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.
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
Rubber stamp: RubberStamps.net