A Romantic, Italian-Inspired Wedding in Roche Harbor, Washington
In February 2014, Cassandra LaValle (founder of the lifestyle blog, Coco Kelley and creative director of the Emerald Studio) and Jason Kopec (design director for a startup in Seattle) were set up by a mutual friend. They moved in together a year after their blind date, and another year after that, the duo took a trip to Portugal. "I thought for sure he was going to propose on vacation," Cassandra says. She planned to meet Jason in Lisbon, leaving a week earlier than him for a workshop she was helping teach in Morocco. Before she left, Jason was still asking questions about the type of diamond setting she wanted, so she put the idea of a vacation proposal out of her mind.
On the second evening they spent in Porto, Cassandra and Jason chose "the most adorable place for dinner down one of those tiny, windy European streets," she says. After a romantic meal, they decided to get a nightcap near the river. "As we were walking, he was kind of directing me where to go, and I suddenly realized what was happening. We had stopped to take in the view and he pulled the ring out of his pocket and proposed," Cassandra recalls. "I said something completely ineloquent and then finally responded 'Yes!'"
Planning the wedding called for some compromise. Though Cassandra had always envisioned a small family affair on a vineyard in Italy, Jason had a different idea of how things would go. "Because a wedding is really about two people coming together to create something new and beautiful and equally theirs, we ended up finding the most perfect spot that combined our love of the San Juan Islands and the Pacific Northwest, his East Coast roots, and yes—even some ruins that could briefly fool you into thinking you were in a villa in Tuscany," Cassandra says.
From gorgeous customizations on Cassandra's wedding dress, to vows the couple prepared for Jason's daughter, the small details are what the pair focused on most for their special day. The color palette for the celebration included soft greens and blues to keep things feeling natural and connected to the location, "where evergreen forests meet the sea," Cassandra says. Pops of golden yellow warmed things up, and brought in a bit of the Italian style.
On June 30, 2017, in the San Juan Islands, just a short ferry ride from their home in Seattle, the couple tied the knot in a ceremony officiated by their two best friends at Roche Harbor Resort. "It was the best celebration I've ever been to, with my favorite person by my side," Jason says.
The invitations were designed by Minted and customized by the bride. "I've always dreamed of having letterpress invites," Cassandra says. "We kept them simple and classic." She added a personal touch—gray and white stripes on the envelope liner. "I like how it made the invites a little more playful," she adds.
Cassandra's good friend, Brandi Brown of Marabou Design, penned the calligraphy for the envelopes, and also for the menus, place settings, and other paper elements throughout the wedding day.
Just a Ferry Away
Cassandra and Jason considered the idea of a destination wedding, but it seemed like too much work and expense for their friends and family. Instead, they opted to tie the knot on San Juan Island (where the couple often vacations) at Roche Harbor Resort. The sheltered harbor is a short trek from Washington via ferry (Cassandra's favorite), so the couple still achieved that getaway feel. "It has all the scenic elements of the Pacific Northwest, but with historic charm, and even a few ruins that helped me pretend it could be in Italy," the bride says. And there are definitely perks to picking a venue closer to home—"The best part is that we can go visit our wedding site anytime we want, and I love that!"
Jason decided on a custom J.Hilburn suit in this dark gray-blue shade because he wanted to be able to wear it again after the wedding. He also wore a custom shirt from the same brand and a tie and shoes from Nordstrom.
"I had a total love-hate relationship with finding a wedding dress," Cassandra says of her shopping experience. She and her mom walked into a store, but the bride-to-be was convinced she wouldn't find anything. In the back, though, she saw a dress that had been discontinued. "The silhouette was flattering and I loved it as the perfect base to work off of," the bride says. "Then the fun began!" Cassandra traveled to Portland, Oregon, to have her friend, Elizabeth Dye, reimagine the dress with her. Together, they brainstormed details to help enhance the look, including soft applique flowers and a lowered waistline.
Cassandra's favorite detail of Elizabeth Dye's alterations was the cape she made from tulle. Dainty gold clasps in the shape of flowers attached it to the shoulders of Cassandra's dress. "I didn't want a traditional veil, but I wanted something to soften the look, and it was perfect!"
The Bridal Bouquet
Cozbi of CJP&CO, who served as florist, event designer, and coordinator for the couple's big day, surprised Cassandra with the final design of her bouquet. The all-white arrangement featured garden roses, ranunculus, peonies, and sweet peas as the main elements. "The feel was all very organic and romantic," Cassandra says.
The Wedding Bands
The couple's wedding bands both came from Robbins Brothers. "I have two—one that is rose gold and more modern and the other that is a classic setting," the bride says. "I like switching them up depending on my mood or stacking them all together!" Jason's is a simple and traditional band.
The Wedding Party
Cassandra's bridesmaids were three of her close friends and her sister. The ladies chose their own gowns; though each went through several rounds of dresses, they landed on this soft, elegant array. "I loved how each of their ensembles fully matched their personality and felt uniquely them," Cassandra adds. Jason had six groomsmen, and his daughter, Maggie, served as a junior bridesmaid.
Cassandra and Jason weren't the only ones wearing special rings on their big day. The bride gave her bridesmaids Morganite rings in the same east-west setting as her emerald cut engagement ring. "It is the stone of unconditional love, and these ladies mean the world to me," Cassandra says. Even the presentation was personal, thanks to custom boxes from The Mrs. Box with each of the ladies' first initials on the lids.
At Roche Harbor, most brides get married in the garden, Cassandra says. "Of course, I couldn't let that happen." Instead, she and Jason said "I do" in the courtyard of the resort, in front of a huge fireplace, which felt more intimate to the couple. Cassandra and Jason aimed to keep the ceremony short, yet substantial, and wanted it to feel personal and full of love.
Cassandra was escorted down the aisle by her father to the sound of "The Winner Is" by Mychael Danna. The couple had two of their best friends—one groomsman and one bridesmaid—officiate. Jason and Cassandra's sisters gave two short readings: e.e. cummings "I Carry Your Heart With Me" and Khalil Gibran's "On Marriage."
The pair exchanged personally-written vows and also wrote vows for Maggie, Jason's daughter, too. "The words shared and our words for Maggie" was the most memorable part of the day for Jason. The newlyweds recessed up the aisle to the lively "This Will Be An Everlasting Love" by Natalie Cole, as they headed to cocktail hour.
At the end of the ceremony, the chairs were cleared and guests mingled in the courtyard as they sipped on signature cocktails—a his and a hers. "We actually both love Old Fashioneds, so we used that as Jason's cocktail, and mine was gin, St. Germain, and grapefruit; I love anything grapefruit," the bride says. Marabou Designs did the illustrations and calligraphy for the signs, which were then framed on the bar with a bit of greenery.
In addition to the signature cocktails, small appetizers were passed, and guests were encouraged to visit the oyster bar (Cassandra's favorite).
Bocce Ball for All
Cassandra says she and Jason got lucky with the weather. "The running joke in Seattle is that summer starts on July 5th, so we were taking a slight risk with an outdoor June wedding," the bride says. "We ended up with perfectly sunny skies!" Since skies were clear, the couple encouraged guests to enjoy the hotel's bocce ball courts before and after the ceremony.
DIY Seating Chart
Cassandra took on the seating chart for a DIY project. She purchased a bulletin board, took off the frame, and wrapped it in striped fabric. Then, she put the frame back on, and used a calligraphy font and the wedding's crest to create the table assignment cards. She used wood push-pins to attach them to the board, and then her florist draped it in greenery.
The celebration moved inside for the reception since the islands get chilly at night. Guests walked up the stairs to the reception hall, which included a large deck where people could take in the view.
"I wanted it all to feel very Italian, so we went with linen napkins and tablecloths on every table," the bride says. The linens were creamy white to make things feel warm, with a pop of ochre yellow in the napkins. Above the head table, which had "special treatment" with rented dishes, was a garland of greens.
The bride says the colors from the florals on the table were "really what made the settings." CJP&CO "made sure that the flowers embodied not only the color scheme, but the soft romantic feel we wanted," Cassandra says.
Pretty Place Settings
"I hunted down the perfect taupe and cream tapers, and then added modern candle holders to contrast the classic settings," the bride says. Each place setting had a menu created by Marabou Design, with a custom crest for the couple and small illustrations. "I have a whole box of them that I kept because I just love how they turned out," Cassandra says.
CJP&CO created this cozy spot by the fireplace for guests to relax in after the party moved inside. "They lit a fire when the sun went down, and it was so perfect," the bride says.
Cakes by Felicitations created the two simple cakes which were decorated with a floral pattern. One was chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and the other was lemon cake with fresh berries. "We knew we wanted an almond cake because it reminds us of the cakes we ate nearly every day in Portugal, and also because we wanted a gluten-free option for our guests," Cassandra says.
She and Jason skipped the formal cake-cutting. "Who wants to interrupt dancing for a silly cake-cutting ceremony?" Michael Antonia of The Flashdance DJ'ed the evening. "It made the night," Cassandra says. "He's the best! We danced the whole night away." As for the newlywed's first dance, they chose "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos.
At the end of the night, guests helped themselves to popcorn from a machine the couple ordered from Amazon. The evening ended on an Italian note, as the DJ spun "Buona Sera" by Louis Prima. "Everyone got into it, especially my Italian family," the bride says.
As another nod to the bride's Italian heritage, Amaretti cookies were available for guests to grab on their way out. "I love the packaging and they have been a favorite of mine since childhood," Cassandra says. "We had so many guests stuffing their pockets with them at the end of the night!"
Photography, Katie Parra Photography
Location & catering, Roche Harbor
Calligraphy, Marabou Design
Cake, Cakes by Felicitations
Music, The Flash Dance
Hair, Beehive Salon
Groom's suit, J.Hilburn
Alterations, Elizabeth Dye
Bridesmaids' gifts, The Mrs. Box
Wedding bands, Robbins Brothers