What do you get when a Norwegian model and a rainforest biologist get married? Silja Danielsen and Phil Torres found out on September 23, 2018 when the pair tied the knot in Seattle, Washington, in front of 130 guests.
The couple first met in 2014 through a mutual scientist friend and, after a few years of friendship, realized "the one" had been right there all along. In August of 2017, Phil took Silja to Fedje, a small Norwegian island where Silja’s grandparents got married, and asked her to start a lifelong love story of their own. The couple now lives in New York, but loved the idea of getting married at the Nordic Museum in Seattle. “My grandfather was one of the founders, and their newest building was designed by a Scandinavian architect,” says Silja.
The sleek setting was the perfect backdrop for the couple’s sustainable Viking feast, decorated with lush jungle accents and sleek scientific details to fit both of their personalities. “We did most of the legwork family-style, bringing in my mom, aunt, and cousins to lend a hand,” says the bride.
Photographed by Andrew Parsons, this intersection of Scandinavian design and the Peruvian rainforest is a wedding you won’t want to miss! Keep reading for more!
Silja says she knew she wanted a couture gown, but she also wanted her wedding dress to embody she and Phil's goal of creating a sustainable celebration as much as possible. “I love Monique Lhuillier’s designs, and the butterfly details on this gown were perfect, given Phil’s work in the Peruvian rainforest,” she says. She found this design at Bridal Garden, a not-for-profit charitable organization that’s also a bridal boutique that carries gowns donated from designers and exclusive retailers as well as gently-used gowns from newly-married ladies.
“They give back to benefit education for disadvantaged children, which is a cause I can really get behind,” the bride explains.
The gown paired a draped bodice with a bow at the waist and a soft, flowing train. Because Silja and Phil recently moved to New York City, the bride opted for a Sex and the City moment and donned a pair of Jimmy Choo heels beneath her gown. Her ethereal beaded headpiece was the same one that her mother wore on her own big day.
Phil wore a Tom Ford tuxedo with Gucci loafers that featured a bee on the vamp. “I gave them to Phil as a gift," Silja says. "He’s always loved insect designs included in high fashion.”
The groom, who has done extensive research in the Amazon, and his groomsmen all wore preserved butterflies on their lapels instead of floral boutonnieres. “They were sustainably collected in the area of the rainforest where Phil works, and the color was perfect!” says the bride.
All of the bridesmaids wore gold and silver sequins to capture the museum’s ethereal light. The flower girls wore butterfly wings and carried wands, while the ring bearer brought the rings down the aisle in a butterfly net.
“I walked halfway down the aisle on my own, then met my bother and brother to finish walking to the altar,” says Silja. The couple’s friend, Danny Hoyt, is a professional TV and live audience host (you might have heard his voice at San Diego Chargers of L.A. Kings games!) and his father is a pastor, so he was the perfect fit to officiate the ceremony. “He kept it lively and fun, yet incredibly meaningful,” Silja describes.
The ceremony included a traditional Viking hand-binding, swapping the rope for a vine of greenery. “We are drying and pressing the vine so we can frame it and hang it in our home,” adds the bride.
The museum’s indoor-outdoor event space was perfect for the couple’s September wedding. Long farmhouse tables emulated the feeling of a Viking feast, while clear chairs kept the clutter minimal. The center of each table was decorated with corkscrew willow gathered from Silja’s mother’s yard, and strands of pampas grass were placed in beakers—a nod to Phil’s scientific profession. “We even put milkweed seed beneath each guest’s plate for them to take home and plant, as a way to contribute to the conservation of Monarch butterflies,” Silja explains.
Dinner included curried cauliflower, eggplant moussaka, and baked salmon inspired by their friend Nevada Berg’s Norwegian cookbook, North Wild Kitchen. Instead of champagne, the couple toasted with GT’s Kombucha, and also served American Harvest Organic Vodka (sustainably produced in the U.S.) and Trail’s End Bourbon Whiskey (made in Oregon, with profits supporting the National Forest Foundation).
“We served a Nordic wedding cake, called Kransekake,” says Silja. “One of the cakes had cricket flour in it—it was actually the most popular flavor!” (They were all adorned with butterfly accents, naturally.)
While wedding planning may feel like it’s all about creating the best experience for your guests, Silka says to remember that your loved ones want the best possible day for you too. “The tiniest details don’t always matter,” says Silja. “It’s about how much fun you and your spouse are having, and how much genuine love is in the air!”
Venue: Nordic Museum || Officiant: Danny Hoyt || Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier, from Bridal Garden || Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: Heidi Nymark || Groom's Attire: Tom Ford, Gucci || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring: Brilliant Earth || Wedding Bands: Anna Sheffield || Photography: Andrew Parsons and Kate Moore