Thomas & Sara’s 1920s-Inspired Fairmont Hotel Wedding Bash

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When Sara and Thomas first contacted us to photograph their wedding reception, it was exactly two days before their San Francisco City Hall wedding, three days before the new year, and four days before the reception in question. Due to unforeseen circumstances, a week before their date, their original reception venue was no longer available so we all crossed our fingers as they scrambled to find a new location. It wasn’t until the actual day of their reception that we learned it would be held in the Presidential Suite on the eighth floor of the grand Fairmont Hotel.

Sara and Thomas told us they did a happy dance in one of the bathrooms when their guide left them alone for a second during their first visit. And why wouldn’t they? Although the hotel itself was erected in 1907, the 6,000-square-foot penthouse was added in the 1920s and is absolutely gorgeous, featuring (among other things) a breathtaking view of the city, a two-story circular library with a gold-flecked map of constellations on its ceiling plus a secret passageway behind its bookcases, a opulent dining room, and a grand piano (not to mention the fact that Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Marlene Dietrich, Mick Jagger, and even John F. Kennedy all slept here once upon a time!). In addition, the Moroccan billiard room, appointed with handcrafted Persian tile, was a perfect nod to our couple’s engagement in Morocco a few months earlier.

Despite the last-minute nature of their event, it was a wonderful, collaborative affair involving talented friends who catered, bartended, DJed, set up a DIY photobooth, and made sure our couple and their guests had a fabulous time. Their downstairs neighbor, a classically trained pianist, treated everyone to a song. We heard squeals of delight when their baker friend Reva of Merci Beaucoup began assembling their Napoleon-style berry-and-cream cake in the living room. Says Thomas, “Sara and I attended a wedding in Italy a few years ago and saw a similar cake made during the reception. We really liked the idea.”

Many guests apparently got the memo that the reception would have a Roaring Twenties theme and dressed accordingly, all the better to enjoy two of our newlyweds’ favorite old-timey cocktails: the French 75 and the Bourbon Crusta. Sara herself was positively radiant in a vintage-inspired ivory gown with lace touches and strappy patent leather heels. Thomas was dashing in a custom-made white tuxedo jacket with black trim, black pants, black fedora, and black and mirror-finished shoes. He also rocked a pair of Gomez and Morticia Addams cufflinks that Sara had given him. “When we met, I told her that I thought that Gomez and Morticia’s relationship was perfect. She agreed. And that’s what we wanted for each other. In our wedding vows, we both swore to love each other in the same way,” says Thomas.

We adored the other personal details they brought to the evening. The first thing we noticed when we stepped off the elevator, in fact, was the table of favors sporting a stamp of C3PO and the robot from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. We never imagined seeing the two androids from vastly different time periods together, but they were seemingly made for each other! Sara and Thomas had converted a Shutori image they found online into the stamp. Sara’ s mother then tracked down antique keys, built and stamped all 100 paper boxes with the help of Sara’s sister, filled them with 25 pounds of See’s chocolates, and tied them shut using black ribbon with the keys attached.

Thomas’s ring was made from both meteor and dinosaur bones with a tungsten band, while Sara’s intricate number was fashioned by Japanese artist Naohiko Noguchi, who doesn’t sell his goods online. According to Thomas, “There are roughly three stores in the world where the ring can be viewed, let alone purchased. Our friends Brad and Marie found the exact ring at a Parisian store not far from where they live. They relayed the information to me and everything worked perfectly.”

Gypsy jazz band Gaucho provided much of the live soundtrack for the evening. Sara and Thomas first experienced them one New Year’s eve years ago at SF French restaurant ChouChou, when they walked in without a reservation. Magically, they got a table and “Gaucho was playing, right on top of us. Bass on one side of our table, guitar on the other. They kept asking us, ‘Are we playing too loud?!!’ but we loved it,” explains Thomas. It was a joy watching guests (including Thomas’s grandmother) trip the light fantastic.

What an amazing way to kick off the new year! We feel so honored to have been there and are happy to share some of our favorite moments from this love-filled evening.

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Bride’s dress: Papers and Petals Bridal (Burlingame)
Bride’s shoes: Enzo Angiolini
Bride’s ring: Naohiko Noguchi
Groom’s suit: Indochino
Groom’s shoes: John Fluevog
Hat: Gorrin Bros.
Cake: Merci Beaucoup
DJ: Mark Waterford
Band: Gaucho
Rubber stamp: RubberStamps.net

 

Kelly & Mark’s Merry Manhattan Beach Wedding

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Having an outdoor wedding just a few days before Christmas probably sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen, but not if it’s held in Southern California! High-school sweethearts Kelly and Mark live in Manhattan but wanted to tie the knot in Southern California, where they both grew up. When they came across Verandas Beach House, a chic, split-level space located just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, they knew it was the perfect place for their winter-solstice nuptials. Plus they fully enjoyed picturing their guests’ confusion upon learning that they’d be getting married in Manhattan Beach, California, not Manhattan Beach, New York!

Kelly slipped into her stunning, strapless beaded gown at the stylish Belamar Hotel, in a spacious room that boasted a giant portrait of a chihuahua and a bed that practically begged to be jumped on (her bridesmaids happily obliged). When we arrived at Verandas, twinkle lights, rose petals, and banners made by Kelly and maid-of-honor Kira adorned the lawn. We found Mark and his groomsmen soaking up the sun and enjoying the ocean views from the upper level of the house. Mark rocked a classic black tuxedo with bowtie andinitiallya corsage meant for his mother instead of a boutonniere (thankfully someone noticed!).

The whole day was a blur of nose-wrinkling grins, unstifled laughter, unbridled joy, and a bevy of wonderful moments. Kelly and Mark’s first look was positively gleeful and absolutely adorable. In the quiet moments before they were to make their way down the aisle together, Kelly and her dad nervously practiced their dance for the first time. Kelly’s exuberant reactions to the ring exchange and her mom signing the wedding license enlivened the already heartfelt ceremony. Everyone’s cheeks hurt during the hilarious toasts, and Mark laughed so hard he cried. The newlyweds’ partially botched cupcake feeding only added to the merriment, as did the four (!) tries it took for the single ladies to catch Kelly’s bouquet (which, unsurprisingly, was in pretty poor shape at the end).

If all the high fives, fist bumps, noogies, and hip shaking during the reception were any indication, the whiskey bar was a big hit. Other thoughtful touches included custom shortbread cookie favors and the penguin cake topper that Kelly’s little sister made.

Kelly and Mark’s special, love-filled day couldn’t have been any better, and we were honored to be a part of it. Here’s a glimpse of how it all went down (minus Mark in his frilly corsage).
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Dress: Mon Cheri
Shoes: Coloriffics
Bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal
Groom’s suit, tie & shoes: The Black Tux
Bride’s ring: Greenwich Jewelers (NYC)
Groom’s ring: Blue Nile (Seattle)
Flowers: Lupita’s Flowers (Los Angeles)
Hair & make-up: Jackie Su Artistry
Caterer: New York Food Company
Cupcakes: Frosted Cupcakery
Custom cookie favors: Katella Bakery
DJ: Casey Wixted (Vox DJs)
Officiant: Justice Robert Mallano
Wedding coordinator/planner: Lauren Harvey (Verandas Beach House)