If you’ve been around Style Me Pretty very long, you KNOW we love San Francisco City Hall Weddings! Such a stunning backdrop for such a special occasion! Today’s newlyweds ~ Sandy & Verl ~ were married in an intimate SF City Hall ceremony, followed by a banquet reception the following day. Sent to us by Alex Kon at IQVideography and his brother Joseph from IQPhoto ~ you’ll see that high style was most definitely, the order of the day!

From Alex at IQVideography ~ This wedding really caught my attention—wow! Not only relaxed and sweet but with wonderful touches of their own style that was spot on, and even a little quirky in just the best way. And absolute proof that a city hall wedding (San Francisco) can be glamorous, stylish, and fun. Sandy rocked her “Oh! I-want-that!” short, full skirted white wedding dress and accessorized it to perfection. Red shoes—yes! Red, the traditional Chinese color for good luck. I love it! Those yummy red shoes would have been enough to bring style and glamour to her outfit. The addition of white feathers in her hair, red earrings and bracelet, and her hair curling over one shoulder were brilliant style choices. Her short veil made her whole outfit totally, “I’m getting married,” as well as perky stylish. Her smile was dazzling with a strong, warm red lipstick. Verl, not to be outdone, added some quirky style to his morning coat with a full, long slightly flowing tie in a multi-colored, jumpin’ print. His boutonniere and Sandy’s bouquet were the yellow and red colors of the wedding and mirrored his tie. Two bright colors—simplicity itself and totally brilliant. This wedding was style, and it’s great fun being able to see the style that a couple can bring to their wedding day.

See just how sweet and treasured a city hall wedding can be in this short film from IQVideography

From the beautiful bride …
Before I got engaged, there were only two things that I had tucked away in my wedding dreams. One was to get married at San Francisco City Hall – a building I’d never entered, but as a former resident of the city I’d often driven past, admiring the majesty of the golden filigree shimmering against its black dome. It was one of a handful of landmarks that swelled my heart with pride at finally reaching the city I dreamed of throughout a Los Angeles childhood. I knew a wedding in the temple to the metropolis would be perfect for me and my London expat fiance. The other secret plot was that the Alexander McQueen fuchsia asymmetrical sheath I bought as a 30th birthday present to myself would make an eventual appearance at my then only-imagined future wedding date. We decided to have a small civil ceremony on a Friday afternoon and a larger but still intimate reception on Saturday evening, when more people would have the energy to join us and celebrate in earnest — both events planted in the midst of a banked upon Indian summer as San Francisco is wont to have.

The fountain of inspiration came when we agreed to use imagery from the Rider-Waite Tarot for our invitation. The cards symbolize to me aspects of a life-being-well-lived, whether happy potentials met or reminders of challenges still to be faced. The resulting collage depicts a giant sun beaming over a joyous gathering just outside a city by the sea. Together we painted the composite image onto a shoji screen from which I hung my dress during bridal preparation, as well as used as decor at our reception. We used a vintage 1940s red, yellow and blue paisley silk that I had been drooling over on Ebay for our reply card and I hand-stitched my groom a cravat from it.

Finally, another major inspiration point were the paintings of Todd Hunter, whose abstracts evoke nostalgically lit florals and dusky, stormy seas. Between all these elements, we had our colour scheme laid out – primaries, with matte black and white in the mix. I also tried to reflect the imagery sonically by compiling a reception playlist containing metaphorical references to the sun, sky, seas and cities, as they related to our love story and including dedications to friends.

In my early research I found a very helpful resource in the website for IQ Photography, as it described a bit of what to expect in a City Hall wedding. Besides falling in love with Joseph’s vivid, photojournalistic images and his brother Alex’s touching cinematography, I also felt an instant sense of trust in their expertise, that having them on our side would help us navigate the unknown that awaited us on the big days. On each occasion spent with them, I felt free to be myself, running around with glee, knowing that they would capture the gleam of those moments so magnificently that the memories would surge in my heart upon revisit. It was on Joseph’s suggestion that we hire an officiant rather than use City Hall’s services, which allowed us to have personalization with a selected reading as well as more control over our timing and chosen location within the building – the sunlit fourth floor balcony.

I intended to make my own wedding dress, but a chance stroll with friends past Hannelore’s in Alexandria, VA resulted in an impromptu session with Catherine, who kindly stepped up to help me in spite of no appointment. The first selections contained no 100% winners, but on the second pass, the dress I asked to try on turned out to be it – diamond white, nubby silk shantung with sculptural ruffles (and pockets!), appropriately non-fussy (aka short) for daytime in the city. Accessories started off brand new, sparkle and silver, but by the end, vintage red won out as it was much more me.

An aunt and uncle gifted me my two traditional dresses which were commissioned in Vietnam. The groom was just as involved in his own styling, morning coat in the British tradition for our ceremony and tuxedo for our evening event. I was psyched when my maid of honour proposed a delicious Rachel Comey dress for herself that fulfilled my only request for her – that she look and feel beautiful in it. The best man’s Paul Smith suit was so fabulous, I couldn’t stop admiring the brilliance of the chevron seamed pinstripes in his lapels throughout the reception. Paul Smith had guest appearances in many places, between the ribbon saved from my fiance’s first Christmas gift to me, which I used in the DIY florals, and the classic striped socks and “Love and Luck” cuff links I gifted to my groom.

I knew I wanted retro pin-up hair and makeup, so I delved in to Yelp to find someone who could manage that for me. I tracked down Georgia, who was in the process of opening her new salon. Pretty Pretty Collective turned out to be an insanely cool space, with visual surprises in every corner, a bonus on top of the fact that Georgia’s technical prowess combined with an artistic, organic approach were a perfect match for what I desired. No helmet hair or overdone mask-face here! Another lucky find was Gabrielle of Cake Coquette, who was able to translate the Todd Hunter inspiration into a lush, painterly buttercream confection, shot through with nonpareils for texture. She also made a cake which was the logo for Arsenal, my groom’s favourite football (soccer to the Americans!) team.

I spent the five months of engagement engulfed in total DIY madness, although most of it was crammed in the last two weeks as we shipped things across the country and headed over for final preparations. Although not all of my intended projects made it as the clock ran out, I was very happy with what did come together. Both days were filled with love in many forms, most of all the exceptional amounts of support we received from all quarters. In the end, we got everything we’d hoped for: celebrating our new life with the joining of family and friends in high spirits, lovely weather, hearty enjoyment at the table and on the dance floor.

Cake: Gabrielle, Cake Coquette / Photo & Video: IQVideography / Photography: IQPhoto / Dress: Hannelore’s of Olde Town, Alexandria, VA / Hair & Makeup: Georgia, Pretty Pretty Collective / Accessories: Etsy, Zappos, borrowed / Flowers: DIY / Day-of Coordination (Saturday): Genevieve, Lily Spruce

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