Friends, you have been so generous to let me take all this time to share our wedding with you – thank you! It was so fun for me to revisit such a special day, and I hope that any of you in the midst of wedding planning will be able to take something from me blogging about my experience. I wanted to take one last post to share some of the things that aren’t necessarily obvious or visible in photos, but that are as much part of a wedding as all the things you do see.

It’s easy for blogs and magazines to show you the design and the details, but not so easy to convey how things tasted, or how the music sounded, or if everything went smoothly. I hope by sharing our menu I’ve given you a little idea of how delicious all of the food at our wedding was, and by seeing photos of everyone dancing you can see how awesome the band was. But that’s only part of the day – so many other things contributed to what it was…

…starting with our planners, Laurie Arons and Jenna Lam, who not only helped with our wedding design and details, but who also handled vendor communication and coordination, made sure everyone was where they needed to be and that everything happened on time, and troubleshot anything that went wrong (Jenna did such an amazing job the day-of, that Ryan and I were totally unaware of any issues that might have come up with vendors or timing, etc.). I know that a wedding planner doesn’t fit into every wedding budget, but for us, having them be part of our day ensured that everything went smoothly and allowed Ryan and me to be guests at our own wedding.

In a city with limited parking, and with so many out-of-town guests, the shuttles and valets were two of the keys to making our guests comfortable – and they’re really some of the unsung heroes of a wedding. Bauer’s shuttles brought guests from their hotels, to the church, to the reception, then made trips back to the hotels all evening. And for guests who drove to the ceremony, Soiree Valet saved them the trouble of finding parking or having to walk in the rain. (Soiree’s owner even drove a guest’s car to the reception when the guest decided to hop on the shuttle!) I think when your guests feel taken care of, they’re bound to have a good time.

One thing you hear all the time in the wedding world is the word perfect – I know I use it here on Snippet & Ink, and it’s all over wedding blogs and magazines. And when you’re looking at pretty pictures, and reading about the parts of a wedding that someone decides are worth sharing, it’s easy to think that perfect is a reasonable expectation for your wedding day. To me, our wedding day was as close to perfect as you can get, thanks to our incredible vendors, planners, friends and family, and the decision that Ryan and I made to be fully present at our wedding. But the truth is, when you think of perfection as everything looking and happening exactly as you have it in your mind, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Because even if things are as perfect as can be, even if you’re the most organized bride and have the most incredible vendors, things never happen just the way you imagine: flights get cancelled, it pours rain, cakes get stuck in traffic, babies cry during the ceremony, cousins give embarrassing toasts. Or maybe you just feel all around different than you thought you would feel.

And the only thing you can do about any of this, is to let go. Go into your wedding day as free of expectations as possible, and let yourself experience each moment for what it is. My older sister called me about a month or so after we had set a wedding date, and told me that she was pregnant with her third baby, and that he was due on our wedding day. In a perfect world, I’d get a healthy nephew and have my sister in attendance, but unfortunately that was an impossibility. I knew that she was going to miss my wedding day, and it broke my heart. But in some ways, it was a gift – it forced me to let go of the Perfection Myth. When your would-be Matron of Honor can’t come to your wedding, the color of your ushers’ ties seems totally irrelevant. So does having a runny nose at your own ceremony (I had to grab Ryan’s pocket square in the middle of the blessing and blow my nose – not solemn or romantic!), or getting cake on your dress.

The flip side of this, of doing away with expectations, is that you open yourself up to feelings and moments that you never could have imagined. Things like: the feeling of total love and support as I stepped into the church with my parents on either side of me; making eye contact with my groom through the window as he smoked a cigar outside; our friends surrounding us in a giant hug circle while singing “Stand By Me” a capella after the band packed up; jumping out of our getaway taxi at a stop light to hug my cousin who was in the car right behind us; the utter joy that I felt all day long. MARRYING MY BEST FRIEND.

And the most awesome part of all? The end of our wedding was just the beginning of our life together – how wonderful is that?!


Photos by Magnolia Photo Booth Co.


Bauer’s Transportation, Laurie Arons Special Events, Magnolia Photo Booth, and Soiree Valet are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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Last day of wedding recaps, I promise!

Before our wedding, someone told me that Ryan and I would probably want to leave the reception early, but we ended up staying until nearly 1:30 in the morning! We were having so much fun dancing and visiting with our guests, we didn’t even realize what time it was until we took off in our getaway checker cab…

Laurie Arons came up with the idea to tent the outside deck (and to drape it with charcoal gray fabric), to give us more room for the reception. Kathleen Deery created the loveliest lounge area for anyone who wanted a break from dancing, or who just wanted a place to sit while they chatted and munched on desserts.

Instead of take-home favors, we had Christmas crackers that our junior bridesmaid passed out after dinner. My mom made all of them, and filled them with paper crowns and little toys – people actually wore the crowns and played with the toys!

Crystal Monee Hall and Jazz Mafia kept us dancing for hours! I knew Crystal had an incredible voice, but when she sang Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “You’re All I Need to Get By” for our first dance, Ryan and I were both totally blown away. Our junior bridesmaid was a total rockstar – she stayed up until midnight dancing with us!

The guys smoked cigars on the front porch of the Presidio Social Club later in the evening – I loved seeing people from different parts of our lives spending time together!

Another detail that I always loved and wanted for our wedding was a vintage photo booth, and I’m so glad we rented one! We went with Magnolia Photo Booth, because they had all the charm of vintage, plus modern features (like the ability to completely take the booth apart and then re-build it on site, or the option for printing doubles). This was quite possibly the biggest hit of our wedding – there was a line to take photos all evening! Jill Sassa made a sweet guest book album for us (complete with photo corners), where guests could leave a photo along with a note.

When Ryan and I finally pulled ourselves away from the party, we hopped into the checker cab (who kindly waited for us an extra hour) and discovered one last surprise waiting for us, from planner Jenna Lam: a French wire basket filled with a split of champagne and two champagne coupes, a slice of wedding cake and treats from the dessert buffet, a bottle of Spotted Cow beer from Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin (which you can’t find in California), and our guest book photo album. I can think of no better way to end such a wonderful day than by sharing a glass of champagne and a piece of cake with my new husband, looking at all the fun photos and notes left by our friends and family.

Photos by Elizabeth Messina.

Kathleen Deery Design, Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina), Laurie Arons Special Events, Magnolia Photo Booth and PS Paper are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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Some of the best wedding advice I received was from Vané of Brooklyn Bride, who said:

Hire vendors that you trust, and then leave the day to them. My vendors knew the look I was going for, and I wasn’t about to spend time looking over their shoulders. You’re hiring professionals, and they’ve done a lot more of these weddings than you have, so just let yourself enjoy the day and know that they will do the best job they can for you.

Because I trusted each of my vendors, I was able to let go of the planning, and to approach my wedding day as stress-free as possible. Also, because I didn’t know exactly how every last detail would turn out, I got to be totally surprised when we walked into our reception – what a gift!

In meeting with our planners, Laurie Arons and Jenna Lam, and with designer Kathleen Deery, the only thing that I specifically asked for were cyclamen centerpieces (they feel so much like Christmas to me, without screaming Christmas like poinsettias might). Aside from that, I left Kathleen and Laurie to their own devices – I felt confident that Kathleen and Laurie understood my aesthetic and the general feeling we wanted for our wedding, and when I saw a table mock-up with some of the ideas they were considering, I knew that the end result would be beautiful. And it was!

Kathleen arranged ruffly-edged cyclamen and miniature pine cones in a variety of white vases made by a local ceramicist. Each place was set with a pom-pom trimmed dinner napkin and a pine cone rosette, and small votive candles cast a warm glow on the tables. Menus doubled as place cards: Jill from PS Paper designed and printed the menus to fit the rest of our stationery, and she hand-glittered each wreath! Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls did all of the reception calligraphy, including each guest’s name at the top of his menu.

I was so happy to see that most of our guests wore their escort card buttons – it was one of those little details that I think really set the tone for a fun reception. Each button was hand calligraphed by Maybelle in white ink on red paper, then Jill punched each button by hand, attached them to the correct table number card, and displayed them on vintage postcard stands.

When guests arrived, they were greeted with Poinsettias (our signature cocktails) and passed hors d’oeuvres: Seared Beef Crostini with Horseradish Cream, Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Spicy Slaw, Tuna Poke with Cucumber, Fall Vegetable Antipasti with Truffle Cheese, and French Fry Cones. Jenna made sure that there was a little sampler plate made for Ryan and me so that we could taste everything.

Total side note: By letting the colors at Presidio Social Club determine our wedding colors (white, charcoal gray, red), everything coordinated without too much extra effort. Even the wait staff wore red ties and charcoal gray aprons, which was just part of their regular uniforms.

We didn’t have a receiving line (do people still do receiving lines? I’d love to hear from someone who did), so Ryan and I walked around to each table during dinner to say hi to all of our guests. But somehow we still had a chance to sit down and eat our meals, which were delicious: Gruyere Cheese Toast with Tomato Fondue, Little Gem Caesar Salad, and a choice of Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs or Roasted Chicken or Ricotta Gnocchi (with fall squash, grilled lemon, sage and toasted hazelnuts). I have to say, the Presidio Social Club did a wonderful job not only of serving really good food, but their service was also spot on.

The week of our wedding, I felt like I was starting to come down with a cold (are you kidding me?!). So two nights before the rehearsal dinner, Ryan (my hero) put me to bed early while he and my mom stayed up late to do the seating chart. I don’t know if it’s because we have such awesome friends and family, or if Ryan and my mom are incredible seaters (most likely a combination of both), but everyone had a good time at their tables.

My mom gave a lovely welcome toast at the beginning of the meal, and Ryan’s siblings gave a very sweet and funny toast at the end. Then it was on to dessert…

Menus specifically told guests to “Save Room for Dessert!” To begin with, there were hot, chocolate-filled beignets passed around after dinner (if you ever have dinner at PSC, definitely ask them to make some of these for you). Then there was the Noci Gelato bike with Salted Caramel, Macadamia Nut and Stracciatella gelati, as well as Tangerine sorbet. (I love this pic of my dad with the ice cream and paper crown.)

Then there was the dessert table from Perfect Endings, which was another wonderful surprise. Instead of specifying exactly what desserts we wanted on the table, we shared our ideas and favorite flavors with Laurie and Jenna, and Perfect Endings used those to come up with this delicious dessert menu: Coffee Crunch Trifle, miniature Coconut Cupcakes, Sam’s Passionate Kisses (passionfruit curd on a tiny macaroon), White Chocolate Choux Puffs, Eggnog and Donuts with Rum, Gingerbread Cookies, Peppermint Bark, and Lemon Leaves (shortbread with white chocolate and lemon curd).

Jill created the darling dessert display, from the cake stands to the polka dotted paper. With Maybelle’s calligraphy, Jill made signs for each treat, as well as the chalkboard menu (with the frame from my bedroom mirror!). She even trimmed the tablecloth with pom-poms to match the dinner napkins!

Our wedding cake was another wonderful surprise. Perfect Endings made the most beautiful cake, decorated with simple white buttercream and cyclamen flowers – I didn’t realize until later that they were made of sugar! (This cake from Perfect Endings has always been one of my favorites, so it was incredibly special to have them make our wedding cake, complete with sugar flowers.) There were two tiers of lemon sponge cake with lemon curd and two tiers of Mahogany cake (chocolate layer cake with chocolate hazelnut truffle cream). If I ever need another special occasion cake at anytime in my life, it will be Perfect Endings’ Mahogany cake… I dream about that cake…

Photos by Elizabeth Messina.

Kathleen Deery Design, Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina), Laurie Arons Special Events, Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, Noci Gelato, Perfect Endings and PS Paper are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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We chose the Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco because of its history, its location, and how incredibly warm and intimate it felt even when it was totally empty. We could only imagine how it would feel with a fire in the fireplace and our friends and family in the seats. The church was also flexible about us bringing in our own officiant, and would have provided a piano or organ player if we didn’t have other music arranged. It was also nice that the church required very little in the way of decoration. I also can’t say enough good things about working with Valentyna Hohl, the office and event manager there – she was friendly and helpful, and she worked closely with Laurie Arons (one of our wedding planners) to coordinate details for the day. (The church also has a website just for weddings, right here, and if you’re having a wedding on the smaller side, consider the parish house behind the church for your reception – it’s lovely!)

When I came into Laurie’s office with a take-out menu as inspiration for our wedding program (what can I say, inspiration is everywhere!), she showed me examples of her favorite wedding programs, and they were all perfectly pocket-sized! Ryan and I provided the content with some help from Jenna and Laurie on the wording, and Jill Sassa (PS Paper) created simply lovely little booklets that fit perfectly with the rest of our stationery suite. Ryan likes when he can read along at weddings, so we included the full readings in our programs.

Though the church didn’t need much decoration, Kathleen Deery added just the right touches: candles in hanging hurricane lamps along the brick walkway, a garland of boxwood and white roses on the railing, and a dramatic arrangement of peonies, pine branches and passion vine at the altar.

When Ryan and I walked out of the church, a boys choir was waiting for us singing Christmas carols – it was such a delightful surprise from Jenna, and after all the guests had headed off to the reception, Ryan and I took some photos together with the boys. They were all so darling! Actually, music was one of the ways we incorporated Christmas into our wedding – our string trio, Lawrence Strings, played Christmas favorites as our guests were coming into the church, as well as an up-tempo version of The Holly and the Ivy for our recessional. And then the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers gave everyone a wonderfully seasonal send-off!

Ryan and I departed the church in a fun vintage checker cab that Jenna had tracked down after seeing it driving around town (Marin Checker Taxi, 415-789-5356), and that Jill rigged up with a darling “Just Married” sign. The cab driver told us about all the movies the taxi had been in, which made it even more fun! (Don’t ask me which movies because I totally can’t remember; I just remember thinking how neat it was.)

Photos by Elizabeth Messina.

Kathleen Deery Design, Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina), Laurie Arons Special Events, Lawrence Strings and PS Paper are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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With wedding blogs and magazines, it’s so easy to forget that there is more to a wedding than a beautiful party with beautiful details. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those things (which probably goes without saying since I’m a wedding blogger). But with so much visual overload, sometimes the whole point of the wedding (you know, the marriage part?) gets put on the back burner until the last minute.

Because I spend so much time looking at all the pretty things, and because I spent the first half of our engagement worrying what people would think of our aesthetic choices, I was very conscious of not wanting to phone it in when it came to the most important part of the wedding. Thankfully, I had Ryan to remind me of this whenever I started to get crazy with welcome bags or bridal shoes.

After reading Meg’s post about creating a marriage mission statement, Ryan and I decided to create one for ourselves. We were already spending a lot of time discussing what we wanted for our marriage, but this really helped us to put our intentions into words, and to share those thoughts with our officiant. It’s also something that Ryan and I can return to down the road if we ever lose sight of where we started, which is a wonderful thing to have.

Though we wanted a mostly traditional ceremony, we also wanted to make it our own with readings, prayers and vows that would be meaningful both for us and for the community of friends and family who were there to witness, celebrate and support our marriage. It was surprisingly difficult to find ceremony templates! We did lots of online searching and ordered several books. Using them to figure out what we wanted and what we didn’t want, we were able to pull together a ceremony that was both traditional and customized. In addition to good old fashioned Google searching, some of the resources we found helpful were…

IndieBride’s giant repository of wedding readings.
Posts like this on A Practical Wedding.
Asking married friends to see their orders of ceremony.
The Wedding Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding by Judith Johnson
This wedding booklet from The First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa.
And for classical music selections, A Bride’s Guide to Wedding Music on iTunes.

While most of these resources are mostly helpful for people looking for a template based around traditional Christian wedding services, or at least that general format, the posts on A Practical Wedding and IndieBride will hopefully be useful for anyone looking to write their own ceremony.

We knew very early on that we wanted our dear friend, Elizabeth, to officiate our wedding, so we were thrilled when she said that she would. Her message was one of the most amazing wedding gifts anyone could ever hope to receive – she incorporated all of our readings, tying them all together, and because she knows us so well and has seen our relationship from the beginning, she was able to give such a touching and personal (and joyful!) address.

I absolutely love this shot of Ryan holding his mom’s hand just before we walk back down the aisle – it’s one of those moments from the day that stands out in Ryan’s mind, and it also reminds me that even though we were totally in it together, we each had our own experience of the day (I’m wondering if he’ll agree to share a little about his own experience of our wedding… I’ll keep you posted). I also love that you can see my mom on the other side of the aisle and all of our attendants behind us.

I wanted to share our full wedding ceremony with you, just because a) I loved every minute of it and b) I know I would have liked to see more real ceremonies all written out when we were planning ours. But, in the interest of space, I’ve given it its own post, right here.

Photos by Elizabeth Messina (Elizabeth’s blog, Kiss the Groom, is a sponsor of Snippet & Ink).

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