Hanna and Bret’s Fourth of July Wedding Rehearsal Dinner
To kick off their nuptial weekend, Hanna Ritt and Bret Richheimer welcomed their guests to town in an iconic way—with a rehearsal dinner in the heart of Seattle Center, at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. What followed got in to the holiday spirit, as the date was July 4, 2014. “Even though I grew up in Seattle, our family had never watched fireworks from the Space Needle nor had most of our Seattle guests,” Hanna says of the afterparty activity that took place atop the city’s most recognized building. “It was fantastic being able to do something so extraordinary in Seattle.”
Inspired by the red, orange, and yellow glass art flowers on display at the venue, stationer La Happy designed a flat-printed invite with illustrated flowers cascading down from the top of the card. A fuchsia envelope with a complementary liner, and a response postcard completed the set.
As a Seattle native, Hanna grew up knowing about Dale Chihuly, the artist based in Tacoma, Washington. Back in 2009, after Bret competed in a triathlon in Florida, the couple went to a local exhibit to see more of his work, becoming further fascinated with Chihuly. And four years later while back home during her engagement, Hanna visited Chihuly Garden and Glass near the famous Space Needle, knowing immediately that was where she wanted to get married. But with her guest list topping 300, the space was too small for their reception. Hanna instead opted to hold the rehearsal dinner there, kicking off their celebration among the glass masterpieces.
As the 130 guests arrived, they were offered passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and then made their way through the galleries, mingling with one another and getting more familiar with the glass artist’s work along the way.
The seated dinner took place in the glasshouse, which spotlights a 100-foot-long floral glass sculpture suspended from the 40-foot-tall glass-and-steel ceiling. The colors of the piece also fit in perfectly with the couple’s sunset-inspired wedding the following night.
“I felt so energized and loved by everyone who joined us,” Hanna recalls. “We were within a venue of gorgeous, color-saturated modern glass art and surrounded by our family and friends. From start to finish, our time together was magical, and the evening was the perfect balance of elegance and fun.”
Hanna chose a Monique Lhuillier bandeau top and an abstract patterned skirt with a train. “I felt like I was at a red carpet event,” she says.
That’s So Clutch
Hanna’s sister Jessica gave her a Saint Laurent clutch as a pre-wedding gift, knowing the colors and material would complement her skirt perfectly.
The Color of Love
Before their guests arrived, the couple paused for a few photographs, like this one under a row of Chihuly’s suspended pieces.
Two rows of long tables were covered in gray linens and set with clear ghost chairs, keeping the overall aesthetic modern. “The hanging glass flowers in the Chihuly garden room make such a beautiful statement, and so we wanted to mirror the hanging glass poppies by replicating the look through the centerpieces and the paper goods,” says event designer Steve Moore of Sinclair & Moore. “We chose gray linens so they would blend with the cement floors, and the ghost chairs added to the simplicity while also playing on the theme of all the glass. This kept the Chihuly glass as the main focus, while still creating a beautiful setting to celebrate Hanna and Bret.”
Rectangular glass vessels held poppies arranged by Sinclair & Moore, referencing the artwork overhead. Pillar candles were interspersed, adding a warm glow to the summer fête.
Since their rehearsal dinner took place on the Fourth of July, Bret got into the holiday spirit, sporting patriotic socks.
A menu and place card dressed up each place setting.
Guests dined on a Southern barbecue-style feast (befitting the holiday weekend and nodding to the bride and groom’s time in the South during college) via four buffet stations as a playlist prepared by Bret provided the soundtrack. The food included ribs, seafood, baked potatoes, and collard greens.
“My parents were very involved throughout the entire wedding process, and I truly had fun planning the various wedding events with them,” Hanna says of her mom, Laurie, and dad, Steven. “The rehearsal dinner was a wonderful ‘warm up’ for us. My parents had never met half of the guests, so it took the pressure off of trying to meet and socialize with each guest the next night at the wedding. Their goal was to connect the dots and figure out who everybody was. By the end of the evening, Mom and Dad had become acquainted with all of Bret’s family members and our mutual friends from New York, which was quite the feat.”
The toasts kicked off with a college friend of Bret’s telling the story of how Bret and Hanna first met—on a trip to Israel the three of them took. Then four of Hanna’s best childhood friends grouped together to give a toast. Two of Bret’s high school pals and another college buddy followed. Hanna’s Uncle Donald gave a quasi-roast of the pair. “He was very witty and a comedian in his own right,” Hanna says. “Everyone was laughing hysterically.”
After dinner and speeches concluded, another 120 guests joined the immediate family and bridal party for cocktails and desserts in the courtyard. Marshmallows were roasted, and there were a variety of sweet add-ons to pair with the summer staple, including gluten-free graham crackers for the bride, a self-proclaimed dessert addict.
As the rehearsal dinner wound down and the sun set over Lake Union, everyone ventured to the top of the Space Needle for the Independence Day fireworks, hosted by Bret’s father, Alan. The majority of people were from out of town, but it was a memorable experience for everyone, even the locals.
Location and Catering: Chihuly Garden and Glass
Event Coordination, Design, and Flowers: Sinclair & Moore
Photography: Belathée Photography
Videography: The Ranch Studios
Stationery: La Happy
Hair and Makeup: Erin Skipley
Transportation: Butler Seattle
Fireworks Viewing Venue: The Space Needle