Elliot Gown – Sole & Eli
Eli Steltenpohl and Sole D’Agostino
28 December 2019
Our three-day wedding came to pass at a private bird conservation project called El Santuario (The Sanctuary), located in Villa la Angostura, in Argentinean Patagonia. Patagonia claims a great part of our stories, as individuals and as a couple: Eli worked in conservation with Tompkins Conservation for 4 years, before we met; half of Patagonia happens to be in Sole’s homeland, Argentina, a land dear to her heart; and our first adventure together was visiting a very remote estancia called El Condor, right after we met. El Santuario brought these important parts of our history together while being relatively accessible for the region. Birds were also an important part of our wedding theme: we’ll expand on that later.
Our photographer, Jose Pereyra Lucena, is a true artist. His photography is perceptive and wild, matching the vibe that we wished for our wedding flawlessly. His specialty is effortless candid shots, which resonate well with both our styles.
The ELLIOT Gown in Antique Gold was the quintessence of delicacy: timeless and regal but with a unique spirit. I never dreamed of a white dress for my wedding day, and my intuition drew me towards getting married in gold. Besides, Eli and I have a baby together, Theodor, and white seemed to be unbefitting in its meaning for us. So was a veil for the ceremony I chose a cape and a headpiece instead. My headpiece was an Amaroq crown, and the match between it and the Elliot gown was heavenly. The crown’s name happened to be Amphitrite, Poseidon’s wife. The dress suited it charmingly: with designs that resembled sea flora and pearls… I could not be more delighted with how all the elements of my attire romanced.
Eli finds hot springs the most romantic of all settings so he thought to himself, how can I assure I have one all to myself? His answer was to build his own so he found a second hand cast iron bathtub for sale and with the help of his dad, lugged it up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, a few hours north of our home in LA. A month later he invited me on a casual summer camping trip. After pretending to have a hard time finding a good spot to pitch our tent, he told me he would do some scouting while I took a nap in the car. He snuck off to find the tub and got to work filling it with water from the nearby stream and gathering wood for a fire. When I woke up Eli was happy to share he had found the perfect spot. He led me down a slope and through some trees to what became a makeshift path of petals and candles leading to the clawfoot tub. After asking me to marry him (and me returning the question) we lit the fire under the tub to spend the rest of the night soaking under the stars.
Our wedding theme’s story is a Native American legend that states that humankind will come to a new level of enlightenment when the nations of the Condor and the nations of the Eagle fly together again. We heard it at a spiritual retreat and Eli and I felt identified because the Eagle is the national bird of the US and the Condor is the national bird of Argentina. We thought the union of these also represented the union of North and South America in our own union. When we created our logo, we added a hummingbird, which also has some beautiful symbolism, for our son, Theodor. Sharing these personal details felt extra apropos as the wedding took place in a bird sanctuary. We also used local bird species from El Santuario to designate each guest table for the seated dinner.
Since it represents our union, the Condor-Eagle logo is engraved in our wedding bands and also in my engagement ring. Our wedding bands were delivered by our son Theodor during the ceremony, and are made of hammered platinum by one of Eli’s best childhood friends.
Guests were asked their shoe sizes as part of the RSVP experience after our wedding invitations were posted. The surprise we had in store for them is a customized pair of TOMS (a.k.a. alpargatas, in Argentina), with our wedding logo embroidered on the heel. Olive green and Fuschia for ladies, and navy blue and white for gentlemen. We delivered them in burlap bags with our wedding logo embossed.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS
All floral arrangements were crafted with local flora – lots of lupine and dried flowers from a nearby farmer whose barn we visited on our first trip to Villa la Angostura. My wedding bouquet was made by my mother in law, Jeannine. She used tuberose, dried roses, dried poppy pods, dried peonies, local Patagonian grasses, and fragrant herbs to make it. The cortege crowns, the overall colors of the flower decorations and my Maid of Honor’s bouquet were inspired by the Great Missenden Silk Satin Liberty fabric Eli wore on his vest, which also matched details of the cortege.
We chose a naked style for our wedding cake, and the base for it was a sliced wood trunk, to complement the rustic feel of the venue. Flavors were local, with Patagonian mixed berries (known in Villa la Angostura as “fruits from the forest”), vanilla has shown in the white and almond paste being the darker color in its striped layers appearance. Almond has a special meaning to us because almond milk was the reason for our acquaintance.
Our first dance was You do Something to me, by Sinead O’Connor. Bewitching song to sway with, in the cozy setting of the barn with all of our friends around us watching. The reception had a predominance of gaucho music, to preserve the Patagonian backdrop. The dance progressed from oldies to electronica but it was the reggaeton that really got the crowd going!
FOOD & DRINKS
During the reception, we served Patagonian appetizers like empanadas, local cheeses, homemade varieties of bread, trout, lamb and farm to table vegetables. The sitdown menu was filet mignon with morels and pressed potatoes, with a side of raspberry sauce. Our chef Lucas Mallmann topped off the menu with a very traditional Argentinian treat: vanilla flan with grapefruit. After dinner, a gaucho dance show took over and invited guests to join, to the particular delight of international guests.
After the event, we jetted off to Fiji. We chose a beach destination, seeking the perfect blend of sensational surf and wondrous relaxing hotel-spas. We absolutely recommend Liku Liku lagoon, a national Geographic eco-lodge that is within reach of Cloudbreak, one of the best surf breaks in the world.
The ceremony ended up being really sentimental for many reasons. As Catholics, we wanted religion to be part of our union that day. Sole walked down the aisle barefoot to honor the entry to Eli’s soul as “sacred soil” (in the Bible, believers would take off their sandals, in reverence, to walk on sacred soil). After our vows, we then moved to the side of the altar where the guests circled around us. Each one had written an intention for us as a couple that they then placed beneath candles on the ground, which was arranged in the form of a rosary when seen from above. It was really important to us for the ceremony not to just be a spectacle but to involve our community. We spent moments of our honeymoon reading the intentions written for us, and the community rosary remains amongst the most gratifying memories from our wedding day.
ADVICE FOR BRIDES-TO-BE
As cliche as this one sounds, saving a moment in the evening to sneak away together and take it all in was the best. We escaped the buzz to look over the lake during dinner, which was the perfect pause.
Make your guests feel special, in any way that resonates with you. We might be biased because we did make them travel far, but guests make the day (and the soul of the party!).
It is so easy to get all-consumed in family, activities surrounding the wedding, and then look ahead to the honeymoon that you might find yourselves wishing you had set aside more time alone before it all started. A mini-retreat prior to the madness, just the two of you, will work its magic to stay connected to the true reason for the big event.
VENDORS & SUPPLIERS
Venue: El Santuario
Dress: Bo and Luca
Crown: Amaroq Design
Makeup: Belen Saez
Photographer: Jose Pereyra Lucena
Video: Santi Arevalo
Music: Sarapura DJs
Catering: Lucas Mallmann & Obar
Florals: Pieres Michelson
Wedding/Engagement Ring: Fahrn Designs Studio