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Elegant Late Summer Wedding at Cavallo Point

Can we please discuss how ah-mazing this color combo from Three Little Words Paper Artisans is?! Pairing richly hued maroon with gorg gray has never looked so good, and this  fresh take on a seasonal hue is bound to make any Bride happy. But if you think that lovely palette is the start and end of stunning think again because Josh Gruetzmacher Photography has got it all in THE VAULT!


From The Bride…Brandon and I chose Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito as our wedding venue because the property perfectly reflected who we are as a couple. After visiting a dozen or so wineries, ranches, restaurants, and restored mansions we fell for the seamless blend of historic San Francisco architecture, stunning outdoor vistas, and natural beauty Cavallo Point offered. Many of our guests traveled from outside of California and we loved the wow factor Cavallo Point has from the moment you turn down its driveway. The amazing food prepared by their restaurant, Murray Circle, and the smoothly coordinated wedding-day assistance led by their on-site catering manager, Lorraine Salceda, also helped confirm our belief that Cavallo Point was the right venue for us.

While planning our wedding we sought to remain true to who we are as individuals, and who we are as a couple. Brandon proposed just a few miles west of Cavallo Point, at Rodeo Beach, and we both realized that we would love to share the beauty of this area with our guests. We knew we wanted an elegant wedding complete with a delicious plated dinner and ballroom dancing, but we just couldn’t picture ourselves celebrating in a stuffy, dark traditional ballroom. Cavallo Point helped us achieve the understated elegance that we hoped to create at our wedding.

Our favorite part of our wedding day was saying our vows hand-in-hand, before the people that mean the most to us. The ceremony took place in Fort Baker’s original chapel built in the 1940’s, and we chose to keep the ceremony décor fairly simple and neutral – all ivory flowers and lots of native California greenery. We’ll forever hold dear the memory of exchanging vows and rings in that special chapel with its warm woodwork bathed in golden, late afternoon sunshine. To pay homage to our love of nature, we performed a unity tree ceremony to accompany our vows and, for a personal touch, the baby redwood tree we planted came from Caitlyn’s brother’s backyard in Danville, California.

Following our ceremony, we ensured enough time to pose for a group photo of all our friends and family who came to our wedding and we are so glad we did because we now have a timeless keepsake to remind us of our special day. We held our reception in a space that originally served as Fort Baker’s gymnasium. The room features lofty ceilings, white washed beams and woodwork, and huge windows with views of the Golden Gate Bridge. A final personal touch to our wedding was the decadent chocolate and raspberry wedding cake that Caitlyn’s sister-in-law from Miami baked for us.

Our favorite time of year is the period when warm, lazy summer days begrudgingly turn to the ever shortening days of fall. Once settled on a date, we knew we wanted to feature the deep, rich colors of late summer. We chose to emphasize Caitlyn’s favorite berry-toned hues through the use of rich pink, deep purple, and burgundy florals in the bridesmaid bouquets, groomsmen boutonnieres, corsages, and all the lush reception table arrangements. Touches of burgundy in the invitation suite, the half-pint berry boxes used as escort card holders, and even the groom’s father’s red Porsche were all coordinated to emphasize our late summer color scheme.

The absence of several much-loved family members was, unfortunately, a reality for us on our wedding day and it was important to us to honor them in a meaningful way. The bride’s sister-in-law sewed a heart made from one of Caitlyn’s late father’s blue dress shirts into the inside of her wedding dress, so the memory of her father could be close to her heart throughout our special day. The bride also made a collage of her favorite photos of herself and her dad to be displayed in the back of the chapel. The bride carried three lockets pinned on her bouquet, all wedding gifts to three different generations of women in her family. One locket held photos of her late father, another held a photograph of her late brother, and the third locket held photos of her late grandparents. The bride also used lace she hand-cut from her maternal grandmother’s wedding gown to wrap the stems of her bouquet. Since her late brother was also a musician, Caitlyn felt a fitting tribute would be to have the traditional father-daughter dance morph into a dance in her brother’s memory with his step-son to a Guy Lombardo tune that he performed countless times.

Our wedding day perfectly reflected our tastes as individuals and as a couple. The day was filled with friends and family, and most importantly with love, and we wouldn’t have done a single thing different!

Photography: Josh Gruetzmacher Photography | Cinematography: Albino Crow Photography | Coordination: ...and Something Blue | Floral Design: Chestnut and Vine | Wedding Dress: Modern Trousseau | Bride's Shoes: Rachel Simpson | Rings: Tiffany and Co. | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Cavallo Point | Makeup: Mindy Boni | Hair: Cinta Salon | Calligraphy: BPCalligraphy | Lighting: Got Light? | Band: The Fil Lorenz Orchestra | Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss | Groomsmen's Attire: Black by Vera Wang | Officiant: Fr. Gerry Caprio from The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict | Venue: Cavallo Point | Bride's Hair Comb: Halo and Co. | Linen Rentals: La Tavola | Paper Goods: Three Little Words Paper Artisans | Veil: Modern Trousseau | Vendor: The Bride's Aunt & Grandmother

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Marin Headlands Center for the Arts Wedding

There are many reasons this gorgeous Sausalito affair happens to be my new favorite wedding, but standing high atop the list?  Just how crazy crafty these two beautiful brides happen to be.  Think DIYing every.single.detail you are about to lay your eyes upon, with the help of awesome friends + family.  That’s what I call one seriously amazing wedding and you can see it all captured by Kien Lam right here

Art Venue

From the Bride… Jen and I (Rachel) met in 2009 in San Francisco at a wine bar called Terroir and had French food from the Chez Gregory food truck across the street. Our love grew stronger in our one-year long distance relationship. And in July, 2012, on the night of my best friend’s wedding, we got engaged on a whim. I asked Jen to marry me at the after party after the wedding without a ring, and Jen responded, “sounds good,” and we were promptly “engaged.”

From that point forward, everything was uncertain. All we knew was that we were in love and wanted to commit to one another in front of our family and friends. We didn’t know if we would be able to get married in our home state, due to the pending Supreme Court cases. We didn’t know which of our family members would be able make it to our celebration. We didn’t know how to blend traditions (I’m Jewish, Jen’s family is Mormon and Guamanian). And yet somehow, magically, everything fell into place on our special day.

Marin Headlands Center for the Arts was the first and only venue we looked at. We walked into the venue and knew immediately that Headlands embodied the sense of place we were looking for. We envisioned our family’s meeting for the first time and melding in this special place. All four of our grandfathers and Jen’s grandmothers had served in the U.S. armed forces, and we thought that our remaining grandparents would enjoy Headlands history and latrine.

We divided duties, and managed the process in an orderly fashion for the first eleven months. Jen was the Art Director. Rachel was the Product Manager. We were fortunate to secure the amazing help of Rebecca from Be Hitched, as our wedding coordinator. One of the challenges in planning our wedding was that I was living in San Francisco and Jen was living in Los Angeles finishing up graduate school at UCLA.

Our vision was to follow the SloLoMo (Slow-Local-Movement) principles and incorporate the best that Marin and the Bay Area had to offer. Achieving this vision was no small feat, and we didn’t want to cut corners. We wanted to establish the tone for our wedding from our Save-The-Date and wedding website. We drew inspiration from Michael Schwab, a local Marin artist, down to the typography and color palette. I have a design and development background, and I designed our Save-The-Dates and built our wedding website from scratch. We wanted our guests to feel very welcome at our wedding from the very start.

We prioritized food and photography. We had heard about the magic that Katie Powers had in the kitchen, but were absolutely floored on the day-of.

We made all of the major decisions for our wedding the summer before, knowing Jen would be returning to L.A. for her second year of graduate school. Once Jen moved back to San Francisco two months prior to the wedding, we flipped the switch into DIY mode. We made an ambitious, prioritized list of projects for the wedding, knowing some might not happen.

DIY Decorations

The biggest project included building our own chuppah. Jen is very handy and an excellent seamstress, but this was her first woodworking project ever. We decided to use reclaimed wood that we found at a local lumber yard. That decision meant that poor Jen had to rebuild the reinforcing structures three times. After the second attempt, I suggested that we ask the florist to step in, but Jen said that the chuppah was a representation of our marriage and she would not give up. I am glad she did not because the chuppah was the gorgeous focal point of our ceremony.

Every single decoration (besides our centerpiece flowers) was made by hand, either by one of us, a family member, a wedding party member, and in some cases friends who were not attending the wedding. Crafting took over lives for a brief period of time! The highlight for me was getting my father and brother to make bunting banners. Besides my father, my bridesmaid Mandy, my mother, and a few others helped to make the banners.

To help guest find the venue, we displayed standing chalkboards from Ikea; we used stencils from Flax (an awesome San Francisco art store) to paint “Wedding” in large letters.

In the entry way of Headlands, we draped a large bunting banner reading, “Rach & Jen.” We strung up a smaller banner with “Photobook” over an aged window frame we picked up at a local reclaimed building materials yard. We gathered photos from 3 generations of each of our families and hung them on picture wire crisscrossed across the empty window frame. We used a vintage suitcase, cleaned and re-lined, and festooned it with a small bunting banner reading “Cards” for day-of gifts or well-wishes. We also displayed a book of childhood photos of Jen & I, arranged by age and displayed side-by-side. It seems like Jen was always taller than me! We printed the photobook using MixBook and now keep it in our living room.

We wanted to use a huge, old vintage picture frame, but were put off by the exorbitant cost. Instead, Jen came up with the ingenious idea to order crown-molding online made of polyurethane foam. For a fraction of the price, we made a giant picture frame for old maps with map pins for guests to pin where they came from.

In the stairway, we decorated a vintage table with a box from a champagne that we will drink on our anniversary. We decorated the box with some of the 200+ feathers that my mother hand-dipped in silver paint and glitter. Alongside the boxes, we provided cards for guests to write their well-wishes and advice. These cards are our informal “Guestbook”!

During the ceremony, we provided programs that I designed and printed with Moo. My mother made ribbon wands for guests to wave after the ceremony. Jen crocheted mini flowers for the flower girl baskets and stitched bows for their dresses with pipe cleaners in the seams so that they could be shaped. As a side note, I had no idea that Jen could crochet before we started crafting for the wedding!

The aforementioned chuppah took center stage. Our florist, Svenja Brotz, did an amazing job decorating the chuppah and the tables. She stepped up at the very last minute and agreed to decorate our chuppah when we realized that we were not going to be able to finish the decoration. She was amazing!

For the dining room, I designed the menus based on Katie Powers’ selection of courses and sent them to a local San Francisco printer, which did an amazing job printing the menus in a short period of time. I ordered a set of Michael Schwab’s National Parks postcards for the table assignments. We also chose a Michael Schwab print as a gift to my parents for their help with the wedding. Jen and I went to Michael’s studio San Anselmo studio to pick it up in person, where we got to meet the artist and talk to him about his typeface (Jen is a typeface nerd) and see some of his work in progress. Each table was named after a site in Golden Gate National Park. My father gamely helped to pin all of the guest table assignments to one of the large picture frames.

For the cocktail area, we used a large piece of matting for a picture frame that was serendipitously cut to the size of a Polaroid. My mother and father created props for the photo booth. We supplied a Polaroid camera for guests to use throughout the evening as a photobooth. Now we keep all of the photos in our hallway at home to remind ourselves of our wonderful friends and family.

Jen’s sister Caroline made the wedding favors by hand. She used local clay and California Golden Poppy seeds (California Golden Poppies are native to the Bay Area) to make seed bombs. Jen’s sister and mother created a three step process for the wedding favor bags. They utilized all available hands in Jen’s extended family to draw and stencil the bags for the favors. They turned out to be beautiful and quite a popular item. I have no doubt that Northern California will be a little more orange this spring than usual.

The Day Of the Wedding

Every step of the way we hit road blocks and managed to find our way around them. The first, of course, was the well-timed Supreme Court ruling which made it possible for us to officially tie the knot.

On the day of, we found out that the only road to Headlands was due to a race happening at Headlands that morning. I was concerned that our vendors would not be able to find their way in, but they managed to sweet talk their way past the police to take care of our hair, makeup, and photography needs.

Jen and I did not seen each other’s dresses and hair/makeup until the day of the wedding. My bridesmaid Mandy was the only person who saw both of our dresses prior to the big day. She was our wardrobe consultant and did a fantastic job of coordinating.

We rented out the on site Marin Headlands Annex House for our entire wedding party to stay at. On the day of the wedding, we said goodbye and recused ourselves to separate bedrooms. Our wonderful makeup artist, Sarah from SF Bridal Makeup, and hair stylist, Traci, set up two stations, and we managed to avoid seeing each other until the big reveal.

Jen and I headed over to the main Headlands building separately with our wedding parties in tow. We dressed separately, and met in the “mess hall” for our first look. I had never seen anyone as beautiful as my wife at that moment. Our fabulous photographer Kien set up the whole shot.

After our first round of photos, we spent time waiting with our wedding party in the Officer’s Lounge as our guests arrived. When the clock struck 3:30 pm, we began our procession. Jen’s sister Amy filled the room with piano renditions of songs Jen and I had chosen. We picked Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Perpetuum Mobile for our wedding party to walk down the aisle to because we are both big This American Life dorks and TAL uses that song regularly. Jen walked down the aisle with both of her parents to Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. I walked down the aisle with both of my parents to The Beatles In My Life.

We met at the chuppah and joined hands. My Uncle Steven was our officiant. Steven spent months crafting our touching and funny ceremony. He gave a “big shout out” to Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, Scalia, and Roberts who voted to strike down Prop 8, which caused our friends and family to cheer and clap. We wrote our own vows and managed our way through them without tearing up too much. We included several Jewish elements in our ceremony including having our grandparents read The Seven Blessings, sharing the kiddush cup of wine, and breaking the glass. We put a lot of thought into our ceremony and will remember that experience forever.

After the ceremony we secluded ourselves for a fifteen minute yichud, and caught our breath. We had specialty cocktails dreamed up by Katie Powers and crew. We chose Basil Watermelon with Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Pink Ladies Apple Cider with Bulleit Bourbon. We also asked Katie to make a special dish of thick bacon on skewers, which her team execute masterfully.

The Mess Hall was host to our dinner, complete with a local menu of fare. Katie’s team served our guests family style, and it created a very warm atmosphere for people to relax and get to know one another. My father and brother each gave toasts. Jen’s father and grandmother also gave amazing speeches. But, Jen’s brother Spencer really brought down the house with laughter.

After dinner, we decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake and serve up delicious pie made from Mission Pie, a San Francisco bakery located, of course, in the Mission. We served Walnut (Mission Pie serves this pie, made from California walnuts, year-round), banana crème, apple, and pear. I made tiny bunting banners for the pies too.

And that is the moment that the power went out. I was mid-bite and the lights flickered, and then sputtered. Katie’s crew and Rebecca’s team did not miss a beat. Within minutes, there were five people bringing out votives to place around the venue. They were so smooth that many of our guests thought it was planned.

We had hired DJ Dave Tutton, which of course required power. Thinking on his feet, Dave dashed down to his car and got a portable boom box so that we could do our first dance.

We had been practicing our first dance for weeks with Emily at our neighborhood dance studio, Vima’s. She choreographed a dance routine especially for our 4 left feet to The Temptations’ classic, “My Girl.” We were both nervous about performing our first choreographed dance. We were both disappointed and happy that no one got to see it. At the first chorus, our friends’ and families’ voices amplified and serenaded us with the song, and created an incredible memory as we flowed through our moves in the dark.

After another half hour passed by without the lights, my friend Dave got on the piano and played Dave Brubek in round (the only song he had on his phone) for close to a half hour. My uncle Steven rounded up my cousin Aaron, my friend Alex, and my other cousin David to play an acoustic Hava Nagila. We were hoisted up in folding chairs by our friends and family, as everyone circled around us in rhythm on the dance floor. It was both magical and frightening, but truly an amazing memory.

Finally, at literally the eleventh hour, Rebecca managed to secure a backup generator. DJ Dave fired up “Gonna Be Starting Something” by Michael Jackson, and a raging dance party ensued. Headlands graciously let us extend our party, and we ended the evening on a high note.

Thoughts & Advice

Expect to have a few wrenches thrown in and roll with it. We never could have predicted the Supreme Court ruling or the two hour power outage. The quirks and imperfections of our wedding day made it unforgettable.

Trust your gut as you select your vendors. Make sure you get a fair price, but more importantly, pick people because you want to work with them for the duration of your wedding. Embrace every minute of your special day because it goes by unbelievably quickly. And, on the day of, trust your vendors. If you hire great people, they will make sure your day is special and that you get to enjoy every moment.

Photography: Kien Lam Photography | Floral Design: Chestnut & Vine Floral Design | Wedding Dress: Nicole Miller | Wedding Dress: Teri Jon | Stationery: Moo | Catering: Katie Powers Catering | DJ: Dave Tutton | Wedding Venue: Marin Headlands Center For The Arts | Dessert: Mission Pie | Hair/Makeup: SF Bridal Makeup | Planning: Be Hitched | Table Assignments: Michael Schwab | Vendor: The Bride's Aunt & Grandmother

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Sausalito Wedding from Diana Maire Photography

Nothing makes me happier than sweet, romantic details mix and mingling with a fab industrial space. Well, maybe a fab industrial space with vintage stylings woven throughout, like the gorgeous gem that is the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts.  When that happens, I am a little bit more than happy… I’m ecstatic.  Especially when the adorable duo behind the day throws one of the coolest weddings I’ve ever seen with a yummy sundae bar (!) from Katie Powers Catering, vibrant blooms crafted by Green Snapdragon and amazing images captured by Diana Maire Photography.  See it all in the full gallery.

Art Venue

From Diana Maire Photography… I photographed this beautiful wedding at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts last month. The venue is about 20 minutes north of San Francisco, and is an old military building for Fort Barry. It’s quirky and vintage looking, and fit the couple perfectly! The wedding felt like more of a get together than a traditional wedding. They omitted some of the traditional ideas of a wedding, such as a wedding party (they just had one bridesmaid and one groomsmen) a cake (they had an ice cream bar), the bouquet and garter toss (they just had dancing!). They did have lots of thoughtful and carefully laid out details that were important to them though. See description below from the bride.

From the Bride… From the beginning, we wanted our wedding to feel like us.  There were lots of details included to get there, but the first big step was finding our venue.  We were lucky enough to stumble upon the Headlands Center for the Arts a week before they were accepting reservations for 2013.  The whole place felt so special, plus it is all indoors which was an important factor for an April wedding in the Bay Area.  We loved the open kitchen in the Mess Hall, and the refinished original tin ceilings.  It was the perfect venue for us, and provided much of the inspiration for the big day.

Food is extremely important to us, and we had heard great things about the Headlands’ caterer, Katie Powers.  She and her team did not disappoint!  We worked together to craft a delicious menu featuring producers from around the Bay Area.  We also provided some homemade treats – pickled carrots, beets, fennel and green beans, to feature during the cocktail hour.  Since neither John nor I love cake, we elected to go with a make your own sundae bar with ice cream, hot fudge, and all the fixins.  Katie and the team put together a great spread! I wanted the wedding to look like an explosion of spring, and we got their with our florist, Green Snapdragon Florals.  We worked with Emily on a combination package of DIY and florist-made pieces.  Emily created our bouquets, boutonneirs, and a few key pieces, guided me on a trip to the SF Flower Mart for purchasing all of the flowers, and directed a DIY session with close family and friends the day before the wedding.  The results were amazing! They say the tone of your wedding is set by the invitations…and here I have to acknowledge my husband.  He designed the email Save the Dates and the actual invitations, and also designed custom stamps for our Return Address and escort cards.  The invites were printed at a local print shop, Mercurio Brothers, in Oakland.  John also designed all of the printed signage for the wedding, and it turned out even better than I could have imagined.

We were lucky enough to have the help of our mothers and sisters with some wedding crafts.  John’s mother made some lovely burlap banners to hang around the venue and my mom tea-dyed the escort cards and stamped them, to call out a few. The second best decision we made (after the venue) was to ask our friend Zach to officiate the wedding.  The hilarious ceremony that he wrote helped to set the tone for the entire evening, and had all the guests doubled over in laughter.  Everyone keeps asking me if I cried during the wedding, and I keep telling them that I didn’t have time between the laughs! We would not have made it through the day so flawlessly without the help of our day-of coordinator Rebecca and her assistants from Be-Hitched.  Can’t say enough good things about her! The results of all of the planning totally paid off.  The food was DELICIOUS, the place looked beautiful, and we walked around with giant smiles on our faces all day long.  It was such a treat to be surrounded by all of our loved ones for our day…we wouldn’t have changed a thing!

Photography: Diana Maire Photography  | Second Shooter: Rebecca Wilkowski | Floral Design: Green Snapdragon | Coordination:    Rebecca Pfiffner, Be Hitched, Event Planning & Design | Venue: Marin Headlands Center for the Arts | DJ + Guitar for Ceremony: Sutherland Entertainment | Catering: Katie Powers Catering | Audio/Visual: CMS Rentals | Officiant: Friend of Bride + Groom