Redwoods? Check. Sunlight? Check. Perfect Arts & Crafts architecture? Check check check. Yep, we’re just a little bit obsessed with Helena and Alex’s gorgeous venue for their Jewish wedding,the UC Berkeley Faculty Club. Everything about it captures the beauty of Northern California so perfectly.
With such special surroundings, you don’t need much embellishment – and we love that the couple chose to keep things simple, with a sweet rustic birch chuppah and subtle florals in soft, spring tones. Photographer Simone Anne’s poetic images capture the cozy aesthetics so well – not to mention all the love between the couple, and the fun they so clearly had on the day!
And we love how Helena, who was pregnant with the couple’s first child at the time of the wedding, found the perfect flowy gown to complement both her changing body AND the ever-so-slightly boho vibe of her venue – can you believe it was the first one she tried on?!
Now over to the bride…
An Outdoor Wedding
Helena, the bride: we got married at the UC Berkeley Faculty Club. Having an outdoor ceremony was high on our list and with some help from the weather fairies, the sun broke through and we had a beautiful ceremony on the big lawn. We also loved the rustic, classic Berkeley feel. Elegant, cozy and a little eccentric.
Simple Spring Sophistication
We did not hire a wedding planner. However, my aunt (owner of Invitations & Company in Boston) has been in the wedding business for over 25 years and she provided invaluable insight and guidance, and was able to help us create gorgeous invites and other stationary items in record time. The colors we ended up using for the invitations helped create a loose color scheme for the wedding that was reflected mostly in the flowers. The overall aesthetic was simple spring sophistication. I wanted a graceful, chic, yet unfussy quality.
A Graceful Gown
The wedding gown goddesses were truly by my side, as the first dress I tried on was the winner! I needed a dress that could fit my petite frame (not easy), my growing pregnant belly (even harder), and fit my budget. The ladies at Emerald City Gowns in Berkeley, CA hooked me up! The dress had a ballet gown quality, which appealed to me as a former dancer. It felt free, comfortable and very elegant and graceful, and I loved the way the fabric flowed over my belly. I was lucky to find an expert tailor, Louise Austrie in Oakland, who knew how to work with my ever-changing body.
I researched a couple of local vendors and liked the designs on Carol Attia‘s website, as well as the many positive reviews. The birch chuppah we chose matched the general feel of the wedding.
A Meaningful Ceremony
I’d say our most individual touch was our ceremony and vows. We worked with a wonderful rabbi (Shifrah Tobacman) who asked us many thoughtful, in-depth questions to reveal the heart of our relationship and our intentions for marriage and having a wedding. Alex wrote our vows and selected passages for select friends to read. Four of our family members sat under the chuppah. It felt very personal and unique to us while incorporating Jewish tradition.
My matron of honor discovered Simone Anne, and of the several websites I perused, her poetic style caught my eye. I could see she was interested in telling a story and brought a nuanced, subtle, warm touch to her work. The way she works with light is stunning, and since we planned an outdoor ceremony, this was important to us. I also appreciated the planning questions she asked us; it was clear she was organized and knew what she was doing!
All about Family
Perhaps the most defining part for us was that our son was there (though still in utero). It was truly special to have him there, soaking up all the love and celebration, and such a treat to look back now at photos and see how we were already a little family. Planning the event brought Helena much closer to her aunt, engaging in countless emails about invites and other planning details. We kept our wedding party very intimate (a man and matron of honor) and this was perfect for us.
We also took the task of creating a soundtrack for our ceremony and reception very seriously! Working with Bart at Moments to Memories DJ was super fun and he helped create the laid back and fun vibe we were envisioning.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
It is incredibly easy to get swept up in they way your wedding should look, what you should serve, how you should feel, who you should include. Lots of ‘shoulds.’ Pinterest can be your friend, but also a sneaky frenemy. Really take some time to reflect and connect with your partner – why are you getting married? What are your intentions for the event? How do you want to feel? What are the most important pieces for you?
Doing this inner work and getting clear on why you’re putting all the work in to creating a wedding (because let’s face it, it is work, and you could just as easily elope or get married at City Hall!) will help you stay focused and motivated and connected to the bigger picture so you have something to bounce back to when the little details feel overwhelming or something doesn’t work the way you wanted.
Don’t be afraid to really make it about YOU. Call in your support systems and ask for help. Do a good vetting process for the professionals you hire, but then let them do their job and lead the way so you can relax a bit. Take moments during the event itself to connect privately with your partner to slow down, step back and take it in. It is so sweet and it goes so fast. Also, if you’re not going straight to your honeymoon, take the next two days off (at least) to recover!
Helena & Alex’s little white book
Photographer – Simone Anne
Venue – UC Berkeley Faculty Club
Bride’s dress – Emerald City Gowns
Flowers – Freshly Cut
Chuppah – Under the Chuppah
Invitations – Invitations & Company
DJ – Moments to Memories DJ