Beach Elopement Ceremony in Washington: Gina + Dana

With all the madness that 2020 has brought us, couples everywhere are coming up with creative ways to celebrate their love.

Gina and Dana decided to postpone their big bash to 2021, but still wanted to commit to each other on their original date. So together with an officiant, a photographer and the power of Zoom they headed to the beach where they proposed in Edmonds, WA for a private ceremony.

During the ceremony, they saved sand from the beach and asked guests to find a rock or shell to add to the sand so they’s have something from that day to bring to their new 2021 wedding date.

Check out this beautiful celebration and some Q&A from the couple on how they are navigating the madness!

Photography and Video: Stormy Peterson Photography

Ceremony Location: Brackett’s Landing South

Officiant: Religion Outside The Box

Apparel : Banana Republic  and Eloquii

Q: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

A: Dana and I both grew up in the Detroit area and attended Michigan State University, but we did not meet until both of us had started in the working world. In 2015 I was working in Lansing, MI, and Dana had just gotten a job in the area. While looking for queer community in the area, she met someone who was involved with roller derby and they invited her to a practice. At the time, I was the president of our roller derby league and was skating on the travel team. When Dana walked in the door to observe our practice, my world stopped. She was so cool and confident looking, and I had to muster up the courage to talk to her. At the end of practice, I skated up to her and introduced myself. And the rest is history! After dating for about a year, we moved to Seattle together for Dana’s job (through which we met our photographers Stormy and Michael!). We began to frequent Brackett’s Landing, a smallish beach near a ferry terminal, and it became out favorite place to relax and unwind. I proposed to Dana at sunset on that beach, and then she proposed right back! We ended up having the commitment ceremony about 20 feet from where we got engaged!

Q: Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?

A: When our original wedding date was postponed due to COVID, we wanted to do something special on that day to acknowledge all the complicated feelings around the postponement. We decided to have a small commitment ceremony on the beach in Edmonds, WA where I proposed to Dana two years ago. The Jewish wedding ceremony that people usually see is actually a combination of two different ceremonies, one for the engagement and one for the marriage, so we had our rabbi perform that first half. The noisy, joyful wedding reception experience is something that we definitely still want to have, especially since our families are back in Michigan, so we will have our big wedding in June 2021!

Q: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony? Was any part of the decor DIY?

A: We mostly let the gorgeous beach setting be the decor for us. We did have a modest vase of flowers to serve as a focal point. Seattle weather can be very fickle in June, so we were glad it was a dry and comfortable day, with just a thin layer of clouds covering the sky. One important prop was the inclusion of our “Disneyland Grandma” and “Disneyland Grandpa” mugs that we used for the blessing over wine. Dana and I first used those mugs at my themed birthday party at the very beginning of our relationship.

Q: Did you personalize the day in any way? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

A: This was a pretty small and simple event. One of the unique things about our ceremony was that we asked everyone in attendance to take a handful of sand or a stone from the beach and place it in a vase. We plan to bring the vase and its contents to our Michigan wedding, symbolizing the family we have built for ourselves in Washington. Our officiant is also a good friend of ours, and he crafted and curated the ceremony beautifully. He also set up a live stream on YouTube so our families in Detroit could watch, and that was lovely. We just had such a good day all around.

Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look?¬†

A: Dana and I each have a distinct fashion sense, and we both enjoy dressing up to go to the opera and other events. We hadn’t had an opportunity to dress up in a while, due to COVID, so we both got special outfits for the day. My fabulous sequin dress is from Eloquii. There was no way I could resist rainbow sparkles, so it was an easy decision for me! Dana is wearing a linen suit from Banana Republic. We did our own hair and makeup at home. It was important for us to feel authentic, comfortable, and celebratory, and our outfits definitely reflected those vibes. Plus they photographed beautifully!

Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

A: For us, the commitment event actually spanned the long weekend. We spent three nights on Bainbridge Island, just hiking, walking on the beach, watching the wildlife, and having adventures in town. It was the perfect way to spend some quality time together, and to satisfy our need to just get out of our apartment for a few days. It was like a pre-honeymoon, and it relaxed and reconnected us in anticipation of our ceremony. The other most exciting part was seeing folks that we hadn’t seen in months due to the quarantine. We invited a couple dozen of our closest Seattle friends, and it was so magical to have them all in one place (even though it was at a distance).

Q: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

A: We’re in this strange position where we planned our 2020 wedding, then planned a commitment ceremony, and we are still planning wedding for 2021, so I feel like we can give advice but we also could still use some, ha! My best advice is just to do what is true and authentic to yourselves. Have fun, and don’t get bogged down in the “shoulds.” You and your partner’s values, priorities, and enjoyment should be the focus!