If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time then you’ve probably seen my Honeymoon in Rome blog posts so I figured I might as well share a few photos from our special day. After much research and visiting numerous venues, Samantha and I chose the La Canada Flintridge Country Club to host our wedding. The views there are stunning as it’s located in the San Gabriel Mountains overlooking the valley. LCF was also close to where we grew up and within 30 minutes drive for most of our guests so that factored into our decision.
Planning for the wedding became increasingly stressful as we got closer to the wedding which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of you who have gotten married before but it was compounded by the fact that we had moved up to the Bay Area during the middle of the planning phase. Other events included selling my house, Samantha’s graduation, studying for boards, my grandma becoming ill, my dad’s death, my old car needing to be replaced, buying another house right before the wedding, moving again, along with paying the bills and shooting a lot of photos. No doubt this caused me to acquire a few more gray hairs during the past year. Yet it all came together on our wedding day. It was one of the best days of my life.
Our wedding ceremony took place poolside with panoramic views of the valley below and downtown L.A. in the background. When you plan for an outdoor ceremony, you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to the weather and light. Since our wedding took place in April, it was neither hot nor cold and we didn’t get rained on! It was perfect.
An embarrassing moment happened to me during the ceremony however. I didn’t have time to review our vows prior to the wedding so when I was supposed to be repeating what our officiant was directing me to say, I accidentally said “I do” at a completely inappropriate moment so everyone in the audience had a laugh at my expense. People came up to me later saying that I must have been really nervous to have made that mistake but I actually wasn’t nervous at all. Just had a mental lapse…
Hiring Jennifer Jasso to shoot our wedding was a great decision. We liked how our engagement photoshoot turned out so we had full confidence in her ability to photograph our wedding. I normally hate getting my picture taken but Jennifer was able get me to open up. It really pays to hire a photographer that knows what they’re doing. Chances are if you hate being in photos its because you’ve never had a real photographer photograph you before. Photography is not just about technical skill but about getting the subject to reveal itself.
Samantha and I were not able to attend cocktail hour but we served a variety of hor d’oeuvres for our guests. Following cocktail hour, the lunch reception was held in the LCF Room which was an absolutely gorgeous room with panoramic views all around. The entrees we served were angus sirloin steak with cabernet reduction sauce, atlantic salmon with roasted shitake mushroom vinaigrette and vegetarian.
The theme for the wedding was “Our Story”. Each guest table was named after a location that held a special memory for us during the three years we had dated. On each of those tables was a different postcard of my photography from those locations with a brief story of it’s significance on the back of it. For seating arrangements, all of the guest name cards (reference 1st photo of this blog post) had a table name corresponding to one of those centerpiece postcards. Tying the wedding theme together, I prepared a slideshow of photos from our relationship set to the song, “The Story” by Brandi Carlile, during the 1st half and “San Francisco” by Vanessa Carlton for the 2nd half.
Our grand entrance song was “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. Samantha and I normally have opposite tastes in music but we both have always loved this song so we came to this decision fairly quick. The opening guitar riff and verse is one of the best ever written in my opinion. There is no greater feeling than the adrenaline rush from making a grand entrance to an amazing song like this.
We picked “Feels Like Home” by Neil Diamond to be our First Dance song. Such a beautiful song. I believe the original version was sung by Linda Ronstadt who was my dad’s favorite singer. It also happened to be on this Neil Diamond album that I gave to my dad for his birthday several years ago.
I had never danced before so Samantha and I rehearsed our First Dance for several days prior to the wedding. We choreographed a few spins to go with the music and a dip at the end. Surprisingly we only fell down once at home while practicing this! Luckily when it came to the real deal we were able to pull it off without incident.
I also planned for a second dance so I could have a dance with my mom. We danced to “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. This dance turned out to be quite emotional as my mom was both happy for us but also told me that she missed my dad. I couldn’t come up with any words so I just danced.
Our MC, Wasabi, incorporated three games into the reception. The men’s game featured a dance-off to popular songs like “Billie Jean” and “Gangnam Style”. The winner (dancing in photo above) eventually received a Best Buy gift certificate though we had misplaced it at the reception.
The women played a variation of musical chairs where they had to retrieve certain items from the audience. My mom ended up winning after a wild finish at the end which I won’t elaborate on here haha. My mom received a Nordstrom gift certificate later on since we couldn’t find it at the reception either.
The other event called for married couples to come up on the dance floor. We danced until the MC started eliminating couples married for less than a certain amount of time. Naturally Samantha and I were first off the floor. My cousin Doris and her husband Jeff ended up winning this one (20+ years of marriage) then received a nice bottle of wine from Napa Valley. Doris’ advice to us was, “Have low expectations.”
Samantha’s friend caught the bouquet and got engaged two weeks later. My brother caught the garter so hopefully he will find someone soon as well!
Planning for a wedding is a lot more work than it initially seems and if you’re paying for it yourself like we did then you have to be smart about where to allocate your budget. This is not a process that I’d want to go through again but it was worth it to have this experience together and see our guests share our joy.
Advice: Do your homework upfront, hire people that know what they’re doing and make sure everyone has been prepped then let go of all pre-conceived notions on your special day. Just go with the flow and be happy. You can easily become a “bridezilla” or “groomzilla” if you are too much of a control freak. What’s the point of having a wedding if you are going to be pissed off and crying all day?