Elise and Alec’s wedding shot by Josh Gruetzmacher is just one of those that sweeps you off your feet at a quick peek at their images. Being an event designer herself, Elise designed her own wedding with scrumptious florals by A Simple Ceremony with carefully curated finds from thrift stores she and her husband have been collecting. Take it all in folks, because this is a read-and-bookmark-it-for-later to view it again and again kinda wedding.
From the bride, Elise: Alec and I met in high school through our mutual best friends who had dated in junior high. After 7 years of dating, Alec proposed at our favorite spot overlooking the city lights of our hometown. He proposed with his grandma’s vintage ring, which set the tone for the feel of our wedding.
As a wedding planner, I knew what tasks were ahead and organized my time accordingly. I wanted to create many personal touches; I wanted the making of our wedding to be as fun as the actual day. We were engaged for almost 2 years before we said I do, which gave me enough time to create the vintage atmosphere I was looking for. My sister called it “Rococo Chic” as there were a lot of gold vintage pieces mixed with modern touches.
I have always loved making things and this gave me the reason to dive right in, and go treasure hunting. I made weekly (okay daily) trips to different thrift stores, yard sales, the dump and friend’s garages. Finding really inexpensive pieces to create the atmosphere I was looking for was a thrill and a treat for the right side of my brain. I collected random containers that could be used as vases for flowers, like cages, old decanters, even a bubble gum machine. Crystal, wood, metal anything that caught my eye would come home with me. I also was on the hunt for vintage teacups and cake stands/platters for our coffee & dessert bar. I collected over 50 unique antique tea/coffee cups, which made for great souvenirs of our wedding for family and friends.
A year prior to our engagement I had taught myself how to reupholster an old wingback chair via DIY websites, and it turned out pretty well. So I put my beginner skills to work and tried my hand at a 3 person vintage tufted couch. When that also came out well, I just kept going, filling up the garage with more furniture awaiting TLC. I spent many late nights in my makeshift studio (aka the garage) learning how to use the sewing machine, gluing, cutting, painting – it was epic!
I reupholstered 2 vintage couches, 1 bench, and 4 armchairs. I paint-stripped a vintage trunk that we used as a coffee table in one of the lounges; it was bright green and brown when I found it. Once the paint peeled away the rust and metal came through and it was so much more raw and beautiful. I also painted our silhouettes, from on our invitations, on another coffee table. I made all the pillows for the couches, which are now on our living room couch so we get to enjoy them daily.
We worked with Aerialist Press to create our invitations and response cards. Letterpress is my favorite, and Alexandra at AP creates really special pieces and it was so much fun to work with her. For other paper goods, I also created signage for our ceremony, photobooth, coffee station, and dessert bar using the silhouettes Alexandra designed for our invitations, subtly keeping the theme throughout.
I also worked closely with my favorite floral designer, Melissa Comito-Aakre owner of A Simple Ceremony, to incorporate flowers into the atmosphere I was creating. There is a gorgeous tree at our venue, so we literally created a family tree. Blending our families by using old photos that were hung on the tree trunk and branches, intertwined with flowers to keep it organic. Our parents and wedding party were so amazing to us that we wanted to give them a memento of our wedding. or example I made the girls braided gold bead wrap bracelets that had a charm with their initials. My sister was my maid of honor; her bracelet was a bit different, as it had a small owl locket that contained a photo of the two of us. We gave our mothers personalized handkerchiefs, for tears of joy! We gave Alec’s dad the ’65 VW bug replica, which was our intention from the time we found it. I also really wanted to do a first look with my dad, and when he saw me for the first time as a bride it almost broke my heart to see his reaction. The next day, my father joked that I made him cry too much during our first look, again walking down the aisle, and again when I gave him a key chain locket with his favorite picture of me as a child with the caption – “I will forever be your little girl.”
For the non-material things and most significant part of our wedding we tried to make it our own by blending our families, cultures and traditions. Alec is a California native, and I was born and raised in France, then moved to California 13 years ago. We met just 4 years after the big move. Most of my family flew in from France to share in our big day, and had only seen “American weddings” on television so it was really funny to hear what they expected it to be like. The order of events like the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and its timing we kept to the American ways which was very different for the French attendees from the 3 hour cocktail hour and 7 hour reception they are used to. One of their favorite things was our large wedding party- “Yes, it’s not only in the movies.” We had a bilingual ceremony so that everyone could share in the emotions Alec and I were going through. We had asked my French Aunt Nadine to marry us, as she had married all of my cousins. She is the assistant mayor in the town of Thouarcé, and part of her responsibilities is to serve as a marriage commissioner. To represent the American side, we asked my best friend’s dad John who, in the early part of our relationship, had joked: “I’ll marry you guys one day” and sure enough he did. Owls have been sort of a good luck charm, which I have collected for years so they had to make a stealthy appearance at our wedding.
The goal of these countless trips to crafts and thrift stores was to make the planning as fun as the wedding and it was just that! Alec and I had a blast coming up with the random details that would blend our cultures and families together. When the big day arrived we were calm but so excited to share it with everyone. It was tremendous to walk through our venue and see everything splendidly put together by Kathryn Kalabokes and Melinda Massey of Dream A Little Dream Events, and the amazing vendor team that we had. I had a blast making things, my groom and I had the time of our lives, and our guests raved about how much fun they had. A lot of love went into the making of our wedding, and in response our whole wedding day was filled with Joy. Many precious memories were created with everyone, however those cannot be found at a thrift store, but they were captured by our amazing photographer Josh Gruetzmacher and Daydreamer Cinema. We will forever cherish our wedding from the proposal to the last dance.
Wedding Location: Santa Rosa, CA / Photographer: Josh Gruetzmacher / Florist: A Simple Ceremony / Wedding Coordinator: Dream A Little Dream Events / Venue: Paradise Ridge Winery / Wedding Dress: Allure Couture / Wedding Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Hair and Makeup: The Makeup Dolls / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Groom’s Suit: Calvin Klein / Groom’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds / Caterer: Park Avenue Catering / Wedding Cake: Chloe’s French Bistro / Rentals: La Tavola Linen / Reception Music: DJ Jason Mitchell / Menus: Wedding Paper Divas / Wedding Invitations: Aerialist Press / Photobooth: Snap Fiesta / Videographer: Daydreamer Cinema / Transportation: First Student