Seth, Professor & Olga, Pediatrician
SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: Roasting marshmallows while dancing to Wild Bell while spilling champagne on muddy wingtips
Soundtrack Song: “This Head I Hold” by Electric Guest
FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE WEDDING
I loved the part where we came into the barn and instead of rice, people threw colored pompoms at us.
OTHER COOL STUFF WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
Olga and I met right at the end of college, in 2002, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She’s from Detroit, and I’m from Brooklyn. At the time I was living in this scholarship house where the residents actually get to choose each incoming class, so I came to know about Olga first through her application to the house. I happened to be the resident philosophy major, and people wanted to know what I thought about her essay on Hegel. I’m not the sort of philosopher to particularly like Hegel… but her essay was great (though she still claims to be embarrassed about it), I gave it the thumbs up, and she was in. I had no idea then that I was voting on my future wife.
Eventually we started dating, and after we graduated and spent a summer bumming through France, we were about to take different directions: me to grad school in philosophy at MIT, and Olga to med school (Dartmouth, then Brown). We were on this hammock, and I could tell she was getting ready for me to say that we should break up. Given the situation, breaking up would make sense, but it just felt like the wrong thing to do to me, so instead I said: let’s try to make it work. And she was elated.
We were long distance for seven years, trying to make it work with weekend trips and summers together. It was tough. We almost didn’t make it. It wasn’t until 2009 that we were finally able to move in together in the Bay Area—Olga did her residency out here in pediatrics and I got a gig as a professor at Berkeley.
We’re a pretty nontraditional couple, so marriage was never something we felt looming over us, but at some point we thought it would be fun celebrate this thing we have in front of everyone we love. I proposed in Napa Valley, in a hammock like the one where we decided to stay together all those years back.
Our first idea was to do a beach wedding in Tulum or somewhere around the Yucatan, but after a trip there to scout the possibilities, we just couldn’t find a place to the host the sort of party we wanted to have. So we shifted gears and turned our attention to winter destinations. Our shortlist was Jackson, Wyoming, Telluride, Colorado, and Banff, Alberta, Canada. We’d never been to Banff, but it struck us as the most promising, so we flew there to see if it would feel like a cool place to have our party, and it did. It’s a lot closer than it seems, but still feels remote and magical. And of course the mountains are epic in a way that’s hard to find anywhere else in North America. (Oh, and it’s way less expensive than Jackson or Telluride.)
We organized the wedding with about six months lead time. Our morning ceremony was on the deck at the Banff Springs hotel. We took horses from there to the barn, which was in the bow valley of Banff. It’s a real barn—we actually had to talk the owners into letting us use it. There were plenty of reindeer hanging out right outside the barn. After a BBQ lunch, we packed everyone in a school bus and took them to a gondola to the top of a mountain. There was a siesta, and then a big dance party at night. It was hectic and stressful—and of course, the only day with a bit of rain during the whole trip was our wedding day—but it didn’t make it any less perfect.