spinach, Caesar salad, oven-roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes, two kinds of macaroni and cheese, prime rib, and king salmon with heirloom tomato and Walla Walla onion relish.
Though Andrew and Craig had seen the alcove by the main doors to the pavilion a few times during their visits to the space, they forgot to account for it in their design plans. The large white space, and its prominent location, was screaming out for something. Extra pieces of the wood that was used on the reception tables was set in place, along with candles and tall glass vases holding rose hip branches that were leftover from other décor.
The design of the cake reflected the simple and natural décor. Swiss meringue buttercream enrobed the three-tier confection, which was accented with sculpted sugar rose hips by Carla Reich of Honey Crumb Cake Studio. Inside were two flavor combinations: a citrus-vanilla cake with lemon zest and orange blossom water, filled with lemon and wild blueberry mousseline; and a vanilla buttermilk cake with dark chocolate chips, filled with chocolate truffle cream.