Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Wedding in Polaroids

And the most thorough, thoughtful, helpful write-up I have yet had the pleasure of publishing.

Take it away April:

Sitting down to write about our wedding seems an awful lot like an Academy Award acceptance speech -- there were so many incredible people and friends involved. I'm about to start blurting out a list of names before the orchestra starts playing the STOP TALKING music.

About our wedding: it happened over labor day weekend in a small town 2 hours north of San Francisco. Monte Rio is beautiful, remote and very California without having the expense of nearby wine country. The ceremony was on a meadow by the Russian River with the reception at the community center. We treated it like it like a destination wedding.

Besides our own marriage, here's what we wanted for our guests:
- to have a relaxing long weekend on the river.
- to enjoy themselves so much that they were really sad when the weekend was over.
- to leave feeling like they really got to know other people and made new friends.
(To that end we created a Facebook group to organize lodging, communicated on our save the dates that guests needed to book lodging pronto and gave people the resources to find rental houses together. We also created a custom google map with important location and people's rentals.) As far as we know, success!

Long term, WE owe the photographers, big time. We didn't have a pile of cash to burn, so we decided early on to spend on what was important to us. Pictures last forever, right? We wanted the photographs to represent the time we had that weekend and Chloe Aftel did just that. Bonus: she is hilarious and a joy to work with (she did our engagement shots too). She does magical things with Polaroids and captured the romantic, ephemeral parts of marrying someone you love. Waking up the day after the weddings and flipping through the prints was immediate gratification! We had another photographer manning the photo booth during cocktails -- Meg Messina took fantastic wedding guest portraits.

Finally, a shot of gratitude to Jennifer Tipton. She came on as the wedding day coordinator but she was indispensable long before that. She was wonderful to work with and  was on top of everything during the weekend.

The dress: it was St. Lucia sample by Jenny Packham, purchased at San Francisco's Glamour Closet. This is the place to go if you want an expensive dress for half-price. Ideal for people who a) are motived bargain shoppers or b) don't mind if their dress has a few fix-it blemishes.
The headpiece: bought a couple but settled on the Mignonne Handmade - Nature Girl Halo in ivory.
The bridesmaids: almost all wore long, pale pink Rachel Pally. She designs with modal jersey, aka feels like pajamas.

The cake(s): we didn't want a wedding cake per se. We bought basically one of every cake from Miette. Beautiful/delicious/not $1000.

And finally, here's the rest of the Rad people/places/things near California's Sonoma valley....
Artistry by Alan: Oh my, those lashes! He comes from a Hollywood background and sat me down, did his magic and I looked like myself but flawless. What cinched it for me is he did make-up on the movie Clueless. HELLO 90's girl fantasy!
Brian Ho of Dreams in Audio: the best damn unwedding DJ we could've found (sf-based)
Fork Catering: food truck extraordinaire, tasty, local, fresh food.
Pinterest: I had an Inspiration and Final Wedding board to manage the look since our wedding decor didn't really have a strong theme besides what we liked.
Virb: hosted our wedding website! Easy and (more importantly) stylish.

The last note: we ended up with 12 kids/babies on the attending guest list(!). Besides reserving the playground adjacent to the reception site we also introduced the parents beforehand via email. We had a kid activities, made programs with a colorable illustration. One of my favorite parts of the reception was the kids smashing a Confetti System-style piñata we filled with toys and candy. It was joyful having them around!

OH, I cannot believe I almost forgot to mention my favorite wedding stress coping mechanism. No, not stress eating (close second!) — my favorite way to let of irrational impulses and wedding industry wackness out was by creating the Twitter account @BRIDEHULK. In the same vein as internet meme @DrunkHulk, you tweet the rage away. I did not man @BRIDEHULK myself, I enlisted the help of about 10 other brides who were also wedding planning last year. Most of us graduated out but there are still a couple friends who are getting married in 2012. I hope the tradition will live on and would be happy to share login information with others who find themselves fed-up with one too many staged wedding blog posts, difficult potential vendors and crazy-pants family drama.


(Chloe Aftel also took super gorg digital photos. A few of em are up over here.)


  1. So dreamy! Thank you for sharing, and CONGRATS! (p.s. I love the kiddie pinata; I wish I'd thought of that one.) xo.

  2. i SO want chloe aftel to take family photos of us.

  3. is that weird?

    also the rest is very cool, of course.

  4. wowzas, i didn't think i would love these photos as much as i do ! simply gorgeous.

    AND THAT DRESS !!!!!

  5. HAHAHA @BRIDEHULK is hilarious! Thanks for the midnight guffaws :)

  6. Your wedding looks amazing. I'm pinning this post. Possibly to my wall-and-or-forehead. It's a great reminder that what you want is something special for yourselves and the people you love.

    Also, I am in love with (and possibly becoming) @BRIDEHULK

  7. oh hey!! i got married in that same field in monte rio last august! we did the same - long weekend on the river, super fun, best place ever! your pics are beautiful!

  8. So amazing! Love those Polaroids, it's very brave to have those as your main wedding photographs, I'm even timid to shoot a wedding all on film. But yes it must have been very nice to be able to have the instant gratification of being able to look through your photos right after the wedding. Thanks for sharing!

  9. This wedding is so incredibly thoughtful, as is the write up. Links to vendors! Tips on how to organise accommodation! Child care! Well don,e lady.

  10. Very fun, love the retro feel and the polaroids go right along with that

  11. Thanks everybody! Cameron (the husband) and I were tickled a) to be featured and b) that ya'll are so sweet. What happened to all the mean hipster brides?!?

    So stoked that @BRIDEHULK is bringing a little relief to what can be an occasionally maddening time.

    @Holly While polaroids were prominently used, Chloe took many digital pictures too! She's got a unique style for each.

    Happy to chime in if anyone has questions or whatevs. There were seriously so many things I told myself to SHUT UP about. ;)

  12. polaroids. and more specifically, YOUR wedding polaroids. absolutely effing genius!! so wistful and non-pretentious and beautiful.

    and april, anyone who is into all things weddings are actually closet softies. present company included. ;) we may be tough on the outside, but are sometimes the girliest of girls when it comes to weddings! interesting (and awesome), isn't it?

  13. I am in lust with @BRIDEHULK, would love to contribute some smashing (wedding in April). Yours was beautiful, congratulations.