Wedding Style: Tania and Sam
When your wedding wholly reflects who you are as a couple, it’s perfect.
“So much of our relationship has involved outdoor adventure that it was important to us to have the wedding reflect that,” says Sam Peterson.
Sam and Tania (Sherry) Peterson were married at Highbanks Metro Park on October 25, 2014. “Many of our favorite memories together come from trips that we spent hiking, biking, or camping,” continues Tania. “We knew we wanted to have our ceremony outside. HighBanks was perfect because not only was it directly across the street from where we had our reception, but it had a beautiful private clearing called the Mansion Shelter that we were able to reserve just for our event.”
Many of their guests also spotted the bald eagles that live in the park, which Sam thought was a great extra.
Sam and Tania met by chance on Match.com.
“But in part only because Tania wanted a free smoothie,” says Sam. “She had just returned from four years in Peru in the Peace Corps and was living at home in Toledo. Her gym offered her a free smoothie if she referred three other people, but she hit the limit of people she knew in the area at two: her parents. Her brother suggested that she join Match.com to meet new people. Thankfully she messed it up somehow, because it showed her as living in Columbus; otherwise our paths may never have crossed. Conveniently, she was about to start grad school at OSU in the fall, so her time in Toledo was short lived.”
Many of their dates involved hiking and the outdoors, so Sam planned a perfect proposal at the cliffs at Conkle’s Hollow in Hocking Hills that would showcase the wonderful view. But sometimes, even the best laid plans are tough to execute.
“Well, Tania kind of ruined my first attempt [at proposing],” he says. “I had it all planned out. One day while hiking at Conkle’s Hollow, I suggested we stop and admire the view. Tania was having none of it. Despite my repeated attempts to get her to stop and sit down, she wouldn’t; she said we hadn’t been hiking long enough to take a break.”
“I feel a little bad to this day,” she says. “That spot happens to come towards the beginning of the hike, however, and when I get moving, I’m loathe to stop for anything. Sam pulled off at the viewpoint and tried several strategies to get me to sit down with him, but I insisted it was ridiculous to take a break so early in the hike and demanded that we resume hiking immediately. He eventually gave up, and our hike continued with me completely oblivious about his intentions.”
“We had to hike the trail a second time to get back to the spot I had picked out,” says Sam. “We stopped for lunch, and I proposed just before we ate. Tania was a little confused at first.”
“I was pretty surprised to get handed a ring, when all I’d expected was a bag of chips,” she says. The ring was a custom design Sam worked on with William Weidinger, incorporating two rubies for color, a small sparkly diamond, and a stone from Sam’s maternal grandmother’s wedding ring.
For their reception, the couple was at first thinking of putting together a day at a park or a farm.
“After visiting several of those venues, however, we came to the realization that we just didn’t have the time to deal with all the logistics that would require,” says Tania. “Also, despite beginning our venue search more than a year before our desired wedding date, we were surprised to find that many places were booked solid.”
Her parents had always enjoyed their stay at the Northpointe Hotel and Conference Center, and the proximity to Highbanks was really nice.
“We resisted at first because we thought it might just be a generic event space, but when we finally went, we loved it,” says Tania. “The wedding coordinator we met with, Bryan Wright, was hilarious and competent, and totally “got it” that we didn’t want a traditional reception.”
The Edgewater Room at Northpointe has large picture windows that overlook a pond and let lots of natural light into the space. Being adjacent to a patio just outside was perfect for the cocktail hour.
Finding a wedding dress took a little time for Tania.
“I’ve never been one to dream about a big white dress, so I honestly had kind of a hard time figuring out what I wanted,” she says. “After a few failed attempts at David’s Bridal and some of the other bigger shops, I took a trip down to Cincinnati to the Reading Bridal District. I found “the dress” – an Eddy K – on a clearance rack at the back of one of the shops.”
Although still a bit above her price range, Tania’s aunt saw how happy that dress made her niece and offered to pay the difference.
“I’m so glad she did because I loved the dress!” says Tania. “The only alteration required was to have it shortened, and a family friend of Sam’s stepped in and did that for me for free.”
Sam found a dark gray Hugo Boss suit from Nordstrom, and loves that whenever he wear it, he’s reminded of his wedding day.
They asked their wedding party to choose outfits based on a couple of criteria: knee length navy dresses for the bridesmaids and gray suits for the groomsmen.
“I loved the result!” says Tania.
They did get to do some DIY with the flowers. The couple’s friend Ashley Arzy selected sunflowers, gerber a daisies, and spray roses to complement a theme of deep and bold fall colors, oranges, golds, and reds. The flowers were ordered and Ashely, and Tania, her mother, and sisters spent a nice evening together putting together the bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres the night before the wedding.
“Tania loves cats, and unbeknownst to us, Tania’s mom and siblings managed to slip tiny plastic cats into each one of the centerpieces,” says Sam. The centerpieces were ceramic pieces that Sam made at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center.
“I’ve been taking ceramics classes for about six years,” he says. “Over the years, when other students have gotten married they’ve made wedding favors, or other ceramic pieces for their own weddings. I always thought that was a great idea.”
“Our guests loved them, and many people took them home as a keepsake from the wedding,” says Tania.
Guests also got to take home bags of sugared pecans made by Tania’s mother.
Sam and Tania also wanted to have a fun, community atmosphere at their wedding, and the food played a big part in creating that feeling.
“One of our early decisions was that we wanted to have a hog roast for the food at our wedding,” says Sam. “Family friends of mine back home used to throw a big hog roast party at the end of the summer. They’d roast the hog, and all the guests would bring a side dish to share. Tania went with me to one of the last ones and had a great time. We wanted to recreate that feeling of community for our wedding. We couldn’t do a potluck, but we could at least roast a pig.”
Northpointe put together a fabulous menu that included a hog roast (with pulled and sliced pork), house made bbq sauce, baked beans, sweet potato salad, grilled vegetables, vegetable lasagna, and salad with pecans and cranberries.
People came from all over to share in the couple’s love.
“The wedding gave Sam and me the opportunity to see friends and family that, in some cases, we hadn’t seen for years,” says Tania. “It meant seeing my sister who had been working on her PhD in Australia, my friends from Peace Corps, and Sam’s friends from as far back as elementary school. We skipped a lot of the typical wedding traditions, so it felt like a huge, laid-back reunion, complete with a roasted hog and strong cocktails.”
The couple took a quick getaway to Asheville, North Carolina for a few days after the wedding. Then this spring, they took a longer trip to Argentina.
“We went at the end of March and had a great time,” says Sam. “We went to Buenos Aires and we also spent a lot of time down in Patagonia. We went hiking, horseback riding, and spent one day trekking on a glacier.”
Ceremony Venue: Highbanks Metro Park
Reception Venue: Northpointe Hotel and Conference Center (now Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center)
Wedding Coordinator: Bryan Wright
Bride’s Dress: Dress by Eddy K
Bride’s Hair and Groom’s Hair: Meghann DeWees at Salon Lofts in the Hub building
Engagement Ring: William A. Weidinger, Goldsmith & Jewelry Designer
Officiant: Adam Lorhmann, Friend of the groom
DJ: Revel DJ, Nate and Allison Gelinas
Food: Northpointe Hotel and Conference Center
Flowers: Ashley Arzy
Wedding Cake: Sheet cakes by Resch’s Bakery in these flavors: chocolate cake, carrot cake, and a white cake with a strawberry filling
Favors: Sugared Pecans
Photography: Levi and Val Ely of Ely Brothers
Photos provided by Sam and Tania Peterson
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