Danika Hoo-Fatt says that her now-husband Stephan liked her from the get-go when his older brother introduced them in 2007. But, she admits, sparks didn't fully fly for both parties until her birthday celebration three years later. Shortly afterward, the Miami-based pair officially evolved from friends to significant others at Ultra Musical Festival, when Stephan bought a last-minute ticket to the event as a surprise and somehow managed to find Danika in the crowd. "I’ll never forget seeing him walking toward me with a huge grin on his face in what seemed to be that slow motion scene in a '90s teen movie where the cute guy walks into the party," she recalls.
The proposal six years later proved to be equally surprising, with aforementioned cute guy mapping out an entire day of activities in Oregon. They went to an alpaca farm in honor of Danika's favorite animal, enjoyed mulberry milkshakes, then hiked the Oneonta Gorge (much to Stephan's chagrin, who held onto the engagement ring for dear life during the unexpectedly challenging trek). For the final destination, the couple drove to Wachlella Falls, where Stephan got down on one knee at the foot of the waterfall while pretending to take a photo on self-timer. As soon as Danika said, "Duh," rain magically started to fall and heightened the wonder of the special occasion.
Based on the locations of their guests, Jamaica and Miami emerged as top contenders for the duo's wedding on June 22, 2018, but a locale in North Plains, Oregon, actually took the cake. "While searching for venue after venue and not finding anything that spoke to us, we accidentally came across Horning’s Hideout in Oregon online," Danika says. "Stephan works in Oregon, so when we saw the venue, we were like, 'How did we not think of Oregon to begin with?!' " Even before visiting the spot, with its cascading evergreens and octopus trees, the pair was already sold based on photos alone. "[We] felt like it was such a beautiful, natural backdrop, and so 'us,' " adds Danika. The setting also solidified her IRL romantic fairy-tale vision—but with an edgier spin, made possible by black, jewel tones, and pops of gold. "We wanted our wedding to be nontraditional with decor that you wouldn’t necessarily think of for a wedding, but that looked romantic, elegant, and dramatic," says the bride, whose publicist profession made planning the wedding herself, along with her spouse, a no-brainer.
Danika and Stephan’s Real Wedding | Portland, Oregon
Danika sought inspiration for her wedding dress by way of Instagram, where she discovered bridal line Odylyne the Ceremony. With a bell-sleeve frock in mind, an Odylyne the Ceremony gown happened to be the first one she tried on while shopping in New York City. "I knew immediately it was the one," the bride says. "I even asked my friend who accompanied me if I really needed to try on more dresses. I tried on five more dresses just to say I did, but went right back to the label's Alyse gown."
Danika topped off her look with velvet blush heels, drop earrings, and a dramatic, sculptural bouquet of anthurium, peonies, orchids, garden roses, and hand-painted palms.
Alpacas didn't just make a cute anecdote in Danika and Stephan's proposal story. Fittingly enough, the couple stayed at a property with an alpaca farm during their wedding weekend, and naturally the bride mingled with a few of them—in her wedding dress! "Being surrounded by 250 of them in an expansive garden while staying in cute English-style cottages was a dream," Danika says of her beloved furry creatures.
The mauve floor-length bridesmaid dresses from BHLDN allowed for multiple styling options, so Danika's girls put diverse spins on the necklines. She also gifted them their own unique pair of earrings, true to each 'maid's style.
As for the bridesmaid bouquets, the blooms closely mirrored the bridal bouquet on a smaller scale, yet still looked just as striking.
The couple chose a moss-covered, tree-studded area surrounded by a babbling brook to hold the ceremony. Black seating and ivory candles lined the aisle, but the altar installation—an asymmetrical floral structure—almost stole the show. All in all, Danika likens the etherial setup to "the wedding scene from Twilight."
Another animal near and dear to the newlyweds also had a starring role in the big day—their dog, Rajah, who fit right in with the rest of the groomsmen thanks to a mini black suit and bowtie.
Matching his pooch, Stephan sported a custom-made, slim-fit black suit. Per the bride's suggestion, he had "da da da daaaa" written inside his jacket as an ode to his affinity for James Bond movies and a shared inside joke between the lovebirds. His brother also gifted him a pair of monogrammed cufflinks.
Danika and Stephan stuck to traditional vows for the ceremony. They did, however, write individual speeches to share during the reception. She started hers with a quote from The Shape of Water, while he specified the exact moment he fell in love (which was when Danika first met his mom, ICYWW).
The newlyweds took portraits around their "dream wedding venue" post-ceremony.
Taking a cue from the Vanity Fair Golden Globes party, the newlyweds converted the ceremony space into a lounge-inspired photo portrait station during cocktail hour. Two pink armchairs and a gold accent table along with the floral columns created the woodsy backdrop. The final prints showcased a special insignia with the duo's initials and wedding date.
After, guests trekked from the ceremony spot to a field of rolling hills for the reception, which adopted a similar design scheme. The dancing area and bar, which was adorned with a neon "Drunk in love" sign, were set up on the pavilion area nearby. The couple also generated a "DIY station," where their friends and family could combine an assortment of herbs to create tea, facial steams, bath soaks, or potpourri.
The newlyweds made sure to make a grand entrance with their wedding party at the reception.
When it came to mapping out the tablescape, the groom rose to the occasion. He envisioned a look with matte black plates and gold flatware, and put together a trial setup that set the tone for their actual banquet-style tables. The resulting design featured black linens and candlesticks that complemented the dark forest allure, while jewel-toned flower arrangements added a romantic touch.
As for the cuisine, the bride admits that she still craves the food from the wedding menu. The family-style meal featured cedar-smoked Pacific Chinook salmon, marinated and grilled bavette steak, baby kale salad, locally-farmed squash, and roasted baby new potatoes. "Everything was local, in-season, and cooked on-site in a temporary outdoor kitchen, so everything came out fresh and hot," says Danika.
Stephan and Danika opted for a modern (yet completely sentimental) tune for their first dance—"Young & Beautiful" by Lana del Ray. "We’ve danced to this song for years, from our living room to Coachella, so it only made sense," the bride explains. "We’d actually taken one dance class to learn the basic waltz steps, and then we ended up choreographing our own dance."
The entertainment hardly ended there. Stephan's siblings created an original routine to tracks by Beyoncé and Justin Bieber, then rapped their own lyrics to a Drake song. Danika's family also used their speeches to poke fun at her new last name, and her brother went so far as to present a handmade "treaty" that symbolized the end of their childhood sibling war. "Guests laughed the entire way through at every speech," she adds.
Capping off the celebration, the newlyweds cut into a three-tiered wedding cake decorated with fresh flowers.
After planning her own nontraditional nuptials, Danika recommends future to-be-weds take risks as well. "Don’t do something just because you feel like you have to follow what other people think or what should be traditional for a wedding," says the bride. "Make your wedding day authentic to both of you and it will be the best day of your life. Also, don’t second guess yourself, you’re doing just fine!"
Venue: Horning's Hideout || Wedding Coordinator: Mae & Co. || Officiant: A Beautiful Ceremony NW || Bride's Dress: Odylyne the Ceremony || Bride's Veil: Daphne Newman Design || Bride's Jewelry: Lover’s Tempo || Bride's Shoes: Tamara Mellon || Hair: Michelle Elizabeth Springer || Makeup: Kassidy Mae || Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN || Mother of the Bride Dress: Macy's || Groom's Attire: Men’s Wearhouse || Groomsmen's Attire: JoS. A. Bank || Wedding Bands: Macy's || Floral Design: Selva Floral Design || Invitations & Paper Products: Minted || Guest Book: Target || Music: DJ Maji Musik || Catering: White Pepper || Cake: Dream Cakes || Rentals: The Party Place, Something Borrowed, Vintage Mingle || Accommodations: Oakwood Gardens || Videographer: Outlive Creative || Photographer: Christy Cassano