Our AMAZING Vendor Team:
Photography: Nick Plus Danee (+ Lexi!)
Videography: Silver Bear Creative
Floral: Alanna Jae Floral
Wedding Dress: Martina Liana + New Beginnings Bridal Studio
Ceremony Venue: Crystal Mountain Resort
Bridesmaid/Godmother Dresses: Azazie
Groom/Groomsmen Attire: The Tux Shop
Wedding Cake: Safeway (really!)
Stationery: Weddings by Eccentricity
Ceremony DJ: DJ Rocryte
Was our wedding day flawless? Not one bit! SO many things didn’t go according to plan on our wedding day. But was our wedding day BETTER than we initially imagined? Absolutely!! Here’s why...
Planning a wedding during a global pandemic is not for the faint of heart. By the time our wedding day arrived, I’m pretty sure I planned 10 different weddings. We planned a wedding for a guest list of 175, then 150, then 100, then 50, and even 5 at one point! We then finally landed on less than 35 guests (and this included our vendors).
With the ever-changing guest list, you can imagine that saying, “our wedding planning process was complicated” can be seen as an understatement. Not only were we pivoting to the dynamic health regulations that changed on a day-to-day basis… well… there was even a point when we didn’t even know if my groom would be able to attend our wedding! (And I’d say he’s pretty important, wouldn’t you agree? :p)
It’s easy to be lighthearted about it in hindsight, but I’m not kidding about the fact that we didn’t even know if Lucas was going to make it home in time for our wedding set for August. If you didn’t catch my latest blog post, Lucas was deployed for 11 months. Once the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the government held all flights to and from Afghanistan for a long time. We worried over whether he was going to make it home in time for the wedding, but more importantly, if he was going to make it home safely. Hopefully you can understand that upon his homecoming, we were just ready to be married – no matter what our day looked like!
2020 was (and still is) humbling. It has not-so-gently taught us that weddings aren’t about the perfect shoes, the epic location, or the mouth-watering reception dinner. Our main priority became a sense of togetherness with each other and our loved ones. Celebrating the love that we’re committing to nourish forever can take all kinds of forms!
I truly believe that this mindset was what helped us through all the curve balls we were thrown this past year. That, and our amazing support system (family, friends and vendors), who continuously gave us the unconditional love and flexibility we needed to come out the other side – happy, healthy, and… married!!
All of this to preface that no – our wedding was not flawless. There was a looming health risk, a reduced guest list, a cancelled reception venue, fog, and even sunburns. But with every “hole” that showed up on our boat, we were met with the unconditional love from family, friends, and vendors alike ready to patch every hole back up. Witnessing that kind of support is just magical in itself.
And with that, let me start from the beginning…
On The Night Before Our Wedding
Our original plans were to book two cabins about 25 minutes away from our mountain venue. We planned for Lucas to get ready at one cabin with his groomsmen, and for me to get ready at another with my bridesmaids. With Covid-19 caution very much on our minds, we decided to throw tradition out the window, and stayed in the same cabin the night before our wedding with my immediate family (we were living in the same household at the time). So, after our rehearsal on Friday afternoon, we all stayed in a gorgeous three-bedroom cabin with a beautiful deck and firepit in the backyard. Pictures couldn’t do this cabin justice! It’s the perfect wooden cabin tucked into the PNW trees, owned by a lovely man and his beautiful Dalmatian, Molly!
On the night before our wedding, Lucas and I read letters to each other, ate Bowen burgers with our loved ones at the Summit Restaurant, danced around with our videography team until sunset, and honestly…? We ended the night treating Lucas’ intense sunburn that he got on his face and neck during rehearsal! (Yeah… not ideal on the night before your wedding… lol.)
A Beautiful Cabin in the PNW Woods
We woke up the next morning with his sunburn as bright as the Red Sox (let me know if you got that joke… :p). Although we iced and treated his sunburn with aloe vera, there was no way the redness would fade before the ceremony. Just as we started to accept Lucas’ sunburnt fate, our “coordinator” (aka one of our very good friends since high school), Taylor, saved the day with some epic makeup magic. Yep! Secret’s out – Lucas shamelessly wore tinted moisturizer and a bit of concealer on our wedding day, and you couldn’t even tell!
With the sunburn crisis resolved, we finished getting ready in the cabin with Costco sandwiches, coffee, and mimosas fueling us up for the big day. My best friend and Matron of Honor, Chelsey, was also my hair and makeup artist. (She's literally the best!) Once she started on my makeup, Lucas was officially kicked out of the cabin. Just because we broke tradition the night before, didn’t mean that we were going to let him see me prior to the ceremony. Lucas was actually the one who insisted that he avoid seeing me until I walk down the aisle (no First Look either!), so exiled from the cabin he was that morning.
While I finished getting ready with the girls, Lucas’ family and groomsmen took photos. The weather forecast predicted a cloudy day, and a cloudy day it definitely was. You never know what you’re going to get with the PNW, especially in the mountains! Although we hoped for a clear day, our hearts were prepared for a moody PNW day too. We were going to get married on August 8th, 2020 – rain or shine!
Luckily, it didn’t rain, but it was a bit cloudy. As we took pictures outside the cabin the sun would shine through the clouds every now and then. It shined just enough to glisten on many happy tears that were shed during the bridal reveal to my dad and my bridesmaids. My brother’s and his girlfriend’s initial reactions were also priceless!
I had three bridesmaids stand beside me on my wedding day – Chelsey, Lauren, and Clarice. I’ve known Chelsey and Lauren since high school dance team (about 9 years now), and I’ve known my cousin, Clarice, since we were making embarrassing YouTube music videos in middle school (about 12 years now?!). In addition to my three bridesmaids that stood next to me physically, I had a fourth bridesmaid who attended from a distance, Rachel! She’s an awesome momma to her first-born son over in Texas (who was born about a month before our wedding) so she was understandably unable to attend in person, but her love was still felt all the same.
Lucas also had three groomsmen stand beside him – Ray, Brent, and Elliott. Ray was Lucas’ battle buddy when he was deployed to Afghanistan, so not only do I owe Ray for bringing my husband safely back home, they’re also practically brothers! Brent has known Lucas since high school, and Elliott and Lucas have been friends for over 20 years (I know! Goals). Even prior to knowing about the pandemic and its resulting health regulations, Lucas and I chose an intimate wedding party intentionally. We didn’t realize at the time that it ended up being a very appropriate decision!
As mentioned earlier, Lucas insisted that we opt out of a First Look at the cabin. He wanted our “First Look” to be when I’m already walking down the aisle. Alternatively, we shared a First Moment. He couldn’t see me around the corner, but we were able to hold hands and talk for a few minutes before he went up to the mountain to wait for me to arrive. I didn’t know it at the time, but Lucas told me he was trying not to cry around the corner. He also mentioned that he was nervous. Although I felt my own share of nerves, the excitement overwhelmed me! I was going to marry my best friend in just a couple of hours!!
We Said “I Do” at 6,872ft!
To allow for plenty of time to get Lucas up to the ceremony platform without seeing me in my dress, my family and I took more photos at the cabin before we made our way to the venue. Lucas and I excitedly chose Crystal Mountain Resort as our wedding ceremony venue because we aligned on the fact that we both didn’t want a ballroom, barn, or church wedding. Our hearts frequented the mountains, so we found it too fitting to say our “I Do’s” on top of one! Crystal Mountain Resort was also much closer to our hometown than Leavenworth was, so our souls (and pockets!) were sold to a venue 6,000 ft above sea level! The beautiful gondola ride up to the platform allowed for all of our guests to attend without hiking up a mountain ;), and we wanted to provide our guests with a memorable experience that showcased our beloved PNW home. Even with a little fog, the panoramic views were breath-taking!
I rode up the gondola with my dad, with my mom and brother in the gondola before us. I still remember approaching the gondola platform up top, where I saw Lucas standing in his grey suit with his back facing me. I remember being so excited it warmed me right up. I was asked a few times if I was cold and needed a jacket, but I really didn’t need one. My adrenaline was kicking in!
I waited around the corner with my dad. He helped me hold onto the train of my dress, while I held onto my bridal bouquet of White O'Hara Garden Roses, Dahlias, Spray Roses, and Ranunculus, paired with an assortment of Eucalyptus greenery, Dusty Miller, and Ruscus. I remember telling him that I was ready, and he smiled at me. We heard an instrumental version of “You Are the Reason” begin to play, and I knew that was when our wedding party started to walk down the aisle. First it was our officiant, Uncle Jeff, accompanied by my Aunt Loretta (also our godparents). Followed by Lucas’ parents, and then my mom accompanied by my brother, Joe. Up next were our godparents (Uncle Glenn, Aunt Mel, Uncle Jun, Aunt Shirley) all suited up or wearing Stormy blue dresses, followed by our grey suited groomsmen, and Dusty Blue bridesmaids.
All of our guests were beaming as our flower girl, Emma (our niece), toddled nervously yet glamorously down the aisle while sprinkling white rose petals with her lace-gloved hands and flower crown. (The flower girl basket she held was the same basket I used when I was a flower girl around her age!)
I remember this next moment so vividly. Our coordinator (aka Lucas’ water polo buddy from high school), Johnny, popped his head around the corner and asked me if I was ready. A moment later, the song “The One” (originally by Kodaline) sung by Matt Johnson and John Adams began to play on the speakers. This song was special because Lucas picked it out for our First Dance. Little did he know I surprised him and decided to walk down the aisle to it… it sparked a beautiful reaction from him too.
With my arm linked in the crook of my dad’s arm, and my bridal veil blowing gently in the wind, we descended down the steps together. I remember locking eyes with my groom, who was standing on the other side of the aisle smiling up at me. I didn’t know it at the time, but there wasn’t a dry eye in sight (thankfully we have amazing photographers who captured every moment we missed!).
“Tell me… tell me that you want me, and I’ll be yours completely, for better or for worse… I know, we’ll have our disagreements, be fighting for no reason, I wouldn’t change it for the world… ‘Cause I knew, the first day that I met you, I was never going to let you, let you slip away… And I, still remember feeling nervous… trying to find the words, to get you here today.”
I remember hearing those words echo as I walked over to my forever adventure partner. I remember thinking about all of the obstacles we had to face to get us to that moment. The lyrics of “The One” will forever hold a special place in my heart knowing he chose them for us: “You make my heart feel like its summer, when the rain is pouring down. You make my whole world feel so right, when its wrong. That’s how I know you are the one. That’s how I know you are the one.”
Our external world outside that moment was in fact, “wrong.” With the pandemic and political unrest happening this year, there were countless things that burdened us on a daily basis. But on that day, we celebrated the fact that we had each other’s support to battle through it all together, and that felt right.
Together, my mom and dad gave me away to join Lucas at the front while they took their seats. We asked our officiant aka my Uncle/Godfather Jeff to marry us, and we are so grateful that he said yes! We were his very first wedding, which made his decision even more special. My Uncle Jeff was the youngest of my mom’s brothers, and he was always nearby when I was growing up. I have always looked up to his marriage with my Aunt/Godmother Loretta, so it felt right that he ended up being the one marrying us.
He made us laugh, he made us smile, and he gave us powerful advice on how to cultivate a happy marriage. Lucas and I exchanged our vows (we wrote our own!), many tears were shed, and the rings were placed on our left hands. After a moment more, we were sealing the deal with a kiss and we were dancing down the aisle to “Best of You” by Andy Grammer ft. Elle King. We were FINALLY Mr. and Mrs. Swanson!!
We spent the next hour hanging out with our awesome photo and video team. We took a moment to soak in the views, while also soaking up the fact that we were HUSBAND and WIFE! We climbed over rocks, stumbled through gravel, and laughed through it all. Luckily my cheeks were hurting more from smiling than my feet were from my heels! Lucas and I were both on such a wedding high that we didn't even feel the cool mountain breeze while we were taking pictures. We even embraced it since it allowed for some epic veil photos. :)
Intimate Backyard Reception
Once we captured enough moments to hang on our walls one day, we rode the gondola back down with our vendors. Lauren drove us to our backyard reception that took place at my Uncle/Godfather Jeff’s and Aunt/Godmother Loretta’s house! They graciously decided to host us in their backyard with socially distant tables and plenty of sanitizer when our initial reception was cancelled by the venue. Taylor and Johnny hauled all of our ceremony flowers to our backyard reception, so they were able to re-use all of the floral décor along the pathways and tables. Name cards were placed so guests knew to stay within their households as best they could and there were reminder cards to social distance and wear masks as appropriate.
Candles lined the backyard with lights strung through the trees, white linen tablecloths covered the round tables, and simple green ceremony floral made for an elegant event space. You wouldn’t believe that it only took my aunt 2 weeks to plan and design her house for a wedding reception!!!
My brother, Joe, MC'd for us. He welcomed us to the reception, said a quick prayer, and then dinner began. We ate Filipino food made by our favorite local Filipino restaurant, FilCuisine, consisting of lechon, pancit, lumpia, and more! As a precautionary step, two of our cousins even served all of our guests with masks and gloved-up hands.
Toasts were shared by my brother, the Matron of Honor, the Best Man, my parents, one of our godmothers, and Lucas’ dad that made us laugh and cry! Lucas’ dad shared a story about when he first met me - he was impressed that I drove the big Tundra truck as Designated Driver for the boys when we went to Texas. Joe shared about Lucas dominating their Fantasy Football league two years in a row. My aunt shared a story about how Lucas was the only one in our family of Filipinos that held up the Philippines flag with so much pride during the Filipino Night Mariner’s baseball game a few years ago. And of course, my mom shared some tear-filled words that left everyone grabbing for tissues (especially me!!).
Filled with warm words of love, Lucas and I stepped under the gazebo for our first dance as Mr. and Mrs. We danced to, “Extraordinary Magic” by Ben Rector. My dad joined me on the dance floor next, and there’s no exaggeration when I tell you that I cried the entire time! I knew that it would be an emotional moment since we were dancing to, “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle. This was sentimental because my dad loved this song since I was a kid, and we also danced to it during my 18th birthday debut. Now we were finally completing the song by dancing to it on my wedding day, and the tears began to fall once he surprised me by singing along! Many, many tears were shed.
Lucas and his mom were up next to dance. They danced to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. While Lucas and his mom were dancing, our flower girl (aka niece) begged to dance with Lucas too, so they danced to “Some Things Never Change” from Frozen 2! :)
Afterwards, the evening was winding down. We tossed the bouquet and garter, shoved cake in Lucas’ face, played the "shoe" game, and danced the night away with sparklers. It was so much fun to see everyone dancing for a little bit even if guests were spaced out - whether guests were on the dance floor, by the fire pit, by their dinner table, in the kitchen… the entire backyard ended up being our dance floor!
Did 2020 Ruin Our Wedding?
Not one bit! We don’t think our day would’ve been as magical if it happened too perfectly. We had many friends tell us things like, “I feel so bad… you’re not getting the wedding you dreamed of.” While we appreciate their thoughts and empathy, here’s the thing… we’d rather hear, “Wow! I admire their resilience throughout all that life has thrown at them. I’m happy they found each other and wish them a lifetime of happiness!”
Because that’s the thing... the past year wasn’t ideal. But it’s an EXTREMELY small chapter in what life has in store for us. Is it going to get easier? Maybe not… but what’s important is learning how to make the most of what you’re given and counting your blessings along the way.
It surprised us that our wedding fell together so magically. It was nowhere near what we initially imagined, but felt so right. When we were forced to cut down the guest list, we had every intention to elope in 2020, and follow up with a bigger wedding and reception the following year (vow renewal and all) to celebrate with those who were unable to attend in 2020. However, Lucas and I loved every single bit of our special day. We simply have no desire to “re-do” it.
Although we are no longer planning a vow renewal or “second wedding,” we are instead hoping to plan an anniversary party sometime in the future. We’re hoping for August 2021, but it just depends on the status of the current health crisis. Once it is officially safe to celebrate with loved ones from all over the country again, our hope is to gather for dinner, drinks, and dancing to celebrate the resiliency we’ve all developed throughout 2020, and the love we continue to share.
Turns out, I didn’t – and still don’t – want the glittering fairy tale wedding. I don’t want the last page of a perfect storybook at all. Instead, I want our story, which includes the challenge, the hardship, the trials, and the authentic... Our imperfectly magical wedding showed us that as long as there’s love, we can handle anything life throws at us. A perfect wedding wouldn’t have been able to give us that.
Cheers to love!
Storytelling by Gen
Travel diaries from personal trips and photo adventures.