- 7 years ago
Dear Wedding Bees,Thanks to your suggestions, advice, feedback, our wedding was pulled off successful and within budget. Since we went through so many of your suggestions and incorporated as many as were applicable to us, here are some highlights to thank you all!
Littie bit about us:We are born to Indian parents, live in San Francisco and got engaged in Egypt last November. Although our roots are Indian, Mr Bear and I are not very traditional, our families are of different relgious backgrounds and since we never made it to Morocco during our travels last year, our reception dinner and tent were influenced by moroccan colors and cuisine.
End result? A wedding that was non-denominational, officiated by a friend who got his license online. We decided to incorporate elements of our heritage into the wedding by having a baraat (welcoming of the groom), exchange of vows, a wine box ceremony and for the ceremony I wore an Indian saree in off white colors (as a compromise to a white gown).
We chose to host the wedding on a coastal property in Medocino county, CA. This made for a mini- destination since it was a 4 hrs drive for friends living in CA and a long haul for guests who flew in from France, Switzerland, UK, India, Malaysia, and across the US. We were told that weddings go by very fast so we planned 5 events over 4 days.
3 weeks prior to the wedding our RSVP count included 136 adult guests and 30 children. We debated whether to take off 10% from our catering contract and are happy that we didn’t since we had 6 people decline the week of the wedding and 4 guests who had declined dinner but landed up staying.
My family of 10 and I headed up to Mendocino on Monday. This gave us time to assemble 100 welcome bags and for my uncle and brothers to build the photo wall. Most guests started arriving Wed evening.
below: assembling the welcome bags with cousins, mom and grandma. Contents: dorritos, home made indian chex mix, salt water taffy,mints, do no disturb signs, tourism book, welcome pamphlet including times, directions of events and customized watter bottles
below: Boys at work- building the photo wall
Thursday evening: Mexican dinner at Mr Bear’s parents rental home. Mr Bear’s family members applied henna, food was catered from a local restaurant and we hired two of the wedding catering staff to help set up, service the event.
below: henna work
Friday Day: : A naan-zza (pizzas made on naan bread) bbq in a redwood park. We had volleyball, bocci ball games, tandoori pizza, local wines from the anderson valley area, beer from a local brewing company.
below: drinks at the bbq
below:guests formed 2 teams- bride’s and groom’s. Guess who won?! 😉
Friday evening: Drinks at a local bar. This wasa big hit since guests with kids had introduced themselve at the bbq earlier in the day and had arranged for the older kids to babysit the youngens. I managed to be smuggled out of the bar by 10p for much needed sleep!
Saturday: Ceremony started at 2pm. Our wedding program included a baarat (welcoming of the groom) on foot (nope, no horses in mendocino and Mr Bear refused to be paraded on one). This was followed by my walk from the property entrance to the ceremony site by my dad who then handed me to my mother and she walked meto the stage. Our amazing friend, officiant extraordinaire precided over the ceremony by welcoming everyone. We exchanged our vows, followed by a promise and exchange of rings, we then stepped off stage to get blessings from my grandmother and both sets of parents, we then placed our love notes in the wine box and then walked down the isle to the Smithereens rendition of I want to hold your hand.
below: Mr Bear and I exchanging our vows
below: wine box placed near stage in which we placed our love notes and our guests wishes to be opened on our 5th year anniversary.
Cocktail hour: 1.5 hrs was perfect for guests to mingle, write in our DIY guest book, take pictures in our DIY photo wall. Mr Bear and I are big fans of the food cart movement in San Francisco and so we brainstormed with a friend who is a sous chef at the Ritz to design a bar menu of Indian street foods with a twist! the open bar featured wines from the mendocino/anderson valley area, local beer from the brewing company down the street, a signature cocktail drink called ps: I love you and a non-alcoholic drink called ps: I love you too (pomegranate juice, soda, lime)
If your mouth isn’t watering already, see pictures below….
below: photo wall with Mr Bear and I. we plan on using this picture to design our thank you cards!
Since the reception tent was closed until dinner time, we had a chill/lounge tent with chaises and ratan chairs for guests to relax under. We decorated one wall with a moroccan bedspread hanging and a chandelier that glowed gorgeously through the evening. Mr Bear and I managed to take pictures with both sets of families in under an hour and since we were running ahead of schedule, we mingled with our guests in the cocktail area for 20 min before running back inside the house on site to change into our reception clothes.
below: picture of cocktail tables and lounge tent
below: closeup of cocktail tables outside reception tent
below: cardbox made by one of our closest friends
below: few of the passed appetizers
noyo harbor rock cod cakes with tamarind chutney
below: samosa quesadillas with cilantro chutney
below:aloo tikki slides
below: tandoori paneer and chicken tacos in mango slaw
Kids: We wanted an adult reception dinner so arranged for two teachers from the neigboring pre-school to babysit 30 kids inside the house located on the property. Tis is probably the best investment we could have made! At ~$1200 including food, games and baby sitting, the kids had a ball making new friends, playing ninetendo wii, dcorating cupcakes and eating pizzas and the parents enjoyed an adult reception dinner knowing that the kids were right outside the tent enjoying themselves.
Reception Dinner: Our cousins introduced our parents, grandmother and siblings. Our DJ introduced us. We danced inside the tent and sat at a sweetheart table on stage. Next were the speeches made by our siblings, Mr Bear’s parents, my uncle and my best friend. We finished it off with a toast to our guests and parents. Dinner was served family style and included moroccan farm carrots, roasted yukon potatoes in charmoula spices, flat breads with five different chutneys and olive oil, tagine with roasted vegetables, israeli couscous and basmati rice. Guests with meat preferences were served chicken meatballs in algerian heirloom tomato sauce by servers who went to each table dishing these out.
below: reception tent
below: basmatic rice pilaf
below: moroccan farm carrots
below: root vegetable tagine
Sunset: Dinner ended ahead of schedule by a half hour so guests took the liberty to wander out of the tent to the bluff to watch the sunset. We loved how guests complimented us for allocating time after dinner to watch the sunset when in reality, we didn’t plan for a fantastic fog free weather or time for sunset between desserts. Having enjoyed our meal, we took our wine glasses and joined guests at the bluff taking pictures with groups of friends we had missed taking pictures with so far.
below: heading to the bluff to take pictures with friends and watch the sunset
Dessert: was by far the best surprise. Our pastry chef surprised us with the plating of the food. We’re still waiting for pictures and will send along as soon as we receive it. So what did we serve? A slice of moroccan date and walnut cake with cardamon and walnut kulfi (indian creamy ice-cream). our pastry chef had never made kulfi before and we had experimented several times during our tasting to give her feedback on the consistency and texture of the ice-cream. The end result was a party in the mouth! We’re so glad that Mr Bear and I sat for a few minutes at our table to devour it all 🙂
First dance: We danced to Jack John’s Beter Together. Brides to be: don’t worry if you haven’t had the chance to practice your first dance. Mr Bear and I had not done this either but it worked out just fine 🙂
Dancing:The DJ announced that kdis were welcome inside the tent to dance and celebrate and kicked it off with some top hits that got kids and adults on the floor. Dancing lasted from 8p -10:30p since music had to be turned off due to city ordinance.
below: flip flops for guests to relax their feet and dance the night away
Truffles: We had our caterer put out truffles that we had purchased from a local chocolatier in SF. Since I couldn’t find any dessert stands I liked, I DIYed four truffles stands using a gold charger plate, candle stand and some epoxy glue. Guests and kids loved the sugar high and I secretly believed this contributed to everyone prancing on the dance floor till the music had to be shut off 🙂
below: DIY dessert stand and coconut-rum truffles
After party: The property came with access to a private beach. We had warned our guests to bring change of clothes for the after party. So when the dancing ended, guests went into cars or joined us inside the house to change and we headed to the private beach. Two of our friends had organzied to get the bar set up along with camping chairs and roaring bonfire. Our DJ and photographer joined us and the party continued past 2am.
Sunday: Goodbye Brunch: we organized a farewell brunch at the house on site (original location was the reception tent but it was a bit cold). We expected around 20 guests to attend and had over 50 show up! We are so glad we had this event since new friendships had formed, numbers and emails exchanged, promises for future get togethers were made. Mr Bear’s family had brought home made indian snacks, my brother brought croissants, muffins and coffee from a local bakery to feed everyone before their long trip back home.
below: so long, farwell, I hate to say goodbye….
Sunday night: We stayed back for a night and had dinner with Mr Bear’s cousins who had also stayed behind for a few more days. Mr Bear’s nephews (four boys ages 3-11) had run around the reception tent during brunch and collected decorations and had decorated their rental home with tea lights, pomandars and strings of crystal beads to welcome us as a married couple. What an amazing decompressing dinner and welcome!
Monday: we were bored. No more wedding planning, rehearsing of vows, calling vendors. Just Mr Bear and I sitting at the local cafe wondering what we could do to keep the party going. We went online, booked ourselves for two nights at an Inn in Healdsburg and then purchased tickets to go to Chicago for the rest of the week.
Brides to be: this was by far the most rewarding of all our spontaneous ideas. Mr Bear and I were in such withdrawal from not having family and friends around after 4 fun filled days that having two days to ourselves and then flying to Chicago where some of our wedding guests and family had flown for the July 4th weeekend made for a perfect balance of quiet time and time to reminisce with our friends.
I could fill chapters with stories, advice, watch-outs for brides to be. But instead will let our pictures speak for themselves.
Please email me if you have any questions- would love to share with you all that I’ve learned through this exhausting, emotionally draining, relationship strengthening and extremely rewarding life time experience.
My best advice to you:
surround yourself with a group of core friends who will support you throught the planning process,know that its Ok to feel alone, take the time to write your vows- this is the best gift you can gift yourself and your groom esp as your love and relationships will be tested through the planning process, take the time to find good vendors (this is not the time to go with the cheapest bid- often times, you will get what you paid for), get referrals for ALL your vendors, , its Ok to say no, have minimal expectations of your close ones- its better to be surprised than be disappointed and as Mr Bear repeated reminded me, when the going gets tough and the hysteria and tears kick in, keep your eye on the prize. Its about the two of you- nothing else matters!