Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sauvie Island Resort Wedding (who needs a disco ball?)

Okay, so I lovelovelove to feature weddings by near and dear blogfriends and of course people who have written in to ask for advice... But it is also pretty amazing to receive a zipfile out of the blue of wedding photos like this.

Holgas taken by talented family and friends. A wild vintage dress. Some serious motherf*cking groom style. And FEATHERED INVITATIONS? I think this lady might actually be more east side bride than I am. I mean, she does practically live my neighborhood.

Here's what Joanna had to say about her wedding:

I always imagined I'd have a Fall wedding. When we got engaged on a Friday in June, I accepted what would turn out to be a very demanding 50+ hour/week job the next week. But we decided it would be the same amount of stress whether we compressed it into a few months as it would if we dragged it out over a year, so we decided to go for it. My husband is a freelance commercial producer and I'm an art director, so we had confidence that our combined talents could make it work.

My dream was to get married outside on a farm, have a reception in a barn and have a giant bonfire. I got 2 out of 3. We live in Los Angeles and our family is the Bay Area and New England. LA was never an option, neither of us feel a very strong connection to the city, plus it would just be too expensive. Next we thought New England, but mid-Oct is already too cold. The Bay Area? Again too expensive and weather is iffy. My husband used to live in Portland and we go up there a lot for fun and work. He'd shot a commercial on this farm on Sauvie Island just north of Portland last Spring and we thought the location and the setting would be perfect, plus mid-October in Portland can be really nice.

We went to visit the farm in July and let's just say, one of us had a vision....and it wasn't me. It was all overgrown and there was a lot of random junk laying around, but my husband had confidence in the location, so I trusted him. There was a Black Locust tree with a dozen trunks that would be perfect for the ceremony and there was a giant Cottonwood that created a sprawling canopy, that he envisioned being lit with china lanterns where we would have the bar. The ceremony and reception would take place on a clearing that sat about 20 feet above the riverbank. The only problem was, how do we get the guests from the reception to the beach for the bonfire? My solution was to move the reception a little north, where it was flat and we could just walk onto the beach. My husband's solution was to build some permanent stairs on the slope. He was passionate about the Cottonwood being a key element (he was right) and he had confidence that he could build the stairs in a few days with the help of our fathers (both master craftsmen) and our brothers (five between the two of us). They ended up building the stairs out of massive timbers that had drifted up on the beach as well and the stone that was already on the site. My father finished it off with handrails on both sides that were straight out of Lord of the Rings. So, while the men were busy with that and other site related chores, so I took care of the details, like dress!, shoes, invites, flowers, food, drinks, etc.

Being a graphic designer, I'd had an idea in my head for invites before I was even close to getting engaged. I wanted a really pretty poster. What we ended up with was more beautiful than I could have imagined. The overall idea was to create something that felt hand-made and delicate, both natural and wedding-y. (Which was our concept for the wedding itself.) We had a friend give us a crash course on silk screening and we made all the invites/correspondence cards in one afternoon. The posters were printed on large pieces of tracing paper that I bought in pads, which made printing on such delicate material go a lot more smoothly. I work a lot with feathers in my art, there was no question about including them in some way. I wanted to complete the package with pretty calligraphy, so I scoured the internet for a calligrapher that I could afford until I found Robyn Love, who happened to be having a sale on one style of lettering. Perfect!

For the decor, I envisioned strings of lights everywhere, a la Chanel Resort 2010, and a disco ball hanging from a tree. But a few weeks before the wedding I realized, that there was a lot I would just have to let go. Because of rain, we needed tents and because of money/resources we opted for China Balls instead of strings of lights. The result was beautiful. It rained really hard the morning of the wedding but the clouds broke and the sun came out just in time for our guests to enjoy the dramatic setting as the arrived on Sauvie Island in the late afternoon.

I found my dress at The Way We Wore. It's a 1920's cotton gauze sheath dress with white opaque seed beading and it was the very first one I tried on. The silk slip was from Hidden Treasures in Topanga Canyon, also from the 20's. The shoes were a gift from my godmother, silver glitter Louboutins. I wore a strand of feathers I made around my neck. The dress has a drop waist and I wanted something that was more fitted, so I bought a couple yards of acid yellow silk that I tied around my waist to hide the seam. The acid yellow was apart of my multi-color palette that was loosely referenced throughout to tie everything together, but not overtly seen. I also sent the palette off to my close friends and family and suggested they dress within it if they felt like it.

(Editor's Note: Are you noting that the guests do in fact match the invitations? This is an advanced move. Unless your friends are stylists/art directors/costume designers, I don't recommend that you attempt it.)

Since my dress was so delicate, I decided to change into an 80's sequin and beaded dress and black oxford booties after the ceremony. My husband wore a black suit from J. Lindeberg, a custom shirt from Brooks Brothers, Rachel Comey canvas oxfords and his tie was a family heirloom. We both brought our ponchos to the farm for when it got chilly, but only he managed to wear his.

For the reception, we decided that the three key factors were hot food, lots of alcohol and a really great DJ. We'd heard that Cindy the Bar-B-Q queen was amazing, so we hired her. Even though she was a little unprepared for cooking in the woods, the food was so great, even some vegetarians indulged. For drinks, my brother's girlfriend is a bartender in San Francisco and offered to order the booze through her connections and they drove most of it up. She convinced her friends at House Spirits to donate some gin and vodka to use for cocktails that she created. One of the bartenders drank a few too many of them and was sent home after hitting on a some guests and face planting in the field.  For desert my husband's mother made about 300 miniature cream-puffs. As for the music, our friend Heather Thompson did an amazing job. We asked her to DJ for a few hours, and then we would switch to a play list. But everyone was having such  a good time, that she happily played all night (she literally DJ'd over 7 hours). The three of us were the last ones there at 3 in the morning.

(Photos by Danielle Levitt, Shaniqwa Jarvis and Kevan Bean)


  1. dear esb,

    when you post these amazing weddings it makes me want to get married all over again, and that's just fucking ridiculous.

    the day-dreaming bride

  2. It was a fabulous,memorable wedding, and all the details described above felt so Joey & Ike
    aesthetically unique, heartfelt and visually memorable. It made me want to move to Portland.
    What a great time!! Love & Kisses to a wonderful pair of people/artists,
    Godmother Laura

  3. looooove this!

    and godmother laura - good call on the glittery loubs. you're clearly the best godmother ever.

  4. Holy Christ, talk about style! Looks like a blast. Suddenly I'm like, can I do that??? Just in the East Village?? Next month?? Um, no. But it is gorgeous! And my favorite is the group shot!

  5. I have got to find an excuse to throw a party in the woods on an island now.

  6. This looks absolutely amazing. The bride, the groom, the guests, such personal style!

  7. now those are some serious effing hook ups/resources.
    and way to make use of them.

  8. aaaiiiieeee oh how i am SO INTO THIS. are there other pictures to share? because all i want is to see and read more!

  9. i live in portland and so love sauvie island. a fair amount of weddings seem to happen out there, but this (by far) is my fave. absolutely beautiful.

  10. sauvie island is maybe the most perfect place to get married. ever.

  11. these photos are so dreamy. love.

  12. may I pry and ask which sauvie island farm location this was?

  13. HEY! this looks absolutely wonderful! Can you please pleease let me know exactly where on Sauvies Island this place is?

    We've been in search for a farm-like, awesome tree, place for a while now and I'm actually leaving soon to go look for places on Sauvies Island today with my future mother in law. I would love it if you could find out where this was at so I could look it up! thank you!

    you can email me at

  14. I just re-read this because you linked to it in the what-to-do-in-Portland post. Incredible. It sounds a lot like Michael's and my wedding -- esp. the parts about informing the guests how to dress (our male guests really brought it) and ponchos (I searched low-and-far for a chic little jacket and hated them all - ended up wearing my own poncho).

  15. Hi!
    Like the Bethany above, I too would love to know what this place is called. Please email me at:

  16. What is this place called?! please!

  17. yes! please please tell me what farm you had your wedding!! It looks beautiful!