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A Summer Solstice Ceremony at the Stanford Memorial Church

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Jon Cu Photo

Theodora Lananh Swenson, a resident physician specializing in sports medicine, and Brian Robert Swenson, Jr., who works in healthcare strategy and innovation, wanted their wedding to tell the story of how they met. Their rehearsal dinner was the spot of their first date, Fleming’s, and they booked Stanford Memorial Church for their June 22nd ceremony, where they attended mass in college. For the reception, they chose the Rosewood Sand Hill, a favorite happy hour spot, and to help plan everything they hired SmittenKiss as the month-of coordinator.

To walk down the aisle, Thea worked with San Francisco boutique Jinza Bridal to create a custom, silk dress. “Jinza studied fabric design in Japan and immigrated to the U.S. to design bridal gowns,” Thea explains. “It was really meaningful for me to work with her, as my parents are both immigrants themselves.” 

On the day-of, Thea also put on a cathedral veil and diamond studs, which were handed down to her from her grandmother, who fled Vietnam to seek a better life in America. Bridesmaids complemented the bride well in A-line, tulle Jenny Yoo dresses from Bella Bridesmaids, and Brian looked handsome in a custom suit by Enzo Custom.

Stanford weddings have been a celebrated tradition since 1903, and on June 22nd, 2019, Thea continued that ritual by walking down the aisle with her parents to “Rondeau” played on the organ. She and Brian were married in a Catholic ceremony with a short homily. “I was thrilled to be in my favorite place with all of our loved ones, getting married to my college sweetheart and soulmate,” the bride says. 

After being announced as husband and wife, the cocktail hour began at the Rosewood. Dinner was an al-fresco, plated, five-course meal at sunset, and then the newlyweds cut their three-tier, vanilla bean and caramel mouse wedding cake with buttercream frosting.

Thea and Brian had their first dance outside to “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain, and as their wedding fell on the summer solstice, they spent as much time in the daylight as they could before the bouquet toss and more dancing. For their grand exit, guests lined up outside and lanterns lit the path to their suite, as the couple made their way via golf cart, while “Good Life” by OneRepublic played.

The day after the reception, the new Mr. and Mrs. flew back to Nashville, where they had just moved, as Thea started her residency the following Monday, and Brian began his new job later that week. “We wore T-shirts that read ‘Honeymoon Vibes’ on the four-hour plane ride to Nashville, and we joked that the plane ride was our honeymoon,” Thea says. “Since then, I have been working on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis as a doctor, and Brian has been working on it from a strategy standpoint. We knew we were in for new beginnings, but we had no idea what our first year of marriage had in store. I feel so lucky that we have been able to be together since this all started and am thankful to have Brian by my side.”