A Waterfront Wedding on an Island Just North of Seattle, Washington

kaitlin dan wedding place setting
Photo: KT Merry

With an octopus motif, a raw bar, and a reception on the sand, this couple pulled off a glamorous, "spooky ocean"-themed celebration in the Pacific Northwest.

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kaitlin dan wedding couple
KT Merry

Kaitlin Pleas and Dan Leineweber met at a tiki bar in San Francisco where a mutual friend was having a birthday party. Kaitlin, an innovation consultant, and Dan, a former chef and now a general contractor, started arguing over the definition of what could be considered raw food. He invited her to a dinner party and suggested they take a poll there. He also suggested grabbing drinks at a karaoke bar near her home. Ten seconds in, it was going great and they had unearthed many similarities between their families (they both have huge families) and upbringings (though she's from Seattle and he's a Chicago boy). He then impressed her with an enthusiastic rendition of "Proud Mary" and his sense of humor; and fell for her "roll with it" attitude.

Four dates in, he was talking about their future children. Less than a year later, they moved in together. About two years after that first meeting, Kaitlin returned home from a long day at work, ready to go for a walk with Dan to a nearby canyon where they'd gone on one of their first dates. There, with the engagement ring he'd designed just for Kaitlin, Dan popped the question. "I went through a look of total surrealness," Kaitlin recalls. "I didn't open the ring box until five minutes in. I was already saying 'yesyesyes.'"

The couple initially considered an intimate wedding abroad but when the guest list started pushing 200, they knew they needed to shift gears. "We looked at venues up and down the coast of California," Kaitlin says. "But then it got to a point where I was like, 'Why not do it at one of the most beautiful places that's super special to me and Dan's been to?'" The decision to wed at her parent's home on Whidbey Island, just a 15-minute ferry ride from Seattle, Washington, felt right.

When the bride and groom began the planning process, they were asked what their dream wedding would be like. They described it as a celebration with a "spooky ocean" theme because Kaitlin feels that there's something romantic about stormy weather. Their wedding planner and designer, Steve Moore of Sinclair and Moore, was able to take that idea and run with it. Steve incorporated elegant details like tarnished silver and ripped parchment paper to create a romantic, glamorous twist on the vibe the couple was hoping for. On September 9, 2017, just under 200 guests saw the wedding, with it's new stormy glamour theme, come to life.

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The Location

kaitlin dan wedding whidby island
KT Merry

Kaitlin's family has been going to their home in Whidbey Island for over 50 years, so it was a natural place for the couple to choose to have their wedding.

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Ocean-Inspired Invites

kaitlin dan wedding invitations
KT Merry

"There's a story about a giant squid that lives in the depths underneath the bridge on the north end of Whidbey Island," Kaitlin says of the tentacled creature that began the main motif of the wedding. "It's a story I've loved since I was little, so that was a nod to him, our squid friend."

Thanks to La Happy, the invitations had the squid foil-stamped onto the pieces—many of which were made with textured and torn-edged paper. The invite itself was paired with a piece of vellum and sealed with twine and a wax seal with the squid illustration. The suite was tucked into soft gray envelopes addressed in gold ink and sent with a mix of coastal-themed, vintage postage.

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Sisterly Love

kaitlin dan wedding sisters
KT Merry

Kaitlin's sisters, shown here, helped her find her wedding dress. The group searched long and hard until they found this lace Atelier Pronovias gown with a long train. "It was maybe not the best choice for the beach," she says. "Crabs, driftwood, and seaweed kept getting stuck in it as I walked down the beach, but I still loved it!"

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The Bridal Bouquet

kaitlin dan wedding bouquet
KT Merry

Steve Moore of Sinclair and Moore created Kaitlin's bouquet of scabiosa, roses, sea grass, ranunculus, lunaria, and lambs' ear, which was tied together with trailing raw-edge silk ribbon from Stella Wolfe. "We chose white flowers pretty early on in the planning so that it would fit with the overall vision," Steve says. "We used minimal greens so that it felt more appropriate for the beach."

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Tie One On

kaitlin dan wedding groom
KT Merry

In keeping with the ocean-inspired theme, Dan wore his grandfather's tie that has mermaids on it.

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The Boutonnières

kaitlin dan wedding boutonnieres
KT Merry

The guys added boutonnières of lunaria, gomphrena, wild spray roses, and sea grass to their lapels.

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Fun in the Sand

kaitlin dan wedding flower girls
KT Merry

Kaitlin's nieces served as flower girls. In total, there were eight kids under the age of seven in the wedding.

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Flags, Not Rings

kaitlin dan wedding ring bearer
KT Merry

The couple's tuxedo-clad nephews walked down the aisle holding flags instead of the rings.

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A Ceremony in the Sand

kaitlin dan wedding ceremony
KT Merry

The secular ceremony, which was led by one of Dan's family friends, focused on the couple's relationship and their family and friends. A close pal recited a Bob Marley quote about guys not being perfect but there being one guy that is perfect for you. It was kept short as the tide was coming in.

Guests sat in church pews, giving it a more traditional feeling even though the ceremony took place on the beach.

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Happily Married

kaitlin dan wedding recessional
KT Merry

The string ensemble played as the newlyweds recessed up the pampas grass-lined aisle with big smiles on their faces.

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Guiding the Way

kaitlin dan wedding lanterns
KT Merry

Lanterns in the sand lit the way as the sun set and added ambiance, too.

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kaitlin dan wedding cocktails
KT Merry

Though stacking coupe glasses into a Champagne tower wasn't conducive to the wedding on the beach, bubbly (with lavender sprigs) was made available for all guests.

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Into the Tent

kaitlin dan wedding raw bar lanterns
KT Merry

Due to overcast weather, the cocktail hour was moved inside the tent, which boasted round crystal chandeliers over the dance floor.

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Coastal Fare

kaitlin dan wedding raw bar
KT Merry

Dan loves all seafood and Kaitlin is a huge fan of king crab. Seeing as the wedding took place on the water, it was fitting that the seafood bar be bountiful.

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All the Love

kaitlin dan wedding mom
KT Merry

Dan's mom grabbed a cuddle with one of the ring bearers during cocktail hour.

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Passed Apps

kaitlin dan wedding appetizers
KT Merry

Deru Catering passed appetizers and cocktail napkins stamped with the signature cephalopod design.

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The Escort Cards

kaitlin dan wedding escort cards
KT Merry

Square cards calligraphed by La Happy with guests' names and table assignments boasted the squid wax seal at the top.

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A Striking Display

kaitlin dan wedding escort cards flower girls
KT Merry

The escort cards were affixed to an oversize wood board stained a light gray-blue color. Garlands of dried lunaria framed it by the entrance to the tent.

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Staying Warm

kaitlin dan wedding wraps
KT Merry

A heat wave was set to hit the area, but the weather shifted and temps ended up being much cooler than initially anticipated. To keep guests cozy, plenty of pashminas were on hand.

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Waving in the Wind

kaitlin dan wedding flags
KT Merry

A trio of large flags waved in the Pacific Northwest winds and also made for a photo op on the sand outside the tent. Another picture guests found themselves grabbing was of the beautiful sunset. "It was cloudy but started to break more and more as the day went on," Dan says. "At sunset, everyone was pouring out of the tent to take pictures. The mountains in the background set the scene."

"Whidbey typically doesn't have these gorgeous sunsets," Kaitlin says. "But there had been forest fires and smoke in the atmosphere. That combo made it incredible. The entire sky was pink."

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The Reception Tables

kaitlin dan wedding table
KT Merry

The long head table was covered with a tan linen, cheese cloth overlay, and a blue silk runner. Oysters shells wired together trailed down the middle, along with silver trays holing more shells and a mix of blue and ivory taper candles. Centerpieces alternated between low compotes of white blooms and assorted greenery and taller arrangements of dried lunaria.

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Chic Place Settings

kaitlin dan wedding place setting
KT Merry

Blue-gray stoneware dinner plates from Heath Ceramics were topped with elegant, gold-rimmed Fitz and Floyd plates from Bed Bath & Beyond. Foil-stamped menus were front and center, with place cards tucked into floral frogs to the left.

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Dried Décor

kaitlin dan wedding lunaria
KT Merry

Steve Moore used lunaria to add height and drama to the centerpieces while still keeping them light. "It felt different and unique," he says. "And a bit reminiscent of capiz shells to stay true to that beach vibe."

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Time to Dance

kaitlin dan wedding first dance
KT Merry

The Hot 8 Brass Band's version of "Sexual Healing" played as the newlyweds enjoyed their first dance. Kaitlin then danced with her dad to "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars and Dan and his mom took a spin to "Pride and Joy" by Marvin Gaye.

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Love, Apparent

kaitlin dan wedding parents
KT Merry

Kaitlin's parents, whose home the wedding took place at, had recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. During the reception, they shared a special dance to "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra.

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The Wedding Cake

kaitlin dan wedding cake
KT Merry

Midori Bakery created a seven-tier cake with overlapping layers of ripped fondant and edible lunaria made from rice paper. The design of the white and ivory confection was inspired by the torn edges of the invitation suite as well as the waves of water at the waterfront location.

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Delicious Desserts

kaitlin dan wedding cake
KT Merry

Petit gateaux, also by Midori Bakery, were served to guests. Flavors included milk chocolate peanut butter, caramel chocolate whiskey pecan, and vanilla pistachio.

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Sweet Treats to Go

kaitlin dan wedding favors caramels
KT Merry

Muslin bags dressed up with wax seals were stuffed with caramels to take home as favors at the end of the night.

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kaitlin dan wedding couple
KT Merry

Photography, KT Merry

Event planning and design, and flowers, Sinclair & Moore

Catering, Deru Catering

Couple's photography, O'Malley Photographers

Stationery and Calligraphy, La Happy

Cake, Midori Bakery

Music, Puget Sound Strings; Mixx Company Band

Rentals, Choice Linens, Classic Vintage Rentals and Design; CORT Party Rentals; La Tavola Fine Linen Rentals

Bride's gown, Atelier Pronovias

Bride's shoes, Nina

Hair and Makeup, Erin Skipley

Flower Girl dresses, Fattiepie with Chic Baby America cardigans

Groom's suit and shirt, Tailors' Keep

Groom's tie clip, J.Crew

Ring bearers' suits and bow ties, The Tuxedo Club

Transportation, Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle & Charter

Lunaria, Dried Decor

Salad plates, "Navaeh White" by Fitz and Floyd grand rim salad plate in gold

Ribbons and table runners, Stella Wolfe

Chandeliers, Kaleb Norman James Design

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