Valerie Shuping, a senior program manager at Uber, and Sam Hansen, a graduate Master of Business Administration student at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, married at the Atlanta Botanical Garden Oct. 3. Even though both grew up in Atlanta, they did not meet until 2013, as neighbors in Washington, D.C. Valerie noticed Sam was wearing an Atlanta Falcons jersey, and the rest is history.
Sam proposed in Meridian Hill Park after walking with Valerie through the landmarks of their relationship – where they lived, where they first met, and place of first date. Both Valerie’s and Sam’s parents traveled from Atlanta for the occasion, and Sam planned a post-proposal celebration with friends at a nearby bar.
Originally, the couple planned to get married at The Estate in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans. When it became clear that a 200-plus person wedding wasn’t feasible, they moved the date to October. Then Plan B also wasn’t going to work for 200-plus guests, so the couple decided to downsize to 17 people and hold the event at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Legendary Events president Dave Lishness recalled, “They chose Atlanta Botanical Garden for its beauty and access to the outdoors, which was important for COVID safety. In addition, they could continue to partner with us for catering and florals since we worked so well together during the planning of the original event.
“Your Party by Karen was the wedding planner for both the original and the smaller Atlanta Botanical Garden wedding. Valerie originally loved the classic Buckhead venue The Estate, and she wanted a modern, garden feel. Working with Valerie and her mother Debbie, Robert Hall and Sandi Horgan of Legendary Events designed just that,” Lishness said.
“Changing the venue, Legendary created a new look with fall flowers and draped the Alston Overlook arbor to create a modern chuppah. Dinner was also changed to a more fall-inspired menu, but the vanilla cinnamon wedding cake works for any season!”
The ceremony was held in Alston Overlook and was officiated by Steven Lebow, rabbi emeritus of Temple Kol Emeth, where Valerie’s family are members. Rabbi Lebow asked Valerie and Sam to tell each other, “I will support you as you have supported me,” which rings true to their relationship. This appealed to the couple’s dedication to gender equality and also honored the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote that line and passed away shortly before the wedding.
Rabbi Lebow followed those vows with, “You may embrace each other for the first kiss of your marriage.”
Valerie wore a Laudae dress from Atlanta bridal boutique The Sentimentalist. She said, “The modern lace pattern was exactly what I was looking for, and we combined the cut of one dress with the fabric of another to create a unique and personalized look.” Bristle + Bride did hair and makeup for Valerie and her mom Debbie.
Cocktail hour and dinner were held in the Robinson Gazebo. Though the event was in October, the Atlanta Botanical Garden had already begun setting up for their Garden Lights, Holiday Nights exhibit, so the gazebo featured a bonus of beautiful hanging lights overhead.
The menu included appetizers tuna tartare on a wasabi macaron and mini fried chicken and waffles followed by a seated dinner choice filet of beef or halibut with couscous, broccolini and roasted tomatoes, preceded by salad. The wedding cake was vanilla cinnamon pound cake with chocolate ganache, served alongside a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.
Valerie and Sam are planning to have a larger celebration this September at The Estate, but much is still uncertain about how the event will be structured. Sam said, “While we are looking forward to hitting the dance floor with family and friends, we are so grateful to have been able to get married in such a special intimate event. We never would have planned a 17-person wedding otherwise, so the fact that this turned out beautifully and memorably has been a silver lining of these tough several months.”