Sam and Derek first met at a Folsom High School basketball game in December 2009. Much of their early relationship was spent long distance while each attended separate colleges, but they both made it back to Northern California together by summer 2014. Shortly before Sam completed her training to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, they took a trip to Maui where Derek proposed on the beach.
As they planned their wedding, both Sam and Derek put fun with friends and family as a priority for the day. “We wanted to honor those who had an impact on us and our relationship,” shares Sam. Working as a team, they picked their venue, menus and guest list. “I showed him my plans for décor, but he pretty much trusted me with the design details,” adds the bride.
The couple’s ceremony, performed by Sam’s uncle, Matthew O’Leary, incorporated both traditional and contemporary elements. “Matt did a beautiful job outlining our story and incorporating Bible verses that reflected the values we identified as pillars of our relationship in the message he wrote,” says Sam. “Derek and I separately named three values. He wrote: trust, communication and support. I wrote: honesty, communication and kindness. Matt highlighted how comparable these values were!”
The reception was held in a tent outside at Winchester Country Club right above the grass landing where the ceremony was held. For their first entrance as a married couple, the pair danced in to the Sugarhill Gang’s cover of “Apache (Jump on It),” followed by a first dance to “Speechless” by Dan + Shay. “This sums us up perfectly,” explains Sam. “We can have fun together doing something ridiculous, and in the next moment we are calm and composed taking in the moment.”
Sam then danced to “Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u / Ku’u Lei Awapuhi.” “My grandparent’s have lived on the island of Kauai since I was two years old,” she says. “If there is ever live music when we are out to dinner with them on Kauai, this song is most likely always played.” Sam’s grandmother joined them by the end of the song. “My grandpa ended up passing away four months after our wedding and having pictures and video of us dancing together to my grandma’s favorite song is so priceless.”
Sam & Derek's Wedding Resources
with bride, groom and family
setting and band from Shane Co.
(wood wall, arch, and lawn games)
“Speechless” by Dan + Shay
“Daughters” by John Mayer
“Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u / Ku’u Lei Awapuhi”
“Hard To Find the Words” by Cinderella
“Shout” by The Isely Brothers
Small cutting cake and then mini versions of the bride and groom’s favorite desserts
(Bride: cheesecake, Groom: apple pie)
We did a Grandfather/Granddaughter dance. The song was “Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u / Ku’u Lei Awapuhi” (The version we used was by Barefoot Natives). My grandparents have lived on the island of Kauai since I was two years old, if there is ever live music when we are out to dinner with them on Kauai, this song is most likely always played and the musicians that know my grandma will always make sure they play it if she is there. It is her favorite. This was a special way to honor both my grandparents during this dance. She ended up joining us at the end as well and I have the best picture of this moment taken by Kylie.
Tip from groom: “You cannot start planning too early.” (I am laughing at how short his is vs. mine below)
Tips from the bride:
• Keep it simple and focus on creating or incorporating a few unique details that you love. I absolutely loved pouring my energy into unique aspects of our wedding. My favorite detail was the personalized word search that I created. (My grandma, Connie, is the best and she tied every single ribbon onto each one.) It was placed at everyone’s seat with a pen attached as the favor. People had fun with it during cocktail hour. I loved this detail that was simple and unique!
• I also loved the wood wall (It’s All In the Details made the perfect wood wall!) behind our sweetheart table that had the banner that said “It was always you.” I have seen other weddings use this statement in their decor, but with Derek and I this was special because it really was true! We met when I was 17 and he was 18 and we had been together for nine years when we said our vows, no breaks, no breakup, a solid nine years. So, it really was true, it was always him. That is why I also loved this detail.
I made this decision last minute (two months before the wedding and Love Genre Films was shockingly available and his work was amazing!) and I am so so happy that I did. There is nothing more valuable than video of you and your family and friends enjoying a day you poured so much into. You try so hard to remember every detail, but it just is not possible with the level of emotions that day. I love listening back to our vows. My grandpa ended up passing away four months after our wedding and having video of us dancing together to my grandma’s favorite song is so priceless.