You know what I really love? Couples who aren’t afraid to infuse their day with personal moments from start to finish. It’s exactly the heart behind this Santa Lucia Preserve affair, with a groom who happens to be Advertising VP at Facebook. From the custom Facebook-inspired guestbook to a special ceremony entrance for the bride who loves horses, it’s a day filled with meaningful moments and Chrisman Studios + Vlad Films captured it all to perfection.
From the Bride… We first met in September of 2006 at my place of work. I had just finished graduate school in my home state of Pennsylvania and received my degree in Physical Therapy. I decided I wanted to move somewhere new and experience a different part of the country so I packed up my car and drove all the way across the country to Seattle, Washington. Soon after, I started work at a sports medicine clinic in that area and Andrew was one of my first patients. He came in for treatment following a shoulder surgery and was randomly assigned to me. What was most memorable about our first meeting was the fact that we instantly had a playful rapport with one another.
When he came in for his first appointment, I noticed he was wearing Harvard logo clothing from head-to-toe and even had the Harvard motto, the word “veritas,” tattooed on his wrist. I immediately started teasing him saying, “Sooo, I’m guessing you went to Harvard?” He handled it well and we had a good laugh about it. He insisted that he hadn’t intentionally dressed that way. Andrew continued to be my patient for about 2 months and during that time we became friends, always sharing witty banter during his treatment sessions. About 6 months after that, our friendship turned romantic and we have been together ever since.
Andrew proposed to me at 14,179 feet of elevation on the summit of Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Climbing a major mountain peak was something I had been wanting to try for quite awhile and I thought Mt. Shasta would be a good place to do so since it was in our home state and wasn’t as technically difficult as some other mountains. Andrew was less enthusiastic about the idea but after a few months of suggesting it, he finally agreed to try it with me. I signed up for the 4-day guided trip and we spent several months training by doing long hikes on weekends with weighted backpacks. During the time leading up to the trip, Andrew was trying to throw me off by saying things like “I’m just not ready for marriage yet.” The whole time however, he had already had the ring purchased and hidden away.
When the trip came, we spent two days roped together with our group climbing over glaciers using crampons and ice axes to reach the summit. It was challenging but definitely worth the effort, especially with what unfolded next. When we reached the top we were rewarded with a spectacular view. Andrew handed his camera to our guide so she could take a picture of us on the summit. We posed for the picture and then Andrew got down on one knee and showed me the ring. He initially planned not to say anything but when I spent several seconds staring at the ring in shock he finally had to say “Will you marry me?” Once I got over the surprise enough to speak, I finally said, “Yes! Of course I will.” It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
I was surprised at how much fun I had during the wedding planning process. I had never been one of those women who had envisioned their wedding day since they were a little girl. In fact, I had heard that it could be a lot of work and hassle so I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.
Finding the right wedding planners was definitely the key for me. Rebecca and her team were so easy to work with that it felt just like getting together with friends at each meeting. That said, I was also surprised about how much work it can be to plan this one special day. There were an unbelievable number of details and choices that went into making the wedding perfectly suited to our personalities. Mostly fun choices though!
Andrew and I spend a lot of our free time outdoors so we immediately knew we wanted a beautiful outdoor setting for our venue. We also knew we wanted the wedding to be near our home in Northern California. When we first visited the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley, CA we were instantly drawn to the beautiful chaparral landscape that greets you when you pass through the property’s front gate. As we drove down the windy road to the Hacienda we were treated with views of open grassy hillsides with moss-covered oak trees scattered about. We also like that fact that we saw wildlife everywhere: deer, turkeys, and even wild pigs. We really fell in love with the place when we visited the ceremony site in a Redwood tree grove. We experienced an almost magical feeling when we first stood in the small clearing surrounded by majestic towering trees with sunlight filtering through them.
The reception space being an old barn also really spoke to us since I have been an avid equestrian since childhood and Andrew also grew up on a ranch. There were even pastures of horses visible from the barn. The Preserve just really reflected our personalities and also served as a beautiful and iconic example of Northern California landscape for out out-of-town guests.
Rebecca and her team helped us incorporate my love of horses and Andrew’s passion for his work at Facebook into several aspects of the wedding to make it feel personalized, i.e.
* our save the date – included a small horseshoe detail
* the ceremony – To reflect my love of horses, I rode a white horse (named Ranger) led by my father into the ceremony.
* the cocktail hour – we set up several games of horseshoes
* horse show ribbons – as seating “cards” – each ribbon was custom printed with our monogram, the guest’s name and their “superlative” customized to each person. Andrew and I spent quite a bit of time coming up with funny superlatives for each of our guests. For example, Andrew’s dad’s superlative was “World’s Best Easter Egg Hider.”
* horse-ribbon details on “bride” & “groom” chair back signs and a “just married” sign for our getaway golf cart
* the favors – “Love and Luck” custom labeled water bottles and chocolates from local SF Poco Dolce
To reflect Andrew’s work at Facebook we created a custom guest book where each page displayed several pictures of the guest arranged to look just like a Facebook page, giving them space to sign their thoughts in a Status box. Also, Andrew’s family owns and operates a small vineyard and we served his family’s wine at the cocktail hour.
As for colors, we just knew we weren’t afraid of color and wanted things to feel vibrant and joyful. We went with a different variation on the color palette for each phase of the wedding to reflect that part of the day. For instance, we used more muted tones of whites, greens, and light pinks for the more serious ceremony, and then bright pinks and inky blues for the more exuberant reception.
My bridal bouquet consisted of David Austen garden roses, hellebores, lily of the valley, fern accents, etc. The meandering ceremony aisle was edged with white larkspur and green ferns to create an impact under the cathedral of redwood trees.
The dinner tables in the barn were adorned with a beautiful collection of arrangements designed in a mix of white ceramic and glass vases. Flowers included dahlias, garden roses, English tea roses, hydrangea, trailing clematis in raspberry tones, and accents of fresh fruit including quince, fresh figs, and mini apples on the branch.
The chandeliers hung over the dining tables were covered in moss and accented with roses, hydrangea and other florals in raspberry tones.The large chandeliers over the dance floor were customized with raspberry fabric, fresh floral garlands with moss adorning the structure.
Cake & Favors
Our wedding cake was a four-tiered round, textured cake. The fondant was antique white in color with a slightly reflective, satiny finish. It was decorated with small fruits and blossoms on each tier that were made of sugar and hand-painted. From a distance the cake looked as if it was the fruit and flowers were organically flowing down the cake but upon closer inspection you could see that there were a lot of fine details in each of the individual pieces. The flavors we went with were “pound cake with raspberry” and “chocolate candy bar.” We had fun tasting cakes during the planning process and visited several different bakeries, but made our final selection based on the cake we thought tasted the best. It paid off because many guests told us how delicious they thought the cake was!
As favors, we gave each guest a box containing two chocolates from Poco Dolce Confections in San Francisco. Andrew and I love sea salt caramel chocolates so we chose that flavor to give our guests. Each box had a sticker with our monogram on top. We also gave out personalized bottles of water on the shuttles back to the hotel so people wouldn’t get dehydrated.
Probably the most memorable moment of the day was hearing Andrew deliver his personalized vows to me at the ceremony. He put so much emotion into them that he had both of us and most of the guests in tears. It really meant the world to me to that he put so much thought into expressing our love in such a public way. Also, I feel like it helped our family and friends to understand our relationship on a deeper level.
A close second to that would have to be our first dance. At this point in the night the nervousness had subsided and it finally hit me that we were married. Everybody around us faded away and it really just felt like it was just the two of us on the dance floor. Not to mention Andrew’s cousin sang our first dance song (“Better Together” by Jack Johnson) and he did an amazing job doing it.
Photography: Chrisman Studios | videography: Vlad Films | Event Design: Rebecca Reatigui | Event Planning: Rebecca Reatigui | Floral Design: Kathleen Deery Design | Wedding Dress: JLM Couture, Inc | Cake: Perfect Endings | Invitations: Janel Claire Design | Ceremony Venue: Santa Lucia Preserve | Reception Venue: Santa Lucia Preserve | Bridesmaids Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Santa Lucia Preserve | Hair and Makeup: Wedding Hair and Make up by Julie Morgan | lighting: Got Light | DJ: DJ CAMS | Favors: Poco Dolce | Grooms Attire: Astor and Black | Lounge Furniture: Kathleen Deery Design | Rentals: Blueprint Studios | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | ceremony/cocktail hour musicians: Innovative Entertainment