Bride holding bouquet.

The exhibition in Seattle hosted local contest winners in the Glasshouse for the ultimate elopement

On February 13, Chihuly Garden and Glass gave away a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to Washington couples who were ready to tie the knot on Valentine’s Day weekend. More than 100 couples submitted their love story last week for the chance to win a micro-wedding ceremony in the Glasshouse officiated by actor and comedian Joel McHale. Eight couples were selected by a panel of love experts to win the ultimate elopement package, which also included a quintessential Seattle honeymoon.

One of the lucky couples included Andrea Gardner, a public school art teacher, and Manolo Aguilera-Santos, a local glassblower. They both arrived in Seattle in 2000 just days apart, Andrea from Maine and Manolo from Veracruz, Mexico. After meeting briefly on a dance floor in 2009, they reunited at a salsa event in 2013 and their courtship began. Together they’ve been through the U.S. Citizenship process, graduate school, remodeling two homes, adding another baby to their family, and cancelling their wedding originally planned in Florida in April 2020.

Katelyn Wiens, a kindergarten teacher, and Ben Richter, a second grade teacher, also said, “I do,” on Saturday. The elopement at Chihuly Garden and Glass fit their love story perfectly. One Sunday in September 2019, Ben woke up and decided he was ready to propose. He bought an engagement ring that day, proposed to Katelyn at dinner that night, and they began planning their dream wedding in Snohomish. It was quickly cancelled due to COVID, which left the two elementary school teachers searching for a new plan to safely walk down the aisle.

Each couple and their two witnesses met Joel McHale in the Glasshouse for a private ceremony to make it official. Their Seattle honeymoon then started with a trip to the Space Needle for a champagne toast before being whisked away to the Sheraton Grand Seattle. The newlyweds enjoyed dinner and wine delivered to their room by Tavolàta, an Ethan Stowell restaurant, along with a wedding gift basket, which included roundtrip travel for two courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

“It’s been a hard year for everyone, including couples who were looking forward to their big day, so we wanted to give people a way to safely celebrate an incredible milestone,” said Michelle Bufano, Executive Director of Chihuly Garden and Glass. “Thanks to Joel McHale and our incredible partners, our lucky couples enjoyed a magnificent evening with memories that will last a lifetime.”

“After such a rough 2020 and so many weddings being postponed, I was thrilled to work with Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle to help some folks get hitched!” said Joel McHale. “This was a very fun and a great way to start the year for everyone – even the couples I married that had to look at my face during the ceremony. Congrats to all the lovebirds!”

Chihuly Garden and Glass, located in Seattle, features a comprehensive collection of work by artist Dale Chihuly. The Glasshouse, which is the centerpiece of the Exhibition, is a dramatic structure with an expansive 100-foot-long sculpture, one of the largest Chihuly has ever created. Designed as a community gathering space, the Glasshouse has hosted weddings, parties, musical performances, and more for guests visiting from around the world.

Recently, Chihuly Garden and Glass made significant investments to implement layers of the most effective, science-backed cleaning technologies and protocols available today, including UVC and far-UVC disinfecting lights and deep cleaning using atomized technology.

For more information about the Marry Me, Joel! Contest, visit