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I Do

Weddings come in many forms, but these five couples believe that love is the secret ingredient.

Judy Franjieh + Dice Arai

Peacock Gap Golf Club, San Rafael, August 3, 2014

DICE AND JUDY’S passion for helping others actually helped them find each other. “We met in a patient’s room at Kaiser Vallejo; we were both working in the same facility, me as a dietitian and him as a physical therapist,” says Judy. “He thought I was an M.D. (white coat) but then realized I was an R.D.” Dice says it wasn’t Judy’s rank he was pondering: “When I first saw her, all I could think was, She is so out of my league.” After meeting again at an office Christmas party — where they discussed a shared interest in Tough Mudder races and old-school dancing — the couple began dating. When the time came for a proposal, Dice gathered friends to partake in a surprise flash-mob-style event — a fun phenomenon he recalled Judy mentioning an affinity for. “I organized about 40 of our friends (including her parents) and had everyone meet at a restaurant in San Francisco,” he says. “Some of her closest friends faked a gathering so Judy would drive in from Vacaville, where we were living at the time.” The epic proposal and Judy’s response — hint: it was positive — can be found on YouTube. For the wedding, Dice was initially thinking small. “There was this one little cute place in Fairfax that I thought would be great,” he says. “I was vetoed by the family and found out that they had chosen some place called Peacock Gap Golf Club. I had never heard of it. But when I came to visit the location I was absolutely blown away by how amazing it was. I was totally glad to be overruled in this matter.” The ceremony was a melding of cultures — Judy’s family is largely Arabic, and Dice’s parents traveled to Marin from Japan for the occasion. “One highlight was when everyone was getting down on the dance floor, even to some Arabic music,” says Judy. “Our family picked us up in chairs on the dance floor, a tradition in Middle Eastern culture. Everyone had such a good time — it was what I always thought it would be.”

CEREMONY Peacock Gap Golf Club, peacockgolfclub.com

COORDINATOR Narine, Sweet and Crafty, sweetandcrafty.com

PHOTOGRAPHER Nezár Samara, Nezár Samara Photography, samaraphotography.com

MUSIC DJ Nik, deejaynik.com

FLORIST Dina, Flora Vida Events, floravidaevents.com

DRESS Pronovias, pronovias.us

BRIDESMAID DRESSES Donna Morgan, donna-morgan.com

INVITATIONS Wedding Paper Divas, weddingpaperdivas.com

Karena Hillaire + Matthew Cosby

Bay Club StoneTree, Novato, July 5, 2014

EVEN HIGH SCHOOL sweethearts hit speed bumps on the road to love. Matthew met Karena in 2001 at Hyde School, a boarding school in Woodstock, Connecticut. Unfortunately, he met her friend first. “Matt dated one of my friends for a couple months. A year later, when we thought everyone had moved on, Matt and I starting hanging out and one night we kissed,” Karena says. “My friend got mad, so I told Matt we couldn’t hang out anymore.” Six years passed, and one day Matt met Karena again, this time on Facebook. “We spoke every day for two weeks, and he invited me out to California,” says Karena, who was living in New York at the time. “We spent three days getting to know each other again, and I told him I loved him via text on the plane home. He texted it back right away.” After six months of long-distance dating, Karena moved to Marin. “I knew I couldn’t propose in a traditional way, because Karena would freak — she hates surprises,” says Matt. The couple picked out a ring together, and that night Matt popped the question in their bedroom. They quickly decided on a Marin wedding, as Karena wanted out-of-town guests to feel the same magic she’d encountered as a newcomer. Bay Club StoneTree was ideal for the ceremony. “It was close to our home in Marinwood, and Matt’s family is made up of golfers,” says Karena. “Plus, StoneTree is stunning — the grounds, the view, everything screams top-notch.” It was an Africanstyle ceremony: “We tasted four flavors, which represented each emotion you will experience in a marriage: lemon represents sourness, vinegar is bitterness, cayenne is heat and honey is sweetness,” Matt says. The ceremony itself was emotional — Karena enjoyed the first dance with her father, who is paralyzed; her military sister, stationed in South Korea, was able to attend; Matt’s 9-year-old nephew surprised the couple with a speech; and a couple who’d been separated for years celebrated finding one another again. “I think God planted a seed the night we kissed,” Matt says.

CEREMONY Bay Club StoneTree

COORDINATOR Kalena Brose, Kalena Brose Event Planning and Design, kalenabrose.com

PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Maganis, MGM Photography, mgm-photo.com

VIDEOGRAPHER Tim Wilkerson, Share the Road Videography, sharetheroadvideography.com

MUSIC Natalie Gee, photobeats.com

FLORIST Bryce Loutsch, Vanda Floral Design, vandafloral.com

DRESS Martina Liana, Novella Bridal, novellabridal.com


INVITATIONS Minted, minted.com

MAKEUP Brittney Lee, makeupbybrilee.com

Joel Riddell + Robert Moon

Swedenborgian Church, San Francisco, May 25, 2014

JOEL AND ROBERT’S love is not exactly young — the two have been together for 18 years. They met at the Pacific Heights Health Club, where the very social Robert finally struck up a conversation with Joel, who had been eyeing him for three months. The two met for lunch the next day and developed a friendship that, over the course of several months, turned to love. On Christmas Day of the couple’s fifth year together, Robert presented Joel with a ring — and a proposal. The wedding plans were put on hold while they waited for the marriage equality law to pass, but last year, Joel and Robert were finally able to have the wedding of their dreams. “We went for cocktails one evening with friends, and we noticed the Top of the Mark,” says Joel of the initial planning. “We walked over for a drink and once we entered the space — with the sweeping views — we immediately decided that this was where our party should be: iconic and overlooking the world.” The reception matched the space’s awesomeness, with a slew of musicians and vintners in attendance and copious eating and dancing. For the preceding ceremony, the couple chose the lovely Swedenborgian Church. Joel, whose late grandfather was a minister, reached out to the congregation with a request to borrow the space, which was quickly granted; his father, Steve Elson, officiated. Guests traveled from New Zealand, the U.K. and Canada and were kept busy with weekend festivities — including a henna party hosted by one friend. “The fantastic food and great fun set the stage for the rest of the weekend,” Joel says. The string of celebrations surpassed all expectations: “It was more special than I had anticipated,” Robert says. “I always knew our wedding would be a fun event, but the overwhelming sense of love throughout the entire weekend of events, and the amazing locations were an added touch of magic.”

CEREMONY Swedenborgian Church, sfwedding.org

PHOTOGRAPHER Mike Rosati, Mike Rosati Photography, rosatiphotos.com

RECEPTION Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, intercontinental markhopkins.com

CAKE Noe Valley Bakery, noevalleybakery.com

MUSIC DJ Christopher B, djchristopherb.com; Harry Likas, harrypiano.com

SOLO PERFORMANCE Bobby Jo Valentine, bobbyjovalentine.com

INVITATIONS Invitations by Dawn, invitationsbydawn.com

Karen Stradford + Devin Boyce

Audubon Canyon Ranch, Stinson Beach, April 26, 2014

KAREN AND DEVIN were first introduced as rivals on a Brooklyn bocce ball court. “We had old friends in common, but had never met until we faced off on the court,” says Karen. “We got to talking — with some trash talking thrown in — and instantly hit it off.” Devin knew pretty quickly that he wanted to keep Karen around. “I realized I just wanted to keep talking to her,” he says. “Her smile captivated me, her laugh made me smile and I knew I was done looking if only I didn’t mess it all up.” Karen, an Oakland native, had long enjoyed weekend trips to Marin to visit her family’s Stinson Beach vacation home, and it was Stinson where the couple’s relationship evolved into permanence. During a visit to Sea Drift, Devin surprised Karen with a proposal. “We were just sitting at the lagoon taking in the view and chatting when he pulled out the ring,” says Karen. “When I stopped sobbing I said yes.” Devin, originally from Rhinebeck, New York, had always considered tying the knot in his hometown, but found a similar vibe in Stinson. “From the first time I traveled to Stinson Beach, I knew there was something significant about the area and that I wanted something special to take place there,” he says. When the Brooklyn-based couple found Audubon Canyon Ranch, the hunt for a locale was over. “It looked so much like Rhinebeck, I knew I wanted to get married there,” says Devin. There was no waiting list, as the ranch was not yet known as a wedding destination — Karen and Devin were the second couple to ever wed on the property. They opted for a three-day event so their visiting guests could enjoy the area; many ended up staying for a few more days to explore Marin. The ceremony was Northern California to a T — rustic and close to the beach, with rain subsiding at the perfect moments and of course, great eats. “The food was the best wedding food I’ve ever had, highlighting the California way of eating: fresh produce and beautiful grilling,” says Karen. “All the guests raved about it.”

CEREMONY Audubon Canyon Ranch, egret.org

COORDINATOR/CATERING Rachel Cecchi, The Lunch Box, lunchboxmarin.com

PHOTOGRAPHER Lynn Bagley, Lynn Bagley Photography, lynnbagley.com

FLORIST Allan Merryman, Meristem, Stinson Beach Flowers, 415.868.0666

DRESS Adele Wechsler, adelewechsler.com

INVITATIONS Minted, minted.com

SIGNAGE Janis Yerington, bolinasfolkart.com

HAIR/MAKEUP Rebecca Beardsley, rebeccabeardsley.com

Britton Mallis + Jared Rogers

Chart House, Lake Tahoe, September 28, 2014

THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS is notorious for clandestine love affairs, and this story is no different. Jared, head chef of Picco, met Britton at Bungalow 44, where she is a server; the chef was enjoying a drink when his future wife introduced herself. He did his best to make an impression, which must have been a good one — the two soon had a first date at Cotogna in San Francisco. “She was wearing a silk blouse and suede boots and I knew I was going to marry her,” Jared says. A proposal was imminent, and the execution sweet. “He proposed at home,” says Britton. “I was in bed with our dog Gypsy when he came home with a bottle of champagne and the ring and told me he wanted us to spend the rest of our lives together. It was perfect.” The wedding location, however, was not as easy to pin down. The couple bounced around a bit on the ideal spot — they initially wanted to tie the knot at San Francisco city hall, then considered Playa del Carmen in Mexico before finally settling on the supremely serene Lake Tahoe. The ceremony was a small one, with just 45 guests, and took place in the small, cozy setting of the Chart House. The nuptials had been planned for outside on the property’s lawn overlooking the lake, but weather brought the party indoors. Luckily, the couple was able to roll with the punches and enjoy the event. “There were so many wonderful moments from the evening, but my fondest memory is dancing with Jared to ‘I Only Have Eyes for You,’” Britton says. Jared says he wouldn’t have changed a thing: “I really appreciated the chance to have the entire family together to share in the special day. True to form, everyone was drinking and eating like kings.”

CEREMONY Chart House, Lake Tahoe

COORDINATOR Annemarie, Simple Tahoe Weddings, simpletahoeweddings.com

PHOTOGRAPHER Sherry McManus, Associates in Photography, 530.541.7225

CAKE The Cork and More, thecorkandmore.com

FLORIST Shirley, Rose Petals, weddingsintahoe.com

DRESS Tadashi Shoji, bhldn.com

INVITATIONS RememberNovemberShop, etsy.com

HAIR Angela Zajic Aguirre, Rah Hair Studio, rahhair.com

MAKEUP Rachel Muller, Sublime Beauty, sublimebeautylaketahoe.com

PRE-WEDDING SITE mywedding.com

Be sure to check out our Wedding Planner for more help on planning your big day.
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