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Brenna and Sabrina First Exchanged Vows Alone on a Secluded Mountaintop in Colorado

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Cedar & Pines

Brenna Simmons, founder of outdoor bridal brand nordeen, and Sabrina Shee, a senior vice president at Citigroup, met at Buddhist Band Camp as 13 year olds. “I was the one to register Sabrina in, when she arrived, and I still remember what she was wearing that day—khaki cargo shorts, a polo, and a lime green baseball cap!” Brenna exclaims. “Funny enough, I was tricked into going to this camp as punishment for failing Pre-Algebra Honors in eight grade,” Sabrina remembers. “I thought we were going on a family trip to Niagara Falls, when suddenly I was being dropped off at Buddhist Band Camp. I still remember begrudgingly showing up to check-in and Brenna registering me in.”

The two only started dating in 2016 and were together for a little more than a year, before Sabrina proposed. Brenna loves Christmas, so Sabrina took her on a three-week road trip through Germany in December to visit as many Christmas markets as possible.

She had jotted down some possible locations to propose, but none of them felt right. Finally, the day after Christmas, they ended up at a frozen over lake in the Black Forest, which inspired the fairytale Snow White. “Someone had drawn out a huge heart over the frozen lake with their footsteps. When I saw that, I knew right there that this was the private spot that I would ask her to marry me,” Sabrina recalls. “I took Brenna to the middle of the lake, recited about 10 seconds of my speech, and she was jumping up and down saying yes before I could even ask her to marry me.”

Brenna had worked for wedding planner Tracy Taylor Ward for years, so when it came to her #SheeChoseHer wedding, she wanted something different from the typical run of day that she’d encountered countless times. Despite having never been to Colorado, the couple chose vendors all based out of The Centennial State, and their photographers, Cedar & Pines recommended an extremely remote cabin in the mountains for their venue. To set the tone for the intimate event, the couple hired Paper with Benefits to create their wedding stationery. 

Since Brenna is a designer, she had planned on creating her own gown but found it really difficult to find something that embodied what she was looking for. At a final appointment at The One Bridal, she fell in love with a piece from Spanish brand Cortana and dropped the idea of making her own dress. She paired the gown with one-of-a-kind pearl drop earrings that she fell in love with from Mociun, and on the day-of, Brenna got ready with makeup artist Naomi Robles.

Sabrina worked with Martin Greenfield Clothier in Brooklyn to create a custom wedding suit. “I knew I didn’t want to go with a traditional black or navy suit,” she says. “I was super excited when I found the vintage Loro Piana fabric [that] I ended up going with at their studio.”

The couple had two sets of wedding bands. “The main set were two gold cigar bands passed down from my grammie,” Brenna explains. They were her grandparents’ wedding bands with their initials and wedding date engraved inside. Just in case they couldn’t resize the larger sentimental rings, they also purchased a second set from Satomi Kawakita.

On September 6, 2019, the couple first exchanged private vows on top of a secluded mountain by themselves. “We were able to be completely present, taking in the moment and every word we wanted to share with each other without any distractions,” Brenna says. “The happiness I felt in that moment swelled in my chest, and I burst into tears.”

After the exchanging of vows, Brenna and Sabrina held a small tea ceremony with their parents. “It is an Asian tradition that the couple offers their parents tea to thank them for raising them,” Brenna explains. “In return, the parents give their blessing to the couple and their marriage. It was important to us to include this to show respect to our parents and incorporate cultural tradition into our day.”

This was followed by an intimate wedding ceremony, led by Sabrina’s brother, with a beautiful floral arrangement by the “altar” from Hazel Avenue and Wildly Collective. The parents were asked to each make a speech, and they shared advice and words of wisdom and toasted their future together. Then the rings were exchanged in front of their 10 guests, and they were declared officially married.

At the reception, Sabrina and her father danced to “Hotel California” by the Eagles. “I come from an immigrant family, and when my dad came to America, he fell in love with this song, and I remember he would have this song on repeat in the car,” she says. “In a way, it makes me think of my dad’s American Dream and how he made it.”

And Brenna and her father spun around to “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. “My dad was a ballroom dancer in college and growing up, he would teach me the cha-cha to the song in our living room,” Brenna recalls. “He had choreographed a simple routine for me with this twisting, looping bit, and I loved it so much; I would ask him if we could do it again, over and over. I wanted to recreate that moment with him and dance the routine together again.”

For the meal, the newlyweds decided to incorporate more of their culture and have a hot pot dinner. “Brenna is half Taiwanese, and I am Taiwanese-American, so we wanted to share a meal with our family that felt like home,” Sabrina explains. “Hot pot is a celebratory meal that our culture typically has whenever we bring a group of family/friends together. There is something beautiful about sharing food in one pot together, and it really embodies what family means.”

After the dinner, they cut the cake by The Cupcake Gypsies, and everyone lit sparklers outside. The couples’ parents left shortly after. Brenna and Sabrina decided to stay up, get into their PJs, and cozy up next to the fireplace inside the cabin to recap their wedding day together.