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Traditionally Elegant California Garden Wedding

Once in a while, we come across a wedding so sweet that words simply won’t do it justice. And this one m’dears, well it’s left us speechless. An homage to memories made in wine country, it’s an elegant affair overflowing with history and heritage. Set amongst sweeping vineyards, this European-inspired garden celebration is crafted from the heart, and Larissa Cleveland has it waiting for you in the gallery!

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Styles
Elegant

From the beautiful Bride… John and I met soon after the 2008 election at a launch party of a civic engagement organization called Citizen Hope. We were friends for over a year before we started dating, and we were together through my time in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. John proposed inside the clock tower of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, in part to remind me of all the great times we shared in the city that we both love and call home.

When we started looking at venues and found Beaulieu Garden, we knew it was the perfect place for our wedding. With its manicured gardens, fountains, cherub statues, sweeping vineyards, sparkling pool, tree-lined drive, and sycamore arbor, it had just the right look and feel that we were going for – elegant, romantic, beautiful, and full of history. We also have many wonderful memories of our time together in wine country. The decision to get married at the gorgeous, European-inspired Beaulieu Garden helped guide our vision for the wedding. Since I’m a huge Francophile, and we were going to travel to Paris for our honeymoon, there were many French-inspired design and style elements that fit seamlessly with the setting. We decided on a soft palette of mainly ivory, blush, pale gray, silver, and hints of black. The invitations were letterpress with gray ink on white card stock, and included a custom design of our monogram over a picture of the iconic tree-lined drive of Beaulieu Garden, which we used on other elements throughout the wedding. The florals included blush and ivory French garden roses, café au lait dahlias, eucalyptus, and olive leaves. My dress was a drop-waist ball gown with a Chantilly lace and beaded bodice fitted to the hip that cascaded into a full French tulle skirt. I also wore diamond and pearl drop earrings that my mother wore at her wedding and that she gave me as an engagement gift. My “something borrowed” was a pearl bracelet of my mother’s that was my grandmother’s before that. I gifted my bridesmaids and myself matching bracelets inscribed with a delicate “love.”

For the ceremony, we decided to incorporate some Jewish and Irish elements to celebrate parts of our heritages. Atelier Joya created our beautiful chuppah using a wrought-iron frame, an ivory silk canopy, and ivory roses, hydrangeas, and greenery in an asymmetrical style. We incorporated other Jewish elements, including the breaking of the glass and the reading of a variation of the Seven Blessings. We had a family friend of John’s sing the Irish song, “The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee,” which was his late mother’s favorite song, with his family priest introducing the singer. Our readings also included an excerpt from the Irish book Anam Cara, as well as a favorite Shakespeare sonnet. John and I crafted our vows together, weaving traditional vows with our own ideas. My uncle officiated the wedding, and we decided to have the wedding party be mostly family to keep the wedding feeling intimate and special.

There were so many other details that made our wedding feel like ours. We decided to include some signs, including a few DIY chalkboard signs and an amazing custom antique French mirror welcome sign that ended up being one of my favorite elements. The escort card display consisted of cards set on a bed of dried lavender within mirrored trays, which echoed the sprig of lavender on top of each guest’s dinner menu. We had three different cocktail napkins made with our names and different symbols that each meant something to us – one with the Golden Gate Bridge, for our home, another of the Eiffel Tower, for our upcoming honeymoon to Paris and the inspiration for the look and feel of the wedding, and the last was a Claddagh symbol, an Irish symbol combining love, loyalty, and friendship.

After a year of intensive planning of every detail, witnessing our vision come together was breathtaking. Seeing the sparkling lights, chandeliers, votives, and gorgeous centerpieces, enjoying Paula LeDuc’s steak frites and our favorite wine, Failla Pinot Noir, and listening to the heartfelt and funny speeches, the guests’ laughter, and French jazz in the background – it was a dream. At the end of the night, after lots of dancing and chatting, the guests picked up mini bottles of Napa Valley sparkling wine, and a white 1947 Packard took John and me to the after-party. It truly was the most magical and special day of our lives, and we are so happy to have gorgeous images photographed by Larissa Cleveland to look back on to remember each moment of the day.

My advice to future brides would include choosing vendors who not only understand your vision for your day and know how to do what they do well, but also whose company you enjoy, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and this will make the whole process a delightful experience. It is also important to know what matters to you going into the day, because it will fly by, and you want to make sure you’ve done everything you want to, whether it’s tasting all the food that you chose, dancing, getting the photographs you want, visiting with various friends and relatives, or otherwise. And, most importantly, and what many others advised me before our day, is to try to take a moment for just the two of you and gaze at each other, to take in all the love, joy, and beauty that surrounds you, and to make a conscious effort to be present during each and every moment, because you will want to remember them forever.

Photography: Larissa Cleveland Photography | Videography: Thomas Hughes Films | Coordination: JBD Events | Floral Design: Atelier Joya | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Cake: Sweet On Cake | Stationery: A Day In May Design | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering | Lighting: Got Light? | Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss | Ceremony Music: An Elegant Touch Of Strings | Venue: Beaulieu Gardens | Dance Lessons: The Dance Loft | Flower Girls Dresses: Joan Calabrese | Linens: La Tavola | Makeup And Hair: Meaganne McCandess | Mirror: Bee Curious Designs | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Vintage Car: Classic Convertible Wine Tours

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
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Grace Portraits + A Promotion!

We’ve all been there.  Your nearest and dearest are tying the knot and you want to do something extra special to commemorate the big day.  But finding that perfect wedding gift?  It’s not always easy. Enter Grace Portraits, the fab boutique that creates custom, hand-drawn portraits from your fave pics that are equal parts awesome + unique.  This, loves, is gifting in the most meaningful of ways.

With Grace Portraits, you’ll be presenting your loved ones with one of the most breathtaking gifts they will ever receive.  Think a stunning piece of art commissioned by a local Bay Area artist that can be passed down through generations for a gift they’ll cherish for always.  And with Grace Portraits, you don’t have to wait until there’s a wedding!  Order an amazing drawing for an anniversary gift, engagement present, Father’s Day or even your niece’s first birthday… you can even commission your very own drawing to display on your wedding day.  That, my friends, is beyond amazing.

Contact Grace Portraits TODAY to begin working on your masterpiece.  You’ll be blown away by their awesome customer service as they help you choose the perfect picture, and walk with you step by step throughout the process… you’ll even get a scan of your drawing before final shipment, to make sure it’s everything you ever wanted!  Not to mention that when all is said and done, you’ll receive everything in customized monogrammed packaging, complete with a note from the artist.  We love that.

Visit Grace Portraits on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Promotion

What: Get a 20% discount on all online portrait orders placed by midnight on Monday, May 25, 2015 by using promotion code MEMDAYSALE.

How: Users need to complete their purchase on the Grace Portraits’ website before midnight on 5/25/15 and use promo code MEMDAYSALE to receive the 20% discount.

No occasion? No problem. Order now to take advantage of this deal and you’ll receive a Grace Portrait credit for when you are ready to get started. Shipping preference and delivery date are given in the order in which purchases are received.  Grace Portrait is already taking pre-orders through December 2015, so make sure you place your order now to ensure you can get it by your desired date!

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Napa Valley Weddings

Napa Valley has IT.  And by IT, I mean that little something special that takes your wedding day to levels of amazing you never even knew existed.  Think acres upon acres of rolling vineyards, delicious wine, uber-tasty cuisine and some of the most breathtaking views you will ever lay your eyes upon… and that’s just the beginning.  The world’s most perfect wedding locale?  Yes, indeed.

A little slice of Northern California paradise, Napa Valley has everything you’ll ever need to make your Big Day as magical as you ever imagined.  From the luxurious resorts and picturesque gardens to the amazing vineyards and wineries, there isn’t a spot in this beautiful valley that isn’t perfect for saying “I do” and dancing the night away.  So whether you’re a classic couple looking to celebrate in a glamorous ballroom affair or a rustic chic duo hoping to tie the knot under the stars, Napa Valley is THE place where every last one of your dreams will come true… and in true luxury.

Contact the Napa Valley today for free assistance in planning your dream day.  An entire world of amazing venues, top-notch accommodations and California sunshine awaits you.

Location: Silverado Resort And Spa | Location: Meadowood Napa Valley | Location: The Carneros Inn | Location: Calistoga Ranch | Location: Culinary Institute Of America At Greystone | Location: The Meritage Resort And Spa | Location: Auberge Du Soleil

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These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
Custom Gowns with JINZA Couture Bridal

There are bridal salons, and there are personalized bridal salons like JINZA Couture Bridal.  A place where beautiful collections and breathtaking custom creations join forces with the most amazing customer service you’ll ever experience to create an individually crafted design made just for you.  Think private appointments with top-notch consultants or your very own personal designer, aka, a team of wedding geniuses that know a thing or two about making you look awesome for your special occasion.

Serving Bay Area brides since 2002, JINZA Couture Bridal’s new and exclusive Los Angeles boutique is now open in the heart of West Hollywood (933 N La Cienega Blvd), which means that even more brides get to experience the gorgeous gowns and attention to detail that JINZA Couture Bridal is so well-known for. Imagine a timeless piece created from scratch using only the finest of fabrics with custom tailoring to fit your figure perfectly, alterations included.  Brides can try on a range of gowns or mold a custom creation.

Explore high fashion styles, updated classics, unconventional sheaths, opulent ball gowns, the popular soft mermaid style and JINZA’s own signature couture designs at the new Los Angeles boutique. Each gown is light weight and comfortable (no shape wear or bra needed!), so that you can dance the night away with the one you love.  And you can complete your bridal ensemble with a veil, jewelry and shoes all available at JINZA Couture Bridal.  Amazing.

Classic, elegant and totally sophisticated – contact JINZA Couture Bridal TODAY to begin creating that dress of your dreams.  Take it from someone who knows – it will be the best decision you’ll ever make.

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Rustic Meets Elegant Ranch Wedding

This wedding right here?  It’s all sorts of magical.  The sort of wedding where gorgeous details, an adorable twosome and a breathtaking setting all come together for an intimate set of nuptials that is the definition of swoon-worthy.  From the beautiful ceremony in front of an intimate group of family and friends to the sweet reception bursting with pretty.  See it all from Kate Osborne in the full gallery.

Colors
Seasons
Spring
Settings
Ranch

From the Bride… We took a gamble with the weather— picking a March date in Northern California meant risk of winds, rain and a late bloom, but family schedules dictated that it made sense to book for then. Leading up to the date, it didn’t rain in what felt like a year, but then poured the week before! But, thankfully, on the Big Day, it was pure summer. Not a cloud in the sky and warm. The venue had flowers blooming all over the property including at the gardens, due to the recent rains. We were so lucky!

We chose our location at Mayacamas Ranch — in the serene Mayacamas mountains surrounded by Napa and Sonoma wine country — for its natural beauty and peacefulness. It was rustic but chic, traditionally meant for wellness retreats. My husband, Ivan, and I were both passionate about yoga and wellness, and loved the place the second we saw it. The venue also allowed our guests to stay at the ranch — all 60 of them! — and rooms were simple with only the sounds of nature.

There were hikes within the area, with a pool for the guests and a big green lawn for the ceremony, overlooking the expansive mountains. I custom designed the invitations to be romantic, classic and adorned by silk bows, to signify we were going to experience natural simplicity during the wedding. The guests were greeted with cucumber drinks, and I hand-decorated the chalk board (it was actually quite fun to do!).  We ended up having a chance to greet each guest intimately.

My husband and I met in business school, so we had a lot of common friends, but our values told us to keep our wedding small. My parents traveled from Florida, and Ivan’s from Dubai, with relatives from Russia and Bulgaria, our birthplaces. In total, we had guests from across 15 countries. We are both only children with tiny families, so our parents were experiencing their only children’s weddings.

Ivan was wearing light gray, to complement the colorful nature around him. I wanted my dress to be elegant, but still the fanciest dress I have ever worn. I also wanted to be able to dance and move around in the dress freely. The bridesmaids were wearing peach colored dresses to welcome spring. I adored my florist — my sessions with her was like therapy! — and I told her I wanted clean, modern looks, but pointed to all the photos that to her, said, “romantic” instead, and she helped me figure out my style. (And I learned I was a romantic after all!)

Our food was all sourced locally from all organic, sustainable farms — per our values. We cared deeply about sourcing the food locally, and wanted to treat our guests, who were mostly international or from out of the state, to our local cuisine. We didn’t just have seasonable items like kale and beets, but also meats, fish and local cheese from local, small-scale vendors like Cowgirl Creamery. During cocktail hour, we had a farm-to-table spread on a 6-foot refurbished wooden plank that signaled “harvest” and natural, fresh abundance.

I loved the ceremony because it was out on the lawn, with the mountains in the background. My mom walked me down the aisle, which was really special for me. She raised me most of my life by herself, and it meant a lot to have her support on this special day. She looked stunning on the day, and I was proud to have a gorgeous mother. My stepfather recited a poem that reflected his strong midwestern values. Our officiant was a mutual friend and it was special to have someone so close help us craft our ceremony. He made all sorts of jokes, especially one that mentioned how Ivan and I pretended to both like electronic music when we first met, because we each thought the other was a fan! We didn’t share our vows with each other beforehand, and they were a surprise. It was no surprise though, that our vows ended up matching up so well together!

The dinner, toasts, and dancing reminded me how it was all worth the planning to just enjoy the present moment. I didn’t have any concerns other than to be in the flow of the celebrations. We had our family members and friends give speeches that were profound to us in their humor and love for us. I’m glad our videographer captured it, because we were so emotionally moved at the time!

Ivan’s best man and our mutual friend also said a story that concluded that out of all the fish in the sea, “all you need is one” — that was Ivan’s motto before he met me. I didn’t hear that ever before, and it was sweet! And then my bridesmaids made my night – one of them revealing a bit too much of our joint plottings to have me meet Ivan, “whose surname I now have.” We had so much fun and the night couldn’t have been more *us.*

We made a public commitment to each other and had the greatest community of love surrounding us. We extended the festivities with my parents, and stayed in Napa for a few days afterward, soaking in our newfound partnership. My mom kept on reminding me to call Ivan “my husband,” because the word felt foreign at first. Overall, was a precious weekend, and my one piece of advice is embrace it and enjoy it, but then, be as present in your life with your partner as you were that weekend!

Photography: Kate Osborne Photography | Event Planning: Marilyn Ambra | Wedding Dress: Custom From Bridal Project | Cake: Giorgi's Wedding Cakes | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Etsy | Catering: OAK Catering | Hotel: Mayacamas Ranch | Ceremony And Reception Venue: Mayacamas Ranch | Location: Mayacamas Ranch

Marmalade Sky Films + A Discount + A Giveaway!

There is something so special about having your wedding day captured on film for you and your honey to relive over and over again. And when the film is done by the insanely creative Northern California boutique cinematography company Marmalade Sky Films, you’ll find any excuse to press play.

Behind the lens is a team of best friends, Eugene + Matt, who worked in the film industry prior to discovering their passion for wedding cinematography. Thanks to this experience, every film they create is based in a deep love for visual storytelling. Their films capture all the special moments of the couple’s big day, from the kisses to the laughter and tears, in a way that is authentic and genuine, to tell each couple’s individual and unique love story.

Are you head-over-heels yet? Well now’s the time to book your big day with Marmalade Sky Films because they’re giving SMP readers who book before September 2015 $200 off a Wedding Cinematography Package of their choice! Simply mention this post when booking to redeem the offer. Check out their packages here.
the-giveaway
Oh and there’s more! Marmalade Sky Films is giving one lucky reader a Save the Date film shot on Full HD ($499 value).

To enter:Comment on this post with why you’d love to have Marmalade Sky Films tell the story of you and your honey!

To win: A winner will be randomly chosen and announced in WIUP on Friday, April 24, 2015.

The details: Session must take place in San Francisco or mutually agreed upon location on mutually agreed upon date. The giveaway includes session time and one Engagement Video or Save the Date Invitation video (30 seconds to 1 minute in length).

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