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Romantic Fall Durham Ranch Wedding

For a girl who always thought she’d one day elope, this bride managed to find the ultimate happy medium. Think an intimate celebration in the Napa countryside with long, family-style tables that made every guest feel right at home. Of course, the day couldn’t have gone off so beautifully without the talents of Bustle Events, Lavender & MintPaula LeDuc and Twigss, and the captures from Sylvie Gil completely speak for themselves. More in the gallery!

Colors
Seasons
Fall
Settings
Ranch
Styles
Rustic
From The Bride…Firstly, I will say I never thought I would be a bride. I assumed that if I did find my life partner (I can be picky) that we’d sneak away to a beach in Bali and elope. That being said, as soon as I had that ring on my finger and Ryan and I started day dreaming about a small intimate ceremony in the Napa countryside, we never looked back. We are both from Texas but we recently moved to San Francisco with our company and we love taking drives up to Sonoma and Napa on the weekend to enjoy the beauty and majesty of all the nooks and crannies of the small towns and hiking trails. When we decided on Napa I found Erin at Bustle Events through the SMP blog and she suggested we look at Durham Ranch, as soon as I saw the stately drive lined by Cypress trees I knew that was the place I would marry my best friend. Ken Fulk and his team have created an effortlessly chic Napa hideaway that begs you never to leave, although I am not sure he would prefer not to have us as permanent house guests.

Erin and her amazing team helped me put personal touches throughout the wedding, but I truly think our wedding was the perfect mix of delicate beauty and rock n’roll. Two highlights were the band and the gorgeous floral chandelier Twiggs designed for over the dance floor. Ryan and I are both avid music fans, he actually self-published a book of music poetry (A Circus Mind) and one of our all-time favorite bands is the Talking Heads. We looked all over the place for a Talking Heads cover band and finally Erin found the Naïve Melodies and they were perfect! My favorite part of the reception was dancing to This Must Be The Place under the gorgeous chandelier of lilies and garden roses. Also I loved the leather touches throughout the event, especially the strips of leather that acted like place cards and the fact that I was able to wear my leather jacket over my dress for a couple of the pictures.

The most memorable part was exchanging our vows. Ryan and I decided to write our own vows and one of our very best friends officiated the ceremony and it was truly magical. The sun was setting right as we walked down the aisle together as husband and wife was a moment to be remembered. I am filled with gratitude for the beauty of the day and for the amazing staff with Paula Le Duc and of course Team Bustle.  Ryan and I met at work about 4 years ago and we were instant friends. Ryan has a truly dynamic personality, he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met, and I knew immediately that I wanted to be around anyone that could make me laugh like he did. I had a boyfriend when Ryan and I first met, but I fell in love with him at a music festival in 2011 and it was in Gulf Shores Alabama listening to Paul Simon that I think we both realized that we were supposed to be together and so we were. Ryan proposed in Paris in October of 2013. Ryan is not much of a planner, but October 21st, 2013 was a day for the record books. We woke up and had breakfast at Café de Flore, walked to Musee D’orsay, secured a lock on Pont des Arts and eventually ended up relaxing around the pool in the Luxembourg Garden. I eventually fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulder and he woke me up and walked me to a bench where he had a friend sneakily waiting to take pictures and he proposed. To say I was stunned would be an understatement, but it was one of the most amazing days of my life.

I found my dress at Marina Morrison in San Francisco. My best friend and maid of honor, Lauren, actually picked out my wedding dress. We walked in to the Marina Morrison showroom and the Austin Scarlett ball gown I wore was on the center mannequin and she said “YOU HAVE TO TRY THAT ON”. As soon as I slipped on the dress and came out of the fitting room, Lauren started crying and she is not typically one for tears. Austin Scarlett definitely knows how to flatter a woman’s figure but still make her feel classically chic. As soon as I saw myself in the main showroom mirrors that was my dress. I actually had the opportunity to meet Austin the week before my wedding and he was the one who suggested I wear my hair half up and down, that was my celebrity moment!

All my vendors were beyond amazing- from the invitations featuring a sketch of Durham Ranch, the brain child of Lily Lasuzzo, owner of Lavender and Mint stationary in Houston, TX to the stunning photos produced by Sylvie Gil. Sylvie and her team actually became our wedding guests and I am pretty sure my friends would have preferred she stay until midnight with the rest of us dancing the night away! I also can’t say enough about Twiggs and the beautiful floral arrangements they created, the chandelier was an epic display of beauty and their creativity. Paula De Luc of course produced an amazing experience and even better food, those PB&J macaroons are truly sinful they are so good. Tom Foolery and their photo booth were also a hit, I think I took easily 100 snaps that night! It has to be said nothing would have come to fruition without Erin Taylor and Team Bustle. Erin is beyond amazing and her creativity, organization and responsiveness are all a bride could ever hope for. I am in awe of Erin and she will be a friend for life!

Photography: Sylvie Gil Photography | Wedding Planner: Bustle Events | Wedding Dress: Austin Scarlett | Cakes : Fox and Fawn | Invitations: Lavender & Mint | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Two Birds | Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering | Hair & Makeup: Carrie Aldous | Calligraphy : Julie Song | Durham Ranch: Durham Ranch | Florals : Twigss

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Rustic Meets Modern Carmel Valley Ranch Wedding

It’s kind of a given that a Carmel Valley Ranch wedding is going to be awesome, but add one of the world’s sweetest duos and a rustic meets modern aesthetic to the mix and it’s a pretty that is basically indescribable.  Think baby’s breath meets silver sparkles meets one of the most breathtaking ceremonies you will ever see.  Soak in all of the gorgeousness captured by Brittrene Photo in the full gallery.

Colors
Seasons
Fall
Settings
Ranch
Styles
Rustic

From Brittrene Photo… They had been on the house hunt for some time. something perfect in the city of San Francisco, but still close enough to the beach so Greg could catch some early more waves. Finally, they found the perfect place to call home; their escrow closed and as they picked up their keys, standing on their doorstep, Greg got down on one knee and presented Holly with a beautiful ring and the promise of spending the rest of their life together. A perfect engagement session of their new life together, first home and new puppy!

From The Bride… We met one evening in September 2009 when we both happened to meet our mutual friend for dinner in the Mission District of San Francisco. We didn’t talk much during dinner since we were with a big group. But at the end of the night, our friend told Greg to drive me home since we both lived in the same neighborhood across the city. During that drive, we chatted the whole way home and the beginning of a friendship emerged.

There was something different about our friendship – we just seemed to get each other. We would give each other dating advice while we drove around the city to different shows and parties sipping on Red Bulls. After just a few weeks of being “buddies”, we both quickly realized that we were falling for each other… hard. Greg finally asked me on an actual date where he picked me up with a dozen red roses, then he took me to Farmer Brown where we bonded over our love for fried chicken. We became “Facebook official” on October 4, 2009. Little did we know that we would be saying “I Do” exactly five years later to the date.

During those five years together, we moved in together, adopted our sweet little dog/son named Hank, and then we bought our dream home by the beach. Greg popped the question on our front steps one week after we moved in. Some might say we’ve done things a little out of order, but for us everything happened absolutely perfectly.

When we started looking for our wedding venue, we knew it had to be somewhere along the beautiful Northern California coast. We spend many weekends going for drives along the coastline with the pup, and it’s always been a special place for us. As soon as saw Carmel Valley Ranch, we knew it would be the perfect location for our dream wedding.

Our ceremony took place on the gorgeous Valley Lawn which overlooks the rolling green hills of Carmel Valley. Our guests were greeted with a glass of champagne and a parasol to shade the sun. I was so nervous! We decided not to do a first look, so the first time seeing each other was very emotional. The ceremony flew by in a flash, and next thing we knew we were husband and wife!

The cocktail hour and reception took place in the Golf Clubhouse. We decided to use long tables instead of rounds, and it made the group of 150 guests actually feel like an intimate gathering. Our theme was rustic modern. We used white linens, silver sequin runners, reclaimed wood boxes with baby’s breath bunches, and mason jar candle holders. When the sun went down the room looked magical!

Since I am in the wedding industry myself, I know the importance of hiring amazing vendors who you can trust. I was so blessed with every single one of my vendors- they truly made our day so special!

Photography: Brittrene Photo | Videography: AVR Films | Coordination: MB Wedding Design And Events | Ceremony Venue: Carmel Valley Ranch | DJ: Scratch Weddings | Baker: Torino Bakery | Hair & Make Up: HrH Hari And Make Up

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Rustic Winter Wedding at Holman Ranch

For those of us here on the east coast, it’s easy to forget that there is another version of winter out there, one that doesn’t keep you housebound for months. This charming rustic wedding proves just how fantastic winter celebrations can be at an amazing California ranch, filled with personal touches and sunny skies. Mirelle Carmichael captured it all right here.

Colors
Seasons
Winter
Settings
Ranch
Styles
Rustic

From The Bride… Shaun and I went to the same University (of Oregon) and did not know each other, but luckily have a few friends in common. Five years after graduating from college, I moved to San Francisco where Shaun also lived and we were introduced and saw each other occasionally at football games or at our friend’s Matt & Amy’s house.

Then, we both became single, and long story short, hit it off!

After 2+ years of dating, Shaun proposed on a 10 day trip to Spain in San Sebastian. He had a ring pop and a photo of a diamond so it took me a few seconds to put it together… then I said yes and the wedding planning fun began.

Holman Ranch was a dream come true. We looked at sites in Sonoma and San Francisco as well and our goal was to enjoy the process and planning. The biggest part of that – as I learned in my career as a human resources professional – is the team you are working with. I wanted uber competent, energetic, and flexible people on my team so that we could plan a wonderful day, learn, and have fun in the process. My photographer, Mirelle Carmichael, was a perfect fit in terms of photography style, and is uniquely talented at connecting with people from behind the camera. It was also important that my vendors respected our budget boundaries. We simply were not a couple who was willing to spend 10K on flowers and I didn’t want continuous pressure to go over budget. My florist, Courtney Saynor at the Floral Loft in San Francisco, worked miracles for a small budget and advised me expertly where to spend versus save. She was an absolute artist even though my budget was small.

When I met the team at Holman, I knew they were the best fit (so flexible, and utterly professional), and the stunning views, and vintage charm didn’t hurt either! They also offered a day rate for winter weddings (typically couples have to rent the entire property), and some of my other vendors offered off-season discounts as well.

We did not necessarily have a defined style, but we wanted the day to be intimate and personal. Throughout the process, though, it became clear that we loved the classic, vintage touches that you can see from our attire and from the flower choices. I loved the idea of blushes and grays with a pop of sapphire blue. I wore an oyster pink dress with an ivory Chantilly lace overlay, and Shaun wore a gray morning jacket (both vintage styles that complemented the 1930s ranch). The colors also really melded so beautifully with the stone at Holman and the natural hues in the fields that we walked through.

There were so many moments that I continue to think about. Getting ready with the ladies and having my esthetician for the last 10 years, Tiffany, do all of our makeup. The ceremony was so wonderful and warm. We had an outdoor wedding in the middle of winter and it all went beautifully.

I also loved walking out of the ceremony with my husband and going straight to a private courtyard to share appetizers and a glass of wine!

Photography: Mirelle Carmichael | Floral Design: Courtney Sayner - The Floral Loft | Wedding Dress: Alvina Valenta | Cupcakes: Kayaks By Kaleigh DiPaolo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lela Rose Via Weddington Way | Catering: Paradise Catering | Makeup: Tiffany Perry | Hair: Michelle Stehle At Groove Salon SF | DJ: Belmont Entertainment | Suits: Selix | Photography - Assistance: Cheryl Tivar | Wedding Coordination: Engaged & Inspired | Wedding Venue: Holman Ranch

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Romantic Redwood Inspired Shoot

I’m at a loss for words as I continue to go through photo after photo of this shoot, styled and captured by Lucy Munoz; every detail is better than the last. From the florals by Divine Blooms and Designs and the prettiest stationery suite I’ve seen a while, by Megan Kelso, I’m in awe. Oh, and that Claire Pettibone dress? The icing on that gorgeously gilded cake. See it all right here.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Park

From Lucy Muñoz… This shoot was inspired from the beautiful redwoods which give off earthy hues and easily served as our beautiful backdrop. The florals were by the amazing Divine Blooms and designs. She created a festive bouquet that was lush and full of color. Claire Pettibone never disappoints! This beautiful wedding gown had everything we were looking for. The delicate flower work and beautiful back just seemed to fulfill every girl’s wish! Hair and makeup were done by makeup guru Yolanda Kwan. Yolanda made our Model Natasha look natural yet so polished. We loved the stationery done by Megan Kelso. Her work is a amazing! We love the gold lettering and signage she creates. They are always so delicate and pretty.

Photography: Lucy Munoz | Styling: Lucy Munoz | Wedding Dress: Claire Pettibone | Film Processing: The Find Lab | Florals: Divine Blooms And Designs | Makeup And Hair: Yolanda Setiawan | Model: Natasha Sawhney | Stationery And Invitations: Megan Kelso | Stylehouse: CLDStylehouse

These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
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Romantic Blush Santa Barbara Wedding

When you dig through the pretty layers of this Santa Barbara soiree (and TOAST Santa Barbara sure did layer in the gorgeous!), you’ll find a deeply rooted love that will absolutely melt you. There are too many meaningful bits to recount, but when you read the Bride’s story, paired with the precious imagery from I Heart My Groom and the film from Cloudless Weddings, you’ll step into their full-on celebration of family love.

Colors
Seasons
Fall
Settings
Club
Styles
Whimsical

From I Heart My GroomWhenever we’re around Nicole and Andrew we can’t help but smile and laugh continuously. They both have such beautiful hearts and that quality radiates when you see them in person. These two are sparkly, fun, lovable, and visibly so in LOVE. We feel incredibly honored and blesses that they chose us to document their beautiful wedding in film at the Santa Barbara Wome’s Club.

From the beautiful Bride…When I was four years old, I was a flower girl at my aunt and uncle’s wedding in Cape Cod. Ever since then, I’ve daydreamed about what my wedding day would be like. When Andrew and I got engaged, I didn’t know what colors I wanted or what kind of food I wanted to serve. I did know that I wanted our day to be meaningful not just for us, but for all of our family and loved ones. As the planning evolved, our main goal became to have a deeply personal day chalk-full of sentimental touches and a few extra-special surprises.

I have always felt a strong connection to family history and tradition. That is why the first decision we made was the easiest. We chose to marry on what would have been my late grandparents’ 73rd anniversary. Andrew and I met on the same day that my grandmother left us in 2008, and we have always felt that she had a hand in our meeting. From there, it became clear to us that we wanted our wedding day to be a true celebration of love – not just our love for each other, but the love from our family and friends that has made us who we are.

I also knew that I wanted the design to incorporate family heirlooms and special items. For me, being able to display my mother’s wedding dress and use things like one of my grandmother’s hankies was about more than just having something borrowed and something blue. I wanted to be surrounded by treasured mementos that held special memories, as a way of connecting to those I love – both past and present.

October is such a beautiful month in Santa Barbara that we knew we wanted an outdoor ceremony in the soft, late afternoon light. My desire to capture this softness is what led me to the lovely ladies of I Heart My Groom. Aside from taking beautiful photographs, they came to the rescue with a needle and thread when my dress ripped shortly before I walked down the aisle! My mother’s heirloom moss rose china was the inspiration for our color palette, but we leaned more toward peach and blush in an effort to keep the colors light given the warm weather. As far as flowers go, loose and lush was the name of the game. I envisioned a combination of garden roses, ranunculus, olive branches, fluffy pale blush astilbe, and overflowing vines. I have a particular affection for gold glitter, so we decided on a few gold details to satisfy my cravings while remaining soft and understated. We were lucky enough to find Tamara Kesser of TOAST Santa Barbara, who understood my “fairy princess in a candlelit secret garden” vision immediately, and brought it to life with a flick of her magic wand.

Aside from the moment when Andrew and I became husband and wife, I have to say that having all of our loved ones from all walks of life under the same roof was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Neither Andrew nor I have ever been surrounded by so much love, joy, laughter, and awesome dance moves. Andrew likes to joke that I live in fairyland because of my rosy outlook… But on October 11th, we both spent the entire day in fairyland and loved every moment of it.

Nicole was born in San Diego, spent her youth in rural Northern California, and grew up in Santa Barbara. Andrew was born and raised in Watsonville, a small town in California near Santa Cruz. Nicole works in local government, and Andrew works for a non-profit organization that serves individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Andrew and Nicole wanted their 90 guests to experience Santa Barbara in all of its splendor, which is why they chose the beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival-styled Rockwood Woman’s Club. Just down the road from the historic Santa Barbara Mission and Rose Garden, Rockwood is set amongst a forest of mature oak trees that made for a truly gorgeous backdrop to their late summer ceremony.

The wow factor was Nicole’s sparkling tulle Lazaro ball gown and cathedral length veil. Andrew wore a light gray suit with a pale peach tie that was perfectly matched to the garden roses in Nicole’s bouquet. A family friend officiated, and read a touching love story that she had written based on her meetings with Andrew and Nicole. As one can imagine, there was nary a dry eye. Before the bride and groom recited traditional vows and exchanged custom wedding bands designed by Bryant & Sons Jewelers, the bride’s cousins sang a touching acoustic rendition of Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come” which brought everyone to tears.

As for those personal touches… Programs designed by Nicole were laid out for guests on a marble-topped table that had been in her family for generations. Along with her heirloom engagement ring circa 1890 that was carried down the aisle in its original box, Nicole wore a bracelet and crystal hair pins that two of her bridesmaids had worn on their own wedding days. She carried a vintage embroidered handkerchief that had been part of her grandmother’s collection, and had a piece of fabric from one of her grandfather’s ties stitched underneath her dress. Her garter was handmade with lace left over from her mother’s wedding dress, and an extra bit of unused lace was made into a handkerchief for her father to carry. Pinned to the ivory satin ribbon around her bouquet were her grandfather’s Naval Academy cufflinks from 1935, and a pin painted with blue Forget-Me-Nots that had been hand-painted for her grandmother. During the reception, Nicole’s personal items were carried in the ivory beaded clutch that her mother had taken to her high school prom.

As the golden hour struck, guests mingled on the terrace and sipped on spiked lavender lemonade while listening to crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. As they made their way inside, they were greeted by the rest of the handkerchiefs from Nicole’s grandmother’s collection, which was strung over the indoor fireplace. The vintage lace dress that Nicole’s mother had worn on her wedding day adorned a corner window, and wedding photos from both Andrew and Nicole’s families were displayed on the grand piano.

Following the bride and groom’s first dance, Nicole invited her father out onto the dance floor for a spin. The song, “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones, was a special surprise for her father. When she and her family were living in Northern California, her father used to sing it to her – only he replaced “wild horses” with “wild mustard” in a nod to the bright yellow plant that grew with abandon near their home. Dinner was a delicious Italian feast courtesy of Pure Joy Catering, capped off by a festive dessert station offering mini pots of torched-to-order crème brûlée in a variety of mouthwatering flavors. The second surprise came after dinner in the form of a Love Story video, which Andrew and Nicole had filmed for their guests in the month leading up to their wedding day.

After letting loose on the dance floor all night – no easy feat in a ball gown – Andrew and Nicole were driven to El Encanto for their wedding night. Nicole and her bridesmaids had stayed there the night before. Before they went to sleep on Friday night, they tossed coins into the wishing well and made wishes. Nicole’s coin made it into the bucket, and upon further investigation she discovered that the bucket was empty save for her coin. Andrew and Nicole returned to the wishing well the night of their wedding, and tossed two more coins in. There are now three coins in the bucket – Nicole’s from Friday night, and the newlyweds’ from their wedding night. With that kind of luck, they are already off to a wonderful start.

The reason why it was so important to me to carry treasures that had belonged to my grandparents was because even though I knew they were with us, I still wanted those tangible connections – to touch things they had touched.

My something old…
– Grandfather’s Naval Academy cufflinks from 1935 (on bouquet)
– Grandfather’s tie cut into heart and stitched underneath dress
– My wedding band, carried down the aisle in the original ring box that my engagement ring came in (in 1890)
– Ivory beaded clutch that my mom took to her high school prom in 1965
– Grandmother’s ivory embroidered handkerchief (I chose it out of her collection, which now belongs to my mom. I picked my second favorite to give to my Maid of Honor on the morning of the wedding.)

My something new…
– Wedding dress
– Shoes
– Veil

My something borrowed…
– Jeweled hair pins from Jacquelyne’s wedding day (Maid of Honor)
– Bracelet from Victoria’s wedding day (bridesmaid)

My something blue…
– Grandmother’s pin, hand painted with blue forget-me-nots by my mom’s artist friend for my grandmother (on bouquet)

My garter was both old, borrowed, and new! Jacquelyne and my mom conspired to surprise me on this one… Mom found a leftover piece of lace she had used to make a sash for her vintage wedding dress in 1984. Jacquelyne used a piece of lace from her mother’s wedding dress, and took it to a local seamstress (Mercedes Trump, Beautiful Weddings) to have the lace combined into a garter. Mercedes added a bit of peach ribbon to match our color palette. There was a little bit of lace left over, which was made into a handkerchief for my dad to carry.

Andrew and Nicole traveled to Maui for their honeymoon in October.

Photography: I Heart My Groom | Videography: Cloudless Weddings | Event Design: TOAST Santa Barbara | Floral Design: TOAST Santa Barbara | Wedding Dress: Lazaro | Invitations: Designed By Bride, Printed By Smart Press | Shoes: Benjamin Adams | Wedding Bands: Bryant & Sons | Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN | Catering: Pure Joy Catering | Hair And Makeup: TEAM Hair And Makeup | Bride Getting Ready Outfit: Love Ophelia Romper | Bride Getting Ready Outfit: In Bloom By Jonquil Robe | Bridesmaid Getting Ready Outfits: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bride’s Accessories: Heirloom And Borrowed | Cake/Crème Brulee Station: Pure Joy Catering | Flower Girl Dress: Fattie Pie | Getting Ready Location: Belmond El Encanto | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Groom’s Suit: Express | Music: DJ Dave | Wedding Venue: Santa Barbara Women’s Club

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Elegant Fall San Francisco Wedding

Wedding planning can be a joyful, exciting, creative adventure, but we’d all be liars if we didn’t admit it also comes with its fair share of stressful moments and worries. So this Bride right here is my new hero, taking those anxieties and seeing the silver lining in every one, focusing on what really matters: her, her new husband, their family and friends. Ken Kienow and Swoon Films captured it all, and we all could learn a lesson in love by taking a look through this gallery and reading her fantastic story below.

Colors
Seasons
Fall
Settings
Garden Venue
Styles
Elegant
From The Bride… Dan and I love San Francisco. It’s where we met, where we dated, and where we call home. The easiest decision was that our wedding belonged in the city that we love. After getting engaged on a surprise trip to New Orleans, and instantly falling in love with the city’s music and culture, our second easiest decision was to bring some New Orleans flare to our San Francisco event. We knew we wanted the wedding to feel timeless and elegant, but still down to earth and incredibly fun. We also wanted our friends and family to feel loved and appreciated. Other than that, we had no idea what we wanted. Wedding planning is an interesting journey for those of us clueless about wedding planning and by “interesting” I mean “sometimes fun, sometimes rough, and mostly just confusing.”

For a down to earth feel, we held our ceremony in a secluded garden hidden within Golden Gate Park and asked my uncle to officiate. It sounds trite, but the garden just felt right from the beginning; it felt like the place we were supposed to get married. The garden was stunning on its own and required no flowers or additions. After walking through an old iron gate, guests were met with a flower-lined brick aisle that centered on an old sundial. The aisle was covered in a gorgeous canopy of trees. Walking down that aisle with my father was purely magical, and our processional song, “What a Wonderful World,” perfectly described the gratitude I felt in that moment.

The magic continued when upon celebration of the first kiss, we surprised our family and friends with an 8-piece New Orleans style brass band and the tradition of a second line. In New Orleans, newlyweds parade with guests and a brass band through the streets, waiving handkerchiefs to celebrate the new union. Strangers in the area will often join in the fun, and it leads to an instant dance party full of joy. We paraded through Golden Gate Park and ended on a huge stage where we all danced, laughed, hugged, and celebrated.

For the reception, we wanted “old-timey-San-Francisco.” We chose an old social club in Nob Hill with sweeping views of downtown San Francisco. We created an elegant and classic feel with voluptuous white and cream flowers, endless candles, and the music of Billie Holiday. Our gold cursive table signs were the names of our favorite comedians. This connected well to the speeches, which were entertaining enough to be in a comedy club while at the same time intensely heartfelt and touching. The speeches were our favorite part of the day, and I think many of our guests would say it was theirs as well. There is so much time and energy put into planning a wedding and making sure your guests have a wonderful time. You easily forget that those closest to you have prepared something special just for you. We were in awe of the beautiful words our family and friends created for us. It was an incredible gift.

After the classic atmosphere of dinner, we surprised guests with a completely different feel. Guests headed to the top floor of the club where they found fun jewel-toned uplighting, a photo booth full of silly props, dancing, a pool table, wedding cake, liquid nitrogen ice cream, and of course, more drinks.

There were far too many special moments to mention them all, but I’ll share of few of our favorites. My mom gave a hilarious start to the day by entering my suite in the morning cheerfully yelling “my daughter is getting married today!” Once I was finally ready in my dress, I had no way to see myself because there was no full length mirror. There was, however, an incredibly large square mirror hanging up on the wall above the bed for décor. Like champs, my bridesmaids climbed on the bed, pried the huge mirror off the wall, and carried it over so I could see myself. All in their dresses and heels. In addition to the first look with Dan, I also had a first look with my father. This was so special for me and my dad, and I’d recommend it for any bride. Dan and I wrote our own vows (and our own ceremony!) and I was worried I’d be too nervous to speak. I was so wrong. I will never forget the overwhelming happiness and calm I felt in the moment I married Dan. Finally, our first dance was a blast. After all the tender and emotional moments throughout the day, it was a thrill to dance to such an upbeat and energizing song and get the party started for a night we will never forget.

The wedding day was incredible. But as wonderful as it was, there were plenty of non-perfect and stressful moments leading up to it. I think that’s important to share because I often felt like the only bride in the world who hated wedding planning. For example, I had no wedding dress one month before the big day. The designer I hired to create a custom gown proved incredibly difficult, and I made the tough decision to walk away and somehow scramble up a wedding dress with only four weeks to go. Another example: a week before the wedding, every online weather report predicted rain. This meant we couldn’t use our adored outdoor ceremony location and even worse, we’d have to cancel our New Orleans second line parade. We were heartbroken.

At the time, these road bumps felt like the end of the world, but they also created beautiful moments. Jin Wang, a designer who owns a gorgeous wedding dress shop in San Francisco, showed me the kindness of strangers by bringing me in immediately and helping me find and alter not just one, but two beautiful wedding dresses in four short weeks. Her empathy touched my heart and I will forever be grateful to her. After hearing the weather report, my parents purchased 80 clear umbrellas, and made tent rental plans in case the reports proved correct. I was so lucky to feel that overwhelming love and support from them.

It turned out we wouldn’t use any of Plan B – we were blessed with a perfect 70 degree day, and it felt like I was always supposed to wear those wedding dresses that I got in such a rush. In the end, I was able to see the silver lining, and I promise all you future brides will too. And really, in the end, things like wedding dresses and weather reports just don’t matter. Can’t we all agree on that? I cry tears of joy every time I look at our wedding pictures or watch our wedding video and it’s not because I had the dress of my dreams or had the perfect weather. I cry tears of joy because I adore the way my husband was looking at me. Because I am overwhelmed by the love I see on my family’s faces, and because hearing their speeches fill me with intense gratitude. I cry tears of joy because it’s my uncle’s voice I hear as we are being married. Because my niece adorably hugged the stuffed animal we gave her, and because my sweet nephew courageously held his little sister’s hand and led her down the aisle. I cry tears of joy because we have footage of our 17 pound cat in a hilarious tuxedo collar that kind of makes him look like he works at Chippendales. If you’re like me, and wedding planning isn’t the thrill all the magazines promised you, I know you can’t see all that yet and that’s OK. I know things like wedding dresses and weather reports are really important right now. But I promise you, you have so many priceless moments coming your way. Prepare yourself for overwhelming joy and if you need 80 clear umbrellas, shoot me an email.

Photography: Ken Kienow Wedding Photography | Videography: Swoon Films | Coordinator: Dreams On A Dime | Ceremony: Shakespeare Garden In Golden Gate Park | Reception: University Club SF | Bridesmaid Dresses: Alvina Valenta | Hair And Makeup: Maria Chang | Lighting: JL Imagination | DJ: DJ Jeremy | Men's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Bride's Dress: Romona Keveza | Bride's Dress: Jin Wang | Bride's Dress: Angel Sanchez | Cat's Tuxedo: Etsy | Florals: The Flower House | Music: Bay Area Strings | Second Line Band: St. Gabriel's Celestial Brass Band

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