Laura and Francesco were married in a dreamy intimate ceremony at the Stern Grove in San Francisco surrounded by their closest family and friends. Stern Grove is a hidden gem, consisting of a big grass clearing surrounded by a redwood and eucalyptus wonderland. As musicians/artists their wedding truly reflected their easy going personality and was full of elegant and rustic charm. Read on to find out more about their magical day…
Tell us about your wedding, what was the inspiration behind your big day?
We had a beautiful outdoor brunch wedding on the first Friday in October (2018), when the weather in San Francisco is truly unbeatable. Our vibe was organic, relaxed, and elegant, and we highlighted the beauty of our venue (the redwood grove and clearing outside the Stern Grove Trocadero clubhouse) with orange, blush, green, and ash florals, dark wood tables, and gold chairs and flatware. We had each of our mothers read during the ceremony. We had a secular ceremony, but we both grew up Catholic, and it was important to my mom that she got to read a Bible verse during the ceremony. So I sort of “remixed” some of the traditional wedding Bible readings into a passage that we felt represented us, respected our parents’ beliefs, and set the tone for the marriage we wanted to create. Francesco’s mom read Maya Angelou’s Touched by an Angel, which was meaningful both because we feel it captures the nature of our love so well and because spotlighting a great African American writer helped us honor Francesco and his mother’s African American heritage.
How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal…
We met like your typical millennial couple–on Tinder! We felt connected right away, even as we were just chatting on the app. So after a few exchanges, I (very cooly) suggested that Francesco take me out. Two days later, he did, and because he’d wanted to make sure the date went well, he came prepared with some conversation kindling. He could tell right away that I was a little shy, so pretty quickly he told me about this list of questions from the New York Times his friend had told him about that sounded interesting. He said it was designed to help people get to know each other in a deliberate way, and asked if I wanted to give it shot. I said sure, we could always stop if we got tired of answering the questions (giving us an out if we wanted to cut the date short), and he pulled up the list on his phone. Turns out it was the NYT “36 Questions to Fall in Love.” We answered all of them. Shut down the restaurant, had to move to the bar next door, and really did get to know each other really well really quickly.He texted me to hang out the next day, and we we’ve been attached at the hip ever since. A few weeks later, I told him I’d been planning to travel in Argentina for all of February and invited him to come with. He did, and we moved in together as soon as we got back, then decided to get married a couple of months later.
The, frankly unromantic, details of that conversation are in Q5, but to Francesco’s serious credit, he managed to surprise me with a beautiful proposal that June at an outdoor concert in Golden Gate park in front of all of our friends. In the middle of the event, he asked me to stand up from our picnic and come with him for just a quick minute. I thought he wanted me to help him get drinks or something. He walked a few feet and all of a sudden was down on one knee. Then everyone around us at the concert noticed and started cheering! Francesco had gotten one of our friends to take a video on their phone, and a few minutes later, a stranger who had been in the perfect position approached us to show us that he got an absolutely amazing shot at the perfect moment– Francesco down on one knee, my with my hand over my mouth, huge smiles on both our faces. People were coming up to us to say congratulations for the rest of the afternoon, and we felt so special.
What were the florals like in your wedding?
Jenni expertly put together a bridal bouquet, boutonnieres/corsages, ceremony arch, decorative pieces for the bar, and center pieces for the tables that played off of and accentuated the beauty of the nature around us. The wedding was really styled around that nature, and the florals really felt like they made the wedding become a part of it. The colours were directly inspired by the colour of the leaves and bark of the redwood and eucalyptus trees in the grove and the California Golden Poppies that grew underneath them.
Lets talk about decor, how did you decorate the ceremony and reception space?
There were no DIY elements to our wedding. We were overwhelmed enough planning the whole thing in 4 months!We wanted to take advantage as much as possible of the natural beauty of our venue, so our amazing planner arranged a gorgeous dark wood coffee and tea bar with small floral highlights in the redwood grove for guests to enjoy before the ceremony, which turned into a mimosa bar for cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception. The ceremony took place in the clearing next to the grove, where our 115 guests sat in gold Chiavari chairs and watched our good friend Tom marry us under a flower and greenery adorned rectangular arch (also done by our wedding planner, Jenni).The reception was held on the other side of the same clearing, where our guests ate brunch at dark wood harvest tables, sitting on the chairs from the ceremony.
What were some of the favourite parts of your wedding?
We actually started the day getting ready together at home in our apartment. His parents and our closest friends came over to have some breakfast and mimosas with us as I got my makeup and hair done, and our photographer captured the festivities. It was wonderful to be able to have that experience with everyone because we kept our wedding party really small–just my sister as maid of honor and his best friend as best man. Our good friend, Tom, officiated the ceremony, and he delivered a super personal speech that highlighted his perspective on our relationship and what it meant to our big friend group that we’d built in San Francisco.We also put a lot of effort into our music. Because of the venue’s agreement with its neighbours, we couldn’t have amplified music during the ceremony or reception but we really wanted to be able to dance. So, we worked with our band to put together an entirely acoustic ensemble and a fantastic Motown-based playlist that kept everyone on the dance floor after brunch. They were also amazing in arranging our first dance song (Jason Mraz’s Quiet), father-daughter dance (The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun), and mother-son dance (Stevie Wonder’s You are the Sunshine of My Life).Lastly, who we were paying our money to was just as important as what we were spending our money on. Weddings are expensive, and ours was no exception. And for one of the biggest spends we will probably ever make in our lives, we wanted to feel really good about the businesses and people we were supporting. So, used the absolute highest quality vendors and most beautiful venue, and supported the SF Parks Department; local organic food growers and sellers; and women-owned, POC- owned, and immigrant-owned businesses. Everyone raved about the food, service, and music, Jenni went above and beyond to produce an event that was SO easy and enjoyable for us, and for everything else, the photos speak for themselves.
What was the most anticipated moment of your special day?
Our wedding was very condensed, we started at 11:00am and were wrapped up by 3:30pm. So we made sure each moment was really special.But I think the most anticipated moment for both of us was the first time Francesco saw me at the beginning of the aisle. It was really important to him that that be the first time he saw me in my dress (as opposed to doing a separate ‘first look’) and I had always envisioned having that experience as well. Seeing his face made everything–the stress of planning, the last-minute dress fittings (they were making alterations directly on my body at 8:00pm the night before the rehearsal dinner)– totally worth it. It was an amazing day!
Do you have any wedding or marriage advice for other couples planning their big day?
We planned our wedding very quickly, and while it worked out beautifully, it was definitely stressful. If you can give yourselves at least six months to pull off a wedding, do it. But if that’s not in the cards for you, just try to breathe through it. Some advice that I definitely did not follow myself: Remember that this is your one and only time to be engaged. Soak it in! Let people celebrate and pamper you. And ask for help as much as you can.
Thank you to Christophe Genty Photography for sharing Laura and Francesco’s dreamy intimate wedding with us!
Photographer Christophe Genty Photography
Location Stern Grove Club House
Event Planner Jenni Grubba Events
Band Lucky Devils Band
Hair Stylist Ella Leyva Hair and Makeup
Caterer Lukes Local
Caterer Lia Adams Events
Equipment Rentals AM Party Rentals
Cake MiGoodies BakeSale