Having an outdoor wedding in Whatcom County means planning for the worst and hoping the rain will stay away on your big day.
Before Derek and Santana Dickerson married, Derek checked the forecast every day for a month leading up to their July 9 wedding.
“He stressed himself out by looking at it so much,” Santana says. “It was really funny because leading up to it, it looked like sunshine for July 9, but the week of, it was rain all day.”
They had tents lined up in case the weather wouldn’t cooperate, but when the day came, everything went as planned, rain free.
The two met through mutual friends over winter break in late 2013 and dated long-distance almost until they were married.
At first, Derek was finishing college in California, and then he spent a few months in Los Angeles, trying out acting for a short time while Santana was in school.
But he soon realized he wanted to be back in Washington with her.
“I would say my move to L.A. was the moment where I realized, ‘OK, yeah, she’s the one, and I need to be home so I can work on this relationship,’” Derek says.
I like to say I was the executor. She’d give me the ideas, and I made things happen. I made the vision come to life.
After he moved back to Bellingham, Santana was going to school in Seattle, but by comparison that distance was very manageable.
“I moved back to Bellingham like three weeks before the wedding,” she says.
Because Santana was still in school the whole time they were planning for their wedding, Derek was tasked with much of the planning.
“I like to say I was the executor. She’d give me the ideas, and I made things happen,” he says. “I made the vision come to life.”
“I’d try to help with things, but I admit I’m not that good at event planning. I was like so excited I came up with invitation ideas, and then he was like, ‘That’s not with our color scheme,’” Santana says, laughing. “He had a good way of getting things done and making it work.”
They were married at Samson Estates Winery, off Van Dyk Road, by Derek’s cousin and his grandfather, who each performed part of the ceremony.
Navy blue and gold tied everything together.
It was just a mix of his family and mine, and we threw in a little bit of my Mexican culture and it was just fine.
While most people have a handful of men and women in their wedding party, Derek and Santana each had 10 people at their side.
“They always tell ya, at least for us, just to be prepared to not get stressed about stuff, because something will go wrong. Be willing to go with the flow,” Derek says. “We honestly didn’t have one thing that went completely wrong, but that’s a testament to the type of people we had around us.”
Their families and friends helped out with everything from tying bows onto programs to hanging lanterns over the dance floor and writing messages on chalkboards.
Fairway Cafe catered the food for them, and when it came time for the dance, Derek and Santana pulled out a secret they’d been keeping from everyone.
For three months, they’d been practicing a salsa/hip-hop style dance.
“We started it as a slow dance, then busted it out,” Santana says. “It was so fun for us, and to see the reaction of everyone like, ‘What the heck is Derek doing?’”
Derek says he was thinking about it the whole day, “Like man, I’ve gotta nail these vows, but I’ve really gotta nail this dance.”
“But it worked. We just got into it and it was fun,” Santana says. “It was just a mix of his family and mine, and we threw in a little bit of my Mexican culture and it was just fine.”
The two live in Bellingham, where Derek works in insurance and Santana is working toward becoming a nurse.