A Modern, Elegant Seattle Wedding in a Sculpture Park
After meeting at a Halloween party, Steve Hoedemaker (left) and Tommy Swenson (right) experienced a horror story of their own. But unlike most frights, this one ended in a proposal. About four years into their relationship, the pair was camping in Alaska when a storm rolled in and stranded them on a mountain for days. Luckily, as they were finishing the last few bags of nuts they'd packed, a flight made it up the mountain and delivered them safely back to Anchorage. On their last night there, Steve proposed to Tommy. "The joke is that I didn’t give him a rock; we got engaged on a rock," says Steve.
Soon after returning home, the Seattle-based couple (who playfully refer to themselves as "Stommy") began planning a wedding that showcased their beloved Pacific Northwest. The mountains surrounding Seattle inspired the event's blue and gray color scheme. As a venue, the grooms chose The Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park for its modern but organic feel—an overall thread running through the wedding festivities. 164 guests gathered on September 19, 2015 to witness Steve and Tommy's marriage. As for his favorite moment of the day, Tommy fondly remembers, "stepping off the stage and walking through our friends and family while holding my husband's hand. My heart was bursting through my chest."
Frederick Stivers, an artist and friend of the couple, created a custom watercolor hinting at just one of the wedding location's amazing pieces of art—Alexander Calder's The Eagle. Hillary Fieldsend Design made the modern invitation suite, which was printed on textured paper and used a clean, capitalized font.
Steve opted for vintage cuff links while Tommy wore a pair from Tiffany & Co. The twosome also donned complementary pins made by a pal, which they incorporated into their boutonnieres.
All About Family
The wedding party of four was comprised of a brother and a sister from each groom's side of the family.
Before the ceremony, the duo paused for a kiss and some portraits by Richard Serra's sculpture Wake.
The Ceremony Location
Steve, an architect, and Tommy, a nurse anesthetist, chose the Olympic Sculpture Park partly because of their love of contemporary art. The venue also allowed them to combine their love for the city of Seattle with their desire for an outdoor wedding. During the ceremony, guests enjoyed views of both the city and the sound.
The Ring Bearer
Everyone was all smiles as Tommy's nephew walked down the aisle as the ring bearer.
The grooms walked down the aisle separately with Steve appearing from behind a sculpture and Tommy descending a staircase. They walked towards each other while the Total Experience Gospel Choir performed Etta James's "At Last." It was important to Steve and Tommy to put as much thought and special meaning into planning the ceremony as they did into planning the party. Thus, the couple wrote their own vows and had friends perform a few readings they had selected.
The Cocktail Hour
The cocktail hour was timed so that guests could enjoy the park pavilion’s patio during the late-summer sunset. Billboard hits played on the piano much to the crowd's delight. "Have you ever heard Beyoncé on a baby grand piano? You should," says Steve. Before heading to dinner, Tommy's aunt sang Amy Winehouse's "Our Day Will Come."
The Escort Cards
After finding their names on these handwritten escort cards in the wedding's signature hues, guests moved into the Olympic Sculpture Park's Paccar Pavilion for dinner.
The Reception Tables
To keep everyone close, narrow tables were set, and ghost chairs ensured that the focus stayed on the tables and views. Nisha Kelen of Fleurish created floral arrangements that emphasized "simple elegance—without pretension or predictability," says Tommy of the small centerpieces that incorporated a mix of white and green flowers, greenery, and potted plants.
The Place Settings
Handwritten place cards tied to mini baguettes helped people find their seats.
Guests feasted on arugula salad, salmon with quinoa, tenderloin with roasted potatoes, and summer squash fava bean succotash. In place of a cake, sweet carts passed out creamsicle popsicles and individual-sized ice creams.
The escort card board transformed into an instant photo station during the reception as guests wrote on polaroids they snapped before pinning them up. Later, Steve and Tommy compiled the photos in an album.
The First Dance
The newlyweds chose The New Basement Tapes's "When I Get My Hands on You" for their first dance. Later in the party, the crowd danced to Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together," the couple's go-to karaoke song.
As the night came to an end, guests were sent home with colorful macarons tied with blue twine and a calligraphed tag sporting the pair's initials.
Photography, Belathée Photography
Location, Olympic Sculpture Park
Officiant, Karen Schwartz
Escort card frame, Fast Frame