Sarah & Sam

August 6, 2011 at Treehouse Point in Issaquah

When Sam Heller’s mother picked him up from a Camp Orkila adventure trip a decade ago, he had just three words for her in greeting. “That’s my girl,” he stated, pointing across the parking lot to pretty brunette Sarah Short. It was July 2001, and he was 14 years old, as was the girl for whom he had fallen head over heels while backpacking and kayaking through the San Juan Islands.

The teenager’s words turned out to be prophetic; Sarah would continue to be his girl through high school in Seattle and then college in Maine, and the outdoorsy Northwest natives were inseparable on hiking adventures through Patagonia as adults. Last September, the duo, now both 24, kayaked to the their “kissing tree” on Blind Island (where they shared their first camp smooch), and Sam surprised Sarah with a heartfelt proposal, writing “Will you marry me?” on the last page of a journal in which the couple had chronicled the past 10 years of their relationship.

Envisioning a laidback, nature-inspired fete matching their own personalities and interests, the Capitol Hill couple turned to wedding planner Lisa Chambers to help them plan the perfect day. It took just a peek at the woodsy and rustic TreeHouse Point in Issaquah for their vision to blossom, settling on warm wood tones, organic and wild florals, and crisp, clean greens, deep purples and blues and rusty oranges to enhance the Pacific Northwest feel.

With engraved wood invitations setting the tone for the August celebration, on the big day 80 guests entered a wooded wonderland, complete with hydrangea arrangements in tree trunks, potted herbs set atop moss-covered tables and “S+S” engravings on birchwood décor. After a touching ceremony written by the couple, friends and family picked up their place cards from a hand-notched wood holder display and sat at long communal tables decorated with lush greenery and bright purple and pink florals. There, they made toasts and partook of a catered feast that included salmon and halibut caught the week before in Alaska by the groom’s family. Slicing into a three-tiered cake fondant-stenciled with a tree design, that mimicked the design on their save-the-dates, the couple led the way through the sprawling dessert bar of banana bread chunks dipped in chocolate, crème brûlée and fresh huckleberry sorbet.

As the sun set behind the conifers, the newlyweds boogied down to the raucous tunes of the Dusty 45s. (“At one point, the trumpet player lit his instrument on fire, jumped on the double bass and continued to play through an entire song!” says Sam, who is a technical consultant for Hitachi Consulting.) A close-knit circle of friends stayed at the venue overnight, holding a late-night bonfire before sending Sarah and Sam off into newlywed bliss on their honeymoon to France and Italy. “We’ve known each other so long that the people in our lives are intertwined and connected in so many ways,” says environmental educator Sarah, who works at the Washington Park Arboretum. “Despite having 80 people with us, the whole day felt incredibly intimate.”

Bridal attire: I Do Bridal | Bridal jewelry: vendors | Bridesmaid attire: Nordstrom | Cake/Desserts: New Renaissance Cakes | Caterer: Herban Feast | Favors and florals: Bella Rugosa | Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire: Tuxedo Club | Hair and makeup: Salon Maison | Invitations: Paper Moxie | Music for ceremony: Evergreen Duo | Music/DJ for reception: Dusty 45s | Rentals (chairs, linens and place settings): BBJ Linen | Rings: Green Lake Jewelry WorksDynamic Designs | Venue: TreeHouse Point | Wedding planner: Lisa Chambers of Chambers & Company

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