It can be a daunting task to combine two families’ very different cultural and religious traditions and expectations into one wedding but, as this San Rafael couple found out, the outcome is something so personal and touching that it makes all the compromise and hard work totally worth it. On top of creating a unique ceremony that reflected the bride’s Filipino and Catholic background and the groom’s Jewish and African-American heritage this crafty duo also put together a sweetly modern garden-style reception with numerous amounts of details. The look is so cohesive and pretty it’s hard to believe the whole thing is totally DIY! Andi Hatch Photography was there to capture every single picture perfect detail! Click here to see even more in the full gallery!
Now… the pretty doesn’t stop there, we have the gorgeous film from the very talented Burkart Studios for your viewing pleasure…
From the Bride… The wedding canopy or chuppah that shaded our sweetheart table was a beautiful gift from Daniel’s mother. She spent months corralling our family and friends to contribute squares with messages and photos that she assembled into a beautiful patchwork quilt. The quilt is a beautiful symbol of the entire day and the love that will cover us for the rest of our marriage. Through our wedding celebration, we tried to weave together our different cultural traditions and symbols that reflected each of us individually and as a couple. For example, the oak tree on our ring bowl, program and invitations speaks to Daniel’s roots as a native son of the city of Oakland, California. And for me, the lace trim that I worked into our invitation design, cake stand, and escort card display, echoes the beautiful mantilla veil hand-crafted in the Philippines that I borrowed from my sister.
We were married in a chapel at California historical landmark, St. Vincent’s School for Boys, in San Rafael, California. We picked the venue in part for its architectural grandeur but also to support its current purpose as a foster home for at-risk youth. We also wanted to maximize the celebration time and spare our guests having to travel from the ceremony to the reception.
Our ceremony was traditional but personal, solemn but joyful. To celebrate both of our cultures, we incorporated Jewish and African-American traditions to represent Daniel’s heritage, and Filipino and Catholic traditions to reflect mine. Balancing everyone’s expectations was time-consuming and challenging, but led us to craft a wedding that was uniquely our own. A Jesuit priest who was a close family friend flew all the way from the Bronx to marry us. Our friends draped us in the traditional Filipino veil and cord—symbolizing our binding commitment to one another. In keeping with Jewish traditions, our family members read us Seven Wedding Blessings, and we signed a modern ketubah (marriage contract), designed by Jennifer Raichmann from Etsy, which we later displayed on our guestbook table. Before exiting the church, Daniel and I broke a glass as our guests exclaimed, “Mazel Tov!” And then to a jubilant rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “As,” sung by a chorus of our friends, we “jumped” the broom, adorned in our wedding colors by Daniel’s mother, in observance of an African-American tradition. We flew down the aisle to spend some alone time together with a traditional Jewish yichud. After our guests had exited the church, we emerged to a fragrant shower of lavender buds that Daniel’s mother had stuffed into miniature hand-stamped muslin pouches.
Before dinner, Daniel’s cousin blessed the challah in Hebrew, and my uncle from the Philippines also gave a blessing in his native tongue of Tagalog. The evening was punctuated by heartfelt toasts from our loved ones—including my best friend/bridesmaid. She had just had a baby and was unable to make it from New York but took the time to record a surprise toast that had me in tears. We also made sure that everyone was well-fed throughout the night—including a late-night snack of sliders and shots of milk and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
My parents had overseen the folding and fluffing of nearly 200 yellow tissue paper flowers, which we used as napkin holders at each place setting and providing extra color on the serving tables. For our table numbers, we used Ektorp double-sided frames from Ikea. I hand-painted the number on patterned craft paper and on the reverse, and inserted photos of me and Daniel signaling the different numbers. We had two different centerpieces on alternating tables: Collections of blooming rosemary plants and succulents in metal containers and fresh-cut flowers in bud vases and blue mason jars. I collected most of the containers for months at flea markets and on eBay for friends and family to bring home as small favors.
I surprised Daniel by singing him our favorite song, and he made our guests laugh by hamming it up. Our guests broke into the horah, and I screamed for my life as my friends almost dropped me from my perch. We danced so hard that my only disappointment was when I realized the next day that I missed the late night snack of mini-sliders and chocolate chip cookies with shots of milk.
Wedding Photography: Andi Hatch Photography / Cinematography: Burkart Studios / Day of Coordination: Vera Devera of Va de Vie Events / Wedding Ceremony & Reception Location: St. Vincent’s School For Boys / Wedding Invitations: Volta Press / Bride’s Shoes: Olsen Haus / Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier / Caterer: An Affair To Remember / Makeup & Hair: Penney Do of PDArtistry / Wedding Flowers: Chestnut & Vine / Wedding Cake & Cupcakes: Cakes with Sparkle / Ketubah: Jennifer Raichman / Ring Bowl: Paloma’s Nest / Cake Topper: UnNaked Peggies / Mantilla Veil, Shawls, Barong, Slippers: Hand-Crafted in Phillipines / Tissue Flowers: Father of the Bride / Escort Cards: The Bride / Chuppah: Family of the Groom