Dunn Gardens Wedding | Modern Asian Fusion | Chelsea Abril Photography

Seattle Weddings


Your Full Guide To a Dreamy Dunn Gardens Wedding

With lush meadows and hidden pathways, Dunn Gardens checks every box of your intimate, secret garden wedding wishlist. Just 25 minutes outside of downtown Seattle, Dunn Gardens is picture-perfect for an intimate garden elopement or private backyard-feel retreat. This North Seattle wedding venue offers a two-story house to rent with plenty of space to get ready with you and your loved ones. Not to mention, the multiple ceremony and reception spaces to choose from! If you’re looking for a no-fuss, no muss, all-inclusive garden event space, Dunn Gardens is it. Dunn Gardens is absolutely one of my favorite wedding venues in the greater Seattle area because it really is a blank canvas. The open lawns are ready for you to dress up or down as you please – the only limit is your (budget and) imagination. Another bonus? If you book in the Spring, the grounds are planted to perfection with beautiful blooms of all shapes, colors, and sizes (save money on florals!). I think that’s a #winwin, if you ask me.

Valerie and Brian celebrated their intimate garden wedding with their closest friends and family. They incorporated their love for food and culture to create a majestic, modern Asian fusion wedding. From the boba tea station at their cocktail hour, to the late evening outfit change from wedding dress to Valerie’s modern qipao, this wedding was one of my favorites of the summer.

Note to you, the reader: if you’re here, I imagine that you are a modern Seattle bride, groom, or married, and potentially also wondering how to honor your family and your heritage. But, also honor the modern taste and love story of your relationship. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do a wedding, contrary to what our families may think. More and more often in the wedding world, I am delighted to see couples including traditions in their own special way, with their own modern twist. At the end of the day – if it makes you happy, it makes the cut. 😉

Dunn Gardens wedding, bride and groom showered with flower petals

In classic Hollywood fashion, Brian fell for the girl next door…well, next dorm room over. He wheedled his way into Valerie’s study group, stealing her number from a study buddy. OK, smooth. The happy couple had their first official date at Thai Tom’s (nothing like a 4-star spicy pad see ew to light a fire in the mouth and in the hearts of two college students on a budget!). It’s been ten years of love, laughter and growing “old” together for these two love birds. Cheers, you two!

It’s All in the Details, Baby!

Special thank you to all of the Seattle wedding vendors who came together for this happy couple’s FAB day!

Dunn Gardens wedding details, shoes, ring, jewelry

Wedding Bands & Rings | Green Lake Jewelry Works | instagram

On the hunt for hand-crafted, high-quality jewelry? Green Lake Jewelry Works is happy to help you with all of your jewelry needs. Offering artistic and technically challenging pieces, Green Lake Jewelry has worked with couples across the world to design custom designs.  Since 1996, Green Lake Jewelry Works has been crafting custom-designed engagement rings, wedding bands, and other jewelry. Interested? Give Green Lake Jewelry a ring!

Dunn Gardens wedding details, poster and wedding rings
The happy couple mapped out their EPIC love story on a colorful, creative wedding poster. Packed with a shared love of food and fun, they captured their monumental memories to the fullest!

Chelsea: Valerie, at what moment did you realize you fell in love with Brian?

Valerie: There was this one time in college where I had been working in the lab all night, and I was near my breaking point around 2am. I texted Brian that I really wanted a hug, expecting a gif or something texted back. The next thing I knew – he was right in front of the animation lab. In person, in the pouring rain, he was ready to give me a big ole’ hug. And that was it. I was a goner.

Dunn Gardens Wedding Venue | Dunn Gardens | instagram

In my ten years as a photographer, I have photographed weddings at Dunn Gardens Events with anywhere from 4 guests to 140, so it suits the size of any celebration. Whether you’re having a traditional size wedding, a micro wedding, or a low-key elopement, I love how there are several ceremony sites to choose from with more than enough space to host your special guests.

FAQ Time! Fast Facts on Dunn Gardens

Why should we choose Dunn Gardens for our wedding?

A historic treasure hidden in Seattle, Dunn Gardens is the perfect venue for weddings up to 60 guests. Privacy, personalized service, and your choice of location for the ceremony provide a variety of scenic and organic opportunities for photographs. Bonus, it’s a secret Seattle oasis only 25 minutes away from downtown 😉

If we decide to book Dunn Gardens, what does it cover?

The fee covers the use of the garden for 2 – 3 hours, toilet facilities, a gracious set up for the after ceremony toast on the lawn, seating, a Dunn Gardens family membership (valued at $100), and an opportunity for photographs in a spectacular setting. Dunn Gardens does not provide food, but the party is permitted to bring in food catering by prior arrangement. No set-up facilities are available for the wedding party.

What’s a micro-wedding?

Great Q! You don’t want to elope exactly, but you don’t need a big fuss either – just family and a few close friends to celebrate tying the knot. With a wedding party, officiant and guests, a micro-wedding is usually twenty people or less.

What happens at a Dunn Gardens micro-wedding?

The bride and groom wed in a garden location of their choice and soon after, are invited to share a “bubbly” toast before heading out to celebrate! Pop that champagne!!

Shoot, is parking free?

A small parking lot is available on site for the bride and groom, their parents, and anyone with disabilities. No room? Not to worry. Street parking is also readily available and convenient.

Pretty please, can we have music?

DUH! Feel free to bring in (a) musician(s) who will add ambience and originality to your occasion. Amplified music must be under 75 decibels…you know, for the sake of your elders. Valerie and Brian chose Peggy Brady’s Olympic Serenade String Quartet in Seattle for this special day! As an important note, Dunn Gardens is located in a quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac. There is a strict noise cut off time, so be sure to check with the Dunn Gardens coordinator to make sure you have your fun without pissing off any neighbors 😉

What’s the rental fee?

$1,500 includes a $500, non-refundable deposit required upon reservation and $1,000 payable three weeks prior to the wedding. 

Dunn Gardens wedding details, signs, welcome sign, directions
Custom laser print wooden signs to guide guests in from street parking.
Dunn Gardens wedding details, custom cards, fairy tale themed, Disney, marvel, globe, mailbox
The couple pulled out all the travel stops for their guest sign-in table including fun travel postcards and throwback photos of everyone at the table. Some of the absolute cutest handmade wedding decor and travel-inspired wedding favors I’ve ever seen.
Dunn Gardens wedding details, reception, games, table setting
Happy hour games and activities included: lawn games, giant jenga, bubbles and board games were the perfect additions for a fun reception.
Dunn Gardens wedding details, old photographs hanging on trees
On the walkway from the waiting area to the ceremony, the bride & groom hung sentimental photos from the trees to honor their loved ones. Like a memory lane.

The Perfect Wedding Dress | L’amour by Calla Blanche | instagram

If you’re looking for something to stand out on your big day (think sexy and sassy, but classy), L’amour by Calla Blanche is a great option. Their collection includes many different styles, colors, and fabrics. With their affordable designs and everyday low prices, you can rest easy knowing that your budget won’t be stretched too thin either. Valerie looked out of this world in her in Calla Blanche’s, romantic, lace, strapless corset wedding dress.

Dunn Gardens wedding dress

Seattle Bridal Hair | Bahtoh / Bobbie | instagram

Situated in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, BAHTOH has grown into a Seattle hair haven for clients all around the globe, and a crowd favorite of the Seattle wedding industry. In addition to Bobbie and Michael’s signature haircuts and color treatments, they have opened the doors to a team of talented stylists who are masters of their craft. Valerie chose a simple, romantic wedding day updo.

Dunn Gardens wedding bride and her mother helping her get dressed
The turn-key home at Dunn Gardens is the perfect place for the bride and groom to get ready. Adjacent to the botanical gardens, the two-story home offers both class and convenience.

Seattle Bridal Makeup | Gaylinyet Roberts | instagram

Gaylin Yet or “G” to those that love her (we do!), is a professional make-up artist whose specialty is flawless, photo-ready skin. Glowing, contoured, and ugh, just PERFECTION. With over 16 years in the beauty industry, she focuses on blending and diffusing until the make-up is seamless. If you are looking for makeup precision or Asian wedding makeup inspiration, G is guaranteed to make you glowww.

Dunn Gardens wedding bride walking around in her dress

Men’s Wedding Suit | Suit Supply | instagram

Suit Supply is an international men’s fashion brand offering fashionable and high-quality clothing. They offer signature suits, eye-catching outerwear, rich leather shoes, the finest wool and cashmere knits, and more. And don’t get us started on the fabrics! From cashmere to camels, Suit Supply clothing is as luxurious as it is comfortable. The devil is in the details, with clothing items stitched to PURE PERFECTION.

Personally, I am 1000% swooning over the simple, dressed to perfection madness that is this custom blue plaid suit. The wedding industry focuses a lot on dresses and details, so I personally love getting to gush over menswear (and non-binary wear!) and suits.

Dunn Gardens wedding groom walking around the garden
The groom sports a suave, silk Lavio suit by SuitSupply.

Dunn Gardens wedding, bride walking around the garden, parents holding her dress
Want to include your parents more in the pre-wedding festivities? Valerie opted to have her parents come along and carry her train before her first look with Brian in a more secluded area of the venue. They exchanged private letters and gifts and a few quiet moments before resetting for ceremony.
Dunn Gardens wedding, bride and groom walking around the garden
Handmade gifts and a secret garden stroll. Is this what dreams are made of?
Dunn Gardens wedding, wedding ceremony
Wedding guests arrived in chic, casual attire, mixing and matching shades of blue staples. These gorgeous flower girls are simply adorable in their matching bright teal dresses too! 👗

Seattle Wedding Florist | Blue Poppy Floral / Diep | instagram

Valerie opted for a gorgeous, spring-inspired, colorful bouquet with all her favorite hues.

Pro tip: if you want to have a flower shower on her exit, or just dress up your ceremony site with petals, be sure to ask your florist! Another, more budget-friendly option, is to head to your local market and grab any bouquet of flowers that fits your liking, and turn them into flower petals yourself.

Owner of Blue Poppy Floral and Gifts, Diep Shippen discovered the beauty of flowers growing up on the coast of Vietnam. Diep has specialized in floral arrangements since 2019. She offers bright, eclectic and elegant floral arrangements for the home, events, and special occasions. Her florals include a vast array of house plants for clients, such as orchids, kokedama, terrarium bar/succulents. In addition, she sells a variety of unique gifts and treats for people (and your pooches!) on her online store.

Dunn Gardens wedding, wedding ceremony
Dunn Gardens wedding, wedding ceremony bride laughing out loud

FUN FACT: This was actually a two-year vow renewal ceremony for the smitten couple! Brian and Valerie actually got married in a courthouse in 2019, were supposed to have their bigger celebration in 2020 (oops) at a different venue, then finally opted to have a small reception at Dunn Gardens just for close friends and family.

Dunn Gardens wedding, bride and groom showered with flower petals
The end of the ceremony was followed by petal toss to shower the happy couple with love!

PRO TIP: Take your wedding photos at sunset for that beautiful golden hour glow. 🌅 If you’re having a summer wedding in Seattle, I highly recommend carving out a little extra time for portraits later in your reception.

Simple, sweet, and complementary. V+B chose to keep it clean and comfortable at their garden party reception with white linen table clothes, and natural wood chairs. Valerie was an absolute DIY queen and also included hand-stamped wedding silverware favors, mini candles and handmade acrylic photo name tags.
I still can’t get over that she individually sourced and printed a photo of every one of her guests, made acrylic backings and little easels to hold them, and then used them instead of name cards. By far the most creative way to creatively incorporate guests and handmade touches into wedding decor.

Punch is so last century – LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOBA BAR. These two took turns serving their guests – they had a mix of different boba and jellies as well as several different teas. The groom was in charge of an elevated beer tasting with handmade beer tasting flight glass holders . How (🥃) neat!

A true foodie wedding, Valerie + Ben brought in a ton of local vendors for a delicious, interactive wedding reception experience.

Born from the idea of food bringing people together, Umami Kushi is a small Seattle company that offers Japanese-style okazu pans, beignets and yuzu kosho which is a dish combining shishito peppers, jalapenos and fresh yuzu juice. If you’re looking to have a more unique, interactive wedding menu, check out local vendors like Umami Kushi who can do a live by order wedding yakitori experience.

The couple had a rolling dinner buffet where guests were able to serve themselves. Lucky guests were served Yakitori – a Japanese delicacy of grilled meats and veggies, as well as Okazu pans (aka. fried bread filled with beef curry and lentils).

A modern Asian wedding wouldn’t be complete without Sake! The bride and groom provided several of their favorite sake brands to share with their wedding guests and make toasts throughout the night.

Seattle Fish Guys | instagram

If you’re looking for incredible, fresh seafood, and a unique foodie wedding experience like V+B, Seattle Fish Guys might be just what you’re looking for. This seafood-obsessed couple opted for a spread of fresh oysters and custom dipping sauces, crab legs, jumbo shrimp, and choice smoked salmon.

Founded in 2019, SFG has continued to perfect their craft, offering locally smoked salmon fillets, Alaskan King Crab, Sashimi Grade Tuna, poke and chirashi bowls, and more.

A seafood buffet wedding spread featured fresh selections including crab, oysters, cocktail shrimp, smoked salmon and Mac salad.
Award for best dressed seafood goes toooo……

Fun fact: while cheeseboards are obviously and arguably one of the most favored of current grazing table trends, what makes this one even more special is that is actually made and supplied by one of the bride’s dearest friends.

Pro tip: remember to have fun and not take yourself too seriously 😉

Bride eating ice cream by Pink's ice cream / Macadons
I scream, you scream. We all scream for Pink’s Seattle ice cream!

Macadons | instagram

If you’re tired of the normal dessert options, try an ice cream stand!

Pink’s Asian Inspired Ice Cream combined with delicious Macadons definitely make for a standout wedding dessert option.

If you’re looking for a unique dessert option for your wedding and want to support local, asian eateries, definitely consider Pink’s Ice Cream. They’ve got a huge 32+ flavor library, with options like fruity pebbles, lychee, Thai tea and Vietnamese coffee.

Wedding Cake by TM Dessert Works
#Sugarcoma 🍰 The couple cut the TM Dessert Works’s strawberry bagatelle cake and enjoyed fluffy beignets. The groom also hand baked a few gluten-free cakes for his gluten-free and celiac guests.

With all their other unique dessert options, Valerie and Brian opted for a simple gourmet two twier wedding cake with edible flowers. TM Dessert Works uses the finest of chocolates in their fillings and for the finishing touches in their products.

Bride and groom feeding each other cake, Wedding Cake by TM Dessert Works
a cake table set up doesn’t have to be extravagant. We pulled one of the tables from inside the venue for a simple set up with candles, her bouquet, and the two cake stands. We opted for a simple background for their cake cutting photo opp.
Dunn Gardens wedding, bride in red dress

Valerie chose to honor her Chinese heritage with a modern take on the traditional Qipao. Instead of the more traditional silhouette, Valerie opted for a custom red pantsuit from The Missing Piece with a modern silhouette that still paid homage to her heritage.

Check out 38 Wedding Qipao Ideas on Pinterest

Dunn Gardens wedding, bride and groom showered with money

It is considered an Asian tradition to gift couples with cash shmoney, honey. To make the tradition even more fun, these two opted to combine their exit with a champagne shower and money guns. (alexa, play Money by Cardi B)

Dunn Gardens wedding, bride and groom showered with money
Dunn Gardens wedding, bride and groom showered with money

If I can leave you with one thing – no matter where you get married or how you choose to celebrate, there are infinite ways to make the day truly your own.

Wanna see more? Check out these blogs for more Washington Elopement and Seattle Wedding inspiration:

Check out my Pinterest for some Seattle elopement and wedding inspiration. But, if you’re ready to see what I can do for you, head to my Instagram or my contact page for more information. Let’s rock your wedding day and make it a day you won’t forget!

Are you interested in booking or planning a Seattle wedding? Check out how to get started and some of the simple steps you can do today to make your wedding day that much more special!

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