What happens when two Caltech engineers get married? They have a geek chic – “stars & science” themed wedding that’s out of this world! Kate & Alex‘s Salt Lake City Public Library wedding is the most creative I’ve seen so far. For one, I would have never imagined a library could be so enchanting, and second, I would never have thought a “stars & science” wedding theme could be so much fun and chic. Vintage astronomy, and space race artwork, was the inspiration behind their dark blue, silver & white color scheme, and to me, it was just perfect for their wintry February wedding captured by Logan Walker Photography.
From the bride: For the ceremony, I wore my favorite old Hunter wellies over knee high Star Trek socks. I had anticipated snow and/or ice, and thought it would be a blast to stomp around in rain boots. And I just really liked the idea of wearing something other than the stereotypical sparkly designer high heels. The socks and boots were a fun balance to all the pre-ceremony fuss and craziness, and I felt more like myself in them. Wellies aren’t made for dancing, so I changed into midnight blue Dessy Simple Satin Ballet Flats for the reception (sans Star Trek socks)….
Why did you pick that location for your ceremony? In addition to being a beautiful building, the library is all the more special to us because of the large role my mother, Anne, played in managing its construction. A librarian all her life, my mom worked tirelessly with architects and contractors for many years to ensure the building’s successful completion and the Library still plays a big part in her life.
The view of the mountains at sunset was absolutely stunning. We kept the decor minimal because we felt anything more would have taken away from the natural beauty of the scenery. Silver lanterns with star cutouts and tealights lined the aisle. Two of the groomsmen built and decorated the altar, which was a simple wooden structure on stacks of books that was wrapped in gauzy fabric and lights.
Our friend, Matt Clausen, got ordained online to be our officiant. He did an amazing and heartfelt job, so good in fact that he was asked to marry another set of friends just a week afterwards!
Two dear family friends, my “aunts” Angela (godmother) and Jane, get credit for just about every part of the wedding that went smoothly. In addition to selecting and arranging a ton of my favorite details (ex: LOVE ball, fur shrugs & sparkly pins), the two took on a lot of the DIY work.
We named tables after some of our favorite scientists instead of numbering them. Common elements like labware “vases” and old books were used, but the decor on every guest table was unique and reflected the scientist the table was named after. I think the books fit in perfectly given the venue, and helped tie the whole thing together while highlighting the unique accent pieces at each table.
We had an ice cream sundae bar and cookies instead of cake. We had custom Star Trek action figures made of us through Cubify to be our “cake” toppers.
More from the happy couple, Kate & Alex:
How did you meet?
Kate and I both went to the University of Texas at Austin. Despite the fact that the Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science buildings were right across the street from each other, and we even worked on the same student satellite project (I quit the semester Kate started), it wasn’t until after graduation that we actually met. While in Pasadena on a job hunting trip, Kate and I were introduced by a mutual friend and quickly entered a state of inseparable quantum entanglement.
“Job hunting trip” is such an Alex way of describing the situation I was bumming it on my friend’s couch while trying to find work. The job market was pretty rough when I graduated. After two friends from college got hired by JPL (where Alex works), they encouraged me to come to Pasadena where they had better luck, better weather, and apartments I could stay at for free. Believe it or not, I was actually warned about Alex before I made the drive out from Texas! My friends cautioned,me that he was “definitely my type… trust me, just be careful.” I found the warning highly amusing because a relationship was the last thing in the world I was interested in at the time. After two looong and grueling back-to-back interviews, I wearily returned to the couch that had become my new home only to find a horde of strangers in the midst of a scary movie night. One of the strangers cracked a joke. I distinctly remember appreciating the dimples and fantastic smile attached to the clever remark, and thinking “hmmm, he’s interesting”… before mental warning bells went off and I received not so subtle “I told you so” looks from my friend. I fell asleep while sitting up only a few minutes later, so I don’t remember much else from our first meeting. Turns out my friend was right to warn me. The second time we met, I felt an inexplicable pull towards him, like I was being drawn in by a string or a magnet.The pull only intensified over time, but I kept my feelings to myself. After a painfully long time, I found out my crush wasn’t as one-sided as I’d thought, and the rest is history.
Who proposed marriage and how did that proposal happen?
Kate and I had been together for a long time before I finally proposed, so I knew I wanted to make it really special. I really wanted it to be a surprise so I chose to do it on her birthday when I thought she might be least suspecting. Kate loves Star Trek and as luck would have it, a new movie had just been released at the time. I took her to the fancy upscale theater with reclining chairs. Afterwards, we drove down to the Santa Monica pier for a trapeze lesson. She’d always admired the trapeze school whenever we had walked by and I could tell she secretly dreamed of trying. As it turns out, she’s was shockingly good for a first timer, especially compared to my uncoordinated flailing about!
Later that evening I took her to a fancy French restaurant followed by a drive up to Griffith Observatory. I had planned to propose in the telescope dome, but a giant concert near the observatory caused a massive traffic jam. By the time we got there, it was almost closing time and the line was so long I knew we wouldn’t be able to get in on time. Leaving Kate to hold our place, I went to the front of the line and started begging people to trade spots with us. One sweet couple did trade with us, but even so the telescope closed when we were only a couple places away from the door. While I was standing there desperately trying to come up with a contingency plan, I noticed the usher from the front of the line motioning for us to follow him. He had overheard my pleading and, in an act of supreme compassion that I will never forget, quietly snuck us in through the back door. Kate was a bit confused by all this so I just told her he was doing it because it was her birthday. After all the other guests had finished looking through the telescope, Kate climbed up the old wooden steps and as she was admiring the rings of Saturn I knelt down and pulled out the ring. I waited patiently like that for a long time, but Kate was so excited by her secret birthday telescope access that I couldn’t get her to look away from the eyepiece. Finally, I resorted to some leading questions like “do you see anything else bright and sparkly?”. When even that didn’t work, I asked her if she could see Europa. As I expected, she immediately spun around to correct me that Europa was a moon of Jupiter not of Saturn, but when she saw me she just clasped her hands over her mouth, eyes shining bright.
We’re at the age when it seems like everyone is getting married, so the topic had come up a lot before we got engaged. I made my feelings very clear. I think it’s totally unfair that a guy is expected to spend a ton of money on a ring AND create an over-the-top, once-in-a-lifetime proposal extravaganza that magically fulfills or tops his girlfriend’s unspoken expectations. More than once, I joked the most efficient way to propose is to do it on Christmas, a birthday, anniversary, or other event requiring a gift. It’s easier to pull off a surprise proposal because some fuss and spoiling is expected on special days, and the ring counts as a gift so you kill two birds with one stone.
I never expected Alex to take my smart-ass comment seriously. For the record, a birthday is the perfect day to propose. People in general are extra nice when they know it’s your birthday, and Alex always makes the day extra special. I didn’t think twice about the things that would have been obvious signs on any other day. It’s really embarrassing, but it took me a while to realize Alex was proposing. I felt so lucky that we were allowed into the dome, and after waiting forever for the rest of the public to leave, I was SO excited to finally look through the telescope. I like space A LOT, so I was really distracted. For safety, only one person is allowed on the wooden staircase leading up to the telescope at a time. When I heard the bottom stair creak, I just assumed Alex was rushing me because it was after hours.I turned to my right to ask the remaining staff a question, and was a little annoyed when they chuckled before answering, but they stayed late for us so I shrugged it off. I turned back to the telescope, and kept asking questions without looking away. There was more chuckling off to the left. I was too oblivious to notice what was happening on my right. Alex had scaled the steps and was trying to propose. I was totally baffled by what seemed like really dumb questions can you see Jupiter (wrong time of night, and he already knew I was looking at Saturn), can you see your moon (if I can’t see Jupiter, obviously I can’t see it’s moon Europa), then why don’t you look over here? When I finally tore my gaze away and saw Alex on his knee I was confused… then I saw the ring, and I was shocked… then mortified that I’d ignored him, so I asked a dumb question of my own how long have you been down there? More chuckling.
Moments you loved, hated, cried, laughed or giggled at:
Hated…Turning blotchy and red just before the ceremony because everyone was crowding and suffocating me.
Hated & loved & giggled at Sitting on the bathroom floor. The only alone time I had in the days leading up to the wedding was when I was sleeping (which didn’t happen enough) and when I was in the bathroom. So I’d escape to the bathroom, and just sit on the floor to catch a moment of peace.
Loved…Signing the papers, and being officially married.
Loved…Kids diffusing tension. During the last rehearsal right before the actual ceremony, when everyone lined up, the flower girl marched up to my father and asked if I was marrying him. He exclaimed, “No way! I’m her dad! Ewwww!” Then she demanded to know where Mr. Alex was.It took longer than expected to get the guests up to the roof for the ceremony, and I was getting sick of standing around waiting without knowing what was going on. Just before I could say it myself, he crossed his arms and exclaimed, “This is taking foooooorEVER! Weddings are slow!” He wasn’t being bratty, he was just frustrated. It sounded much cuter coming from a kid.
Towards the end of our first dance both sets of parents joined us, and so did the flower girl and ring bearer. All eyes were on the kids because they were ridiculously adorable.
Three things you’re glad you did.
1) Unique, themed tables.I’d always heard the seating arrangement was one of the most difficult and stressful parts of planning, but that was not my experience at all. The scientist tables made it much easier to figure out where to seat everyone. The Maxwell table was a no kid zone because part of the decor was a delicate Stirling engine, while the plasma globes and hand boilers made the Telsa table a kid magnet. The computer science people fit best at the Lovelace table, and my brother’s Sagan inspired tattoo made him an obvious addition to the Sagan table. Unique, themed tables are definitely the way to go.
2) Kid friendly wedding We tried to make the wedding fun for kids and for their parents. We just wanted everyone to have fun. At one point someone mentioned 4 year old Ben was still holding onto his stuffed giraffe (as he had been all evening), and asked if it should be taken away for the official family photo. I was surprised it even came up. The giraffe was adorable, Ben was adorable, the whole thing was great. I love that photo. Some of my favorite wedding moments and photos include children. It was a blast to see the kids out on the dance floor. We hired a sitter and set up toys and games in a room near the reception in case any of the children got sleepy or bored with the grown ups. It was a blast to see the kids on the dance floor.
3) We picked an amazing photographer. Not only did Logan from Peppernix make us feel at ease, she captured so many amazing moments from the day that otherwise might have blurred together in our memory. Every one of our photos turned out absolutely stunning and we simply couldn’t be happier.
Photographer: Logan Walker Photography|Dress Designer: Casablanca Bridal|Caterer: Culinary Crafts|Band: Metro Music Club|Event Venue: Salt Lake City Public Library|Scientist Cards: Etsy/MeganLee |Bride & Flower Girl’s Shrugs: Etsy/TionDesign