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Real Wedding | Nicola + James

Tell us a little about yourselves!

James and I are both from California, currently living in San Diego. We are a love rekindled, as we like to say. We met in our early twenties but ended up living in different cities not long after. It took us about seven years of always keeping in touch to realize that maybe the universe was trying to tell us something. I finally flew down from San Francisco to San Diego to visit James, and the rest is history. We live in a tiny (but sunny!) apartment by the beach with our dog, Moose. It’s our little slice of paradise.

Why did you decide to get married where you did?

We chose San Francisco City Hall because it is such a beautiful, historic building. It makes for a stunning backdrop for wedding photos, before, during and after the ceremony.

How many guests did you have?

Six at our civil ceremony, twenty at our reception.

Tell us about your outfits.

I chose a simple but elegant gown by Emilia Wickstead. I fell in love with it immediately. It was the timeless, sophisticated look I was going for. I had always imagined my wedding gown would be a more traditional dress with a long train and veil, but when I tried this one on, it felt very ‘me.’

I also made sure to get a dress that I could wear again, so I plan on hemming it to a midi length to wear when we go to the ballet, theater etc. I love that it doesn’t scream ‘wedding dress’ and I can alter and re-wear it for other occasions. My mom made my veil. It was nostalgic for me because she used to help make my tutus when I danced ballet, so it was special to wear something again that she had made. My earrings were by Eliou - they were bold, but so fun. James wore a navy Reiss suit. We paired it with a tie, boutonniere and monk strap shoes to keep it classic.

What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?

Every decision we made was based on these three things: keep it simple, be surrounded by our closest loved ones, and stay within budget. We didn’t have a wedding planner or coordinator, so we kept the day as simple as possible. We wanted to get married, have dinner and celebrate with our family, have our first dance, eat cake and then just chill. It was like our family holiday dinners, but in fancier clothes. We decided to limit our wedding to family only, as we were already planning on having a separate celebration in San Diego with friends later on. We mostly limited our guest list to aunts and uncles (and parents and siblings, of course) and are so happy we did. These were the people that had watched us grow up and we knew how special it would be for them to celebrate with us. Having only 20 guests also allowed us time to talk to everyone rather than rushing from one guest to the next. We purposely planned to stick to an ‘elopement’ budget knowing that we would likely go over, which we did. But because we started with such a low budget, it didn’t sting when we went a bit over. We had a backyard reception with pot-luck style filipino food and homemade desserts. I ordered french linen tablecloths from Etsy and bought flowers from the grocery store for table decor. I used old jars that my mom had saved over the years as bud vases. We used pears from our fruit trees as napkin weights. Instead of hiring a DJ, we created a playlist and played music over the outdoor speakers - lots of Frank Sinatra, of course.

Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?

We wanted to make sure we had moments just to ourselves throughout the day. We did our first look on our hotel room balcony, just us two. We said our vows in private after our civil ceremony. We took time away from guests to take photos in my mom’s garden at sunset. We snuck away to the couch at the end of the night to just soak it all in before we left. We made no plans for the day after, other than to spend the day just the two of us. Those were the best moments.

Any tips for couples getting married?

Prioritize what’s most important to you on your wedding day and make each decision based on that list. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the details and lose sight of what truly matters. Also, start with a budget lower than what you would actually be comfortable spending. Chances are, you will go over it. Lastly, if you can have your wedding on a weekday, there’s better chances your top choice for vendors will be available. We got married on a Wednesday and all of the vendors we wanted to hire we available. It was great.

Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?

We spent a long time looking at photographers and when we found Amanda Pool Photo, we knew we wanted to hire her. Her style is less ‘wedding photographer’ and more photojournalistic. We loved how natural and unposed her photos were. She simply documented the day as it went and captured us and our family just being ourselves. Since we were a small wedding, she also did videography for us using super8 film, which we absolutely had to have. Her work is stunning and we couldn’t recommend her enough. Not to mention, our entire family absolutely adored her. For bridal hair and makeup, I chose Marisa Perel. Her style is more of the natural, ‘non-bridal’ bridal look I was going for. I don’t normally wear a lot of makeup, so it was important that I still feel like myself. She absolutely nailed it.

Photographer + Videographer : Amanda Pool Photo @amandapoolphoto | Ceremony Location : San Francisco City Hall | Reception Location : Private Residence (Northern California) | Flora : Le Bouquet @lebouquetsf | HMUA : Marisa Perel @marisaperel | Cake : Sweet Vanilla Bakery @sweetvanillabakeshopsf | Stationery : Papier @papier | Nicola's Dress : Emilia Wickstead from Net-a-porter @emiliawicksteadbridal | James's Suit : Reiss @reiss | Engagement Ring : Vrai @vraiofficial | Wedding Rings : Vrai @vraiofficial (Groom) and Marrow Fine @marrowfine (Bride) | Earrings : Eliou @eliou__


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