A big dinner-and-dancing wedding reception can be a blast, but there are other, equally celebratory ways of tying the knot. At their wedding in June, Laura and Taylor opted to keep things intimate, with just 40 guests in attendance. Inspired by the Parisian Jazz Age, the romantic celebration included a 1920’s inspired dress, a Victorian social saloon, and a gypsy jazz quartet.
Says Laura of their unique venues: “My sister found our venues online: a stark but beautiful Carpenter Gothic church perched on a Tiburon hillside on a wildflower preserve for the ceremony, and a little Victorian reception room from the cargo side-wheel steamer, the S.S. China, for the reception. Both suited our vision for an intimate old-timey wedding.”
After some hilltop portraits, Laura and Taylor hopped in a retro Rolls Royce for the quick ride to the reception room.
Guests enjoyed an oyster bar and two signature cocktails: a Classic Bourbon Old Fashioned, or “The Bees Knees,” a mix of gin, honey, and fresh lemon.
All of the china, vases, and linens came from Laura’s mother’s personal collection. Each guest found a little blue box of chocolates from Cocoa Bella at their seat.
Four cakes from Miette were the Lemon Debutant (sponge cake infused with tart lemon syrup, layered with lemon curd and frosted with lemon buttercream), Raspberry Tomboy (double chocolate cake layered with raspberry buttercream), Old Fashioned (bittersweet chocolate cake with marshmallow boiled icing), and Scharffen Berger (dense chocolate cake covered with bittersweet chocolate ganache).
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? Though we live in Minnesota, neither of us is from there originally. My parents moved to San Francisco a few years ago and we loved the romantic getaways we had taken to visit them, so we decided it would be a lovely place to host our wedding. It also meant that I got to collaborate closely with my mom on the planning, which was such a joy.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? My engagement ring was my great grandmother Viola’s and is from the 1920s, and we took it as our inspirational starting point. With our venues selected, we began to dream-up an evening inspired by the Parisian Jazz Age. Sharing meals over a beautifully set table has always been a tradition in my family that I wanted to emulate for our wedding. My mom has always loved vintage china and linens and had a china store called “A Perfect Setting” while my sister and I were growing up, so we came to appreciate the art of table setting. For the wedding, my mom loaned us linens to outfit the tables and collected all the place settings, celery vases, and serving dishes from shops in the Bay Area and on her travels.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? What could be more tried and true than wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue? Although Taylor and I drew from many wedding traditions, this was one I very deliberately maintained! My something old, a lace handkerchief, was something my mom had picked up for me at an antique lace shop in Paris many years ago with the idea I might someday carry it down the aisle. I bought my wedding dress new, borrowed my mom’s Chanel seed pearl studs, and wore a sapphire band. This tradition has helped bring good luck to brides since the Victorian era, so I figured it would ensure that I was lucky too. We also wanted to use herbs for Taylor and his best man’s boutonnieres, as they have also been used in wedding for centuries to ward off bad spirits and bring good luck. We used rosemary “for remembrance,” and of course it smells so lovely too. It turns out though that you don’t need much to feel lucky on a day when you’re marrying your best friend, surrounded by supportive family and friends!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Be present and stay clam. Perhaps easier said than done, but I did find that taking a long bath the morning of the wedding helped me start the day centered.
What advice do you have for other brides? Perhaps this is counter-intuitive, as I read a lot of bridal advice that focused on making sure you find time to connect with your new hubby during the day, but Taylor and I set out to mingle with our guests throughout the evening. We did some circulating together, but we separated for much of it. I think this resulted in a warm and intimate evening, as everyone felt integral to it. It’s such a rare occasion to have so many of your dearest friends and family gathered in one place, you want to make sure everyone knows how much their presence means to you! We took a honeymoon directly after the wedding, which was such an important time for us to reconnect as a married couple after all the very social festivities. We highly recommend taking some time away together, no matter what the scale or budget of the trip.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? With singer Kally Price crooning Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” to the wonderful instrumentals of the gypsy jazz quartet, Gaucho; lots of delicious little Miette cakes to eat; and our loved ones gathered together in the little China Cabin overlooking the San Francisco skyline, we had one of the most magical evenings our of lives.