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Jessica and Tom met on an inbound flight from Paris. They were both in France vacationing, clueless that the other one was there, let alone even existed. And yet, there they were, flying back to homes not more than one mile apart in Seattle, on the same flight from Paris and then on the same connecting flight from New York.

Some say it was fate that brought them together. Others say that these airborne love connections happen more often than you think. And still others say that they should have gotten out more in Seattle. After all, 5,000 miles is a long way to travel to meet someone who practically lives in your backyard. Especially when your backyard is one of the most stunning and dreamy cities in the United States; especially when your backyard is one of only a handful of places on earth that can compete with Paris’ romance.

Seattle is a singular city with its own culture, culinary take and carriage. Jess and Tom know this. That’s why he decided to stay there after graduating from the University of Washington and why he pursued a career at Microsoft, eventually landing a job as an interaction designer. That’s why she decided to do her family practice residency there after graduating from medical school at the University of Arizona. Their relationship was shaped in an outdoor forge (a Seattle staple) and by philanthropy (another Seattle staple). They’d hike North Cascades National Park to get their minds and bodies in shape, and then they’d fly to Africa to house and feed children and render medical aid to villagers.

Jess and Tom created a beautiful life in Seattle, their adopted hometown, which is why it was only fitting that they should tie the knot there.

Only they didn’t get married in Seattle proper.­ As free spirits often do, they elected to get married at a place that wasn’t too far from the city center, yet far enough so that the intimate wedding party would feel like they were truly secluded.­ That’s one of the beauties of Seattle: Go an hour in any direction (including west), and you’re in a whole other pocket of society.
  • Image about Ed Note 11-15-2011
Courtesy of The Hams

This wedding was on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Seattle. It’s accessible by ferry, which was a first for many who attended. And the location was also about as unique as they come.

The Whidbey Institute at Chinook is easy to miss, though impossible to forget. Located off a winding backcountry road in the middle of the ­island, Whidbey Institute is a 70-acre historic farmstead. When it’s not hosting weddings, the Institute holds workshops that range from leadership to sustainable living. The grounds are lush and inviting, and the rustic lodge where the nuptials took place provided the perfect mix of old-world charm and new-world comfort. Jess and Tom’s wedding was one of the more memorable ones for all in attendance, and Whidbey Island and the Institute certainly catapulted onto the “must visit again” list of everyone there. That list should extend to you, our readers, especially if you’re planning a visit to Seattle.

If you haven’t been there before — or if you’ve been to the city but not to the islands — our cover story by writer and editor Drew Limsky (page 58) colorfully paints a panoramic picture of northwestern Washington state. Especially this time of year, when food, family and friends are foremost on everyone’s mind. There’s no better place for the celebration of all things American than Seattle, and there’s no better time to indulge than now.

Jess and Tom have come a long way since that inbound Paris flight. This will be their first ­Thanksgiving together as wife and husband, and this will be the first Thanksgiving of many more to come with my kid sister and my new brother.

Happy Thanksgiving, America.

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Adam Pitluk