A Stunning San Francisco SoiréeWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Clane Gessel Photography
Janneth and John never doubted their decision to host a destination wedding in San Francisco, California. They did, however, put some extra thought into the time of year they would exchange nuptials. “San Francisco is our favorite city and most of our family lives on the West Coast,” explains the bride. “Everyone was excited about the opportunity to visit San Francisco for the wedding. [Also,] San Francisco can be cold and overcast during some parts of the year, so we made sure that we set our wedding date in October. This is the warmest month of the year in San Francisco.”
This organized, DIY bride didn’t hire a wedding planner and instead chose to handle the wedding details herself. When we asked Janneth about the overall planning process for a destination wedding, she explained that there are pros and cons. “So much is done online now that planning a destination wedding was much like planning a wedding at home. It takes organization, meticulous planning, and a lot of luggage to make a destination wedding go smoothly. However, we did have to take some leaps of faith with the venue and vendors. We booked the venue site unseen! We weren’t even able to meet with all the vendors before the wedding. Time management is also important because a significant portion of our do-it-yourself projects for the wedding could not be assembled until we were in San Francisco.”
Speaking of do-it-yourself projects, the bride put a lot of time and effort into creating custom details for her destination wedding. She even went so far as to learn calligraphy so she could design her own escort cards, place cards, menus, table numbers and signs. In addition to creating the place cards tied to mini bottles of tequila and escort cards that included shot glasses, Janneth also embroidered handkerchiefs with the couple’s initials and wedding date. While the bride loved how everything turned out, she did forewarn other couples about the amount of time and effort she had to put into transporting materials and assembling everything after arriving in San Francisco.
John and Janneth also planned ahead when it came to their guests’ accommodations. “We booked enough hotel blocks in advance that almost all of our guests stayed at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins with us. It was really fun to bump into people before and after the wedding.” When we asked the newlyweds how choosing a destination wedding affected their budget, they were both honest and realistic. “We spent more money overall. We chose an expensive venue in one of the most expensive cites in the country to have a wedding. The little things also started adding up, particularly flights and having things shipped to San Francisco and hotels rooms.” Despite spending more on the destination of their choice, the couple doesn’t regret passing on a hometown wedding.
“It would not have been San Francisco, our favorite city and one of the best cities in the world! It was an incredible experience and would not have had the wedding anywhere else. Yes, it would have been less stressful and fewer last minute things to stress out about it, but it was all worth it.” Because the bride did so much of the planning and designing herself, Janneth had lots of helpful advice to share for other couples currently planning a wedding away.
“Don’t get overwhelmed by Pinterest! Stay focused on your own vision of the day. Try to infuse your personality into the wedding experience… if you’re crafty, incorporate a few of those touches into the wedding, but don’t take on too many projects or you’ll risk getting overwhelmed. [Also,] take your wedding party and family pictures before your ceremony. We spent several hours taking photos around San Francisco before our ceremony, which meant we could spend more time with friends and family during the cocktail hour and reception without feeling rushed. This was one of our best decisions. [Lastly,] Make sure your wedding party is prepared to take care of any last minute details and resolve wedding day problems on your behalf. You won’t have time and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experience more if you know that you have people taking care of things behind the scenes. Remember, an event with so many moving parts is bound to have a few hiccups, so improvise and move on. No one will notice the little details except you!”
Vendors: Photographer: Clane Gessel Photography, Ceremony Site: Atrium Lobby of the Merchants Exchange Building, Reception Site: Julia Morgan Ballroom, Florist: Asiel Design, Stationery: Atelier Isabey, Cake: Jasmine Rae Bakery, Hair & Makeup: Fresh Face Makeup, Gown Designer: Berta from Carine’s Bridal Atelier, Bride’s Hairpiece/Jewelry: Hermione Harbutt, Bride’s Shoes: Charlotte Olympia, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Vera Wang, Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Badgley Mischka/Vera Wang, Bridsmaids’ Jewelry: Kate Spade, Linens: La Tavola Linen, Lighting: Enhanced Lighting & Audio Visual, Inc., Cartoonist: Jon Casey’s Cartoon.Guru, Ceremony Entertainment: Bay Music & Entertainment, Reception Entertainment: Blue Edge Productions and DJ Quan, Videographer: IQ Videography, Limousine/Transportation: Nationwide Limousine Service, Wedding Night Hotel: InterContinental Mark Hopkins
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