Four years before Morgan and Jon’s wedding, Morgan’s father passed away. Although Morgan was excited for her special day, she knew it would be hard without her dad present. Honoring her late father ultimately became an important part of Morgan and Jon’s wedding day. From the seat that was left empty where Morgan’s dad would have sat during the ceremony, to the surprise tribute-dance that replaced the father-daughter dance, Morgan honored her dad’s memory throughout the entire day. Read our interview and watch Morgan and Jon’s wedding video by Tennison Weddings below. ❤️
How did you meet and fall in love?
We met on Match.com! Jon had recently moved to Seattle from his home state of Connecticut, and I had just gotten back from a soul-searching solo trip to the Costa Rican jungle. After a few major fails (and some hilarious mishaps), I had fully sworn off of online dating forever. But shortly after returning to Seattle, a little voice in the back of my head kept nagging me to get back online one more time. I was able to ignore it for a few weeks until it was just too loud to drown out. I decided to give online dating one more try, with absolutely zero expectations. Jon was the first person to reach out–it felt a little fateful, to be honest. He hooked me in with his Pop-A-Shot challenge (and his dashing looks, of course). We met for drinks at a patio bar overlooking Lake Union, and by our fourth date we were jumping out of an airplane together. We’ve been trying to top that date ever since. 🙂 (Note: I remain undefeated at Pop-A-Shot.)
Tell us how the proposal happened.
We were in Connecticut visiting Jon’s family for the holidays. I had a hunch that he would propose while we were there, but as the end of our trip neared, I was definitely feeling antsy and super nervous–the anticipation was killing me! It was the morning of New Years Eve 2016, and Jon’s sister-in-law took me out for a couple of hours to get our nails done. Huge sign, I know, but I was trying not to get my hopes up too much! When we got back to the house, the whole family was there. His sister Jessica handed me one of her twin babies, Sloane, but I didn’t immediately notice Sloane’s new outfit or the what her shirt said. Jon had purchased custom outfits for his two nieces and his nephew, and together, they read the words, “Will You Marry Me?” It took me a minute to realize what was going on, but once I did, the tears started flowing. Visibly shaking, he got down on one knee and through a puddle of happy tears, I nodded yes. I was totally speechless and in shock. Jon said he had thought a lot about whether to do it alone or in front of family, and that ultimately (and especially with the passing of my father), he wanted me to be surrounded by as much love as possible when he asked me the most important question of his life. It was so incredibly thoughtful, and the way he did it was so genuine and so “Jon.” The funniest part, is that he had asked everyone to film it for us to have as a keepsake, and everyone was so caught up in the moment that no one remembered to start filming!
Tell us about something that was creative or unique to your wedding.
With the passing of my dad four years ago, I wasn’t sure how this day would feel. He was my first love, and the person I identified most with in the world. Although a wedding is a happy and exciting celebration, it was very important to me that his life was honored and his presence was felt. I spent a lot of time thinking about the ways in which I wanted to honor him at the wedding. There was a song I heard the day before Jon proposed called, “Village,” by the country artist Cam. It brought me to my knees with it’s lyrics about losing someone you love, but how they’ll always have a front row seat in your heart. The song played in my head nonstop throughout the whole engagement process, so I had the chorus [of the song] put onto a gorgeous wooden sign at the wedding and displayed next to the memorial table with his pictures on it. I also had a chair reserved for him in the front row where he would’ve sat during the ceremony. It of course remained empty, but I had a small sign made that read “Dad,” and we hung it on the back of the chair. For our first Christmas together, Jon had given me a locket with pictures of my dad inside of it. I had the locket attached to my bouquet to walk down the aisle with. Our officiant (and dear friend) Claire, spoke about my father, and we had a moment of silence for him at the beginning of the ceremony. Lastly, I wrote my father a love letter and had it printed on the back of the wedding programs. The hardest things can also be the most precious, and I’m so thankful I had a father whose life and heart and character made it such an honor to memorialize him on the biggest day of my life.
Jon and my mom surprised me with the most special tribute to my late father. After the first dance, our DJ told me to stay on the dance floor, which was not in my notes. Since I am a planner, this really threw me for a loop! Right as the DJ started to play a song that my mom had picked out prior, one of my uncles walked toward me and asked me to dance. It only took a second for me to realize what was happening, and I don’t think I stopped crying the entire song. Throughout the song, two more of my uncles came in and took the others’ place. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building. I’m so glad it was a surprise because the emotion was so genuine and raw. I still cannot look at the pictures and video of it without getting emotional. I’m so grateful for such a precious memory.
Jon and I decided to write our own vows, and in fact, we pieced together our entire ceremony from scratch. We are not religious or traditional, so it was so much fun finding and creating wording, poems, readings, etc., and putting together something that truly felt like it fit us perfectly. Our two dogs, Sawyer and Winnie, are our babies and we couldn’t imagine having our wedding without them. Winnie wore a floral garland around her neck that I had made, and Sawyer wore a blue bow-tie that matched Jon’s. They had matching white leashes, and walked down the aisle with two of my young cousins. We knew having animals at the ceremony meant anything could happen, but we welcomed whatever hilariousness that might bring. They were so funny and well-behaved (thanks to some ~special~ dog treats). Winnie laid down on top of my train almost the whole time, and Sawyer switched between Aunt Jessica’s and Grandpa Seymour’s lap. They completely stole the show!
Jon and I were never super thrilled at the thought of doing a typical first dance to a slow song. As a couple, we tend to be really goofy and don’t take ourselves very seriously, so when we randomly came across a movie scene of an improvised, and very unflattering, dance to the ’80s power ballad, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” we knew we had to do it. We spent a few months memorizing the moves, as well as adding a few of our own, and hoped that everyone would find it as silly, self-deprecating, and fun as we did. It surprised everyone, and was a total blast.
Our favors were pretty unique and one of my most cherished elements from the wedding. Coming up with an idea for favors was one of the hardest things to get inspiration for. I didn’t want to do something that I had seen done time and time again. I also wanted to give something thoughtful that would show our guests how much they mean to us. I can’t remember where I first saw the idea of vintage handkerchiefs, but since our wedding decor had a vintage flair, I thought they would be a great idea. In order to make them even more special, I decided to collect authentic vintage hankies and personally hand-stitch every guests first initial and our wedding date onto them. I loved finding handkerchiefs that made me think of a certain guest. Halfway through the process, my mom found a box full of my late grandmother’s handkerchiefs. I used her handkerchiefs, with a special tag to signify it belonged to her, to give to our female guests that were related to or very close to her, which was extra special. It felt like such a precious way to honor her memory.
Describe the moment from your wedding day that stands out to you the most.
It’s so hard to pick one moment that stands out from an entire day of non-stop “moments.” If I had to narrow it down, I would say that reciting our written vows to each other, performing our silly first dance, and the first moments after the ceremony, when Jon and I had a moment alone to just be together and process the gravity of what just happened are the moments definitely stand out the most. 🙂
How did you find your wedding dress? Who designed it and how did you know it was the one?
The process of finding my wedding dress was equal parts fun and stressful! I can be so indecisive and it was very apparent in this search. After trying on around 50 gowns, I ended up coming back to two that I had tried on at the very first place I went. I somehow convinced myself, my fiancé, and my mother that two gowns were necessary. They were polar opposites in style (which is why I couldn’t decide!), but from the same designer, which gave them more of a cohesive look and feel. I found them both at Nordstrom in Seattle, made by designer Ines Di Santo. My ceremony gown was a champagne-colored modern ballgown. It had a flowing skirt and train, while the top was super delicate with tiny straps, nearly backless, and adorned with delicate lace appliqué’s. It was so comfortable, and I truly felt like a bride in it. I wore a Vera Wang cathedral veil, with additional lace appliqué’s identical to the ones on my dress, flowing down one side of it. My reception dress was a floor-length, fitted, ivory gown, with a cascading lace train that we later bustled for dancing. The top of the dress was made entirely of illusion mesh, with lace appliqué’s strategically placed in the front for necessary coverage. The back had a single row of white beads down the spine to simulate buttons. I had never seen anything like this gown before, and really wanted something that would be elegant but make a bold statement. I knew that these dresses were “the ones,” because I knew I had to walk down the aisle and get married in that ballgown whenever I put it on, and when I was in the reception dress, I just felt like it had been designed specifically for me.
What made your wedding feel extra special to you and your partner?
I think what made our wedding feel extra special to us, was that it just truly felt like us. We made every wedding decision based on what we wanted, and based on what felt most like us as a couple. I really felt like all of our favorite people were witnessing the vision of our love story come to life.
How did you find your filmmaker and what made you choose them?
Our filmmaker was actually recommended to us by our photographer. The two of them had worked together several times and both raved about each other. When I checked out Tennison Weddings’ work, I was bawling at every single wedding video on his website. His style was candid and authentic, full of emotion, and absolutely beautiful. I knew immediately that we had to have him film our wedding.
What is your favorite moment from your wedding film?
The way Justin [from Tennison Weddings] put my late father’s moment of silence into the highlight video, while showing footage of the water surrounding Whidbey Island, was absolutely breathtaking and so emotional. To this day, I cannot watch it without getting choked up. My other favorite part of the film is all of the candid moments between me and Jon. It can be really hard to stay present on your wedding day and remember everything, so it’s so precious to see the little, intimate moments we shared together.
Tell us the No. 1 piece of wedding planning advice you wish you would have known.
My biggest piece of advice, and what Jon and I made a point to follow is this: Don’t feel pressured to take everyone’s advice! Have the wedding that you and your fiancé want, not the wedding you think you’re “supposed” to have. Don’t go by “the rules” or follow wedding standards just for the sake of it. The best decision we made was not including lots of the standard traditions that didn’t actually mean anything to us (such as our opting out of bridesmaids and groomsmen), and instead only incorporating things that really spoke to us or that we thought would help showcase who we are as a couple. This is your one day to really showcase your own, unique, and special relationship and love story. Don’t let the “should do’s” overpower what you really want. Stay true to yourself when making your wedding plans, and your guests will feel your presence and love radiating from every detail. 🙂
What do you think the “secret sauce” to your relationship is?
We both think the secret sauce is genuinely being each others best friend, keeping each other laughing, and always adventuring together!