Samantha & Mark’s City Hall Wedding And Restaurant Reception

SF City Hall, Courthouse Wedding, Restaurant Reception

Samantha, Project Manager & Mark, Technical Art Director *

After we got engaged, I really didn’t know what to do about the wedding. I was all atwitter with happiness and joy and excitement that Mark and I were really going to do this whole “get married” thing. But as for specifics? The actual event? I didn’t know where to start. This feeling was further complicated by not fitting the traditional mold of the “blushing bride.” I’m not exactly a dress size that lets me go to bridal shops and enjoy myself. I’m also realistic and practical enough to know that trying to fit myself into that mold would just end in heartache, so I turned to the internet. Oh, internet, how wonderful you can be! I found APW and I found out that I was not alone. It made me feel better to know that the things I wanted to throw out of my wedding were absolutely okay to throw out. It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t alone in not wanting to do things the “usual” way. There were all these people out there who were having these amazing indie weddings, and I could be one of them. I could be cool about planning our wedding. We would only do things that felt right to us. We would not be held hostage by convention. We would be calm and Zen and we would have a wonderful, easy wedding. It would be perfect!

Of course, this is easier said than done. Me being me, I started to worry about things, so many things. I worried about the location. I worried about the food. I worried about flowers and cake and favors. I worried, actually worried, about Jordan almonds. I worried that no one would come. I worried that too many people would come. I worried no one would talk, that we would all just sit in awkward silence staring at each other and silently begging time to go faster so the horrible pain of my boring wedding would stop. I worried and I worried and I worried.

The trouble with trying to plan an easy wedding? They aren’t easy. Perfection is hard to plan out. All those beautiful pictures you see take work. Or money. Or both. A lot more work and money than the word “easy” would lead you to believe.

So I talked to Mark. Remember him? First I tried to convince him to elope and he said no. Then we started really talking. We talked about what was important to us. We talked about why he didn’t want to elope and I did. I listened to him. He listened to me. We started putting things together. Things we wanted. We decided together to go back to the thought we had in the very beginning, that we would be calm and Zen and we would have a wonderful, easy wedding.

We gave up on planning a perfect wedding and started planning our actual wedding. We picked out what was important to us and we threw the rest away.

Music was important. We were so fortunate that a friend of a friend happened to be a wedding officiant in Los Angeles (L.A. Wedding Woman) and also happened to be married to a musician. A musician who was willing to learn songs for us and perform them at the ceremony. He played “Here Comes the Sun” for our processional (which can make me tear up on a normal day, so of course, it made both Mark and I tear up as soon as we heard the first few chords) and “Strangers” (complete with vocals!) for our recessional. Standing there, newly married, listening to one of the best songs ever written on one of the most emotional days of your life can be a little… surreal. In a really wonderful way.

Food and Drink were important. We wanted the feel of a dinner party with friends. So we picked a restaurant we loved that also happened to have these amazing private rooms. Farallon took care of everything. We didn’t have to worry about tablecloths or silverware. We didn’t have to worry about the bar running out of booze. We didn’t even have to worry about cake. While we certainly could have freaked out over overlays and menus and the location of bar in relation to the tables, we didn’t. We let go and let them do their job. We put our trust in them and they didn’t disappoint.

Pictures were important. We spent a lot of time going through photographers’ websites. We pretty much discounted anyone who didn’t have prices listed and whose website wouldn’t work on my iPad (there are a lot of photographers out there, we had to cull them somehow). Mark and I looked at them all from our different points of view until we found one that made us both happy (viscerally happy) when we looked at her website. Once again, we were not disappointed. The feelings of the day come back every time I flip though our pictures (which is pretty much every day).

Being Ourselves was important. We decided early on that we didn’t want to have dancing at our wedding. Not because we hate dancing, but because it really isn’t us. We are quiet spend-the-night-in-playing-board-games-and-drinking-wine types. Getting up to dance was going to be awkward for us, and the idea of no one dancing while a DJ screamed “DANCE” at the top of his/her lungs seemed, well, cruel. So we eschewed dancing and had a game table instead. People could play if they wanted, or not, nothing forced. And people played games! At the tables! Oh, and people danced too. All on their own because they liked a song or because they were a little bit drunk or because they were four years old and that’s just what you do. It was pretty rad.

Having Fun was important. I have trouble asking for help and frankly, I would have been a total wreck on our wedding day if we hadn’t hired a Day-Of Coordinator. I didn’t want to ask my friends to do too much (even though they are amazing and volunteered anyway) and I didn’t want to have to worry about anything (I believe I established my propensity for worry in paragraph two), so we went extravagant and hired a professional to worry for us (please note: not at all that extravagant). She was amazing; she just made things happen. She kept us on schedule. She helped us find our way when we got lost (which was often). And she made things so much more beautiful, and fun, and wonderful than I could have if I was trying to do it all myself.

Friends and Family were important. The most important. We had a small wedding because we wanted to spend time with people. We wanted to have conversations and be silly and take the time to enjoy the people who helped us be the people we are. I remember looking out at the tables during cocktail hour and seeing our friends talking to each other, people who had never met before having hilarious conversations like they were old friends.

If I had tried to make my wedding perfect, I would have been frustrated and anxious and I would have felt like a total failure. If I tried to do it all myself, I would have given myself a stress-induced stroke. Instead I let go. It was hard to do, but I forced myself, we forced ourselves, to let go and stick to what was actually important. We really did the bare minimum. We stuck to simple projects we thought added value, used the space around us, picked amazing vendors and let them do what they do so well. In the end it felt organic and natural. We felt calm and Zen and we had a wedding that was wonderful and easy.

Perfect, after all, is really only perfect in hindsight.

The Info—Photographer: Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor) / Day-of Coordinator: Lowe House Events (APW Sponsor) / Location: San Francisco, California / Wedding Venue: San Francisco City Hall / Reception Venue: Farallon Restaurant / Sam’s Dress: Dolly Couture / Mark’s Suit: Spoon Tailors / Rings: Gallery of Jewels and Pave / Flowers: Church Street Flowers / Officiant: Elysia Skye, L.A. Wedding Woman / Guitarist: Kalen Chase Musmecci

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