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A Summer Wedding in Sun Valley, One Mile Above the Sea

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Sarah Falugo

Even though both Sarah Vallimarescu and Ben Tsujiura work at Gap Inc.—she as a senior merchandiser, he as director of merchandising—the couple knew each other long before they were employed at the same company. “People assume we met at Gap Inc. and find it hard to believe that we have been together since college,” Sarah says. The two met during freshman year at Bowdoin College, to be exact, and would frequently run into each other at parties, dining halls, and classes. “We enjoyed each other’s company and could spend hours talking,” she explains. “A year later, while both single, the romantic connection was seemingly unavoidable.”

The couple dated for eight years until one sunny day in April, when Ben invited Sarah up to their rooftop overlooking the San Francisco Bay to take a picture together. “I was surprised and overwhelmed to be greeted by Ben on the roof as he held a single white rose,” she says. “He knelt on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of our lives together.” After saying yes, Ben and the couple’s close friends all headed north to Sonoma for a day of celebrating and wine tasting at Sarah’s favorite winery, and once they returned to their home in the city, ordered their favorite pizza and spent the night talking and planning for their future, just like they did in college dorms during the early years of their relationship.

“When we got engaged, it was an easy decision to host the wedding in Sun Valley,” she explains. Sarah’s family had been going there ever since she was a young girl, and once she started dating Ben, he also joined their family trips to the Idaho ski destination. “We wanted our friends and family to experience a place that has been so special to both of us for so many years.”

The couple hired planner Brooke Keegan and floral designer Sarah Winward to execute their vision of “a summer in the mountains.” “We focused the aesthetic around the beautiful wild flowers you find in Sun Valley during the summer,” Sarah explains. “Brooke and Sarah were an incredible duo and brought everything to life, using berry tones, muddy pinks, and plum foliage. For the tables at the reception, Sarah also incorporated seasonal fruits to complement the colors of the linen and flowers. Everything came together perfectly!”

Even though Sarah was based in San Francisco, she knew she wanted to look for bridal dresses in New York City, where she grew up. She flew back for three days and tried on dresses with her mom and maid of honor. On the last stop of their tour at Carolina Herrera, Sarah finally found what she was looking for. “It perfectly fit my personal aesthetic,” she says. “I loved the corset top, which was modern, edgy, and unique, coupled with the beautiful tulle skirt.” She completed the look with gold beaded Oscar de la Renta heels.

As for the groom, Ben kept it classic and chose a black notch lapel tuxedo from Isaiah and Tom Ford bow tie for his wedding day. Bridesmaids wore dresses in shades of pink and blush, in keeping with the wildflower motif of the day.

The day of the ceremony, guests were whisked away from the hotel to the base of Bald Mountain. Unbeknownst to them, a gondola led them to a look out point over one mile above sea level. A string quartet played music, while parasols were given out to shade the July summer sun. “The view at the altar was expansive and unobstructed,” she says. “We intentionally chose not to have an arch structure and instead had a semi-circle of flowers behind us so that our guests could enjoy the spectacular view of the mountains.” Once the ceremony was sealed with a kiss, the couple were showered with white rose petals as they walked down the aisle as husband and wife.

Then it was time for the reception inside a Sperry tent that awaited at the bottom of the mountain. After Ben and Sarah entered the tent hand-in-hand, the Sultans of Swing, an East Coast nine-piece band, kicked off the music and the couple chose “My Girl” by The Temptations as their first dance. “Our practiced consisted of us randomly dancing in our living room at home,” the bride remembers. “There was so much energy in the tent when we ran into the room and started to dance. We were on cloud nine and thankful that we hadn’t over prepared.”

Toasts by the father of the bride, maid of honor, best man, and groom followed, and after a few tears were shed, dinner was served. As a nod to their surroundings, the couple served Idaho prime rib, horseradish encrusted salmon, and orange sage gnocchi, while Sonoma Coast and Napa wines paid homage to their engagement location.

For dessert, the couple couldn’t just decide on just one cake flavor, so they ended up serving both a chocolate sponge cake with buttercream filling and a confetti cake. “It was the perfect meal to satiate the crowd and fuel for a night of dancing and singing,” Sarah says. “It flew by in an instant as no one remained in their chairs after dinner.” As a final surprise, the band directed guests onto the lawn outside where fireworks lit up the sky above Dollar Mountain. Guests then piled into buses and headed into town for more dancing and late night pizza at a local saloon. “It was an epic dance party,” she adds. “Everyone was dancing until the very last minute. I will never forget having the time of our lives in such a beautiful space with our loved ones.”