There’s something so sweet about an intimate family wedding, and I love that most of Julia and John’s day wouldn’t have looked out of place fifty years ago! These photos from Christina McNeill really capture how lovely it can be when you keep things simple and meaningful.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? I wore something old (earrings), new (dress), borrowed (my mom’s bracelets), and blue (ring).
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? I grew up near the Gamble Garden and always loved it. I knew I wanted a small outdoor wedding so it seemed like the perfect place for that.
What was your ceremony music? My cousin and her husband played bluegrass music – we told them just to play whatever seemed right at the time.
Your ceremony in three words. Relaxed, intimate, casual.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? My husband is a very organized planner who loves Excel spreadsheets… lucky, as I am not! We were having a long-distance engagement, and neither of us lived in the Bay Area, so that was challenging at times. We were lucky that our families were so involved.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Reverend Jan Heglund – a friend of a friend who we got to know well during the planning process.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? At the suggestion of Reverend Jan we did a hand fastening.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Late afternoon in the summer in California is my favorite time and place, so I really wanted to take full advantage of that. I wanted our guests to enjoy great food, wine and music without it feeling stuffy or fussy.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We were lucky that my husband and I were very much on the same page for priorities – we wanted the food, wine, music and photography to be the best we could get, and we were willing to make compromises in pretty much every other area. We discussed that early on and were able to budget accordingly. Keeping the guest list small helps with budgeting as well!
What was your favorite part of your wedding day? Cocktail hour!
How would you describe your reception? Small, relaxed, and fun!
At each place setting, the couple included a flower that was actually a plantable seed. Isn’t that a lovely idea?
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Put a responsible friend or family member in charge of keeping track of the wedding license and paying vendors! I didn’t follow this advice and wish I had!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t procrastinate – you will not have as much time as you think in the two weeks before the wedding (even if you are taking time off work!)
Julia and John wore traditional Tongan leis at their reception, gifted to them by Julia’s mom’s caregiver.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? We danced to a simple waltz performed by a bluegrass band. We did a “snowball dance” – so my husband and I started out dancing together, then split and I danced with my dad and he with his mom, then we all split again and got more people involved, until the whole party was dancing.
Photographer Christina McNeill told us “Julia & John’s first dance was totally organic – they couldn’t have amplified music at the venue, so didn’t plan on having any dancing at all. I don’t think I’ve ever photographed a wedding where people do-si-doed before – everyone was having the best time!”
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had one chocolate cake and one vanilla-raspberry cake.
Julia told us “at the end of the night, we had one last dance with all of our guests and the band in tow, then drove off in my dad’s truck that he bought just before meeting my mom, in 1966!”