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Simon Pertz likes to joke that the minute he proposed to photographer Liz Dvorkina, the wedding was already planned. “The ‘go’ button was activated,” says Liz, laughing. What exactly was set in motion? A two-day, two-city celebration, starting with a city hall ceremony in their hometown of Ghent, Belgium, followed by a more extravagant gathering at De Hortus in Amsterdam, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, the next evening. If that sounds like a lot of moving parts, that’s because it is. But even with no professional planner at their side, the couple wasn’t fazed. 

“It actually wasn’t all that difficult to organize,” says Liz. “It’s a day to enjoy, have fun, and celebrate love—no reason to stress about it.” Rather than sweat the small stuff, the couple focused on each other and their closest friends and family. Bringing new meaning to going the distance, Liz takes us inside their weekend-long wedding.

They Chose Reasonable DIYs 

Simon, a graphic designer, handled the invitations; Liz decided she would make her own bouquet and the arrangements for her girlfriends. A huge fan of Copenhagen-based florist Thilde Kristensen (also known as PoppyKalas), Liz snagged the last spot in one of Kristensen’s workshops, just a week before the nuptials. “It was my prewedding detox trip,” she says. The ikebana-inspired arrangement Liz made that day didn’t last until the ceremony, but she created a similar one with the tips she picked up. 

“It’s a day to enjoy, have fun, and celebrate love—no reason to stress about it.”

They Kept the Guest List Casual

Their official “I do’s” took place at the Town Hall of Ghent (by local law, a marriage can only be validated in the city of one’s residence). The couple invited around 70 people, but since it was a Friday afternoon, not everyone was able to skip work and attend. (Although a crowd of Simon’s colleagues came to congratulate the bride and groom outside the building.)

From there, the pair and 35 close friends and family took a boat tour around the city. “At one point, we passed my favorite neighborhood. We kissed underneath the weeping willows for good luck,” remembers Liz. 

They Gave Everyone Time to Explore

After their short celebration in Ghent, the couple drove two hours to Amsterdam. Their “second” wedding didn’t start until 5 p.m. the next day, so people were free to take their time arriving and wander the city. “We didn’t want to force anyone into extra expenses, and we also couldn’t provide accommodations for everyone,” says Liz. A number of guests turned the extravaganza into a trip and stayed through Sunday—one group of pals even traveled there in a camper. 

They Asked the Venue for Help

Ceremony prepared by Minn Photography by Evenbeeld

Liz leaned on De Hortus’s planner when it came to figuring out the logistics and guiding guests through the grounds the day of. This way, the couple was able to sneak away before the ceremony and roam the gardens stress-free. 

Everyone gathered in the Palm Greenhouse for the nuptials. “Because my parents are both Russian, we added some updated traditions to the ceremony, like taking a bite from a big loaf of bread,” recalls Liz. 

“We added some updated traditions to the ceremony, like taking a bite from a big loaf of bread.”

After dinner, the group walked over to De Smet Studio, an old cinema–turned–event space, a fitting end to a party that was like something out of a movie.

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