Eileen Park, the founder of Anecdotia Media—a video production agency focused on climate and social justice storytelling—and Gregor Robertson, the executive vice president at green construction tech company Nexii and the longest serving mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia, were introduced at the C40 World Mayors Climate Summit in Copenhagen. “I was the mayor of Portland’s communications director at the time, drafting speeches and managing media appearances, and Gregor was there representing the Global Covenant of Mayors as their ambassador,” Eileen remembers.
“Gregor and I immediately connected on our favorite backpacking spots in the Pacific Northwest and shared about our lives before politics—my time as a foreign correspondent and his time as an organic farmer,” Eileen says. “After the conference, we exchanged emails, became pen pals, and started planning hiking trips.”
When Gregor came down to Portland to visit for the first time, Eileen showed him her favorite spots in the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood National Forest. Over time their friendship evolved into a relationship, and they dated long distance between Portland and Vancouver until COVID-19 hit. Then, Gregor asked Eileen to move to Vancouver, and she promptly said yes.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been together 24/7,” Eileen says. “As two strong-willed, independent individuals, you might think the pandemic would’ve put a strain on the relationship, but the opposite happened. It brought us closer.” Similar temperaments, a shared love for the outdoors, and a commitment to building a better world meant there was an immediate bond. “We laugh a lot, mostly at ourselves,” Eileen notes. “And both of our communities of friends are down to earth, accomplished but not self-absorbed, and care deeply about fighting injustices around the world.”
In August, Gregor surprised Eileen with a mountaintop proposal on a day-long hike in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. But because of the pandemic, they held off on setting a date. As winter settled in, they decided they wanted to have a simple ceremony in the forest. “The more we thought about it, the more we liked the idea of eloping, with just a marriage commissioner and two close friends as witnesses. We fell in love walking in the forests of the Northwest, and we had a feeling the winter solstice would bring us a perfect day,” Eileen says. “We had a few favorite spots in Stanley Park and decided on the one that is home to the largest maple tree in Canada.”
On a bright winter day in December, the bride wore a simple white dress by her favorite designer—Proenza Schouler. “It was the first and only place I looked,” she admits. “And, because our wedding was going to be outside, I needed something warm.” She ordered the Robertson family tartan fabric from Lochcarron of Scotland, had it sewn by a tailor, and draped it over her dress. “I secured it with a belt and a Celtic cloak clasp that Gregor gave me on the morning of our elopement,” Eileen adds. “Then, I put on a little blush and mascara, curled my hair, and we drove to Stanley Park, five minutes away from our home.” Gregor wore his Robertson clan kilt and Scottish formal suit. “When the time is right, we will travel to South Korea and celebrate in my family traditions,” Eileen says.
In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, Eileen and Gregor spent a lot of time thinking about the significance of their marriage and how they wanted to be in the world together. “He spent 14 years of his life in public service, and before that was an organic farmer and an entrepreneur, driven by a conviction to do good, fight injustice and inequity, and create a sustainable future,” Eileen says. “The way he navigates this world with intention, consciousness, and good humor was why I fell in love with him. My values are similar. As the daughter of Korean immigrants, it’s important to me to devote time and resources to bringing attention to the lives of marginalized communities, as well as the climate crisis at hand.” These themes were woven into the couple’s ceremony, which began with honoring the unceded homelands of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations on which they live. “Stanley Park is more than just an extraordinary urban park for Vancouver,” Eileen says. “It’s a symbol of the ancient forests we are both committed to protecting and treasuring—so we chose the lap of the largest maple tree in Canada to celebrate our union.”
The ceremony took place in the afternoon so that they could catch the last rays of the midwinter sun. The couple’s friend Dana made sure Eileen had something old, new, borrowed, and blue—including a beautiful pearl necklace to drape around her hands as she held the bouquet that Gregor put together.
Eileen walked solo through the forest to join Gregor, the marriage commissioner, and the couple’s witnesses, all gathered by the maple tree. The bride and groom shared the vows they had written together. “Time stood still,” Eileen remembers. “We were enveloped by the forest—the towering maples, cedars, Douglas firs, and hemlocks, as we exchanged our vows and said our I dos. I cried, Gregor smiled, our two witnesses cheered heartily, it was beautiful. Despite missing our families and friends, our wedding felt charmed and just right—reflective of us and these very unique times.”