Mod-Inspired City Wedding in San Francisco :: Holden & Ryan

After nearly nine years of blogging, we have some real gems in our archives, and it seemed a shame to think they might be buried by newer posts! So we’re dusting off our favorites and bringing them to you every Saturday – don’t miss it!

Photos by Christina McNeill.

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You might remember Holden and Ryan from this fun engagement session last summer. Well they’re back with their wonderfully stylish wedding! From the bride’s mod-inspired Valentino dress to the intimate San Francisco reception, there’s lots to love here (also, tons of frame-worthy photos from Christina McNeill)…


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All of Holden’s jewelry held special meaning, including the pendant she wore around her neck: “The pendant is a coin my maternal grandmother sewed into her clothing when she escaped Stalinist USSR,” says Holden. “Since she is ill and could not make it to the wedding, I wanted to honor her by wearing the pendant.”


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Each invitation was hand-lettered and watercolored by hand by the bride, so no two were alike.


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Isn’t this a fantastic shot?! Definitely worthy of framing and sharing in your home.


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Holden’s favorite part of the day? “Returning to the very place we met, Cafe de la Presse on Grant. I was there one morning years ago having cappuccino and a rather cool guy I’d been checking out asked if he could join me. To go back to the cafe right after our ceremony and have a little mini-celebration with cappuccinos on the sidewalk was pretty sweet. And the caffeine helped us through the rest of the day!”


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Says the bride, “We love and use The Cake Gallery for all cake occasions! They might have a bit of a silly reputation, but their cakes taste better than any I’ve had. Our wedding cake was vanilla with raspberry filling, and the groom’s cake was chocolate. My mother made the floral cake topper and used an San Francisco skyline paper cutout around the pedestal.”

There was no shortage of dancing at Holden and Ryan’s wedding! They hooked up an iPod to the hotel’s restaurant sound system and played mostly rock ‘n’ roll from the 1960s (their first dance was to “Never My Love” by The Association).


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“Instead of a traditional guest book we left out self-addressed, stamped San Francisco post cards and colorful markers,” says Holden. “The best man mailed the cards while we were on our honeymoon so we came back to a mailbox full of good wishes. We kept getting them weeks after we returned! Now, I’ve stuck them all in a photo album for keeps.”

A little more info about the day from the bride:

Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  Having the ceremony at City Hall was something we barely discussed as it just seemed so natural. It’s a stunningly gorgeous historic building and we’re proud citizens of the city. There is a sense of gravitas and official-ness about the place. All that marble! We’ve each been San Franciscans for over ten years and feel at home here, so we wanted our out-of-town guests to feel the same sense of magic and history. Ryan, who has worked in the hotel industry, knew about Hotel Majestic, the oldest continually-operating hotel in the city. San Francisco is known for its boutique hotel charm and being able to share that in Hotel Majestic’s beautiful, deco styled all-white dining room was perfect for us.

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  I wouldn’t say we had any kind of theme but it’s natural for us to want to showcase the place where we live. Ryan is a musician and we like a rock ‘n’ roll edge. We love mid-century modern design and I’m inspired by vintage Vogue photography. I love fashion icons like Jackie O, Brigitte Bardot as well as newer ones like Kate Moss. We wanted something classic, timeless and maybe a little bit punk. Ours was a wedding of yet another guitarist to yet another (former) model and we can make fun of that and play with it a little. We have to be ourselves: music and fashion are important!

Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  We wanted to keep the ceremony short. My parents’ Ukrainian Orthodox ceremony was something like three hours long. Not our style. I’d say we had a modern take on a traditional wedding. We tweaked some old traditions to make them our own.

What advice do you have for other brides?  First: Make sure your maid-of-honor (and/or event planner) is one of those people who can just take care of things before you even hear of them. My sister is amazing at this – there were definitely hitches, but I didn’t know about them until after my honeymoon. To me and the guests, the entire event moved like butter. Second: Leave for your honeymoon immediately, and get your family to pack up and return things to your home. We flew to Bangkok the very next day. It felt wonderful to leave everything behind!

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Keep your list short and think of weddings before our era. People don’t need tchotchkes or lots of extras to have a good time. Good food, music and company (okay, and liquor) will do the trick. Overall my budget tip is to be skeptical of anything a wedding vendor says you NEED. You don’t need a lot of stuff to have a beautiful and fun wedding. Like Jean Luc Goddard says, “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.”



City Hall



Vendor Credits

Photography: Christina McNeill / Ceremony Venue: San Francisco City Hall / Reception Venue, Catering: Hotel Majestic / Hair: DryBar / Makeup: Kristine Burget of Le’Burget Salon / Bride’s Dress: Valentino / White Patent Leather Pumps: Gucci / Veil: Ginger Wedding / Groom’s Suit: Burberry / Cufflinks: Molte Cose / Wedding rings: Kay Jewelers / Bridesmaid dresses: Halston Heritage, Tracy Reese / Stationery: K. Holden Pumphrey / Flowers: Flowers on Chestnut / Bag Piper: Fred Payne / Cake: The Cake Gallery


Christina McNeill is a Snippet & Ink Select vendor. This post contains affiliate links. 

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