San Francisco Backyard Garden Wedding
January 17, 2014
Classic WeddingsGarden WeddingsSummer Weddings
Backyard weddings always leave me weak in the knees. It might have something to do with my obsession with Father of the Bride, but every one I see inevitably tugs at my heart strings. And when it's as beautiful as this one from Take A Look Photo? Well that's when I devote my entire day to gallery gazing without the tiniest feeling of guilt. See why here.
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From the Bride...In planning our wedding, we always knew we wanted to have it in my parents’ back yard. My parents were married in my grandparents’ back yard and I just always thought that would be so meaningful and beautiful. We loved the idea of feeling really at home during our wedding and having everyone else feel that comfort as well. We decided to hold the ceremony at Allied Arts Guild and the reception at my parents’ house. Allied Arts has always been a special place to me, as I spent many weekends in my childhood walking around the grounds. More recently, when Alex came to visit my family I brought him there and he fell in love as well. The mission-style architecture is so beautiful and uniquely California. We loved the idea of supporting this wonderful artist community on our wedding day. It was very important to us throughout the planning process that our wedding really felt like us, romantic, intimate, joyful, and not too serious. That idea certainly helped in crafting the ceremony. We decided against a wedding party and instead had our siblings hold up the chuppa during the ceremony. That gave us a way to have some very important people in our life stand up with us in a slightly non-traditional way. My grandmother unfortunately couldn’t make it to the wedding all the way from Israel, but she surprised us by sending a chuppa that she had hand painted with beautiful brightly colored flowers, which was the perfect reminder of her on our wedding day. Alex and I have been together for eight and a half years and wanted that to be reflected in our ceremony. Our officiant, a dear friend of ours, wrote our ceremony including many details of our relationship and how it has grown and we wrote our own vows.

We were concerned about the August sun, so we made fan programs, and provided parasols and personalized water bottles to keep everyone cool and hydrated. These were great additions both for their practical and aesthetic contribution to the ceremony. The florist tied small soft arrangements to the chairs lining the aisle for a simple and romantic feel. We told the flower girls they could wear whatever they wanted because we just wanted them to feel comfortable and gave them adorable floral headbands to bring it together.

When the ceremony was over, everyone gathered for a parade from Allied Arts to the reception. We had imagined what a great experience it would be to make our own parade with all of our most beloved family and friends through the unsuspecting streets of Menlo Park. My brother, our MC, ran up and down the parade with a boombox playing a mix CD of some of our favorite songs. Everyone was carrying parasols from the wedding for protection from the August sun and to add to the festive feel. It was such a fun way to get everyone to the reception and really start off the party.

We really wanted the reception to feel homey and intimate and that played a big role in the décor that we chose. We chose long wooden farm tables with striped runners to give the dinner that communal feel. We wanted the lights to feel warm, welcoming, and festive. I found a picture online of a backyard wedding that mixed café lights with paper lanterns and sent it to my brother who executed it perfectly. The lights around the pool were initially for practical purposes as we were really worried someone might fall in, but they ended up adding a beautiful ethereal glow to the party. The flowers were very important to me. I really wanted something soft and summery that added to the feeling of home. We chose a very soft color palette of light pinks, creams, and light greens and our florist came up with beautiful arrangements, each one absolutely unique. She made three clusters of three vases each at different heights along each of the farm tables, which resulted in imperfect perfection. Overall, the yard had a whimsical, romantic, and fun feel to it.

Alex and I both love music and dancing and felt very adamant about what we did and didn’t want played at the wedding. We realized we would have the most control if we made a playlist ahead of time and used an iPod on the day of the wedding. We worked for months adding and deleting songs from the list with the help of my brother who would be the MC. We came up with what we thought was the perfect mix including some of our favorites, like Talking Heads, The Zombies, Lou Reed and Robyn. My brother then transformed in the most entertaining MC I’ve ever seen at a wedding and the dance floor was packed all night. One of my favorite memories of the night was dancing alongside my childhood babysitter, friends from college and aunts and uncles. We loved how both the dancing and the parade allowed all these people from different parts of our life to come together to celebrate.

Before finding my dress, I had a vision of what I wanted to look like on my wedding day. I’ve always loved the Art Deco style and when I discovered Jenny Packham’s dresses, I was instantly in love. I searched around for local salons that carried her dresses and found Nouvelle Vogue. My mother, sister and I went thinking we were just going to get an idea and not to buy anything. I had such a cliché dress shopping experience where I tried on that dress and I never wanted to look at another dress again. It was exactly what I had envisioned myself in. I loved the simplicity of the shape and details of the beading. Interestingly, it was almost the exact same silhouette of my mom’s wedding dress. I generally wear a lot of color, so I really wanted a bright shoe, but something that still fit with the look of the dress. When I saw the teal T-strap Seychelles, I knew they were perfect! They weren’t selling them anymore so I thought it was a lost cause. I looked around for months for something I liked as much and couldn’t find anything. One day, I was on ModCloth’s website looking for something else and they were back. I ordered them immediately and they were perfect. Unbeknownst to me, my mom bought herself red T-strap shoes for the wedding and she had gotten my sister awesome teal booties in Taiwan, so we were all inadvertently perfectly coordinated. It was also really important to me that I looked like myself on my wedding day. I chose warm and natural-looking makeup and a soft, romantic, vintage-inspired updo.

Alex wanted a fitted grey suit that we found together and he said he trusted me with the shirt and tie. I love gingham and thought that it would make him stand out a bit. Then I found the striped tie that matched my shoes perfectly. I really liked the mixing of patterns and luckily he did too.

We knew we wanted to have a buffet because we thought it would fit best with the comfort of the backyard. We wanted something a bit out of the ordinary for wedding food, and decided on what to me, coming from an Israeli family, is the ultimate comfort food: Mediterranean (which also happens to be one of Alex’s favorite types of food). We decided on two of our favorite drinks as signature cocktails: the Moscow mule and the mint julep, both of which were very refreshing on the hot August day.

The guestbook was probably our most last minute decision. We weren’t really sure we cared about it, and then about a week before the wedding, we decided it would be nice to have notes from everyone. We thought if we had a traditional guestbook that we might not look at it very often and preferred something we could easily display at home. Suddenly it hit me: vintage postcards! My mom happened to have several vintage postcards from Israel, so then we got the idea that we should get some from every place that is important to us. We went on ebay and found some from California (where I’m from and where we hope to move in the future), Massachusetts (where Alex is from and where we live now), upstate New York (where we met in college), Israel and Italy (where my family is from), the U.K. (where Alex’s family is from) and Iceland (where we will be honeymooning). We got mailbox and I made some little chalkboard signs to instruct people to write us a note. We were so happy to read the beautiful messages the next day! Everybody spent a long time choosing just the right postcard to represent how they know us etc. And now we have them all hung up with clothespins in our bedroom so we can see all our friends’ and family’s well wishes daily.