With nearly all their guests traveling from out of town, Thais and James wanted to host a wedding that showcased some of what they love most about their new home in Northern California. They chose Old Saint Hilary’s church for their ceremony, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, and then everyone traveled thirty minutes to Viansa in Sonoma for an intimate wine country reception.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We did DIY somethings. Initially we thought we could DIY the whole wedding but we quickly realized that was not just unrealistic, it was impossible. So we stuck to the things we knew how to do and did them well. Jim is a graphic designer by trade and therefore was in charge of our stationery. I was in charge of favors and took it to the kitchen, making “dolce the leche” (my grandma’s famous recipe), as well as our welcome bags.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? A friend of mine told me to take time to take everything in. The whole day goes by in a blur, and you won’t remember the details but you will remember that one moment. At one point mid-way through the reception I did just that – I stepped out and took a brief moment, I looked around and really did take everything in. Everything Jim and I had planned, envisioned, dreamed and at times, even argued about, for so long. That was it. A great moment and a precious memory that I will always remember and treasure.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Use Pinterest with caution! With so much inspiration online it’s easy to get caught up ideas and things you never thought were important in the first place. Online searching is a great tool to start the wedding planning process but it should not become the entire process. Having your own ideas and working with your vendors is a much better way to ensure your vision comes to life and stays within your budget.
Thais’s bridesmaids wore gray dresses, and all the ladies carried bouquets with burgundy peonies, ranunculus, and anemones, echoing the pomegranates used later at the reception.
“We had just moved to Tiburon, California when we started planning our wedding and we immediately fell in love with Old St. Hilary’s Church, a historic mission church from 1888 that sits on the hillside of Tiburon, overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. We knew right away that was the place we wanted to get married.”
Your ceremony in three words. Intimate, memorable, traditional.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Since both our families are Catholic, it was important to us to be able to incorporate a spiritual aspect without having to commit to a traditional nuptial mass. Our officiant, Father Skip Sikora from the White Robed Monks, helped us through every step of the way, from choosing the right readings to including our parents during the ceremony. It was also very important to us to have a reading in Portuguese, my native language to accommodate and honor my family’s Brazilian roots.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We had our mothers do the unity candle tradition.
What was your ceremony music? Our dear friend Penny Oullette played the piano. Processional song: For the Love of the Princess by James Horner / Unity Candle Song: Clair de Lune by Debussy / Recessional Song: Clocks by Coldplay
What were your vows like? We chose traditional vows.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Ah so many! I think the moment where we officially became husband and wife was definitely our favorite.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? Since we opted for a separate venue for our reception, our guests were treated to apple cider and pastries right after the ceremony. It was a small but nice touch and worked out well since we wanted our guests to enjoy the views of the Bay after the ceremony while having a snack (also helped distract them for a bit while we did our family photos).
“We moved from Boston shortly after we got engaged and Northern California was our first home as a couple,” shares Thais. “We never thought we would get married in California but just a few months after living in Tiburon we knew where we wanted to start the new chapter of our lives together. Everything we planned and envisioned for our big day had our families in mind, and the experiences we wanted them to have. Coming from that perspective was what drove us to plan and work hard through out the 10 months of planning. Being able to offer a great day for our families and friends was what made our wedding day so special to us”
“Our families traveled to California for our wedding, and for most of them, it was their first time visiting the West Coast, so we wanted to be able to offer as much of a California experience as we could. On our first trip to Sonoma we stopped at Viansa Winery and immediately fell in love with the grounds and the Tuscan-inspired building surrounded by the vineyards. The fact that Viansa is only 30 minutes away from the ceremony site in Tiburon was also super important to the timeline on the day of the wedding.”
Your ceremony in three words: Elegant, Rustic and Romantic.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Jim and I have very similar tastes when it comes to design and aesthetics. We envisioned our wedding to be an understated, timeless, elegant day that would be memorable for us and our guests. Having Northern California as the background was our inspiration and so everything we designed (alongside the wonderful help of Lauren Wakefield and Amanda Terpstra) from our stationery, favors and welcome bags to our church decor, centerpieces, signage and cake table had an effortless, organic feel in mind.
Thais and James took some time for photos amidst the autumn vineyards before rejoining the celebration.
Please tell us about any special or moments from your reception. Cocktail hour on the terrace during the sunset overlooking the hills of Sonoma and the vineyards was just so magical! After dinner, we all headed to the dance floor on the courtyard, right outside the cellar it was so much fun to dance under the stars and bistro lights! The lounge area was also on the courtyard so guests could enjoy dancing and relaxing by the firepits all in the same place. One of our friends brought a “selife stick” and by the end of the night, he got all the guests together for one last selfie and surprisingly got all of our guests in one big shot, that was definitely a cool moment to end the night!
The newlyweds’ chairs were adorned with wreaths and gold calligraphed signs.
What was your wedding menu? We had cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres and then opted for 3-course sit down dinner and dessert, which worked out really well for our intimate setting.
The hors d’oeuvres included: Gougeres, Mission figs and chevre, Seared Ahi Tuna, Wild mushroom and Brie / First course: County line greens, raspberries and chevre / Second Course: Surf and Turf- Filet of Halibut and Tenderloin or potato parmesan gnochi / Third Course: Selection of Cheeses from Sonoma County.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? For dessert we served cheese plates followed by cake. We served two cakes: Chocolate Candy Bar Cake and European Chantilly Cake.
Did you have a signature cocktail? Our signature drinks were: Pomegranate Martini and Classic Martini.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? Well before the wedding, we started collecting family heirlooms and used them throughout the day. I wore a gold pendant from my mom. Jim wore his grandfather’s cuff links. We also took items from Jim’s mother’s and grandmother’s original wedding registries and used them at the reception, like the cake cutter, brass and old silver trays, and vases all added to our design and most importantly had true special meaning for us and our families.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? Our first dance song: Sleepwalk by Santo & Johnny / Father-Daughter Song: Corcovado (Quiet Nights) by Astrud Gilberto / Mother-Son Song: Young at Heart by Jimmy Durante.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Number one was our first dance. We were both so terrified of messing it up and when it came time for our first dance, it was as if nothing else mattered in the world, except for that very same moment. It was definitely a moment I did not expect to love so much but we certainly did! Our dinner was served in the winery’s vintage wine cellar. I think having our family and closest friends all gather in such a unique room enjoying a great meal was also one of my favorite moments.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I am known to have a case of bad sweet tooth, I think the only thing I would have done differently is have more sweets! You can never have too much dessert!