Real Weddings

An Ethereally Intimate Wedding in Switzerland

Photography by Kreativ Wedding.

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In the heart of the Swiss Alps, amidst majestic blue-water lakes, an ethereal wedding unfolded against a 13th century castle. Keeping the reception location as secret, Katie and Cole traveled by helicopter through the imposing mountains – a dreamscape below.

Captivated by its rich history, weather-destroyed murals and Alpine gardens, set the tone for the intimate wedding. A modern ceremony altar with cascading blooms  in an ombré of hues and luxuriously draped fabric stood against the patina walls. Mirroring the soft opulence, Katie wore a romantically dramatic gown that waterfalled with beautiful tulle against the surreal embrace of the location.

For the reception, the renovated dining area of the medieval castle was contrasted with a thousand candles in different heights illuminating three parallel dining tables. Using seasonal florals and flowing linen the element of romance was matched. 

The wedding was ethereally captured by Kreativ Wedding.

wedding switzerland

Our Story

Names / Cole and Katie Pennington

Location / Interlaken and Thun, Switzerland

Wedding Date / October 12, 2023

Guest Numbers / 20

wedding switzerland

wedding switzerland

How We Met

We met over the pandemic when the concept of time was warped. Having more time to focus supercharged our relationship through long phone calls and endless text messages while being physically apart. We discovered that one of our most prominent shared traits was being entrenched in our highly specific interests. It’s hard to understand how someone could be so into something, but you only “get it” because you’re that way, too.

Our “first date” was a five-day long road trip through the Great American West. We witnessed the natural phenomenon of landlocked Kokanee salmon turning an autumnal shade of red and then swimming up tributaries to spawn and die. The experience felt both beautiful and melancholy, but as we watched one life end, we saw another life–together–blossoming. On that trip, we continued on to experience the stunning vistas of Zion National Park, some “too soon” introductions to each other’s friends, and even stopped by Area 51.

That road trip changed the course of our lives. We were each hooked and knew we had a long runway ahead of us. We haven’t slowed down since.

 

Our Engagement Story

I had planned a spring trip to London, Edinburgh, and the Lake District. Most of our days were loosely scheduled, but we had one free day in London before flying to Scotland. Cole planned an entire journey with stops at places that would pique my nerdy interests: a water feature designed by my favorite architect Tadao Ando, a pub owned by Sir Ian McKellan with the original Gandalf staff from Lord of the Rings, and the iconic Shepherd gate clock at the Royal Observatory.

After setting our watches to observatory time (this is the clock that all clocks in the world are set to), a nod to our shared love of horology, we walked through the beautiful gardens of Greenwich Park. Cole got down on one knee and proposed at exactly 3:14PM—the time that I make a wish every day (Pi!). We celebrated with the most incredible meal of our lives at the three-Michelin starred L’Enclume after arriving in the Lake District.

 

What we love most about each other…

We both really love the passion for discovery and learning that we found in one other! Cole loves my fierce loyalty and sense of style, and I love his ever-calming presence and prowess in the kitchen.

wedding switzerland

“Being in the castle, surrounded by vibrant gardens, and looking out at Lake Thun and the Alps… it all felt unreal. I wanted everything to feel like reality was fading into a dreamscape.”

wedding switzerland

The Setting

 

Wedding Location

We knew that we wanted to get married in Switzerland to share this beautiful country that we get to live in with our friends and family. I started researching locations online. As soon as I found Schloss Oberhofen, with its rich history mixed with the ethereal ceremony space, I had a strong hunch that it might be the perfect fit. There weren’t many wedding photos associated with the space, but I had the immediate impression that it could be the perfect canvas for my grand whimsical visions. We set up a visit, and it turned out that we loved it even more in person than online.

Aesthetic

I was inspired by Schloss Oberhofen and the general setting of timeless Swiss lakes and mountains. It’s one thing to hear about the Alps in all their glory, but it’s another thing entirely to stand before them in person and take in their grandeur. Being in the castle, surrounded by vibrant gardens, on Lake Thun, looking out at the Alps… it all felt unreal. I wanted everything to feel like the weather-destroyed murals in the chapel—like reality was fading into a dreamscape.

Preparation

We both felt like it was important that the day be about the two of us. Cole is a huge aviation enthusiast so I knew a helicopter flight in the Alps could be an exciting start to our big day. We decided to exchange private letters atop a mountain that the helicopter landed at. Despite my 4:30am makeup/hair call time, it was totally worth it!

We each had our special person get ready with us after the helicopter. Cole had his best friend accompany him for lunch and a walk. I had my beautiful daughter get ready with me.

wedding switzerland

Photography & Videography

Kreativ Weddings was our creative partner for photography and videography. We fell in love with Anne and Ricardo’s romantic and photojournalistic style. Their entire team (including an additional photographer and videographer) were amazing to work with throughout the entire process. They made the day easy and assuaged Cole’s nervousness about being in front of the camera.

wedding switzerland

wedding switzerland

Style Notes

 

Ceremony Décor

The chapel in Schloss Oberhofen was weather damaged from a broken window many years ago, and now the murals maintain a faded, beautiful almost dripping-like effect. The ephemeral nature of the murals and the aged walls full of patina immediately made me want everything in the space to feel like it was floating. I wanted our guests to feel like they might be in a dream, and the Gaea team understood the vision exactly.

 

Reception Décor

Tamara really led the visioning for our dinner. Because the dining area is thoroughly modern, we wanted to play with the juxtaposition against the medieval castle. We did this by incorporating candles and lots of soft/flowing linens to bring in an element of romance. Using seasonal florals was important to Gaea, and the sweet peas were perfect with our color palette.

When we returned to the Speisesaal, an imposing room in the castle festooned with dark wood, for dessert, I wanted everything to feel dreamy again. The ceiling in that room is so beautiful so we pulled just the white/off-whites/creams for the cloud-like florals and added as many candles as possible.

wedding switzerland

“The ephemeral nature of the murals and the aged walls full of patina immediately made me want everything in the space to feel like it was floating.”

wedding switzerland

Wedding Planner & Stylist

Tamara Schindler from Gaea Events in Bern, Switzerland was our wedding planner extraordinaire! She is amazing, and we could not have accomplished our vision without her. Because I had a fairly specific design and aesthetic in mind, she went above and beyond with rendering after rendering, in-person tablescape sessions at Restaurant Oberhofen, and lots of meetings and moodboards. She took the distinct vision that I had for the ceremony space and incorporated it throughout the entire event seamlessly! Her team was truly amazing, and one of my favorite small moments from the wedding was getting to thank them while I changed hair and makeup prior to dinner with a fanciful meal, handwritten notes, and personal thank you gifts.

 

Flowers

I knew that my bouquet needed to match the cloud theme and the rest of our décor, florals, and my Millia London gown. I specifically asked for lots of amaranthus, but other than that I really let Gaea take the lead.

Since the ceremony space had an ombré from neutral nudes/beige/blush to soft off-white/cream, we decided to keep the dinner neutral in tones with pretty sweet peas and to play up the stunning ceiling and loads of candles in the Speisesaal during dessert/drinks with off-white tones. Everything felt special and distinct but had a commonality that carried guests throughout the event and tied it all together.

wedding switzerland

Stationery

With our short timeline, I didn’t know if the stationary suite of my dreams was possible. Patrizia from Geistreich Kalligrafie was a recommendation from our planner, and she delivered in a big way! She has a vintage printing press and works with the most interesting materials. We incorporated handmade paper, custom mixed ink colors, and calligraphy. She even designed a custom logo (inspired by our love of horology) and hand-drew a sketch of Schloss Oberhofen that we repeated several times through the full suite. We topped off her dreamy creations with vintage postage from Flourish Fine Writing. She has such a unique collection, and I was able to find stamps that matched our color story and also very much told our story. Every stamp had an “IYKYK” nod to one of our individual interests or to us as a couple.

Favors & Bonbonniere

One special gift that we picked were bottles of wine from the vineyards at Schloss Oberhofen for our celebrants. We thought it was a fun way for them to remember not only being part of our special day but also the exact location that it took place.

Cake

We almost didn’t have a wedding cake! “Cutting the cake” was not high on our list of must-dos for the day, but as the planning came together we got more and more excited about drinks and dessert back inside the castle so a cake felt like a natural occasion within the event flow. Tamara introduced us to a wonderful bakery that they often work with, and we chose a delicious champagne cake with raspberry filling.

Food & Beverages

Food was incredibly important to us! We both love food and feel like it’s such a fun medium for memorable nights with loved ones.

We stopped at Restaurant Oberhofen for lunch after our first appointment at the castle, still thinking we’d probably end up using an outside caterer. We were truly blown away by the team and the food, and everything started to come together. Cole still craves their homemade butter made with local Alpine herbs!

Our guests were greeted with a toast after exiting the old-time post bus and enjoyed a low-key cocktail hour immediately after the ceremony while listening to the string duo and strolling in the incredible lakeside castle grounds. A few steps away in the modern interior with floor to ceiling glass of Restaurant Oberhofen, we enjoyed a locally-inspired four course dinner accompanied by interesting Swiss wine pairings. We finished off the evening by cutting the cake and enjoying more drinks and desserts in the flower and candle-covered “Speisesaal” – the formal and history-laden dining area back within the castle walls.

wedding switzerland

wedding switzerland

Fashion & Beauty Notes

 

Bride’s Dress & Shoes

My dresses could not have been more different but also very much “me”!

The sparkly and sexy A-line Galia Lahav gown that I wore for our helicopter ride and changed into again after the ceremony was so much fun! It made me feel beautiful and after quite the saga with alterations it fit like a glove.

The Millia gown was lovingly referred to as “the cloud dress” during planning and perfectly matched the overall aesthetic for the wedding. I had been a lover of Millia’s romantic and editorial gowns for a long time and wearing one to walk down the aisle was a dream. The fact that it filled the ceremony space with its massive billowy train was both fitting and hilarious at once. For my friends and family that know I’ve loved fashion my whole life, the dress definitely lived up to the big expectations of the room!

Once I picked the Sophie Bille Brahe pearls for my Millia gown, pearly Jimmy Choo heels were the only choice! My shoes for the rest of the festivities were by Jimmy Choo and Louboutin.

Wedding Rings

We worked with our close friend, Bruno Oliviera, at OC Tanner Jewelers in Salt Lake City on the initial concept for the engagement ring. I knew that I wanted an emerald cut center stone, and the final version was more perfect than I could have ever dreamed when I finally got to see it during the proposal!

OC Tanner also helped me with our wedding bands. Cole is a Robert Frost fan so I engraved his band with “promises to keep” and mine with “miles to go” as a poignant reference to our commitment to one another and to cultivating a life filled with adventure.

Wedding Jewelry

I had been planning to give Cole a wedding watch since very early in our relationship. It needed to have enough gravitas to be “THE wedding watch” but also needed to make sense and feel like Cole. Giving him the wedding gift that I had been thinking about for so long was so meaningful to me, and I can’t wait for him to wear it for years to come; it serves as a wearable memento of the wedding and the journey we’ve been on.

I fell in love with a pair of Sophie Bille Brahe earrings featured on THE LANE and thought they matched my dreamy and ethereal Millia dress perfectly! I also knew that I needed a fitting watch to compliment Cole’s new wedding watch and our friend Eric Ku helped source an elegant vintage Rolex that perfectly fit the bill.

The Galia gown was loud enough to carry itself with all the sparkles and corseting so I picked a very simple pair of Bony Levy diamond huggies for that look.

Hair & Makeup

I had the most fun trial day with Sinem and shot bridal photos with Sue Neuenschwander on the same day. Shooting bridals helped me not stress so much about looking perfect on the wedding day and feel confident about my decisions. Sinem took my limited prompts and adapted them to suit me with ease and precision! I wanted to look glamorous and sexy in the Galia dress, and she nailed it. I don’t wear my hair up very often, but I knew the Millia gown’s billowy neckline needed an up-do. She created the perfect look for the dress. Letting myself be the canvas for her immense talent allowed her to create works of art inspired by the two dresses.

Groom’s Attire

Cole’s custom three-piece suit for the ceremony was from Abbot and Jones. His helicopter look and other suits for the week were sourced by our wonderful friend, Cody Hoppes, at UWM Men’s Shop in Salt Lake City. I wanted him to feel just as special as I did while getting ready and lovingly picked out and gifted him a Brunello Cucinelli tie and Prada shoes for the big day!

wedding switzerland

The Details

 

Transport

This category is a big part of our life—Cole is a petrolhead and aviation enthusiast; he loves all things that move. The helicopter was important for us to incorporate into an already busy day!

Our welcome dinner (held at Hotel Victoria Jungfrau) and farewell brunch the day after the wedding (held at Spatz gastro & so) were both planned in Interlaken. This mountain town is about thirty minutes from the ceremony space, and it offered more options for accommodation for our guests. We added a fun automotive moment by bringing our guests from Interlaken to Schloss Oberhofen in a 1960s postal bus. We kept the ceremony location secret from everyone so the first time they saw the castle was as they pulled up!

 

Honeymoon

We did a short “mini-moon” immediately after the wedding festivities. Leaning into Cole’s automotive passion, part of the mini-moon was staying at The Chedi Andermatt to drive the famous passes in the Swiss Alps. They have a vintage Morgan that guests are allowed to drive in the area, and my final surprise was a day with a Porsche 911 GT3! The Chedi and the team there were incredible, and we would recommend it wholeheartedly!

We can’t wait for the second part of our honeymoon in Morocco! We love seeing new places and getting “out there” in remote locations with our Toyota Land Cruiser GRJ76. (Cole’s dream truck that we got to buy together in 2023!) We want the honeymoon to be a coming together of both luxury and adventure. In other words, the “high-low”. We’re planning to drive through the Atlas Mountains into the Sahara and get into “honeymoon mode” at Amanjena.

Wedding Songs

I didn’t want to walk down the aisle to something traditional, so as a small nod to my heritage, I picked “River Flows in You” by the Korean composer Yiruma. The song represents the fruition of love and how it can grow between two people.

Entertainment

We chose a violin and cello duo for the ceremony and apero. The cacophony of these two instruments filled such an intimate space perfectly; it wasn’t overwhelming.

For dessert back within the castle walls we made a playlist together. We knew we’d be winding down the event, and we wanted everything to feel very personal. Our guests laughed and sang along to our early 2000s pop-punk love ballads. Listening to some of the same music that we listened to while falling in love on our first road trip was surreal while surrounded by our loved ones in a thirteenth century castle!

Celebrant

We picked two celebrants from our guest list and it was one of the best decisions we made! Ty has been my friend and mentor for years and Will is one of Cole’s best friends. We always knew we would exchange our own vows, but their words added the perfect touch to our short ceremony.

Readings

Cole is such an amazing writer! I actually quoted some of his old text messages to me during my vows.  (Oh, and a bit of my favorite author Thomas Hardy!)

“Because the dining area is thoroughly modern, we wanted to play with the juxtaposition against the  medieval castle. We did this by incorporating candles and lots of soft/flowing linens to bring in an element of romance.”

Our Advice

 

A memorable moment…

Amidst the stress of planning, we were able to explore Switzerland in a way that we never would have been able to otherwise. As new residents of this gorgeous country, we are still learning about its depth and beauty. We spent a lot of weekends on long drives for alterations appointments, cake tastings, floral mock-ups, location scouting, etc.We wound up deep in the Alps chasing traditional Swiss cow parades, hiking incredible Alpine passes, and putting our Land Cruiser to the test off-road. We swam in Lake Thun, visited most of the castles in the area (we still love Oberhofen the most!), and fell in love with the Bernese Oberland region. We used wedding planning as a way to get to know this place we now call home and will never forget the many adventures that culminated in a celebration of our love more poignant than we could have imagined.

 

One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…

The right solution is out there, you just have to find it rather than force it. One of the hardest parts of all of the planning was organizing the farewell brunch the day after the wedding. We kept trying to “force” vendors to understand our vision: a casual, cool, come-as-you-are brunch with great food but it kept feeling hard and stressful when their operation couldn’t quite accomodate what we had in mind. But as soon as I found Spatz and we discussed our vision with the wonderful owner, Jan, it felt so easy and right. Renting out the cafe and carrying out our idea for the event was an easy choice. Brunch ended up being one of our favorite parts of the whole week, but only because we kept looking until it felt right.

Consider how every little decision tells your love story. We’ve received so many compliments that the whole week felt so “us”, and that’s purely because during each step throughout the planning process we never lost sight of it being a celebration of our love. Traditions, expectations, and opinions can seem overwhelming, but your love and connection to each other is at the center of the day and should be the guiding principle for every decision!

Also, take care of and value your team! Our entire day was on schedule and everything flowed seamlessly. Crazy, right?! The vendors that you choose aren’t just service providers. I felt so much gratitude for our team, made a point to show them that, and I know they went above and beyond to make our dream a flawless reality.

Sources of inspiration…

I have been continually inspired by THE LANE! I remember looking at Pinterest during the planning phase and every image that I clicked on would end up being attributed to thelane.com. My first words to Tamara, our amazing planner, were “Think THE LANE. Ethereal. Ephemeral. Editorial.”

wedding switzerland

Our Contacts

 

Wedding Venue / Hotel Victoria Jungfrau, Schloss Schadau, Schloss Oberhofen

Wedding Stylist & Planner / Tamara Schindler from Gaea Design

Photography & Videography / Kreativ Wedding

Bride’s Dress / Millia London, Galia Lahav, Alta Moda Bridal

Tailoring / Yasminella Couture

Bride’s Shoes / Jimmy Choo & Christian Louboutin

Wedding Rings / OC Tanner Jewelers

Hair & Makeup / Sinem Yavsaner

Stationery / Geistreich Kalligrafie

Florist /Gaea Design

Cake / Mmh Cakes

Entertainment / Esprit Quartett

Transport / Dysli Bern

Helicopter / Mountainflyers

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