Shannon Costello fell in love with Luke Düster’s kids first. Luke was raising his three kids on his own, and in August of 2013, he hired Shannon to tutor, coach, and help take care of the kids on the weekends and weeknights when he had them. “After about seven months, I had fallen head over heels with the kids, and the feeling seemed to be mutual,” says Shannon. At that point, she was starting to transition into writing full-time, meaning she was going to see the kids less. “It was around then that Luke and I started to let our guard down and get to know one another beyond our professional relationship,” she says. And by the 9th month of working for the Düsters, Shannon was ready to quit. “I told Luke that I’d grown too close to all of them to maintain professional boundaries," she says. "He was relieved—he thought he was going to have to fire me!” It turned out the kids had been wondering for months why they weren’t dating, and with their blessing, Shannon and Luke went on their first date.
In July of 2015, Luke surprised Shannon with a bouquet from their garden, plus breakfast and a proposal with poems he’d written for her. After she said “yes,” he gave Shannon three more letters, each written by Luke’s kids. She says, “He joked that if he’d given me their letters first, he wouldn’t have known if I meant it when I said yes—because how could anyone say no to all the sweet things they said?!” In order to give the kids plenty of time to get used to their new family, the couple opted for a two-year engagement, choosing to say “I do” in their hometown of Boulder, Colorado on September 2, 2017. They worked with Calluna Events to create a timeless celebration that added an elegant spin to Boulder’s natural beauty and laid-back energy. “I got to spend two years planning our wedding with Heather," says the bride. "She had an incredible sense of who we are and what would be the best fit for us.” With a fab planner, incredible local vendors, and photography team James + Schulze behind the camera, Luke and Shannon were able to celebrate their union—and their new family—in incredible style. Keep reading for all the details!
Shannon knew she’d found her wedding gown when she started comparing everything else she tried on to this J. Mendel design. The dress featured sheer accents, soft pleats, and the designer’s signature structure.
The bride’s bouquet combined garden roses, ranunculus, lisianthus, hydrangea, seeded eucalyptus, and magnolia leaves. A locket, carrying Shannon’s maternal grandmother’s bridal portrait, was attached to the stems.
The poems Luke wrote, as well as the letters from each of his three children to Shannon the day he proposed, were framed and displayed at the reception.
“We’d been considering a destination wedding, but realized more than half of our guests were from out of town—really, all over the country and the world—so a local wedding for us would be a destination wedding for them,” says Shannon of choosing Boulder as the location of their big day.
The bridesmaids, including Shannon’s stepdaughter, all wore blush gowns with flowing bodices. The seven(!) flower girls wore flowing frocks topped with flower crowns, and each was gifted an opal necklace.
Luke and Shannon exchanged vows at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Boulder. “Many Düster family rites have occurred in the parish, and getting married somewhere where we had strong family ties was incredibly important,” Shannon explains.
After the ceremony, everyone headed to Flagstaff House Restaurant for the reception. “The panoramic views of the mountains to the West and Boulder to the East are unbeatable, and the formal but relaxed feel of the historic building is so special,” says Shannon. Cozy lounges designed by Eclectic Hive were set on the restaurant’s deck, complete with signs inviting guests to use the couple’s hashtag, #ShayIDu.
Inside, long tables were topped with textured linens. Burgundy was added to the palette for a formal feel, and gold accents sparkled against the late summer blooms. Low centerpieces combined garden roses, dahlias, scabiosa, gardenia, ranunculus, and smokebush against quicksand and hypnose roses.
“Our menu was very Boulder,” says Shannon. “Two of my three stepchildren have celiac disease, so every single item was available gluten-free.” Shannon’s family has a fishing operation in Alaska, so the menu included local Colorado produce and Alaskan salmon. The bride and groom don’t drink, so those who didn’t want Colorado beers were treated to the couple’s favorite kombucha.
In addition to their Catholic vows, Luke, Shannon, and Luke’s children had a family commitment ceremony that included a butterfly release. “The butterflies symbolized transformation and new beginnings,” Shannon explains.
After cutting into a gluten free almond flour cake with chocolate mousse and berry crème filling (yum!), Shannon, Luke and the kids entertained guests with a choreographed dance to Pharell’s “Happy.”
Wedding Planner: Calluna Events || Ceremony Venue: St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church || Reception Venue: Flagstaff House Restaurant || Bride's Dress: J. Mendel, from Little White Dress Bridal Shop || Bride's Shoes: Emmy London || Hair: Andres Mendoza || Makeup: Bre Ortola Alchemy Face Bar || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Flower Girls’ Dresses: Joanna August || Groom's Attire: Suit Supply || Groomsmen's Attire: Suit Supply, Brooks Brothers || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Christine Marguerite Designs || Floral Design: The Perfect Petal || Paper Products: Smokeproof Press || Calligraphy: Ink & Root || Catering & Cake: Flagstaff House Restaurant || Ceremony Music: Mark Thomas || Reception Music: DJ Jahsonic || Rentals: La Tavola Fine Linens, Eclectic Hive || Transportation: Eight Black Cars || Accommodations: St. Julien Hotel & Spa || Photo Booth: Bamboo Booth || Videography: Velare || Photography: James & Schulze