Melanie & Michael’s Fun & Games Cinnabar Hills Wedding

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You might recall the cute engagement session we did with high-school sweethearts Melanie and Michael (and Tugs, their trusty owl sidekick) this past summer, on their 12th dating anniversary. A few months later, we had the pleasure of capturing their lighthearted, fun-filled wedding at San Jose’s Cinnabar Hills Golf Course.

The day kicked off with them getting ready for their big day. Melanie was a knockout in a white, strapless, beaded lace gown with sweetheart neckline and long train; for her “something old,” she donned the same shoes she wore to a high school dance with Michael. Michael cut a dashing figure in a three-piece charcoal suit with eggplant tie. With the help of YouTube, his groomsmen expertly pinned on everyone’s boutonnieres. Michael thanked them with Star Wars Lego watches that featured Stormtroopers (detachable, as Lily accidentally found out when she bumped into one).

Their first look under a grand oak tree was peppered with lots of hugs, kisses, exuberant laughter and smiles, and high fives, which set the tone for the rest of their day. In one memorable moment, the flower girl fastidiously dropped petals down the aisle, only to realize she didn’t know what to do once she reached the end. Without a word, she whipped around and ran back down the aisle, much to the delight of the guests. Hopefully she found solace in her new, plush Snuffles Gund bear (Melanie and Mike both own three each and gave all their pint-sized guests goodie bags that included one)! The rest of the touching ceremony, set against rolling green hills, went off without a hitch.

The reception perfectly reflected who they are as both a couple and individuals, and we love all the thought that went into the details and activities. The table numbers were actually words and numbers that are significant to Melanie and Michael (how cute that Michael thinks Melanie would be an otter if she were an animal!). The wedding program complemented the invitation Michael had hand-drawn nicely, and not only included the day’s schedule but a single playing card. Guests were encouraged to mingle and form poker hands in exchange for raffle tickets that would be drawn for prizes at the end of the night. Guests could also earn raffle tickets by finding plastic eggs that were hidden around the property, and had a chance to win prizes by correctly answering trivia questions about our newlyweds. (Prizes were awarded towards the end of the night.) The Fun Facts wall was a spot where their “fun, eclectic group of friends” could “share their experience, knowledge, and eccentric personalities.” Instead of signing a guestbook, guests left notes in specially marked jars for our couple to read on their first, fifth, and tenth anniversaries.

They made a lavender-and-purple backdrop for the wildbooth, which guests enthusiastically jumped into. The candy bar was also a hit, and showcased purple and lavender M&Ms that matched the color theme. Speaking of sweets, they love cake so much that they offered three flavors: burnt almond (one of Michael’s favorites), chocolate with fresh strawberry cream, and a light cake with mango mousse. A to-go cake station made sure all the cake found a good home.

Melanie and Michael weren’t the only ones who did some planning for the wedding. At the end of Melanie’s sister’s toast/roast, she said that since Melanie was her best friend, it was only appropriate that she take a leaf from My Best Friend’s Wedding. She surprised Melanie with a live performance by Melanie’s friend Josephine, who sang two of her favorite songs: John Legend’s “All of Me” and Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.” Josephine went to elementary, middle, high school, and college with Melanie and has known our couple throughout their lives. The look of surprise on Melanie’s face is priceless, and we hope you enjoy viewing that as well as the rest of their wonderful day.

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Bride’s dress: Casablanca Bridal
Hair & make-up: Joanne Kim
Groom’s suit: Banana Republic’s Monogram collection
Tie: Tie Bar
Bridesmaids’ dresses: J.Crew (Nadia)
Flowers: Bloomsters
Caterer: Cinnabar Hills Golf Course
Cake: La Patisserie
DJ: Benomix
Wedding planner: Kimberley Capp

Deanna & Stephen’s Whimsical, Handcrafted South Bay Wedding

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When we photographed Deanna and Stephen’s engagement session at the Rengstorff House in Mountain View earlier this year, we had no idea the amazing transformation it would undergo on their wedding day! Sure, the 19th-century Victorian Italianate house remained as stately as ever, surrounded by lush greenery and chockablock with intriguing knickknacks, taxidermied creatures, and old-timey machinery such as Victrolas, manual typewriters, and wooden phones with exterior bells. Deanna’s vision, however, truly enlivened its exterior (and not just with the banner she constructed to string across the front of the house). We were impressed by how everything came together in a couple of hours.

The backyard was cozy and intimate, a perfect spot to hold their touching ceremony. After the bubble boy nearly veered off course during the processional, we were slightly concerned our teary-eyed bride might have trouble making her way to her equally teary-eyed groom, but her father cheerfully steered her in the right direction. During their unity salt ceremony, no granules were unnecessarily spilled but the wind abducted a few doilies. Luckily, no one was harmed.

The lawn games and vintage-style furniture in the yard in front of the house were a hit during cocktail hour. Guests signed their congratulations and well wishes on a customized wood plank, and some made use of the sunblock, insect repellent, handy wipes, hand warmers, and fleece wraps that Deanna thoughtfully provided.

The larger, unassuming side lawn, strung with cafe lights and outfitted with a mix of wooden farm tables and circular tables, couldn’t have been a more magical place to celebrate with family and friends. Fittingly, dinner was served family style as the sun set over the bay. We still can’t believe all the kids kept their hands off the rustic dessert station until after the cake was cut! It was totally eye candy, featuring drool-worthy macarons, cupcakes, and a variety of jarred delectables, as well as a cake that was frosted to look like it had wood grain! But the topper, literally, was the cake topper, two felt owls with a heart-shaped balloon that Deanna painstakingly needle-felted.

Speaking of felt, the bridal party’s bouquets were absolutely adorable, as were other hand-made details, including the fan programs, customized wire basket, and favors (matches in cork-topped vials, M&Ms for “real kids only”). Also adorable? Deanna and Stephen during their first dance. We’re not sure if Stephen was cracking jokes, but Deanna laughed the entire time they twirled from one part of the dancefloor to the other. (Incidentally, Deanna was stunning in her long, strapless gown, and Stephen was dapper in his gray suit with yellow tie and matching pom-pom boutonniere.)

It was such a joyous occasion, and we were privileged to capture it. Please enjoy this visual account of their special day.

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Bride’s dress: Mori Lee
Bride’s shoes: Bandolino
Groom’s suit: Alfani
Bridesmaids’ dresses: DressHome (Etsy)
Flowergirls’ dresses: NollaCollection (Etsy)
Hair & make-up: Imagi by Fiona
Caterer: Toast Catering
DJ & acoustic performer: All Ears DJ
Cake, cupcakes & jarred desserts: La Vie Douce Design
Macarons: Chef Chirp
Furniture rentals: Lost & Found Vintage Rental (San Jose)
Felt flowers: Etsy
Rubber stamp: lilimandrill (Etsy)
Salt & egg: Centered Ceramics (Etsy)
Guestbook board: Resalvaged (Etsy)

Ashley & Ryan’s Awesome High School Musical Wedding

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Ashley and Ryan’s colorful engagement session earlier this year did not adequately prepare us for the serious awesomeness that would be their wedding at Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto this summer. The complex not only features a ballroom but a community theater and a children’s theater, and it turned out that Ryan attended many a summer theater camp there. While he trod the boards in front of the curtain, Ashley literally wrangled the ropes behind the scenes. This, and their long history together (they dated for the first time in 9th grade, before finally dating again when they were college freshmen), would shape their wedding day tremendously.

The day kicked off with door games, a Chinese tradition wherein the bridesmaids block the groom from seeing his bride until he performs a series of tasks to their satisfaction. There was only time for one task, so the bridesmaids demanded a song-and-dance number. We don’t know if Ryan was tipped off ahead of time but, boy, after five minutes of practice, he and his groomsmen belted out an incredible a cappella rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with choreography and an air guitar solo! The bridesmaids were completely won over and Ashley and Ryan flew into each other’s arms with tears and smiles.

The waterworks continued during their heartwarming ceremony, held against a sparkly theater curtain backdrop and beneath a string of paper butterflies. (Fittingly, their officiant was their middle school drama teacher!) At one point, both their moms caught each other wiping away tears and had a good laugh. Shortly after our couple tied the knot, lion dancers bounded in to wish our newlyweds good fortune.

Happily, we had time to sneak into the theater, the outdoor children’s theater, and the secret garden behind the children’s library. There, Ashley and Ryan and their wedding party re-enacted scenes from their favorite rom-coms, nail-biters, and sci-fi trilogies. Ryan and his groomsmen, incidentally, wore distinct superhero pins but were not hindered in any way.

Little did Ashley know that a grand surprise would be sprung upon her during the reception. After toasts were given and guests continued to munch on chicken and waffles, Ryan and his groomsmen took the stage, so to speak, and serenaded Ashley with a hilarious, personalized rendition of “My Girl” (Lily was especially touched by the line referring to Ashley’s gothy black lipstick stage in high school), enhanced with a kazoo bridge. We learned later that the guys had practiced together just once at Ryan’s bachelor party; afterward, they practiced over Skype! Their performance was so mesmerizing that we had a hard time focusing on taking photos, but we did, and had a great time capturing their exuberant cake cutting (the swan cake toppers were first used at Ashley’s parents’ wedding), their first dance, the bouquet toss (the original catcher passed it on to a little girl who looked thoroughly displeased), and the spirited action on the dancefloor.

Talent aside, Ashley and Ryan’s wedding was full of thoughtful touches and details. Their handmade fan programs outlined the events of the day and also revealed fun facts about the couple. They set up a bocce ball station with which to entertain their guests. They had a popcorn machine and instructions on how to eat it like Ashley’s family does (drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and eaten with chopsticks). But what really took the cake? Ryan and Ashley used their skills in making gold dental crowns to craft their wedding bands from gold donated by both of their families (both Ashley and Ryan are aspiring dentists). What an amazing day for an amazing couple! Here are some of our favorite moments, complete with a mini “movie” of their time in the theater.

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Bride’s dress: 2001 Lazaro; altered by Kirsten Tucker (San Mateo)
Bride’s shoes: Julianne Hough from Nordstrom.
Earrings: Delezhen Handmade Jewelry Collection (Etsy)
Hair: Patti Greene at Trenz Salon (Burlingame)
Groom’s suit: Jos. A Bank
Groom’s tie: J.crew outlet
Groom’s shoes: Camper
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Banana Republic
Flowers: Dana’s Flower Basket (San Mateo)
Caterer: Cheat A Little Catering (San Mateo)
Cake: Nori Kitaoka of Sweet Nothings Cupcakes
Groomsmen’s flasks: FrederickEngraving (Etsy)
Superhero pins: MyGiftStores (eBay)