10.30.2012

The Wedding Ones: California Dreaming

This post is long overdue, but it's finally here! As you know, we are planning our wedding for next year (read all our wedding related posts here), and we recently took a trip to California to pin down the venue, meet with caterers, etc. We had a great time and got quite a bit accomplished. The big news is that we have a venue and a date (and I have a dress!! But we're not going to discuss that too much, as I'm feeling oddly old-fashioned about the whole thing so I'm keeping it secret from Chris)! Read on for a bit about our trip and a lot about the venue...


On Sunday, August 18, 2013 we'll be standing right in that spot at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden doing the same thing, except in prettier clothes and surrounded by our friends and family. Awesome!

To alleviate any potential jealousy at this picture, my feet were absolutely freezing.
We spent the first night in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, only two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Since we were still adjusting from East Coast time, we woke up really early on Saturday, and took a walk on the gorgeous beach.

Does it look like I'm wearing a beret to anyone else?

Ah, California. So nice. I gave Patrick a high five. The colors were gorgeous, and pretty much covered exactly what I want the colors for the wedding to be, soft peaches and golds next to the bright aqua of the sky and the reflections on the water (ok, this picture isn't very aqua, but you can see what I mean in the next picture a bit better).


I love the houses in the Sunset area, too. There were tons of awesome bright pastel colors (sounds like a contradiction, but I swear that's what it was like) on these row houses all pressed up against each other. It just felt very beachy, relaxed, and fun.


This random chair was on the side of the road for some lucker passerby to take home. I wish we could have taken it, but I don't think they would have been happy with us trying to take a chair on the airplane. The upholstery on the seat was ruined, but it would be so easy to reupholster. I think we might be the only people who go to San Francisco and take a picture of a chair on the side of the road.


Of course we did some thrifting, and we found some particularly amazing stores in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco (you can read about our finds in this post). It looks like the crazy mural alley next to the Community Thrift Store was constantly being added to.


This is a pieced together panoramic shot of the interior of Thrift Town from the second floor. It was huge and full of great stuff.


Of course we also had to have the requisite In-N-Out meal while we were there, and it was oh so good.

Considering that Chris is a photographer, we're surprisingly terrible at taking pictures of things as we go, so the only pictures we ended up with were of the beach, the chair, the thrifts, and the fast food... does that say something about us?

Luckily, we did a better job of photographing our venue.

The majority of time during our short trip was spent on wedding planning. On Saturday we went to the Trocadero Clubhouse at Stern Grove (read our post about the venues we were choosing from here to see more of that), and although we loved the house for the reception, we weren't totally sold on the small redwood grove for the ceremony. It would have been super charming and definitely a bit more budget-friendly, but in the end we felt that if we're going to go all the way to California (and ask all our friends and family to go to), we want the location to be epic in and of itself. Perhaps if we lived in the Bay Area, we would have decided differently, but for us it was definitely a no-brainer as soon as we saw the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden on Sunday.

Here's a little tour of where we'll be on the big day (these pictures were taken on two different days, hence the two outfits and the foggy vs sunny weather)...


First, we'll be in the Redwood Grove for the ceremony, and our guests will walk along a short path with views like this to get to the amphitheater...


Then they'll arrive at the top of the amphitheater and walk down the steps to their seat, which will have dark green cushions provided by the Garden...


Meanwhile, I'll be walking down a much longer path with my dad (and probably the bridesmaids and groomsmen), under this tree covered in California grapes...


I can take a seat on this bench on the way, which is out of sight from the amphitheater to wait for the right moment to enter.


Then I'll walk up to the amphitheater on a path surrounded by lovely Coastal Redwoods and this beautiful bright green groundcover...


Just imagine the white dress and all the people as I come up from between the trees...


The amphitheater is just the perfect set-up for a wedding, with a round "stage" for us in the middle, surrounded by our friends, family, and the redwood grove...


It's hard not to take a good picture in this setting, even when it's foggy like it was for this picture...


After the ceremony, we'll walk with our guests across the road and into the main Garden, down this path to the Conference Center. Those are the redwoods from the ceremony site in the distance, and this bridge goes over a lovely little creek...


Through this natural tunnel of palms and cycads, we'll enter onto the Conference Center terrace...


Which is also surrounded by palms and cycads, so the whole place feels tropical...

I have no excuse for the odd expression on my face.

There's plenty of space out here for some cocktail tables, the bar, and lots of dancing later in the night (you can't see them, but there are lights strung around that whole side of the terrace)...


You can also walk down the steps leading off the center of the terrace to the creek, which is just down the hill, so you can hear the running water from above...


The Conference Center building has big glass windows and doors, which bring tons of light into the indoor space...


The windows are also really reflective :) ...

Those tablecloths are frightening. I promise we'll have something better.

The Mirov room in the conference center is big and bright with wood ceilings and long track lights strung lengthwise across the room. The room obviously wasn't set up for a wedding at the time, but it will be much more elegant with draped tables in various heights and sizes around the room...
Octopus tree


We also explored the whole Garden to see all the beautiful places where our guests would be able to wander before the reception, and where we would be taking some of our wedding photos. This set of stairs led down to the creek that is right below the reception site.


The fog nestled between the hills was actually really nice, so I'm not too worried about what the weather will be like. As long as it's not raining, which is very unlikely in mid-August in Berkeley (it rains an average of .06 inches in August, so the odds are in our favor), we should be fine.


It was really fun to explore all the different "regions of the world" within the Garden, and I think it will make for great photos. Some areas were arid...


Others were super lush...


Some had cool mossy-roofed structures...


And still others were awesome asian ponds, complete with blooming water lilies. So pretty.


Just look at that fog slowly burning off in the bright California sun. Yum.

I'm tempted to apologize for the ridiculous amount of photos in this post, but I just couldn't take any out since they are so gosh darn pretty. I mean, the place is absurdly gorgeous. I can't get over it.

Our next step is to book a photographer, which we're going to be super picky about (what with Chris being a very picky photographer himself), especially since we keep hearing so much from other blogs and people online about how they realized how important the photos were after the wedding.

What do you think of our venue choice? If you're married, where did you get hitched, and were you happy with you choice? Any suggestions for us going forward?

6 comments:

  1. My number one piece of advice is: spend some time getting some pre-marriage counseling! It was so helpful to myself and my husband and everyone else we know who has put in the effort to get that has said the same. We did a course called PREPARE (https://www.prepare-enrich.com) that was great - you do this huge survey and it highlights things that the two of you might have different expectations/ideas of and then you discuss those areas. I live on the North Shore of MA so if you are looking for a counselor who could do some kind of pre-counseling with you nearby, feel free to send me an email!

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  2. your venue is PERFECT!!!! we visited our venue (we also got married outdoors and our reception was in the same place, just down the stairs of the paviliion :D ) and took photos and sometimes photoshopped stuff in to see how it would look (or, ours was closer, so we drove there a lot). having all these images is going to to help SO MUCH! and i'm obsessed with this place and your wedding is going to be so cool there! and in and out burger sounds like a fun trip together

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails

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  3. This is so PERFECT. I love California of course and to me this really represents some of the beauty the state has to offer. :) It's perfect. I think that the photographer is the most important thing, besides the location and you got that down! The photos are all that is left when it's all said and done. Its going to be wonderful. I can't wait to see the dress!!!! My husband and I got married in an Art Museum. The only thing that I regret now is that my bridal party was WAY TOO HUGE (I didn't want to hurt any ones feelings) and they put up way too many chairs, making it look like none of my guests came.

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  4. Thanks for sharing the interesting blog! I also searched for new york wedding location to celebrate the wedding parties.

    new york wedding location

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  5. Thanks for sharing these photos of the Garden and your wedding plans. We're looking forward to being the site of your California wedding. Be sure to visit our Pinterest site for more great photos and ideas for Garden weddings.

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  6. I'm getting married there in June of next year as well :) We're having our reception at a different place though. Your post got me even more excited about it! :)

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