This Autumn Harvest-Inspired Wedding Will Make You Wish It Were Fall All Year Round
At its core, Amber and Matt's wedding was an homage to their origins. They met through mutual friends as college freshmen at the University of Washington, but didn't truly connect until they were on the other side of their undergraduate years, in the spring of 2012. "I was waitressing at a local brewery, and Matt came in with some friends. I had always thought Matt was cute and felt giddy when he sat down at a table in my section. I tried to play it cool when I approached the table, but when he smiled and said hello to me, I stammered and lost all sense of cool," reflects Amber. "We hung out after my shift and spent most of that summer getting to know each other." Six years later, the couple was picnicking at Seahurst Park to celebrate six years together. "As the sun was setting, Matt handed me a gift in celebration of our sixth anniversary. Tucked inside the corner of a book of National Parks—a symbol of all the adventures we'd go on together—was the ring," says Amber. " The actual proposal was perfect—thoughtful and sweet, just like him."
The couple knew their nuptials would be held in the Pacific Northwest; the region holds their history. After she and Matt chose their venue, the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle (which happens to be located near the University of Washington, where it all began) to hold their October 12, 2019, event, Amber started searching for a florist who could help her achieve the harvest-themed, foliage- and fruit-filled celebration she envisioned. "Because floral design was so important to me, I spoke with at least 10 florists before I had a call with and decided on Alana at Amarie Flora," says Amber. "She understood my vision right away and I knew I could trust her to bring everything to life." The overarching goal? "We wanted it to feel seasonal, but not kitschy or expected for an October wedding. We decided to use foliage and florals to elevate the ceremony space (to create a feeling that guests had stumbled across a beautiful secret meadow) and reception (using seasonal fruit and mixed centerpieces to create the feeling of a fall harvest feast in the reception hall)," notes Amber. "Alana nailed it."
With the help of the team from Willow & Ivy Events, who ensured the day's itinerary unfolded accordingly, Amber, an attorney, and Matt, a physician, crafted a romantic event that paid homage to the season and to their beginnings, thanks to a surprise visit by the University of Washington marching band and, later, an after-party at their favorite college dive bar. As for Amber's best advice for couples currently planning their own celebrations? "Try not to get caught up in what everyone else does or what you think you should or have to do. Remember, it is your day; do what feels right for you two," she says.
In Fall Bloom
"When looking at venues, I gravitated towards industrial and modern spaces in downtown Seattle," explains the bride. "Matt, who grew up fishing, hiking, and camping in the Pacific Northwest, really wanted to be surrounded by nature. The Center for Urban Horticulture combined both." Amber fell in love with the outdoor ceremony space ("Fall weather in Seattle is unpredictable, but I was determined to have a romantic outdoor ceremony under the trees!") and the glass atrium, which allowed guests to explore the gardens during the event.
Simple and Sleek
It wasn't a surprise that Amber selected a Pronovias wedding dress; she'd had her eye on a few of the Barcelona-based atelier's garments from the start of her search. She didn't, however, see her fitted crepe mermaid gown, complete with a V-neckline, embroidery, and buttons down the back, coming: "It wasn't the style I had in mind for myself, but once I put it on, I had a feeling different than any other I'd experienced while trying on dresses that day," she explains of her first shopping trip in Seattle with her bridesmaids. She ultimately purchased the gown on a second trip—to Ania Bridal in Portland—with family. The finishing touch? A cathedral-length veil from Essense of Australia.
Amber's bouquet—comprised of local dahlias, roses, lisianthus, celosia, scabiosa, chocolate cosmos, smokebush, hydrangea, peppermint tree, and heavenly bamboo foliage—combined neutral and burgundy hues, and highlighted the event's seasonal palette. The bouquet, created by Alana at Amarie Flora, was tied with velvet ribbon that echoed the color gradient of the bridesmaids' dresses.
All the King's Men
A First Look
In front of a wall of transitional fall foliage, Amber and Matt shared their first look. Ahead of the moment—while waiting for her cue—Amber spent some time alone to "self-reflect before everything started," she says. And during? "I felt giddy—all I could really do was smile and kiss Matt."
Ring of Fire
The ceremony took place in the venue's meadow, surrounded by filbert trees; the rust-and-gold foliage was at its peak. With so much natural beauty, the surroundings needed little embellishment—so the couple's florist mindfully created textural grounded installations, composed of organic foliage and dried floral elements, which rose up from the the grass. They framed the entrance of the aisle and culminated in a half-moon circle, which marked the altar.
Walk with Dad
A live harpist from Pluck Music filled the meadow with music as Amber and her father, Charles, made their way down the aisle. "Our relationship has really evolved over the last decade and I'm so grateful we were able to share that moment. He kept me calm and centered," reflects Amber.
"Matt's vows blew me away!" says Amber of her husband's hand-written promises. "They were funny, real, and emotional—he managed to make me cry and laugh." The non-religious service, which was officiated by the couple's dear friend Tony Creveling and included a reading from Les Miserables delivered by Matt's sister, was far more emotional than the bride had anticipated: "When planning the wedding, I thought so much about the design and logistics, but didn't think much of how I would feel during the ceremony."
She needed a few moments to ground herself before delivering her own vows, she shares. "I felt so much love and commitment for Matt, and excitement for our future together. It is hard to put into words, but it was the most powerful moment of my life."
Ahead of the service, guests were given satchels of rose petals and fall leaves to toss as Amber and Matt walked back up the aisle, hand-in-hand, as husband and wife.
Fall All Around
The reception unfolded inside the Center for Urban Horticulture's interior hall, which had been transformed into an elegant fall harvest scene, notes the couple's planning team from Willow & Ivy Events. Cozy linens blanketed the walls, while branch-centric centerpieces made the room feel more like an orchard.
In addition to textural foliage, rectangular tables, set with warm gray linens, were dotted with seasonal fruits (like ripened figs, grapes, and pomegranates), votive candles, and bud vases.
Several round stations were topped with smaller compote arrangements filled with fall favorites like smokebush and cosmos.
"We skipped the cocktail hour to take portraits, sign our marriage license, and enjoy drinks and appetizers, just the two of us," says Amber of the moments before the reception. "A few friends came into the room to congratulate us and bring us more Prosecco. We spied on our guests from the room and pumped each other up for our grand entrance."
The couple took their first dance to "Baby" by Joe and Donnie Emerson. "Although over 150 people were watching us, our first dance felt like it was just us, in our kitchen, dancing to our favorite love song," says the bride.
Amber had a special surprise waiting for Matt—who played trumpet growing up, and for a year with the The University of Washington Husky Marching Band—following their first dance: a performance by the very same marching band. "As our first dance was winding down, the band started playing the University of Washington fight song from outside and marched into the glass atrium. The band circled into the room, the music echoing and vibrating the glass walls," recalls Amber. "A large number of our guests went to UW and the marching band is a big part of football season. They really elevated the energy: People were clapping, cheering, and dancing. After they played about five songs, it was time to party."
For dessert, Amber and Matt served a three-tier confection—topped with smooth white buttercream and fresh florals and fruit—by Rue Cler Cake.
"After the wedding, we hopped in Ubers and headed to a nearby dive bar called Duchess. Matt and I had both gone to this bar in college—and we also learned that Matt's parents went to the same bar when they were at UW," says Amber of the unofficial after-party. "The night of our wedding, UW played a late away-game and when we showed up at the bar, it was full of UW fans who cheered for Matt and me when we walked in. We drank beers and ate bar snacks. It gave us a chance to connect with those we missed at the wedding and enjoy the company of our wedding party a bit longer. It was a great night cap."
Photography, Sara Welch Photo Co.
Venue, Center for Urban Horticulture
Wedding Coordination, Willow & Ivy Events
Videography, Earth Below Photo
Flowers, Amarie Flora
Stationery, Betty Lu Paperie
Officiant, Tony Creveling
Bride's Gown, Pronovias via Ania Bridal
Veil, Essense of Australia
Jewelry, Olive & Piper
Shoes, Sam Edelman
Hair and Makeup, Pacific Brides
Bridesmaids' Dresses, BHLDN, Jenny Yoo
Menswear, The Black Tux, The Tie Bar
Rings, Nichole Pendergast
Guest Book, Willow Gifts Co.
Music, Pluck Music (ceremony), DJ Wick (reception and lighting)
Marching Band, The University of Washington Husky Marching Band
Catering and Rentals, Duos Catering
Cake, Rue Cler Cake