We’re suckers for a San Francisco wedding, and when you add bold black and white stripes to the Legion of Honor, well it doesn’t get much for boldly beautiful than that!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Pinterest was a huge help during the initial stages of planning, as was scouring tons of wedding blogs. It was easier to figure out what we didn’t like in order to narrow the design choices down to what we were really looking for.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Make sure to truly take in and appreciate every moment of the day. We were really lucky that the bumps in the planning process were ironed out before the actual day. We were able to spend the entire day totally stress-free and we enjoyed every second. The day goes by so quickly, that if you’re not paying attention, it'll totally pass you by.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Delegate as much as you can to friends, family and the wedding planner; they are there to help! If you are on a tight budget, get a day-of planner at the very least to help keep things on schedule. Things may have gone wrong on the wedding day, but we were blissfully unaware. Stacy Wichelhaus, our wedding planner from They So Loved Events, was on top of everything and kept the entire day on schedule (to the minute!).
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We spent too much time during the planning process worrying about making other people happy. We felt the need to keep other people in mind when we made decisions, which made it easy to feel guilty about a lot of things, such as not being able to invite everyone we wanted to and not having the same taste in decor as our parents. Once we focused more on our own happiness, it was much easier to plan a day that everyone enjoyed, if not just for the fact that we were so incredibly happy.
Regina carried a romantic bouquet of roses, pale pink ranunculus, and lilac tied together with black and white striped ribbon.
“Since I was born and raised in San Francisco, my parents wanted a part of the wedding to reflect my childhood. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was the ideal location for the ceremony; it was where I attended preschool and it also fulfilled my mother’s wish for a church wedding, while allowing us to have a deeply personal, non-religious ceremony.”
Your ceremony in three words: Personal, elegant, emotional.
Who officiated your ceremony? Our wedding planner recommended Reverend Dalton at Your Ceremony Matters, and we’re so thankful that she did! His presence at our wedding was honestly one of the highlights for both us and our guests. After one Skype session with him, we knew we wanted him to be a part of our special day; his professionalism and level of expertise were big selling points for us, and his Irish accent was an added bonus, since James’ family is from Ireland! He really listened to what we wanted and made sure to incorporate everything into a beautiful and spirited ceremony.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We worked with Reverend Dalton to create a unique and deeply personal ceremony. We started the planning process without a vision; all we knew was that we wanted it to capture the true purpose of a wedding: a celebration of our relationship and love for each other while being surrounded by those who mean the most to us. This meant scrapping the traditional vows, readings, prayers and huge wedding party, and finding a way to incorporate our community. Thankfully, our officiant worked with us to come up with a ceremony that really reflected us as a couple. Since neither of us practice a religion, it was important that we had a ceremony that we felt reflected us as a couple, while respecting our parents' wishes for a more traditional ceremony. We ended up with the perfect balance of spiritual and secular, which made everyone feel welcome and included.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We closed with a traditional Irish blessing.
What was your ceremony music? We hired a string quartet from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to play during our ceremony. We chose “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” for the processional because it’s such a classically beautiful song. I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D” by Pachelbel; it was my one “must haves” for the ceremony. One of the most special moments of the day was the recessional because the string trio learned Foo Fighter’s “Everlong” especially for us, and played it as a surprise to the guests. Walking out of the church to that song was so powerful.
What were your ceremony readings? James’ best friend from childhood, Sean Yeaton, who is a fantastic writer, read a piece that he wrote himself. His reading centered mostly on the concept of love, which included this beautiful quote: “A wedding and a marriage are not mutually exclusive – obviously. You become married once you are wed but your wedding is a candid invitation for your friends and family to catch a meteoric glimpse of your exclusively whimsical romance the way you see and feel it every day.”
What were your vows like? We wanted to find vows that were both personal but not generic or cheesy. We spent a long time looking for poems, readings, and songs that spoke to us, and in the end we both chose to modify a poem that had a deep emotional impact on us. James chose to read “Union” by Robert Fulghum and I read “I Love You” by Roy Croft. Reading the poems in front of everyone was extremely emotional, and we were overcome by tears.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Other than seeing the look (and tears) on James’ face as I walked down the aisle, our favorite part of the ceremony was how included the community was. Our officiant made sure to welcome everyone at the beginning, even naming all of the cities and states that people traveled from, and he acknowledged those who were not with us specifically mentioning our grandparents. It was a nice touch to remember those who could not be there. One of the most special takeaways from the ceremony was knowing that there may never be another time in which all of our loved ones are all in the same room together. I was pleasantly surprised at how significant the ceremony was in comparison to the other events of the day, since it’s so easy to spend more time and effort focusing on the reception details.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? My mother stayed up until 3am the night before putting together small bags of white rose petals to throw after the ceremony. At first we thought it was overkill, but they completely transformed the pictures of us exiting the church. Some of my favorite wedding photos are from when our guests threw the petals, and I’m so thankful for all the work my mom put into making that moment happen.
“We may be biased, but we thought our reception was one classy affair! Our reception was held at the Legion of Honor, which is an art museum specializing in ancient and European art. It was a perfect balance of formal and fun, and hopefully everyone enjoyed getting all dressed up for the event! We wanted it to be timeless with clean, elegant touches.”
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We wanted the wedding to be in San Francisco, and we probably looked at every single possible venue before deciding on the Legion of Honor. Being a city girl, I really wanted the venue to have a classic San Francisco urban vibe to it, while James wanted to incorporate the great outdoors. The Legion of Honor had everything we were looking for, not to mention some incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge (when the fog cooperates). Being able to host the cocktail hour in the Rodin gallery was a big selling point, along with the outdoor patio space for those looking to cool down from all of the dancing.
Tell us about your wedding decor. We were going for a clean, modern look that complemented the grandeur of the Legion of Honor. Our design preferences ended up merging at black and white, with black and white striped ribbon as the accent. I guess you could say it was an unofficial black tie event; I loved seeing our friends and family in gowns and suits!
Did you have a signature cocktail? James makes his own bitters at home, and for the wedding, he made special orange bitters that was served in the Sazerac, a twist on the classic New Orleans cocktail. We wanted a second cocktail that was a little lighter and wouldn’t get people too sloppy before dinner. Our bar manager made a delicious cucumber and mint gimlet that the guests loved.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? The speeches were the most memorable part of the evening; it was so touching to see some of our favorite people speak so highly of us, and of course, crack some jokes at our expense. The speeches were so thoughtful and moving, it was actually one of the only times that I cried that entire day. James’s brother (and best man) completely transformed into a late night talk show host (complete with tossing index cards), giving a hilariously rousing, yet touching speech about brotherly love and me joining the family.
What was your first dance song? Our first dance song was “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies. We had been throwing ideas around for months, but our song came to us when we first heard it on an episode of Mad Men and both had the same “this is it!” moment. A month later, the Zombies held a free concert in San Francisco, and we knew it was fate. My father and I danced to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra; it was a nod to our Italian heritage. James grew up listening to Van Morrison and The Chieftains with his mother on Sunday mornings. Being of Irish descent, a reflection of his mother’s heritage was important, so James and his mother danced a modified version of the Irish polka to “I Tell Me Ma” by Van Morrison and The Chieftains. They had all the guests on their feet, cheering and clapping, as they twirled around the dance floor.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? We gave out bombonieri as our wedding favors, which consist of five Jordan almonds in a tulle bag. The five sugared almonds symbolize health, wealth, happiness, fertility and long life.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Neither of us are big fans of cake, and after a few disappointing tastings with bakeries around SF, Global Gourmet (our catering company) held a cake tasting for us. James fell hard for the dark chocolate Bailey’s cake with chocolate ganache and cream cheese frosting. For the middle layer we got an amaretto cake with toasted almonds and mascarpone. My mother also had 7-layer cookies from Ferrara Bakery in NYC shipped out. The cookies were so much easier to eat while dancing!
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. James proposed to me in a photo booth, so it was very important that there was one at the reception. In fact, the photo booth was the first detail that we booked. It was a total hit, and we had our guests paste the photo strips into a memory book as an alternative guest book.
Photography: Zac Wolf / Wedding Planning and Design: They So Loved Events / Ceremony Venue: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco / Reception Venue: Legion of Honor / Bride’s Dress: Vera Wang / Officiant: Your Ceremony Matters / Catering: Global Gourmet Catering / Rentals: Hartmann Studios / Linens: La Tavola Linens / Floral Design: Mindy Rosenberg / Photo Booth: Perspective Photo Booth / DJ: Dart DJ / Ceremony Music: Music to Go / Transportation: Classic Cable Car / Transportation: NLS Limo / Makeup: Eliza Desch / Hair: Natalie Keklikian / Invitations: Union Street Papery / Paper Goods: Black Lab Studios / Signage: Blunder Construction