ABOUT US AND THE WEDDING
Matthew and I met at his sneaker and clothing shop, District, in our hometown of Alameda during the summer of 2005. As I browsed through his new store, his attempts at customer service and flirting came off rude and egotistical. Although it wasn’t a great first impression, I felt an immediate connection, but kept my distance after we learned that my cousin was a good friend of his. Two weeks later, Matt’s business partner and my cousin’s friend, invited me to join them as a buyer at a major Las Vegas Convention. My cousin had his reservations, but thought it would be a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. Who could pass up a free trip to Las Vegas, right? Matt asked me to lunch a few days before the trip so that we could get acquainted. We became instant friends and have been inseparable ever since.
After a couple years of dating and while on a winter vacation in New York City, we spent New Year’s Eve 2007 at a Chris Rock performance inside Madison Square Garden. At the stroke of midnight, Matt turned to me and said, “Babe, I’m not going anywhere,” a direct quote from the show. My reaction was, “What? That’s Chris Rock’s line!” He pulled out the box, opened it upside down and held a beautiful cushion cut solitaire in his trembling hands. While I burst into tears, Matt patiently said, “So, what’s your answer?” Although he didn’t officially ask, I cried out, “Yes!”
We were motivated to find a modern and clean venue that could represent our styles and personalities. After a month long search, we approached the new Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Restaurant in San Francisco with the idea of their first wedding and they were sold. The venue was made for our event: we held the ceremony in the jazz club, cocktail hour in the bar and lounge on the main floor and upstairs, moved into the dining room for dinner and back into the jazz club for cake, dessert and dancing!
After we booked Yoshi’s, we searched for local businesses that could provide us with the perfect service. Half way through my first day of wedding dress shopping, I tried on one dress that took everyone’s breath away. When I found out it was designed by Junko Yoshioka, it was the perfect sign and then, the perfect dress. Another light went off in my head when we realized that we could ask a family friend, Rev. Michael Yoshii, to officiate the ceremony. We were definitely on the right track with Yoshi’s, Yoshioka and Yoshii.
Because District and shoes played such a fun symbol in our relationship, we found it to be the perfect theme to tie us and our wedding celebration together. I was first inspired to create a cake unlike any other. Why not stack some shoeboxes on top of each other and top the cake off with replicas of our actual wedding shoes? Matt’s new white patent leather croc Vans and my silver sedaraby’s by Manolo Blahnik did the trick. After finding a local cake artist, Debbie Does Cakes, to help us embellish our dream cake, the theme took off. I soon reached out to a friend with a local design business, Passing Notes. Abbie helped us create shoe print invitations embedded with our initials, programs tied with a custom made shoelace, personalized shoehorns that guided our 200 guests to their table cities and our shoelace logo, which we projected onto the walls of Yoshi’s jazz club. Matt and I also displayed the logo alongside our photo on Yoshi’s outdoor marquee and even hand painted our logo on our aisle runner. The logo also added a personal touch to our out of town and wedding party gift bags.
Our purple theme was vibrant throughout the event with strapless Ralph Lauren bridesmaid dresses, purple bowties and argyle socks for the groomsmen. Purple orchids were submersed in tall vases filled with white stones and purple water. Different shades of purple and white orchids were also chosen for the boutonnières and bouquets provided by our local florist, Mints.
Our Uncle blessed the ceremony with his solo guitar, which included six Beatles songs, and a friend personalized our cocktail hour with his DJ beats. Yoshi’s provided the ambiance with jazz hits as we seated our guests at communal tables to serve the Japanese family style menu:
1st course: sendai miso soup, edamame, kakiage
2nd course: spicy geisha roll, sarusa roll, japanese roll
3rd course: gindara black cod, creekstone farm black angus ribeye
4th course: chocolate mousse bon bons and wedding cake
Debbie Does Cakes Shoe Cake: lemon cake with raspberry and vanilla filling
Sugar Danny’s Sheet cake: double layered devils food cake and almond cake
The night went off with a bang as we performed our self choreographed first dance to Estelle’s, American Boy. We cut the shoe cake, served the bon bons and danced the night away to top hits by the band, D’Groove.
Two days after the best day of our lives, we honeymooned in Nadi, Fiji and explored parts of
New Zealand that involved the Franz Josef glacier, bungy jumping, white water rafting and a helicopter ride over Milford Sound.
We’re still enjoying the coverage of our big day and get to relive it through our photographers, Joel Flory and Jon Encarncacion, and videographers, Travis and Curtis from Curtis Nemetz Productions.
Check out more images on Joel’s blog…
[images from Joel Flory]
I got really excited when Joel sent me photos from the wedding that will be coming up later today…I just wanted to give you a taste of what to expect via the invitation suite….PLEASE tell me you can see those cute little feet letterpressed on the invites and programs. And maybe you’re noticing its not tied with ribbon, but with a shoelace…its all about the details! Stay tuned, this wedding is up at 1pm.
[images from Joel Flory]
Jessica Guerrette and James Vanderberg
October 11, 2008
The Hill-Stead Museum
Jane Shauck of Iris Photography
Theme: We wanted to use the natural landscape and the time of year as a backdrop and highlight that with organic and natural touches and a nod to good old-fashioned Victorian weddings. Most importantly we wanted the day to be intimate and cozy and about our community coming together. Even with 150 guests we wanted each person to feel cared for and honored because they were there supporting us. We chose chartreuse and aubergine as our color scheme. James proposed to me with a redesigned ring from the turn of the twentieth century that was worn by my great-grandmother, grandmother (a wedding cake maker), and mother so we wanted the day to connect to parts of our past. We also wanted to make sure we used the creative resources (friends and family) we had at hand. Also, James and I spent a lot of time apart traveling and living in other places and we wanted our guests to know we were starting an adventure together…finally.
Setting: We chose The Hill-Stead in Farmington, Connecticut because of the surroundings, the history and because my family lives close by. The house was built at the turn of the twentieth century (a little before time my ring was first worn!) and contains a pretty extensive collection of art from the era (Monet, Manet, Degas, Cassatt, Whistler, etc.). It’s very rustic with gardens and gorgeous views of the Litchfield Hills and was a perfect setting for our October wedding. We had our ceremony in an Arts and Crafts style makeshift theater within the house, the cocktail hour in the sunken garden, and the reception in a tent on the front lawn.
Decor: Flowers were very important to my mom. Since the reception was in a tent we knew we’d need someone with vision who could turn a blank canvas into some place worth hanging out for a few hours and we found Dragonfly Events (www.dragonflyevent.com). They read my mind and created the most intimate, warm tent I could imagine. I gave her a list of things that I loved and she made it come to life. Each tablescape was different but coordinated with bell jars, bird cages, wooden boxes, succulents, white pumpkins, hanging moss, old picture frames, ranunculus, buttons, recycled glass, old stones, burlap and wine bottles. My Mom and Aunt Rosanne made all the burlap runners for the tables. We drank enough wine over the course of 10 months to be sure every table had at least 3 wine bottles filled with flowers. My father made the picture frames that acted as table numbers. James, a painter (www.jamesvanderberg.com), made a watercolor for each table and one guest sitting at that table took it home as a favor.
Invitations: Since I work at Lion in the Sun (www.lioninthesunps.com) in Park Slope, paper is very important to me. Through the shop I was introduced to local New York designer Kimberly Driessen of Blue Ribbon Letterpress Designs (www.blueribbondesign.com). She custom made a whole suite for me from invitations to informals to programs and placecards. One of my favorite things was how she letterpressed a portion of Walt Whitman’s (a fellow Brooklynite!) Song of the Open Road on the back of the programs:
Camarado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money
I give you myself above preaching or law
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
Food: The cake was made by my Aunt Rosanne and was inspired by the custom designed invitations. Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, our favorite. Food was important to us too. Lisa Cole at Inspired Catering (www.inspiredcatering.com) was very helpful. We had just spent the last 8 months living in Paris and wanted the food to reflect our love of French cuisine. She created a meal using seasonal harvest ingredients that included a beautiful croquembouche to go along side the traditional wedding cake.
Dresses: The bridesmaid’s dresses and groomsmen’s ties were all from Simple Silhouettes in NY. My dress was Romona Keveza and reminded me of a John Singer Sargent painting. I bought it at Kleinfelds after trying on loads of dresses at 5 other boutiques. I didn’t think I was going to be one of those girls who “knew” what dress was for me, especially after trying on so many dresses. When I walked out of the dressing room the look on my family’s face confirmed that this was, in fact, the dress. The designer was there that day and helped me augment the dress by adding buttons down the whole back and customizing the veil. James wore a custom made suit from Brooks Brothers.
Photography: I chose Iris Photography because of her process. She has a journalistic eye and develops her pictures so the colors are super-saturated. She also had a really unique eye and shared a vision of my day, which was helpful. (www.photoiris.com). She and her husband work together and they even stayed later than expected to hang out and listen to our band…they were a lot of fun to work with and she took some really breathtaking pictures of the day. The best thing she did was set up a portrait station after the receiving line and took a portrait of each of our guests next to a stone wall or barn door.
Ceremony: Our ceremony was written by us. We took elements of a Quaker service without self-marrying. Our parents stood behind us as we said our vows to each other. We had friends read passages from Hafiz and Socrates. James’s brother Peter, a poet, read a piece he’d written for us and our families titled “Prothalamian”. During a long moment of silent reflection we passed our rings around the room so that every person could be part of something we would carry with us every day. Kir Royal’s were served as our guests left the theater to let them know that it was time to party.
Music: James and I are in a band together and music is very important to us. Our friend Emily, an opera singer, and Jamie, a classical guitar player played me down the aisle to their own version of Stereolab’s “Peng!” and our groomsman and bandmate Matt (www.myspace.com/mattsucichwiththevanderettes) lead our recessional with Van Morrison’s “Starting a New Life”. Art Bailey, a Brooklyn accordion player, escorted our guests to the sunken garden for the cocktail hour. James’s granddad sang along with Art during that time. The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn (www.thebluevipersofbrooklyn.com) played music from the 1920′s and 30′s during the reception…they are the best! Find them in the city if you can. After the ultimate dance party mix made by James and Matt, played through an iPod, we finished the night with a set from our own band (Matt Sucich with The Vanderettes) which included guest appearances by my dad and members of the bridal party.
L’il Things: I love Etsy.com and found so many amazing pieces on there for our wedding day. My hairpiece was made by Myra at Twigs and Honey (www.twigsandhoney.com). I had James’ cufflinks custom made with vintage maps of Brooklyn and Paris from Anne Holman Designs (www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5053816). I even had custom fragrances made for each of my bridesmaids by Loreto Aromatica (www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=4563). James gave his groomsmen Laguiole knives, traditional French cutlery. I also had a lot of pieces from my family on me that day including a bracelet from my Great-Grandmother and a hand-crocheted hankie from my Grandmother.
[images by Iris Photography]
I’m so jealous that Anna and Lib got to ride the ever-elusive Carousel in DUMBO….we took our wedding photos in many of the same spots down there but that was the ONE that was closed
Anna & Liberty
September 19th, 2008
SmackMellon Studios, BROOKLYN, New York
Lib and I had a GREAT time planning our wedding. For us, getting married was just declaring publicly what we have known for a really long time, that we love each other deeply and are meant to be together. We are a pretty non-trad couple and we wanted everything about the day to reflect our style. Every thing we did had meaning and symbolism for us, we made it all count! We knew we wanted a short, but very meaningful and spiritual ceremony and then…throw a huge, awesome party to celebrate with all the people we love! We had a very diverse crowd – backgrounds, age ranges, country of origin – so we wanted to make sure we everyone felt included and part of the party, in every aspect. We chose to use local businesses and artists as much as possible. The quality of their work and dedication far surpassed anything we’ve ever seen. We had the best day of our lives and when I think back, all I do is smile, the room was completely full of love – it was amazing!
Ceremony & Reception Site
We had our ceremony and reception at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn (www.smackmellon.org/rent.html) – we loved the venue from the second we saw it. I really wanted a blank canvas for the wedding so we could set things up exactly as we wanted it to be. The space is located between the foot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges in DUMBO and the views are spectacular. It brings the feeling of old Brooklyn, together with the new – and since Lib and I are both born Brooklynites, and so proud of it, we felt it fit perfectly.
Karen Mordechai (www.karenmordechai.com) of Brooklyn. I found Karen through a post on Brooklyn Bride! I thought her photos were fantastic, so I called her immediately and booked the date. She met with Liberty and I and we were on our way. She is talented, calm, sweet and extremely professional. Karen shoots in more of a photo-journalistic style – and that’s what we wanted – someone who could go with the flow. She honored all our requests and was genuinely concerned that we be satisfied and happy. Karen totally surprised us when she told us she obtained permission for us to take pics on the beautiful antique carousel in DUMBO – something Liberty really wanted to do!
Always a Bridesmaid (www.alwaysabridesmaid.us)
Possibilities are endless when you rent a raw space, and so is the list of things you have to do to make it all work out. Since the venue comes with, well, 4 walls and a bathroom, we were really going to need help coordinating the days leading up the wedding and the day of. Xochitl and Mayra were the unbelievable! They went above and beyond what they signed on to do, and the day went off without a hitch (at least none that I know of)! They have a terrific relationships with their past and current vendors and knew exactly what to do when they were faced with new challenges. Liberty and I enjoyed every second, they kept everything organized and on track, and were absolutely graceful and amazing and lovely. Liberty and I don’t know what we would have done without them, and we cannot say enough about them and the amount of joy they brought to our day.
Our Amazing Ceremony
My sister was my maid of honor and Liberty’s nephew was his best man. My mother walked me down the “isle” to Israel Kamakawiwo’oles’ version of “Wonderful World.” Our officiate was Ali Berlin (www.aliberlin.com) who we feel blessed to know! She is an amazing, spiritual woman who is a life coach in San Francisco, CA. Liberty and I wrote our own vows and asked Ali to incorporate several themes into our service – including having our guests be a part of it. Ali asked all our guests to join hands and pledge to support us not only on that day, but throughout our marriage. Our ceremony was about 15 minutes, but every single word was meaningful! After Ali finished her beautiful ceremony, we recessed to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. There was hardly a dry eye in the house!
Invites, Cards, all things paper (and beyond)
All by Jessica and her staff at Artez’n on Atlantic Ave (www.artezn.com). We knew the vibe we wanted and Jessica caught on right away. We wanted to use a photo Liberty took of the Brooklyn Bridge, so she worked her design magic and made it into our “Save the Date” postcard. The invites, envelopes, place cards, table cards, menus and our thank you notes all keep in the same “Brooklyn LOVE” theme. We got so much positive feedback about them – some of our guests framed them! Jessica also put together our hotel bags which were Brooklyn themed and contained Brooklyn Soap, Brooklyn Fudge, Brooklyn maps, magnets, postcards…
Our talented friend Scott Bragin of Rhythm of the Night Entertainment (Brooklyn again!) ruled the turntables! Liberty is a musician and he and I met when I was working in the music business – so this was perhaps the most important part of our reception for us! Lib had stacks of song lists by the hour and after a few meetings with Scott, we knew it would be flawless. Our guests were pretty surprised that with a room full of musicians we chose to have a DJ. For us, it was a no brainer – we wanted our guests to dance, not play music all night (which is what happens when musicians and instruments are in the same room). Originally we didn’t want a “first dance” but so many people told us that we needed to get the party started by getting up there first, I’m glad we did! Lib dedicated, “Feels Like Home” to me and I dedicated “No One” to him. We played music during our cocktail hour by our musician friends who were in attendance, mixed in with Americana and Lounge and the rest of night covered everything from Funk and Soul to the Stones and Jane’s Addiction. Scott did an amazing job – the dance floor was always FULL – including all the musicians who kept going, “Oh – I love this song! (email@example.com). We closed the evening with The Beatles, “All You Need Is Love.” I would not change a single note played.
Steve Carapella, Three Brothers Butchers/Caraleo Catering – We are way into food and Lib has serious Italian roots, so we really wanted everything to be outstanding. It was. We worked with Steve who also helped us with rentals of staff, chairs, tables, linens, silverware – lots of planning and sampling (which was fun). They even brought in uplighting for us for the room. We didn’t want any “typical wedding food.” Our menu was completely custom created from our wishlist and they tweaked everything we wanted so that we could make it work in a space that does not allow open flames and has a limited kitchen. We added Brooklyn Wine (www.redwhiteandbubbly.com) and Brooklyn Beer (www.brooklynbrewery.com) to our full bar, as well as several ‘non-alcoholic’ customized drinks for our guests – so they would have more than the same old soda and juice options.
We didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, so we brought in all of our favorite desserts, gigantic chocolate cream filled cupcakes (they look like the famous ones with the white squiggle on top – only twice the size) from Downtown Atlantic Bakery on Atlantic Avenue (www.downtownatlantic.com), trays of caramel bread pudding from 3 Brothers, all different flavors of delicious Junior’s Cheesecake (www.juniorscheesecake.com), cannolis, fruit and pastries and…what turned out to be the biggest hit of the night – and a surprise for Lib from me -a Mr Softee truck (www.mistersoftee.com)! We attached tickets to the back of everyone’s place card that they could turn in to the ice cream man for whatever they would like. In a matter of seconds, all the guests turned into a bunch of kids running out the door to get to the truck! It was terrific (and it is a great value)!
Flowers & Decor
We are all about the vintage and antique vibe and I wanted something really special for our centerpieces, so we spent months collecting vintage antique depression glass pitchers and glass sets from flea markets and antique shops – no two were the same. I printed out tons of pictures of flower arrangements and color schemes and brought them to Joe at Langdon Florist (212 962 4371). After being endlessly patient with me (I am clueless about flowers) we decided on arrangements that were antique looking and let the beauty of the glass shine. Joe filled each pitcher with flowers and the matching glasses were filled with tea lights and placed around the pitchers on each table. I bought tons of vintage amber juice glass sets and amber candleholders and we used them on the tables, window sills – everywhere! Joe also made a few large arrangements that we used for multiple purposes at venue (on the card table, as a backdrop for the ceremony, then the bar, then the buffet – you make the most of your budget that way) as well as the bouquet for my sis, boutonnières for Liberty and Eric and flowers for our parents. He went out of his way to make sure everything was perfect. Joe took our budget and showed us how to get the most out of it. At the end of the night, whomever had a purple ribbon tied to their chair, took the vintage pitcher and glass set home as their favor. Also, we set up 2 Polaroid cameras and sign in books for our guests to take pics, and write notes (lots of people snuck extra pics and took them home as mementos).
This was a very important part of the day for Lib and I and we wanted to make this happen in a way that was positive and happy.
I asked our photographer Karen for one posed shot – and one only! When my mom got married, her photographer took a few pics of her getting ready with my Nana in front of her vanity mirror. My nana passed when I was little, but we were very close. My mom still has that mirror, so she brought it to our apartment where Karen helped set it up in my bedroom, and we placed a photo of my nana and pop off to the side. My mom posed in the mirror with me, and I got a new version of her picture. Karen also took photos of the original Polaroid’s, which was a nice surprise to see when I got my pictures back! Also, I put my nana’s bedspread and a pretty little pillow she had on our so it’s in the background of all our “getting ready” shots.
During our ceremony, Ali spoke about those whom we wished could be with us, more specifically mentioning Liberty’s brother who passed away very young. She pointed out that he was there with us through his son Eric, Liberty’s best man. Ali also thanked my mother on my behalf, for being both my mom and my dad my whole life, and how much that means to me. The photos of nana and pop went on my mom’s table, as well as a few other photos. My cousin, Father Giles (who is 80!) is a Franciscan priest and he blessed our marriage and said grace prior to dinner, pulling all of our family members and guests together. I searched all over for a vintage locket that could hold multiple pics for a gift my sis (which I found on Etsy). I filled it with photos of all the generations of strong women in our family who we are descendants of. I wanted her to know that’s he is one of those strong women and that I love her not only as my sister, but as my best friend. I added my mom’s blue butterfly pin to my bouquet, as well as a locket (Etsy again) with pictures of my family who could not be with there with me, but were all definitely there in spirit!
Beauty & Attire
My hair was done by the talented Paul of PANYC Salon in NYC (www.panyconline.com). I’ve been going to him for about 10 years now and he never lets me down! Brooklyn make up artist Elizabeth Kamp was amazing! She not only did my make up, but also did my sister’s and mom’s. She is the calmest person in the world and she’s a great listener! Fellow redheads will understand this – she didn’t try to cover my freckles or cake on crazy amounts of makeup! Both Elizabeth and Paul offer amazing pricing for what they do. My dress is Jenny Packham, Liberty’s suit is John Varvatos.
My earrings were borrowed from my oldest friends, Jennifer Gandia of Greenwich Jewelers NYC (www.greenwichjewelers.com) I carried a purse that my sis got for me from a vintage shop specifically for this purpose – when I got engaged (5 years ago)! My sister’s jewelry is by Maleeka on Atlantic Ave (www.maleeka.com).
[images by Karen Mordechai]
[images by Karen Mordechai]