Elizabeth Ayer and Brad Nordman were a “match” made in heaven when they connected via the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel in July 2014. “Our first date was chatting over drinks, and then an impromptu outdoor movie,” Elizabeth remembers. Almost exactly four years later, they took the next big step when Brad got down on one knee in Santorini, Greece.
The duo got right to wedding planning. “We chose our venue and most vendors in 2018, and it was smooth sailing—until we called it off in April 2020,” Elizabeth remembers. “The hardest part of the planning process was postponing our wedding and trusting that things would come together the following year. It turned out to be such a blessing in disguise and I’m grateful we had the extra time to make our wedding weekend outstanding. In the end, we were engaged for 1,117 days—which became a bit of a joke among our friends and family, but it worked for us! When you’re vowing to be together forever, what’s another year or three?”
Timing aside, it was the vision that mattered, and it came together flawlessly. For Elizabeth and Brad, the wedding was more than one day. It actually turned into a whole weekend affair. “I think I decided I’d get married at Roche Harbor when I was about 13,” the bride laughs. "So, I was quite relieved when Brad enthusiastically agreed. San Juan Island is one of my favorite places on earth, and Roche Harbor Resort in particular holds special significance for my family.” Her family has been visiting there since the 1960s. Now, there was a chance to show off this sliver of the Pacific Northwest to all of their family and friends joining from out of state.
“We wanted the weekend to feel like an all-inclusive, elevated summer camp experience,” Elizabeth says. “Many of our guests arrived by seaplane, which set the tone for a unique adventure. We created a calendar of events and wanted each night to feel distinct and slightly more formal than the previous, and provide ample quality time to mix our friend groups.” Festivities began on Thursday, when the bridal party kicked off the weekend with a luau dinner at Westcott Bay Shellfish Co., complete with lawn games and root beer floats. There was a whale-watching excursion for guests arriving Friday, a welcome dinner, and a send-off brunch on Sunday.
Of course, there was also the main event. “Our Saturday wedding day was a marathon,” Elizabeth adds. Read on to see all the incredible details, planned by Kaleb Norman James and photographed by Janine Licare Photography.
“We began our wedding day with a 7 a.m. ‘polar plunge’ into the 55-degree water of Puget Sound,” Elizabeth recounts. “It was such a fun and memorable way to kick off the big day. My mom brought everyone doughnuts, and then my bridesmaids and I dashed back to our room for hair and makeup.” Her beauty vision was natural and understated, with eyelash extensions for a little extra oomph. “My updo matched the simplicity of my dress; it felt very bridal."
Wedding dress shopping was a family affair. She found her off-the-shoulder Carolina Herrera gown at the since-shuttered Nordstrom Wedding Suite in Seattle. “My mom and I found not only my dress, but also hers and a new suit for my dad!” Elizabeth says. “I knew this dress was the one as soon as I put it on: It was an elegant yet simple design that let me shine through.”
She went all in on the something old, new, borrowed, and blue tradition, with her most meaningful accessory being a veil. “My mom handmade it from the lace and layers of her own wedding dress, which she cut up to create my veil,” Elizabeth says. “It was gorgeous and such a meaningful addition to my look.”
“Brad wore a blue suit with a subtle windowpane pattern,” Elizabeth describes. “He stood out from the groomsmen who wore navy, but they all had matching ties, white shirts, and chestnut-brown shoes.”
The couple was playful with their first look—Elizabeth tried tricking Brad by tapping the wrong shoulder, but he couldn’t be fooled. They share, “As we finished our photos, we looked up and realized my dad was standing on the balcony above us, so he was able to witness the moment as well!”
“My bridesmaids represented women from different stages in my life. It was so inspiring to see new friendships blossoming between girls I’d known separately for a long time, but had yet to meet each other.” She gave the girls autonomy in selecting their dress, as long as it was full-length in a blue-green color palette.
A custom ceremony arch featured florals that played up their vibrant citrus palette, and 160 white chairs amped up the garden vibe.
Elizabeth walked down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun” alongside both of her parents. A friend officiated the ceremony, and the couple exchanged personalized vows. “As the world’s biggest Michigan football fan, Brad was impressed that I ended my vows with a quote from Coach Bo Schembechler. His were very sweet as well,” Elizabeth says. Readings at the ceremony excerpted from James Kavanaugh, Bell Hooks, and Jeanette Winterson.
After cocktail hour, the newlyweds led guests in a second-line parade to the reception space, one of Elizabeth’s favorite moments of the day. Once they arrived, everyone found their seats with illustrated cards on a floral-filled escort card wall.
Lush floral centerpieces were set between rattan hurricanes and wooden bowls of citrus fruit beneath the sailcloth tent. “Tables were set with powder-blue linens, which accented the Italian ceramic place settings and matching blue dinner plates,” Elizabeth says. Custom embroidered napkins and runners featured the couple’s monogram, which they also had emblazoned on corn hole boards on the lawn, and slippers for guests.
From behind a custom bar, servers slung signature his-and-hers cocktails: spicy margaritas and Aperol spritzes.
Their first dance song selection was an easy choice. “We danced to ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ by Frankie Valli,” Elizabeth says. “It’s been our song since our second date, when we sang it together at a karaoke bar!”
Their wedding cake—uniquely flavored with pink Champagne and banana bread—was decorated to mimic the bride’s bouquet, with trailing clematis vines and organic florals. Lemons were also added to tie in the tablescapes.
We were all scream-singing to Backstreet Boys while wearing silent disco headphones!
The live band played until the area’s 10 p.m. noise curfew—but that didn’t stop the party. “We ended the night with a silent disco,” the bride says. The next day, an onlooker from the yacht dock nearby told the couple, “‘I was loving the free concert, but was confused when the music suddenly stopped and the singing continued. What happened?’ Well, we were all scream-singing to Backstreet Boys while wearing silent disco headphones!” Guests could set their headphones to a pop channel curated by the bride or a classic rock channel created by the groom. Late-night pizza arrived and guests posted up at the outdoor bar for cigars and a nightcap to end the incredible evening.
Venue and Catering Roche Harbor
Wedding Planner and Floral Designer Kaleb Norman James
Bridal Designer Carolina Herrera
Bride’s Earrings David Yurman
Bride’s Shoes Harriet Wilde; Repetto
Bride’s Hair and Makeup Erin Skipley
Bridesmaids’ dresses Jenny Yoo
Bridesmaids’ Getting Ready Attire Bed Head PJs
Groom’s Attire Suitsupply
Rings Gordon James Fine Diamonds
Invitations Li Ward Design
Music Side One; Silent Events
Cake The Sweet Side
Rentals Arte Italica; Cort Party Rental; Great Jones
Cornhole Boards Colorado Joe’s
Linens BBJ La Tavola
Favors San Juan Island Sea Salt; San Juan Seltzer
Excursions San Juan Safaris
Transportation Friday Harbor Jolly Trolley; Kenmore Air
Covid Testing GoLab
Videographer Elysium Productions
Photographer Janine Licare Photography