We’ve known Billy and Val for years through the Bay Area music scene so it was no surprise when they announced that their wedding at the Starline Social Club would feature a rock’n’roll reception.
“Our relationship began due to our mutual love of music. Much of Billy’s time is spent teaching and playing music, and probably most of our dates are spent going to shows. We even got engaged at Graceland!” says Valerie. “So it was always clear that music was going to be a big part of our wedding day.”
With its groundfloor bar and upstairs performance venue, the Starline was the perfect spot for our couple. They even chose to have a portion of their engagement session there earlier this year.
“We started frequenting the Starline for a while before we got engaged and, even on our first visit, saw familiar faces of bartenders we knew and felt instantly at home,” Valerie says. “We loved the decor of the bar but, upon going upstairs, we really loved the space and the fact that it felt unchanged from its 1893 Odd Fellows Hall origins.”
Their day started separately, with Valerie getting ready with her besties at the Oakland Marriott City Center and Billy hanging with his dad and groomsmen at home. Valerie was a knockout, evoking classic Hollywood in her slinky, vintage-inspired silk gown, a blue birdcage veil over her shiny red locks, and peacock-blue velvet pumps. Vintage earrings and rings complemented her look, as did her crimson lips and nails. Her bridesmaids sparkled in shimmery gowns while Billy literally rocked a black three-piece tuxedo.
We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve photographed Billy in his various bands over the years but it was pretty surreal when he finally took the stage and stood beneath a chuppah made of palm fronds and other tropical greenery, eagerly awaiting his bride.
For the ceremony, Valerie clutched a colorful tropical bouquet and donned a gorgeous embroidered peacock cape from the 1930s.
“Vintage clothing has always been a passion of mine and I truly used the wedding as an excuse to go all out,” she says. “When I came across this cape, I knew I had to have it. Not only was it from one of my favorite fashion eras and matched the silk of my dress perfectly, it added that perfect little extra Elvis flair to the day!”
She beamed on the arm of her dashing grandfather as they walked down the aisle. He and Valerie’s grandmother Millie had driven 750 miles from Phoenix to attend the wedding.
“I’ll never forget how much that meant to me,” says Valerie. “And he looked pretty sharp doing it, too!”
In addition to all the warm and fuzzies we got from the heartfelt ceremony, touching toasts, and mind-boggling assortment of dessert pies, we loved how the music community rallied around them. Their friend and musician Joel Robinow provided the processional music and made good use of the house piano during cocktail hour. Their good friends the Chuckleberries (featuring newlyweds David and guest vocalist Lou Lou, whose rock’n’roll wedding we photographed earlier this year!) cranked out oldies but goodies for much of the evening. The Jet Stars, Billy’s students from his after-school music program Three O’Clock Rock, surprised the newlyweds by playing a few songs. (We caught them warming up in the stairwell beforehand.) Their friends Russell Quan and Johnny Bartlett’s foot-stomping DJ sets kept the crowd dancing between bands.
Speaking of surprises, Valerie and Billy managed to keep the hora (traditional Jewish chair dance) a secret from Billy’s parents.
“They were thrilled and this was one of the most fun and memorable moments from the wedding. Seeing the excitement on the faces of them and our other family members was priceless!” says Valerie.
Of course, they knew the perfect Jewish surf rock band to perform “Hava Nagila” and other traditional songs—Meshugga Beach Party, composed of friends and another Three O’Clock Rock teacher. When Billy jumped on stage with his band the Hi Tech Boys, his and Valerie’s love story came full circle.
“When we first got engaged, I really didn’t want a big wedding but I learned that there’s really nothing like sharing time with the people you love all in one place, having them all meet and become friends and creating an even larger family,” says Valerie. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Here are some of our favorite moments from their one-of-a-kind wedding.
Bride’s dress: Cortana, purchased at LOHO Bride (San Francisco)
Bride’s shoes: Dolce & Gabbana
Bride’s birdcage veil: Jennifer Behr
Hair stylist: Courtney Rae
Groom’s tuxedo: Boglioli
Groom’s shoes: Officine Creative
Groom’s tie: Penrose London
Groom’s ring: Doyle & Doyle, New York
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Shop Lovely
Bridesmaids’ shoes: Zara
Groomsmen’s suits: Kenneth Cole
Groomsmen’s ties: Zara
Day of coordinator: Elizabeth at Coco Creations
Caterer: Starline Social Club
Pies: Pietisserie (Oakland)
Pie & cake stands: Julia’s Cake Stand Rentals
Cake: The Whole Cake (Oakland)
Flowers: Ash + Oak
Videographer & FaceTimer to Val’s parents: Brett Stillo