A Golden and Glamorous Restaurant Dinner Party Wedding

A delicious, celebratory San Francisco feast


Jeanne, Marketing Executive & Dan, Product Manager

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: The ultimate dinner party with everyone we love.

Planned Budget: $30K-ish

Actual Budget: $35K-ish

Number of Guests: 70 for the wedding and reception, plus 175 at the day-before party

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Where we allocated the most funds

The majority of our budget went to the restaurant in our San Francisco neighborhood where we held both the ceremony and reception. Food and wine are incredibly important to us, and we knew from the outset that we wanted our wedding to feel like a celebratory feast.

The buyout cost for the restaurant covered not only our venue fees, but also an amazing six-course menu, wine pairings and sherry-based cocktails, tent and lighting rentals, basic flowers for the tables, and the absolutely invaluable planning and coordinating help of the restaurant’s GM, Kerry.

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Where we allocated the least funds

Flowers. We didn’t have a bridal party and the restaurant didn’t need extra decoration beyond the bud vases on the tables, so all we needed was a bouquet for me and boutonnières for Dan and our families. I considered just picking up a couple bunches of sweet peas at the farmer’s market for five dollars and calling it good.

As it happens, though, I have a very talented friend Kristie who loves floral design, and she volunteered to help. I took a walk around our neighborhood on the morning of the wedding to collect some flowers and leaves that I liked, and she came to our loft on the morning of the wedding to create the most beautiful bouquet and boutonnières. It was really wonderful to have that time with her before the ceremony.

Also, my dress. I used to have a business making red carpet dresses for celebrities, so I made it using fabric I already had in my studio.


What was totally worth it

Opting for a restaurant wedding at a place we know and love was absolutely the smartest thing we did. We knew food and wine were the most important part of the experience we wanted to create for our guests, so prioritizing that from day one really simplified our decision process.

The turnkey nature of having the entire event in one place, staffed by a crew who already know each other and the venue, also turned out to be quite valuable. In the middle of our engagement, the company I worked for was acquired and I took a new, much more demanding job at a small startup. (Dan already had a demanding job at another startup.) Overnight, we had ZERO time to devote to wedding planning. But we trusted the restaurant team one hundred percent and they carried the day. We really just showed up and they made us feel like we were guests at the best party ever.

Hiring Melissa of Marble Rye Photography was also a clutch move. She brought a really calming, relaxed energy to our wedding weekend, and she has an incredible talent for catching the small moments and details you want to remember.

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What was totally not worth it

As gorgeous as our foil-stamped invitations were (designed by our friend Heather!), the time and energy and resources that went into getting them printed, assembled, and mailed was pretty outsize.

Given a do-over, I might opt for really beautifully designed e-invites like the save-the-dates Heather put together for us. We handled all of our wedding correspondence online except the ceremony invites, and I’d happily save the printer selection angst and paper acquisition drama and proof checking, not to mention all the time I spent gluing layers of pretty paper together and the crazy unit cost for printing such a small volume of invites.


A few things that helped us along the way

In some ways, having my job situation change so dramatically in the middle of our engagement actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Although our aggregate free time dropped pretty much to zero, it also forced us to focus ruthlessly on the things that mattered most to us. We had to let go and trust that however the details played out, the big things would be right at the end of the day. We would have committed our lives to each other, the people we love would be there to witness and celebrate it, and everyone would have a damn good time.

We also set aside a long weekend about a month before the wedding to go away and figure out our ceremony. Since we wrote our own, we needed time away from our regular lives to reflect on what was most important to us and build a ceremony that felt right.


My best practical advice for my planning self

Book your venue as early as possible. The faster you narrow down your planning options, the more sane you will remain.

If something doesn’t feel important to you, let it go. Be ruthless. It’s tough to shrug off what you think people expect of you—but in retrospect it’s your own memories of the process and the day that count.

And conversely—if something is important to you, concentrate your resources there. We spent a much higher percentage of our budget on food and wine than some couples do. But that’s who we are, and it’s how we wanted to celebrate with the people we love. We don’t regret it for a second.

Favorite thing about the wedding

We asked our parents to all speak during the ceremony, but we told them we didn’t want to know what they’d say beforehand. Each of them made us laugh and cry. It was so touching to hear them each offer us their wisdom and love.



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  • Christen Moynihan

    Oof … that dress is hit-you-in-the-gut fantastic.

  • jashshea

    I’m sure this post is chock full of good info, but I skipped down here because THAT DRESS.

  • Sara

    I am always supremely jealous of the weddings that have dresses that you designed and created yourself because I can’t buy it myself and have no sewing skills :)

    Gorgeous wedding! I love the idea of having it in a restaurant that I love. And I can’t believe those flowers are just ones you found around your neighborhood! They’re fantastic.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    Seeeequinnnnzzz!!! Love! Love! Love!

    What a gorgeous celebration. The buddleja (uh, I think?) in the first picture is like WOAH.

  • I can’t….that dress…
    for the love of all that is holy is that a beautiful dress.
    Gorgeous wedding all around.

  • notquitecece

    Wow! Everything is gorgeous, and the mood/priorities/vibe sound amazing. This makes me so glad we’re going to be working with Melissa, and is super validating for our own SF-restaurant-wedding plans.

    • Jeanne Feldkamp

      Thank you! You will be SO glad you’re working with Melissa—she’s the best. What you don’t see in the second picture is that my mom isn’t zipping my dress, she’s actually sewing me into it… I was on my way to a full size freakout but Melissa’s totally unflappable air of calm helped me keep it together. She even managed to get a photo where it looks like a nice happy moment! :)

      • notquitecece

        Yay! (And I kind of love that dress moment — it’ll make a much better story than just zipping you in!)

        This is seriously the wedding I’ve seen that I can relate to most; I’m so glad you decided to share it.

        • Jeanne Feldkamp

          Awesome, glad you enjoyed it. Which restaurant are you having your wedding at?

          • notquitecece

            Foreign Cinema! It’s in our neighborhood, so nearly everything (getting ready, etc.) will be within a few-block radius.

          • Jeanne Feldkamp

            Love. That is such a great space! And being able to walk home at the end of the night and sleep in your own bed is the BEST.

  • Rachelle

    Basically my dream wedding! I can’t even imagine how good the food and wine must have been and that is one of the best wedding dresses I’ve ever seen in my entire life! Gorgeous!

  • Kelly

    Gah! Everything about this sounds and looks so fabulous. My alternate reality wedding dream was to have an elegant six course dinner at our favorite restaurant, and I shall now live out my dreams vicariously through your post. And that dress…ohmygod…

  • scw

    I don’t even know where to start commenting on this fabulous wedding! your dress is amazing, the food picture is making me very hungry, and I love that you had your parents speak during the ceremony. that is a really cool idea. I’m also glad that you shared your idea to set aside a long weekend to go away and write your ceremony. I might steal that.

    • Jeanne Feldkamp

      Thanks :) Having both sets of parents speak was originally our solution to the question of how to make space for everyone’s religious traditions in the ceremony in a way that still felt authentic for us (Dan’s parents are religious, but we are not). The surprise aspect of the speeches was also really fun. All of our parents were amazingly funny and my memories of the ceremony are largely around how much laughter there was.

  • Rachelle

    omg that dress.

  • laddibugg

    I know the dress was one-of-a-kind, but I’m pinning it regardless because it’s exactly what I want, and it’s easier to show than tell….

    And I am seriously thinking restaurant buy-out might be the way to go….as long as there is room to dance (I really, really, really want to do a father daughter dance)

    • Lisa

      We picked a restaurant in Chicago that had an awesome loft space, and it was the best decision we could make. They already have the decor so little-to-no set-up, no rentals to worry about, the sound system is in place, AND the food and drinks are amazing. The price seemed like quite a bit upfront, but when you start looking into how much all of the little things like renting plates and glassware and hiring bartenders cost, it really evens out without you having to do most of the work.

  • Jeanne Feldkamp

    Thank you all so much for the comments about the dress!! It was truly a labor of love, made in full couture style entirely by hand (it took about 200 hours). It’s a good thing my first company got acquired, because without the downtime between jobs, I never could have finished it.

    FWIW, Badgely Mischka makes a similar dress that’s available at Saks: http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/ProductDetail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524446675999

    I’m curious—has anyone else out there had a restaurant wedding in SF? I didn’t find a lot of options in terms of venues that could accommodate the right number of people in a single, unobstructed space. Foreign Cinema is one, and Bar Agricole’s courtyard would work for a smaller wedding… but what else have y’all found out there?

    • Lisa

      Seriously amazing quality of work on your dress. I wish I had it to wear around the house everyday because it looks like it would make one feel fabulous no matter the situation.

    • ktan

      Not in SF, but am also planning a restaurant wedding (with very few examples to go off of) and would love to connect and hear more of your thoughts. Would you be interested in corresponding via email?
      I loved reading your post and am so happy that we chose to go the restaurant route, too!

      • Jeanne Feldkamp

        Yes, of course! Not sure what the etiquette is here regarding email address exchange… can you DM me @jkfeldkamp on Twitter?

  • Jeanne, I am blown away by your dress. First of all, it is GORGEOUS. And then…you MADE IT? Wow. So super impressed.

    • Jeanne Feldkamp

      Thank you! I’d never done full sequins before and I don’t know if I’d do it again… but I’m glad I did it this once. :)

  • <3. Jeanne & Dan threw the best, warmest, most spectacular dinner party for their friends and family. It was such a joy to be there with them!

    • Jeanne Feldkamp

      Thank you so much for being part of it! You’re the best!!

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  • Dian Xiao

    I was actually thinking about going to Piccino for dinner today…now I feel like this is a sign I must.